Eighty percent of available jobs are never advertised and over half of all employees get their jobs through networking, according to BH Careers International.  So what does that mean exactly?  It means that your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers and former coworkers are excellent resources for your job search.  To drive the point home, only one third of current available openings are filled through "formal" means such as want ads, employment agencies and civil service tests.  

The first step in the development of an effective job search is to compile a compact list of companies where you would like to work.  Determine these companies by researching the job market and inquire about them in your networking groups.  Next you should learn all there is to know about your "target" companies, such as the company's products or services; their status in the industry; challenges the company is currently facing, etc.  You can find this type of information on the company's website, in business or trade journals, newspapers, professional and trade associations. 

If 80 percent of all jobs are filled using informal means, that makes your network an invaluable resource.  There are several top-rated online networking sites where you can post your resumé, join groups and interact with members.  Sites such as LinkedInEcademy, Ryze and Xing are examples of online networking sites.  Be cautious about the type of information you post on these sites; more and more employers are conducting Internet searches on potential employees. 

Remember that besides online networking  and your friends, family and previous co-workers, professional associations and college alumni groups are great ways to network and learn about career opportunities.  Attend the meetings and mixers and be prepared to talk about your goals, taking a stack of business cards would also be advisable.

Using formal means to look for your next career shouldn't be disregarded.  You should keep a watchful eye on the want ads and internet postings. Other more formal means include employment agencies.  There are several types of employment agencies:
  • Employment Agency:  assists job seekers in finding work, some charge the job seeker a fee while others charge the employer, be certain to clarify this up front 
  • Contingency Employment Agency:  paid by the employer when their candidate is selected, typically used for low and mid-level searched and will send large number of resumes to the employer
  • Retained Search Firm:  has an exclusive relationship with the employer, typically hired for senior-level searches and on as-needed basis
  • Headhunter/Recruiter:  may approach you to recruit you for a position with a company they represent or you can send your resume to a headhunter or apply for a position they are trying to fill, typically paid by the employer when a successful match is made 
  • Temp Agency:  find employees to fill temporary jobs, where there may be an opportunity to become permanent
If you decide to use a headhunter/recruiter, there are some things you should consider.  You will want to research the company, interview the recruiter, ask for references (and check them) and find out how they plan to market you to potential employers.  And just because you choose to utilize a recruiters services doesn't mean that you stop your own job search efforts.  Here are some sites to assist you in your search for a recruiter:
Find a Recruiter.com, database is searchable by over 150 specialties
JobFactory.com, listings by career field
i-Recruit.com, directory of recruiters listed by specialty and by location

Some additional articles and websites that may provide more insight into conducting a job search and the networking process:
LinkedIn Tutorials:  How-tos, Demos, Walkthroughs
Networking Resources, CareerSource Florida
Job Search and Career Networking Tips, by Alison Doyle
Critical Career Networking Tips, Quint Careers
Using a Headhunter, Yale Law
How to Get the Most out of Head Hunters, by Michael T. Robinson