If career development was a game of chutes and ladders, job networking would be the ladder. They provide a shortcut to the top, a direct route to win your dream job.
At work today, a colleague was reviewing resumes for an open requisition within the unix group. I decided later that night to clean up my resume to make it more relevant. I felt like I did something positive for my career. After coming down from the high of resume writing I began to question rational. I then came to the contradictory conclusion that a great resume holds less importance than a mediocre recommendation.
It is better for an employer to learn about you from a recommendation then your resume. Why? Hiring new people holds risk. A hiring manager will reduce risk by promoting from within or using personal recommendations. In both cases the resume becomes a document of formality instead of a document of credentials.
"Its not what you know, its who you know."
What can we assume about the position they are extending to the public? We can safely assume that the manager has already hired somebody for the high risk, enjoyable position and is now looking for a bottom feeder with a resume to fill the newly vacant position. Keep this in mind the next time a head hunter sends you a job proposition email.
Normally taking shortcuts goes against conventional wisdom for success. Job networking however, allows candidates to skip ahead and arrive at their dream occupation more directly. Meeting new people seems like the single best way to land a job doing what you love.
Get out there and meet people with similar interests!