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PRODUCER’S NOTE: There are many times in life when we end up – ok, we are forced — to do things we do not like to do. Networking has always been an essential part of a job search, though many people dislike the process. It will be imperative as AI and machine automation increase.

Even if you are the best-qualified person for a job, in your mind or on paper, going to an interview unprepared is a terrible idea. That is one reason why the best-qualified person is selected only 30 to 35 percent of the time. In managing your career, there are three vital issues you must always remember to remain competitive:

1. There is no such thing as a level playing field in a job search. Another applicant will always be better prepared.

2. Sterile, point-and-click online networking is ineffective. You must be strategic and practice active networking – actually talking to people with ties to your targeted companies. 3. Never interview unprepared. Even if you are interviewing to gain experience, going in without thorough preparation could do more harm than good. Besides, why would you want to practice doing it wrong?