Networking: The Key to a Successful Job Search

Networking: The Key to a Successful Job Search

The statistics for underemployment amongst recent college graduates are troubling. According to a new report from Strada Institute for the Future of Work and the Burning Glass Institute, 52% of new college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a four-year degree. The best strategy to avoid this fate in today’s competitive job marketplace can be summarized by the popular saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

How important is networking to landing a position in your chosen field?

In a word, crucial. According to statistics published by the U.S Bureau of Labor, 70% of current employees found their current positions through networking. Recent surveys by the job site Zippia as well as LinkedIn, found that only about 15% of open positions are filled through job boards, meaning that a whopping 85% of openings are filled through networking with personal and professional connections.

For college students and recent graduates, much about networking can seem daunting. When you’re looking for your first or maybe second job, you don’t have a contact list full of professional connections to call upon, so you have to be resourceful and prepared to sell yourself any place, any time. The good news is that you know people who know people, and most everyone is willing to help an eager job seeker land a position.

Where do you begin to build a network?

  • Start with your parents/guardians and relatives; they have a vested interest in your future success. It often just takes a quick call to set up an informational interview.
  • Think about neighbors, coaches, teachers, and other leaders you’ve gotten to know throughout your life who might have connections to companies or industries.
  • If you’re not already on LinkedIn, join today and start making connections. You can also look through your family’s connections on LinkedIn to find people who work in industries or companies that interest you. Send them a request to connect or to meet with you. Don’t be shy; everybody’s doing it!
  • Join online communities and professional organizations or find volunteer opportunities to enhance your skills while expanding your network.
  • Follow-through is key. Have an email message prepared to send if presented with the opportunity. If you send a message or request a meeting, be sure to check for responses often and reply quickly. Always send a thank you note promptly after any conversation.

How do you prepare for a networking conversation?

When you reach out to request a meeting or a call, be specific about what you want to discuss. In most cases, you are not actually asking for a job. You might be asking for guidance in your job search, a review of your resume, or their perspective on industry trends and opportunities. Contrary to popular opinion, networking is not all about making small talk; you’ll gain more respect and be a lot less uncomfortable if you’re prepared for the conversation with relevant questions.

Since you only get one chance to make a good first impression, the following should serve as a checklist for preparing for a networking conversation:

  • Be able to deliver a concise and effective elevator pitch that tells your story or makes your case in 30-60 seconds, the time of the average elevator ride.
  • Read, follow, and listen to various news and business sources to develop a strong working knowledge of industry trends and developments.
  • Have a list of pertinent questions ready that demonstrate your interest in your contact’s experience, expertise, company or industry.
  • Practice your presentation. This may involve the most cringeworthy test of all: recording and watching yourself on video. It’s not just what you say but how you say it; body language can speak volumes about a person.

Networking is the key to opening doors and building relationships that might last much longer than the time it takes to find your first or next job. To ensure you are putting your best foot forward, PREMINENTE is proud to announce our newest counseling package, Networking & Interview Prep, designed specifically to help you make that all-important first impression. Our experienced counselors will provide customized mock interview and networking practice and presentation skills training, guidance on creating an effective elevator pitch, resume and LinkedIn profile review and editing, recommendations for resources to follow for industry and company trend information, and suggestions for questions to ask during an interview or networking meeting. For more information, please contact PREMINENTE.






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