One thing that I didn’t wrap my head around as being very valuable is networking. You hear it all the time: THIS meeting is great for networking, THAT organization provides great connections to the business world! I just never took it seriously that I would need something other than my amazing resume and charming smile to get a job. Now that I’m out looking for things, I’ve realized that you may do great with just your resume, cover letter, and a great personality. But how you’ll do even better, and get that job faster, is by knowing people.
(Rule #1) MAKE FRIENDS AND KEEP THEM. This doesn’t mean to brown-nose your 200 person lecture professor. It means that once you get into more advanced classes, with smaller group sizes and more intimate discussion-based courses, make sure to make a good impression on your professors. Especially if you’re interested in their work, keep tabs with them, maybe volunteer to do some research help, and they can not only give you amazing recommendations for jobs, but they can hand off your resume to someone who can get you an interview. It’s the very same with previous employers; even if you don’t want to pursue a career in the field (think, summer swim coaching), having a glowing recommendation from a previous employer or having them pass your resume on to an acquaintance in the field you ARE looking into is a big step up.
Recommendations are so important, I can’t stress that enough. So keep your professional relationships close, you can use them later!
(Rule #2) TALK TO YOUR PARENTS. Seriously, they know what they’re doing. They’ve been in this position before. Even if you’re not at all interested in what they do for a living, they were recent graduates looking for jobs once too, and they can give you advice. Have them look over your resume and cover letter, have them help you with your LinkedIn profile, have them give you pointers on career paths and salaries and all that big scary grown up stuff that none of us have any idea about.
In addition to the knowledge that your parents can impart to you, they can also be a great source of connections. Face it, your parents are always going to be biased in your favor. They know a lot of people, have met and kept up with a lot of successful businessmen and start-ups, and they can pass your resume along to them. Case-in-point, my dad is fairly high up in his company, and he knows a lot of people in the nuclear industry. While there are no positions available in his company, he knows that nuclear plants are desperate to hire engineers. So I got my boyfriends resume to him, and he was able to pass it along. And that might just get my boyfriend an interview.
(Rule#3) BRANCH OUT. Don’t be afraid to mention to friends, friends-of-friends, distant relations, and acquaintances that you’re looking for a job. Who knows who they all know, and what opportunities they can make available to you. For example, one of my previous interviews was a job that wasn’t posted online. The only way my resume even got into the right hands was because my boyfriend mentioned to a family friend that I was looking for jobs. They talked about my qualifications, I sent her my resume, I had a phone interview with her, and then I was booked for an in-person interview with her employer. I didn’t get the job, but I had a great interview and got to know about an awesome non-profit that I’ll be applying to when I get back from the Peace Corps (if I still live in the same city), and got great interview experience and confidence. And all of that was because my boyfriend mentioned I was looking for a job to someone at a party.
Another example: My boyfriend’s mom works for a HUGE international company. He applied to them and then had his mom send his resume to their engineering department. Within a few days he got a phone call from a recruiter, and after a short phone interview, set him up with an in-person interview with a daughter company in Texas. While he didn’t get that job, it was amazing to see how quickly things moved all because of his one connection. The recruiter is still working to find him a spot at the company, and the longer he keeps in communication with her, the better.
Everybody knows somebody. And the more you advertise yourself, the more likely you’re going to get connections to those who can help you out.