Gone are the days of waiting for the fat employment section in the Sunday paper each week but no one really misses those days. That was not an efficient way to find a job. What is frustrating as a Career Advisor is to see students not properly leveraging the outstanding tools available to help them find their next career step in 2017.
Job seekers who are stuck behind their computers submitting online applications are not likely to be successful. Their application is a needle in the haystack. Submitting an online application and then trying to find an insider contact is also not a recipe for success. People will quickly realize that you are only using them to advance your application.
You must follow the process to conduct a success search.
Develop Your Target List – Think about what you want to do. What skills and experience qualify you for this position? In what industry do you hope to work? Where in the world do you hope to work? What functional role are you seeking? What do you need in terms of company culture and values? Start drafting a list of companies for whom you would love to work.
Informational Interviews – Leverage your various alumni, family and friends and former colleagues’ networks to identify contacts who work in your target companies. Set up informational interviews to learn more about the company and your area of interest. What is the hiring process like? How does the company support their employees? What does the person like about working there? What would they change if they could? You will likely learn things you like and things you don’t.
Continually Refine the List – Based on what you learn in your informational interviews, continue to refine your target list. Some companies or types of roles will fall off the list and you will learn about new companies to explore further. Continue to build and refine your list as you continue to conduct informational interviews.
Build Networks within Your Target Companies Throughout this process you are building relationships with people who work in your target companies. Keep detailed records of your contacts. Be sure to thank them for spending time with you and helping you learn.
Identify Opportunities – Once you have your target companies updated and your network in place, you are ready to start exploring opportunities. When you see an opportunity at a target company, reach out to your contact to see what insight they can share. Ask if they would be willing to pass your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. Maybe they can submit it in their employee referral program. Having an internal advocate moves your resume to the short pile instead of the mountain that arrives blindly online. This is a huge advantage. Your internal advocate can also share additional insight and perspective to help you prepare for the interview.
If you think you can shorten your process by applying to online applications all day, you will be seriously disappointed. Invest the time in researching, learning and building your network and you will significantly increase your success.
As I crossed campus this morning I was struck by how many of the students I passed were in business suits. I must admit they look so professional and smart in their suits. Our students are in suits when they have interviews, employer panels in class, employer information sessions on campus, executive luncheons and other activities with our employer partners. They certainly look like the business professionals they aspire to be.
Dressing professionally demonstrates to the employers that the students know how to present themselves in a professional manner and that they are taking their interaction with the employers very seriously. Whether the employer works at a company where suits are required every day is not relevant. Demonstrating their ability to dress appropriately when needed is an important trait to employers.
Dressing for success is an opportunity to promote your personal brand with the employers and demonstrate your interest in the employer. Making a positive first impression often goes a long way towards being remembered by the employer.
While I still see students in their jeans and tee shirts, it is exciting to be part of an MBA program where suits are such a regular sight on campus. We are preparing students to be successful in their careers not just in the classes they take but in the employer interactions they experience as well. While they are taking classes, they are also building a strong foundation for their professional network.
The single most critical step in the job search is networking and unfortunately it is the most frequently overlooked step. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 80% of jobs are filled through networking. Many jobs aren’t advertised or publicly posted these days. Networking helps you successfully tap this hidden job market. If you are looking for a job, you can’t afford to avoid networking any longer. Here are some tips for successful networking:
Why network? There are several benefits to networking. You will learn about different companies, different functions and roles that interest you, the critical skills required in your desired field and gain insights in the company hiring practices and priorities. Your networking efforts also build you a network within your target companies to provide access to the hidden job pool, to act as an early warning on open positions and serve as an internal advocate. Networking is the most critical step in the job search.
More is not always better. So often, frustrated job seekers feel that spending more time on the computer looking at job boards and applying for open positions will increase their chances of landing a job. The majority of online applications are never seen by the hiring manager. You could be the most perfect fit for the job and if your only connection is through an online job board the chances of you landing that job are slim. Resist the urge to spend hours behind the computer and get out to network. It will greatly increase your chances of landing the job. Check postings at your target companies at least once a week and do a weekly scan of the online job boards. You should spend ten times more time and effort in networking than you do on the computer if you hope to succeed in your job search.
Getting Started. I always encourage job seekers to start with the low hanging fruit – people you know when starting a networking process. Ask your friends and family who they know in the companies on your target list and in the field you are most interested in. Ask your friends’ parents and your parents’ friends. Use your alumni network. Look for former colleagues on Linked In. Starting the process with “warm” contacts helps you build your confidence so you can continue to expand your network.
Build Your Network. Always ask each networking contact who else they can introduce you to. Once they know more about what interests you they likely have contacts who can be helpful. If you respect their time, listen well and say “thank you” they are likely going to be willing to make referrals. Ask them what professional associations they belong to and what meetings they find most valuable. These groups can provide many valuable connections.
Be Open To Random Connections. If you are focused on networking and have a clear sense of your target companies and your career interests, it can be amazing where you will find connections. You could find your next connection at the neighborhood barbecue, a social event with friends, an adult education class, or sharing a seat on the train or plane. Ask people what they do and where they work. You can learn a great deal and can make valuable connections.
Networking is the key to job search success but it is also an interesting journey. Enjoy the people you meet along the way and learn as much as possible from each connections. You don’t know which connections just might lead you to your next job.
Check out Networking for Job Search Success articles #2 and #3!