Networking: Use It or Lose It

 

How many times have you found a business card in your purse or on your dresser only to wonder who the person is, where you met him and what you discussed? That’s not a connection, that’s scrap paper. Or a book mark.

Don’t be a collector! Make good use of those contacts by building relationships right away. First, think quality, not quantity. There is no rule that says you have to ask for a business card from everyone you

Image by Imagerymajestic

Image by Imagerymajestic

encounter. You could meet quite a few people in a week—or even in a day (think conferences)—and you can’t be expected to remember all the details of the conversations you have. Instead, make notes on the back of business cards to jog your memory later. For instance, if you met a web designer, you might note:

Met at lunch on 1st day of conference, builds websites. Introduce to Tim.

(Tim is your friend who needs a web page for his new business.)

A couple of times a week, or daily if you have a fistful of business cards, take time to contact your new acquaintances in one of the following ways.

 

Social Media

Send an email asking if it’s okay to connect via social media. You can also ask this question when you first meet. Since most people are seeking to expand their network it is doubtful anyone would decline. Depending on the circumstance, determine if the best site is Linkedin, Twitter or, if it was a really personal connection, Facebook. Just a couple of weeks ago I invited several recruiters I’d met at career fairs out for dinner. We’d already connected on Linkedin but after our evening out some of us also became friends on Facebook.

Look them up on Linkedin as soon as you can. Don’t wait too long or you might forget significant details. Once you are accepted, transfer the note from the back of the business card to the note under the Relationship tab along with any other important details. Hopefully it won’t be long before you speak again but, just in case, this step will be a big help.

Do not use the generic invitation: I’d like to add you to my network. Not only is that a yawn of a message, you miss an opportunity to restate who you are. Not to mention, many people refuse to accept anyone who won’t take 30 seconds to write a professional note. This means you will need to use your computer rather than your mobile device to reach out. Identify where you met and, possibly, what you discussed, along with the reason you want to add them to your network. A student might send me a message that says:

“Thanks for speaking to our Professional Development class this week. I was the guy in ROTC who spoke to you after class. I’d really like to go into the sales field and I’m interested in the Management Trainee program you mentioned. Is it okay to keep in touch?”

 

Support Your New Connection

Set up a time for a cup of coffee or lunch in the coming weeks. I would suggest coffee (or smoothies for non-coffee drinkers) because a half hour meeting is much easier to agree to than an hour. If that meeting lasts longer, great. Something’s clicking. Use this time to discover other ways you might be able to be useful.

Check out their blog or Youtube channel, then follow and make comments on posts. Help them reach a larger audience by sharing their blog with your network: Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc. For bloggers and vloggers an increase in hits is reason to celebrate!

Introduce them to others in your network that might be an asset using email, social media or a good old-fashioned phone call.

Terry, I want to introduce you to Gail. You mentioned the need for an event planner and she has been in that business for 10 years. I hope she can help you out.”

If you were invited to another event, try to attend. Afterward, reciprocate if you can. Extend an invitation to your organization where you discovered there was a common interest. This is what I did with the people I mentioned in the first post in this series who I invited to my writing group.

Perhaps you met the facilitator or presenter at a workshop. Write a recommendation. No matter how skilled someone is in their profession, encouragement is always welcome. Make sure you have someone proofread it then send it via Linkedin.

 

Offer to Help With a Problem

Send an article you think might be of interest based on your conversation, not random topics you find appealing.

“Sarah, I remembered we talked about investments at the luncheon last week and I came across this article that I think might answer the question you had about making a budget. Hope you find it helpful!”

Did you meet a business owner or salesperson? Send a referral. Remember the web designer from earlier? Put her in touch with your buddy Tim. On a personal note, recruiters always love it when we receive potential candidates. This could even be the message you send.

“I enjoyed our conversation after your presentation at the Sales Center. I applied for the Account Representative position as you recommended and I also referred a friend of mine. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

 

Thank You

Finally, remember everyone appreciates a Thank You note. I write one after every speaking engagement which tends to lead to more opportunities.

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak to your class. I always welcome the chance to share tips with students to make the transition from college to the workplace easier. I hope they found the information I shared beneficial.”

Decide which of these suggestions you’d like to implement first then allow your new connection to reciprocate or respond. You don’t want to be a stalker. If you reach out too much, too soon you might come across as desperate or annoying rather than engaging. After a reasonable amount of time, perhaps at 60 days and again at 6 months, choose another way to reach out to keep the connection strong.

Developing a lasting connection takes time, but can be well worth the effort for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Networking: The Conversation

This is the time of year when many colleges are hosting events that will provide an opportunity to network, including career fairs, panel discussions or actual networking events. For those who are not in school, many cities have network-after-work events, workshops or conferences you might attend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you make the most of these opportunities.

  1. Know your audience. You might ask an employer a different question than a fellow student.Photo by Ambro
  2. Be tactful and professional. Last year at a holiday event I was having a conversation with a couple of people when a business owner, bent on getting a client, interrupted us, ignored me (which is not easy when I’m nearly 6’ tall) and launched into her spiel. Several minutes later she finally looked at me and said something by way greeting. (Can’t remember what, I was making a mental note to mention her in this blog.)
  3. Listen more than you talk and ask follow up questions. When you do speak try to weave in some things that will make you memorable. Perhaps your sister attended the same college as the person you’re speaking with. Maybe he’s a Raven’s fan—tough to find in Bengals’ country—and so are you. You might realize someone’s last name sounds familiar and discover her dad was your softball coach in high school.
  4. Share a little bit about yourself. This is a good place to use some of the components of your elevator pitch (what is unique about you, what you can contribute to an organization, what you know about the company) or to answer some of the questions you’ve memorized (see below). You might also talk about hobbies and non-work-related interests. Think dinner party/get together, not just professional events. I received some great advice about being published from a friend of my sister’s at a get-together, and afterward added that person as a Linkedin connection.
  5. Start with small talk. This might include weather, information about speakers scheduled for that evening, the event itself, sports (unless you are or you encounter a fanatic), news items, latest movies. This will help break the ice before you ask more in-depth questions, but avoid controversial topics if possible.
  6. Move into open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than a yes or no answer. When you walk away you want to have useful information. If you’ll be seeking work soon, make sure you know if their organization is hiring. If you need clients you should know if they have need of your services.

QUESTIONS

When you approach someone, shake their hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself. Below are some questions you might ask or might be asked of you at a college networking event such as a reception with potential employers. 

College Event

  • What made you choose _____ University? When will you graduate?
  • What’s your major? Why did you choose that?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about your major?
  • If someone were to describe your school in one sentence what would he say?
  • How did you end up in this area (city)?
  • What organizations are you involved with on campus?
  • What was the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your organization? (e.g. sorority, fraternity, sports team or club, etc.)
  • What were you involved in while in college?
  • Do you have any hobbies or involvement outside of work?
  • Is your organization open to partnering with student groups for service projects?

The conversation might be a little bit different at a professional networking event, but these questions can also be asked of potential employers who are visiting your university.

Image by AmbroProfessional/Work Event

  • Where did you go to college?
  • How long have you been with your organization?
  • What attracted you to your organization?
  • What advice would you give me if I want to be successful in your line of work?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?
  • What separates your company from the competition?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise?
  • If someone were to describe your business/company in one sentence what would he say?
  • What would make someone the ideal employee for your company or organization?

Other Events

  • What do you do for a living?
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Did you get a chance to go to (insert name of local event) this past weekend?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • Did you catch the game last week?

Here is an example of a conversation that might take place between a student and a potential employer after the initial greeting or introduction:

Student: Thanks for coming tonight. (Reads name tag. Sounding enthused because she did a little homework before the event.) Oh, you’re with the World Helpers Foundation. I just read an article about your record-breaking year.

Employer: Yes. We’re really excited about that, especially with the economic challenges.

Student: I’ve always enjoyed philanthropy and fund-raising. In fact, I’m the President of my sorority and we recently exceeded our goal for cancer awareness by 40%.

Employer: That’s wonderful. How did you do that?

Student: I felt like we’ve underutilized social media in the past. This year we made sure we put the word out about our event early through Facebook and Twitter, then on our webpage we highlighted cancer survivors that were close to our members.

Employer: What a great idea!

Student: Thank you. What’s your role at WHF?

Employer: I’m the Senior Director of Partner Relationships. In a nutshell, I’m responsible for relationships and recruitment.

Student: That sounds interesting. What do you like best about your career?

Employer: Working with people toward a worthy cause. It’s challenging but I get to be creative and I like seeing the results of all my hard work.

Student: I feel the same way when I’m planning events. What kind of advice would you give me that would help me to eventually get into a role like yours?

Employer: Well, you’ve already got a great start! You have to be comfortable talking to people and leading teams and it seems like you’ve done that fairly well with your fraternity.

Student: Thanks! Do you ever have any entry-level opportunities or might you be able to recommend some other organizations?

Employer: As a matter of fact, we usually have some opportunities at WHF.

Student: Well, I would definitely be interested. Would it be okay for me to keep in touch with you?

Employer: Absolutely. (Hands over business card)

Student: (Shakes hand and thanks the employer before moving on.)

Well done! After all your hard work, you don’t want to lose contact with the great people you’ve met so come back next time for tips on how to strengthen your new relationship.

See you next time!

The Daily Business of Networking

In my last post I noted networking events can sometimes feel awkward. The good news is, they are not the only venue. In fact, they aren’t even where I do most of my networking.

Image by winnond

Image by winnond

Believe it or not, you have numerous chances to network—at the gym, work, school, happy hour, parties, baseball games, church, organizations, reunions. Are you getting the picture? It happens every day. Since that’s the case it’s in your best interest to learn to maximize every opportunity, but also to know when to relax. Think about the past week. Can you remember a few opportunities where you could have made a connection?

A couple of weeks ago, not only did I meet the recruiters I mentioned in the last post, I also attended a breakfast that Saturday and exchanged information with an attendee who is also interested in writing—so of course I invited her to our group.

Recently I had lunch with a friend I met while serving on an advisory board to do some fact-finding for a novel. She introduced me to a local sports agent she knew that we bumped into as we were leaving. We chatted for a few minutes about sports and his role as an agent—I even mentioned an applicant I’d spoken with who was seeking a professional basketball career. Because I come across several Sports Management majors, as well as athletes, we exchanged information and he told me they were seeking an intern. Should I come across anyone interested in that field I will definitely make the referral. Not to mention, if I ever add a sports agent to a manuscript he’d be a great resource. The friend, by the way, has invited me to sit on the board of her non-profit.

Two years ago at a United Way appreciation dinner I met a colleague’s wife who happens to be a trademark lawyer. At the time I was working to trademark a tag line for future publications. We struck up a conversation and she answered questions I didn’t even realize I had. Later, when a company informed me they wanted to publish my novel I was able to reach out to my new contact to get a recommendation for an entertainment lawyer.

That being said, remember to use some discernment. Be careful not to pry. Learn to “read” the person with whom you are speaking. If their eyes are glazing over, wrap it up! As I mentioned, I am one of those people who never met a stranger, but if the person you strike up a conversation with doesn’t contribute they are shouting (silently, of course), “I’d like to remain a stranger, please.”.

When should you network? When it’s appropriate. If you gain a friend but not a client you’ve still expanded your network. What you can get or gain shouldn’t be the first thing on your mind even at a formal networking event. Think, instead, about what you are bringing to the table.

Image courtesy of stockimages

Image courtesy of stockimages

For example, while I love being a recruiter, when I’m out with friends the last thing I want is for someone to ask me to review their resume. And we recruiters get that question a lot. Just as my husband, an IT professional, gets the, ‘My computer isn’t working, can you take a look at it?’ question far more often than he’d like. I’m sure I have been guilty of violating this advice. In the example above, however, the person offered information when I mentioned my tag line which, after some questions about her career, led me to believe she wouldn’t mind a question or two. The fact that she gave me her business card backed that up. Again, discernment is key. If the person who is a chef says, “Oh I just love to cook any chance I get,” it’s probably okay to talk recipes.

Think about your skills, talents and abilities. What have been some of your biggest and best accomplishments? What have you learned from your mistakes? Who is in your network that could use an assist? This is what you can share. The next time you find yourself speaking with someone new think about how you might pour into their life.

Image by Witthaya Phonsawat

Image by Witthaya Phonsawat

Your roommate’s cousin is starting a business and you can build a website in your sleep. Offer to help or recommend a friend who can. You meet someone at a party who’s thinking about the study abroad program and you just got back from your study abroad trip to London. Tell her where she should visit and how to avoid some travel woes. While your pup, Champ, is racing around the dog park you meet someone new to the area who is in temporary housing. Your friend happens to be a realtor, so make the introduction.

Once you have the connection it opens the door for future opportunities that might not have even come to mind. The cousin could recommend you to others, the party acquaintance might think of you when she hears about a job opportunity during her internship abroad. When the guy from the dog park buys his house and invites you over for the housewarming you could meet your future business partner.

Don’t let another week pass without making a connection. Whether you find yourself at a ball game, your run club or grabbing a bite to eat, you never know who you might cross your path.

Come back next time for some Do’s and Don’ts for networking events.

The Necessity of Networking

LiImage by David Castillo Dominici,ke other recruiters, I am right in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year. I’ve just finished the two-week Career Fair Circuit with a couple more on the horizon in coming weeks. My schedule is chock full of classroom presentations and I am planning a Hiring Event to interview several people in a couple of days. In addition, last week consisted of a recruiting workshop with fellow recruiters. All of these events have something in common—they all provided (or will provide) great opportunities for networking.

So what’s the big deal with networking? Don’t think about status posts on Facebook. That kind of interaction might be part of the problem. We’ve gotten so comfortable talking to people in cyberspace that we’ve lost the ability to do so in person. On the other hand, some people have a limited view and think networking is only for those places labeled “networking event”.

I have no problem talking to people. In fact, nearly everyone in my family can strike up a conversation with perfect strangers (whether the strangers like it or not). But even for me there’s something…well, awkward about formal networking events. It feels like Skippy’s first day of school with his mom gently pushing on his back, saying, “Go on in and talk to the other kids.” It’s as if there is a drum roll and an announcement: “Let the networking begin!”. Often students gather with their peers, and employers, having been shut out of their cliques, wind up talking to…each other! So essentially all we’ve done is eat some great finger food (hopefully) and stay out later than we needed to on a school night.

I stumbled across this statement as I prepared to host such an event—(during our welcome we gave some tips to ensure success):

“Networking is less about meeting new people than having them remember you after the fact.”

Case in point. It was through networking that my local writing group was revived. A year and a half ago we were down to only two people due to some members relocating and others whose work schedules changed. While most people might have thrown in the towel, I knew if I did that the lack of accountability was sure to bring my writing to a screeching halt. I had to find some new members. Two of them came from a local writing conference where I chatted with fellow attendees. I sat next to another one when I visited another writing group. (I swear I didn’t go just to poach members.) And yet one more came when I purposely struck up a conversation with someone at our local Books By The Banks festival. I also invited a fellow university advisory board member and even a few people from work. Hey, I’m a recruiter by profession. Would you expect anything less? Now we have several regular attendees and the group lives on.

If I hadn’t been memorable in my conversation do you think anyone I invited would have actually shown up? Doubtful. How can you accomplish this? Think about the people you’ve met who you thought about long afterward. What stood out about them? For me, those people were personable, knowledgeable, accomplished, intelligent, humorous and yet, humble. Think about your most positive qualities and allow them to shine through to make a lasting impression.

Here are a few more benefits of networking:

  • Build confidence. Think of networking as practice. The more comfortable you become speaking with new people when youImage by cooldesign have nothing to lose, the easier it will be to talk to others in your network–approaching your manager with a new idea or a co-worker to resolve an issue. You could even find yourself speaking to groups in informal or formal settings.
  • New information. This is one way to learn what is going on in your industry. Who are the new competitors? What new products are out there? You could also gain knowledge that could help you on a personal basis. For instance, you could bump into a car enthusiast at a party right when you’re planning to buy a car.
  • Connect with experts to support your efforts. You can’t possibly know everything about your profession. You don’t know every customer. You don’t know every future investor, but connecting with others can help you reach new consumers and, perhaps land your own personal shark (for all you Shark Tank fans) for an entrepreneurial venture. But please don’t think networking is only about you, as we’ll find out later in this series. I exchanged information with the recruiters I met last week so I can potentially support them by sending candidates their way.
  • Teamwork is necessary for success–even if you work in a solitary role. The artist needs someone to sell his paintings, the musician needs someone to listen to his music. And we writers need people to read our books—and blogs. 🙂 Visibility and awareness are key to building your brand.
  • Opportunities to give back. You might find out about local philanthropic opportunities or a cause where you can lend your expertise.

Bottom line, people need each other and networking is not just about finding a job. Now that we all agree you should be participating, come back next time to discuss where.

Classroom to Career-Part 1

You’ve been at the new job for a couple of months—or you’re preparing to begin a new job. A perfect time for some tips about how to make that transition from the classroom to corporate!

 MONEY

 When you find that first job after graduation you will more than likely receive the largest income you’ve had up to this point. It might seem like a lot of money, but it’s important to make a budget. Think about the unexpected expenses that might crop up. Maybe your roommates are moving out and you’ll be paying the rent and bills on your own. That will include utilities—gas, electric, phone, cable and possibly water. Groceries cost more when they’re not split between a couple of people. By the time you add all that up you could eat into a big chunk of your take home pay. With taxes, 401(k) and insurance benefits coming out of your check you’re bringing home only about 60% – 70% of your salary. That’s where your budget starts. Not with the gross. It might seem obvious but often people forget to consider typical deductions.

As I mentioned in a previous post, make wise decisions. Do you really need to get the priciest apartment? Do you need a new car right now or can your old college beater last a little bit longer? When I started my career I thought about buying a brand new Saturn. Beside the fact that, at nearly six feet tall, I could barely fit in it, I didn’t have much extra money for a car payment. So I kept driving my ‘85 Chevy Cavalier for a few more years. Yes, the paint on the hood had faded from blue to a curious gray, and by the time I was finally able to give the car up it had no heat, no air conditioning and some decorative rust around the doors. But by then I had been promoted to upper management and I was allowed to drive a company car. Now, many years later, I still don’t own a car of my own, but I get a new one every year— and since my company pays for gas and maintenance and we’re self-insured I save a ton of money.

As Dave Ramsey says (www.financialpeace.com), live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else. Small sacrifices now allow you to have nicer things later on when you’re not indebted to everyone else. A good rule of thumb is to live on 80%, give away 10% and save 10%.

College Students

TIME MANAGEMENT & WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Yes, college is challenging. Juggling classes, study time, organizational involvement, work—and, let’s face it, if you’re dating someone that takes a huge chunk of your time too—can be difficult. But the bright spot is, if you’re lucky, your weekend starts on Thursday night. I was even fortunate enough a couple of times to have all Monday and Wednesday classes so my weekend started even earlier!

Not so in Corporate America. You might have friends who are still in school and they’re still hanging out until all hours during the week. This is your opportunity to make some good decisions. Sure, you can probably get away with that every once in a while, but don’t wait until you doze off in a team meeting before you learn to say no. Save the late nights for the weekend. Some of you might actually have to commit to going to bed as early as 10:00 pm.

I’ll admit I’m a night owl, but when the alarm goes off in the morning and all I can do is groan, I know I will be in bed early that night. I can’t sit through interviews, make good decisions or contribute to my team when I’m tired. Not to mention, my sunny disposition is a little more on the stormy side.  😉

Once you begin your career—unless you’re in education—Spring Break, Summer Break and, sometimes, holidays like President’s Day or even the major holidays you love could become a thing of the past. That’s not to say you won’t have vacation or other paid time off, but often new grads are surprised when Martin Luther King Day comes along and they’re expected to go into the office. If it’s a day that is important to you plan ahead and use one of your paid days.

 

Take Care of You

All work and no play…stinks! No it’s not the usual saying but it’s true. Even if you love your career, if that’s all you have in your life you will eventually wear yourself out. Take up some activities both with and away from your co-workers. It’s important to build camaraderie with your team; it can benefit you in the office. At the same time, many people need time to decompress which can be difficult to do in the company of your team members. So make sure you don’t inadvertently cast your friends aside just because you’ve landed a new job. I know someone who schedules quarterly outings or get-togethers with friends so they don’t lose touch in the busyness of everyday life. You’ll make new friends along the way, of course. Some of which will be your co-workers. In that case, you might need to make a pact to leave the office at the office. Otherwise it might feel like you never left work!

I take my workout clothes with me to work so I can go straight to the gym. I’m involved in a writing group and my church’s worship team. I salsa, go to local festivals (who doesn’t love a funnel cake?) and plays. I recently even went to the symphony a couple times. Not my thing, but it was worth a try. And in the past I was on a few softball teams. The point is, though I love my career, I have interests outside of work that allow me to continue to love it.

Stuck in a rut? Here are some ideas: join a book club, the gym, coach a team, have card tournaments, invite friends over for a cook out, mentor someone or pick up a new hobby. Check out http://www.meetups.com to find groups of people with similar interests.

I’ll see you back here next time for some tips on professionalism in the workplace.

Where the Jobs Are 2013

You visited all the top job sites, prepped your resume—and had someone review it beforehand, thank you very mucJob Searchh—and applied for some jobs you came across that first day. There are tons of them though, and it turned out to be a grueling day. You posted your resume so now all you have to do is sit back and wait for those employers out there to find you, right?

Actually, you couldn’t be more wrong! Remember what I’ve said in the past—with so many people seeking work, it’s all a recruiter can do to keep his head above water at times. Between the career fairs, job postings, phone screens, interviews, coordinating the interview process, running background checks and, for some, generalist duties (benefits, legalities, unemployment claims, trainings…)

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. We recruiters are swamped! That means, that while we still prospect, you can’t count on us seeing your resume as the only way to find job leads. And while the popular ones—Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed—will all send you jobs that might be of interest you’re going to find a lot more opportunities by having a plan for your job search. Not to mention, as a recruiter, I want a self-starter who is results driven and ambitious, not the guy that waits around for something to fall into his lap.

 

Below is a list of the top fields hiring new grads this year, so there are definitely jobs out there. The question is, how do you go about finding them?

1.             IT — 26 percent

2.             Customer service — 19 percent

3.             Finance/accounting — 16 percent

4.             Sales — 16 percent

5.             Business development — 15 percent

6.             Health care — 12 percent

 

(Find the complete article at http://www.examiner.com/list/top-6-jobs-for-college-new-grads-2013)

 

Top Places to Search for Jobs

Internet 

By all means, do not discount the job sites listed above. You might also check out career rookie, simply hired and even snag-a-job. Granted, Snag-A-Job primarily posts part-time jobs but perhaps that can lead to a full-time position. These sites are definitely viable, and the place I find many of my new hires, but I encourage you to go beyond the obvious. Check out Twitter, Linked in and Facebook.

True, the careers popping up on on Twitter could be in Timbuktu, but if you utilize the search feature and enter your city (ex. Jobs Atlanta) you can see the companies posting local jobs. Follow them and it could open up a world of opportunities that might never be posted in the more traditional ways. The same goes for Linkedin. In fact, if you visit your home page, on the right side mid-way down, you’ll see job opportunities that might be of interest to you. If you follow the link for more jobs you will also see which of your connections already work for those companies. Now you have an in—as long as you haven’t been randomly connecting with people you don’t know on Linkedin. You can reach out to your friend to do research, ask questions and, perhaps, even ask for a recommendation.

Is one of your friends raving about his new job on Facebook? Is he posting about how much fun he’s having, how much he loves his manager and his team and just got promoted after only six months? Find out where he’s working. Have a conversation and see if that company is hiring in your field.

 

Employee Referral 

Many companies, mine included, offer incentives for employees who make referrals for employment. Let your friends know you’re looking. Keep your resume up-to-date and be prepared to email it at a moment’s notice. The last thing you want to do is make your acquaintance wait while you make revisions.

A few years ago my brother-in-law, John, was in between contracts in the pharmaceutical research field. John’s resume found its way to the desk of a hiring manager and a colleague who knew John saw it. Because she was familiar with him, his performance and his work ethic she told the hiring manager, “You need to hire him.” John got a phone call, had a brief discussion and hung up with a job offer! Sometimes it really is who you know.

 

Colleges 

As I mentioned in a previous post, career services at your alma mater is a great place to visit. You can also jump on the career services website and browse jobs that have been posted by their employer partners. During the school year attending the career fairs is a must! You can make a much greater impact as a real live person vs. just words on a piece of paper that can get lost in a sea of other resumes. If I am impressed with someone face-to-face I am much more likely to bring that person in for an interview.

 

Networking 

During a presentation a few years ago the speaker emphasized the importance of a viable network. If you can’t help others and vice versa, he said, you don’t have a network, you have a netbroke. One candidate I came across definitely understood this. He worked at a country club throughout college where many affluent guests were members. He was a server but knew he was in a position that could open up doors later on. He kept resumes in his car and had his elevator pitch memorized, so when he got a chance to strike up a conversation with a business owner he was ready. That interaction led to an internship in New York where he was able to hone his marketing skills in a position the company created for him. When you impress people sometimes they go out of their way to help you!

I mentioned Linked in before, but it deserves another mention in this category. Take time to join groups of interest and comment in discussions. That way you can meet more people to add to your network. I recently posted a job and got a recommendation from someone who’d read my feedback. For my contributions in another group I was recognized as the Contributor of the Month and was offered a gift card. I was able to provide valuable information and, though it wasn’t my motivation to do so, I got valuable feedback in return. The same can be said of your job search.

 

Other Sources

 Employment Agencies

Employment agencies can be very expensive for companies so the agency might have a limited number of clients. Similar to your internet search, don’t just sign up and sit back and wait for a phone call. Agencies have numerous clients which means your competition could be significant.

Local Organizations

Oftentimes your local Chamber of Commerce, Urban League, even the unemployment office will have a place for employers to post jobs, so check out the website. In addition, they and other local organizations might host a few public career fairs. Do an online search for “career fairs (name of city) 2013” to see what events will be held locally this summer.

Think outside the box 

If you want a job in a creative field, be creative. With the internet at our fingertips people are thinking way outside the box. I read a story about a guy who put up a billboard to get the attention of employers—and found a job! Utilize Youtube to put together a video. Pin your works of art on Pinterest. Take pics of your fashion designs and post them on Instagram. How about using your marketing skills to draw people—including employers—to your blog? What better way to prove your results than a huge following.

I have yet to hear anyone exclaim, “Yay! I get to search for a job!” Let’s face it, it’s not fun. Keep a positive attitude, but don’t make your job search last any longer than it has to. Take advantage of these tips, exhaust every avenue and keep plugging away until you get that job offer you’ve been seeking.

 

New Grad & No Job Offer? Make Your Summer Count

So you haven’t landed your dream job yet. Last time we established that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you can’t justify your break forever. What can you do to improve your chances of getting the one you have your eye on when you embark on that career search again?

First, let’s review the obstacles you encountered.challenges

You only applied for one job. But, hey, it was the one and the first two interviews went really well. How were you to know they’d offer the job to someone else? Bad move. Take advantage of all the money you invested in college and visit Career Services. They have relationships with tons of employers and can give you some referrals.

This time, make sure you cast a wide net. Where do your interests lie? Is it only nursing, or do you also enjoy physical fitness, social work or other fields where you’d be able to help people? Or you might be interested in some totally unrelated fields—aviation and IT and law. Personally, I am not only interested in recruiting, but finances, writing and philanthropy. Since few jobs would incorporate all of these areas, you will have to satisfy some of your interests outside of the workplace. Just make sure you tailor your resume accordingly when applying for jobs. Don’t send your aviation-related resume in for a programming career at Microsoft.

Do some research to find out if you’ll need more education or a certification for your desired career. If so, consider it—the cost, the time and what sacrifices you might have to make. Perhaps, with those qualifications under your belt, even more avenues will be open to you.

You bombed the interview. It happens. Use it as a learning experience. You will live to interview again—believe me. I walked into an interview for a sales position my senior year in college. Back then I was extremely shy. (Shocking, I know.) Much to my horror I found myself facing five—yes, five—interviewers.

It did not go well. I filed it under the category of Things I Don’t Speak Of. If interviews make you break out in hives, this is another area where Career Services, local organizations like the Urban League or other job centers can help. Take advantage of a mock interview (or two) or a resume critique and get some feedback on where you can improve. You’ll walk into your interviews much more polished than you were in March.

Lack of experience 

If this is the case, is there something you can do over the summer—volunteering, working part-time, taking a course—that can help you gain that experience? Let’s say you applied for an accounting position but you never had an internship. Why not try to obtain one over the summer if a company is open to hiring graduates as interns? If that doesn’t work read some entry-level accountant job descriptions. Will the company accept banking as related experience? If so, head over to US Bank or 5/3rd and fill out an application. You’ll not only gain cash handling experience, you’ll gain customer service and sales experience as well. You might even qualify for promotion into their accounting division after a few months of proving yourself.

This is the best way to gain experience—hands on, and it’s what I personally like to see on a resume. But there are also other ways which I’ll cover below by order of preference.

 

Honing Your Skills

Do not take a random summer job if you can avoid it. Choose one that will help you gain new skills. If you were turned down for a communications position and re-apply for the position in the fall with the same resume you’ll more than likely get a similar result. And I’m not sure you can sell your parents on taking another three months to find work.

Previous jobs

As I mentioned, I love to see real life experience on a resume. Because I hire for a sales & management trainee position I am even more drawn to candidates who held leadership roles or who met goals. So if you work in a department store and there are no sales goals established by the company, and you would like to get into sales, set some goals of your own and highlight the results on your resume.

Volunteer/Organizational

Rotary, relay for life, habitat for humanity, missions trips just to name a few. This is also solid experience because it involves real situations. Don’t settle for showing up at organizational meetings and filling in where needed. Is there an opportunity to take the helm for a project? Conceptualize and plan events? I am so impressed by candidates who can organize and motivate teams to accomplish tasks. Why? Because so few recent grads have that experience.

No too long ago I hired two candidates who had been on missions trips. They had to raise money (sales/persuasiveness/resilience), set appointments (communication/self-starter) and organize Bible studies and outreach (time management, leadership). All of this while in school (flexibility/adaptability).

Classroom — This is impressive when you have had the opportunity to present solutions to an actual company who decided to implement them. However, classroom experience is typically hypothetical or simulated. While it gives students an understanding of what happens in a company nothing beats that face-to-face customer encounter you had as a server where you were able to turn him into a repeat diner at your restaurant. No theoretical idea can take the place of the organizational process you implemented at your last job to help keep track of inventory that was later adopted by three other divisions.

Years ago I interviewed a solid guy for our internship program and asked him to tell me about a time when he had a leadership role. He was an Assistant Manager at a car wash but for some reason he started telling me about his classroom project. I interrupted him and said, “If you tell me about your capstone… You were an Assistant Manager! Tell me about that.” We both laughed, but he got it. He went on to describe some of his responsibilities, the number of people he managed and even how he was able to impact the bottom line. I brought him on board and after he graduated we hired him full-time.

Check out this link for even more ways to gain experience:

http://education-portal.com/articles/10_Ways_for_New_College_Graduates_to_Gain_Job_Experience.html

Transferable Skills

Let’s face it, there is only so much experience you can gain in three months’ time, so what’s an alternative? I guarantee many of you already have valuable skills you never even considered—transferable skills.

Some of the most beneficial skills include: leadership-ability to motivate a team, communication—written & verbal, flexibility/adaptability, teamwork, time management, self-starter, problem-solving, organization, creativity, resilience, results driven

Recent grads often discount their “college jobs”, but don’t sell yourself short. Server, Sales Associate, Laborer (warehouse, landscaping), construction and athlete are all job experiences that will add to your skill set. Think about the skills you’ve gained and ways you can highlight them on your resume and, once you land the interview, what specific examples you can share that prove you have that competency.

Job   Title Experience   &Transferable Skills
Server Multi-tasking/adaptability, customer service, sales,   leadership–ability to oversee a process
Athlete Leadership, work ethic, tenacity, resilience, teamwork,   dedication, goal-setting, problem resolution, results driven, time management   (school, practice, games/meets & sometimes a job)
Landscaping/Construction

(bonus points for crew leader)

Self-starter, ability to meet deadlines, teamwork;   entrepreneurship if you started your own mowing business, leadership
Tutor Planning, training, teaching, motivation (with proven   results), communication
Resident Assistant Leadership, customer service, planning, problem resolution,   organization, creativity, sales if you had to persuade other RA’s to accept   your ideas, budgeting
VP of fraternity Event planning, leadership, creativity, able to motivate a   team, sales—ideas or fund-raising activities, budgeting

Job Shadow

One final suggestion for your summer. You think you’d like to work in a non-profit, but you’re not entirely sure. Why not tap into your network this summer for a connection in that field? (Networking is a topic all its own that I will cover in a future post.) Perhaps you can shadow someone a few days a week or even volunteer. This will give you insight an interview might not offer and you could discover you’re not as interested as you thought or it’s the perfect fit for you.

Remember, just because you haven’t landed your first job is not a license to take it easy this summer. Take advantage of some of these tips and, after you get a few months’ experience under your belt, get back out there! Everyone had to start somewhere. Make that first step pay off in the long run.