College To Career With A Buzz. Part II.
Think of developing your professional network in much the same way you developed other networks in your life. Social, religious, athletic; It is the same basic premise. Know this: It is not “who you know”, but rather “who knows you.”
- Activate your network. Tell everyone you know what type of job you are looking for. There is no sin in looking for employment, and in fact it is more of a sin to not look. Folks will think much more of you as well as be far more willing to help when you demonstrate a sincere effort. So you need to get everyone in your network working for you. While your friend’s parents are not a lawyer or a management consultant, they may know one. Follow up every lead you are given; you never know who knows the person who can get you the job you want.
- If you have a professor who has worked in industry or does extra work in the field you’re interested in, make sure to invite them to use their contacts on your behalf. Often, even an informal recommendation from a professor can open doors. Once you do connect, don’t ask for an interview, but for fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee. This reduces the expectation level for both parties.
- Join a professional organization. Most occupations, from accounting professionals to engineers, have professional associations. Many have student rates. Attend meetings, go to seminars, and read the materials. Learn the language and customs of your field, the issues of the day, and identify the key players, so that when you land an interview, you will “speak the language.”
- Be patient and persistent. Set aside time every week to check for job postings, to do research on employers in your field, and to send out a manageable number of applications. It is probably not realistic to try to send out 20, letter-perfect, individually tailored applications in a weekend, so pace yourself. It is better to send five high-quality applications than 20 generic ones. Treat the job search as a marathon rather than a sprint. When you work on the job search regularly, rather than in fits and starts, it is easier to stay focused and to control the stress that inevitably accompanies the job search.
- http://www.job-hunt.org, http://www.wetfeet.com, and http://www.careerjournal.com are three of the many websites that will help you in your job search. They provide job search tips, career research information, company profiles, and many other features.
Buzz Smith is SR Curmudgeon and VP Consulting Services, OPI National Outplacement. OPI National Outplacement and Career Transition Services Located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Buzz can be reached at 865.531.9154