Everyone knows that some absurdly high number of jobs are found through social connections. So, it goes without saying that you should be using your network of contacts in finding your first job out of college.
You already know this and so do your classmates; yet most new graduates just submit their resume to every single job opening they can find hoping to get at least one interview.
That is just PLAIN LAZY.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re doing any work. Most of those job postings have already found someone whom they’d like to hire and have to post them for legal reasons. Plus anyone can mindlessly send a bunch of resumes, it’s not working hard or smart. It’s being extremely lazy.
Employers take on a huge risk when they hire someone “cold”, and most of them attempt to mitigate this risk by hiring people through referrals. This is exactly why referral bonuses exist, and if you understood how much money employers lose by hiring the wrong people you’d understand why. From creating a bad work environment to just plain incompetence shown by the new hire, the cost is high.
So I can’t stress how important it is to find a job through your social connections.
But you already knew that so what’s the point of this article?
Everyone tells you to “network” when trying to find a new job, but no one tells you how to network. Here is a 6 step process to get you started on the right track.
- Figure out the career that you really want
This is probably the most important step in the whole job search process, but the one that literally everyone neglects. I know I did because when you’re fresh out of school you assume you don’t know anything about the real world. However, that’s just an excuse because in this day and age you have access to everything by performing a simple Google search.
It’s in your best interest to get this part down, and spend time researching all the possible job options you can before you start applying.
Begin by going through various online forums, Glassdoor, Google, or even YouTube and figure out what it is you want. Make sure it fits your personality and desired lifestyle.
In this step just “window shop” potential jobs, don’t worry too much about them in this step. If it looks interesting add it to your list.
Simultaneously, figure out which companies you want to work as well.
Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Do you want to grow with a smaller company, or do you want to walk into a big prestigious firm and move up there? They are all questions which might not seem like a big deal right now because you just want a job, but it will matter down the road.
- Call up people you know in the industry and ask for advice
Now that you kind have an idea of what jobs are out there and what companies to work for, dig deeper in your contact list and call up your “acquaintances.”
These acquaintances are what are known as “weak ties” and studies have shown that these weak ties have the potential to change your life in a dramatic way.
Get on the phone or set up coffee to talk about your research in terms of what jobs you’ve found to be interesting and figure out if they know anything about it. Also, ask them their opinion of the companies on your potential list or what they’ve heard. Ask them if they know someone who could answer your questions.
If you’re good and impressed them enough, they may even suggest a contact of theirs that you can get a hold of.
- Get a LinkedIn Account and Network
LinkedIn is like the Facebook of the working world; almost everyone is on it. Most people just go and create an account, post up a picture, maybe add a few corporate buzzwords to their profile and call it a day.
This is not making use of the potential of LinkedIn and you won’t get much out of it.
Part of networking, as I said above is to ask people for advice because everyone loves talking about themselves and their experiences.
For the next step, you should have done your research in finding what kind of jobs you’d potentially want and for which companies. If you haven’t done this yet go back to step 1 and figure that out.
Now use the search function in LinkedIn and find everyone that has that particular title. Next step is to create a spreadsheet with their name, title and experience. You might have to get a premium account to send messages to people outside your network; that’s fine.
Now send them all a message that’s similar to this:
Listen buddy (last name),
I’ve been doing some research on some prospective careers and (your title) is one I’m interested in learning some more about. I came across your LinkedIn profile and it seems like you have quite a bit of experience in this field.
Can I take you out for coffee on Thursday at 2:30 PM? If that doesn’t work, we can also do Friday at lunch.
P.S. I know you’re busy so if coffee doesn’t work, I’m more than happy to talk to you on the phone about this if that works.
I wrote that note crappy on purpose because I want you to write your own. I’m not going to do your work for you, but you get the idea.
Now when you meet up, or call these people, come up with a standard set of questions that should answer the following questions:
1) Am I capable of doing this job/ can I get this job with my degree?
2) Will this job suit my personality and is it something I want to do?
3) How can I differentiate myself from the hundreds of other people applying for this job?
How you word your questions is up to you but after your conversation you should know more about the job and if it’s something that you’d want to do.
Remember: These people give you advice and take time out of their day to help you, so they expect to be kept up to date on your progress. They aren’t going to check in on you, but it’s your responsibility to keep your new “friends” in the loop of how you applied their advice.
People who don’t do that are the reason why most people are so reluctant to give advice to strangers; it’s a waste of time because they’ll probably never hear from that person again.
Don’t be that guy.
All it takes is a simple email or call. They’ll appreciate it.
Also I think it goes without saying: don’t you dare ask for a job in your first meeting.
If they have a job and think you’ll be a good fit then they will bring it up, but if you go under the disguise that you’re just asking for advice but ask for a job instead I will hunt you down and shake the shit out of you.
People who do that ruin this system.
Another way to use LinkedIn is to start joining multiple groups and clubs on the website because:
1) It will open your network so you don’t have to buy a premium account
2) If you show you’re an active and contributing member, people will be more inclined to talk to you when you send them a message
- Keep in touch with all your friends who have jobs
After graduation, it seems to be the norm to not keep in touch with your fellow classmates as you all enter the real world. This is common, but it doesn’t make it right. You just lose more valuable friendships this way, especially if you don’t have a job.
For whatever reason people just feel less inclined to go out of their way to keep in touch with their classmates.
Maybe because it was just so much easier when you had to show up to the same class at the same time.
Maybe it’s because people move to different cities and “life” gets in the way.
Either way, in this day and age there is literally no excuse for not keeping in touch with your classmates and making that extra effort. It just takes that one time where a job comes up and you just happen to the first person they think of.
And everyone knows that’s how most jobs are filled anyways.
- Don’t just sit around the house moping; find something to do
When you’re jobless, a lot of new grads just sit around in their mama’s basement hoping for a call back or email that isn’t an automatic rejection letter.
Getting a job is sort of like finding a relationship. Sure you could spend all day on Tinder, and Plenty of Fish, but chances are higher of meeting someone if you leave your basement.
The same concept applies to finding a job, because I’ll say it again, it’s who you know that can get you in the door.
So start joining various groups that interest you; search it up on sites like www.meetup.com or even your local JCI group. Join a sports team or Toastmasters, anything to get you out of your house so you don’t start hating life.
- Work a job that builds on your human capital
What a lot of people do when they’re waiting around and shotgunning their resume is they get a low skill job working as a server or at a coffee shop. While these jobs might be easy to get and pay the bills for a while; you don’t build on your human capital.
Human capital is a stock of skills that you possess that make you valuable. These include technical skills like Excel programming, or leadership experience from running a camp, or communication skills developed from working as a commissioned salesman.
These are the tangible and intangible skills that will be valuable to potential employers because they make you a well-rounded individual with a strong skill set.
It’s hard to develop these skills through working as dish washer or stocking shelves at a grocery store.
If you’re lucky enough to live at home start volunteering at positions which will help build real skills. Start a club from scratch or a chapter for an established organization. Host tournaments or events from the ground up which will build on a bunch of skills that look great on a resume. Also, you never know who you might meet as you go about making yourself better and more useful in life.
So there you have the 6 step process to get you started on the right track. Results won’t be immediate, unless you get lucky, but over time you will hopefully land a job the same way 80% of people do. Through the connections that you’ve built through real hard work; not just shot gunning your resume and cover letter to a bunch of job postings.