While much has changed over the last twenty years in the job search process, one thing remains the same: up to 80% of jobs are found through networking. Follow these guidelines from our career coach to maximize the effectiveness of your job search strategy.
By the time I meet with alumni, many of them are frustrated and disillusioned by the job search process. They have spent hours online applying for jobs with little to no response. Online applications alone are not the answer. By balancing online searches with in-person networking, you drastically increase your chances of landing that perfect job.
Many companies require applicants to apply through online systems, but there are often fundamental flaws in the process. Online postings rarely give one of the most important components of a job opening — the context of the job. Yes, employers are looking for specific skills and experiences, but they are also looking for fit. They are looking for someone who is motivated to do well and will mesh seamlessly with their team. These types of attributes are hard to articulate in written form and therefore require human interaction. Online job postings also do not provide access to the hidden job market – jobs that are never posted because they are filled internally or by a referral from a trusted source.
By taking a more proactive approach to your search, you will have more success. This includes landing interviews and also finding a job that is the right short- and long-term fit for you.
First, it is important that you narrow your search. You need to know what you want to do and with whom you would like to work. From there, you can start identifying companies with needs that align with your interests and have a need for your skillset. You can use LinkedIn and the GAA Alumni Advisor Network to look for connections within those companies. Create a list of companies and contacts to use during this process.
Next, prioritize your search. Likely, you will not want to send out 50 networking messages at once. Know who you want to reach out to first and why. Prioritize those companies with open positions or those you are particularly passionate about. From there itis all about making connections!
While family and friends can be a good place to start, second and third degree connections are often more important because they expand access to social networks where we would not otherwise belong. When reaching out via LinkedIn or email, keep your messages short and sweet. Do not focus on getting a job, but on gaining insights into the person’s experience within the organization. And remember to track your outreach! The job search process typically takes three to six months but you can shorten this timeline by staying organized and prioritizing outreach.
When making connections, the first point of contact is so important. Once you find the right person to reach out to, here are a few tips make the most of their time:
- Do not pepper the person with questions over email. Request a time to meet in person or over the phone.
- Go into the conversation with a list of questions to keep the conversation going. Show a genuine interest in the person, his or her experience and the company. Sample questions can be found here.
- Ask if there are professional organizations you should join, blogs or publications you should be reading, and if there is anyone else they would advise you to contact to learn more.
Make sure to send a concise, professional and polite message, such as the one below:
I am a fellow UNC Chapel Hill alumnus and I came across your information in the Alumni Advising Network. As someone interested in pursuing a career in marketing, I wondered if I might set up a 20 – 30 minute call with you to learn more about your career path.
As a recent graduate, your insights into the industry and any advice you may have for people looking to get their foot in the door would be so appreciated.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope you have a great rest of the week!
For more information on the job search process, GAA members can view a recorded webinar.