In an economy with an unemployment rate looming around 9 percent, it is convenient for job seekers to search and apply for positions posted online and wait for an interview call that may never come. What you must never forget in your job search is that your resume—however great it might be—may risk getting lost in a heap of other resumes. When it comes down to it, companies do not have the time or bandwidth to review the hundreds of resumes that are submitted for a single position—meaning job seekers must be more creative in their approach on getting hired. The key to professional development is learning how to network by building and maintaining connections.
Networking is everywhere. Traditionally, networking is associated with professional meetings, conferences or conventions, but it can also be done online through professional networking sites such as LinkedIn™ as well as on message boards like the “Career Discussion Board” at Vault.com. Networking also takes place when you talk with your neighbors; visit with other parents during your child’s school or sporting event, or even when you strike up a conversation with someone else waiting in line at the grocery store.
One of the most effective ways to find employment opportunities and internships is through networking. It is an exceptionally important asset in your job search toolbox because it provides you with the outlet to learn more about your career field as well as particular companies and positions of interest. Here are three important items to remember when networking:
- Networking is More Than “Landing a Job”– It is important to remember that the goal of the first networking conversation is to connect with the other person on a level other than “how can you help me get a job”. A more conversational networking experience can take place if you ask your contacts about their background and experience. For example, you might ask:
- What do you do?
- How did you get to where you are? (Education and/or prior experiences)
- What advice would you have for someone considering entering/growing within this field?
- Take the Initiative – When it comes to networking, you must take the initiative and not wait for people to come to you. Be proud of who you are and your accomplishments and realize that you deserve to be in the networking mix. You have just as much to gain as you have to share when networking.
- Networking Takes Time – Networking does not happen overnight. At its core, networking is about establishing and maintaining relationships, so be sure to stay in touch with your contacts. Over time, the more active you are in networking, the more connections you will establish.
Just remember: you can land the job or internship that you want with a little hard work, initiative, and persistence.