Basic Guide to Networking
We are in the midst of recruiting season and many college students have their eyes set on obtaining a job or internship at their dream company. However, positions at Gigantic Conglomerate, Inc. are competitive. Fortune 500 companies get tens of thousands of applications through campus recruiting, but only have a couple hundred slots. Making the offer rate as low as two percent at some companies.
No matter how much work experience or accomplishments you have on your resume, always be thinking that other applicants probably have more than you. That is a big mistake I’ve made in the last few years. When looking for internships during my sophomore and junior years, I thought my resume was so good, I’ll get an interview by just applying online. With so many applicants, companies will try to find any way to ding you. They filter resumes based on work experience, GPA, and school. Companies also filter your resume by place of residence if they don’t offer relocation assistance. Expect your resume to get looked at for seven seconds.
How do you land your dream job? The key is to network.
Your primary focus should be on campus recruiting. Look on your school’s career website for on-campus interview schedules and career fairs. Campus recruiters will take more time to look over your resume than the HR personnel when you apply online to a company that does not recruit on campus. However, if there is a severe lack of on campus recruiting for your intended career field, then you’ll need to actively reach out to professionals who work in industry. You should first look at your school’s alumni. This is where LinkedIn comes a very powerful tool. You would want to filter by individuals who studied at your school and the industry you want to work in. Once you have a list of alumni to reach out to, turn your attention to DECA’s LinkedIn group. This provides another eleven-thousand potential contacts. To do this you would want to enter the job title in the search bar, then filter by the DECA Inc. group on the side. Searching by group is a premium filter, but if you do not have premium, you are allowed to enable one premium filter at a time.
Once you have created your final list of contacts, you will want to set up an informational interview. An informational interview is where YOU get to ask the questions and is usually held at a coffee shop. You the questions you should ask should be related to the position and the company. You want to get really deep details that only insiders will know. If you already know everything about the position, you’ll want ask something like “how does the work for this position at your company differ from others?” During the informational interview, you are trying to build a relationship so that you can get a referral. Getting a referral will get your resume looked at for a nice, long thirty-seconds and increases your chances of getting an interview by a thousand times. The thinking with hiring managers is that why would they take a chance with somebody they don’t know, over someone who a trusted colleague believes is fit for the job.
Once the informational interview is over, you may be invited to keep in contact if you have any more questions. This is NOT an invitation to be bugging your new contact. Do send a follow up email thanking them for meeting with and ask a few questions you weren’t able to get to. You should keep in touch once a month or once every two months. During the informational interview, ask for advice on how to position yourself for an interview at your contact’s company. If you have no questions, keep in touch about how you’re following the advice your contact gave you. Many career guides say to “ping” your contact with articles you find interesting. Don’t do that, it comes off as annoying.
Once the time comes to apply for positions, ask your contacts for referrals. They may ask for your resume to physically give them to hiring managers, provide you with a referral link, or both. There is no need to sugar coat it, be very straight forward and ask for the referral.
The information you gathered at your informational interviews comes into play for the cover letters. After you introduce yourself with your school, major, and GPA; the follow up sentence should be how you heard about the company. Everybody in the world is aware of the company your applying to, but this is where you name drop. You want to write “I was introduced to opportunities at [COMPANY] from [NAME of CONTACT] and where I learned . . .” It can be something specific about the position only professionals know or something about the company that only the employees will know. This should only be one or two sentences. Having unique knowledge about the position and company your applying to makes your cover stand out amongst those who are just copying from ta company’s careers website, and it is the most important item to go on your cover letter.
You also want to do the same for interviews, but you will have to go more deep here. Again, what you learned from the informational interviews will boost your “Why this company?” answer to be a ten-out-of-ten answer. Name dropping is key, and the fact that you actively reached out to learn more about a company and position shows you are motivated work for the company in your selected role.
I got my first internship in Times Square in New York City through my grandmother’s best friend’s sister. Without that contact I would have never gotten my internship. And I got my second internship from my supervisor looking through resumes on my school’s careers website. Although I wasn’t really networking with my second internship, you want to have personal contact with people in industry.
Your Metro Region Vice President,