Most jobs are never advertised, because they are filled by someone who knows someone who knows someone….and knowing the right someone is the very essence of professional networking.
If you’re a student or a recent grad, you may believe that you don’t know anyone who can help you get into the workplace. However, you likely have not exhausted every opportunity to get the word out there to connections who may be aware of job openings. Even as a student in an online course, you can take advantage of relationships built in the online classroom to get your foot in the door.
The reality is that educational coordinators and instructors are often asked by employers looking for good people to recommend promising students with specific job skills, and this can be your first step to building a network of referrals to land the job you want.
As a student in a related program, you actually have an advantage, because employers want students who are up-to-date on recent technology – both hardware and software.
Employers also carry some perceptions—realistic or not—into the task of identifying and recruiting good employees:
- They look to hire younger employees who haven’t developed years of “bad habits” working for other employers—employees that they can mold to their own corporate culture and guidelines.
- They seek out recent graduates because they perceive that it might be cheaper to hire new grads versus experienced veterans.
So, how do you get to be that student who gets recommended for a job? Here’s a checklist to manage your activities and attitude as you build your network and your opportunities to be referred for those unadvertised jobs:
- Be interactive, interested, and interesting.
- Participate in group discussions and share helpful tips and links with fellow students and with your instructor. Ask questions and show your sincerity in learning from others in the group.
- Complete your assignments on time.
- Put some thought into making your assignments interesting and creative. Go beyond the basic requirements of the assignments. Employers are always looking for professionals who are willing to do more than what’s in the job descriptions.
- Let the instructor and fellow students know that you are looking for work, and tell them a bit about your background (both educational and work-related) and interests.
- Become a contact for other students. Make note of those who tell you they’re looking for work, and the kind of work they’re looking for.
- Become that student who is every educator’s dream – the student that is eager to learn and enthusiastic.
- Stay connected: Use LinkedIn and other social networking tools to keep in touch with your instructor and fellow students after the class ends. And when the opportunity comes up to meet with them face-to-face, take it!
These steps will demonstrate that you are positive, proactive and supportive, and help guarantee that you will make an impression on your instructor, who then is likely to remember you when prospective employers come searching for job candidates. Fellow students will also remember you, increasing the chances that your name will come to mind when a position comes up in their workplace.
What tips have you found that help in building your professional network? Share them with us in the comments.
Contributor: Julie Clarke, Vancouver Island University (www.pr.viu.ca/techcomm)