As a new college graduate, securing a position after commencement can be a stressful, looming inevitability. After years of working to gain the experience and education for the “perfect” resume, it can be easy to fixate on your GPA, skills or certifications. Those are important, of course.
But, statistics show that 85% of all jobs are located through networking. Here are methods to build a wholistic network for success:
Lining Up References
As you begin looking for your next career, reflect on all the connections you already have. Even if you don’t have any direct relationships with people in the industry you’re pursuing, these touchpoints can be great references moving forward. For example, maybe you lack a work-related reference, but a character or academic reference can create a clearer picture of the type of intern or employee you will be.
When reaching out to these connections, take into consideration any seasonal commitments or unique scheduling challenges:
- If they’re in academia, what summer responsibilities do they have after grading finals and attending commencements? They might be traveling to conferences, doing research or publishing their books.
- If they’re a professional, are they planning on utilizing their vacation time and will not have access to their email? Depending on how close you are to them, consider reaching out to a personal address or phone number.
- If they’re a parent, when does their child’s summer break begin? It can take a few weeks to adjust to watching kids while working from home or hiring child care.
Personal, Professional & Mental Health Coaches
Coaching can be a useful way to transition from a very structured, academic year to a relatively free, unscheduled summer. Career coaches specialize in helping people with their job searches. Make sure you find one who has worked with recent graduates. And before hiring one, make sure that you’re ready for a career coach.
After a few sessions, you might also realize that you want to add on a supplementary coach that specializes in a specific niche. Mental health coaching, including anxiety coaching, can help relieve stress during a time when you don’t feel in control. Money mindset coaches can help you solve common finance-related hardships to entering adulthood including how to set up bank accounts or direct deposits, how to get preapproved for a mortgage or how to build an emergency fund.
If you have a list of ideal companies or dream employers, direct relationships are a strong way to get your foot in the door. If you don’t personally know someone at an entry-level or tenure position at one of their locations, look into 2nd degree or group connections.
Whether you’re networking with these connections remotely or in-person, do your research on how summer impacts their business too. For example, many companies offer Summer Fridays where employees can take off every or alternating Fridays from work, or leave the office early. That means your Friday afternoon email won’t be seen and may get lost in Monday’s busy start.
A great way to find connections at a company is by searching on LinkedIn for second-degree connections. As a help for yourself, create a weekly or monthly goal of how many connections you would like to reach out to. Keep a simple Excel spreadsheet with the type of introduction phrasing used, the date of the initial outreach exchange and any follow-up messaging used, and when someone responded. You can even keep track of the titles held by the responsive professionals to better your insights.
When it comes to employment agency types, there are a few that can help you with your job search, including traditional employment agencies, contingency employment agencies, retained search firms or temporary agencies. Remember that while recruiters can assist you find a season or summer job, ultimately they are looking out for their client’s best interests rather than your own.
As a recent graduate, reach out to a recruiter with a strong script. If you connect via email and receive an automated out-of-office response with a specific return date, give them a few days to review your email. If they still don’t respond, follow up with an understanding, personal and appreciative response.
During your journey, eliminate any hesitations, doubts, stigmas or misconceptions you might have about networking and connecting. EVERYONE starts where YOU are today.