Graduation is looming, and you still have zero job prospects.
Regardless of your work history, it is possible to build your resume and begin building your network. Often, we think of our professors or employers as only as potential references. Before social media, just having good references was sufficient. They put in a good word for you when the time came, and you kept them on retainer until you needed them again, maybe keeping in touch once a year to keep the ties relevant.
Through multiple platforms of self-marketing, connecting and communicating, social media has upped the ante for networking, and ultimately, obtaining a job. In most cases, landing the perfect job is about who you know.
Step 1: Connect with people
Today, we’re accustomed to passive social networking. We send e-mails when we need advice, and we check out someone’s Facebook profile before deciding to date them. The boundaries and filters that have cushioned our interactions sometimes make it difficult to really put ourselves out there.
If you’ve never had a face-to-face conversation with your professors, chances are – no matter how brilliant your e-mail correspondence – they will be less likely to reach out to you when projects or internships cross their desks. If you haven’t already done so, schedule a chance to sit down with a professor in your field of study.
It’s also a good idea to research any conventions, clubs, lectures or seminars that involve your field. Business cards are a great idea in these situations because a quick business card trade will allow you to keep track of contact information. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t have a job in your field. List your specialties on your card and each contact will see you as an asset and a potential part of his network.
If you ask someone to spend time talking with you, do your homework. Research potential internships and jobs and ask for advice on ways to stand out or meet the criteria.
Approach networking with humility. If someone takes the time to meet you for coffee or lunch or for a meeting, it’s rude to ask them to give you what you want. Instead, ask them to give you advice or information that will help you reach your goal.
Using Social Media to Leverage Your Real-Life Connections
If you haven’t already joined LinkedIn, it’s time to make a profile. After you sign up, import all of the contacts from your e-mail address. LinkedIn will automatically connect you to the people who are in your inbox. Invite others to join LinkedIn by using your e-mail and any business cards and contacts you’ve accumulated over the years.
Choose a professional photo, one that has a hi-resolution (1MB) and a simple background.
You might think it’s enough to make as many connections as possible, but that’s only where the work starts. The most important part of becoming a part of a network is establishing your value to others.
As a college student, you can find solidarity with your peers as you enter the job market together. Learn what other people need and share relevant information, tips and job opportunities through LinkedIn.
You may have a Twitter account already, but you’ll need to reserve @BeerChugger or @Cutesy for your personal tweets. Create a professional Twitter account and link it to your LinkedIn. Post topics concerning your field, the job market, tips for interviewing or anything else related to finding a job.
By engaging others in the topics that are relevant to your life, you are sharing your needs with them while also offering information. This is a much more professional way to communicate than updating your status to “Still no job. 🙁 “