Networking is a daunting concept. By now, you are probably aware that over 75% of jobs are unadvertised, and consequently, networking is the best path into employment. But the idea of networking and how to do it can seem overwhelming and somewhat impossible. You may think you don’t know anyone, or you don’t know where to start or how to even approach people.
It could be easier than you think.
Here is the story of Student Employment and Communications Officer, Sarah Binney and how she landed her graduate role through networking:
I am a journalism graduate from Griffith who started full time employment in the Careers Office mid last year. Beginning my graduate job search was a scary concept. I had friends who had been out of university for years and were still working their casual jobs at our local cinema. I thought I would be destined to a life of stacking shelves and listening to customers complain that we stocked Pepsi instead of Coke – a decision that was obviously made by me, a lowly retail worker (insert sarcastic tone of voice here).
I was sending out at least 10 resumes a week with high aspirations of becoming the next Tom Tilley or Leigh Sales or of landing a fantastic communications/PR role. A couple of months rolled by with not so much as a phone call, despite my staring matches with my phone, willing it to ring with all my telepathic force. Clearly I needed to adjust my strategy.
I suppose I knew on some level that browsing Seek every day was probably not the best use of my time, but what else was I to do? I guess approaching companies directly was an option but there are hundreds of businesses out there. It was so incredibly overwhelming to think about.
I decided to attend a job search strategy seminar at Griffith which introduced the concept of networking and helped me to realise it’s not as big a task as I may have thought. I already had well- established networks through friends and family, colleagues at my casual job and University. Everyone knows somebody else, which is how I’m sure most networking occurs.
I had an appointment with one of the careers counsellors to get my resume checked. She saw that I had completed the Industry Mentoring Program at Southern Cross Austereo and mentioned there might be some paid work available promoting the program to other students via lectures. While I was terrified of public speaking, I thought it would be better than sitting at home eating Ben and Jerry’s and watching Geordie Shore reruns.
After I finished the lectures, I received a call from another staff member in the office asking me if I would be available to help with a project interviewing nurses for a series of career development podcasts. This was more paid work and degree-related experience to boot! I was thrilled and got to work right away.
Through this project, I had the opportunity to meet the Careers team and build some invaluable professional relationships. Through these contacts, I found out about the full time communications role within the team when it became available. While the recruitment process for the position was gruelling and time consuming, knowing I had people I could ask for tips and already having met two out of three of my interviewers made it so much easier.
Seven months later I am very privileged to work with a bunch of amazing people in a supportive environment. Because I had already met so many of my then future colleagues, I knew what the work environment and culture was like before even applying for the position.
All this networking started within the University. While everyone’s path will be different, the best thing you can do is to jump on every opportunity offered (or even suggested) and knock it out of the park so you’re asked back for more or recommended to someone else.
It’s important to note that the casual work I did for the Careers team wouldn’t have eventuated if I hadn’t continuously followed it up and made sure they didn’t forget about me. Some of the star students we see coming through the office are doing so well because they get involved as much as they can within the University, which can open so many different doors in the future (whether it be work experience, jobs or references). And it’s easy since you’re already here!
WHERE TO START NETWORKING:
Your existing networks – Ask everybody you know including friends, family, fellow students, lecturers, tutors, workmates, clubs/organisations. They may have useful contacts in your field.
Professional associations – You can easily network in your field by joining a professional association. They are specifically created to help people meet others. They exist in every field of employment and hold regular professional development and networking events. Membership for students can cost as little as $50 a year and it’s a great thing to add to your resume! See the career options guides on our website to find your professional association.
The Industry Mentoring Program – The IMP matches students with an industry professional in a relevant field. It’s a great way to meet contacts in your field and find out more about your future profession. Applications open in Semester One so keep an eye on our blog.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool, with some recruitment agencies predicting it will soon take over Seek as the primary way recruiters find candidates. There are tonnes of articles with tips on how to use LinkedIn effectively, so get googling! Make sure you have a complete profile with lots of industry-relevant keywords, a professional looking profile picture, join groups related to your industry and connect with people you meet.
Next: Workplace interviewing is an invaluable networking tool and a great way to find out about your industry. Stay tuned!