Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

5 Networking Strategies to Land Your First Big Job

Networking Career Search

Family, friends, academic advisors, and teachers are an ideal starting point.

After graduation, it’s more crucial than ever to explore as many avenues as possible when looking to find your first career-job. Of course, perusing an online job bank like Workopolis or submitting a resume directly to a company are still common strategies. However, many industry experts agree that networking is a much more critical job-search and career development technique.

By incorporating the following networking strategies, you can maximize your chances and cut down your job search time.

Networking Strategies that Work

1) Start With Who You Know

Family, friends, academic advisors, and teachers are an ideal starting point. Despite the popularity of online job banks, experienced job hunters will attest to the fact that the majority of the job market is “hidden.” That is, the jobs advertised publicly represent only a tiny fraction of the overall jobs that are currently available.

The reason for this discrepancy is that many employers prefer to hire someone that they know through a friend, family member, business associate, or even an employment agency. Referrals from trusted sources are viewed favourably by employers, who want to ensure that the employees they hire are the best fit for the company.

2) Use Social Networking Sites

Leverage the power and popularity of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. If you can leverage a network like this as a job-search tool, you’re bound to elicit a response. Someone may know someone else who is in need of your knowledge and expertise.

Before you start promoting yourself, make sure that your online profile portrays you in the best possible light. Review your online history for questionable posts or photos and be cognizant of how your online activities might be perceived by potential employers.

Most networking sites allow you the ability to control what the public can see on your profile, so do some tweaking to ensure that your personal life is always a safe distance away from your professional life.

3) Attend Job Fairs

Attending a job fair is a great way to learn about companies you are interested in working for, as well as to build a rapport with recruiters. Your goal is to stand out, since recruiters will probably encounter a wide range of interested applicants.

For maximum success, arrive early, dress professionally, have resumes handy, and be prepared to ask questions. Oh, and don’t forget to prepare a 30-second sales pitch to showcase your skills, knowledge, and most importantly, what you can contribute as an employee.

4) Join a Club Or Association

Joining a club in your industry can help you meet people that share similar goals and interests, as well as build relationships with key contacts that will help you secure your first job.

But don’t just pay your annual dues and show up at the year-end banquet:

  • Be an active member
  • Contribute ideas
  • Help plan events
  • Volunteer to be the treasurer

Not only will other members recognize your enthusiasm and commitment, but it’s something that will stand out on a resume. Try Meetup.com, which combines online networking with the traditional offline, face-to-face approach.

5) Travel To Another City

It’s a good idea to spend some time in a city that is more conducive to your network building. After all, the key is to network effectively, and sometimes this means being in the right location.

Sometimes, your city may not provide you with your ideal career opportunities. For example, if you live in Edmonton and want to be a financial analyst or stock trader, it may be prudent to move to a major financial centre such as Toronto. Certain occupations are more prevalent in certain cities. There’s a reason why aspiring actors move to Los Angeles and tech-based start up firms tend to cluster around Silicon Valley.

Marek Gregorski
Author: Marek Gregorski
Marek Gregorski is a freelance writer based in Edmonton.
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