Everyone has heard this saying but what does it really mean? Does it mean you don’t have to be knowledgeable about your major or field, you just need to know people? Or, does it mean only the people that are connected to the country club crowd get all the good job opportunities?
That’s really not how it works. A more accurate saying is “It’s What You Know AND Who You Take the Time to Get to Know.” The job market for full-time positions after graduation and for internships while you are still in your program is relatively healthy. But, you’ve got to work at the job search and make connections. That idea is generally called “networking” by career professionals and job search experts. However, many job seekers balk at that idea……. They will often say “I’m not well-connected” or “I don’t really know anybody that is in a position to open doors for me.”
Well, that’s where the concept of “… who you take the time to get to know” originates. Here are a few examples of taking the time to get to know people that might be in a position to connect you with full-time position s or internships:
- Go into every class you take with the goal of becoming the one student in that class that the faculty member will think of when they hear of an internship opportunity.
- If you have a job right now (which many Bellevue students do), let everyone who is willing to listen know that you are working on a degree and will soon be considering other jobs or promotional opportunities with your current employer.
- Get active with the Career Center and learn about the JobZone and other websites that could open a door for you.
- DON’T start looking for jobs three weeks before graduation. An internship and job search should be front of mind after your first couple of classes are completed.
- Attend workshops, career fairs and speaking engagements on and off campus that might help put you in a position to connect you with opportunities. Many employers who come to campus are just waiting for that ambitious student to come up afterwards and ask for a business card…… most students don’t because they are simply too shy or don’t know what to say.
- Finally, push your comfort level as often as you can. If you are uncomfortable or nervous about talking to someone, it’s probably because that other person is in a position of influence.
And these are just a few examples of “taking the time to get to know” other people. And don’t forget about your career center staff. The sooner you get to know us, the more likely it is that we might know of an opportunity.
The dawning of July means it’s the middle of the summer. Most people have big plans for the summer including vacations, catching up on projects and spending time with family. Are you finding that you are working towards your goals or falling behind? It’s easy to get distracted when the kids are out of school and the blue sky is beckoning. It’s time to take stock and reenergize yourself on meeting your goals if you have a long to-do list. There is still plenty of time left to make progress.
Summertime for me is a time to try to get projects completed at work. Time at home is spent with kids enjoying their time off school. These words from the song Sunshine and Summertime by Faith Hill sum it up:
“Hey, that’s the way we do it
New friends and blue skies that never end
Hey, that’s the way we do it
Good times, sunshine and summertime”
I’ve been hearing commercials for the Woodhouse Auto Family recruiting potential employees. The tagline for the commercial is “Come Interview Us.” This is a really interesting way to approach recruiting. They, as a company, want you the candidates to figure out whether their company is the right fit for you. While this is a part of the interview process, sometimes it gets missed as candidates tend to focus on presenting themselves well.
Interviewing is a two way street. It’s your job as a candidate to ask questions and try to determine whether or not this company would be a good fit for you. I’ve walked out of interviews thinking to myself “if they don’t offer me the position, that’s ok with me.” From the interview process, I was able to recognize that the company culture and environment might not be the best fit for my professional goals. As you review the company website, be thinking about questions you can ask to learn more about what’s important to you in an employer.
By using this as a tagline for their recruiting efforts, Woodhouse is shining a spotlight on their company culture. They place value on having quality people who fit into their culture. The next time you are interviewing pay attention to the company culture and interview them.
“He said look at you,
Worrying so much about things you can’t change
You’ll spend your whole life singing the blues
If you keep thinking that way
He was trying to skip rocks on the ocean saying to me
Don’t you see the starlight, starlight
Don’t you dream impossible things”
These words from the song Starlight by Taylor Swift talk about pursuing your dreams. If you focus on all the negatives, reasons why you shouldn’t try, and things out of your control, you’ll be paralyzed and stuck in your present situation. There are many things in life out of your direct control, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work through the challenges presented. So, “dream impossible things” and work to make them possible.
Informational interviews are a great way to gather information about a profession or industry. They can be accomplished over the telephone or in person. My recommendation is to do them in person whenever possible as it seems more likely to me that you can build a stronger relationship when you are eye to eye and can appreciate the body language that goes along with the communication process.
Identify people who are in the profession, industry and/or company you are interested in. This is easily done using the advanced search feature on LinkedIn. You can send your request in a message through LinkedIn or you might be able to identify a common connection in your network who can introduce you. You can also visit the company web site and try to find contact information that way.
Be prepared for people to think that your request for an informational interview is a “soft ask” to be considered for potential employment opportunities. Since this is pretty much a given, it would be a good idea to send them your resume ahead of time along with your elevator speech and several questions pertaining to the industry or career field you would like to discuss during the interview.
An informational interview should be treated no differently that a formal interview for a job. By that I mean, you should show up on time (10 minutes early is better) and dressed professionally. Have your questions prepared ahead of time. This is your opportunity to learn first-hand from someone in the occupation. This is an interview that you are managing, rather than the other way around. Do your research on the company/industry so that you can speak intelligently about why you are a good fit for that industry/job.
Be sure to follow up after the interview by sending a thank-you note. Send a request to connect on LinkedIn. Six to eight weeks later stay connected by giving an update on your progress and ask for additional guidance if appropriate.
Whether you are a current student, new graduate or an experienced professional looking to make a career change, informational interviews are an excellent tool to add to your career toolbox.