With millions searching for jobs and few resources to commit to sorting through applicants, employers are eager for determined job hunters to save them the time (and money) that would be spent on a months-long search to find the right person to fill a position. That is why a large proportion of today’s job openings are filled by referral. Depending on whom you ask, anywhere from 45-80% of jobs are filled based on personal recommendations from employees or individuals otherwise connected with organizations (NYT, ABC News). Regardless of which number you believe, in today’s challenging economy, it is unwise to ignore what is widely recognized as a large source of job placements.
So—How do you tap into those openings that never make it to the “Wanted” postings?
How can you make your network work for you, whilst you look for work?
Engage your Alumni Network—Whether you’re in school still making those trips to the bursar’s office, or out of school with your degree in-hand, it is important for you to recognize that the tuition you paid was not simply the fee for your education—your dollars bought you access to graduates who can help with your job hunt. Every company has an individual, more likely several, who would love to get another member of their alma mater into their workplace. So, as you eye potential employers …
1) Contact the career services office at the institution where you earned your first degree, your second, and that certification you almost forgot you had, and ask them whether they can connect you to an alum currently, previously employed at, or in a the same field as Potential Employer Inc. Send them an email expressing your interest in their field/organization, and ask for a few minutes to speak with them. Take that conversation as an opportunity to learn more about the organization you want to get into—and to discover other key players in the field that you can look into for job opportunities. If you’re certain there’s an opening at Potential Employer Inc. that you’re qualified for, have the application ready when you reach out to your new contact (if you haven’t submitted it already), and politely ask whether they would mind forwarding it to HR for you. And request that they let you know if they hear of anything else they think would interest you. Lastly, don’t forget to send a “Thank You” note.
2) Attend Alumni Events held by your former schools and get involved. It’s a great way to make connections in a setting where everyone already has something in common—you both took that Professor and somehow managed to stay awake, or finished that thesis running on Oreos, coffee, and desperation. As you’re sharing information on what you’re currently doing, tell them your interests, where you’ve just finished working, and what field or type of job you want to transition into. They will likely know someone in a similar field, and can facilitate an introduction. Exchange contact information, and shoot them an email. And, as always, be sure to follow-up.
In the segment of Finding Jobs by Referral, I will address the utility of Linked-In, followed by the Importance of Informational Interviews.
By Xevion B., Wall Street Services Reporter