Chapter 6: Job Search and Networking
- Do your homework. Before attending networking events and job fairs, think about what you would like to achieve out of them. Research organizations or professionals attending and decide which are most appealing to you.
- Wear interview attire. Remember you are trying to leave a lasting and positive impression on your professional contacts. Help them to visualize the professional that you are, by wearing business or business casual attire. Jeans or athletic wear is not appropriate for this type of setting.
- Turn your cell phone ringer off. When you’re in the middle of speaking with an employer or industry contact, any interruption can leave a negative impression. Put your device on vibrate and don’t take it out of your pocket until you have left the event.
- Have a strong introduction. A smile and firm handshake can be effective; however, take your cue on handshaking from the employer. Some people do not shake hands due to cultural norms or illness/flu season. Introduce yourself and be ready with your 30-second elevator pitch. Be specific; outline your education, skills, experience, and the type of job that interests you. Be prepared to let the employer or industry contact know what value you will bring to their organization.
- Prioritize your interests and take your time. Map out a strategy to visit the industry contacts and employers you are most interested in. Allow yourself enough time to visit with employers at a comfortable pace. Running in and out quickly may not produce the job search results you are looking for.
- Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that can be answered with more than just a “yes” or “no”. You are trying to gain as much information as possible, while maintaining a meaningful conversation with the individual. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their organization and about their industry in general. Ask questions such as: “What is it like to work for your organization?” “What skills do you look for in a potential candidate?” “What is the hiring procedure for your organization?”
- Bring your resumé. Bring several copies of your most up-to-date resumé with you to a networking event. If you are targeting certain employers or you are aware of a position that is available, tailor your documents accordingly.
- Always follow up. Ask for business cards and convey that you enjoyed meeting the individual and that you look forward to seeing them again soon. Encourage a future meeting or discussion to further communicate and share ideas or send a customized request on LinkedIn. At this time, you can also provide the individual with your personalized business card as well.
- Keep an open mind. Think outside the box! Consider all employers as a potential contact, no matter what the industry. You never know where a potential opportunity may come up and who the people that you are talking to might be able to connect you with in the future.
- Build and maintain relationships. The goal is to meet people and create connections. Meet fewer people, but invest more energy in each connection. You cannot expect to gain something from someone you just met. Develop a relationship before you start asking about opportunities and ask how you can help them.