It’s estimated that more than sixty percent of jobs are found through networking while fewer than four percent are found over the Internet. For every hour your child spends searching for jobs online, is he/she spending 16 hours networking? That’s doubtful!
The single best way to get a job is to know somebody. Yes, it should be based on merit alone, but unfortunately (or fortunately) that isn’t how it works. Understanding how to network – from whom to contact to what to say – can have a huge impact on your child’s ability to land a job.
Students tend to avoid networking like the plague, and one reason might be that your child doesn’t know exactly how to network.
Networking is not about asking for a job, wasting somebody’s time, or being a nuisance. Rather, it’s about learning more about careers, letting people know that you’re in the job market, and making great connections.
Your child needs to start talking with as many people as he can about what he’s thinking about doing over the summer or after graduation. Your friends are a great place for your child to start. Introduce them to your friends’ friends, your neighbors, and your business contacts. Your child should also talk to his friends’ parents, his former teachers, and school alumni, and he will probably be surprised with how willing people are to help.
When your child gets the names of some industry folks to talk with, she should contact them to see if she can have about 30 minutes of their time to learn more about the field and the work environment. Again, it’s not a request for a job but merely an informational meeting.
Your child can send them an email, or call them and say, “I’m thinking about getting into finance when I graduate, and I was wondering if I could meet with you at your convenience to ask you a few questions about the field.” If someone referred your child, she should mention that name in the message or email.
Chances are, most people will be more than happy to spend a few minutes with your child. The fact is, people like to talk about themselves, and they like to advise other people on how to “make it.” Think about it this way. If a friend of yours asked for 30 minutes of time to talk to her daughter about your career, wouldn’t you say yes?
When your student meets with a contact, he needs to treat it like an interview. He needs to dress professionally, be prepared with questions, send a thank you note, and follow up to see if down the road they do have jobs.
If your child is still worried about this networking process, help them to see it this way: “If a high school student you knew through a friend asked if she could spend 30 minutes talking with you about your college, wouldn’t you be more than happy to do it? Importantly, if you liked them, wouldn’t you give them some tips on getting in?”
That’s how your child can land a job simply through meeting new people and networking.
Brad Karsh is President of JobBound (www.jobbound.com), a company dedicated to helping college students with resume writing, interviewing, and landing that dream job. Author of Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider’s Guide to Landing Your Fist Job(Prentice Hall Press), Brad is considered the nation’s leading expert on the job search. He’s been featured on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now, CNN Headline News, and CNBC and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Fortune, and many others.