HOW TO NETWORK WITH CAREER TRAINING FROM triOS
In order to get a solid start to a successful career, it is imperative that you have effective job searching skills. Besides developing a strong cover letter, a job specific résumé, and reliable references, you must also take the time to use the personal and professional networks that you have created to enhance your employment search.
There are various techniques that you can use to find potential jobs that suit your career aspirations. You can take the reactive approach and search job fairs, websites (job search and company sites), newspapers, and employment agencies. Or you can be more proactive and use your network when there are no job postings, or approach a company directly to conduct an informational interview.
Although many people don’t use informational interviews as a strategy, it is a very creative way to build a professional rapport, show interest in a company, and potentially find jobs in the hidden market. Remember that approximately 80% of available jobs reside in the hidden market!
An informational interview is a fact-finding interview with a potential employer, which allows both parties to get acquainted. Unlike a standard interview, this provides an opportunity to dig a bit deeper into a company, its working environment and its values without the level of nervousness associated with a formal interview. Since the goal of this type of interview is to acquire information, potential employers view it as an opportunity to promote their companies.
These interviews can be conducted in person or over the phone, and are often more successful when done at unscheduled times. With many professionals having packed schedules, the best environment to conduct this type of interview is at a networking event, a career fair or a similar occasion when you’ve been introduced to an individual who may be beneficial to your job search.
Preparing for informational interviews can be difficult; here are examples of some useful questions:
- What is a typical day like for a [insert position] in your company?
- What are the best and/or worst parts of the job?
- What are the biggest challenges that one faces in this position?
- How did you get hired?
- What are the skills and expectations of someone in this position?
- Is there room for growth within your company?
- What characteristics do you typically look for in a new employee?
Questions are typically generic and therefore can be applied to any position within a company.
Career (job) fairs are a good way to meet employers. Some of these events host a wide range of industries, while others can be more focused. Finding a job fair that is specifically targeted for the industry or sector in which you’d like to work often yields better results for job seekers than events with a wider scope. Nevertheless, career fairs offer great opportunities to meet new potential employers, learn about new companies, make new contacts and gather useful information.
When planning to attend a career fair, be prepared! Preparation doesn’t involve printing 30 copies of your résumé, putting them in a leather portfolio, then heading to the event to hand them out at every table. Making the event useful takes a lot more planning and preparation. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for your next career fair:
After you’ve registered for the event, most organizers will post a list of the companies and organizations that are attending. Review the list and select the companies that interest you. Visit their Websites, prepare questions, and view open jobs. When you step up to the company’s booth or table at the career fair, treat the occasion like an interview.
First impressions are important, especially when hiring managers are meeting several hundred people in one day. Similar to an interview, you should dress formally. Most employers will be very busy. Offer a firm handshake, a smile, and your 30-second elevator pitch so that you can market your personal brand.
Have several copies of your résumé on hand. Include those that you tailor for specific jobs that you find on specific sites. A business card could be useful as well. Some employers may garner everything that they need to know about you while you are chatting with them, so a business card with your contact information—and perhaps your LinkedIn profile—will be all that they need.
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