Rebecca Ashland is a senior at Elon University and a social media intern at Eckel & Vaughan.
You’ve survived the internships. You’ve perfected your résumé and cover letter. You’ve gained valuable skills and experience. But, after applying to countless job postings, you still haven’t scored an interview. Don’t panic.
Here are some suggestions to help build your network, make important contacts and increase your chances of earning that dream job.
Start with the people you know best — former bosses, family, friends, etc. See if any of these folks are connected personally — or through LinkedIn — to people who would be good contacts. For example, my aunt introduced me to eight people she knew in the industry I want to go into after graduation. These initial connections grew exponentially and helped me build a strong network.
I cannot stress enough the importance of informational interviews. They’re helpful in determining exactly what you’re interested in pursuing and in sharpening interview skills. While a job might not be available immediately, you can still leave behind a résumé — and hopefully a good impression — with someone who could eventually hire you.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your dream company. The beauty of an informational interview is that it’s an opportunity to interview with a prospective employer. Along with learning more about job possibilities and the company, you’ll get great advice. After the interview, always send a hand-written thank you note.
Use social media:
LinkedIn is a great platform to reach out to people at a company you are interested in. Send contacts a message showing interest in the company and ask to set up an informational interview. Use Twitter in a professional way to build your credibility in your desired business category. Sharing content and engaging with your industry peers and companies enables you to build your social media presence and network. Some companies also have a Twitter handle specifically to update the job positions they hope to fill. Follow those and stay up-to-date on available opportunities.
Rekindle connections from the past:
Reestablish the relationships you had with former employers and co-workers. If you have stayed in touch, give yourself a pat on the back, because you are already ahead of the game. Even if you have lost contact, send an email just to check in. Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. Let them know you’re job hunting and ask if they know of openings. If you were a good colleague, they’ll be more than willing to help.
It seems simple, but sitting down for coffee can lead to opportunities you may not have thought of. One of my professors recently shared a great contact with me over coffee. Informal meetings such as this will strengthen your relationships and the willingness of past contacts to lend a hand in your job search. Let them know your interests and find out if they have any contacts in the field. If you are comfortable, ask them to write a recommendation on your LinkedIn page. This improves your credibility and shows potential employers that you are a potential asset.
After you make new connections, don’t lose contact. You’ll want to check in periodically, while avoiding becoming a nuisance. After applying for a job, send a follow-up email if you have not heard back within a week. This shows your level of interest and gives you an extra point of contact with the company.
The keys to success in landing your first job (or any job) are expanding your personal network, being persistent, and maintaining continuous contact. You are more likely to be considered for a job if you’re “top of mind” and have an established relationship with someone within the desired company who can vouch for you. Above all, be persistent and stay positive. Good luck!