Network For Your Job Search

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Networking could be what helps you land a job.

If you take part in social networking sites, you probably have a pretty good idea of how networking can enhance your personal life. But, if you’re like many new college graduates, you’re probably not as comfortable about incorporating networking into your job search.

In spite of your discomfort, you need to incorporate networking into your job search: Especially in a competitive job market, networking could be what helps you land a job. In fact, many jobs are filled before they are even advertised—filled by people who learned about the opportunity before it was formally announced.

What is networking when it comes to the job search? It’s not about using people. Just as you look to build personal relationships through social networks, you want to build relationships to foster your professional life. These relationships can help you not only in your current job search but down the road as you build your career.

Networking is not one-sided: It works both ways. You offer assistance to others just as they offer assistance to you. Perhaps the easiest way to think about networking is to see it as an extension of being friendly, outgoing, and active.

Here are some tips for building and maintaining a healthy network:

  1. Make a list of everyone you know—and people they know—and identify how they could help you gather career information or experience.
    Who do you know at school? Professors, friends, and even friends’ parents can all be helpful contacts. Did you hold a part-time job? Volunteer? Serve an internship? Think about the people you came into contact with there.
  2. Sign up for an alumni mentoring program.
    Many colleges offer such programs, and they are a great way to build relationships in your field.
  3. Join the campus chapter of a professional society that relates to your career choice.
    In many ways, a professional society is an instant network: You’ll be with others who have the same general career interest. Plus, you may be able to learn more about your field from them. For example, you may be able to learn about the field and potential employers from others who share their internship experiences.
  4. Volunteer at a local museum, theater, homeless shelter—anywhere that even remotely relates to your field of study.
    By volunteering, you’ll not only learn about your chosen field firsthand, you’ll also be able to connect with people who are in the field.
  5. Speak to company representatives at career fairs, even if you’re not ready to look for a job.
    Be up front that you’re not currently in the job market and don’t take a lot of the representative’s time, but touching base with a potential employer now can help you down the road when you are ready.
  6. Attend company information sessions at your college and talk one-on-one to the recruiters who run them.
  7. Schedule informational interviews with people who can tell you about their careers.
    It’s best to ask to meet in person or by phone for a short interview, and don’t immediately start asking “How can you help me?” Plan your questions ahead of time, focusing on how the company works and how the person shaped his or her career path.
  8. Add your profile to LinkedIn.
    It’s free. And then, work your profile. Add work history (including internships!), skills, and keywords. Make connections to people you’ve worked with or met through networking. Ask for “recommendations” from people who have worked with you. You’ll find LinkedIn is a good source of suggestions for people in your field to contact for informational interviews.
  9. Remember to be courteous and tactful in all your conversations, to send thank-you notes to people who help you, and to find ways to help others as well.
    Don’t drop your network once you’ve gotten a job. Nurture the relationships you’ve built and look for opportunities to build new connections throughout your career. Getting started might be uncomfortable, but with time and practice, networking will be second nature.

Common Career Pitfalls to Avoid

Written by Robert Brookman, Talent Acquisition Department with Humana

Within our robust college recruiting program, we see a lot of mistakes and pitfalls that college students regularly fall into during their career search. These are things that may seem like common sense, but over the course of time become less of a priority. The strategy any student should take into a job search is to make sure first and foremost; they do not disqualify themselves because of a minor mistake. Often times in recruiting, the first cut of candidates is made because of minor mistakes such as grammar, spelling, formatting, etc. We want to put you as a job seeker, in the best place to succeed in your impending search. That’s why we have compiled the following list of common pitfalls to steer clear of.

1.  I can begin looking for a job after I pass my finals.

If you have taken this mind-set into your final semester, you are already behind. Many of your peers have been looking for, and may have locked up, internships or full-time positions for the coming months. Job seeking can be an extremely long-process especially when you have little experience. There are not many things in life that you wait until the last minute to start planning, especially something as important as a job search.  

Normally at Humana, we begin accepting internship applications and entry-level college programs roles in August of the year prior. But, each year we also get notes from students inquiring about positions the next spring and summer as well, when those positions have been long-filled. Make sure to start your search early.

2.  I want to work as a _____ for ____ company, living in ____, and making ____ .

This is one of our favorites. Sometimes students can get a very narrow focus (not always a bad thing), while other times the student can have no focus at all. The difference between the two would be someone who could fill in each blank of the above statement (narrow) and a person who does not know what they would like to be doing now, much less five years from now (broad). You have to find a balance between having too narrow a focus and too broad a focus. You want to have some idea of where you would like your career to go, but not so much that you limit your options too far.

Another piece of this is your expectations. Some students come in and want to get their foot in the door anyway they can. That’s great, and we love to see students like this. They want to work hard and get in the door because they know they can use their skills to stand-out and eventually move up once they have a solid foundation. On the other hand, we have students that come into interviews who have obviously over-valued themselves. It’s one thing to be confident in your abilities, but it is something completely different to come into an interview as a recent college graduate and look for a director-level role. This is not a hard and fast rule, but you should know what your true value is.

3.  I can do my entire job search online.

Untrue. In this digital age, it may seem as though this is the case, but remember, the name of the game in a job search is differentiation. How do you differentiate yourself by just using a word document you uploaded to a website (just like everyone else). There are so many opportunities to network person-to-person with employers. We at Humana are regularly on campuses across the country throughout the year, as well as other major nationwide events. Come see us, meet our people, and show us a face. This allows you times to articulate more than you can on a one-page resume and also can potentially give you a point of contact into the employer.

All that is not to say that you can’t connect with us online, or that you shouldn’t; far from it. We have a lot of resources online devoted to connecting with people just like you. Check out our Twitter account @Humana_Careers or our Facebook page Humana College Programs. If you have questions or comments for us, we love to hear them on our social pages.