I am a product of Atari and Cabbage Patch Kids. There was a time when a gallon of gas cost me less than a dollar and, during my freshman year of college, I discovered this new thing called email. My first email was from my dad which read, “Hi Michele. This is neat. We can talk to each other over the computer for free!” I think it took about eight minutes to download.
Flash forward 18 years into the world of Facebook, Twitter, and a day at work that is never email free. And while it’s important to use technology to find a job, build a professional network, and interact with others in your profession on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook … let me remind you of one of the old fashioned ways people used to find work: personal networking.
Personal contact shouldn’t be underestimated
You have access to a great social network, even when your computer is turned off. Every day, you have an army of personal megaphones at your disposal–friends, family, family of friends, professors, past managers, people at the gym, or people you know through campus clubs. Telling one of them about your job search can ignite a chain reaction because, although they may not have a job to give you, they may know someone who does. I read a great article about how to start this process:
- Make a list of those people you are going to tell. They should all be in an area of the country where you want to work (or be someone well connected to others around the country). Send your contacts an email. Tell them you’re looking for a job and that you are looking for a team of people to help make introductions for you to others or keep their ears open. Ask them if they are willing to help.
- As people agree to help, start your mailing list. Send an updated version of your resume to them, making sure they know what kind of job you are looking for.
- Provide updates to your team. Let them know of any successes or disappointments you have experienced. Ask for help in areas you may be struggling with, such as creating a standout resume or interviewing technique.
- Also, you should research professional organizations near the towns/cities where you want to work. Seek out contacts within these organizations in the areas where you want to work. You may even have some inside contacts through campus organizations like the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality, the American Dietetic Association, fraternities or sororities. Contacting local chapter presidents can help you because they are well-connected professionals who are often the first to know about job openings in their city.
- Contact company representatives directly. Yes, you can do this. Visit the web site for a company where you would like to work and do some research. Look for opportunities to network with recruiters and/or other hiring managers. Send an inquiry by email to learn more about opportunities that might be available. If there aren’t any openings for which you qualify, ask about scheduling an informational interview so that you can introduce yourself, make the company aware of your skills and learn more about positions offered at the company.
- Make sure that you pay it forward to other job seekers if ever asked to help.
I don’t know about you but when I buy a product that works wonders or dine in a restaurant with great customer service, I tell others about my experience. My company does the same thing with its StarFinder program–encouraging employees to refer their friends to work for Sodexo. When you stop to think about who you know–and who they know–you’ll be amazed at the size of your network. .
Don’t rely solely on technology because even with the popularity of social media sites, there are still some very influential people in your life who may not use these sites. Just because they don’t Tweet or “like” things you post on Facebook doesn’t mean they aren’t socially connected. Sometimes, their connections are even stronger, and more personal. Shouldn’t your job search be personal?
Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities, and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.