Last Updated: Aug 30, 2013
When it comes time to look for a job, cover all angles of your network—friends, family, college. Take a risk to make connections, or to use the ones you have, no matter how far-reaching they seem. Today's job search requires a little bit of risk to be successful.
Take, for example, the success story of my friend, Billy. We both attended Elon University and he was in the midst of his job search and was reading one of our college’s newsletters when he noticed an e-mail address for the Chicago Alumni Network. He thought that it would be a good idea to reach out to them. A few short steps later—he landed the job.
1. The e-mail
Billy sent our college’s Chicago Alumni Network an e-mail expressing his interest in living in Chicago, as well as mentioning his desired job field. He was friendly and genuine. Important note—this is not the time for you to sell yourself and your skills/talents, so save that for an interview. In the beginning, it’s just a moment for you to introduce yourself to others who may be willing to help you. Talk about your college, the main connection you have at this point.
2. The response
A few days later, Billy received a response to his e-mail. The woman who was in charge of the general e-mail address was very glad that he had contacted them for assistance. She forwarded his e-mail on to those in his job field in Chicago in order to connect him with them.
3. The next step
Billy heard from a few of the alumni in the days that followed. One of the men was particularly helpful to Billy. The alumn even setup a phone call to have more of a chance to talk to this recent grad. After talking, the alumn suggested a position at a sales company where many of his friends had worked in the past. That’s another great part about reaching out to alumni—if they don’t have jobs available at their particular company, they have connections at other companies that may be of interest to you.
4. The application and follow-up
Billy applied to the company, got an interview, and was offered the job. He made sure to thank the people who had helped him in obtaining that position. Always be grateful and active—it’s a good quality to have, and you never know when you may be touching base with them again.
Reaching out to alumni does not always go as smoothly as it went for Billy. Next confession of mine: I, too, reached out to alumni, but I went about it the wrong way. I talked about how great I was at writing and cited all of my previous experiences and credentials. I treated it more like an interview than a relationship or mentorship. Looking back, I can see how phony and/or desperate I looked, which is why I recommend being honest and straightforward when first reaching out to alumni. When the time comes to share what you have done in the past, be natural about it. Discuss your goals or ambitions for your career when prompted, but take particular interest in the alumn and their path to where they are today. Their insight will be even more valuable when you're searching for a job to help you determine what it is you should and shouldn't be looking for.
My main point is to utilize every possible resource when looking for a job, and I mean everyone. Every time you meet someone new, or see someone you haven't seen in a while, this is a time to make a good first impression and establish a network connection based on relevant interests. Talking with alumni in your city of interest is a great way to establish even more connections. Because you both share a love for your college, most alumni will go out of their way to help you in any way they can.