Some experts say that 70 percent of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it’s more like 80 percent or even 85 percent.
As soon as you graduate from college, you have a built-in network of peers and mentors to connect with: your alumni association. Among the benefits of an alumni association, many provide valuable tools and resources to help job seekers. Not just for recent grads, alumni career services can be helpful even after you have some experience and are looking for your next move.
How to Find College Alumni Resources
Most colleges and universities will have an alumni section on their website. Once there, look for a Career Services link. If there’s no Career Services area online, contact the alumni affairs office by phone or email and ask about any services they provide. Even just learning the events calendar could help you network with others from your school. (See below!)
Specific Ways to Connect
Use Social Media
Most colleges have alumni groups on LinkedIn for the sole purpose of making business connections. Update your profile and join these groups for exposure to business-minded people in your field. If you contact someone from the group, make it clear that you are fellow alum and try to schedule an introductory phone call or coffee meeting. On Facebook, you likely have college friends who know someone in your field. Post a status update like “I’m looking for a new opportunity in graphic design and welcome any leads or connections.” You can also message friends directly who you think might have a network you can tap into.
Traditional networking is how 46% of people find jobs—more than any other method of job searching. Attending events hosted by your alumni association will connect you with fellow alums. Even getting together with a group for a sporting event or social gathering will expand your network. You’ll want to have your “elevator pitch” about yourself, and it’s a good idea to have a few questions ready so that you can talk to others about your search. Be sure to bring copies of your resume to any career-focused events. Some events take place on campus, but many colleges and universities also have alumni groups in larger cities across the country.
Many schools have developed their own search tools or have partnered with extensive job posting databases. Handshake, for example, connects you to companies that have openings and want alumni from specific schools. Whether a school-specific database or a larger network, you can browse open jobs and upload a resume for companies to find you.
School-hosted career fairs are best for graduating students and grads still living in the area. These events bring together all kinds of companies looking for all levels of experience. Recruiters come to career fairs looking to fill currently open—and sometimes unadvertised—jobs.
Dedicated career advisors are often available to share resources and discuss your options. Even with a simple phone meeting, a career advisor can help you grow your network. Career Services departments sometimes offer on-campus workshops or webinars that provide career guidance regardless of your location.
Consider Giving Back
Alumni networking can be a large—and very helpful—part of your job search. When you are in a position to help others on their career journey, consider returning the favor.