The Best Grad Gift: Career Contacts

Anita,

I’m graduating soon, and I’m nervous about finding a full-time job in my chosen field before all the gift money runs out! Can you help?

Dear “3.57 (that’s contacts, not GPA),”

Graduate introductionYou may have heard the networking theory “six degrees of separation” – you can be connected to anyone in the world through a chain of six acquaintances. Facebook crunched the numbers and determined the new normal in our social media age is only 3.57 connections.

It’s time career contacts rise above cash as the prized graduation gift. Parents, aunts, uncles, family friends, listen up! The best start you can give a grad is to introduce them to someone who can help their career. Don’t limit contacts to someone you know has an job opening. A seasoned professional in the same industry may be happy to meet with a recent graduate for 30 minutes to answer neophyte questions. A useful contact may not be able to offer actual employment, but could be the second link of the 3.57 connections needed to land a position.

Here are two ways to introduce your LinkedIn contacts to one another. A personal telephone call on behalf of a high-achieving young person you feel comfortable vouching for may be more effective than an e-introduction.

Back to you, graduates. It’s important you do your part. First, make sure you have a great résumé. Check out my blog post, Creating a Résumé from Scratch. Print on quality paper stock from a professional printer (pay for them if you must with some of those graduation gift checks) and always have copies ready for networking opportunities. Provide an electronic PDF version for any “angels” who may wish to forward it to their contacts via email.

Create a LinkedIn profile with a business-appropriate photo – no duckface! Check out Social Media Today’s blog, How to Use LinkedIn for New Graduates, to build a killer profile. Savvy networkers use the Alumni Tool on LinkedIn to widen their contacts further.

Whether communicating on LinkedIn, by email, or via telephone, explain why you’ve reached out to the connection (“My uncle, NAME, suggested you would be a good contact in the ____ industry. I’m interested in getting into the field and was wondering if you would have time to offer some advice?”). Most workforce veterans will be flattered and willing to help.

After any conversation – virtual or in-person – always thank the person for their time, even if the meet-and-greet didn’t didn’t result in a job offer or even what you may consider useful advice. You never know who your benefactor may know!

Readers: When you were fresh out of school, how did a contact or introduction from friends or family further your career? 

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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RELATED POSTS:
Help People Help You Find a Job
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Be a Social Seeker, Part 1 and Part 2

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Hi. Anita:

I have just started looking for a new job, and recently I have been hearing about employers searching Facebook profiles before even interviewing a candidate. How can my profiles on social media sites impact my chance of finding employment? Thank you!

Dear, Fellow Facebooker:MW_Laptop

Social media and networks have become an extension of our lives. We can catch up with old friends, learn about the latest news,  and even get leads to open positions. But with all the positives that can be enjoyed, take your social experience with a grain of salt. Yes, employers are most definitely looking at the Facebook profiles of their candidates. After reading a post at one of my favorite blogs, TradePost, I was alarmed at how quickly Facebook screening is becoming a big issue in the employment world. For an idea of what I am talking about, read “Asking for Facebook Passwords: Good Screening or Bad Idea?

Here are some of the dos and don’ts to adhere to if you hope make a great first impression.

  1. Make your profile private. Put the security gates up before you start your job search. You can even hide your profile temporarily or make your name not appear in search results.
  2. Keep your pictures G-rated. This includes your profile picture, pictures you have uploaded, and ones that your friends have tagged you in. Even if your page is blocked to the public, there may be a chance that the hiring manager is a connection with a mutual friend and can see your pictures. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of pictures of drinking activities, illegal drug use, sexually explicit images, and anything that you wouldn’t share with your grandparents.
  3. Restrict wall posting privileges. We all have some friends who haven’t quite figured out what is appropriate (and what’s not) to post to Facebook. Be cautious on how much slack you give to these troublemakers and limit their ability to comment/post on your wall.Facebook_Glasses
  4. Untag yourself from professionally unflattering photos. Yes, we all have some great pictures that bring us back to our college days. Great for reminiscing, bad for business. Again, a G-rating is preferred.
  5. Avoid controversial topic discussion. When it comes to politics, religion, and other social issues, it is best to remain neutral while hunting for a job. You are entitled to your own beliefs, but it is best to keep them under the radar on your Facebook profile.
  6. Accept friend requests and invites of people you know. It isn’t uncommon for people to create fictional profiles to gather privileged information. If you have anything that you wish to hide (hopefully you have gotten an idea of what I am talking about by now), do not give strangers access to your profile.
  7. Whatever you do, do not provide employers with your log-in credentials. It may hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but this a serious breach of privacy – and several states have even made it illegal for employers to ask. I most certainly would not want to work with a company that was comfortable crossing those boundaries.

I hope this will help all of my readers become savvier when it comes to their Facebook profiles. Managers and Supervisors, a must-read for you as well is another post of mine called “Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend.”

Readers, what do you think is the most damaging discovery an employer could make through Facebook? What is your #1 Facebook profile no-no?

And if you still don’t believe me, check out this news clip about Facebook privacy and employment:

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Lessons on LinkedIn

Hi, Anita:

I have just joined LinkedIn to aid in my job search. As a novice to the entire site, I was hoping you could offer some advice on how to take advantage of the introduction feature that is available. Some of the lingo is foreign to me and any insight would be great. Thanks for your help!

Dear, Learning LinkedIn:

Linked_In_GlobeCongratulations on joining LinkedIn. It is a great tool that will aid in your job search and help you build a strong professional network. For those of you who are now just hearing about LinkedIn, it is a business-focused social networking website that connects users with other professionals, recruiters, and companies of interest.  The site offers many tools with the basic free service that everyone should take advantage of.

LinkedIn works through connections. These are to LinkedIn as friends are to Facebook. When you have identified another user with whom you’d like to “connect,” you can make a Connection request, which the other user can accept or deny. An accepted connection is considered 1st degree.

Outside of the 1st-degree circle of connections, you have

  • 2nd-degree Connections: Think of these as a friend of a friend. They are directly connected to one of your professional connections. Keep this in mind when I discuss LinkedIn Introductions.
  • 3rd-degree Connections: Consider these as your 2nd-degree connection’s additional connections. To make it simple, think of this as your co-worker’s friend from graduate school’s boss.
  • Out of Your Network: These LinkedIn users are not currently connected to your 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-degree connections.

What I think is a great tool available on LinkedIn is Introductions. We all know that having a person on the inside of a company we want to work for is a step in the right direction. One of your professional connections may be willing to facilitate an opportunity for you to meet an insider who can help you land your next job opportunity.Linked_In_Road_Sign

Here is an example. You want to work as an Administrative Assistant at an EmployBridge brand and hope that you can find that opportunity by speaking with the head of Human Resources, who you don’t currently know. Your friend Steve, however, is connected with the head of HR at Select. What better way to catch the HR Director’s eye than by having her trusted friend Steve “introduce” you two?

So how do you find these introduction opportunities? I thought you might ask!

  1. Start by going to Company Search and entering the name of the company for which you want to work. If you need to refine your search, you can choose the following parameters that meet your search needs: location, industry, and/or relationship type (2nd or 3rd connections).
  2. Once you have located the company, look to the fair right of the screen and find the “How You’re Connected” section. Click on 2nd-degree connections.
  3. Here, you will see all the people at the company with whom you share common connections. Select the individual to whom you would like to be introduced and hover over to the right of the “Connect” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Click “Get introduced.”
  4. Select from the list one of your closest, most trusted connections and ask for the introduction.
  5. Enter text into the subject line and why you want to get introduced.
  6. Finally click “Send Request” and wait for a response – and hopefully a foot in the door.

I hope this helps you understand just one of the great tools available on LinkedIn. For more information, LinkedIn has put together a short video on how to make the most of the site for your job search:

Readers, what are the tools you use the most on LinkedIn? Have you found it useful in your Job Search?

Best wishes,

Anita

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Job Seeking Spare Time

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have been unemployed for 2 months and try as I may, I still am having trouble finding employment. I am starting to get extremely bored and the excess hours of the day are beginning to get to me. With the large amount of free time on my hands, what can I do to during the day that will have a positive impact on my job search and my day-to-day life?

Dear, Stuck With Too Much Spare Time,

Job HuntingBeing unemployed and having nothing to do are not as much fun as many people make it out to be. I bet for the first week or two, it feels like a nice vacation full of sleeping in, leisurely breakfasts, watching television all day, and kicking up your feet. But after a short while, those things you wished you could do while you were working are becoming unbearable and boring. If you are starting to feel down about yourself or feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I ask you to turn that frown upside down. It is time to start being proactive and getting your life back on track.

The first thing you need to do is set a schedule out for yourself. No more sleeping in until noon and watching television until the wee hours of the morning. Most people who are employed are up and out the door in time to be at work by 8 a.m. Now that you do not have a job, what do you think your full-time position is? You guessed it, JOB HUNTING! Immediately, go see my friends at Select Staffing and fill out an application. Chances are they will be able to enter you in their database and offer you advice on how to proceed with your search. You must dedicate at least 6 hours a day to searching for a job. That doesn’t mean just scouring the Internet; get out there and sell yourself. For tips and tricks on becoming a very successful networker, check out my post Networking Know-How.

Try to find a class in your area that will build your résumé and your skills. If you work in a warehouse, look into getting your certification in forklift driving. If you are in administrative or executive support, brush up your grammar and proofreading skills. Do something that will benefit you in the long run and help keep your brain from turning to mush.

Build your résumé while doing something good for others. Locate a charity whose cause is near and dear to your heart and start volunteering. This will give you satisfaction and look great to potential employers. Here you can gain Community Serviceprofessional and life skills, meet people that could help introduce you to new job openings, and also earn a great recommendation from your supervisor that can only shed a better light on your unemployment. I once volunteered at a local charity and after a few months of dedicated service, I was offered a paid position in their Career Center.

Surround yourself with positive EMPLOYED people. This is a very important piece of advice to follow. Typically, people who are unemployed will not be happy with their situations and will inevitably bring you down. They will be more likely to engage you in activities that do not mesh well with job hunting activities. People with jobs will be able to share advice and connect with other professionals, possibly resulting in your next job lead.

Cut out the junk food and take some time to get your body moving. Exercise is a great way to spend an hour of your day. Getting your blood pumping will increase your energy level and spread those happy endorphins through your body. It is proven to relieve stress and ward off depression. Healthy foods will give you more energy and make you feel much better, both physically and mentally. Remember if you put good in, you will get good out.

As tempting as it maybe, try to avoid reading the bad news about the job market and the economy; it will only bring you down. Switch over to reading uplifting books and inspiring stories to keep you in a chipper mood. Go by yourself to see movies that bring a smile to your face. It actually gives you a greater sense of independence. I definitely suggest you give it a try.

Set GoalsSet daily and weekly goals for yourself. These do not need to be huge or intricate. Day one can be as simple as waking up at 8 a.m. and apply to 3 viable jobs. If you do that every day for a week, you have 15 job applications and résumés out in the world. Now that is an accomplishment! As you achieve more, you will begin to feel better and more confident in your abilities. Just remember you won’t get anywhere without putting one foot in front of the other.

Now that I have given a few tips, I want to hear from my readers what they find to be the most important advice for keeping your sanity while seeking employment. What things did you do while you were searching for a job?

Take care until next time,

Anita

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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