According to Ellen Gordon Reeves, the author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? and resume expert at the Columbia University Publishing Course, 80 percent of “all jobs fall into a ‘hidden job market’—an area in which jobs are not publicly advertised and are filled by word of mouth.” For college students looking for work, knowing how to leverage your network can help you get your foot in the door.
What do you want? This sounds obvious, but you’ll make the most of your connections if you can be really specific about what you’re asking them for. Are you hoping for informational interviews so that you can grow your understanding of a certain field or career path? Are you looking for a summer internship in a specific industry? Be clear.
Network? What network? Most college students underestimate the circle of friends, family, past employers, school contacts, alums from your high school and college, LinkedIn connections, and organizations that fall into their “network.” Devote some time to thinking about who you know.
Reach out with an e-mail. College students looking for work should strike a professional and appreciative tone when they email contacts. It should be clear what you’re asking for. Emails are non-intrusive, and they’re also efficient, as you may be able to re-use the same template. Here’s a rough idea of what that template might look like:
Dear NAME OF CONTACT,
My name is YOUR NAME and I met you WHERE YOU MET last week. I really enjoyed speaking with you about [REFERENCE YOUR CONVERSATION— side note: it’s a great idea to take notes after these kinds of networking events so you can recall these details!].
As I mentioned, I’m a senior majoring in YOUR MAJOR, and I’m very interested in pursuing a career in YOUR AREA OF INTEREST following graduation. [Reference your past experience in the industry. For example, “Last summer, I interned for a new designer in my hometown of Chicago, helping her update her website and manage inventory.”] As I approach graduation, my goal is to find a job YOUR GOAL HERE. I wondered if you might be able to ASK CLEARLY FOR WHAT YOU’D LIKE THEM TO DO to discuss potential opportunities? I’ve attached my resume.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
The Importance of Tracking. Whether you use an excel document or just keep it in a notebook, make sure to keep track of when you reached out, and if there was any response. Follow up as needed. If you don’t hear back from someone, try them again. If you still don’t get a response, and you’re sure you have the correct contact information, move on.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Want to make the most of your contacts? Be appreciative of them! If someone helps you in any way, send them a personal note immediately expressing your sincere appreciation.
QuadJobs is an online platform connecting college and graduate students to local jobs. From Saturday night babysitting to moving a couch to helping a local business during a busy time, students find flexible jobs that fit into whatever free time they have. By streamlining the employment connection between campus and community, QuadJobs unlocks jobs particularly well-suited for students’ busy, often changing schedules. The platform tracks every job a student takes and gathers performance reviews. Small jobs matter—they help a student network, earn income, and build a track record of work experience. Local employers can hire with efficiency and confidence.