The phrase, “kicked out of the bird’s nest,” is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my upcoming graduation. Four years seems like a long time to prepare yourself for the “real world,” but in reality, it’s not. I was reminded by my career office today that 75% of jobs in the market aren’t posted, and many of the jobs that are posted have automated resume scanners that just look for keywords, and toss the ones that don’t have them. Now, for someone like me who applies for jobs on—what seems like a daily basis—it’s upsetting.
I could try my luck with the 25% of jobs posted on job bulletins and the internet, but then I’d be competing with Ivy League graduates. How could I, a regular college student, tap into the secretive 75% of the hidden job market? Then, the age old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” flashed across my mind. Is it important to have a top-notch, well-developed resume? Absolutely. Is your GPA important? Of Course! But the most important thing, not only to a soon-to-be college graduate, but anyone in the professional world can do, is network.
I was reminded by my career office today that 75% of jobs in the market aren’t posted Networking is so much more than taking a person’s business card, sending a few emails, or asking for a job. It’s about building a bridge and getting your name and personality into the world. When people think of networking, they picture a conference room, with people dressed in suits, but that’s not always the case. If I’ve learned anything from my college career, it’s that you can network anywhere. Every time you meet someone new, such as causal encounters on trips to the grocery or every day routines like taking the elevator, or riding the subway opens up opportunities for you to interact and learn new things. You just have to be willing to learn them.
I’ll give you an example. Last semester there was a guest speaker in my public relations class, who was the vice-president of communications at Corning Incorporated. He spoke about his duties and gave us an overview of his company. I was immediately fascinated with his job. At the end of the presentation, he did what all presenters do, he said, “If anyone has further questions, please email me.” I went about my day as I usually would, but I decided that for once, I would take a shot and email him some follow-up questions. It turned out to be a great idea because he told me that I was the only student in class to reach out to him. After a few emails about his career path and my plans for after graduation, he put me in contact with other Networking is so much more than taking a person’s business card, sending a few emails, or asking for a job people who he felt could communicate and explain, more than he could, the field I wanted to get into. In addition to that, he said that he’d help me in whatever way he could so that I’d be successful, just as long as I do the same to another student one day. He mentioned to me that when he graduated college, he networked with someone and was helped with finding a job, the person made him promise that he’d pay it forward in the future.
This amazed me because through a few simple emails, I had gotten in contact with not one, but three different people who had successful careers in the field I wanted to pursue. And the best part was that they were all willing to give me advice and answer any questions I had. And to think, I would have missed out on that wonderful opportunity if I had just kept quiet and to myself. Now that I have three new contacts who know that I’m looking for a job, hopefully they’ll put me in contact with others, thus adding on to my list of connectors.
I guess the lesson in all this is that you can’t just sit by and let fantastic opportunities pass you by. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and take a chance. It won’t work 100 percent of the time, but when it does, you’ll realize that there are always people out there willing to help, you just have to be brave enough to ask.