All dressed up and nowhere to go? No, I’m not talking about your social life; I’m talking about your career. Like many college graduate these days, you graduated but have been unable to secure a job. The reality is that the job market is tough. While there are countless articles attempting to offer college graduate tips on how to get a job, often these articles forget to mention the wealth of opportunities that lie in your closest contacts – your fellow alumni.
Indeed, alumni are the greatest untapped resource, and are more likely to help out than a random stranger because you already have one main thing in common: you attended the same school. So you have common experiences you can talk about, especially if you were involved in the same clubs or areas of study. Thus, they are more willing to reach out and give candid recommendations to potential employers on your behalf. In addition, because some employers never advertise jobs, they have the ability to connect you with those positions not posted to the general public. How should you go about finding alumni?
One way is to attend alumni networking events sponsored by your school career’s office or the alumni office. At these events, find engaging ways to connect with these alumni. For example, asking what professor they had for a particular class can be good icebreakers.
Contacting your former professors and career services is also a good way to obtain information about fellow alumni. Your former professors and career services often maintain contact with former students, and are willing to connect you to them.
LinkedIn can be an effective tool to reach out to alumni as well. Many of your alumni are active on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn provides you with information not only where your fellow alumni work, but also what they do and where they live. But first, if you’re not already on LinkedIn, you should be. Second, make sure you join any LinkedIn groups for your college. What do you do once you have identified some alumni?
1. Compose an Email to Try to Set an Informational Interview
In that email, introduce yourself, state the reason for the meeting, and state your availability for a 15-minute meeting over coffee. Some words of caution:
- Avoid a long email. It should be two or at most three short paragraphs long.
- Proofread it before you click the ‘send’ button. It is easy to make grammatical errors or include the wrong name of the interviewee.
- Do not attach a resume in that email. Although the goal here is to eventually get a job, don’t stress that you are looking for one. At least save the resume when you’re actually meeting with them.
2. Confirm the Meeting a Day or Two Prior to the Meeting
Once a fellow alum agrees to meet with you, confirm the date, time, and place of the meeting. Doing this will confirm that you are serious about the meeting. In that email, include a list of questions and topics that you would like to go over. Also, this is a good time to attach your resume. Supplying them with one gives them a chance to review your experience and skills, and thus will be more prepared to help you.
3. Follow Up
After the meeting, send a thank you email noting that you enjoyed speaking with them and that the information was helpful. Doing this will leave a good impression. Also, ask whether they are willing to pass on your resume to their colleagues who might be interested in speaking with you.
4. Don’t Give Up
So many college graduates with great credentials are in the same situations. With perseverance, you will eventually come out the other side employed. It’s just a matter of time.
The above guideline is not perfect, but it is one additional method new graduates should consider in their networking endeavors.