Just searching, applying, and attending interviews while looking for your first career position directly after college can be a full time job all by itself. I remember looking for my first job. I used to get frustrated when I saw former classmates getting hired by friends. It made me think that all of the work I did to earn good grades was for nothing.
But getting good grades is only half of the battle when it comes to finding a job. Who you know is the other half of the battle. And it can be the most important part of the battle. Networking in person can help you find jobs before they are listed online, but what if you see a job online and you don't have the connections? You will need to begin networking online. Use these tips to make the process easier and leverage your networks.
Use Multiple Job Search Engines
Don't be afraid to use more than one search engine to find a job. You may think that open positions will be listed on all of the large sites but that is just not how it works. Try Monster.com AND CareerBuilder.com. Test out Indeed.com and look for positions directly on company websites. After you've checked these sources, try an industry specific job search engine. For example, in finance, you can search OneWire.com for entry-level and more advanced financial positions. The site also has a networking option so candidates can meet potential employers.
LinkedIn is a great place to look for a job because it already includes the element of professional networking. The job search feature is limited to jobs that might interest you. But if you perform a search using the right keywords, you may find other jobs. A major advantage to job searching on LinkedIn is the ability to connect with the recruiter directly.
Get Noticed for Your Skills
Before you start reaching out, it's important that you update your resume and write a cover letter for your job search. You may receive an immediate request and you should be ready. Take the time to clean up your social networks and remove any potentially embarrassing material. You want to be noticed for your skills, not your ability to do a keg stand. Update your LinkedIn profile and ask your close connections and previous employers for recommendations and endorsements. Highlight relevant work history, skills and professional memberships.
You can also stand out by creating a blog or one page online resume. Create a blog to talk about your experience, your industry, and explore topics that interest you. A one page resume is similar to a LinkedIn profile but you can customize it more to match your specific skills. If you are in the design or creative field, you can create an online portfolio and stand out as a candidate.
Connect Online Via Professional Networking
Recruiters are always on the hunt for solid candidates. Take the time to find and connect with recruiters in your industry. Then, add all of your professional connections on LinkedIn. Start to share updates on interesting articles that you have read and stay active on a weekly basis. Join a group dedicated to your industry and chat with those members.
Once you start making meaningful connections, take it a step further. Ask for an in person meeting or Skype chat. Once the meeting is set up, prepare some questions that you can ask. This is not an interview but a conversation. Your goal is to simply create a deeper connection with an online friend.
Networking online is very similar to networking in person. You meet a new connection, find out how you can help them and discuss how they may be able to help you. Then you continue the conversation and look for ways to add value going forward.