1. Importance of Networking
Speaking personally, I was in such a rush to finish both my bachelors and masters degree that I was blinded to the actual networking opportunity that it was. I thought by finishing the degrees quickly, it would say to hiring managers that I was exceptional and ahead of my peers. I cannot tell you how FALSE that is. The five years that I spent at the university should have been making long lasting relationships with my peers as well as my professors. When you are interviewing for a position (if you are lucky enough to land an interview), you are trying to win a competition. It is a huge advantage if you have someone that can go to bat for you. Someone who knows your strengths and can advocate that you would be a great candidate for hire. Also, some of your peers may be team members where you are applying. Even more common than not, they may know of job requisitions that have not even been posted yet.
In a season of Covid layoffs, gaining referrals from those in your field will be key. Companies are looking to onboard quickly to meet demand. Having a solid reference from someone who already knows the company’s culture would be a huge advantage.
Outside of job seeking, networking is also important as it provides you a reference when you need a second opinion or someone to gain inspiration from. Having a solid peer group creates a strong foundation for continued education in your field.
Focus on this platform and take your time curating your profile. Many hiring managers and recruiters utilize this resource to assess the market. I myself have used this medium to investigate further into someone’s potential skill set. LinkedIn is rather user friendly, but if you are not able to navigate the platform, invest in an individual who specializes in resume building. I promise it will be completely worth it.
It is important to add that you should discipline yourself when it comes to this social media platform, as it really is DIFFERENT than your other outlets. Please keep your conversation and material on this platform 100% professional. You may not think others will take notice but they are definitely watching.
Also important on LinkedIn is to highlight your technical skills. Tons of jobs have been forced to work remote due to the pandemic, so marketing yourself as someone who can take on that challenge will be a huge help.
3. Think Outside the Box with Your Resume
As I previously mentioned, you are in a competition when you are job searching. There are many other individuals looking for the same position. They could be more, less or equally as qualified as you. When creating your resume keep this in mind. While I do not suggest straying too far from the typical format, keep in mind that you have an opportunity to stand out. Focus on your skill set and how you want to show case your best qualities. Include examples of those skill sets, goals that you have reached and personalize your resume to match the job description of the requisition that you are applying for.
If you have any project management or change management experience make sure that stands out. Roles are dynamic as they have ever been with Covid-19. Hiring managers want to onboard someone who can be fluid.
4. Preparing for Interviews
Practice, practice and even more practice! Google search and use Pinterest to scrub interview questions and consider making flash cards so when asked they do not catch you off guard. Prepare follow up questions to ask at the end of the interview as well. This is also where networking comes in handy. I recommend reaching out to colleagues who have interviewed for the company before and asking for tips and tricks. Use Glassdoor and search the company. Use LinkedIn and try to get more information about the hiring manager and/or current employees. It will ease any anxiety that you might experience when you go in feeling prepared. What I have personally noticed is that I create this vision in my head of the interviewer, making them less relatable and me less confident.
It is also very important that you plan to be at least 15 minutes early. By doing this you do not have the “I have to hurry” anxiety, and you can handle making the wrong turn or taking the elevator to the wrong floor. Bring a resume for each interviewer to have, and keep one for yourself to reference. When you check in, know who your interview is with. While waiting, refrain from scrolling on social media. In fact, silence or turn off your phone. Practice patience.
Most interviews are through Zoom or another media platform since so many companies are not meeting in person. If you aren’t familiar with the technology, be sure to read up on it prior to your interview. Get your computer set up prior and ensure you have the necessary programs and/or plug ins.
5. Always Follow Up & Send a Thank You
At the end of your interview, after asking your follow up questions, I recommend asking for the interviewer’s business card. This will list the contact information for the individual and be a great resource for following up. It is common for interviewers to not respond, sometimes it is their company policy not to. Do not take it personal. Nonetheless it shows the effort you are taking as well as your ability to utilize your communication skills. I prefer to hand write my thank you cards, however if you do not have neat/legible handwriting, skip this method and type the letter instead. You can also email the individual if you are more confident with that.