In this interview the conversation centers around job seekers networking. Job seekers must build strong networks in order to better position themselves for landing their next job. Job seekers with the strongest networks have a better shot at opportunities than their peers without strong networks. The featured guest is Melissa Wells. Melissa is a millennial graduate of the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She is an aspiring leader with a goal to advance her career and develop valuable experience and knowledge in the media, business, communications, public relations, advertising, marketing and sales industries. Follow Melissa on Twitter!
7/1/2013 – Interviewed by Scott Proietti
1. In your opinion, what are the best ways to network yourself in a job search?
MW: In my opinion, the best ways to network yourself in a job search start with knowing what you want. In my experience, networking and talking about my passions were much easier when I knew what those passions were. You need to know yourself and know what you are good at doing when you network. You don’t have to have your life planned out, but have some sense of self and confidence. People will notice that. In terms of meeting those people and selling yourself in front of them, you need to utilize your resources. LinkedIn is an amazing way to easily find people in your desired industry and network and reach out to them. All of my major job offers/opportunities I’ve had were done through showing initiative and reaching out to people to ask them questions about their experiences throughout their career. From there – you sell yourself and be likable. Out of all the no’s you will receive, there will be one yes. Work for that.
2. How important has networking been throughout your career?
Networking has been absolutely the bread and butter of my career thus far. In the communications/creative world, a lot of opportunities come from who you know. I always make sure to make good impressions with ANYONE I speak to. You are always being watched, especially when graduating college. Never burn a bridge or lose touch with people – you never know how they can help you down the road. Consider everyone a “reference” and treat them that way. They will speak highly of you when you need a favor or a connection to a good job.
3. How can job seekers better network themselves if they don’t have an optimal amount of working experience?
This is something I struggled with throughout college when I was trying to get my internship. Everyone wanted experience to get experience. In this case, you need to focus on your strengths and work ethic. This is more than just saying “I am a people person” – you need to go the extra mile and illustrate this for an employer. For example, you could say, “I am not only a people person, but I have the ability to build long lasting and trusting relationships with people while making them feel comfortable to be transparent with me professionally so I can help their company meet current business objectives.” Talk about what this opportunity would mean to you and pitch new ideas for the company that you think would really drive positive results. This shows you did your homework. At this point, personality is everything.
4. Would you say that networking is more important than ever before with how competitive the workforce is today? Why or why not?
I would certainly say that networking more important, if not more important than it ever has been. There are so many talented people trying to break into the workforce today that are all equally qualified. What makes you different? Connecting and building relationships with the right people could be the inch that gets you the job over someone else.
5. How can upcoming college graduates better position and network themselves to increase their job marketability?
College graduates need to worry about their marketability and network BEFORE they are college graduates. The biggest mistake students make is thinking they have all the time in the world to do internships or build their resume. I can’t tell you how wrong this is. You should be doing an internship or shadowing every single summer of your college career. This will also help you learn what you like and what you don’t like about the industry you want to go into. I started out in broadcast journalism and I did not end up there – and I would not have known that I didn’t want to do that job after college if I didn’t work on my college’s TV station for two years. Make mistakes now and go after opportunities. This will make you stand out in terms of job marketability when you graduate. Then, finding a job will be a lot easier!
6. Has social media had a positive or negative impact on networking and “getting your name out there” Why or why not?
Personally, social media has had a positive influence on networking and getting my name out there. For people that this does not apply to- it may be because they use these platforms inappropriately and ruin their “brand” they are trying to create. Social media provides all of us the chance to express and network ourselves and tell people who we are. Many employers will be stuck on which person to hire out of the top two, so they go on each person’s social media and see what their hobbies are or if they have a blog. They are trying to get to know your “brand” and see which one fits with their culture at their company. Social media is a free and dynamic networking opportunity to show the world who you are. Make sure you like what they see.