Wednesday, April 30, 2014

College to Career: Networking, Job Search Engines and Building Relationships

A typical day in the life of a Career Services professional involves the question, “How do I start my job search?” My top recommendation for job seekers is to determine a strategic plan and cast your net wide. First things first, use the resources that are provided to you as a student or alumni of your university. OK, prepare yourself for a shameless plug for Career Services offices across North America. Career Services, and the online job board administrated by your university, should be your best friend throughout your college career and especially as you near graduation. I can assure you that you will never find a group of individuals that are this committed to your professional success. Consider the alternative of applying on a Fortune 500 company’s website. You may be one of a thousand applicants. This same job could be posted on your University’s career job board, and you could be one of twenty applicants. As you can see, much better odds here. Plus, if you build a strong relationship with your Career Counselor, he or she could be your personal advocate when speaking with corporate recruiters. 

Relationships with your Career Services office should not be your only priority as a soon-to-be-graduate. Your professors and academic advisors frequently receive job leads through their wide array of professional contacts. Many employers value referrals from individuals who have daily contact with students, especially in the classroom. Be proactive in getting to know these key individuals, as they will be more willing to connect you to new opportunities as they come along. These individuals can provide guidance, honest feedback, and mentorship as you make your way into the job market. 

With the excessive amount of technology at our fingertips, the job search process does seem quite daunting to the average college student. I will also add that not all online job search engines are created equal. In my recent experience, the days of Monster and Career Builder are quickly fading. Most corporations have a website with a career landing page. With that being said, the new wave of job boards is more of a resource guide format. The magic of job search engines such as and, is that they compile job postings from thousands of career pages. These are posted into a searchable format with the ability to sort based on location, job title, and more. Most contain a feature to set up email notifications based on your search requirements. This is a great tool for any busy job seeker!

Personally, the most impactful career-planning tool has been my professional network. Talk to your family, friends, and Delta Gamma sisters. You would be surprised who they know and how willing they are to help. As I began looking for one of my first professional positions, I was ready for a huge change. By simply reaching out to an alumna in the area, she forwarded my email to her “little sis” who later became my manager. My Delta Gamma relationships provided an instant professional network. Of course, there is one caveat: you have to do your homework first. Perfect your resume, research potential industries and positions, and target your contacts. I would recommend all initial contact within your network to begin as an investigation. “Do you have any advice for…? What has been your experience in…?” If your initial contact is impressive to the reader, you never know who that email could be forwarded to. 

Keep in mind, that your dream job is just a step away but requires a few strategic moves. Stay focused and you will get there!

Guest Blogger: Lauren Delibro Smith
Lauren DeLibro Smith-Zeta Nu, Montevallo is currently the Employer Relations Specialist for the UAB Collat School of Business Career Services office and recent Master of Business Administration graduate. She resides in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, and currently serves as the Region 3 Finance Specialist.

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