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One of the most effective ways to find a job lead is through networking. Spread the word that you are looking for a job. Start with the people you know – tell your family, friends, friends of your parents, parents of your friends, neighbors, people who are on your bowling team, people from church, your hairstylist, acquaintances from your children’s school- EVERYONE. Ask if they know someone who could help you get a job interview at one of your targeted companies. You will be surprised who can make a telephone call and help you set up a job interview.

Here are some tips on where to start building a network. Don’t wait until you are ready to graduate or after you were laid off from your current job to start networking.

  • Get organized: No matter what your major, there is a professional organization for you. National and international organizations have local chapters where you can meet other professionals in your field. Most hold conferences and other events designed especially for networking. Join LinkedIn, and connect to professionals in your field electronically.
  • Fill out job applications everywhere else: Look for companies that are always recruiting whether they post signs like “Now Hiring” or they post openings on job search engines like Monster, Career Builder, or Craigslist. Use company websites daily to check for openings on their careers or job opportunities tab. Visit the Career Services office on campus, employment agencies and attend local career fairs. It’s a numbers game so the more applications you complete, either in person or electronically, the greater the chances for a call for an interview.
  • Target at least 8 new companies a day: Call each company. Ask the receptionist for the name of the manager in the department where you would like to work – that’s the hiring manager. Send each hiring manager your resume and a cover letter asking for an interview. Several days later, follow up with a telephone call. Talk to the manager and ask for an interview.
  • Keep a list of all the companies you’ve applied to: Every week send each hiring manager a follow up note. Let the manager know you are still available and you want to work for them. Remember eighty percent of all job openings are not advertised. You need to tap into the unadvertised openings and apply first.
  • Give something – Get something: Consider doing volunteer work to expand your network. You’ll likely meet an entirely new group of people. Choose an organization that relates to your profession. Organizations can always use an extra set of hands to help with everything from computer work to clerical tasks. By volunteering, you’ll get a chance to use your skills, expand your network and make a much needed contribution. Additionally, you’ll have exposure to inside opportunities and can act on them quickly. If you are still in school, register for an externship, even if it is not required of your program. You can get valuable experience, network with co-workers and have an experience you could put on a resume.
  • Have your resume ready to forward to your networking contact: He/she can get your resume into the hands of the right person at the organization before the position is ever listed on the company website or on a job search engine or SERP API. If you don’t have a professional resume ready, you will miss out on the chance for an interview.

Amy Buoscio is the Career Development Coordinator for Northwestern College at the Oak Lawn campus. She has over 25 years of higher education experience and has a Master’s Degree in Communication from Illinois State University. She is an active Director for the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce & Industry.