Happy New Year! It’s January – the month of new goals, resolutions, and advice on how to make improvements in your life. For most college students, it is the start of a new semester, and for many their final one before graduation. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking louder for those without a job lined up after graduation. The pressure compounds when friends and family are asking about future plans and you find ways to avoid the conversation.

I recently spoke with a graduating senior who shares these concerns. He has applied for jobs online, has redone his resume, and went on multiple interviews… but has not received any offers. He is frustrated by the process and does not understand what he is doing wrong, and is beginning to lose confidence in himself, despite all of his achievements.

Likewise, another one of my clients came to me a few weeks ago regarding an internship for this summer. He is a Junior and has sought opportunities next summer. He went to the campus career fair in the fall, applied to a number of jobs, and had a few interviews but nothing came through. He even progressed to the second round for a particular job but he did not get it.

My first question to both of these students was, “Have you networked with any alumni who have a job in the field or company you want?” The answer. “No.”

My advice to both of them was simple and clear:

  1. Contact 10 alumni who are in the job or field that you want. You can find them here on LinkedIn.
  2. Ask them how they got started, lessons learned and about the challenges they face in the job. Here are tips on what to ask during an informational interview.
  3. Share with them your skills and why you want to go into that field.
  4. Ask if they can connect you with other colleagues or a hiring manager for learn about opportunities.
  5. Send a thank you note within 24 hours of speaking.

And then see what happens.

These 20-minute conversations take preparation and practice. However, the payoff is tremendous. The key to getting a job is not a perfect resume, high GPA or applying to the most online jobs. It is based on forging relationships with people who have the job that you want. You need to actually speak with someone who can give you advice, guidance and be your advocate to get you further in a company. The only investment this requires is your time…a resolution you can keep for 2018.  Learn more about how we help students and grads get the job at Next Great Step.