When it comes to landing an entry-level job, there almost seems to be a Catch-22 involved. On the one hand, an entry-level job is designed to be for those who don’t have a lot – or any – experience in their chosen industry. However, at the same time, you may get passed over for an entry-level job in favor of another applicant who has more experience.
When you’re unemployed and looking for work, this can be an extremely frustrating and daunting experience. However, don’t lose hope. Networking may be just the thing to jumpstart your career.
From a business perspective, networking is the act of keeping in touch with peers, clients, and other business professionals to find new job opportunities, refer out and receive new leads, and share industry tips that can help you grow and succeed. This includes everything from following each other on LinkedIn, engaging with them regularly, and even asking for their insight on key business trends.
However, if you’ve never worked in your industry before, chances are, you’re not going to have access to these individuals. As such, your network will include professors, peers you went to school with who were also pursuing the same career as you, and friends who may be able to refer you for an opening you’d be perfect for.
Regardless of who is in your network, networking is an invaluable tool that you can use to your advantage, especially when it comes to landing an entry-level job.
Developing relationships is at the core of business networking, and the reality is that you don’t need to be someone with years of experience in the industry to be good at it. All it takes is maintaining relationships the same way you would your friends and family.
The big benefit of maintaining these relationships is that it keeps you and your job search at the forefront of someone’s mind. For example, let’s say you want to start an entry-level job in marketing. One day, you decide to meet your friend for lunch. Throughout your meal, you let them know about your job search and how it’s going. Two months later, your friend reaches out to you (seemingly out of the blue) to let you know that his wife’s company is looking for a digital marketing assistant and asks if you’re interested. This is a prime example of how networking works.
Though it may seem like the job opportunity came out of the blue, the reality is that what you brought up was stuck in the person’s mind, just waiting for the right moment for it to be applicable. So, when an opportunity comes about, that person will have no qualms about not only letting you know about the opportunity and where you can apply but will try to talk you up to the hiring manager or person at the company who can make it happen. In this example, your friend’s spouse.
This same concept applies to everyone in your networking circle, whether it be a friend, relative, former-co worker, college professor, or peer. The reality of why this is has something to do with a company’s hiring process. An example of this is how often recruiters and hiring managers fail to list their job openings on online job boards. In fact, a startling statistic from Business Insider discovered that approximately 80% of job listings are not only not posted online, but instead filled through internal referrals and networking.
The proof is in the pudding: if you want to land an entry-level job, networking is the key to making it happen.
As we briefly mentioned earlier, the key to successful networking is being social. However, it also has to do with strategy and being memorable. Remember, when it comes to landing a job through traditional methods, such as submitting your resume or application to a recruiter, you only have about six seconds to make an impression. Those numbers aren’t in anybody’s favor because how can anybody really know if someone’s personality and soft skills are the right fit for a company simply by looking at a piece of paper?
It’s not enough to simply know that you should network; you also need to know how to do it. Here are 5 tips for successful networking that can help you land an entry-level job:
Out of all the steps you can take when it comes to networking to land an entry-level job, one of the most important is signing up for LinkedIn.
This social media channel was specifically designed for business professionals to network with one another. Even more so, it allows you to connect with and engage with professionals within your industry, regardless of whether you’ve met them in real life. In fact, 87% of recruiters have found LinkedIn to be a successful way of finding and hiring applicants.
Recruiters receive hundreds of applications and resumes per week, but that number can easily soar when they attend a job fair.
When a recruiter is at a job fair, they have one goal: to fill as many open positions at their company as possible. While you may not be a fit for every role, you should always take great care to take the recruiter’s business card and then jot down the open position you discussed with them.
Then, once you’re back home, send an email to each one, addressing them by their name and the position you discussed with them/are interested in. Though many younger generations believe emailing a hiring manager is an old or dying practice, it’s a simple and easy thing to do to set yourself apart from the other applicants. And, like the friend example provided above, it keeps your application fresh in the recruiter’s mind, which may lead them to interview you for another position you may be better suited for.
If you want to make connections in your field, then it’s recommended that you find industry-specific events to attend, both in person and online.
While you can find these via a quick Google search, many colleges will notify their alumni of upcoming events that feature speakers from all different industries. Outside of school, virtual events are also promoted through different platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook networking groups, so you can easily sign up and start learning.
Though you may not connect with everybody at these events (nor should you try to, as doing so may come across as disingenuous), connecting with one or two people per event can turn into a lasting relationship down the line.
When it comes to networking and staying at the forefront of people’s minds, the easiest way to do so is to be interesting. However, one way to be memorable is to be interested in others.
It’s like any type of relationship. If you exclusively talk about yourself or bring every conversation back to you, the relationship is going to feel one-sided. And, who is going to want to put their neck out for someone and offer an opportunity to land an entry-level job if they’re not getting anything out of the relationship? The answer is probably not too many.
When meeting with college professors, recruiters, and student peers, be sure to ask questions about their skills and the industry. Ask for their insight. Share insightful articles they share on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Then, in addition to these, develop interests with them that are outside the scope of their employment. Remember, networking is all about connection, so if you two share a favorite baseball team or Netflix show, by all means, talk about it. It’s the stuff that goes on outside of work that helps enrichen relationships and deepens connections.
It can be hard to put yourself out there, especially if you feel like you’ve been searching for an entry-level job forever and are still somehow coming up empty. However, it’s important to remember that even the most confident people still suffer from insecurity.
People are often misled to believe that confidence is something some people are just born with. However, the reality is that confidence is a skill – and skills are something anybody can embrace. The key to being confident is knowing who you are and what you bring to the table. Furthermore, it’s also about accepting the answer no and not being discouraged by it.
Sometimes, people become so worried that they’ll be turned down for an opportunity, a raise, or that they’re not qualified for something, that it will actually halt them from even trying.
Remember, not every opportunity is going to unfold the way you want – and that’s okay. As cliché as it is to say, the right opportunity will manifest at the right time. However, these tips can surely help!
There’s a reason why so many people say that searching for a job is like actually having a job. It takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. When you feel like nothing you’re doing is working, give networking a try.
Networking is the best tool to help you locate job opportunities that aren’t posted online and connect with others who can tout your soft skills to recruiters and department heads that need applicants. With these tips and a little practice, you’ll be able to successfully network in no time.