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Students and Grads: Get Connected and Network Into an Entry-Level Job

Students and Grads: Get Connected and Network Into an Entry-Level Job

October 08, 2009

As a green jobs advisor, I’ve talked about the difficulty of making your resume stand out as a student or recent grad, given that you haven’t had work experience to really differentiate you.

At Bright Green Talent, we’ve seen all sorts of creative tricks for getting resumes noticed in a bunch — rampant highlighting, personal notes, stickers, glitter… Luckily for those of us who are as artistically-underachieving as I am, applying for a job does not have to be an arts and crafts project.

In this economy, the trick is this: knowing someone at a company, or a friend’s cousin’s great-uncle of someone at a company, will give you a much better shot of being seriously considered. For hiring managers, being able to place you in a social or personal network lowers the psychological barriers to hiring you – they can check with that person to make sure you’re a stable person, or you at least have a better chance of standing out when they come back across your resume (”oh, this is the girl that went to pre-school with Sam from Accounting’s nephew!”). [Warning: of course, using personal connections can go in the other direction, too. We’ve seen qualified folks get dismissed because whoever knows them at the company doesn’t think they’ll fit in with the culture, or is still mad that the applicant never returned their lawnmower].

As a student or recent grad, here’s how to dive in to the networking scene:

  • Obviously, start with using who you know. Bosses from internships, professors, alumni from student groups you’re involved in, friends of your parents – don’t be shy about asking these folks if they know of open opportunities at their company or other companies. Do be polite in your phrasing, and do not be overly pushy (ie, “Hey, I know we haven’t talked in 3 years, but can you get me a job/interview?”). More on etiquette next week.

  • No excuses: use your Career Development Center. You’ve already paid your school hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare you for the real world; you might as well invest a few hours getting their advice on how to actually get into the real world.

  • Use your alumni network (the New York Times says so!). Alumni, for nostalgia’s sake or whatever other reason, generally love helping out students from their alma mater, especially if you were both in the same acapella group or archery club (what’s with me and bowhunting?). Research companies, see what alumni might be there, and send a friendly note.

  • Meet new people. In the green space, there are networking events practically every 4 minutes – GreenDrinks is a good way to schmooze (and many other iterations exist, depending on where you live – Climatini, Sustainable Business Happy Hour, etc, etc). Go to panel discussions, do volunteer days at local gardens, get involved in your local Sierra Club chapter.

  • Use online resources like LinkedIn and MonsterCollege (for the uninitiated, it’s like Facebook for grown-ups and people who take themselves seriously). This is a great research tool, and a way to find those friends’ cousin’s great-uncles who can help you get into the company of your dreams. And you can join the Bright Green Group! More on online resources/social media in a few weeks. Join the Green Jobs Group on MonsterCollege and get acquainted in the forums.