85% of jobs are filled through networking.
Building a powerful network can really help you advance your career. Consider building your network through:
- Friends, classmates, and faculty
- UM-Dearborn alumni
- Professional associations
- Current and former co-workers and supervisors
- Informational interviewing
- Career Services events, such as panels, career fairs, and networking programs
New to networking? It can be challenging to build your network, and know that you're not alone! Career Services is here to support you in gaining these networking skills through programs such as Talent Gateway, NSLS, workshops, employer meetings, and one on one meetings with career counselors.
How Do I Network?
- Be Prepared - Any time, any place, you could meet a contact. Keep copies of your business card on hand and be sure your resume is up-to-date.
- Talk With Your Personal Contacts First - Start with people you know personally - friends and family, and those you know professionally - teachers, professors and former bosses. Practice selling yourself to those you are close to first.
- Go Beyond Personal Contacts to People You Don't Knowc- Begin contacting those people to whom your personal contact referred you. Initiate each conversation by stating how you received their name. Work to establish a relationship by showing an interest in what they have to say, not just what they have to offer.
- Ask for Information, Not a Job - This is referred to as the "informational interview" because it is an opportunity to learn about the industry, job opportunities, and local business. This is not the appropriate time to ask for a job, instead discuss companies you are targeting.
- Focus Your Conversation - Use each conversation to get the most information possible. Give your contact a brief summary of your career objective, major strengths and accomplishments. Then ask specific questions that will provide you with helpful information.
- Stay in Touch - To keep the relationship beneficial for you and your contact, keep communication consistent. Keep your contacts informed about the progress of your job search. Send a thank-you note within 24 hours after every informational interview.
- Develop Your Skills - Join the Talent Gateway to leverage your experiences and make connections with alumni
Build Your Network
Networks are about connections - leverage your involvement with some of the units listed below to connect with people who might be in fields that interest you or to learn about other networking opportunities.
Network Through the Career Fair!
- Review, update, and upload your resume. Submit your resume for a review and/or attend Career Fair CRUNCH time!
- Research who will be attending. Career Services posts the list of employers in advance. Research the companies that interest you, and make a game plan for who you'll visit at the fair.
- Prepare your materials and attire ahead of time.
- Check your internet connection prior to the day of the fair and the morning of the fair. Consider connecting with an Ethernet cable to help keep it stable. Also, keep your device charged/plugged in.
- Have your resume ready to submit virtually at any time, consider having it saved in multiple formats (.docx and .pdf), as well as have it available for you to reference if needed.
- Have something to write with and something to write on - it is not recommended to be typing notes. Prepare questions ahead of time.
- Set up with a neutral background, quiet space, with lighting above or in front of you if possible (avoid lights behind you if you can).
- Dress professionally! It may be virtual but it should be treated as if you are there in person!
- Practice your elevator speech. This is your go-to answer to the question "tell me about yourself." Sell yourself to employers by telling them about your qualifications, related interests, skills, etc.
- Stay Positive. Have confidence in yourself and your experiences - you know you best! Always highlight your strengths and skills!
- Optional: Complete the Career Fair: Are you Prepared? and Resume and Cover Letter Review challenges in the Talent Gateway to reflect on your preparation!
- Silence your device(s). Turn your phone on silent, so it does not vibrate or ring during a meeting, and so you're not distracted while you are speaking with an employer.
- Stay Organized. During your conversations, remember to take good notes, and at the end of the chats you can type them up so you can refer back to them when you write your thank-you note!
- Be aware of your body language. Use body language to convey confidence and interest. You want to make a good impression! Sit-up straight, align camera to be at eye level (not looking down on it), keep eye contact (with the web camera). Take written notes, avoid typing.
- Ask appropriate questions. Employers are learning about you, but you should take this opportunity to learn about the employers and their companies too! For example:
- Do you hire people in the field of?
- What is your position with the organization?
- What are some of the typical responsibilities for entry-level employees?
- Are there training programs and, if so, what do they include?
- I haven’t chosen a major yet, but I know I’m interested (or skilled) in x, y, and z. What types of positions in your organization (or industry) utilize these areas of interest/skill?
- I’m considering a career in ____ (or a major in ___). What positions in your organization are related to this career area?
- Could you please describe the hiring process for your organization and how long it takes?
- Does your company only hire at certain times of the year or on an ongoing basis?
- What is the most effective way to learn about and apply for positions with your organization?
- Do you offer internships or part-time positions to help people gain career-related skills?
- Have you hired past interns for full time, permanent positions?
- Revisit your notes about the companies you met with, the specific people you connected with, and the positions you are interested in.
- Follow up in a timely manner on any actions that were recommended or asked of you such as completing an application, sending your resume to another person in the company, etc.
- Send out thank you emails. Do this within 24 hours after the virtual career fair. Your name will (hopefully) be fresh in their minds and it reiterates your interest and passion for the position. Recruiters will NOT be emailing you first; it’s your job to do this. Thank them for taking the time to speak to you during the event; make sure to point out details from your conversation, and remind them who you are and what position you are interested in.
- Follow up with employers you couldn't meet with. If you were unable to connect with a company you were interested in at the virtual career fair, ALWAYS, visit the company's website to apply for their positions. REMEMBER, employers will ask all students/alumni to visit their website and apply!
- Learn from the experience! Did you receive any advice or feedback from an employer? Having additional skills can only help you in the future. Think about the questions you were asked and the responses that you gave, and how you can improve for next time. (hint: completing the Attend a Career Fair challenge in the Talent Gateway can help you reflect on the experience!)