Career Center

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Networking

Networking may be the talent that gets you the furthest the fastest when you look for an internship or job.

Our Career Center offers insight, tips and tools for success in developing a career network.

Introducing Yourself to an Employer

Start Strong

Impress for success

  • Show confidence.
  • Have a good firm handshake and a sincere smile.
  • Speak clearly and slowly in a friendly and pleasant manner.
  • Have a positive attitude; employers are looking for enthusiastic candidates who show genuine interest in their company and job opportunities.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Remember that 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. How you dress, how you stand, your tone of voice, eye contact, handshake, smile, level of enthusiasm, are all important.

Use a formula

  • Name.
  • Class (senior, junior, sophomore).
  • Major.
  • Opportunities that you are seeking.
  • Relevant experience (work, internship, volunteer work).
  • Highlights of skills and strengths.
  • Knowledge of the company.

Examples

  • “Hi, my name is ..... I’m very pleased to meet you. I am a _____ (major) and I will be graduating in _____. I am very interested in your ______ position. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?
  • “Hi, my name is .... It’s very nice to meet you. I am a ____ (major) and I will be graduating in ____. I am very interested in positions that will take advantage of my skills in ____, ____, and ____. Do you have any positions that are seeking these skills?"
  • Important tip: If you say you hold a particular skill, make sure you give an example of that skill from previous experience.

Stay Strong

After the introduction

  • Ask questions to show you are interested and demonstrate you have researched the employer and/or position.
  • Give examples of your skills and qualifications. Be able to talk about what you have to offer them.
  • Maintain your level of enthusiasm and interest. If the employer walks away from the conversation not sure of your interest, you have just lost your chance at an interview.

Avoid

  • Asking what the company does.
  • Asking if the company has any jobs available.
  • Stating that you will be willing to do anything at the company.
  • Bringing up negatives about previous experience, employer, etc.

Finish Strong

Leave a positive impression

  • Be sure to end the conversation strongly.
  • Tell them you are very interested in working for their organization and/or the position they are offering, and let them know you would really appreciate the opportunity to interview for the position.
  • Ask for their business card so you can send them a thank you and follow up as needed.
  • Offer another firm handshake and thank them for taking the time to talk with you.

Conducting an Informational Interview

An informational interview will give you valuable information about a field of interest or a particular business in a comfortable, no pressure atmosphere.

It will provide an excellent opportunity to establish a network of contacts that could lead to future employment.

Steps to Success

Start with a plan

  • Analyze your skills and interests. Our assessment tools can help you discover your key skills and interests.
  • Research the world of work. We have information on hundreds of career fields and job titles. You can select and research occupations that fit your interests.
  • Identify knowledgeable career professionals in your targeted job, career or organization. Examine your resources, including personal, family, school and business contacts, to develop a list of people you can call for an informational interview.
  • Set up an appointment.
    • Contact the person and tell them that you are interested in their career field and would like to meet with them to discuss opportunities in this field. Make sure they know that you are not asking for a job interview.
    • Be resourceful, sincere and show genuine interest in what your “target” person does. Explain that the meeting will be no longer than 30 minutes. People usually enjoy the opportunity to discuss their work. Suggest a meeting over lunch or after work if they are too busy during office hours.
    • If a person cannot meet, ask if you can ask them a few quick questions over the telephone. Find out exactly how many minutes you can have.
    • If they cannot talk, ask them for the names of others you might contact in the field.
  • Prepare for the interview.
    • Thoroughly research the organization. Study annual reports, brochures and other materials. Talk with people acquainted wit the organization.
    • Bring your résumé. Have a career counselor or peer career advisor review it first.
    • Prepare and rehearse a list of questions.
    • Dress professionally.
  • During the interview.
    • Focus on your purpose, which is to acquire information. At appropriate times, you may indicate your strengths and interests, but be subtle.
    • Ask if your contact can refer you to others in the same career. It will help you establish a referral list and build a job search network.
  • Thank you letter. Write one!
  • Follow up. Keep a record of each organization. Contact the referrals and interview them.

Suggested Questions

Tailor questions to fit the situation, but here are some ideas on what to ask in an informational interview.

  • Present job
    • What do you do during a typical work day/week?
    • What skills are most essential for effectiveness in this job? What are the most important parts of the job?
    • What are the most difficult or challenging elements to the job?
    • What are the most rewarding aspects of the job? What do you enjoy least? Does the job have a high burn-out rate?
  • Preparations
    • What kind of training or experience is required for entry into this career field?
    • How does one go about getting experience in this field before and/or after college graduation?
    • How much do employers value internships? Volunteer work? Summer jobs? Unrelated work experience?
  • Hiring decisions
    • If you were hiring someone today, which of these factors would be most important and why?
      • Specific major or degree level.
      • Past work experience.
      • Personality or personal attributes.
      • Specific skills and talents.
      • Knowledge of your organization, department or job.
  • Supply and demand
    • What types of employers hire people for your line of work? Where are they located?
    • How do people find out about these jobs?
    • What professional associations are there for this career field? Do you belong to any? How does one advance in this field?
    • What is the turnover rate like?
    • How much do salaries vary in your work by employer, geographic region or industry? What is the salary range for a person with my background?
    • Do many people in your line of work accept positions abroad? Is this considered a good career move?
    • What kinds of non-salary benefits are common in this type of work (high job security, health benefits, sick leave, vacation time, profit sharing, retirement plans, child care, etc.)?
  • Career future
    • How rapidly is your present career field growing? Is the growth greater in certain industries or geographic areas?
    • How would you describe or estimate future prospects? Where will the jobs be in five or 10 years?
    • If the work you do was suddenly eliminated, are there related career areas that you could pursue?
    • How far can a person go in your career area? What is the career track like? Do people in certain areas advance faster?
  • Lifestyle
    • What kind of obligations does your work place upon you, outside of the ordinary work week?
    • How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc?
    • Does your company offer flex or comp time? Day care?
    • Is relocation necessary? Does the company help with relocation?
  • The company
    • What is the corporation culture like here?
    • Which firms do you feel are your biggest competitors? How are those companies different from this one?
    • Do you enjoy working for this company?
  • Advice to me
    • How well suited is my background for this type of work? What do I need to do to become competitive?
    • What kind of experiences, paid employment or otherwise, would you most strongly recommend?
    • If you were back in college and had to prepare all over again, what would you do differently?
  • Referral to others
    • Based on our conversation today, what other people do you believe I should talk to?
    • Can you name a few people who might be willing to see me? May I have permission to use your name when I tell them how I got their name?

 

Job Shadowing

A job shadow is a learning experience that takes place at a business or organization in your community.

During a job shadow you will be teamed with a business owner or employee and will observe and ask questions about his or her work.

You also may complete assignments that help you understand, think about and record the things you see, hear, and learn.

Why Are Job Shadows Important?

Job shadows give you a chance to:
  • Begin to identify career interests.
  • Observe the daily routine of workers.
  • Learn about the academic, technical and personal skills required by particular jobs.
  • Practice communication skills by interacting with workers.
  • Realize that different jobs are characterized by different work cultures and working environments.
  • Understand the connection between school, work and your goals.
  • Develop a network of professionals and mentors to assist you in reaching education and career goals.
  • Develop the skills required to secure future employment.

What Can I Expect During a Job Shadow?

  • See how the knowledge I am gaining in school is used on the job.
  • See people's job duties and responsibilities.
  • Understand the skills that I need to get a good job.
  • Learn what employees receive besides a paycheck.
  • Find out more about the workplace I am visiting.
  • See how technology is used on the job.
  • Explore some new career ideas for myself.
  • Learn how much education I will need to get the job I want.
  • Understand how learning and earning are connected.

Job Leads and Referrals Contact Letter

In some cases a letter of referral may be the foot-in-the-door introduction you need either for an informational interview or to get a closer look from a potential employer.

Example

LinkedIn - How to Add a Million People to Your Network

What Is LinkedIn and How Does It Work?

LinkedIn is a professional networking website that helps you to connect with alumni and prospective employers.

Your LinkedIn profile is your connection to more than 60,000-plus St. Cloud State University graduates and more than 460 million professionals in more than 200 countries and territories.

How does it work?

Set up your profile:

  • Use a good photo. Have a "keyword rich" "headline" and "summary," as those are the first three things employers will see in their search results.
  • Your Experience section will be much like your résumé, but be sure to include related unpaid experiences as well as employment.
  • Customize your profile URL to include your name.
  • List your e-mail(s), Twitter, etc. accounts to give employers multiple ways to reach out to you.
  • Let employers know you are seeking employment by creating Job Preferences.
    • To do this, click on Jobs on menu bar, then on Update Preferences and customize to indicate locations, industries, etc. you seek. Remember to Save.

Searching on LinkedIn:

  • Use the main search box (left of top menu bar) to find people, companies, groups, schools, etc.  For example, search for "St. Cloud State." 
  • On menu bar below the search box, click on People, Jobs, Companies, Groups, etc. to narrow your search.
  • To further narrow your search, add search criteria on the right side of the screen such as level of connections, keywords, locations, companies, industries, etc.
  • Once you’ve exhausted your personal network, search on “St. Cloud State” to identify alumni as, after your personal connections, alumni are most likely to respond and offer advice.
  • Use the Alumni Tool to search on additional criteria, such as what they studied 

Adding Connections

Want to add 2 million people to your network?

  • Search Group – “Lonny Gulden” – a St. Cloud State alumni and LinkedIn expert.
  • Ask to connect to Lonny – this will add 2 million people to your network!

Ask everyone you know to connect with you on LinkedIn.

  • Hover over “My Network” on top menu bar and click on “Add Contacts.”
  • If you have a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or AOL account you can type in your email and have LinkedIn search for your email contacts. You can then individually select people you want to invite to connect OR you can have LinkedIn invite ALL of them at once.
  • If you have a list of email addresses (the family holiday card list would be a great one), you can also search for those.
  • “Invite by email” or “Import a file” with a list of email addresses and invite all to connect with you.
  • Every time you add a connection, LinkedIn will also provide suggestions of other people you may know.

Join groups

This is critical as you can directly email anyone you share a group with. To find groups:

  • Type a subject in the main search box, e.g. "St. Cloud State" and search.
  • On the menu bar below the search box, click "Groups."
    • Join all on the list that apply. 
  • Request to join the main St. Cloud State University Alumni group, as once you are accepted you can directly email any of the nearly 13,000-plus alums in the group.
  • To find other groups to join, look at the profiles of people in jobs or companies that interest you and join some of those groups. 
  • See the "Use shared groups" section below on how to find and use groups to send a message to people directly without needing to be connected.

Contacting People

Ask for an introduction.

  • Search for people at a company or job that interests you.
  • For 2nd degree connections you’d like to be introduced to, click their name to access their profile.
  • On their profile, click "Mutual Connections," identify the connection you know best and click their name. Then click Message.
    • Write a message that asks if they would be willing to introduce you to the person with whom you’d like to connect.
    • Be sure to indicate their full profile name.
    • Follow up accordingly depending on the response from your 1st level connection.

Contact through shared groups.

  • Search and find people you would like to contact.
  • Scroll through their profile to the "Following" section. If they belong to any Groups, you should be able to click "See all" at bottom of section.
    • On top of menu bar on next screen, click "Groups."
    • To direct message the contact, you’ll need to join one of those groups.
  • Once you are accepted into the group, open the group and click the number of members in the group.
  • On next page, click "Find a member…" and type in the contact's name.
  • Hover over that person’s name and click the "envelope" on the right.
  • You should then be able to "send message" directly (and for free) to that person.

Ask people to "Connect" with you.

  • You can ask anyone to "Connect" with you but keep in mind that many people will not connect with someone they don’t know. 
  • To increase your chances of having your connection request accepted:
    • Make sure your profile includes your photo. Most people will not connect if that is missing.
    • On the main "search results" page, click the Connect button to right of the contacts you’d like to reach.
    • On next screen, click "Add a note."  If you are a current student, mention that.

What to say once you have contacts to email.

  • Hi, my name is...
  • I will be graduating this May with a major in ... and, I am very interested in... .
  • I noticed on LinkedIn that you are a St. Cloud State alumni who is working in/at... .
  • I’m hoping you can give me some advice.
  • If you were me and wanted to get into this field, what would you do/where would you look?

If they respond, you can ask more questions.

Additional Tips

Profile settings

  • Be sure to check all your settings.
    • To access this, click "Me" below your photo in the top menu. Then click "Settings and Privacy."
    • Review all Account, Privacy and Communications options.
  • To be “found” by as many people as possible, you’ll want to allow "everyone" access to most things (such as your photo) with possible exception of third-party vendors and advertisers.  

Help Center

  • Great resource if you have questions.
  • To access, click the "Me," then click Help Center.

New features, groups and jobs

  • Click "Work" on top menu bar to see some of LinkedIn’s new features as well as access things they moved from previous options on main menu bar.
  • You'll be able to access the new Learning, Advertise, ProFinder, Salary, Lookup and Slideshare options.
  • You can also access Groups and Jobs from here.
  • Some options will open and take you to a different URL. Click the symbol on top left found on most pages to get back to the main LinkedIn page.