I am graduating from college next month after a long six and a half years' worth of studying. I am very ready to get into the working world and have been sending out my resume. The problem is that I'm not getting any responses. A friend of mine told me to network over LinkedIn, but I am not someone who is comfortable reaching out to strangers. Is this kind of contact really necessary in the job hunt? If so, how do I start?
Today's question was answered by Alex Freund, a career coach and founder of The Landing Expert:
Let's first agree that finding a job is a marketing task. So that's why recent college graduates have to create the same kind of various marketing collateral necessary for the marketing of any other products or services. However, because the objective here is to land a job, the conventional wisdom also requires having a resume, a cover letter and a LinkedIn profile at minimum.
To me, there is no question of the growing importance of social networking for recent college graduates looking for their next career stop. But for those who've just spent four or more years on a college campus, social networking that's connected specifically to job hunting may be something new and therefore not something they're ready to jump into with both feet right now. And that's a shame, because employers and recruiters use such marketing collateral as a selection and validation tool for their applicant prospects.
So, let's review some of the advantages that recent college graduates — as job seekers — can gain by using the phenomenon of LinkedIn and other social media in addition to their resumes.
- LinkedIn is a screening tool. You can learn about others before you decide to invest your time and energy in the development of a relationship with a future employer. By doing so, you can find out whether that person in your target company is compatible with your own values and interests or has the right connections, experience and knowledge in your future industry.
- Using LinkedIn is less intimidating than face-to-face networking. Some people have problems with cold-calling someone and asking for a favor — especially when the favor is to get help with their first job. Initiating a dialogue with someone who has an important job can be intimidating, but taking that first step via LinkedIn makes the connection more palatable.
- LinkedIn is efficient and convenient. You can conduct dialogues with many people in some of your target companies right from your kitchen table without having to waste time driving.
- You can network via LinkedIn 24 hours a day worldwide, because the internet never closes and because your online profile can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world.
- LinkedIn is a great opportunity to exhibit your skills and talents, as well as coursework you pursued in college. Using LinkedIn shows potential employers how you are different from others.
- LinkedIn is a tool for setting up an in-person meeting. Many people connect initially via the internet, and once both parties are ready, they then meet in person.
- LinkedIn shows off your brand. Besides your picture, your brand is another differentiator that highlights your selling points, expertise, knowledge and talents.
Learning about LinkedIn is itself a challenge, and the navigation of it changes frequently. Those looking for a job — especially if they're recent college graduates who don't feel ready to meet the challenge by learning how to use LinkedIn and other social media and then updating themselves on the ever-changing features — put themselves at great disadvantage.
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