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Connecting UW Students and Employers

Grow Your Network

Please note: If you are already in a major, your home career services office may have major-specific career resources to aid you in your search. Search by your major or career word for the appropriate career services office:

Haven't chosen a major? The Cross-College Advising Service and Exploration Center can help you find a fit.

Network or Not Work?
How to Build a Network
How Networking Works
Clean-up Your Digital Dirt
Internet Presence

Network or Not Work?

Networking involves talking with people you know about the kind of job you are seeking. Remember: The more people you talk with, the more contacts you will make. There is a direct, positive relationship between the number of people who know you are job seeking and job search success.

Networking starts with your current circle of friends and associates. Simply build and enhance this network by asking each friend to recommend two new people for you to talk to about your job search. Consider the last time you made a major decision, such as attending school at Wisconsin, finding a new apartment, purchasing a stereo system or declaring a major. You made those decisions by researching the topic and talking with other people. Generally, the more people you talked to the more you found out - leading to a better decision! Apply the concept to employer research. You want to learn about potential employers - so talk to people.

Source: Irv Pfeiffer, IBM, 1995.

How to Build a Network

Source: What Color is Your Parachute?, Richard Bolles, 2003.

What is the Purpose?
To gather a list of contacts who will help you with your career or job search. To go out of your way to regularly and deliberately add to that list. To screen jobs before you take them, careers before you transition to them, locations before you move there. To find answers to very specific questions you have about your job search.

With Whom Should You Network?
Start with those familiar to you: those with whom you live, family, friends and acquaintances, however near or far geographically. Ask each contact for the names of 2 or more people they know who are in your current field or in your field of interest. Ask for contact names from groups and sources in which you are a member, college alumni, and co-workers, places where you study, shop, or spend time. Continually build this network by building professional relationships. Keep careful notes and records of your contacts. Ask for their advice. Honor their time. Have specific questions for them. Thank them for their assistance.

How Do You Do It Right?
You deliberately attend meetings, conferences or conventions in the field of interest. You will deliberately talk with people and exchange contact information. Ask for names of contacts from your co-workers, from departments at local colleges, or career offices. Once you have names, E-mail them, using your contact as a referral person. Introduce yourself and state your purpose. Ask if they have specific advice - and start building a relationship.

Signs You're Doing It Wrong
You are doing it wrong if you approach busy individuals, ask them to have lunch with you, and you have no specific agenda. If they ask during lunch what you need to talk about, and you lamely say, "Well, I don't know. So-and-So just thought we should get to know each other," this is not networking! You have clearly not done your homework!

You are doing it wrong if you approach your contacts too early in your job search and ask them for help only in the most general or vague terms: "John, I don't have a job yet. If you hear of anything, please let me know." You must do all your own homework before you approach your contacts. They will not be able to do your homework for you. Nor should they be expected to provide that service!

How Networking Works

Unadvertised Jobs "The Hidden Job Market"
60-80% of jobs are secured through networking - before they are even advertised. Once advertised, there is fierce internal and external competition.

Pyramid Scheme
Networking is a pyramid scheme - in a good way. Consider every contact an important one; talk to everyone you know and ask for referrals.

Keep It Live
Keep your contacts current on your job search. Check in with them often to indicate your seriousness of purpose and to extend appreciation for any assistance they might offer.

Grow Contacts
Ask contacts to provide two new contacts. Do your homework to show new contacts your seriousness and willingness to work hard. Ask intelligent questions. Do not ask, "So, what advice do you have?" Instead, ask, "Based on my research of Medtronic's website, I know they are currently researching XYZ. Mr. Daniels mentioned that you are familiar with XYZ. Do you think this research will succeed? Perhaps you know someone I could talk with directly about it?"

You Can't Do It Alone
It is important that you enlist the assistance of everyone you know, as well as conduct thorough employer research yourself. You will experience success by increasing the number of people who know of your career strategy and by asking for information, advice, recommendations, and referrals.*

Employers Do It
Employers network to find good candidates! To reduce risk in hiring new people, they talk to people within the company and to colleagues across the country to identify strong candidates. Companies have a desire to hire people to whom they have a "link," and the most logical way to do this is by networking.**

* Source: Tomasina Stephon, Northern Illinois University, Career Planning & Placement Services.
** Source: Mike Townsend, Vice President, New Options Group, Inc.

"Digital Dirt"

If you are serious about your job search, we strongly urge you to scrutinize all aspects of your Internet presence before beginning your search. Particularly in technical areas, employers are now using all available avenues to gather information about job candidates. With a simple search, they can review university "face books," web pages, blogs and other links made by you or others.

Test your Internet presence by searching for yourself on all the major sites and then start cleaning!

Internet Presence

The internet offers some great opportunities for your job search. Professional networking sites can connect you with like-minded and other well-connected people. Professional topic blogs can showcase your strengths and personal interests. Create professional on-line information with the following tips, to lessen the effect of existing negative information, or simply expand your on-line presence.

Remember, everything an employer can find about you is basically your internet resume!

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