The idea of networking can be anxiety-provoking for many, no matter what career stage they’re in, leading some to avoid it. Yet, it still remains the number one strategy to land opportunities and an essential component of one’s career development.
Networking is more than talking to strangers; it is a process of building relationships towards a mutual exchange of support, resources, and information. It is also a way of letting others know your skills and passions and getting noticed in the field. (You can’t get noticed if people don’t know you!)
Not sure how to get started? Then lead with your curiosity.
Perhaps you’re wondering what you can do with your degree or concentration or how others with similar backgrounds and experiences landed their roles. Or maybe you’re still exploring and want to know different opportunities you might find meaningful. Find people with direct knowledge of your interest area and start a conversation:
- Faculty, supervisors and colleagues in field, peers, and alumni currently working in your field of interest
- Professionals you admire regardless of their background whom you can connect with through industry events, professional associations, or virtual networking communities, such as those on LinkedIn
- Recruiters, hiring managers, and organizational representatives hosting information sessions and related recruitment and networking activities
Don’t forget that professionals outside your immediate scope of interest can also possess valuable insights, including how to effectively transition from student to professional, advance to leadership positions, or maintain work-life balance and self-care.
Whomever you choose to reach out to, make sure to tailor your conversation to the individual and assess what specifically you hope to learn from them so you can identify your next steps.
If the idea of networking and informational interviewing still feels intimidating, remember that you don’t need to know everything to have a fruitful conversation. Asking questions like “How do I get started?” or “Where do I go from here?” are acceptable conversation starters, particularly with social work educators and alumni. The main goal is to start somewhere!
More on networking for social workers
Are you looking for ways to improve your job search? LinkedIn has compiled a number of FREE self-paced online courses to help you navigate your job search, network virtually, and cultivate resilience in the process. Additional resources from LinkedIn are available on their Student Portal.
You can also find a compilation of other information and resources shared over the last few weeks, as well as newly added ones in this COVID-19 Resources Folder (UNI log-in required).
We know that the job search process can feel even more stressful as we cope with the uncertainty that comes with the impact of COVID-19.
While many organizations are focusing on their own operations, needs, and services during this time, one thing to remember is that the fundamentals of job searching are still relevant.
This includes actively searching for opportunities, particularly through your existing network, engaging in virtual community forums or social media platforms like LinkedIn to increase your visibility, and proactively seeking advice from professionals in the space on how to best position yourself for target roles.
There are also employers that are still actively hiring, including those focused on addressing current public health needs.
For additional insights on strategizing your search, check out the following articles.
As many of you begin, or in some cases continue your job and internship search over spring break, keep the following tips in mind:
- Anticipate delays in employers responding back. The COVID-19 situation is still evolving and many organizations are changing the way they conduct business and deliver their services. The safety of their employees is also a priority, so the hiring process may be delayed. This does not mean abandoning the search. It just means managing your expectations and timeline with getting hired.
- Be prepared to interview via phone and videoconference. While neither can replace in-person interactions, these opportunities can allow you to review and/or take notes during your conversation and help you stay focused while you are speaking. Check out additional virtual interview tips here.
- In conveying your strengths, highlight your ability to adapt to changing needs and expectations and/or your experiences working virtually (if relevant to the organization). Flexibility and technical skills are often cited among top attributes sought by employers.
- Update and strengthen your profile on LinkedIn, a powerful tool for job searching and networking. Start by adding your recent experiences and accomplishments and composing an eye-catching headline and summary that concisely convey who you are and how you can help support an individual or organization’s needs and goals. Additional resources on leveraging LinkedIn can be found on LinkedIn for Students site.
Whether you plan to apply for a summer internship or post-grad opportunity, there are steps you can take now to prepare, including drafting a target list of employers. You can begin this process by:
- Researching organizations you want to work for based on their mission and impact. Not sure where to start? Check out the links in the Employer Research folder within the Document Library of Career Connect.
- Identifying opportunities within these organizations that align with your knowledge, skills, and interests.
- Making connections and conducting informational interviews with people working at these organizations in roles that you hope to attain.
Learn more at our Job Search Workshop on Tuesday, October 27 from 1:00 to 1:50 PM in Room C06! There will be another workshop for those seeking summer opportunities on Thursday, November 14.
Whether you just started the program or are approaching your final year of study (or both!), setting aside some time to craft and implement your career action plan will be critical for effectively navigating the job search process. This may include:
- Conducting a self-assessment of your unique strengths, interests, values, motivators, and goals;
- Creating a job wish list including target organizations and opportunities;
- Preparing your marketing materials (e.g. resume, LinkedIn profile, and pitch);
- Developing your network of contacts in your fields of interest; and
- Setting goalposts to measure your progress
Not sure where to start? Book a career appointment, or take a look at the extensive resources available within the Document Library of Career Connect. Finding an accountability partner with whom you could share your goals, challenges, and successes can also be a great way to stay on track!
Are you taking advantage of our GoinGlobal subscription? You can access GoinGlobal by logging into Career Connect, and clicking on the logo on the main dashboard. (Alumni – go here.)
GoinGlobal resources can help you plan ahead for international jobs and internships. Schedule a complimentary, one hour training session to learn more about:
- Work authorization regulations
- Industry and employment trends
- Professional and social networking organizations
- Office protocol and interviewing customs
Find upcoming training dates and register here.