Choosing a Career/Major
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Conducting a Job Search
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The Career Development Center is dedicated to helping students fulfill the lifelong pursuit of purpose by providing services, access to information, resources, and experiences that address individual career needs.

Taking Action

What Do I Do with My Network?

Be sure to tell the people in your network that you are looking for work. Try to be as specific as possible about your interest in a particular type of job or career field. If you are not sure of the field, at least tell them the types of skills and abilities you want to use on the job (e.g., writing technical reports, making presentations, etc). Ask if they know of anybody who would know of any openings. If they do, ask if you can use their name when contacting the new person. Whether they know someone or not, thank them and ask them to keep you in mind. Give them your phone number and email address, get theirs, if appropriate, and ask if you can stay in touch. A thank you note is always a nice thing to do. This initial activity should start the networking process moving.

Do I Only Contact People I Know?

To keep increasing your network you will also need to contact employers directly. First, target a number of employers who may hire someone with your talents and skills. Use print and online employer directories such as CareerBeam (a career development portal to guide you through a strategic job search process, including access to an extensive and up-to-date employer database) on the CDC website. All directories should have names, addresses, phone numbers and perhaps websites of organizations and a brief description of what they do. Once you find appropriate organizations, you need to identify specific individuals to contact, (e.g. a recruiter, human resource person, or someone working in your specific area of interest). One way to develop new contacts is to connect with alumni through LinkedInís Alumni Search feature and join relevant LinkedIn groups, or follow potential employers on Twitter.

Once I Target the Appropriate Person, then What?

A letter or message of introduction followed by a phone call to the contact person is the best way to ask about discussing your career situation. Explain politely and succinctly why you are calling or writing. (If you are being referred by someone else, mention their name.) Being polite and professional to everyone is a must. In addition, always be up front with the people you contact. If you are asking for an appointment with someone because you are seeking job search "advice," then stick to the bargain and don't try to get them to hire you. If you want to explore job possibilities with a particular individual, then tell them that in the beginning.

What if People Arenít Helpful?

As you move along in your networking campaign, you'll hear people say that they don't know of any openings at the moment. When that happens, tell the contact that any advice about the job market in that field is appreciated, as well as the names of anyone else who may be able to help. Most professionals are willing to be helpful to those who are interested in their field. If someone refuses to help, simply thank them and move on.

What Should I Do When I Meet with My Contact?

It is important to dress appropriately for the meeting. Even though it is not an employment interview, you still want to maintain a professional image. Women should wear a suit or skirt and jacket. Men should wear a suit or sports jacket and tie. Having questions ready is also important, so know what you want to ask prior to meeting with a contact. You may want to pick up a copy of the CDC handout "Guidelines for Informational Interviewing." (Informational interview is a term used to describe a meeting where information is exchanged. It is not the same as an employment interview.) Also, be sure to send a thank you note after every meeting.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do?

Another way to add to your network is to identify professional associations affiliated with your field. A professional association is an organization made up of members who work in a particular field. Career information found through an advanced search of the career resources database lists professional associations. Also use LinkedIn to source professional organizations that may be helpful A great deal of information can be obtained by contacting professional associations that relate to your interests and career goals. Address the fact that you are interested in gathering information about the specific career field, inquire about membership, and find out if the association offers services such as: career information; newsletters and journals; conferences and seminars; membership directory; placement services; professional referrals; regional groups, and free resources.

Updated: 9/17/2014