Network Your Way into a Job

Whether you call it networking, schmoozing, or just plain courtesy and courting, the most direct path to a paycheck often is through a connection. In other words, you know someone who knows someone who might have a job opening. . . .

The hook-up

How do you hook up with someone who has an inside track for a job? Start with your parents and their friends. Turning to them isn't as painful as it may sound. The reality is, your parents have been around for a lot longer than you, and they have an established professional and social network. Have a resume ready to e-mail.

Your resume shows all of the jobs you've ever had. If you've never worked in a paying position, list your interests, activities, and volunteer contributions. If your grades are good, note your GPA. The important thing is to emphasize your responsibility and work ethic. Send the resume with a well-constructed note expressing your interest in working at that company.

If you don't hear from your connection, place a reminder call. Hopefully, your resume then gets forwarded to the right people in the company, and somebody needs a summer employee just like you.

Cha-ching!

So you found employment! The bonus — besides making decent money? You have a job that'll look great on your resume, you get real-life experience, and you meet people who are the beginnings of your own professional network.

Here are some guidelines for networking:

Do . . .

  • Be polite. Say "please" and "thank you" when asking for a job. Treat a conversation about job hunting like an interview rehearsal. Make a good first impression.

  • Be enthusiastic. If you look and feel interested and excited, you're more likely to land a job.

  • Leave the comfort of your own zone. Your parents' friends might not work in your ideal professions, but don't disregard the connections. Remember that you're looking to earn (and learn) in a short-term situation.

  • Dress the part. For interviews and for the job, look nice. People notice.

Don't . . .

  • Go into an interview unprepared. Research the company, and be ready to answer questions like, "What do you want to do with your life?"

  • Be discouraged if no one is hiring. These days, lots of qualified people are tracking down good leads. Just know that temporary jobs do exist.

  • Blow off work or screw around if you do get the job. This is no time to mess up, because other people's reputations are involved. Everything you do reflects on the person who was your connection. Remember that connections can work both ways — by getting you a job . : . or not. Just do your best.