Check out our article with data-backed networking tips to help you with your job search!
Whether you are currently looking for a job or not ready to find one yet, you should be making and nurturing connections with people in your industry and/or employees in your field at companies you are interested in. These connections can help you by connecting you with teammates, providing you with insider info, and referring you for open positions.
Networking tips to help you find a great job
1. Use LinkedIn to make connections
Your profile is the first place people will go to get a sense of who you are. Like your resume, you need to make sure that it tells your story. To start, make sure that your name matches your resume (if you use a nickname on one, use it on the other), you have a professional photo (no selfies or red Solo cups), and your location reflects where you are or where you want to work.
Your bio is an opportunity to give a brief, high-level introduction to yourself. Focus on what you are studying or what you just studied, the types of roles you are looking for, and your passions.
Here is an example:
Finishing my B.S. in Computer Science in May 2019 at the University of X, looking for software engineering positions to combine my interest in machine learning with my love of making a difference.
Most people use LinkedIn to connect with people they already know. Any time that you interact with a recruiter or hiring manager (career fairs, interviews, coffee chats, etc), you should connect with them on LinkedIn. When you do that, make sure you include a message that is specific to how you know them.
But, you can also use the platform to make connections with people who are in the field you are interested in, at companies you like, or who have similar career trajectories to you/your goals. If you want to connect with someone that you do not know, write a short message about why you are requesting them. Make it as specific as possible – people will not accept copy/paste messages.
2. Informational interviews
If you are not ready for your job search or if the company you are interested in is not hiring, you should still connect with people and try to schedule informational interviews with them. These are informal meetings or conversations in which you can get advice on your career, the industry, and the current culture at the company or in general of the workforce. They are a good way to get your foot in the door and develop relationships with companies you will eventually be interested in. These sessions are generally short (30 minutes or less) and can happen in person (during non-COVID times), over the phone, or over Google Meet/Zoom.
Even though they are informal, you still need to prepare for these meetings. Start by researching the company to learn more about their mission, history, values, and goals. You should also spend some time catching up on the industry so that you can speak knowledgeably with your contact. Finally, you need to prepare what you will say and the questions you will ask.
You know you will need to introduce yourself, so get ready with your elevator pitch. Don’t go over 3 minutes – keep it high level and relevant:
- Education or training: relevant to the role/industry, if recent
- Experience: 2-3 high level, relevant sentences about your work
- Projects: 2-3 high level, relevant statements about projects
- Leave this out if you already have a bunch of relevant experience
- Conclusion: end on a positive note about why you are excited to chat with this person and what you are hoping to learn.
Then, start with polite, friendly, and conversational questions to them:
- How did you get into this field?
- What is it like working at this company?
- Why did you choose to work here?
- What is your favorite part about working in this field?
- Do you have any thoughts about [recent development in field] and how that might affect the company?
Now, you can move onto questions that are specific to the field and that can help you by giving you some insider information on the company or the industry:
- How did you get to where you are in your career?
- What did you do when you were my age?
- Do you have advice for someone who is looking to break into this specific field?
- Looking at my resume and experience, what would you say I should continue to do or start focusing on so I can get a job at your company or on your ream in 1-2 years?
- What factored into your decision to choose this job at this company over other ones?
- When you were applying for jobs, what were the most important aspects of your resume or portfolio that led to success?
- Looking back on your job search, what would you change?
- What experience or skills does your company look for in new hires? Especially new grad positions.
- Do you expect that your company will be hiring for these types of roles in the near future?
- How do you see the industry changing? Is there something I should be learning so I can get ahead of the curve
But, be sure you follow the flow of the conversation, don’t just ask question after question without having a conversation.
At the end of the meeting, make sure you thank them for taking the time to talk to you. You can ask them if they have any coworkers or other friends in the industry that they could facilitate an intro. Finally, remind them of your current plan. If you are:
- Currently looking for a job and interested in working at their company, ask them if it is ok for you to reach out to them if you see openings.
- Not ready for your search, ask them if they can connect you with other people in the industry for more informational interviews
After the interview, make sure that you send them a follow up email, thanking them again for taking the time to chat with you and reiterating how much you learned. Make sure you personalize it and include something specific from your conversation. You can follow up with them when you are getting closer to starting your job search or when you have started your job search to see if they are hiring and if so, if they can refer you. Check out our follow up email templates for more information on what to include.
3. Nurture these relationships
In order to keep nurturing these connections and remind them of who you are, you should interact with their posts every so often. Feel free to send them a message to check in with them every quarter or so. You can tell them about what you are working on or how your job hunt is going. In addition, if you hear something interesting about their company (ex: they announce fundraising or a new product launch), you can send them a message about that.
If the company is hiring, your contact might post about it. This is a great chance for you to reach out and let them know you are interested. If they don’t post about it but you see the opening, you should reach out to them and let them know you are interested in the role.
With the above networking tips and guidance, you should feel more comfortable expanding your network, doing informational interviews, and nurturing these connections so they can ultimately help you land a great role.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, we’ve seen up to 3x as many responses to applications. If you want to work with our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your job search, become a Pathrise fellow.