by Esra Gurkan for The Guardian Students
You don’t need to have come from a privileged background to get a job through contacts – get online and make connections yourself!
Students are repeatedly told that a degree will no longer guarantee a job. In competitive industries you almost always need more: a master’s (maybe), heaps of work experience (probably), and critically, contacts.
Contacts can make all the difference in sectors where getting your foot in the door is tough. I’ve seen those around me land internships, places on graduate schemes and other jobs through a friend-of-a-friend’s-mum-whose-cousin-twice-removed knew someone.
But what about students who don’t really know anyone in their industry of choice? Most of us won’t find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the elite, rich and successful on a regular basis. The good news, however, is that we are graduating in the digital age, and can harness the internet to increase our chances of meeting the right people and getting a break. Here are four simple things we should all be doing to dial up our employability:
Blogging and creating a personal brand
A blog or website portfolio allows people to access your work quickly and see what you have to offer.
Matt Goolding, 26, a Cardiff University graduate, says: “In both of my roles, my websites have been noted as key reasons for me getting the job. “Your own blog or site provides a window for employers into your expertise and opinions. It shows that you’re ‘into’ your career, and proactive in contributing to your industry.”
Louise Parker, 25, a University of Birmingham graduate, says her online presence was particularly important as she was applying for jobs in the digital industry. “Not only does it give you something to talk about on your application or in your interview, it also shows initiative and dedication,” she says, using a platform such as WordPress can be an easy way to get going for those who aren’t massively tech-savvy.
Get Twitter and be active on social media
It sounds simple and it really is. Make sure you’re active on social media and follow people who are relevant to what you want to do. Interact with them, retweet them and if possible, message them directly.
Nick Seagrave, 29, an Oxford Brookes University graduate, says: “I tweeted ‘looking for #digital jobs in and around #Oxford’ and received a reply within an hour. I sent my CV and arranged a call later that day, and I had a job offer the following day after an informal interview.”
Building up a social media presence will enable you to share your work with a wider range of people and therefore have more people read and/or see it.
Email email email
Don’t be afraid to email people and email them again if they don’t reply. Don’t bombard them with messages, but also don’t shy away from contacting people. What have you got to lose?
If they don’t reply, send another one to somewhere else. Tell them about yourself, what you want and most importantly, what you can do for them.
Shane Ward, 23, a graduate of Keele University, says: “I saw a local news article about a company that was expanding. A quick online search gave me the managing director’s email address. Within 24hrs I had an interview set up.”
It is also worth realising and remembering that a lot of people will tell you that they definitely have work for you or can put you in contact with somebody they know, but often nothing will come of it. Be patient and be prepared for frustrating moments.
Get out there and meet people
Just because your online profile is burgeoning, there’s no reason not to shut down your computer once in a while and network in the real world.
At university you should keep your eyes peeled for events where you can meet others in your field that are either in a similar position or already have found work. Workshops and talks can also equip you with the inside scoop on how to get to where you want to be.
Tom Bourlet, 28, a graduate of the University of Brighton, says: “At every conference I have attended I chat to at least five people, often forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone and talk to as many as possible.
“This has worked incredibly well as nowadays when I attend conferences I often know a large number of people attending and they will introduce me to others they are working with.”
In the end, you only need to meet one person in the right place at the right time. It can’t be that hard, can it?