Networking is an essential part of the job search process. Networking is simply building relationships and connecting with others to exchange information, advice, contacts, and support. In the job search process, face-to-face networking is the most effective. Career fairs, information sessions, professional society meetings and other on-campus events (such as department industrial advisory board meetings, research center program review meetings, etc.) provide good opportunities for face-to-face networking with employers. Networking through social media, such as LinkedIn, is also important because face-to-face networking is not always possible. In both face-to-face and social media networking, the goal is to build positive relationships with recruiters and hiring managers so they will want to hire you. Even a little personal familiarity can provide a significant advantage over a resume-only candidate.
Networking at Career Fairs
Career fairs are large networking events. The College of Engineering organizes two career fairs each year – one in September and one in February. Several hundred employers participate in each of the career fairs and they attend specifically to network with ISU engineering students and alumni. All engineering students are encouraged to participate in these events to network with employers. Networking skills will improve with practice and it takes time to build relationships with employers, so these events should be attended even when not actively seeking a position.
For information on preparing for and making the most of a career fair, please see our Career Fair Advice section.
Networking at Employer Information Sessions
An information session provides a relaxed setting for you to learn about an employer and network with recruiters. After listening to their presentation, you should introduce yourself to the recruiters, thank them for the information they provided, and express your interest in working for the company (if this is the case).
View more on Employer Information Sessions.
Job Prospecting through Networking
Networking can also be used for job prospecting. In this case, the job seeker uses his or her existing network of family, friends, and acquaintances to learn about job opportunities and connect with employers. A referral is much more effective than cold calling, so the process involves asking people to help you by connecting you with people in their network of family, friends, and acquaintances. It may take numerous network links before you actually connect with someone that is in a position to consider you for employment.