FINDING a job can be difficult enough. Making the task even harder is the growing trend of companies simply not advertising available positions.
Instead, roles are filled through recommendations from other employees, staff movements within an organisation, and through formal and informal networks. Essentially, networking of some kind is helping fill a large number of vacancies.
What you need to keep in mind is this: don’t wait until you have your first job to start networking – if you’re a university student, start now.
You might ask whether networking at university is really worth it. You’re working hard towards your undergraduate, or post-graduate, degree; you’re not even in the workforce yet, so what’s the point?
The point is that in today’s competitive job market you need every advantage you can get. Consider the students you’re surrounded by at university – while many of them may be friends, upon graduation they may also be friendly competitors, applying for the same jobs as you.
So building connections while at university can potentially boost your future prospects, or you may meet people who can help advance your career further down the track.
Networking doesn’t have to be hard work. If you look closer at who you’re surrounded by, a network already exists – you just need to tap into it. Apart from other students, there are lecturers, members of student clubs and associations, while outside of university you may be involved in other organisations – such as a volunteer group or sporting club — where you can make connections.
There are also other opportunities outside of your university environment. Perhaps there’s a conference being held in town that focuses on your field of interest. If you can attend, introduce yourself to people, collect business cards and contact details and then keep in touch with those who may be able to assist you once you graduate.
Of course, networking is not easy for everyone, especially when walking into a room of unfamiliar faces. But there are ways you can prepare yourself: be clear in understanding your goals; practise your small talk skills so conversations with strangers are not so daunting; and remember to always maintain eye contact and not let your eyes wander around the room in the middle of a conversation.
While you may still be a student, that doesn’t mean you can’t start building your own professional profile on LinkedIn, which is where a lot of companies now turn in search of recruits.
While you don’t necessarily have a lot of work experience to include, you can still highlight your education, positions you’re interested in, and of course connect with people — whether they are friends, family or alumni networks.
So don’t just sit back waiting for opportunities to come knocking. Be proactive and make opportunities happen.
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
* This article first appeared in The Borneo Post (www.theborneopost.com)