Getting to know people who can help you

You've heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's whom you know," right? Well, there is some truth to that, so we encourage you to develop good networking avenues while you are a student. The Career Services Office provides several networking opportunities for you through our Career Fairs and special events, but you can also use some of the following advice to network on your own.

Networking is the most effective technique of job searching. It may help to remember that networking is not a manipulative tool, nor is it begging friends, family, acquaintances and strangers for a job! Networking is alerting people you know - personally and professionally - that you are looking for a job. It simply means asking them to keep you in mind if they know of or hear of any openings that might fit your background. It is also the best way to access the "hidden job market" - those jobs that are available now or will be in the near future, but are never posted or advertised.

How do I get started?

The first step in networking is to make a list of contacts. Include family, friends, high school teachers, professors, professional contacts from summer jobs or co-op experiences, and Rose-Hulman alumni. Your goal is not to get a job from these contacts, but to gather information, advice and referrals to people they know who might provide additional help or who may have a job. Make a list of 20 networking targets. The next step is to call or write to request an informational interview. Make it clear that you are not asking for a job, but are seeking help on a personal level.

What do I say?

You might write a letter or send a quick e-mail that says something like this: "I am a senior at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Kevin Hewerdine, Director of Career Services, suggested that I contact you. I am interested in a career in the power industry and would appreciate your advice on the job market in this field. I would very much like the opportunity to meet with you. I will call you next week to see if we might arrange an appointment that is convenient for you. Thank you for your assistance."

Many networking contacts are made by phone. When you call your networking contact, introduce yourself with a 60-second pitch. At some point ask if the contact knows of anyone who might have a need for someone with your skills and qualifications. Keep going - ask if the contact knows anyone who knows anyone who might have a need for someone with your qualifications. If the conversation is going well, ask the contact if he/she has a few minutes to meet with you, or if you could schedule a time for an informational interview by phone.

The conversation might go something like this:
"John Bridges? My name is Eleanor DeRosa and I'm a senior at Rose-Hulman. I found your name in the Alumni directory. I'm interested in a career in chemical engineering and I'm working on identifying professionals in my field who can help me develop an inside perspective on the job market. I'm not looking for a job from you, but thought you would be a good source of advice, and I would really appreciate your assistance. Could I come in to meet with you, or phone you for 10-15 minutes, sometime during the next two weeks?"

When you call to request an informational interview, you should be prepared to conduct the interview immediately. Have a script in your hand when you dial the phone! Always use a relaxed, conversational tone, but ask specific questions.

Here are some you can use:

  • How did you get into this field? Where did you work before?
  • What advice would you give someone just getting out of school who wants to be successful in your field?
  • I have a copy of my resume. Could you look at it and let me know what you think?
  • What can I expect a typical career path to be like in this field?
  • From the research I've done so far, I've developed a list of companies in our field that I am interested in. Can you tell me anything about them?
  • Can you recommend anyone else for me to talk to?
  • What are the names of a few companies in your area?
  • What companies in your city are the growing companies I should contact?

How do I follow up?

Always follow up immediately with a typed thank-you letter. If you haven't already sent a resume, send one with your thank-you letter requesting that they keep you in mind if they hear of anything.

Send another letter a month or so later. Let your contact know that you followed up on their advice, and inform them of any new developments in your job search.

Keep a separate notebook or file for all your networking contacts. Include everyone's name, address, phone, title and organization as well as dates and details of all conversations and correspondence.

When you have found employment, notify everyone on your networking list, thanking them again. Remember, you may soon be in a position to help them.

How do I identify Rose-Hulman alumni for networking?

Alumni database searches are available through the Career Services Office. In order to request a search, complete the Alumni Networking Guidelines form and bring the signed document and the criteria sheet to the Career Services Office. The results will be returned to you in an Excel spreadsheet via email.