One statistic says that only 75 - 80 % of jobs get posted...or maybe it's the other way around and only 20 - 25 % get posted. Regardless...there are a chunk of jobs out there that you will never find out about unless you network.
You probably know 150 - 250 people. Many of you may have more "friends" on Facebook and other networking sites. If you start letting your network know what kind of employment you are seeking...those people start talking to their 150-250 friends...and before you know it you're contacting your friend, Jane Doe's, cousin's, father-in-law who is the CEO of your dream employer. Did you just hear angels singing?! aaaaaaaaaaahhhh!
But, you ask, how DO I network? Do I just call someone? In some cases, yes. But first prepare your resume and research the career you are hoping to enter. That way, you can happily forward your resume when someone asks for it, and you can also speak intelligently to that afore mentioned CEO about the industry he has mastered.
Here are a few ways to network:
Informational Interviews: This is where you are NOT asking for a job, but just asking someone for 20 minutes of their time to learn more about their career, how they got there, tips for entering the field, etc. Now, if they happen to be impressed with you and your brilliant questions and ask for your resume, well, you of course have it handy, but don't dupe someone with saying you are coming in for an informational interview and then harass them about a job.
Attend Career Fairs: These are people who are reaching out to connect with you because they need employees. So, take advantage of it. It gets more than just your resume in front of them, it adds a face and a voice! (Check out the schedule!)
Professional Organizations: Join professional organizations related to your career of choice. This is a great way to find-out who is moving about, up and out of companies and get to know people BEFORE you get into an interview setting with them or their supervisor. (Its always nice to have someone feeding them positive information about you before you get there.)
Alumni Groups: Especially if you are still trying to decide what you want to do, there isn't a professional organization that relates to your career or you just want an additional way to network, take advantage of another commonality that connects you to people: your alma mater! Auburn has clubs in cities across the United States. Sororities and fraternities offer this opportunity as well.
With any of these methods, your goal is to get to know people and share yourself, particularly your strengths with them. Also,remember the world is very small. They say if you know seven people, you know the world. So always treat everyone respectfully and assume everyone has access to your Facebook and MySpace pages. You never know who people are, who they are related to and who they know.
I recently connected a student to a friend of mine so she could network with him, and it turned out they had met previously through her ex-boyfriend. Neither recognized that connection through emailing each other...only when they met face-to-face. Good thing she hadn't acted a fool when she met him in a non-professional environment before.
If you need more information, check-out www.auburn.edu/career. Also, here is a tip sheet on networking and informational interviewing.