Ten Ways to Make Alumni Connections

Unemployed graduates can tap into their college career and alumni associations to make valuable contacts for finding their next job.  If you have been unemployed for several months or you may be laid off soon, the following suggestions can ease your transition and help you make important connections for the future.
1) Visit the college’s career website.  Most colleges feature tips on resume writing, alumni links, listing of national employers who actively recruit from that campus, and other information to help both undergraduates and post-grads find work.  Some schools charge a fee for alumni to search on-line while others provide this service for free.

2) Ask what services are offered.  Several schools will offer feedback  on your resume and may provide additional services.  For instance, the University of Chicago offers free career assessments for their alumni. Other schools may outsource this role to companies such as Drake Beam Morin, ExecuPlanet or Lee Hecht Harrison. Others hire local corporate coaches.

3) Be willing to receive help remotely. “Most of my work with alumni is over the phone and on email,” said Matt Birnbaum, Director of the Career Center for Colorado College. “Our graduates live all over the country, so helping them remotely is the easiest way to make an impact,” said Matt.

4) Attend an alumni function.  Most colleges host active alumni functions on a monthly or a quarterly basis.  While the purpose of these events may be social, they still offer an excellent, informal way to make contact with people in fields which interest you.  Or someone you meet may be able to direct you to a job lead, once you let them know you are actively looking.

5) Follow through on connections.  If someone from the career center, the alumni office, or an alum you have met through one of these connections gives you names and contacts, follow-up.  You may lose valuable credibility if they have made a call or had a conversation on your behalf and you haven’t followed through.

6) Network with an open mind.  Networking can be exhausting, especially for an  introvert. But keep at it. Sensor your judgment of each person you meet.  It may not be immediately apparent how an alum can helpful to you, so avoid sizing them up before you get to know them and you allow them to know you.  Sustain your energy and commit to the networking process. You will need this same initiative to tackle the biggest challenges which you face as a job seeker, make the phone calls you don’t want to make, and be effective in your new job.

7) Connect with college organizations.  If you belonged to a sorority or a fraternity or any other campus organization that offers national membership, check in with them as well. Many fraternal members have started their own companies or are influential community and business leaders.  If you are waging a nation-wide job search, contact the national headquarters and get the names of people who are running these organizations in the cities on your target list.

8) Graciously thank people who help you.  Follow up with notes or emails to the  people who help you and do it within 48 hours. Recognizing another person’s time affirms that you are someone who really is worth the effort.  They may be willing to go the extra mile for you when they realize that you are respectful and appreciative of their help.

9) View this as one part of your search. Using your university connections is just  one of many ways to conduct your search.  You should also work with on-line services like monsterTRAK.com, careerbuilder.com, and idealist.org (for nonprofit job seekers) and possibly seek out the services of an employment agency.

10) Keep the faith.  It is really easy to get discouraged in today’s job market, but the  people who are creating the most opportunity for themselves are the ones who know that they can triumph over their current circumstances.  Not surprisingly, these are the characteristics most needed in the world of work right now where the job pressures and budget cuts are unrelenting. Even though you may receive several unfruitful leads, it takes only one acceptance from a targeted employer to end your job search successfully.

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