Networking Earned You a Referral, Now What?
Posted on: October 20th, 2016

Networking, either through your personal contacts or by using social media tools like Linkedin, is an important part of any job search strategy. However, getting referred to a working professional who may be helpful in your job search is only the start. Here are some things to do to maximize the value of that referral.

Research the Referral – Use Linkedin, profiles that may be on their employer’s web site, published articles, etc. to learn more about the contact. Look for similarities between their backgrounds and yours (same college, same major, etc.).
Contact Information – To start, make sure you have received the referral’s contact information – especially business phone and email. A cell phone number is nice to have, but should be used with caution depending upon the advice of your referral source.
Initial Communication – The initial communication is crucial. It should be clear and concise. Include these elements:

Explain the Connection Identify who referred you and how you know the referring party.
Describe Your Background You have some leeway here, but college major, important skills, extra-curricular activities, and possible career interests are possible subjects. Keep it to 3-4 sentences at most.
State Your Purpose – Unless you know of a specific position that is open at the referral’s company, ask for an informational interview. State that your goal is to learn more about the referral’s education and career experiences, to communicate career options that you are considering and to get their feedback.
Close End your email by thanking them and summarizing your contact information.

In most cases, your first outreach should be by email. A call to the referral’s business number is also acceptable, especially if you know the person. Either way, make sure your communication is professional and error free. Be sure to proof-read and spell-check emails. Similarly, with telephone communication, practice what you want to say and be sure to use a confident voice.

If after your initial outreach you do not hear back, be sure to follow-up. Keep in mind that you are contacting busy people – they may not put responding to your email or voice mail message at the top of their to-do list. Be prepared to follow-up two or three times. Given this, you may want to alternate email and phone follow-ups. If they see a call from you on their caller ID, they might just pick-up in order to get an item off their to-do list.

Finally, keep in mind that professional networking is among the best job search strategies and most professional people will be very willing to help. They remember when they started their careers and the help they received during their job search process. Once you get started and have success, you’ll find that it’s actually a skill you’ll be using throughout your career.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Following Up After an Interview
Posted on: July 27th, 2016

You hop in the car, crank up the volume and start jamming to your favorite song. You don’t even care who is watching because you just nailed your interview! Now all that is left to do is patiently wait for a few days until the offer is sent your way, right? Wrong! The interview isn’t over quite yet, there is still one important step to take in order to be sure you hold your ground as a top candidate.

That last step? Following up with a Thank You Letter.

These days, forgetting to send a thank you letter can simply be seen as unprofessional. With that being said, you shouldn’t send a thank you letter just to “check it off the list.” A thank you letter can be another chance for you to stand out to the recruiter or hiring manager and make sure they don’t forget about you.

Following these few simple rules can help ensure that your thank you letter leaves an impression:

Send BOTH an Email and a Note Through the Mail (Yes, Snail Mail Still Exists!)

As today’s workflows become more fast-paced, sending a thank you email before your handwritten note will reduce the gap between your interview and when the hiring manager hears from you again. Your email can be sent as soon as two hours after your interview, but no longer than 24 hours. The recruiters are constantly meeting people, so staying in front of them with a friendly reminder will only help them remember you and your interview.

Be sure to send a physical note at the same time, so it arrives within a few days after the interview. People enjoy opening an old fashioned letter. It shows that you aren’t lazy, and that you’re serious about the position. Also, don’t send the same letter by mail that you sent via email. Switch it up a little bit!

Use Professional Language

Even though this is a thank you letter and may seem a little less formal, it is still a business transaction. It will give the interviewers a chance to see how you communicate through writing as well (i.e. how you would represent the company). Tip: If you are unaware whether or not the woman who interviewed you is married, “Ms.” is a safe bet to use while addressing her in the letter.

Send a Thank You to Everyone You Met With

Sending one general thank you letter to the entire team or sending the same generic letter to each person that you met with defeats the purpose, as it won’t help you stand out amongst the crowd. Don’t get lazy, and be sure to send an individual thank you to everyone who was involved in the interview process.

Thank You Card

Personalize Each Thank You Letter

Recruiters and hiring managers are experts when it comes to this stuff, so they know a template when they see one. Whether it’s mentioning the hometown that you share, the sports team you both root for, or thanking them for a rundown of a large project they talked through with you, incorporating something personal lets them recall who you are and shows that you paid attention throughout the interview process.

Conclude With a Summary and Acknowledge Next Steps

If they mentioned in the interview that they were expecting a decision the following week, address that in the final paragraph. Sign off with something along the lines of “Again, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview with XYZ Company, and the time you took out of your day to meet with me. You mentioned that a decision on the XYZ role is expected by next week. I look forward to hearing from you regarding your decision. In the meantime, if there is any additional information you may need from me, I would be more than happy to provide it for you.”

Have Someone Proofread Your Letter

A simple misspelling of a word or name can be enough to remove your name from consideration. You worked so hard to land (and crush) that interview, so don’t let a typo make all of that go to waste! It’s always good to have as many sets of eyes on your writing as possible. If you are unsure about how to spell a name, don’t guess. You can look them up on the company website or their LinkedIn page, or even better, you could glance at their business card (which you hopefully asked for at the end of the interview!)

From now on, instead of looking at a Thank You Letter as a simple formality, use it to your advantage. Show the company that you are truly thankful for their time and the opportunity. Also, use it as a tool to make a lasting impression and showcase one last time that you would be a great fit for the company.

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Don’t Ask Lazy Questions: Nailing the End of the Interview
Posted on: July 28th, 2015

Entry-level job seekers often struggle with the last part of the job interview: asking great questions. While often neglected, this is actually one of the most important parts of the interview. Check out THIS article by GradStaff Marketing Manager Ben Holder on advice for how to avoid the trap of asking lazy questions. Be sure to apply this in your next interview in order to separate yourself from the competition.

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