Considering a career change?
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16 September 2015 |
LinkedIn (and social media in general) provides a good starting point. Look to see whether friends, family members, teachers/lecturers, or university alumni have industry experience or career-interests relating to yours. If they do, there is no harm in connecting with them. However, ensure you write a personalised message when you request to connect with them them explaining your reasons for doing so and how you know them. More senior professionals may well receive hundreds of connection requests per month. Failing to personalise a request can make you appear lazy and unprofessional (or even rude) and may result in your request being ignored.
Make sure that your LinkedIn is business-like, up-to-date, well presented and free from spelling and grammatical errors and that your photograph is recent and professional. For people you have never met before, your profile will provide their first impression of you.
You could try to contact people at your university who have secured internships or jobs and ask whether they would be willing to meet over coffee and provide guidance. University societies may well provide such opportunities for you. Join relevant societies and get involved! Work on building relationships with those you meet. If a contact helps you and you secure a job, message them to thank them and keep them informed. Similarly if you find out someone at your school or university has secured a job at the same firm as you, get in touch before you start work in order to start building that relationship.
If you have successfully secured a job, be open to helping out other students with their career pursuits. You may well end up working with them in the future. They are unlikely to forget the guidance they have received, which may in turn help to ensure a positive working relationship exists in the future (even if you are on opposite sides of a transaction!).
Joining commercially-oriented university societies may also provide ample opportunities to meet firms that sponsor those societies. You could offer to help societies to arrange or promote firm events, which in turn will afford you the opportunity to demonstrate to these firms (and to the society"s executive committee) that you are a professional, reliable and well-organised individual. This could also provide you with opportunities to gain an insight into firms and might help you further down the line if you stand for election into the society"s executive committee. This could in turn enable you to set yourself apart from other candidates when answering interview and application questions.
Attend careers fairs and campus presentations at your university in addition to firm office visits where possible. This will provide you with opportunities to gain an insight into a variety of different firms and interact with their employees. Such events could provide you with unique and essential information and anecdotes that can in turn help you to explain your motivation for applying to the firm(s) in your applications and during interviews. However, research the firms beforehand and formulate strong questions that will help you to gain a better insight into elements such as the firm"s culture, its challenges and its approach to training. Demonstrating such research may well impress the people with whom you interact, allowing you to evidence that you have a strong interest in the firm.
Why not request the email addresses of the people you talk to? Message them after the event to thank them for their time, thereby reminding them of your name. If you have created a strong first impression, this may well help you progress through to the interview stage as some firms tend to flag impressive candidates on their system after meeting them in person. I benefitted enormously from meeting a variety of firms (and their employees) at countless campus presentations, career fairs and office visits. Some employees may even be willing to provide further advice after the event (although do not be too pushy, these people are generally very busy!).