4 ways to find your career contacts during college time

Okay, sure. Grades will help you find a great job and find your career. They are, however, far from the only way to get the ball rolling. In fact, in many ways, they’re often only an extra push. The prime mover is, in fact, more likely to be the people you know and what they know. For that reason, you want to make sure that you know a lot of people. That’s only part of the puzzle. You also need to make sure you know the right people. Here we’re talking not just about strong connections, like best friends, but also weak ones, like acquaintances, as both can be very valuable.

But how do you do that in college? What strategies can you use to find people to help you get your career started or who can help you along when – down the line – you want to make a switch? That’s the question we’re going to explore today.

Pursue your interests

Here I’m not talking about drinking or partying. Though those are surely interesting activities, it can be hard to find employment in either. Instead, I’m talking about interests that actually might lead to connections, even if only indirectly. For example, while you probably won’t be able to be a professional chess player, there are a lot of smart people that hang around in chess clubs who might just be very valuable connections when you want to start something or they do.

What is important here is that you don’t pursue your interests on your own. If you can find anybody to share with, then that can help you get more out of your interest by being able to share as well as make valuable connections that are based on more than just wanting to get ahead. Because though networking is useful, building connections spontaneously and naturally with people you like is far more effective.


Internships are good for a lot of things, not just getting your foot in the door in a company you want to work at. Don’t get me wrong, it works well for that too, but if you also make sure to keep in touch with the people you work at when they move on you’ll suddenly have a connection in other places as well.

So, when you’re in an internship don’t just make friends with the person you work for. Talk to other people as well. You never know where people might end up and who might be climbing the ladder quicker than you thought possible.

In this way, even internships at little-known companies like trust my paper or a local newspaper can actually turn into opportunities to forge important connections.

Go abroad

Going abroad might sound like it’s just a cultural experience and doesn’t have much career benefit, but nothing can be further from the truth. In foreign climes, your regular habits are no longer tenable and you don’t hang out with the same people you always have. Instead, you’ll make new friends, meet new people and because you’re exotic you’re just that little bit more memorable.

That means that you’re in a perfect position to make the connection for your career. You might even be able to take your first step up your career ladder in a foreign country. That will often mean a lot of learning opportunities and also the chance to possibly skip a few rungs. Then, when you come home, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Even if that doesn’t happen, a semester abroad can teach you invaluable multi-cultural skills and make you more flexible in your thinking. This can stand you in good stead when you want to get your dream job. After all, a corporate culture is also just another culture that you need to understand and adapt to quickly.

Stay in touch

However many connections you make, it will all be for naught if you lose them all again afterward. For that reason, realize that every relationship is not just making that connection, but after that maintaining it. If you’re naturally good at this, then so much the better. If, however, you’re not, then make sure that you set aside some time each week (or even each day) where you reach out to people that you want to stay in touch with.

Often it doesn’t have to be much. Send them a note on a birthday. Congratulate them when something goes right for them. Invite them to events in your life. In this way, you’ll stay on their radar. What’s more, when you need their help they’ll remember back how you made an effort over the years and be far more likely to make an effort on your behalf as well.

Last words

You never know what contact will be the one that lands you a job. This is because it might not be the person you’re talking to who lands you that connect, but instead a friend of a friend. For that reason, it is important that you maintain a network that is both large and varied.

In that case, whatever you’re looking for or whatever problem you need solving, you’ll have a much better chance of finding somebody who can help you out. What’s more, the better a job you do of staying connected, the more likely they are to help you. And in that way, you’ll be able to get ahead in your career as well as your life.

[Be Different]: Create a Visual Resume

So you’ve delved into the world of social media and want to start using the tools to build your online presence. You started with cleaning up your Facebook profile of incriminating alcohol-filled photos, you set up a professional profile on LinkedIn and maybe even signed up for Twitter. Yet job application after job application you are filling in the same information about your experience here and there, your education and qualifications and why you would like to work for this specific company. How is social media going to help when everybody just wants to see your CV or resume?

Why Have a Visual Resume

Be different.

Whilst there is a lot of value in having a tailored, up-to-date and effective paper resume on hand to send to potential employers (and here is a great presentation on how such a document should look like), you can also differentiate yourself through creating a document that is more visual, more interactive, more representative of who you actually are as a person and what you could bring to the company.

Visual resume allows you to make a different impression. You can be much more succint in your writing and also more persuasive. A picture is worth a thousand words and visual resume gives you the opportunity to show off some of your best projects or ideas in a way that is simply impossible to convey in text form. It also serves as a great way to finally prove those excellent presentation skills you claim to have!

Example of My Visual Resume

So how does a visual resume actually look like?

Want to create one for yourself?

Top Tips for Creating Your Visual Resume

  • Don’t write an essay –> Remember that you’re going for visual rather than text focus. You can put all the details on your text resume. In the visual version, focus on being concise and conveying ideas in clear terms.
  • Use quality images –> A visual presentation of yourself requires professional-looking images. To look for these try Flickr Creative Commons licensed photos.
  • Keep it short –> Do you really think a prospective employer will have time to click through your 100 slides?
  • Don’t just copy off your text resume –> You want to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicants…so do it! Use different phrases, present interesting case studies, point to your side projects. Don’t lose your chance to make an impression simply by reiterating what the company has already seen.
  • Be innovative –> Following on from previous point: Think about what sort of content you could put in. Is there a way you can prove your expertise? Engaging and persuasive way to show off your references?
  • Find your voice –> A visual form of your resume will require employment of a slightly different tone than a factual text-based CV. Keep it professional but also show that you’re a person, ready to engage with your viewers.
  • Point the reader to your other social media outlets
  • Use Slideshare.net and make this an integral part of your online presence

How to Stand Out in Your Job Search. Or in Life. Part I

Here I’d like to share with you a few strategies that caught my eye and that may help you stand out not only in your job search but also in selling yourself in life more generally. Don’t forget that you can also use visual resumes.

  • Part I: Using a job search website targeted to a specific company
  • Part II: Using a targeted blog and building community
  • Part III: Using Slideshare and a targeted social media campaign

Using a job search website targeted to a specific company

I thought I was doing my best during my job search to customise every piece of content I was sending out to specific companies. And maybe I was, within the time constraints, putting reasonable effort into this. Yet I could have definitely done more and my problem lay in a lack of proper focus.

I should have learned from this guy:

Jason Zimdars, a graphic designer, created a website focused specifically on getting him a position at 37signals.

Jasonscreenshot How to Stand Out in Your Job Search. Or in Life. Part I

What Jason did:

  • Avoided generic job applications. He targeted a specific company and tailored all of his content towards showing how he would be perfect for this one company and for this one job.
  • Researched everything about the company. Their past projects, what others are saying about them, company culture, their products as well as people within the company.
  • Explained why he wants the job and also why he’d be perfect for it.
  • Showed examples of his previous work projects and also included his resume.
  • He was proactive and gave insight into what his work for this specific company would look like. He did this by including a redesign of one of their web pages and showing his creative process. This way, the company wouldn’t be hiring “a rabbit in a hat” but someone whose quality of work they were able to judge beforehand.
  • Showed his personality and interests.

Ultimately, he made himself their most interesting and innovative applicant and clearly stood out from the crowd. And the result? You guessed it: he was hired!

Do you have any examples of creative job search using new web technologies?

How to Stand Out in Your Job Search. Or in Life. Part II

This is Part II of a three-part series on how you can be creative and stand out in your job search and more generally when selling yourself anywhere else.

Read other articles in this series:

Using a targeted blog and building community

In the previous post, we talked about setting up a website with your online pitch and portfolio targeting a specific company you would like to work for.

Yet even this approach results in a somewhat static website, lacking essential interactivity. Wouldn’t it be great if you could continually update the posted information and give the hiring company an insight into your thoughts as time goes by?

Jamie Varon did this through her TwitterShouldHireMe.com campaign

What Jamie did:

  • She created a blog with an eye-catching URL that also included the keywords of the company she was targeting.
  • She used other social media tools to promote her blog and to build community around her search (her posts on Twitter received over 400 retweets).
  • She included information about how others could get involved, either through posting a banner or through bookmarking her blog on other sites.
  • She updated her blog regularly providing more and more information about herself and why she wanted the job. This way she could also respond to the feedback she was getting from the online community that built around her.

Did Twitter hire Jamie? As of now, not. But this campaign did get her noticed and Twitter did invite her in for a lunch/interview. The important part is that this campaign certainly raised Jamie’s profile and led to job offers from other companies that liked her inventiveness and creativity. So it was definitely worth it.

Are you using a blog to promote your personal brand? Would you like to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

How to Stand Out in Your Job Search. Or in Life. Part III

3359997143 835b86bdcd How to Stand Out in Your Job Search. Or in Life. Part III

This is Part III of a three-part series on how you can be creative and stand out in your job search and more generally when selling yourself anywhere else.

Read other articles in this series:

Using Slideshare and a targeted social media campaign

We’ve looked at using a website as well as a blog and community-building techniques to promote yourself in your job search. But what about a truly comprehensive campaign using multiple social media tools?

It’s difficult to look for a job in a city far away from your current location. When Laura Gainor found out that she and her husband had to relocate to Milwaukee, she decided to be proactive and use Slideshare and other social media tools to target a position at a specific company.

What Laura did:

  • She researched potential companies of interest in the Milwaukee area through web and twitter search and started following their employees and brands on Twitter.
  • Reacted very quickly to a tweet about an open position posted by Comet Branding on Twitter.
  • Started a comprehensive social media campaign #LauraGainorToMilwaukee – using Foursquare, SquarePik, Youtube and Slideshare.
  • Caught the company’s attention through a creative photo campaign in the actual location. Laura made sure the company’s representatives were tagged in every tweet she used in the campaign and were thus informed constantly about her efforts.
  • By targeting a specific company, she could truly tailor all of her interactionstowards gaining the specific position.
  • She put together a visual resume and showcased both her campaign as well as skills and experience.

Laura got the job! With a bit of effort and lots of creativity, she was able to differentiate herself from all the other applicants for this post and show that she would really fit into the team.

What do you think about Laura’s approach?

[Be Different]: Using Your Visual Resume …

I have talked previously about how you can create a visual resume.

I’m very happy to announce that I’m an official StudentBranding.com contributor as of today! The reason I’m writing about this is that my first post on the site can serve as a useful follow-up to the original article as it expands on the topic and talks about the different ways in which a visual resume could be used.

So hop over to the site and read about Using a Visual Resume.

Screen shot 2010 08 25 at 14.47.30 300x289 [Be Different]: Using Your Visual Resume ... Plus Im a StudentBranding.com Contributor

Some of the points that I cover are how to use your visual resume in your job search, as tools in your interview preparation as well as creative uses for social networks or as an innovative application for graduate school.

Hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your feedback in the comments.