Getting a job after college is a priority for every student, particularly in the current economy with a stubbornly high rate of unemployment. It is particularly important for students and upcoming graduates to plan ahead and be aware of the necessary strategies to find employment after college. This can allow students to set themselves apart from all other applicants and land their dream job even in today’s difficult job market and challenging economy.

One of the most important factors of college graduates getting a job that is often neglected is networking. Of course, there are official, open positions which are open to applications, and it is important for students and graduates to actively search for opportunities. But also essential is the hidden job market; which refers to vacancies that aren’t filled with official recruitment and most individuals seeking employment don’t even know about.

The Hidden Job Market

This hidden job market offers many opportunities for college graduates, since this is where at least half of all jobs are filled. These are the jobs that aren’t posted on the official boards and don’t have the same amount of applicants. This means that the parties in the running will have an easier time and higher likelihood of being selected to fill these positions.

In the case of the hidden job market, the critical limiting factor for individuals searching for a job is information. There is a lack of official information on the job openings, thus the ‘hidden’ nature of this unofficial job market. This is where the power and importance of networking comes into play. It is necessary for students and college graduates to begin their job search early and establish a network. This allows them to be connected to many people, some of whom may be able to hire them or refer them to people in the industry they want to work in.

However, networking is more than just knowing a lot of people. Even more important than the breadth of an applicant’s personal network is whether the applicant can make a personal connection with potential employers and managers. Potential employers need to be aware of the qualities of a potential employee that cannot be seen on a sheet of paper. Things like professionalism, trustworthiness, drive, and a person’s character are intangible and impossible to describe, let alone explain on a resume.

The power of a personal connection extends beyond obtaining information about positions in hidden job market. It is crucial for any job applicant to understand and appreciate the power of making a personal connection and how it can allow them to differentiate themselves from the applicants that don’t have an “in” at a company.

Make a Personal Connection

It seems obvious that emailing and calling employers to make a connection works better than just blinding sending in a resume, but many students and college graduates do not understand the reasons behind this.

Making a personal connection allows applicants to set themselves apart by showing that they have the necessary interpersonal and communication skills to take the job. Even more importantly, it gives an applicant a voice and a face; the applicant stops being just a number and words on a piece of paper.

Employers are much more likely to hire someone that they can identify with or even like as a person instead of a stranger or a resume. Things like past experience and educational history may be important, but they are largely qualifying factors in the job market, not what secures a job. Networking and the ability to form a personal connection are the key determining factors to finding a job in any job market.