Network For Your Job Search

networkNetworking could be what helps you land a job.

If you take part in social networking sites, you probably have a pretty good idea of how networking can enhance your personal life. But, if you’re like many new college graduates, you’re probably not as comfortable about incorporating networking into your job search.

In spite of your discomfort, you need to incorporate networking into your job search: Especially in a competitive job market, networking could be what helps you land a job. In fact, many jobs are filled before they are even advertised—filled by people who learned about the opportunity before it was formally announced.

What is networking when it comes to the job search? It’s not about using people. Just as you look to build personal relationships through social networks, you want to build relationships to foster your professional life. These relationships can help you not only in your current job search but down the road as you build your career.

Networking is not one-sided: It works both ways. You offer assistance to others just as they offer assistance to you. Perhaps the easiest way to think about networking is to see it as an extension of being friendly, outgoing, and active.

Here are some tips for building and maintaining a healthy network:

  1. Make a list of everyone you know—and people they know—and identify how they could help you gather career information or experience.
    Who do you know at school? Professors, friends, and even friends’ parents can all be helpful contacts. Did you hold a part-time job? Volunteer? Serve an internship? Think about the people you came into contact with there.
  2. Sign up for an alumni mentoring program.
    Many colleges offer such programs, and they are a great way to build relationships in your field.
  3. Join the campus chapter of a professional society that relates to your career choice.
    In many ways, a professional society is an instant network: You’ll be with others who have the same general career interest. Plus, you may be able to learn more about your field from them. For example, you may be able to learn about the field and potential employers from others who share their internship experiences.
  4. Volunteer at a local museum, theater, homeless shelter—anywhere that even remotely relates to your field of study.
    By volunteering, you’ll not only learn about your chosen field firsthand, you’ll also be able to connect with people who are in the field.
  5. Speak to company representatives at career fairs, even if you’re not ready to look for a job.
    Be up front that you’re not currently in the job market and don’t take a lot of the representative’s time, but touching base with a potential employer now can help you down the road when you are ready.
  6. Attend company information sessions at your college and talk one-on-one to the recruiters who run them.
  7. Schedule informational interviews with people who can tell you about their careers.
    It’s best to ask to meet in person or by phone for a short interview, and don’t immediately start asking “How can you help me?” Plan your questions ahead of time, focusing on how the company works and how the person shaped his or her career path.
  8. Add your profile to LinkedIn.
    It’s free. And then, work your profile. Add work history (including internships!), skills, and keywords. Make connections to people you’ve worked with or met through networking. Ask for “recommendations” from people who have worked with you. You’ll find LinkedIn is a good source of suggestions for people in your field to contact for informational interviews.
  9. Remember to be courteous and tactful in all your conversations, to send thank-you notes to people who help you, and to find ways to help others as well.
    Don’t drop your network once you’ve gotten a job. Nurture the relationships you’ve built and look for opportunities to build new connections throughout your career. Getting started might be uncomfortable, but with time and practice, networking will be second nature.


Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Don’t Overlook Public Service Job Opportunities


If you’re a college student exploring careers, you may not be aware of the wide range of job opportunities in public service. Careers in the federal government range from scientist to engineer to museum curator. Federal architects plan embassies around the world. Urban park rangers teach history to visitors. Biologists study sharks, sea turtles, and dolphins. Engineers develop robots for the space shuttle. Students in science, technology, engineering, math, and medical fields (STEMM) find occupations in plant pathology, fire protection engineering, naval architecture, astronomy, space science, and cryptanalysis.

As the nation’s largest employer with about 2 million civilian workers, the government is seeking to fill thousands of positions at any given time, and these federal jobs match almost every set of skills and interests. In the last fiscal year, the government hired nearly 92,000 full-time permanent employees, and these jobs were located in all 50 states and overseas, not just in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture employs more than 1,000 civil engineers. More than 3,500 people at the Social Security Administration work in information technology management. If your interests are heavy on science, look for jobs at the National Institutes of Health or the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Physics and engineering? Think about opportunities at the U.S. Department of Energy and the 10 NASA centers around the country.

What’s Real About Federal Employment

It is a myth that the government isn’t hiring. More than 76,800 federal workers were hired in 2013 and nearly 92,000 became new federal employees in 2014.

Another myth is that federal pay and benefits can’t compete with other sectors. In fact, both pay and benefits are competitive. Total pay also can vary depending on where the job is located. In more expensive geographic areas, the addition of locality pay bumps up salaries to ensure the same standard of living for employees, regardless of their location.

Salary is not the only consideration when comparing job opportunities. Federal employees get other benefits including student loan repayment assistance; flexible schedules, and vacation and sick leave packages; health and retirement benefits; training and other professional development activities; and advancement opportunities.

Take Advantage of the Opportunities

As a student or recent graduate, you are eligible for the Pathways Programs that give students from qualifying educational institutions and programs, and recent graduates, a chance to explore different career paths, gain experience, and decide if an agency is right for them.

If you are a current student, you are eligible for internships, and if you are a recent graduate, you can work in government for one year—with both opportunities potentially leading to full-time employment. For either of these, you undertake a program of 40 hours of training and development, possibly including mentorship.

The government’s most prestigious fellowship is the two-year-long Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, open to individuals with qualifying advanced degrees. In this program, you receive 80 hours of training and development, complete an individual development plan, and are assigned a senior-level mentor. You also spend a portion of your time in a rotational or development assignment, to experience opportunities in your discipline in another department or agency.

Where to Apply

The federal government has dozens of departments and agencies. To narrow your focus, it helps to concentrate on agencies that make the most sense for your interests, whether it is federal housing, public health, or international issues.

You can search for those agencies on several websites:

1.—The federal government’s jobs portal.

2.—A government website that provides an “A-Z index” of federal agencies.

3.—A forum for communication and collaboration among federal agencies outside of Washington that you can use to find federal points of contact in your area.

4.—An Office of Personal Management website containing federal human resources data.

5.—The Partnership’s site ranking where federal agencies stand based on employee satisfaction surveys.

6.     Social Media—Many agencies are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites.

How to Apply for Federal Job Opportunities

The government’s jobs website,, has resources explaining how to apply for jobs. The Partnership’s Go Government website also offers a wealth of information on applying. On, you will find a step-by-step guide on the application process, along with profiles of young federal employees, and occupation guides that describe the people and positions that specific agencies are hiring.

If you are unsure about which federal agency you’re interested in, the Partnership produces the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings that offer information on which agencies house the highest percentages of satisfied employees. Another good place to start is at federal agency websites, where you’ll find information about the mission and the work, and get a flavor for an agency’s culture.

By:  Caleb Campbell

Caleb Campbell is an associate manager on the Education and Outreach team at the Partnership for Public Service. In his role, Campbell manages the Call to Serve network providing resources and information to more than 1,000 colleges and universities on federal hiring and the best strategies for getting the top talent into government.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.