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Careers 101

Build your network: University of Phoenix experts answer your questions about how to create and connect with career contacts.

Q: What is the best way to find a job?

A:  There are many means to searching for and obtaining a job, so it is difficult to know which method will land a position. Job search methods can be defined as either passive or active. It’s essential to cast a wide net and employ different strategies with a focus on more active approaches.

Passive job searching includes posting resumes online, sending resumes to job postings and making general inquires via social media about opportunities. Any of these means can be made more effective through active engagement.

Applying for jobs is a necessary part of the process, but simple posting a resume online, or sending the same resume to each job listing, may not be effective. Writing a targeted cover letter and tailoring your resume to each opportunity will demonstrate to an employer that you took the time to read and understand the responsibilities of the position. This activity will also help you determine the most suitable jobs to apply for; quality is more important than quantity when it comes to sending out resumes.

In addition, plan to follow up on any jobs to which you have applied, to keep you engaged and on top of the process. Each time you apply for a job, make a note to follow up, with a phone call if possible, to inquire about the status of your application. This can be done one to two weeks after your initial application and will help you create a connection with the employer, as well as determine if it is an opportunity you want to pursue.

Networking is often considered the best way to find a job, but simply posting on social media that you are looking for a job may not be effective, especially if it is not directed toward a specific person and/or is too vague to elicit responses. Targeted networking through professional organizations, informational interviews and introductions is a much more dynamic way to learn about career paths and opportunities.

Using a variety of active search methods, as well as making passive efforts more impactful, will ultimately help you create a winning job-search strategy.

The new Phoenix Career Guidance System™ has tools and resources to help you develop your network, learn to target your correspondence and develop a strategy.

Q: I keep hearing that I need to network, but I don’t know anyone in my field.

A: The biggest misconception about networking is that it requires a job seeker to know high-level personnel or human resources officers who work for employers of interest. Networking is much more simple, and is just talking to people you know, as well as creating connections with people you want to know.

Although social media has made it easy to connect with people, racking up LinkedIn® or Facebook® contacts does not constitute active networking. If you don’t know anyone in your desired career field, begin by connecting with your immediate network of friends, family, colleagues and fellow students. Inquire if anyone you know is aware of people working in a specific job, industry or company. Even if it is an indirect connection, such as a friend of a friend, it’s a starting point.

You can also join professional organizations, LinkedIn groups and local networking events. All are great opportunities to meet professionals in your areas of interest and beyond. Strengthen your networking by creating a strategic plan for the types of contacts you’re looking for, and use multiple avenues for making those connections. For example, if you’re attending a networking event, find out beforehand who will be there and how you want to interact with them, especially in ways that will benefit them.

The next step is to begin actively engaging in networking by reaching out to contacts, both those you know directly and indirectly. Start making polite and professional requests for informational interviews, either in person or over the phone. Ask each person you speak with for a referral of another professional. Before long, you will have built a network, but your work is not done yet. You need to stay active with your network by keeping them informed of your progress, offering to provide them guidance in your areas of expertise and always thanking them for their time and advice.

Ask a career coach your question.

Specially trained in career services, the career coaches offered by University of Phoenix as a complimentary resource form a network across the United States. All coaches hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, and have years of experience in assisting students and alumni in reaching their career goals.