Good advice is hard to come by. And it's even harder to find helpful advice that you can take action on right now. The best advice will likely come from experts who are already in the industry, people with vast experiences and deep knowledge in their respective sectors.
Now you might be asking yourself, how do you actually reach out to someone for career advice? Let’s start with some basic networking advice.
Top tips to effectively network with professionals
Networking might feel scary but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Be genuine, focus on finding people in your specific industry or job role and be respectful and you’ll be alright.
- Research your intended job and industry: Pay close attention to education requirements, pay ranges, work-life balance, locations, and adjacent or similar jobs.
* Research mentors: Find out which person within your reach is better suited to give you the advice and knowledge you seek.
Ask for a meeting: When you’re emailing a professional for the first time, it’s good to include some basic, relevant information. Pro tip: Follow these four steps to get the meeting:
- Let them know who you are, that means including one sentence about you
- Tell them how you found them, or if someone told you to reach out to them
- Request time for a meeting, and suggest a few specific times and days when you can online, over the phone or in person.
- Respect their time and keep it short. The person you’re reaching out to is probably busy and doesn’t have tons of time to read through 3 paragraphs to set up a meeting.
- Show up prepared: Make the best of your and the mentor's time. Prepared means that you have already written down specific questions you have, and that if you are asking for a referral, you have already researched the job you want (that you are also qualified for).
- Show gratitude towards the other person: Always be thankful! Send a thank you note after your conversation to show appreciation for their time.
- Follow up: Following up can bring you opportunities if the person you met shared your CV with a recruiter or manager. Sometimes following up is the reason you will get the opportunity over someone else.
Photo by Sora Shimazaki
Part I : Actionable Tips for a Better Job Search
Aside from how to reach out, you should also focus on keeping your skills up to date, being detail-oriented, especially when it comes to professional communication, and embracing the power of networking and your personal brand.
These tips can help you achieve success especially when you’re in job search mode.
1. Keep learning even after graduation
Never stop learning, that Is the path to excellence. Continued learning can increase your professional opportunities, resourcefulness and help you achieve career growth.
Stay up to date with your industry's news, best practices, and skills. This extra effort will help make you more attractive for hiring, and swiftly advance your career development. Some ideas for continued learning include:
- Subscribing to a professional journal
- Taking an online course with a certifications
- Spending 1 hour a day reading industry specific news
- Reading books about professional development
When applying for a job, you are competing with hundreds of candidates for the same position. Keeping your skills sharp will give you leverage over the competition and give you an edge during the interview.
2. Double check your spelling
Spelling mistakes might seem like a minor detail, but they're not! A spelling error will always stand out, especially to more detail-oriented hiring managers.
Research words you are not sure how to spell correctly. If you don’t own a dictionary, that’s okay, because you have Google!
Typos may go unnoticed between friends, but a spelling mistake when looking for a job can be considered a red flag and might be the reason you don't get the interview.
- Proofread each written document: This includes every email, your resume and cover letter if you intend to send them to an employer.
- Download spelling and grammar extensions: There are also great tools you can download to help you with spelling, these are especially useful if English is your second language
Don't forget grammar: Grammarly is a writing assistant to help make sure you don’t make small grammar mistakes. Another great tool is Wordtune which can help you rewrite sentences to be more clear and concise.
Either way, build the habit of double-checking your spelling and grammar. One small mistake could be an expensive one!
3. Embrace the power of networking
It goes without saying, but networking is fundamental in today's job market.
Knowing the right person in the right industry is a great way to learn about opportunities and get your foot in the door. Three powerful steps you should take to build your network:
- Create an elevator pitch. A short story to let professionals know who you are, what you do and what you're interested in.
- Connect with industry professionals before you need the job. Don't wait until you're already on the job-hunt, have a discussion with an industry leader you admire and ask them about their work.
- Listen more than you talk. Be sure to do your research about the person beforehand, ask relevant questions, and be genuine.
Remember, urgency of a job search can make it more challenging to build genuine relationships, so get ahead of the game and start building your network now.
4. Work on your personal and professional brand
Building a personal brand means shaping what you want people to think about when your name is mentioned. It means managing your online image (what do people see when they Google search your name?)
It means making sure your social media networks are set to private so that employers don’t see things that make you look less professional. Remember that with every conversation you have, you are reinforcing your personal brand. As Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, describes it,
“A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon
When working on your personal brand, follow the EY consulting firm model and take three main characteristics into consideration:
- Presence: communicate confidently, with humility and integrity to build trust with others.
- Vitality: keep your well-being, energy and enthusiasm up.
- Agility: be flexible when interacting as to adapt to different behaviors and contexts.
For more insights, watch EY’s Personal Brand Workshop webinar on Localized.
5. Give yourself a break
The last couple of years have likely been challenging. The pressure to achieve success can be overwhelming, and failing might feel like the end of the world.
Abandon the assumptions that your identity is defined by what you do for work. This will be incredibly liberating for you!
Instead of feeling paralyzed, maybe you owe it to yourself to take a break. If you can travel to a new city, even if it’s in your home country, or if you have the opportunity to take some time to work on creative personal projects you should.
Some activities to consider after you graduate include:
- Finding volunteer opportunities
- Finding seasonal work
- Teaching abroad
- Working on your hobbies
Remember to be happy for yourself for every small accomplishment and opportunity you achieve.
6. Apply for internships and look for mentors
Internships can be a great way to gain valuable, hands-on experience in your field and prepare you for your career. For an internship to be the most beneficial, it should align with your career aspirations and the skills you want to build.
Make the most of your internship by focusing on connecting with other employees and leadership to find a mentor. This person will be someone who is willing to guide and advise you on your career path.
Finding a mentor can be challenging but it's helpful to look for:
- A person who is doing the things you wan to do
- Someone who has taken a similar life path or has similar experiences to yourself
- Someone you feel you can build a genuine relationship with, when mentors are invested in you they tend to give more aligned advice
Maariyah Choudery, Chief of Staff to Global Head of Business Development at Uber, dives into questions to ask a potential mentor. Questions like “what are some things you did early in your career that set you up for success now?”
As Maariyah points out, a mentor may not be a person holding the role you aim for at the end of your career path, rather a mentor can be someone who’s only a couple of years older or a couple of levels up who can provide you with insightful advice.
Most importantly, focus on building a genuine relationship with your mentor and try to make the relationship equally beneficial. Ask if there’s anything that you can do to help them, you would be surprised at the response.
Part II : Top Tips for the Workplace from the Professionals
Once you’ve landed the job, there are a few other things you want to keep in mind including; best practices for communicating with colleagues, being respectful, helpful and positive and asking the right questions. Here are some other recommendations from the experts themselves.
7. Get to know your boss' communication preferences
Learn how your management likes to communicate. Some managers will tell you how they like to receive information, comments, and feedback, while others will require more perception.
Paying attention to their preferred communication styles will make workplace correspondence smoother and help you avoid unnecessary misunderstandings
Someone who takes the time to learn the best channels, frequency and styles of communication in the workplace will be seen as more diligent, easier to work with and better connected to management and colleagues alike.
8. Use your lack of experience as a tool
Inexperience can be an asset. When you arrive at your new job with a fresh mindset, you might see things from a different perspective, suggest new solutions to recurring problems, and come up with new ideas by viewing the issue from a different angle.
Your point of view could even lead to a game-changing innovation!
This also means, you should learn to speak up. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with your team and managers, even if you think they have been suggested before.
You might end up brainstorming the company's next breakthrough. That’s something your team will notice and appreciate greatly.
Pro tip: If you happen to stumble across the next company breakthrough don't let your ego climb to the top. Stay humble and remember you still have a lot to learn.
9. No matter what you do, do it well
Whether the task is a huge company project, or a simple email - excel at whatever you do. Work on every task like it's going to be seen by the CEO.
When you're constantly putting in effort, making sure your work is excellent and treating every assignment like it matters colleagues and managers will take note. This means you might get picked for bigger projects, new assignments or even the next promotion.
Working hard is the foundation of building credibility in the workforce, you don't need to work day and night - you simply need to focus on excellence and project completion to the best of your ability.
Focus on doing every task, even the small ones, with as much care and diligence as you would the big, exciting projects.
Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.
10. Keep your career plans open and flexible
As a recent grad the possibilities are endless, it's important to be open and flexible, even if you know what you want to do. You never know what the future will look like in the next five to ten years, or what opportunities could change your career trajectory.
The world and the job market are constantly changing, so make the best of each opportunity that comes your way.
You have the power to create opportunities in your own life and make the best of those that are already in front of you. Keep a few things in mind along the way:
- Be mindful of what’s happening around you
- Understand your core values and live by them
- Expand your mind through books and informational interviews
- Keep learning and get certified in a new skill
Engaging on student and graduate platforms like Localized can help you stay up to date with new trends and opportunities in your area.
11. Be respectful and pleasant with everyone you meet
It goes without saying, but respect goes a long way. Goodwill is like a boomerang; if you give it, it will be returned to you. Be polite and your efforts will be valued.
Respect is not just limited to your attitude, being respectful also means respecting someone’s time. Show up to meetings on time, come prepared and show gratitude.
Respect is also being able to take feedback with an open ear rather than showing defensiveness, the person who takes the time to give constructive feedback is likely someone who cares deeply about your future success.
Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony, achievement and solid teamwork.
If you’re working with, or surrounded by, people from different cultures or backgrounds, respect might mean different things for each person, but in general it’s based on ethics, character and experience. When you treat people with respect, they will be happy to work with and help you.
12. Ask questions and learn from your mistakes
You can't expect to know everything the moment you graduate from University. As a rule it’s better to ask a question than assume you know, only to make bigger mistakes along the way.
If you're not sure about something, but you’re worried there might be an obvious answer there are other ways to figure it out without asking your boss.
- Search for the answer on Google
- Ask a colleague if there's a resource or guide you can read (or watch) to get an answer to the question
- Ask someone who’s doing similar work if they know where you can find the answer
- If all else fails, ask your manager or another colleague the question
And of course, if you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. People learn more from errors than they do from successes. Be open to feedback and willing to learn and improve and you’ll get closer to your career goals.
Graduating can leave you with more questions than answers, that paired with finding a job can feel daunting. Take practical advice from seasoned professionals and continue to be open along the way.
If you’re not sure of what to do next, consider networking with some experts during live industry focused events on Localized to get specific advice and ask questions you might not find the answer to on Google.
Live events take place each week which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet professionals and learn from the people who've been through similar challenges already.