Do you remember the first time that you heard about your university job fair? As you hurriedly made your way to the university gym, visions of Google and Apple representatives promising you riches beyond your wildest dreams popped into your head. Excitedly, you entered the job fair armed with a newly-crafted resume, prepared for the torrent of job offers to be lobbed your way.
And then you actually got there, and found yourself in a large, overcrowded room with about five thousand other undergrads who were all thinking the same thing.
Job fairs have never been as effective as one would hope (though a strategy never hurts), but what else can one do in this day and age? Lucky for us, the answer is: quite a bit. As the landscape of business changes in response to the ever-growing influence of the web, many other practices within industry are changing as well. As a result, new opportunities for connecting with business and finding your niche in the market are available to those who seek them.
Yes. I know you’ve heard your friends complain that Twitter and Facebook are only good for sharing pictures of your food and tweeting about your several cats, but there’s also a world of professionals, artists, and passionate individuals who are sharing useful content on a day-to-day basis. Whether it be propagating information during political revolutions (see video below), or breaking the latest discoveries in the scientific world, social media has become an outlet for the short-term zeitgeist that drives many huge industries. As a result, using social media gives one a unique insight into what makes the world tick at any given moment in time.
Want to know what kinds of things to bring up in your next job interview? Check the twittersphere—I bet you’ll find any number of discussions about the field’s most cutting-edge issues. Even better—participate in those discussions yourself! One of the best ways to make connections with people who are looking to hire is to engage in thoughtful, intelligent conversation with those on the internet. (Note: debating the relative cuteness of poodles vs. chihuahuas does not count as thoughtful or intelligent.)
While it may seem like you’re simply projecting your tiny opinion into a sea of uncaring denizens of the social media black hole, rest-assured, eventually your thoughts will stick. These days, one must become their own marketing firm in order to stand apart from all the other Regular Joes out there—making a name for yourself in Twitter and Facebook is a fantastic first start.
OK, so you don’t want to simply “start tweeting”. Maybe you don’t have an idea of what to talk about, maybe you don’t have the persistence to keep speaking even when the world seems to be ignoring you, or maybe social media just creeps you out a little bit. Luckily, there are others ways that the age of the internet has improved the job-hunting experience.
The first one I’ll mention is technically a double-dip, since it’s also a form of social media, but it’s also proven to be incredibly powerful in making business connections. While facebook and twitter might have a wide array of uses, LinkedIn doesn’t beat around the bush with its mission: to connect you with professionals that want to know you. While it was originally viewed as a distant third behind other social media sites, LinkedIn has begun to reach a critical mass of sorts, and now proves to be quite effective at bridging the gap between individuals and recruiters. That said, the same old guidelines are applicable here too—make your presence useful, interesting, and insightful.
And if you’re willing to move off the beaten path a bit, there are a slew of startups, apps, and websites that are all aimed at helping you land the perfect job (you can even apply directly on Twitter in some cases). One such company is called Mounza, a startup out of Berkeley that aims at revamping the old-fashioned job fair. Instead of replacing these antiquated techniques with newfangled technology, Mounza seeks to augment them. It offers a mobile app (free for users) that allows them to browse all the career events that occur at Berkeley and Stanford, and streamlines their ability to meet employers. In return, Mounza promises to help sift through the giant sea of students and find the best fit for each company.
The world of job-seeking utilities is booming now, with more and more companies realizing that there is a huge need for making the job hunt more efficient. However, while they can certainly complement a traditional job search, they should not replace it. At the end of the day, good old-fashioned networking is still probably the best way to go, and there is no better way to differentiate yourself than by knowing someone important. What these online tools offer is a way of projecting your ideas, passions, and goals into a public forum. It allows you to take control over how you define yourself publicly and professionally.