There’s a story I tell to my students about getting their first job.
Former University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin was addressing the graduating class of 2003 and started a litany of the important things the graduates learned during their time at the university:
At Penn you learned this, at Penn you learned that, at Penn you learned this, at Penn you learned that, “but most importantly, at Penn you learned that it is not WHO you know, but rather WHOM you know.”
Grammatically correct, but also valuable advice for job seekers and hiring managers alike.
Advice for Job-Seekers
I encourage students to start their job networking while they’re still in school. Go to industry events. Meet people. Connect with people who can introduce you to prospective opportunities in their own firms, as well as in related companies. Build a strong network on LinkedIn and don’t be shy about using it to get introduced to job opportunities. When jobs become available, hiring managers are more likely to hire someone they already know, or someone who’s been referred by someone they know, rather than a stranger.
Advice for Marketing Team Hiring Managers
This advice applies to hiring managers, as well. If you’re looking to hire new graduates, learn who the best candidates are by networking with their college professors. My former partner, Jon Roska, brought the best and the brightest college grads into the agency every year by networking with professors at local universities. It was a win for everyone: the professors, the students and the agency.
Many colleges hold job fairs for their graduating seniors and invite prospective employers to set up shop and meet their graduating students. These events are a great way for students and managers to meet each other, but tapping into a network of teachers who have gotten to know which students are the best during a 15-week course is an excellent way to screen for the cream of the crop.
It’s all about whom you know.