Connecting with people, either for a job application or networking, has become incredibly easy. Indeed.com and similar boards allow us to apply for a job at the click a button. Facebook and LinkedIn have not only simplified the process of connecting with our network but have even expanded what a network can be. This simplicity, while generally beneficial, does have one drawback. It often masks the complexity and time required to develop a career development strategy that will make the best use of these tools.
Before sending the first LinkedIn message or applying to a first job:
Set and prioritize your goals
- What is most important? What are the deal-breakers? What is the minimum positive result?
Develop a strategy
- Your strategy will be your own, and entirely dependent on your goals. There is no one-size-fits all strategy
Research and prepare to execute
- Make sure that the people you are contacting or jobs to which you are applying fit within your strategy and that you are making contact in the most effective way
Execute on your strategy
- Be efficient with your time and stick to your plan. Spend time on things that are most likely to get a bigger return.
Pro Tip – It is almost always a better use of time to craft a personal and targeted note to a networking contact than it is to craft a personal and targeted cover letter.
The time involved in goal-setting and strategy development has practical consequences, especially for international students who may be working against a visa clock. In a perfect world, there would be time to leisurely soak up the environment and focus on schoolwork before beginning the job search process. But, in this world, with the clock is ticking.