Illustration by Leona Novio /Nevada Sagebrush

Illustration by Leona Novio /Nevada Sagebrush

By Rocío Hernández

Elizabeth Loun, the current internship and employer relations coordinator for the Nevada Career Studio at the University of Nevada, Reno, remembers how she obtained her first real job after college.

In 2003, Loun graduated from the College of William and Mary with bachelor’s degrees in sociology and psychology and went on to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology. After graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi, Loun decide to go back home to Washington D.C. However, Loun found that since her professional contacts were gained through education and internships in other states, she lacked a well-established network in Washington D.C. to make the job-searching process easier.

After six months of searching, Loun obtained a job as a real estate analyst.

“I think networking is incredibly important and my story supports that,” Loun said.

Loun defines networking as communications and interactions with other people and does not limit it to networking events and mixers. A connection can be anyone from a classmate to a professor to a family friend and Loun advises students to keep that in mind because in the future, these people can be valuable assets.

UNR Managerial Sciences professor Mary Groves said that the people in your network should know things about you such as what you value, what you are interested in and what you hope to do in your career and life.

“Literally anyone that you know who is a working professional is part of your network,” Loun said. “Obviously there are networking events that are set up for that purpose, but really what it is is an opportunity for a lot of people to get in a room together and meet each other. There isn’t really a science to it.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. UNR managerial sciences Professor Mary Groves has observed that in today’s world, people often require networking to find their first job, get a promotion or move on to their next job.

As a professor, Groves allows her students to connect with her on LinkedIn. After Groves approves their invitation, she has had many students find that some of her connections work for the company or business they are applying for. Applicants have asked Groves to send her connection a message on their behalf. She will often ask in the message that her connection takes her former student into consideration when applying for a position and Groves has witnessed it work in favor of the applicant.

Her connections will sometimes tell Groves that they would not have looked at the student’s application if she had not sent the recommendation.

Groves has also noticed that most students don’t have the work skills for the job they are headed for, especially if they’ve never had any experience in it. For these students, Groves said that connecting with working professionals has made a difference.

“My students attend a networking event and I have nine students in this semester alone who have gotten internships because of just a networking event,” Groves said. “It is a way for them to get to know the people out in the community, talk about themselves, what are their skill sets, what do they like to do and then usually from the networking, [the professionals] will say send me your resume and then from the resume, they go on to the interview and hopefully the position.”

Despite having a well-put together resume with excellent work experience, Loun believes that a personal connection can always tip the scale for a person during the hiring processes. If an applicant has interacted with any person inside the company or business they want to join, Loun said that the applicant goes from being a resume to a real person.

“If I’ve met you and we’ve had a real conversation, I feel like I know through our interaction that you are interested in this, that you are professional, that you have a good way of presenting yourself [and] that you are a positive communicator,” Loun said. “All of a sudden, that gives you a little more of an edge than someone who I am just looking at their resume and I don’t know who they are.”

Groves said networking is essential to be competitive in today’s job market.

“With a really good resume that matches the job ad, [applicants will] probably be OK, but I tell you, it’d probably a lot easier if you had someone who would walk into an office and say [to the HR recruiter] to take a look at your resume,” Groves said. “It just gives you a leg up.”

Resumes tips: 

  • Keep your resume to one page – Professor Mary Groves
  • Tailor resumes to each job application – Elizabeth Loun
  • Instead of using Times New Roman font, try Helvetica – The Huffington Post
  • Divide your resume with sections such as objective, work history, work history and training – Forbes magazine

Networking advice:

  • If you are shy and find yourself at a networking event, look for people that are alone or to the sides of the room. Chances are they are just as nervous as you and would be eager to talk – Professor Mary Groves
  • Sign up for a LinkedIn account – US News
  • When appropriate, share personal stories. It will make you more memorable – Inc.com

Rocío Hernández can be reached at rhernandez@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @rociohdz19.