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Get Hired in 2012 – Alumni Edition

by Brent Grinna
January 10, 2012

This weekend, Career Coach Ellyn Enisman was featured on CNN during a segment called “Get Hired in 2012.” It was a quick segment that reinforced common sense tactics for young alumni and experienced professionals in the midst of career searches.

Below, I have highlighted a few key points from Ellyn’s segment and offered our reaction to each:

Point #1: “The number one skill that you must have for this job market is networking skills”.

We strongly agree.  Though we would add that “this job market” could be adjusted to say “any job market”.

Point #2: “Build a contact list – your friends, your family, your relatives, including former colleagues, previous managers, teachers, et cetera”

We mostly agree.  We were surprised she didn’t mention including your alumni community as part of your network assessment.  Most schools have developed networking tools like the Tufts Career Network, Washington & Lee’s Colonnade Connections and Bowdoin College’s PolarNet.  While such systems are cited by alumni as often not being user-friendly or out of date, the data can be extremely valuable in developing a network.

In 2012, many schools are deploying mobile solutions to further enhance networking capabilities for alumni. For example, in less than eight months the Virginia Military Institute Alumni Association’s mobile app, has generated nearly 30,000 alumni profile views by extending data from Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge and NetCommunity to 18,000 “Keydet” alumni around the world.

Point #3: “Create a spreadsheet with everybody’s name, phone number and e-mail address”

We strongly disagree with Ellyn on this point.  Spreadsheets were great – in 1995!  In 2012, our recommendation would be to replace the spreadsheet with a strong professional profile on LinkedIn.

Like the print alumni directory and legacy donor database, spreadsheets are often out of date as soon as you finish updating an entry.  By connecting via social networks, profiles stay fresh and evolve as both you and your connections advance through your careers.

In addition to LinkedIn, we recommend exploring personal “CRM” tools to help make your personal contact book current and accessible.

I use both Connected and Gist.  Both integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and other popular e-mail contact systems.  Connected has a nice daily e-mail digest while Gist offers a very good mobile app.  That’s TechStars co-founder Brad Feld featured in the iTunes preview pic.

Point #4:  “Go to industry conferences. If you can’t afford to go, ask if you can volunteer”

This struck a chord with me. Shortly after founding EverTrue, I hoped to attend Venture Summit East at Harvard Business School.  The problem: the $1,250 price tag!  I contacted AlwaysOn President Marc Sternberg and offered to volunteer.  Marc accepted my offer, and for the first two days at the conference I spent several hours at the registration table.  Instead of chasing down potential advisors and investors, they came right to me!  At lunch, I sat with Boston venture-capitalist Jeff Bussgang.  Jeff introduced me to both WHERE CEO Walt Doyle and Boston.com Innovation Economy writer Scott Kirsner.

Just days later, EverTrue began working out of WHERE’s office in the North End, and Scott Kirsner profiled EverTrue’s mobile alumni app in the Globe!

Networking works.

For more tips like this, follow Ellyn on twitter @CollegetoJob and us @evertrue.  An abbreviated version of the CNN segment is viewable below.

Ever True!
Brent