Wider net lands more
‘‘Who you meet’’ and not ‘‘what you know’’ can give graduates the best edge in the jobs market,
GRADUATES are finding jobs through who they know rather than what they know to prove the old saying.
South Australian research has found university graduates who use their contacts can find work in significantly shorter time frames than their peers.
Those who publicly tout their job hunt with their existing or developing network of family, friends and acquaintances are being granted the job opportunities.
G RADUATES who engage in networking land their first job four times quicker than those who rely on job advertisements in newspapers or online, a researcher says.
And ‘‘accidental networking’’, or chance conversations with strangers, is the most effective method of finding a job, University of South Australia researcher Gerry Treuren says.
‘‘You’ve got to put yourself out there,’’ says Dr Treuren, a senior lecturer at the university’s School of Management.
‘‘It’s the chance conversations that most often lead to jobs.
‘‘I hate to sound mystical here but if you take the first step, something magical seems to happen: you get offered work experience or you get a job offer or they know someone who’s looking for someone.
‘‘People get these jobs at random. So you’ve got to make use of every opportunity.’’
Dr Treuren has surveyed more than 350 people who have graduated from UniSA since 2002 and found that those who engaged in networking took, on average, 21⁄ months to secure a job.
Those who used more traditional methods, such as searching job advertisements in newspapers and online, took an average of 10 months to get a job.
Dr Treuren says graduates are a special group of jobseekers because their contacts and networks do not extend as widely as those who have already spent time in the employment arena.
He is now hoping to survey another 500 graduates, all of whom completed their degrees last year, to further examine how students can develop successful networking strategies.
The study also will look at new graduates in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Dr Treuren says anecdotal evidence suggests that many university students are being offered jobs be- fore they graduate. Recruiter Hays state regional director Lisa Morris says some graduates feel uncomfortable telling others they are searching for a job but, by doing so, can reap the ultimate reward.
‘‘Be willing to put yourself forward and be willing to strike up a conversation with someone . . . say ‘I’m a graduate and I’m looking to get a job’,’’ Ms Morris says.
However, Ms Morris urges graduates not to give up on newspaper and online job advertisements.
‘‘There are some employers out there who are very comfortable with traditional methods of employing and there are real opportunities there,’’ she says.
‘‘Graduate recruitment programs are often listed in newspapers so I think it’s important graduates realise there’s a variety of ways they can get a job.’’
Tracey Cummings, 27, was studying her final year of a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) degree when she attended a universityorganised networking dinner in 2008, and sat next to the managing director of Devine Homes.
The developer called her a month later and asked her to apply for the role of advertising co-ordinator – a position she accepted as soon as she graduated.
Ms Cummings says friends who did not attend the dinner took up to a year after graduating to find their first job.
‘‘I honestly think this networking dinner was what clinched it for me,’’ she says.
‘‘Apparently I was the only person who sat next to Devine general manager Steve Weightman and gave him a business card that said marketing on it.
‘‘You have to grab hold of the opportunities that present themselves and maximise all prospects to make a good impression.’’
Ms Cummings says two other students who attended the dinner were also offered jobs with Devine, as client service representatives.
‘‘Obviously there’s a large proportion of jobs that aren’t advertised and that’s when it all comes down to your networks,’’ she says.
Devine Homes sales assistant Grace Lazzeri with Tracey Cummings, who got her job at Devine through a networking dinner.