One of my favorite childhood games that I loved to play was “Connect the Dots” puzzles. The object of the game was to connect the sequence of numbered dots and the end result would be some type of image. As an adult, I have heard others refer to the term “connect the dots” as a metaphor to illustrate an ability or inability to associate one idea with another, or to find the “big picture.” The point that I am trying to make here is that it is very important to have the right set of people, or “dots,” to “connect” us to our intended career goal.
Hopefully most of you have heard the phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” The underlying message of that statement is that the people you become acquainted with can be very influential in helping you obtain the jobs that you go after. Please know that it is very important to have an elaborate resume, a polished professional pitch and very effective interview techniques but a substantial network can also take you a very long way in your job search process. As stated in the September 2014 Career section of the U.S. News & World Report, “more than 70 percent of people land job through networking.”
Let me share with you my personal connection story. My last year of college I served as the editor of a campus magazine and a new advisor came on board as I was getting ready to graduate. We met over dinner to discuss the state of the magazine and brainstorm over ideas of how to take it to the next level. I had no idea that this small conversation would be my connection for a job later on in my life. Five years after I graduated from college, I interviewed for a position at the Department of Labor office in my hometown. Guess who was the manager of that office – the advisor that I met with my senior year. During my time at the Department of Labor, I met three other people who also ended up serving as connections to three other jobs I accepted. Another example involves a former coworker at UB in the Career and Professional Development Center. Last year, he conducted an informational interview with the director of a career center at a college in New Jersey. In July of this year, he accepted a position with that same career center and I am most definitely sure that it is a result of the connection that began last year.
As you maneuver through the different paths that your career will take you, please be mindful of all of the people that you come in contact with. You never know how that person will be able to help you in terms of the jobs you are hoping to obtain in the future. Please stay focused on getting the most out of the “dots” that you meet so you can continue to “connect” them.
By: Charles Jennings, Jr., Associate Director for Employer Relations