Every year, freshman girls line up with the hopes of joining the Greek community. As a freshman myself, I did not understand the mechanisms and inner-workings that occurred well before formal recruitment began. I had expected to show up in my designer jeans and Banana Republic blouse to the display round, and slide through the week to Bid Day based merely on my interactions with the sorority women during the rounds. Little did I know that the scoring, ranking and decisions were not always based solely on these 15-minute interactions, and that my fate did not lie in the hands of the few sorority women I had met during that week. In reality, it takes an entire team of women in a sorority, who already know and love you, to help you gain the coveted Greek letters.
Now, as a second-semester senior, I am finding that kick-starting my career requires the same skills I learned the hard way -- from sorority recruitment my freshman year.
1. Network: Life is all about relationships and building connections with others. People enjoy being around others they can both relate to and are already familiar with. Vying for an offer from a certain company? Get to know the employees, research the website and ask for an informational interview to show your interest in learning more about what their mission is and how they achieve it. Those initial nerve-wracking phone calls with second-degree connections are just as pivotal to winning that first job as initiating conversations with sorority women at fraternity parties were to obtaining that bid.
2. Space is limited: As a hopeful freshman, I was fighting with hundreds of other girls for a set number of places in a house. Jobs are just as, possibly even more, competitive to attain than was a place in the sisterhood. To stand out, applicants must find new ways to differentiate themselves from the rest of the players. Humans are social beings who enjoy discussing their own career-tracks and projects. Use this to your advantage to discover how to study for the interview.
3. Seek help: Sorority recruitment became much easier once I befriended a trusted insider who functioned as a mentor and friend. The same holds true for beginning a new career. The application process for any job, including the resume, cover letter and interview preparations, may masquerade as a well-oiled machine. Do not be mistaken. This is not a machine; rather, it is a selection process for people to find their co-workers. Sorority women use the formal recruitment process to admit younger women they believe will fit well with their chapter and who confidently exude the qualities they feel define their sisterhood. So, too, do employers seek graduates who have proven to be dependable, hard-working and reflective of the priorities established within a workplace's culture. If current co-workers enjoy and respect you, you've already demonstrated that you will enhance the established culture in their workplace.
Are jobs truly harder to come by now than in the past? Possibly. However, with new ways to become "known" via social media platforms, the job process remains a game to be won. Tip: befriending the other players is the ace of spades for this round.