10/15/2012 02:07 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2012

Looking for a Job? Unplug and Embrace Connectedness, Not Connections

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 44.2 percent of recent college graduates who applied for jobs had offers in hand as of June 2012.

Has social media become a crutch for young job seekers? One common misconception is that social media is the best way to find a job. While Facebook claims it has apps that can help you secure a job through your connections, the effectiveness of such tools remains to be seen. LinkedIn is a great tool for working professionals who already have industry connections, but most college students don't know who to actually connect to.

Recent grads, listen up.

Utilize the real connections you already have. There are countless offline connections that you probably pass by every day without realizing the impact they could have in your future. These are just a few:

Your professors know countless other students who've passed through the department year in and year out. They often even have significant relationships with employers in your field as well and can usually identify companies that may be of interest -- even suggest or connect you to contacts in your field. Tell your professor, your adviser, teaching assistants and department staff members what you're interested in doing. Ask them if they know people who might be willing to talk with you. Follow up. Follow up again.


School alumni, particularly from your department, can tell you how they got to where they are now. Tap your alumni association, and contact alumni from your fraternity, sorority, or any student group to which you belong. But don't stop there; any alumni group can be helpful. In 2000, when I was starting AfterCollege, a leader in the entry-level career space, I talked with a group of Harvard Business School alumni (and I went to Stanford). In that meeting, I met an alum was in a related industry, executive search, and who had had a similar experience starting his company. He became our first angel investor who was not a family member or friend, although he became a good friend.

Your Parents' Friends? Yep.

Your parents are probably more involved in your job search than the parents of any previous generation. Their friends and their grown kids, even their neighbors, can often be a good source, helping you to get an interview or referring you to someone you could be helpful. When your parents ask how your job search is going, ask them if they have any friends who can help you break into the industry or company you're interested in. Follow up. Follow up again.

Cool Your Bridges

Avoid the Costanza in you and don't burn a single bridge. Did you have any summer jobs that were related to your field of study? Or perhaps not even related? If so, go back to that employer and ask if he or she will talk with you about new opportunities or can introduce you to someone else in that field. As you look for a job this summer, make sure you tap every resource you can. Social media is fun, but the connections that can help you find work may not even be on a social network. Have faith in the strength of your weak ties: professors and alumni, friends of your family, former employers.

And remember this: No matter where you go to school or who your parents are, you're probably more connected than you think. Ignore the new misconception that quadruple-digit social online "friends, followers, and connections" are the path to career prosperity. Having a large number of connections does not equal connectedness. Know the difference and use the difference toyour advantage.