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Job search and networking


The number one thing you can do to prepare for an interview is PREPARE! Check out resources to help you build your confidence and be successful in your next interview.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn learning hosts free access to professional videos on a variety of professional and personal topics.

Resumes and cover letters

Resumes and cover letters are designed to help your future employer get a look at your skills and qualifications. Take your time and do your research.

Getting and staying organized

A job search is like running a small business where the product you're selling is you. Discover a market that needs you, and start meeting people in that market to let them know that you're available. The more people you meet from more companies and organizations, the better your chances are of finding a way in. There is a lot of strategy in an effective job search. In a nutshell, we recommend more time with people who can help you get the job you want and less time on the internet.

Career Steps

Getting organized is half the battle. One approach is to register in D2L for Career Steps, pick three steps, set dates for achieving them, and go. Once these goals are met, choose more and keep on achieving.

Alumni, you too can access Career Steps here.

While completing Career Steps, I learned that I need to expand my network, and one of the good ways to do so is to reach out to people from my field to find out more information about the job.

— Metro State student

CandidCareer Videos

Got three minutes? We offer a complete series of short videos on topics from building your network to researching companies to nailing an interview. Watch CandidCareer videos here.


Handshake is Metropolitan State’s online job board and career management platform that connects students to employers. Currently enrolled students have an account ready when they log in with their Once in their account, students can:

  • Build a profile highlighting their academics, skills and experiences, and make that profile visible to those companies on Handshake that have connected with us.
  • Upload their résumés and cover letters, review posted jobs, and RSVP for on-campus events such as job fairs and career infosessions.
  • Begin to execute the “10 Career Steps” and record progress in Handshake’s journal feature.

For alumni who want access to Handshake, contact the Career Center.

Other job search and networking opportunities

When it comes to job searches and building a professional network, you can never have too many connections! Events and career fairs are a great way to engage with potential employers and fellow job seekers. Professional associations and student groups are excellent networking opportunites, as well as a means to stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

Part of networking includes attending employer events. From career fairs to networking panels, there is a place for you to find your next opportunity. Find out what event is happening next on the Career Center Events page (coming soon).

Professional associations or groups are outstanding sources of new networking contacts. These are groups of people in your field who come together regularly for professional development activities, networking and sharing information.

You can join an industry-specific group (example: a Human Resources student joining the Minnesota Society for Human Resource Management), or a more general group with people from a variety of professional backgrounds (example: Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce). These organizations are often looking for student members, and you can usually join for a discounted student rate or even at no cost.

There are professional organizations for every industry. Find your fit with the Professional Association Finder or a student group through Engage.

Amy Lindgren’s article can be used as a strategy. Once you find your professional organization or association of choice, volunteer to help organize a conference or meeting, join the board, or serve on a planning committee. This is a really hands-on way to gain recognition, demonstrate your dedication to the field, showcase your skills, and work closely with other involved members. Working on a task or project together will feel like a natural way to interact, and will give you a chance to get to know each other in the process.

Professional associations are good places to invest both your time and your money during a job search, but not everyone has had experience with them.

What are they? I use the term “professional association” to describe groups that organize themselves around a particular profession or trade. I also include certain types of user groups, because aficionados of specific software or tools often share professional tips while discussing common interests. Even groups for hobbyists – think quilting or gardening – can take on professional aspects for people whose work lives touch on the topic.

What do they offer? The groups vary widely in their offerings. Some are very sophisticated operations with dozens of staff members and numerous conferences throughout the nation. These large associations may employ lobbyists, publicists and others to represent the industry, while also providing services to members, such as journals, certifications and webinars. On the other end of the spectrum are mom-and-pop shops with a volunteer board and simple monthly meetings with unpaid speakers.

Small vs. large. You might expect the best job search prospects from the larger groups. I’m not so sure about that. On the one hand, the large associations have more members and such perks as online job listings; on the other hand, their meetings can be too large to afford good networking. The smaller groups sometimes build stronger bonds among their members, even though there are fewer of them. Regardless of the group you favor, I recommend joining at least one and attending the meetings regularly, while also sampling other groups. This will provide you with a “home base” as well as some diversity, in case one group becomes a bit in-grown in its approach and membership.

Cost. You could argue that membership is too expensive for a person who isn’t working and you’d have my agreement there. Some associations do seem to price themselves out of the market. They redeem themselves somewhat when they offer discounts for students and the unemployed, but those that don’t really make me wonder. Just what is their membership development plan? In any case, if you can’t afford the membership, you have several options. You can request a discount or scholarship, ask to earn your membership by volunteering for the organization, or ask to attend on a per-meeting basis. You might also be able to attend as someone else’s guest.

Make a plan. However you gain entrance to the meeting, the effort will be wasted if you don’t have a plan. In job search, each activity needs to be purposeful, as your time and your money are limited. As a rule, job seekers attend meetings for these purposes: To learn more about the profession and current practices; to meet others in the field and learn about their companies; and to become known to others as someone who might be available for work. One thing I advise job seekers not to expect are actual job leads. As a pleasant surprise, you might hear of current openings. But if that is your measure of the meeting’s success, you will mostly be disappointed.

What to say. These meetings are not the place to hand off your resume or practice your elevator speech. That type of me-centered approach will push others away, rather than attract them. The trick is to let your job interests be known without dominating the conversation. If this sounds a bit indirect, consider this: Networking for work can be compared to asking for a loan. The best time for both is when you don’t actually need what you’re asking for. Of course, that’s not very helpful when you’re currently unemployed and under-networked. Not to worry – you will catch up on your networking as soon as you begin attending some of these sessions. Once there, just focus your attention on others as much as possible, with the goal of setting later meetings for coffee with those who might be open to further conversation.

Finding groups. To find these groups, check your newspaper’s business listings for local meetings; use an online search engine with your industry name and city in the search request; ask your reference librarian for tips; or ask others in your field. LinkedIn and online chat groups can also be mined for this information. Once you get started, I think you’ll be amazed at the number of groups and meetings available to you.

Happy hunting!

Amy Lindgren is a nationally-syndicated employment columnist and the founder and president of Prototype Career Service, a Saint Paul-based firm specializing in career transitions and job search strategies. | 800.368.3197 | Saint Paul, Minnesota

The 20-Minute Networking Meeting: A Five-Step Structure

A great resource to learn the art and science of networking is The 20-Minute Networking Meeting By Nathan A. Perez and Marcia Ballinger PhD

Here is an overview of their recommended approach.

Nathan Perez walks you through the five simple steps that make up proper job search networking meetings.  Perez also demonstrates the 20-minute networking meeting process with examples. Watch Perez’s video presentation, and check out an explanation of each of the five steps:

Remember you never get a second chance at the first impression. This step is critical because it sets the tone of your entire meeting. And though brief compared to the other steps, it’s actually comprised of a few different things: On time arrival: It is important to not arrive late or early Express your gratitude for the meeting: You may already say ‘Thank you’ when you set up the meeting, but it is important to say it again during the meeting. Remember, ‘Time is a gift’ and your contact is giving you the gift. Highlight your mutual connections: We all like knowing that we have other people in common. It increases the trust factor. Setting an agenda: This one is particularly important because it lets your contact know what to expect of your meeting. An agenda builds your professional image, not just of yourself but of your overall approach to job search and relationship building. It also shows that: you are prepared; considerate of the contact’s time; and unafraid to lead a meeting. Quick Tip: As the person who requested the meeting, it’s your job to start the discussion. Don’t wait for your contact to start the discussion. 

This is where you give the 60-second snapshot of your background to provide context for the rest of your discussion. Follow these elements that comprise the snapshot:

  • Your major and what you like most about it
  • Highlights of educational experiences
  • Awards and achievements
  • Professional experience and skills/strengths
  • Why you decided to pursue the path you are interested in

Once you have given your snapshot of who you are as a professional, you are going to lead your contact to the discussion. This is where the bulk of your time is going to be spent. The great discussion comprises the 5 key questions:

  • Questions 1-3: Thought Provoking 

    “Sally, you earned a post-bachelor's certificate in strategy and leadership. Has that been valuable to you and would you suggest I pursue it at this stage of my career?” “You finished your degree last year. What was the biggest job-search challenge? And if you could, how would you change your approach if you were to do it all again?”

    Ask about a career change, a company change, an industry trend, the value of a bachelor's degree. Use thought-provoking questions that would earn you the kind of insight that is not available anywhere else.

  • Question 4: Asking for more contact names

    This is a major objective of any networking meeting. Remember, your contact said yes to you in the first place! Go ahead and ask! It is a networking meeting. People come prepared for these particular questions. Others have been in your shoes. Here’s what to say: “Sally, is there another account manager contact that I could talk to about the role?” or “John, do you know someone else in marketing that I could talk to?”

  • Question 5: Reciprocity 

    “How can I help you?” This question creates a sense of professional relationship. It tells your contact that you understand that networking is a give and take. Asking this question, seeds trust and it helps create the opening to keep in touch with your contact. It tips the scale for more names. In sum, building reciprocity with this question can generate additional networking meetings; additional business contacts; more word of mouth about you; an evangelist; a consulting gig; A job! Let “How can I help you?” be the last question you ask!

Review any actions you and your contact agreed on. For example:

  1. Thanks for agreeing to introduce me to Julie. It will be great to sit down with her.
  2. I’ll send you an invitation to the Leadership Roundtable next month.

Thank them again:

  1. Thank you again for your time

Other things you can thank them for: their expertise; their suggestions; their wisdom, insight, and perspective; and their willingness to help.

Finally, wrap it up with a handshake and a goodbye.

There are 2 kinds of follow-up:

  • Immediate: (1) Take prompt action to follow-up within 24 hours. (2) Who to follow up with: person just met; person who referred you.
  • Ongoing: To keep your network alive, you must stay in touch. And you do this with ongoing follow-up or networking maintenance.  Rules of ongoing follow-up:  Touch base quarterly with a few exceptions; Close contacts; Change of contact info; New degree or certification  (About to graduate?  Inform your contact to be top of mind).

Keep your network alive. Stay in touch!

METR 111: Applying What You Know in Internships. Application of Theory to Practice

This course is for students who are seeking structure in exploring and locating an internship opportunity. The course is offered in the Fall.

METR 310: Reimagining Your Career: Job Search Framework and Strategies

This course is for students who are seeking structure for lifelong learning about the world of work and a process for defining next steps in pursuit of their career interests. Students will develop self-marketing tools including a strong resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and references. Students will have opportunities to connect with professionals one-on-one who are working in fields of students' interest. The course is typically offered Fall semester.