Student Life

ASK THE EXPERT: Networking for College Grads

For many experts, networking is one of the best things soon-to-be graduates and recent grads can do to land a job, and it is the first thing that David Pinkley, founder of Resume Sage, suggests.  As he remarked in our post last week, students should begin “lobbying” for a job the summer between their junior and senior years.  For students, this means having career goals, and a clear introduction for potential networking contacts.

First Pinkley suggests that students should identify the kinds of companies they want to work for.   However, he advises students to avoid starting their search with their top choices for companies.  “You don’t want to start looking at the companies you would really want to look for until you have greater experience,” says Pinkley.   Instead, he suggests looking for their competitors, and smaller corporations in that same sector/industry.  He says that especially at smaller companies, you have a greater chance to take on more responsibility, as well as to be exposed to more versatile tasks and experiences.

Pinkley also suggests rallying people to your cause.  Maintaining important contacts that could speak to a student’s abilities and experiences is important.  In an article we read by Kristi Hedges at Forbes, Hedges says “Most people get jobs from connections, so this is the path to land your job.”  For this reason, students should focus a great deal of their job-searching efforts on making and maintaining these connections. For while resume and cover letter writing is important, it is the personal and distinguishing factors that will really land you a job.

Student Life

ASK THE EXPERT: When Is The Best Time to Start Looking For a Job?

The “real world” isn’t too far away for college juniors and seniors.  For most, this will be the most exciting part of their lives, as it is reminds them of the greater independence that awaits.  However, this certainly comes with great incertainty, too, especially given increasing reports that more than 53% of college graduates are underemployed or unemployed.  This is certainly disheartening news for students, as they went through four years of schooling, only to feel as though it hasn’t helped them.

According to David Pinkley, founder of Resume Sage, this is exactly why students should start their job hunt the summer after their junior year.  In fact, Pinkley explains that students should not only be looking for a job, but they should be lobbying for a job when they graduate; promoting themselves to network contacts, prospective employers and the like.

He explains that it is all in the introduction.  “Don’t make people ask,” he says, but instead make a clear and succinct introduction for yourself that includes things like your class year and job aspirations.  Having something like this prepared will set you apart from the rest.

Students should also have a sense of humility and understanding that their degree, while impressive, is really only the beginning of their learning experience.  Pinkley explains that students should have an understanding that their experience is limited and they have much to learn.  This should be accompanied by a thirst for knowledge and an enthusiasm for learning.  For Pinkley, this will set college graduates apart from the others, in that students who have this skill set will be easier to work with and will work to successfully complete a job.

This is not to say that this entire process isn’t intimidating once students make these changes.  However, students should not give up, as they can demonstrate to prospective employers that they have the desire and perseverance to learn what they need and to do the job well.  All it takes is motivation and hope

Student Life

ASK THE EXPERT: What are some of today’s biggest obstacles for college students?

For many college students today preparing themselves for the working world, it seems incredibly bleak. In general, unemployment rates are high (around 8.3% according to the U.S. Department of Labor), but this also extends to students. According to a recent Drexel University study, recent bachelor’s degree holders saw an increase in unemployment and an increase in underemployment, despite an overall increase in jobs. With such a discouraging job market, it’s not surprising that approximately 20% of graduates decide to continue on with their education.

However, according to David Pinkley, founder of The Resume Sage, the economy and unemployment aren’t the only obstacles recent college grads have to overcome. For Pinkley, another one of the greatest obstacles students have is the competition they face with more experienced individuals who are also looking for employment. These individuals often have extensive knowledge of the professional world, with a network that extends well beyond that of a recent college grad. According to Pinkley, “unless you’re doing cutting edge research, all you have is your attitude.” Students are especially at a disadvantage when it comes down to experience in a specific industry, even with the smaller price tag they command.

Another major obstacle Pinkley identifies is the media coverage detailing the decline in college graduate employment. Pinkley believes students are greatly impacted by reading these stories, obviously affecting their psyche and their hope for finding a job once they do graduate.

“You need to move your own mind from the fear that you won’t find work to the hope that you will,” says Pinkley. For him, this is really the only way that students can overcome these types of obstacles. It all really starts with enthusiasm, a bright attitude, and a lust for knowledge to be a student’s driving force when they are looking for a job, because as Pinkley explains, “ . . . all you have is your attitude.”


Fogg, Neeta, and Paul Harrington. “The Employment and Mal-Employment Situation for Recent College Graduates: An Update.” Center for Labor Markets and Policy. Drexel University, Jun 2012. Web. 21 Aug 2012.

“Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.” Center for Labor Markets and Policy. United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 21 Aug 2012.

Stone, Charley, Carl Van Horn, and Cliff Zukin. “Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession.” John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Rutgers University, May 2012. Web. 21 Aug 2012. <>.

Pinkley, David. Telephone Interview. 20 Aug 2012.