In this job market, it’s more than ever about who you know

By Elin Karlsson |

You hear it all the time. It’s like a buzzing sound that never seems to go away: Network, meet the right people. Every one is talking about it — teachers, co-workers, students, friends and family. Network, because it is not what you know. It is WHO you know.

I am about to become a college graduate, which means I need to grow up and be an adult. This includes getting my own apartment, paying my own bills and finding a job. Nothing sounds as scary as finding a job. I used to think that I could just send out my resume to companies and someone would eventually hire me. But now I realize that isn’t the case.

In today’s economy finding a job and getting employed is something that a lot of people struggle with. According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate decreased by .2 percent since previous polls and is now down to 8.3 percent. Yes, the unemployment rate is declining, but that doesn’t mean that more people are finding a job.

I recently visited the 2012 PGA Merchandise show in Orlando. When I drove down there I had it all planned in my head. I had done the research. I knew exactly what companies I wanted to talk to and hand out my resume to. But oh boy was I up for a surprise. The second I walked into the show, all my confidence disappeared. As I walked around between different booths no one would acknowledge my presence. Here I was, just a girl, about to graduate college with no real-life working experience. Who was I kidding? No one wanted to talk to me.

My resume and my knowledge in the golf industry just wasn’t enough to catch the attention of potential future employees. To be honest, it was also a little bit awkward to walk up to someone and just start networking. But that was exactly what I had to do. Even though my ego got a little bit hurt, it all turned around when I met up with Bill Hughes, General Manager of TPC Sawgrass.

As we were walking around together I realized that he knew everyone. After walking around with him for two hours, all my resumes where gone and I had several interviews with the big companies. I told Mr. Hughes about how different it was walking around with him compared to walking around by myself. “Elin, I know that you are really proud of your college degree, and you should be,” he said. “But it is not always about what you know. Sometimes it is who you know.”

It hit me that he was right. All this talk about the importance of networking finally made sense to me. It is all about knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. Finding a job is a game and it is a rough one where only the ones with a few tricks up their sleeves can survive. In this case, my special trick was knowing the general manager for TPC Sawgrass.

Without Mr. Hughes I doubt I would have had gotten any business cards. I probably wouldn’t have had any interviews and I definitely doubt that I would have had the same job opportunities that I do now.

So maybe we should all listen when people tell us to network and take all the opportunities we can get to meet new people. Because there are jobs out there. The only thing we need to do is go meet the people that can offer us those jobs. No one wants to be the lonely person walking around by themselves without getting acknowledged. So don’t stop listening the next time people talk about the importance of networking.

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