Key to More Job Leads: The Alumni Networking Solution

New research from Jobvite found that “Employees hired through referral are hired 55% faster than those who come from a career site.”

If you are frustrated searching job boards, sending resumes into black holes, and not getting responses from prospective employers, the “The Alumni Networking Solution” will help you.

What exactly is The Alumni Networking Solution?

The Alumni Networking Solution is 5-step networking tool designed to introduce yourself to college alumni and develop relationships that lead to referrals.  This means actually getting to know the person- and asking for his or her advice, instead of a job like everyone else. I used these five simple steps – in about 10 minutes per connection – to find a job in the worst job market in the last eighty years.

Step 1: Update Your Career Materials

Make sure you have your resume and LinkedIn profile updated.  Those are the two major career materials your alumni are going to want to see before they agree help you. The top three issues you want to avoid are:

  • An unprofessional LinkedIn profile picture:  This will hurt your chances of having people even view your Linked profile
  • Having the usual generic headline:  Every college grad has “Recent <Industry> Major Looking For Entry Level Position”
  • A resume that has typos:  Typos make you look sloppy and unpolished

If you need further guidance, read Two Things You Need Before Attending Networking Events.

Step 2: Join Your Alumni Group on LinkedIn

Alumni are always willing to lend a helping because you have a lot in common: you stayed in the same dorms, had the same professors, and drank at the same local bar.  Most importantly they remember how hard it was to get their career started.

  • Change the search setting found in the upper right hand corner of your home page to Groups
  • Enter the name of the college you attended and your alumni group should show up in the search results
  • Select the group
  • Click “Join Group”

An email confirmation will be sent to you confirming your membership to the group; once you receive that message you will be ready to network!

Step 3: Create an Introduction Letter

An engaging cover letter is your first – and perhaps only – first impression! For consistency and simplicity reasons, consider customizing the message below:

Subject: Hello! A quick <industry name> question from fellow <university name> alumni

Dear <Name>, 

I graduated from <University Name> in <Year> with a degree in <Degree>. I see that you work in <Career Field of Recipient> and was wondering if you would be willing chat on the phone, at your convenience of course.

As I am seeking an entry level <Career Field> opportunity at a dynamic organization, I would love to hear more about what you do and any insights or advice you might have on breaking into the industry.

Your help would be extremely appreciated!  Thank you in advance for your time.

Cell Number

Important: the purpose of this letter is NOT to ask for a job. “Hi! It’s nice to meet you. Want to hire me?” is not effective networking. Be discrete. Be patient!

Step 4: Send

After carefully customizing, send you pitch email to members in your alumni group who are working in an industry of interest to you.

  • In the LinkedIn group, click the members tab
  • Find alumni who work in the industry in which you want to get a job as well as alumni in the city where you would like to work
  • When you find a good fit, send

It’s important to be flexible and consider reaching out to alumni who work for companies you would like to work at.  Even if they don’t work in the same field that you are looking to get into they will probably know someone at the company they can introduce you to.

Step 5: Set up Informational Interviews

As replies begin to roll in, set up phone meetings, Skype calls and face-to-face meetings. These informational interviews will enable you to connect with the alumni – and allow you to demonstrate your passion to an influencer in your industry of choice.

Through the relationships you develop, you should soon start receiving leads for open positions… many of which aren’t even advertised!

Let’s Get Started!

As you use the Alumni Networking Solution in your job search, I’d like to ask you to perform these three simple tasks:

  1. Use the LinkedIn Alumni Solution and send 5 to 10 customized LinkedIn messages to your alumni members; I guarantee you 2 to 3 alums will respond  — and will be willing to help you with your job search
  2. Leave any questions below in the comments section; others in similar situations will benefit from the discussion
  3. Share this networking solution with friends/young professionals that may struggling to find a job or internship (when they land a job or internship, they will thank you)

Remember that networking IS NOT asking someone for a job.  Networking is about building meaning relationships that could lead to referrals.

Good luck… and good networking!





John MuscarelloAbout the Author: John Muscarello is the founder of Start Networking Today, a website that teaches recent graduates and young professionals how to network and advance their career. John breaks down networking and career advancement techniques he has used into simple actionable steps to help young professionals achieve career success. Follow John on Twitter!


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