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For Graduating Seniors, the Jewish Career Network Opens New Possibilities

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June 6, 2024

As a recent college grad, I’ve found that going from the familiar routine of classes and extracurriculars into the new world of job hunting and career conversations has been more than a little overwhelming. 

For me, the biggest game-changer in my job search has been the Jewish Career Network, powered by Hillel. Created to bring together Jewish college students and graduates of all ages for mentoring, networking, and professional schmoozing, the Jewish Career Network helps users connect with others for career and industry advice, information about jobs in every sector, and introductions to employers, job seekers, and mentors within one’s local community or area of interest. 

And with more than 10,000 registered users, the Network – which just celebrated its one-year birthday! – is a treasure trove of opportunities for recent college graduates. After several months of working with the network in my role as Hillel International’s alumni marketing Intern, I’ve been lucky enough to unearth some amazing usage tips that have made my job search a hundred times easier — and what kind of Hillel community member would I be if I didn’t share them with all of you?

Here are some of the top tips for networking, job hunting, and finding the perfect career opportunity for you on the Jewish Career Network!

1. Set Up — and Polish Up — Your Profile

Joining the Jewish Career Network only takes about 30 seconds. You can get by with a basic profile, but to get the most out of the connections you make on the Network, your profile is one of the most useful tools you have. 

Think of the Jewish Career Network as a platform just like any other — people checking out your profile should be able to get a sense of who you are, what you’re interested in, and why you’re there. Add as much information as you can, show off your best self, and start making connections right away. Don’t forget a photo!

2. Optimize Your Search Results

Now that your profile is sparkling, it’s time to start making connections. The great thing about the Jewish Career Network — okay, one of many great things — is that once you join, you’re automatically connected to everyone! Unlike platforms like LinkedIn, where you have to send a connection request before starting a conversation, you can jump straight into searching for people in your desired industry and reach out to them instantly. 

Using the Directory, you can search for specific people, or use the filters to search based on work experience or education. Don’t make your search too narrow — if someone works in an interesting field but in a department that doesn’t interest you, connecting with them is still worthwhile!

Extra Tip! If you have a particular company or organization you’re interested in, you can look for any alumni who work there on LinkedIn and Handshake, and bring that search over to the Network to see if they’re part of the directory. 

3. Be Brave — Send That First (Short!) Message

Being the first one to reach out can be scary, but trust me, it pays off! 

Start by introducing yourself (include your name, college, etc.), then explain why you’re reaching out. Are you interested in learning more about someone’s job? Are they working for an organization you like? Keep your message short — leave those long essays behind at school. 

Extra Tip! If you do have a personal connection — like a friend of a friend — then it can be helpful if you first ask your connection to make an introduction. Personally, I like to put our mutual connection’s name in the subject line; that way whoever I’m reaching out to is more likely to open the email.

End the message by requesting to discuss their job or industry further. The worst thing that can happen is they don’t respond, so you have nothing to lose.

3B. Always, Always Follow Up!

After you initially reach out or talk to someone, follow up if you don’t hear back! 

You might be worried about bothering them, but according to the experts, you shouldn’t be. “What matters is that you have popped up in their email inbox and they continue to remember who you are,” said Stacey Kaye, job search skills coach at Campus To Career.

Help those connections remember your name, and don’t be bashful or feel bad about annoying them — you’re not. People are busy, and reminders help them keep you and what you’re asking for top of mind. 

4. When You Connect, Keep the Conversation Mutual

Once you make time to talk with someone, whether over email, over the phone, or out in the “real world,” it can be tempting to focus on what your connection can do for you. But even if you’re hoping they can help you find an entry point into an industry or organization, it’s important to come into the conversation as a listener, not a talker. 

“Asking for help with getting an internship or job is a conversation closer, while asking someone to talk about their job and career path is a conversation opener,” Kaye said. 

Ask questions about what your connection’s job is like, how they came to work where they do, what they love best about their role, where they get their industry news, and what kinds of cool projects they work on. Wait until the end of the call to ask for their help in making additional connections!

5. Send a Thank You Note!

Make sure to send a thank you note or email after your conversation! It doesn’t have to be long and detailed — remember that tip about leaving your essays at school — but you want to express your appreciation for their time and information. 

“A thank you note is one of the best ways to stand out, especially in someone’s crowded inbox,” advised Savannah Kannberg, associate director of alumni marketing at Hillel International. “I always recommend sending one as quickly as possible — it will surely make them smile, too!”

The Jewish Career Network is an amazing source of connections, informational interview opportunities, mentorship and networking resources, and so much more. Remember, people who are part of the directory want to help you — all you have to do is reach out.

Wishing you (and me) the best of luck!

April Garnock is an alumni marketing intern at Hillel International, and a recent graduate of George Washington University. She hopes to work in publicity for a book publisher.