Career Coaches: Why Students Aren’t Networking, and What to Do About It

Shocked woman sitting at computer in disbelief from bad career advice.

As a career coach, your goal is to help your students to land their dream jobYou know that up to 85% of jobs today are found through people, not job postings.

That means advising your students to network, and giving them the tips and tools they need to be successful networking on their own. So, you urge your students to network. You do your best to quell their fears of networking, and encourage them to get going.

But they resistespecially if they’re millennials and Gen Zs.

The problem is that when it comes to networking, there’s a disconnect between old-style networking practices and what really works in today’s job market. And they seem to know it.

Networking has changed—but most networking resources have not

When was the last time you really looked that the networking resources you are recommending?  Do you know what the online articles, networking guides, and career advice books are advising?  More likely than not, your materials are not in line with what works in today’s job market—what you know works.

Most networking resources today still tout the same old networking practices from a decade ago—before online job boards, the recession, and the sharing economy. Let’s take a look at a few things that have changed in the new rules of networking.

Networking norms for boomers vs. millennials/Zs

Most networking resources still contain outdated practices and old-school networking narratives.

For instance, today’s job seekers are more likely to find jobs from their own network than their parents’ network. Millennials/Zs and boomers are looking for different things in their careers, and the job market is a rapidly changing and vastly different place than it was decades ago—and even a few years ago. 

The best referrals for today’s job seekers come from contacts in their network who have recently held the jobs they’re after.

But most networking resources still equate seniority with hiring influence, a boomer-era relic. They suggest reaching out to senior-level people. Reaching out to senior-level executives is intimidating and unproductive for millennials/Zs.

The best contacts for today’s job seekers are those who are closer to their situation, who they can relate to. Networking with someone just a few steps ahead of them gives them information they wouldn’t get from senior management—things like what the job is like, how to stand out on an application, and how the hiring process works.

And what about all those networking email templates?

Templates are too generic to be effective. Most of these emails look like form letters that professionals will delete on the spot. They feel fake to write and fake to read. Like infomercials, people have seen them too often to be convinced by them anymore.

Today’s networking emails need a more customized, personal touch to break through all of the noise. And that’s consistent with the authentic networking you’ve been advocating.

What about that career advice to “just pick up the phone”?

With the rise of mobile phones, no one wants to be interrupted by a random phone call.  If we don’t recognize a caller, we don’t answer. Today, we expect an email or LinkedIn message to proceed a phone call. Millennials/Zs know this better than anyone. But the advice to “pick up the phone” and read from a phone script continues to exist in most networking guides.

Outdated networking tools can keep your clients from taking your advice and taking action.

These are just a few of the outdated networking practices that may be raising a red flag among your millennial/Z clients. 

Get your millennials/Zs face-to-face with their networks

As a career coach, you want to provide job seeking tools and networking resources that work. Ones that reflect the new rules of networking. Here is how we at MANGO can help.

We’ve been working with professionals, talent managers, and coaches like you to create MANGO: a FREE modern networking tool that helps you get your clients face-to-face with their network.

MANGO helps people tackle the nitty-gritty steps that come with one-on-one networking, such as: 

  • How to write authentic, effective networking emails step-by-step
  • What questions to ask during informational interviews
  • How to followup professionally and genuinely

MANGO can help you spend less time proofreading emails and more time coaching.

Want to see how it works for yourself? Try writing a conversation request email with MANGO to see how it can help your clients land one-on-one networking conversations.

See how career coaches are using MANGO for FREE to help their clients write networking emails. Let’s join together to make networking easier for everyone.

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Sue Wollan Fan is the Founder & CEO of MANGO, a free networking tool whose mission is to expand opportunities for all by making networking easier, accessible, and more human. She has mentored hundreds to succeed professionally while serving as a corporate executive, nonprofit leader, tech entrepreneur, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping others do work that matters.