“Dean Jarley,

I hope this message finds you well. I am Chadd A. Cole, Fall 2012 Graduate of the University of Central Florida. I am emailing you because I recently came across the blog you posted on Adler Dehner’s career search. His career search is an amazing story which showcases the power of Social Media Networking! Adler is a good friend of mine and we both share a few things in common, one being Alpha Kappa Psi and the other being uncommon career-search success stories.

I would like to share with you my uncommon career search story in hopes to inspire UCF students & graduates to get involved, develop, and essentially leverage their network! I feel, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that the network you acquire while attending a University as a graduate or undergraduate, is one of the most valuable resources offered.

I took the initiative to distinguish myself from the typical college student by developing my personal website. This website serves as an online resume portfolio that contains my mission, values, career goals, downloadable copies of projects I’ve worked on, testimonials, as well as other information to highlight my individuality. I used this to give my potential interviewers, especially out-of-state interviewers, a more personal feel of who I am, what I’ve done, and where I would like to go. The goal of this website was to boost confidence in interviewers to move forward towards investing the time and money it takes to interview someone.

Many may feel as if it is difficult to develop a site such as this but there are tons of easy and free website development tools that will help give a more personal feel to people/companies you may want to reach out to. The site, GoDaddy, is just one example that offers an inexpensive product. Although some may feel that there is no need to develop a website while you have a LinkedIn account, a personal website allows the consumer to customize it and make it their own.

Before graduating I had multiple job offers, some a bit more notable than others. One of the more eminent offers was with BMO Harris Bank for a Commercial Banking Analyst position. The position with BMO Harris Bank was purely from networking. I went to Chicago during my last semester of college with the intentions of networking and checking out the local grad schools. I never imagined that this trip would result in a 65K job offer! Well that is exactly what happened. During my time there I scheduled time to meet up with local graduates and undergrads who were involved in local chapters of my fraternity or RSOs to express my interest in the city and the job market. After much networking, a position with BMO Harris was brought to my attention and my resume was forwarded to a hiring agent. A few weeks later I was called to do a phone screening interview and the same day was offered to fly out to Chicago for an in-person interview the following Monday; all expenses were paid. During the interview most of the individuals spent a good portion of their time complimenting me on my website and asking me about content that was on my site. This broke the ice and made the interview much easier.

Another notable interview would be one with BB&T. This job position was brought to my attention from a colleague in a UCF RSO. He spoke highly of the company and their leadership development program (LDP). I reached out into my network to find someone connected to someone who went through BB&T’s LDP. Once I found someone they were more than happy to assist me in the process. This was an extremely long process that consisted of a phone interview, an interview in the BB&T building in downtown Orlando, and finally a two-day interview at their headquarters in North Carolina, all expenses paid.

The proof is in the pudding as they say, and my pudding is full of benefits of networking. Although both of these companies decided to move forward with me because I was a “stand-out” candidate, a lot of the leg work of standing out was helped by a formal introduction from those within my network. I would not have known of the positions nor made it through the interviews without the assistance of those people within my network!”

Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at https://business.ucf.edu/person/paul-jarley/. This post appeared on July 24, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley