Corporate alumni Networking For a New Job

The corporate alumni offers value for your job search strategy

Too often people focus solely on job boards and LinkedIn for their job search strategy. Using T-STAR we look for corporate alumni members on many assignments. Hopefully this page will help you to learn more and to consider a corporate alumni as part of your job search strategy.   

The corporate alumni is often not what it used to be, Microsoft set theirs up over 20 years ago now, the “old boys” or company retirees badges no-longer apply. Membership today is often diverse and includes future graduate hires working their internships and studying, the new joiner, the returning employee to the experienced senior executive (past or present).  

Companies with alumni programs

Examples of recognised good Corporate Alumni Programs include: Accenture, Citi, Lufthansa, McKinsey, Nielsen, Pearson, SAP and professional services organisations such as Boston Consulting Group or EY.

They are often cited in the news for their Alumni which includes CIO and CEO’s of organisations including Morgan Stanley and Google among others.

SAP’s alumni relations network extends around the globe with a member base of close to 11,000 former and current SAP employees in more than 75 countries.

To look at three corporate alumni examples with links to their websites:

 

What is the purpose of a corporate alumni? 

The purpose of an association or corporate alumni is to foster a spirit of loyalty and to promote the general welfare of the alumni organisation.

Alumni associations exist to support the parent organisation’s goals, their corporate social responsibility initiatives and to strengthen the ties between alumni, the community, and the parent or group of companies in the parent organisation.

How much does it cost to join a corporate alumni?

They vary in price, Microsoft annual dues cost USD$49 for international members and USD$99 for those in the USA. 

Founded by ex-employees in the mid-1990s, the dues reflect the offers a member can get which includes a 75% discount on LinkedIn Premium Business annual subscription. In addition they receive access to lectures and other events at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, as well as other products or services discounts.

Advantages of a corporate alumni for the job seeker

If you’re looking for a job at a specific company, in a particular industry or in a certain location a corporate alumni can be very to you in your job search.

For many years, recognition of the advantages of alumni networks was restricted to University or MBA 
educational institutions and professional services firms like EY and Mckinsey.

The shortage of skilled workers, new mobile working opportunities and specialist company or product knowledge have all been factors aiding the development of an alumni.

Globalisation and other developments such as cloud technologies, secure smartphone apps and other social membership group platforms have encouraged many companies to consider creating their own. It is no-longer an exclusive club requiring Top 5 consulting work experience.

For the job seeker, a big advantage of a corporate alumni is that it saves the organisation money when recruiting staff. A global 500 company with an average commitment to its corporate alumni will save over USD$1.5 million on re-hiring and onboarding costs. Later savings attributed to tenure are more intangible and provide for additional savings. 

How can you find which companies have an alumni? 

There are some like the ones listed above who make it easy, they are well regarded and widely supported or marketed especially within their talent programs. There is a footprint you can take time to search the Internet and it takes time getting past the academic results.

Or you can use the big ugly sign-up form below and get a list straight away! 

Find a company alumni using an Internet search

This is where the fun starts and I defer to others who helped with past work and this section.

An easy place to start is Meetup and a quick one to downgrade as being “for later” and a “potluck” search. It is better for academic, start-up or member topic searches such as IoT (Internet of Things) or software.

Professional Networking – Choose your city and country – The results yield a lot of start-up results

LinkedIn is wanting to drive the community development in the USA. They are trying to make up for past failures when they failed to support many academic and corporate clients with their alumni groups (big 2018 LinkedIn update caused a lot of user group manager abandonment or changes in owner group policies).

Accenture for example disbanded their career groups in favour of the “follow” the relevant LinkedIn group page and their alumni.

You do not want to waste time finding a group which is not active and well supported. It is time to do a Google Internet or similar search to make sure you get the right result.

Example for Accenture using capitalised AND operator for a Boolean search:

Accenture AND alumni

Then using Google again we look at the results profile with another company search:

alumni.* AND company = About 423’000’000 results (0.77 seconds)

It needs to be refined, so we add our company we used to work at: 

Alumni* AND HSBC = About 4’520’000 results (0.50 seconds)

The results page includes:

The HSBC alumni

Added result for the HSBC Facebook careers group

LinkedIn profile Head of HSBC Alumni

The Facebook group offers a soft way to approach and to get to know the alumni, if you worked there, you can join the main resource site for the HSBC alumni. In addition, follow-up with a connection to the Head of the HSBC alumni because you have their name.

It takes a little time to play around with the search parameters and terms and wildcard searches as denoted by * can give some interesting results when tried on other browsers to Google Chrome.

How can you engage effectively with the alumni?

Online webinars or in-person meetings:

A corporate alumni often has a mix of events organised and many are typically focussed on career days. “Boomerang employees” are now recognised as a good segment to attract and are part of many HR hiring strategies. If you feel nervous or have a concern about returning  because you left the company, why not listen in to some product webinars or watch some Youtube videos to “get updated” on the company and its activities. 

There can be a difference in the level of event organisation by city or country lead and volunteer team. Events have included career speed network nights and career panels, other organisers offer museum or client offices visits, lectures, or social gatherings based on active member common interests. You may need to check Facebook or newsletter subscriptions and other social media platforms to get aligned to the career and alumni offices.

Prepare questions and notes so you are ready:

You want your networking or first event attendance to go well with others at the alumni event.  A little bit of research on the company, a review the company employee list on the LinkedIn company page will help you to orientate you ahead of the meeting. It is a small thing but will make you feel less of an outsider at your first event.

Prepare questions so that you are ready and feel comfortable speaking and engaging with others, please remember to have a short “about me” statement which also includes your “future you,” your areas of interest and future plans.

Many will tell you to have a business card with your basic contact information and LinkedIn or personal website url printed. There are some great online services like Vistaprint, Moo or  Zazzle which help the beginner or expert to create a great business card for themselves (refer a friend offers can provide great value and are given by some print services companies).   

Join and volunteer your time if you can

Alumni resources are often limited and usually there are opportunities to help, even if it is to organise a future event as part of a small team. It makes you the “insider” and gives you access to others you may not be aware of, yet who could help you to get a new role with the company. 

Schedule Informational Meetings:

Try to schedule some informational consultations with alumni at their job site. Recruiters names are often listed and be prepared to be re-directed to another member of staff specifically responsible for the alumni.

You can also follow-up when you attend an event, a thank you can go a long way or afterwards if you have  secured their business cards. Your could simply write:

 Dear ……..,

I really enjoyed your short talk at the Zurich alumni chapter meeting at the Hotel Opera last night. Your work in policy development and compliance sounded quite exciting.

Might it be possible for us to meet for a coffee before work so I can learn more about your thoughts on the topic and so that I can gain a more complete understanding of what it takes to build a career in compliance?”

I look forward to hearing from you,

Best,

James Watts

It is a simple template and it has worked for many, why? simply because 90% meet people and never follow-up in a timely and personal way. They simply connect on LinkedIn and leave it to follow-up later.

Using LinkedIn for corporate alumni networking:

Use LinkedIn and connect with many of the local or relevant employees at the company. Make sure you also take time to join any of the company groups if they have them. 

Compose a short message emphasising that you are fellow alum or a member if you cannot see they have joined as some companies have different rules for their alumni.

Make sure your profile is fully developed and then reach out to alumni in target fields or roles and try to schedule some informational meetings or phone consultations.

These people may be busy, some do not like helping job seekers they do not know very well because of their role or current thinking on the company. In fact there could be a lot of different reasons why people are slow to respond, it is an average of 14 to 28 days to get a reply on Linkedin. 

To close:

If you follow some of these suggestions, you will find that corporate alumni networking can be a vital component of your overall job search strategy.

Should being a member be of benefit, please remember after your onboarding to try to return the favour and assist other members of your field of work or business community by volunteering or promoting the alumni as a active “sharer” of the news or updates.

What is the biggest benefit of a corporate alumni for job seekers?

A corporate alumni can provide quick access to a wider network to ask for career information or job search advice from other alumni members. They can also be an excellent way to make contacts in your current field or to get help to start to transition into a new career path.

Why the company turns to its alumni during times of change

The corporate alumni networks are recognised as an untapped reservoir of potential which helps a company to implement strategic transformations. The alumni is relationship based and is not bound by the same politics or or norms because the relationships are trust based. This means it can help support a drive for change avoiding the issues of top down management conflict. There is a “friend or referrer in every department” is how one senior consultant working on a transformation project at a big bank described it. 

HR hiring manager perspective on the corporate alumni

“valued, I’ve gotten six folks from two local schools hired in the last two years, and I might get another intern. None are members of the alumni because all were referred by members. The alumni members have the personal relationships to help me compete with much larger organisations in town. Two are key hires and you need more sometimes than just a great headhunter to get them over the line.”

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