so i have a job. i was offered a full time position at a nonprofit last week. i’ll be working in online marketing and social media and i think i am going to be really happy with it.
i would like to note (read: give myself a gold star) that i was technically only unemployed for about a week, between my temp gig and vacation days being paid out from my old job.
so because i now think myself a massive success at job-finding and getting, i will share my advice with you.
1) apply like crazy. no seriously. you are now unemployed. unless you are far more fortunate than i, you need ongoing income. so, getting a job is your new full time job. get up early, get on your computer, and scour all the live long day. idealist.org, monster.com, careerbuilder.com, indeed.com and other job hunt sites are your friends. i received callbacks from applications i posted at each of those. search to see if there are any sites designated for your niche of work – dice.com is great for it/tech jobs, mediabistro.com for writing/communications/media. spend an hour googling and you will have a stack of these resources in front of you. set yourself up for daily job alerts in your inbox and spend the first portion of your day going through those. there are endless tools out there to help you – use them.
2) try to be one of the first to apply to any position – this involves some vigilance with monitoring your preferred job sites, and a lot of refreshing. as i’ll mention later, there are more responses to every job posting than you probably realize – unless you’ve ever worked in hr or advertised for a position yourself. you give yourself a good shot of being viewed and considered if you are a first responder.
2) be prepared to do way more than send your resume and cover letter. depending on what you’re going into, you may need writing samples or some sort of portfolio. don’t have writing samples? neither did i – i lost my files on the computer with all my college papers, so i just wrote two quick articles on innocuous things (this is not the venue for spouting your feelings on homosexuality and abortion), made sure they contained some humor and were amusing, and off to the races. be prepared to fill out lots of specialized applications – basically retyping your whole resume into a form, possibly answering some employer specific questions. be real, be slightly creative, and be appropriate.
3) consider everyone you know as a resource. i got two interviews and one callback from networking contacts, friends of friends and people i’d previously done business with. it can be awkward to approach people and ask them for this sort of favor – it certainly was for me – but absolutely worth it.
4) it is rarely just as easy as “hey awesome resume, come in for an interview”. i nearly always had to do a phone interview prior to a live interview. sometimes there were additional steps such as tests and personality profiles. for jobs i didn’t feel were an amazing fit, i didn’t go through these steps, but that’s because i had several prospects on the fire at any given time. but be prepared for these extra steps before actually scoring a live interview.
5) i was very lucky and in the interviews that were really important to me, i was not asked questions like “what is your greatest weakness?” or “tell me about a time you overcame adversity”. i hate typical interview questions – it’s really difficult to stay genuine and still tell people what they want to hear. you can’t be completely formulaic, but you do need to stay within guidelines. when i got some interviews i was super psyched about, i googled “typical interview questions” to have some prepared answers for these questions and some concepts/projects in my head to discuss, should they come up. it’s like rehearsing for a play.
6) i was extraordinarily nervous for the interview for what is now my new job, but my old boss and awesome friend and mentor gave me some great advice that i probably should have thought of on my own. consider it a conversation. you’re just meeting some new people and feeling out whether or not you guys get alone in a professional sense and can meet each other’s needs. remember – it IS about a MUTUAL understanding and meeting of the minds. bringing me to my next points.
7) stay positive. i sent out approximately 100-150 resumes. i got maybe 20-30 “bites” back – a bite being a response of some kind. i did not get overly excited about any one job posting i saw – that would be way too much disappointment for me to handle if i did not hear back. i have been someone who received resumes for a temporary position, and the deluge is astonishing. hundreds within the first day of a job posting. that is a LOT of information for someone to wade through, and if you are overlooked, there is a good shot it doesn’t speak to your qualifications. i mostly forgot about a posting once i sent a resume off. i kept them saved in a favorites folder to refer back to if i heard back in any way.
8) remember that you are marketing and selling yourself – and treat yourself as a valuable commodity. i was almost in the position of being offered an amazing job for a huge pay cut – and i had to tell myself it just wasn’t something i can do. there are other amazing positions out there, and i am frankly worth more. trust me, the weird, table-flipping moment where salary negotiations come into play will be way less weird if you have a clear picture from the start of what you are worth.