If I could go back in time and do it all again, I’d change my strategy for finding a great job. Here are some lessons for you job-seekers out there.
Manage your energy. If you’re like me, once you’re in the market for a job, you obsess over the application process and apply to every job you see that looks remotely awesome. You spend all day, or hour upon hour, every day, scrolling through job boards, writing cover letters, and sending them off with their own individualized version of your resume. Now I say Proceed With Caution. It’s too easy to burn yourself out. Force yourself to take time off to do things that give you energy.
For me, this includes “play” time…
… cuddling with Ms. Betty The Cat…
…dancing, random adventures, walking in the park, planning and hosting dinner parties, talking with friends, being around children…
…and learning new things.
Learn something new. Be productive with your time by learning new things and acquiring new skills. I felt I could expand my usage of Excel, so I found an online class through Udemy and worked through it. I also have my eye on some MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), such as this one my friend told me about on Buddhism and Psychology! Fluency in another language is really important and will help you compete in the job market. Check out these classes in Spanish, or these in French.
Network, Network, Network! One thing I wish I’d done sooner is network. When we moved from Virginia to the New York City area, I had not fully anticipated the struggle it would be to find a suitable job. It had never been a problem for me before. I had always relied on my community to refer me to an open position, which really helped to land me my jobs in the past. It’s widely understood that it is all about who you know when it comes time to getting a job. A lot of people focus on searching for jobs through job boards, craigslist, and other online sources and eventually realize that’s not going to cut it. A big risk of putting off networking is that, after a few months of fruitless job hunting, you will feel too discouraged to take this step. It’s very common to feel down when you can’t seem to break the invisible barriers between you and that job out there. Reach out and get what you need to get through it! Some great tools I’ve used are LinkedIn and Meetup.com. I assume most people know about LinkedIn, but Meetup.com is great because it provides an easy way to search for and connect with local, like-minded individuals/people in your field. In NYC, there are “meetups” for everything: professional networking, yoga practice, mindfulness meditations, running, cocktails and socializing, etc., etc. If you don’t see a “meetup” group that appeals to you in your area, start one! The point is, get out of your house and make personal connections!
Attend Job Fairs: Once I did some networking, my new and old connections referred me to Job Fairs (among other things) I would not have heard about without them. By this time, though, my energy and self-confidence had waned a great deal. Hopefully this isn’t already true for you. I peeled myself from my computer, put my smiley face on, and participated. I returned home re-energized after getting myself some face time with potential employers. Job Fairs can be taxing, so:
- Research the companies that will be represented,
- Arrive early to beat the crowds,
- Dress professionally but comfortably,
- Rehearse a 30 second introduction about yourself that targets the companies you’re interested in,
- Bring your resume and business cards to give out,
- Show some enthusiasm about the jobs available.
- Be patient. You’ll have to wait in line, but it’s worth it if you make a good connection.
Get a filler job: Get any job to tide you over and shake off your feelings of dismay at the thought of bagging groceries despite your excellent education and professional experience.
Hang in there! It’s just a matter of time!