In December 2008, I walked across the stage at my college graduation ready to take on the world. I knew I had an excellent “foot in the door” at ESPN from working as a logger for SportsCenter on Saturdays during my last semester at school. However, I had not yet received an offer for a full-time position as I donned my tassel and robe, and little did I know it would be two years before that offer came through. Unfortunately for myself and my fellow graduates, the end of our college tenure came right as the market had plummeted, and ESPN’s parent-company, Disney, had put in place a two-year hiring freeze for all of their companies, ESPN included. The job market was seemingly frozen in place, with employees scared to leave their current positions across industries nationwide.
Aside from the fortunate few who do not have to worry about the prospect of procuring employment in order to earn a living, most of us have had to explore the process of job hunting.
Whether you are a first-time job hunter or a seasoned pavement-pounder, there are a few things you can do in order to capitalize on your career endeavors.
1. Update your resume.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I have something a little different in mind. For beginners, I find it best to tailor your resume to highlight more of your personality traits and work ethic that coincide with the industry you are trying to break into. For example, if you are fresh out of college and only have bartending experience and want to work in the marketing industry, chances are that you don’t have a ton of experience in marketing so far; but what you do have is hospitality experience working directly to create customer satisfaction. So, as one of your job responsibilities for bartending, you might list “Attentive to customer wants and needs to optimize consumer experience in our establishment.” This attentiveness directly correlates to monitoring consumer trends to help build your brand to your target audience. Simply by wording your experience in the right way to reach the industry you are trying to work for will bridge the gap that might be in place between industries. This “wording” also works for those who are seasoned patrons of the workforce. For those who have two or three jobs listed on your resume, it’s always good to go back and refresh some of your old responsibilities to eliminate repetition and give you a chance to cater your profile to the job you are after.
2. Join Linkedin.
While Facebook might rule the friend-to-friend network, LinkedIn is king of the business networking world, connecting professionals, businesses, ideas, and industries. Not only do recruiters scour this resource looking for potential hires and acquisitions on behalf of their clients, this website has now become one of the most central locations for finding jobs, creating business opportunities amongst fellow industry leaders, and simple professional networking. Boosting your presence on this site can only help create opportunities for learning, employment, and network growth. Which leads us to number three…
3. Reach out to your network.
Before social networking really took off, people were networking the old-fashioned ways, like calling former colleagues, meeting fellow industry workers out for a cocktail to discuss strategies, or simply stopping by their office. Though the landscape is changing and going digital for the most part, there is still something to be said for reaching out personally, and not through a social media website. Recently when considered for a position, I knew I would be up against some tough competition and would need all the firepower I could get. I immediately reached out by phone to see if four of my most trusted colleagues and mentors would mind writing a recommendation letter on my behalf. This personal touch makes a big difference and truly will end up helping you in the long run! You’d be surprised what kind of connections exist that you don’t know about. For example, it just so happened that one of my confidants is close to a 15-year veteran employee of the company that I’m trying to get a job with. He is placing a special call on my behalf, and 9 times out of 10, that personal connection to someone within the company will get you an interview.
Simply wording your experience in the right way will bridge the gap between industries.
4. Think outside of the box.
Starting over at a new company is always an exciting thing, even if the reason for this change is unwelcome, like getting fired, laid-off, or relocation. There is something promising about a new door, a new opportunity. When I begin the job hunt for the next opportunity I always try to ask myself the familiar old question, “Where do I see myself in 5 years?” Not because I’m prepping to answer that question from a potential employer in an interview. No, I do it because I need to reflect. As I prepare to re-enter the working world after maternity leave and I look for jobs, it dawned on me that I’m sick and tired of making an “OK” salary while working like someone who deserves six figures. With this notion of better pay in mind, I have decided that while I look for a job I’m going to continue my education so that I can earn a better salary. Maybe you are ready for some additional adult learning that can really help you have an edge in your industry and drive your salary higher. Perhaps you are sick and tired of the industry you are in altogether and are daring to deviate from the corporate world. Regardless of your reasons why, when looking for new opportunities, it is the perfect time to think outside of the box.
Searching for jobs is never an “easy” thing to do. You are likely going to have to give it all the grit you’ve got and not forgive to give yourself a little grace if it takes longer than you had hoped. Remember, “sometimes rejection is the Good Lord’s protection,” meaning, if you don’t give the first job that comes along—or even the second or third—there will be something better down the line. In the meantime, use these 4 tasks to keep you busy while you hunt and give yourself the best leg up. I wish you great luck in the search to come!
It is the perfect time to think outside of the box.
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