I’m on the hunt for a new job. I’ve been at it for a few weeks now, and already learned (or been reminded of) some pretty important lessons. This post is called Job Search Lessons Part 1 because it’s a selection of things I’ve learned SO FAR. I’m sure that I’ll have even more to share if I’m still searching a few weeks from now, or G-d forbid, a few months. So, here’s what I’ve learned about the job search process so far:
1) Instead of looking at cover letters as an obnoxious contrived formality that you hate, think of them as a way to tell companies how awesome you are. Use the guidelines from the career center as just that, guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Make sure your letter gives the recruiter some information that they can’t find on your resume, or at least expands on something they can find there.
2) Take advantage of technology. Social media is a fantastic way to set yourself apart. A couple of weeks ago, I started a Twitter campaign* to catch the attention of MTV. I had applied to a social media-related job there, so I wanted to show them that I not only know what I’m doing, but I also have an established presence and a network. It caught the eye of an MTV recruiter, and I had a great phone conversation with him. Unfortunately, the position I wanted had already been filled, but he was very impressed with my resume and the initiative that I took. So, even though I didn’t get the job, to have a recruiter at a big, popular company like MTV know my name and be impressed with what I’ve done is still an amazing accomplishment!
3) Use your network, don’t be shy! This one is so important, and it’s something I didn’t do enough of the last time I was looking for a job. I was lucky to work with some incredibly talented and experienced people at my last job. Although I don’t work there anymore, they’ve made it clear that they want to see me be successful, and they will do whatever they can to help me find a new opportunity. When people say things like this and offer their assistance, TAKE THEM UP ON IT! They’re not just saying it for fun, they’re offering because they mean it, and they believe in you. So, every time you apply for a job (or at least the ones that really pique your interest) rack your brain and comb through your LinkedIn connections for anyone who might know someone at that company. Then, send them a quick e-mail asking for their help. What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll say no, and you’ll have to respond with a thanks anyway. Big deal.
4. This one ties in with #3. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations as soon as possible after you stop working somewhere. This is another thing that I should have been better about in the past. I had three great internships that gave me the opportunity to work with professionals in the fields I was interested in. My experiences were priceless, but although I’ve used some of my supervisors as references, I never asked them for LinkedIn recommendations. Now, it’s been a while, and who knows what they remember. However, I have learned from this mistake, and made sure to ask for them shortly after I left my last job. Recommendations make your profile much more likely to appear in search results, and give you something like “professional street cred.” There’s no harm in asking. If someone says no, try to think of another person you could ask.
There you have it: My job search wisdom thus far. What tips do you have and what have you learned when you were unemployed?
*I was going to link to the search results from the campaign, but Twitter is being funky right now. The hashtag was #yoMTVhiresam, so be sure to check it out later.