As someone who has had five jobs this year, I’ve spent a lot of time job searching. It sucks. Job searching can be soul sucking and self-esteem crushing, so if you’re in the midst of looking for work and you feel awful about it you are not alone. There is no worse feeling than sending resumes out day after day for jobs you’re overqualified for only to get a rejection email a month later or, worse, to never hear anything back. But job searching is a necessary evil, especially if you’re a twenty something.
For some context on my career journey, I left my corporate job back in March of 2018 and have since had four jobs: 3 agency positions and 1 retail job. I had a spurt of bad luck in the fall and winter where I was laid off twice in the span of 3 months and so I spent most of 2018 looking for work. It was a rough year, but now I’m a new position that I really like and, ultimately, I think it was all for the best. But wow is job searching an emotional and tough experience.
Whether you’re right out of school, you left a toxic work environment, or were laid off like me, it’s always a rough time so I’ve put together some tips to hopefully make it easier, quicker, and as painless as possible:
Apply where your connections work. Go on LinkedIn and look at the companies you already have connections to. There are bound to be a few companies you haven’t thought of that could be good fits. Plus, you already have an in and can send your connection a message asking for an introduction or name of someone to follow up with.
Never stop networking. I did a whole post on networking over the summer, but just want to emphasize this point again. If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that you NEVER know when you’ll need a new job all of a sudden so always be on the lookout for new connections.
Open up about your story. People can’t help you if they don’t know you’re looking for a job. I’m not necessarily saying to do it confessional style on IG stories like I did, but at least let your LinkedIn network know you’re looking. Social media is incredibly powerful and is a great way to get your name and message out there. Also, you would be surprised how much people like to help other people and how much others can relate to your honesty and struggle.
Make sure to turn on the “Let recruiters know you’re open” option (Jobs > Career Interests) on LinkedIn, too. I’ve had multiple interviews with big companies who have found me through this feature.
Take a multi-tiered approach. When I’m job searching, I always approach finding a job from several different angles: cold-emailing, online networking, and in-person networking.
Cold-emailing refers to sending out resumes on LinkedIn, GlassDoor, and through company websites. I’ve had this work for me in the past, especially with entry-level positions so I do think it’s worthwhile to do. Plus, it makes me feel productive, which is an accomplishment in and of itself
Online networking can mean several things: reaching out to old contacts, updating your current contacts, reaching out to new people, and following up on cold emails you’ve sent. I’ve also gotten jobs through this route and this is definitely the best long-term investment you can make in your career.
In-person networking means seeking out and attending events in your industry with the intention of meeting new people and learning about new companies to apply to. You will not immediately get a new job from these events, but they are great ways to build your network and learn about job leads. Plus, they get you out of the house which is crucial between jobs.
Have a side gig. Recently I started a side gig working at Kendra Scott and it’s been really nice to have while I’m between jobs. I’m supplementing my savings, getting out of the house, and I have a great support system there so it’s a win all around. Bonus points if it’s a gig where you can ramp up your hours when you need just in case.
Get business cards and always have one. I was under the impression for a long time that business cards were dead – who needs a business card when we have social media? You do. It’s so much easier just to hand someone a business card then to stop your conversation, get out your phone, and follow/connect with them. Plus, you don’t even know if that person wants to connect with you, which can cause an awkward situation. Exchange business cards and then send a message after the event thanking them for their time/advice/great conversation and then ask to connect with them. It’s smoother in the moment and gives you an easy excuse to follow up with them after the event. Also, you would be amazed how many times I’ve been glad I had a random business card thrown in my purse so get a bunch.
For an inexpensive and cute set of business cards, I recommend using Canva. You can customize your cards and then order them right through the site. Mine are pink. 🙂
Stalk Away. I saw a post on my alma mater’s work advice page the other day asking if it was “too much” to reach out to some via email after they had submitted an application online. My first thought was “That’s nothing!” It’s 2019, people! Use the internet stalking skills you’ve been honing for decades. When I apply to a job, I find as many ways in as I can – Do I already have any connection to the company? Can I find their recruiting manager on LinkedIn? Are staff emails listed on their website? Can I find them on social media? I encourage the hell out of LinkedIn stalking, in particular, and messaging/connecting with whoever the point of contact is. It sounds creepy, but they get a million applications so finding more ways to get in touch makes you look committed and helps you stand out.
Take care of yourself. This is hands-down the most important thing on this list. I found being unemployed to be really tough. On top of the stress of not knowing where my next paycheck would be coming from, I struggle a lot without structure. I become listless and completely unproductive. For me, taking care of myself means staying as busy as I can during times of unemployment. It gives me momentum and purpose and helps me keep my spirits up. Do whatever you need to do to keep moving forward when you’re job searching. Like I said, it can be totally soul sucking so keep your support system close and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Whether you’re job searching right out of college, thinking of making a career change, or recently got laid off, I hope some of these ideas help! Job searching can be super tough, but ultimately super rewarding. And it’s okay if you don’t find the perfect fit right away! You won’t have any single job forever and you can always make a change with some planning and hard work. This year, I’ve learned to see my career in the long-term as the collection of jobs and experiences I’ve had over time – not one single line on my resume.
Let me know if you have any job searching tips that have worked for you! Of course, always feel free to reach out to me about my job searching experience or my career in social media. And if you’re on the job hunt – Keep going! You can do it!