I’ve had some friends reach out to me recently for career advice or ways to stalk potential jobs and get one where they like what they do. I hope they are reaching out because I’m a people person who loves her job, but it’s also possible that they know I’m good at stalking people (not in a creepy way). 🤷🏽♀️
So here is my complete guide to job searching. It’s not perfect. But it’s all I can tell you and based off of my experience and affirmed by people I’ve talked to and walked through this with. Hope it helps!
First, some truths to meditate on when you are job searching.
- This does not define you. It just affects you.
- God defines you. This temporary situation only affects you. It’s a phase. A thing you will get through and learn a lot through.
- Timing is timing. It’s outside of us. The Lord gives and takes away. The loss or gain of an opportunity is not a reflection of who you are or who God is. Because he is good either way. Your job is to be ready when the time comes. A lot of work comes before the harvest. And this is going to be a lot of work. (Galatians 6)
- You just need one. You may face a lot of rejection. Rejection is good for you. It humbles you and also builds confidence. Keep in mind, much like dating; you just need one. One person to say yes to hiring you. That’s it. And if only one does, that’s fine! It’s all you need!
Do the work. It’s tedious and tiresome. Block out times and make goals for however many resumes, portfolios, applications you feel like is reasonable for you to send out in a day or week. Set aside actual time to do this. Treat job searching like a part-time job. Setting aside dedicated time to write resumes, research, work on your application, and network will give you healthy boundaries so that you can work hard, and then also give yourself the freedom to go about your life.
When friends ask you how that interview went, or they suggest a career or job you’ve already investigated, it can feel like they are offering empty advice. Try to hear it as them saying, “I care about you. I hope this works out.”
People are busy. If someone doesn’t respond to your email within 24 hours, they don’t hate you. They’re just busy. And if they are currently having to do their job and sort through candidates while being understaffed, keep in mind that they are probably overwhelmed.
Job-searching is a lot like dating. But it’s hard because instead of someone saying no because they “just don’t feel it,” it may feel like they have an objective reason. You’re going to have to do the tough thing of being vulnerable and being open to criticism and advice. Find someone who can help you process your emotions in a safe space. Cuz this is gonna be draining.
I’ve found indeed.com to be one of the best job searching sites. But even searching on Facebook has been helpful for some people. That’s how I found my current company. (Search for your industry and the city you’re in.)
I also upgraded to LinkedIn Pro for a short time while job searching and found that helpful. Linkedin Pro will compare your resume to others in the deck, serve up your profile to more companies, and give you more insights about companies or the hiring process. It’s like $30.
Who am I? Find an honest friend.
The hardest part about promoting yourself (aka job searching) is knowing what you’re good at. Find two friends (or one if they can do both) who can speak to two critical things: Your professional skills and your soft skills. Ask them to articulate what you’re good at honestly. Write down the examples they give. If you’re/they’re comfortable with it, do a mock interview, where they can ask you what your skills are and you can answer back. Hopefully, they’ll be able to point out where you have self-doubt.
I also highly recommend taking the Strengths-Finder quiz. It can help you better articulate your skills and how they translate to the workplace. Hit up my friend Anne Marie for that.
First, do a little thinking about where you want to work. Make a list of things you want (like when you’re house searching). Rank them. Places like Glassdoor.com or LinkedIn help show how happy people are working at those companies, and they show salaries. But don’t just take former/current employees’ word for it. Look at what their clients say. And no, not just the curated testimonials on their site. We’re talking Facebook, Google, Yelp reviews. Companies can’t delete those bad boys. If you’re on LinkedIn, you can see who has worked at companies and if you have a connection, ask them how that experience was/is.
You know when you have a crush, and you look through their whole Instagram feed, like back to 2012 when they had that embarrassing but adorable haircut? Or you see what photos they are tagged in if they haven’t posted in a while? Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. I know you do it. That can come in handy for job searching too.
This is the Linkedin or Facebook deep dive. Often, when you’re applying to a job, you can see who that position reports to. Do your research and see who that would be. See if you have any connections. But ideally, you need to have one person in between you and them. Not like 5. That’s just weird. If you don’t have connections, make your own:
You can also call the office and say that you have some questions about the position for hire. They may send you directly to the person who would ideally be interviewing you or to HR. Just be ready with questions (What would it take for someone in this position to succeed? What does a typical day look like? What have been challenges in the past for this position? Is there a path for promotion with this position? What team would I be working with?). Keep in mind that you don’t want to be thirsty or obnoxious. Be patient. Don’t call every day demanding to know when they will let candidates know who they selected. Be patient. Continue to interview and apply.
PS. All those questions I listed are perfect questions to ask your interviewer during or at the end of your interview.
I’ve gotten inquiries or emails during hiring process from people who submitted their resume and took the time to see who they would be working with (me). They then emailed me directly to let me know they applied, included their resume, and asked questions about the position, and some even offered to get coffee. This goes a long way! They even took the time to look through our portfolio and social to see the work we’ve done. It helped them stand out against other candidates and it showed that they did their research and are genuinely interested. (This works for when a company is hiring or not hiring.) I’ve also emailed some of these people back who didn’t get the position and offered connections, advice about their work, and directed them to other resources or networks that they could look into because people did that or me when I was job searching and I appreciated it. Sometimes people need to hear that they ARE good at what they do, even if they didn’t get the job.
If you have the time (or don’t), network. Sometimes I feel like people only network when they’re job searching, but the truth is that we all network constantly. Even if we don’t realize it. Research some professional organizations that are in your area and go there. Make a list of people you want to talk to. Introduce yourself, get to know them and their company, and see if it works. (Much like a first date, but where you’ve already stalked their Instagram.) Be yourself. But you know, like not your party self; be your good behavior self.
Storytime: When I lived in Springfield, I found out about a company I wanted to work for from a friend, stalked the company’s website, found out the owners were both involved at Springfield Creatives. So I sent in a cold email saying I’d love to work with them and learn more about SEO and loved their work and wanted to get coffee, and that I’d be at the next Springfield Creatives meeting. Then I went to the meeting, introduced myself to the owner, and said “hey I sent an email to you guys!” And he said, “oh, yeah, we just sent you an email for an interview!” I did contract work with them for 8 months and learned a TON.
Another story: I met with my current boss for coffee about once a year for three years before she finally had a job opening. And when she did, I was the perfect fit because I’d spent years doing the work of learning new skills that would prepare me for when that door opened.
It takes longer than you think. Give yourself time to work on your application. Treat every application like it could be THE ONE. Believe me; you can tell on the hiring side whether the person really wants it or if they just phoned in another application.
Do your research. Look at the company’s mission statement, their previous work, find examples of your work that parallels theirs. Make a list of your skills that would be helpful for that company.
Recognize that you are not the one making the decision, so enter into the process humbly and know that there are things that you can learn from them. List those too.
Be straightforward in the beginning about your skills. The recipient will be mentally checking off your skillset before they even get to you gushing about how much you love the company.
Show don’t tell. This is a classic writing technique. In cover letters, it’s still okay to say you’re an excellent communicator or organized, but it’s more helpful if you include an example. It’s also a great talking point for a future interview. Add an example of a situation in which you solved a problem or helped a client. This example should SHOW how you handled a situation and saw it through. And it should expand on a professional skill that you already listed, preferably your strongest one.
KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE PLEASE for resumes and cover letters. Save the novel for your creative writing class.
This is the worst part. Mostly, you just have to be patient. And continue to hustle while you are waiting. The Muse has excellent articles about when the best times to follow up on job statuses are. I recommend following up after two weeks. I also kept a detailed excel spreadsheet of all the jobs I was interested in and my application status and results. It’s full of over 50 rejections. I hope that makes you feel better. But, again, you just need one “yes.”
In the Meantime
I guarantee someone will ask you “What have you been doing in the meantime?” Have an answer for this. There’s NO SHAME in having a job unrelated to your degree or skills in the meantime to pay bills. But what they mean is, “How have you been working on your skills?” This is where freelancing is awesome. I believe freelancing is like working in a restaurant: everyone should do it at some point. It teaches you a lot. You’ll learn how to work with clients, how to receive feedback, how your creative process works, and how to value your work.
Start with either searching online for “Freelancing” and then your skills and area. OR talk to people you know: volunteer organizations that need help, your church team, friends that are starting a business, write for your local newspaper (if you’re a writer). Pitch projects to companies, organizations or groups you care about.
These are places that came in pretty handy for me. Keep in mind, I’m in a creative field, so these are aimed toward that industry.
GRAMMARLY.COM – VERY HELPFUL EDITING TOOL. PLEASE RESPECT YOURSELF AND EDIT YOUR WORK.
Creative meetup groups
Social Media Club of Kansas City
AIGA – GREAT FOR DESIGNERS. (I’m NOT a designer, but this is an excellent organization)
Creative Mornings KC. (once a month) This organization is incredible. Everyone is cool and helpful. And you can literally wear a button that says “Hire me” and put your info on a hiring board.
Kansas City Marketing Jobs
AAFKC – professional advertising group. They don’t do a ton of events but they are respected and have boards n stuff.
Much love and best of luck!