Tomorrow it will have been 1 year and 3 months since I moved to New York looking for my first full-time job since graduating in 2009. It was a long, long process during which I questioned my reasons for moving, my desire to be in New York, and whether or not I could hack it at all. Ultimately, it has worked out and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on job search. So take it as you will, coming from a 24-year-old with a pretty base perspective on things.
Get Up, Shower
There's nothing more depressing then waking up and not being excited that you don't have anything to do all day. That's job search from day 1. Weekends aren't as fun because you don't have a reason to relax; spending a Wednesday afternoon watching a replay of last night's Knicks game loses its appeal quickly. This is the awful Catch-22 of a job search. You have the free time that everyone wishes they had when working, but no ability to enjoy it as you're unemployed, penniless, and probably pretty stressed.
There's no magic solution here, just get up out of bed and take a shower. One of the most routine processes during a normal, busy day can often seem unnecessary when you aren't working. As in, who cares if I smell awful or look like a scrub? No one's going to see me anyways. I was often told I should get up and shower because its more akin to a normal working day and so you should treat your job search the same way. The problem with this logic is that your job search day simply doesn't function like a normal working day and so you shouldn't try to emulate a working day when searching for a job. You should get out of bed and shower for much simpler reasons: its energizing and it will help keep you sane. The day-to-day of job search takes small steps. If you can get out of bed and dump yourself into the shower, you're much more likely to get something done that day.
Outside of going out for coffee to network or sitting down for an actual interview, your ability to email is the basis of your job search and your most powerful tool in getting where you want to be. There's no shame in emailing any and every contact you come across. That's why you got them right? Email early in the day, email often and absolutely do not hesitate to follow up in the same fashion. My goal was to email until I heard back and always respond to emails as quickly as possible. It might seem insane buts its not. Put yourself in the shoes of the employed people you're emailing about a job -- when they get a response within a minute or two to an email they just sent you, they see initiative, desire, and drive. Also, you stand a much better chance of getting another prompt response as they are probably still in front of their computer. Its often difficult to get responses, meetings, or interviews but as long as you email as quickly a possible, you're doing your part. Faster emails = earlier employment.
Move Where You Want To Work
This is perhaps the single best piece of advise I received early on in my search. Immediately after graduating, I was living at home in Washington D.C., but I wanted to be in New York. Financially, it would have been difficult for me to up and move without a job in place. My mom said it was a terrible idea, my dad was lukewarm. Ultimately, I sold my car, crashed on a friend's air mattress for a month, and signed a lease on an apartment with the money I made from the car sale. Seven months later, I was still unemployed and my back was against the wall financially -- a month or two longer and I would most likely have had to move home. But moving made all of the difference. If I hadn't moved, I wouldn't have been able to make half of the meetings that I did, wouldn't have been introduced to the majority of the people I was, and wouldn't have been able to start my job a few days after I heard I had an offer.
Being in New York for several months before I began working let me continue the job search in a way you simply cannot when you're in a different city. Yes, the transaction cost of a job search has plummeted with email, cell phones, and real-time job posting. But you can't interview and can't have a 1st day without actually being there. When an employer calls back and asks you if you can start tomorrow, you have to be able to say yes. Say you can't and you've lost a job before you even started. If you have any opportunity to move to the city you want to work in, whether that means sleeping on an Aunt and Uncle's couch, crashing on a friend's floor, or taking a chance on a month-to-month lease, do it. You won't regret it.
Don't Stop Believing
From November 1st, 2009 to March 27th, 2010, I had my fair share of detractors and settlers. People who, at one point or another, said: why not come home? why not starting looking for a short-term job? or a job's a job man just take whatever you can get. I never listened. I'm happy I didn't. Its common nature for those who care about you to suggest faster or easier solutions for you -- that doesn't have to apply to job search. Stick to your guns. Sometimes, they're all you have. Unequivocally, a job is not a job. You and only you know why you are pursuing what you're pursuing and you've got to hold onto that, particularly when days or weeks are bleak. During this time, you might discover that there are other jobs/careers/positions you are more interested in, but don't let anyone knock you off the path you are laying down for yourself by looking for a certain job.
Can't Knock The Hustle
This above phrase is my twitter bio and essentially one that I live by. A lot of people just thought I was a hardcore Jay-Z or Common fan when that started popping up on my away messages and stuff. To me, it's just the way that I am. It also applies to any arduous job search. There's nothing easy: being told no, in so many words, over and over again can be incredibly depressing and sap away any desire to get up and do it all over each day. There's nothing fun: a job is the end goal and there's not much in between that can brighten your days and make you smile. There's nothing you can spend money on: pasta, coffee, and an internet signal are your best friends. So hustle, because you've got nothing else. As long as you hustle, you're going to stay afloat. You're hustle is probably what got you where you are and as long as you keep hustling, you're going to get where you want to be.