I remember during my job search feeling overwhelmed; there are so many people in the country looking for jobs right now at this very moment... Look at how many other young, educated and unemployed people there are that just graduated. How will I stand out?
Yes, this is another one of those pieces. You are either reading this because you have been placed in the position of being a recent graduate from a university and are struggling to find a job or you're just curious about what this article will entail. In any case, this piece will detail my job hunting experience, lessons I have learned and hopefully there will be a take away for you or something you can share with others as they continue on their journey to be "gainfully" employed.
Where Do I Begin?
In the beginning, I struggled with trying to figure out what it was I wanted to do. I had completed many internships throughout undergrad and grad school, and had so many different areas I was passionate about, but I had trouble narrowing my search. I was embarrassed every time someone asked, "What would you like to do?" and I could not give an adequate response. I kept saying, "Well, my background is in Political Science and Religion, and I am interested in serving the community. Public service is what I've been doing since I realized the world wasn't going to fix itself." That sort of explanation is "cute," but will not land you a job.
At that point, I realized it was time for me to "up my game." From LinkedIn to Zip Recruiter to Indeed, I submitted 100's of application through my profile, my resume and references in hopes of someone getting in contact with me. My simple keyword search of "community" "outreach" and "development" led me to a list of possibilities and opportunities I would not have otherwise thought of. There were so many positions within companies and organizations that served my passion for helping others, and even helped me realize skills I had that I did not list on my resume.
After two weeks of researching jobs, I realized that when someone asked what line of work I was interested in, I could firmly state, "A position as an outreach coordinator within a nonprofit serving underserved communities," or something similar is the right response for me. The first lesson: Knowing exactly what you want to do is half of the battle. Once you are sure about what it is you want to do, it will become much easier to convey this to others.
The Power of Networking
Let your energy and personality guide you into finding your job. Sure using social networking and job sites are important but there comes a time where you have to leave the computer alone, and get out there and network! This lesson is probably the most important in this technological age.
Networking can be scary to some and empowering to others, but the most important thing to remember is networking is key. A person can have a 4.0 GPA, a presidential commendation and have completed more internship opportunities than anyone you know, but if that person does not have social capital, they will be sifting through online applications all day. Don't be that person!
One of the easiest ways I transitioned from online to real life, was speaking to any and everybody, everywhere I went. Whoever stood in line next to me, I talked to them, when I was trying to figure out if I wanted 2% or 1% milk in my local grocery store and someone was near me, I talked to them, and even when I waited in line at the gas station to pay the clerk, I talked to whoever would listen. Breaking out of your shell and speaking to anyone can truly open up unknown doors. I do believe there is more good, than evil and the world, and someone can be a resource to you.
Whenever I had an opportunity to be around people in a social setting, I always found a way to ease in that I was looking for a job. Simple conversation starters like, "I just finished school and relocated back to Los Angeles," was my gateway to ask for references to places that are currently hiring. What I found was people were more likely to listen to the kind of work I was interested in doing, especially if it was in a field they were in (always know the stakeholders in the room). I also kept copies of my resume with me in the trunk of my car. If anyone asked if I had a copy on me, I was always prepared to give one.
Looking at your Rolodex
Ro·lo·dex: a desktop card index used to record names, addresses, and telephone numbers, in the form of a rotating spindle or a small tray to which removable cards are attached. Informal: a person's list of business contacts and friends.
We may be past the age of flipping through the rolodex to be in contact with someone you know, butgetting in contact with someone you know is the 3rd and final lesson. In a world filled with Androids and iPhones, there is no excuse not to be in contact with someone you know regarding your search for a job. We now can Google a person and find their LinkedIn profile to get in contact with them and catch up on what they are doing. We hear it all the time, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," that secures you the job. Now, your work experience and your skills do matter, but knowing someone who "may" know someone helps as well.
It's important to get in contact with any and everyone who knows you, your work ethic and who will advocate for you to be employed. I sat down with many people as soon as I returned home to let them know that I was young, educated and unemployed and seeking to change that sooner, rather than later. People I sat down with would email me job leads, places to be (and network) and direct people to be in contact with. Once again, someone can truly be a resource to you, but you have to seek them out.
Remember as you continue your job search to:
- Know exactly what you want to do is half of the battle.
- Leave the computer alone, and get out there and network!
- Get in contact with someone you know
It may not be easy, but in due time, something will come your way. Be sure to follow Jobs R 4 You, Inc. on Twitter and Facebook for updates on available jobs in the Los Angeles area and universal job tips!
This post was originally blogged on the Jobs R 4 You, website
Nicole Tinson-Johnson is the President and Co-founder of Jobs R 4 You, Inc. Jobs R 4 U to connects unemployed and underemployed people through social networking sites and local workshops on available job opportunities, tips, and advice to secure employment. Jobs R 4 U operates with a particular emphasis to curb violence in urban communities, promote economic justice and will work to raise awareness, inspire, and create better lives for all.