Three more days of the honeymoon are left! It’s also the day before my birthday, and I hope that I’m soaking up some rays! Today, a reader of mine, Dana, is here to share some job hunting tips with you. Welcome her to this little blog world, and enjoy!
I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but the job market right now is tough. If you’re about to graduate, or looking for a new job, then you’re going to need a good strategy. I graduated with my bachelor’s on December 17, 2011 and have been actively looking for a job since September 2011. I did take on a small internship, but the fish are not biting for me! I have learned a few things:
1. Don’t get bogged down on internships. They may not be as valuable as you may think. It may be a better use of your time in college to just work a part-time job instead of dedicating time to an internship in a busy office that won’t have time to teach you anything, so you just spend time making copies (this happened to me). Potential employers look for people that have useful experience, and you may get more value out of working at the mall. Just because “Community Fundraising and Development Intern” sounds better to you than “sales associate – seasonal” does not mean that an employer will be impressed.
2. Think outside the box with your degree. Your degree name does not have to equate to your job title. If you decide you want to do something, find out how to get into it. Whether it is Master’s programs or certification classes, there are ways to get to your goal if it actually matters to you. Be aware, this will take patience. Colleges have application deadlines, prerequisites, and start dates and certification classes may not be offered frequently in your area.
3. Be wary of vague job descriptions with job search websites. Companies with names like “Sphere Management Group” or “InStore Solutions” have job postings that describe the “exciting direct marketing opportunity” that they can give you. Both of these companies emailed me within hours of submitting my resume (which should raise a red flag for everyone, even if you are awesome). These jobs basically entail talking to people in various settings trying to get them to sign up for some type of service (not listed on their website, you have to get a phone interview to find this out). Anyone ever been accosted in Best Buy to get DirectTV? That is these companies. They do pay well if you can do that type of job.
4. I don’t recommend posting a resume on job search websites. I only ever got spam. If you do, definitely remove your address and phone number. Just use your judgment to make sure you stay safe when sharing all of your data.
5. If a certain amount of time has passed between your graduation/last job and an interview, the interviewer will ask you what you have been doing with your time. It is hard, but you should try to do something worthwhile. Volunteer. Get a part-time job (which is tough when you’re looking for a real job – I was in an interview where I was asked how long before I would quit for a better job). Take a class through a community college. Train yourself to get some type of certification. As much fun as watching Breaking Bad or Mad Men may be, it won’t be a good response when someone actually does phone you up.
6. Funny tip: be aware of what you write down in your applications. I graduated with cum laude honors and a website wouldn’t let me write that because of “inappropriate words”. I just changed it to cum_laude.
7. Obvious, but take the interview seriously! In my interview with Sphere Management Group, the interviewer got caught in traffic and was 30 minutes late. I stayed to wait and was basically offered the job because I was patient with him. Of course, I saw it was a terrible job for me (see #3), but I got moved onto the 2nd phase of the interview.
8. Try to avoid getting angered by the whole process. I’ve had to fill out the same job application numerous times. The various “15-minute” KSAO tests (knowledge, skills, abilities, other) do not take only 15 minutes. As poorly designed as the tests may seem to be, they do matter to that particular human resource department. It’s important to be patient when applying for jobs. If you’re getting frustrated, take a coffee break.
What have you learned in your job search processes? What are your failures (and successes!)?