As a (self-proclaimed) goal-oriented, hard-working and driven individual, having a kickass job has always been a huge dream of mine. When I graduated from Northeastern University last May, I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to achieve that goal. Frustrations and self-doubt aside, here are 11 things I learned during the past year while job searching.
1) You are not alone. You might feel like you’re the only person in the world without the job that you want, but the truth is theres SO many people out there in the same situation as you. And, even the people that do have jobs don’t necessarily have their dream job yet either. It all takes time.
2) Always try to have hope and be positive, but also be realistic- even if it seems near impossible that you’ll ever get hired. This is how I felt. A lot. I’d go in confident and hopeful to each job interview- Yeah, I’m gonna nail this one. Why wouldn’t they hire me? And then a week later, I’d be sobbing and confused after I was rejected. It’s hard not to take rejection personally, and I know I did take it personally many times. I always let myself have that day when I was rejected to feel a little sad and lost, and then reboot the next day and jump back on horse. Keep on keepin’ on!
3) Network, network, network. Network until those cows come home and then network some more. This is literally the only piece of advice my school’s career services office gave me, and unfortunately it truly is the ONLY way I’ve found that I’ll ever get a job. That good old saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know” rings all-too true.
4) It helps to have a support system. Thank god for my parents, because I’d 1) be broke and living under a bridge right now and 2) still be crying about all of the times I was rejected. It gets depressing and hard to see the light, but luckily my parents are my biggest fans and assured me that it was okay that I was rejected, and that I am talented and will one day get a job. Thanks mom & dad.
5) Start a blog. People in business are obsessed with blogs (hence this blog). If you’re looking to get into marketing like I am, I have heard countless people say that blogs are a great way to boost your portfolio, and show employers that you can actually write- in English. Us Millenialls have a lot to prove since we unfortunately talk though texting 97% of the time. LOL, IKR? #Yolo.
6) Adults will always ask you if you’ve tried LinkedIn. I can’t tell you how many face-palm moments I’ve had when adults (baby-boomers) who found that I was job searching asked if I’ve tried using LinkedIn, “Oh, yeah, have you tried this new website thing called LinkedIn?” Nope, I’ve only been living under a rock waiting for a job to knock on my door…
*Sidenote: If you haven’t tried LinkedIn- DO!!!! (And Indeed, and Monster, and your schools career site…) A friend of mine from SIB, Spencer, has created an awesome resource for people looking to break into the startup world called GenXJobs – I definitely recommend checking it out for great job hunting tips, insights into the Boston startup community, and tidbits of wisdom that we learned at The Startup Institute.
7) Don’t be afraid to cold e-mail/call. I have reached out to several contacts of contacts this way and have had really great connections because of it. It goes along with networking, but as long as you ask nicely, you usually should get a warm response and someone willing to help you!
8) This is by no means a quick process. Sure a lucky few will get a job before or literally the day after they graduate from college, but for most of us it takes a year (or more)! This is probably the only time in your life that you won’t have a set job or direction, so give it time.
After one particularly painful job rejection, my dad gave me a good little pep talk gem: “You’ve only been job hunting for 8 months and soon you’ll be working for the rest of your life. If you have to wait a little bit to get your dream job, then it’s worth it. This time in your life will seem ridiculous someday.” I was able to see my dad’s wisdom and saw that it’s pretty silly to cry over being unemployed. No, I’m not a loser, and yes, I will get a job one day- and probably want a vacation…
9) Consider it Funemployment. Yeah, being jobless really sucks, but you can choose to completely slack off and fall into a Netflix blackhole, or you can set a schedule for yourself and have things to look forward to in the day. I always made sure to go to the gym, and I set out a chunk of time each day that I would be job searching. I also sold a ton of stuff on Ebay for my mom to make a little bit of extra cash. That way, the endless hours of “Funemployment” didn’t seem quite so long and unproductive. My only regret is that I didn’t get an actual part-time job because I was so hopeful and positive that I’d get whatever next job I interviewed/applied for. I definitely could have saved enough for that trip to France by now, but hey! At least I was positive…
10) Find people to commiserate with. I guess I was “lucky”, as bad as it sounds, to have one of my best friends from high school in a similar situation as me. She is living at home, looking for her first “real” job and feeling just as lost and confused as I am. It’s nice to get together and look for jobs, share networking tips, as well as plot our escape to the Caribbean if this whole employment thing doesn’t really work out.
11) Look for something to help leverage you as a candidate during your time off. For me, I knew my digital marketing skills, and to be honest, confidence in myself were lacking- so luckily I turned to the Startup Institute. I wanted to gain more relevant marketing skills that looked attractive to employers. I had seen things like HTML and Analytics required on countless applications, so finally I broke down and applied to something that would help me build those skills.
This program has truly been amazing-I have learned more about myself and business in 4 weeks than I did in five years of undergrad (darn you, student loans). There are always ways to better yourself, be it a course or even volunteering. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself and that motivates you to wake up everyday!
If you have any tips for job searching/being unemployed please feel free to share! Also, if you want to hire me, I’d be completely okay with that 😉