So here you are: you’re a few months out from graduation (or already done), jobless, and stressed. To top it all off, you’ve never been one with the strongest self-esteem. What to do?!
Worry not friends, I’m here to share my experience with job searching, and what to do when you do land a gig. If you’re interested, stay tuned!
I am going to preface this by saying that the following tips reflect what has worked during my job search, and in trying to do so with anxiety. While I can not promise that these tips will work for you, I certainly hope they do. If there is anything you think I should add, or anything you do not agree with, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’d love to talk about it.
Searching for a job can be an extremely daunting and stressful experience, especially if you are like me and studied the social sciences. In my opinion, it can be harder landing a job with just a B.A. (in my case) in the field, as most decently paying jobs require at least a Master’s. Personally, I already knew job searching would be a little bit harder since my degree wasn’t in anything business or finance related. On top of that, I felt like my experience was very scattered, and wasn’t particularly focused in any one direction. This was 1) partly due to me having to devote a lot of time to preserving myself as far as my mental health for 2.5 years of college + working, and 2) I never quite honed in on one area to focus in on. The former played a large role, but the latter was also a tangential result of my mental health: since I didn’t/still sometimes don’t believe in myself, once I started gaining interest in a particular field, I would start to convince myself that I couldn’t do it or I would decide from the jump that I wasn’t qualified enough/would not be qualified enough to participate in that field.
So, with no clear idea of what I wanted to do, little confidence in myself, and no leads…what did I do to land a job?
1. CLEAN UP YOUR RESUME.
This one is obvious you’re probably thinking. However, it is one of the most important aspects of the search. Companies are inundated with hundreds – if not thousands of resumes daily. Very few make it past screenings, and the few that make it past there are subject to heavy scrutiny. So, what can you do to boost your chances of getting seen?
- Create a general version of your resume that can be sent to anyone
- Narrow your search to at least 2 industries, and search for keywords commonly used for the jobs you are applying to, and try to fit those keywords into your duties. This way, there is more of a chance for your resume to get picked up.
- Use action verbs to give more active voice to the duties you fulfilled. This ensures that you sound like someone who brings results, not just someone who does as they’re told
Also, never hesitate to send your resume out to a few people to get some feedback. You may get contradicting advice, but there may be some commonalities between critiques.
2. GATHER REFERENCES
This is something so simple, but it can prove very important. I highly suggest you generate a list of at least 5 managers/supervisors who you believe can really vouch for you. If you can’t think of anyone in that capacity, consider internship supervisors, professors, advisors, or mentors. You just really want to make sure that these individuals can say lots of positive things about you. Kindly ask them in person if you are able, and if not, through an email. Here is an example.
Again, references may seem minute, but depending on the position and the size of the company, they can really make or break the decision to hire you. There was another company I had interviewed for that made it a point to tell me how great my references were, which I believe played a large role in them extending me an offer.
3. TAP INTO YOUR NETWORKS
This is something I struggle with, as I do not like asking for help all the time. However, if an opportunity presents itself for someone to set you up with an opportunity…TAKE IT! In all honesty, this is how many jobs are filled – through connections. In complete transparency, this is how I found out about the job I will be starting. Of course one still needs the proper qualifications and good interviews, but helping to get your foot in the door doesn’t hurt at all.
Tapping into your networks can also help set up informational interviews. This way, you can “shop around” and continue to network your way to an opportunity. This can happen by 1) having said connect pass along your information to relevant parties, 2) keeping your resume on file and matching it to an opportunity, 3) giving you advice.
4. TAKE IT TO THE WEB
Now, searching for jobs on the web can be a pain. You might apply to 100 jobs, *maybe* hear back from 5, interview for 3, and possibly get offered 1. Maybe. Speaking to the above advice, sometimes a job might be filled before it even reaches a job board. That being said, if you are searching the internet, there are quite a few great sites to take into consideration, but some of my personal favourite sites include:
- Indeed: lots of jobs posted at any given time. You can apply to some jobs right through the site if you’re signed up.
- Glassdoor: if you’re interviewing with a specific company, or want to know things like industry median salaries, benefits, etc…this is a great place to look. It is also a good place to read employee reviews. I will say, sometimes these can be misleading in the sense that you might only see really good reviews or really bad reviews.
- Idealist: this is a great site for those in the helping field and social sciences/liberal arts. I hate their new website interface though….*bleh*
5. DON’T UNDERSELL YOURSELF
My lovely mom is always the one to remind me not to let my anxiety prevent me from achieving great things. She is actually the one who offered me this closing piece of advice. With high anxiety, there can come low self-esteem. With low self-esteem, there is a tendency to not align yourself with opportunities that seem out of your reach (even if others are sure you can do them/your experiences match them on paper).
As a result of this, you might not apply to jobs that are within your range, as you might not think you can do them. Well, this can be hard, but all I can say is to try. Get into the habit of trying to apply to at least 1 job in 10 that you think may be a little out of your reach. Really challenge yourself to dig out your best qualities, and market yourself. If you can’t, find a friend who can and work from there haha.
In all seriousness though, one of the easiest ways to waste your time is to put yourself in a position where you are not utilizing your skills, and you are not growing.
Well, that’s all I really have. Let me know if I missed anything!