Monday, February 04, 2013

Guest Post: Lessons In Job Hunting

Hope everyone is recovered from Super Bowl Sunday (should I say "got their power back"?). We're back today with a great guest post from a friend who writes about what it's like from the perspective of a job searcher. It's not an easy time to be looking for a job but she has some good lessons from her experiences. Without further ado, I kick it over to Alaine:
I have learned a lot about looking for a job through my five months of job searching. This is particularly true now when many employers are not hiring (or not hiring as much) and there is a LOT of competition for jobs. Also, I will admit--I’ve been a little picky in my search- I have a master’s degree and prior work experience, so I feel like I can do that. I’m looking for a job that I will enjoy and want to go to everyday, not simply JUST a job.  Here are a few things I’ve learned through my search:
The most important lesson I’ve learned is the value of networking; It’s literally the only way to get a job these days. There is so much competition, employers are receiving hundreds of resumes, and it’s hard to distinguish oneself on paper. The best thing to do is to know someone at the company- they can make a recommendation to HR or give you the inside scoop on how to apply, which is a million times more valuable than being another paper in a stack of resumes.
Don’t waste your time on online job applications.  Searching for and applying for jobs online can take hours- don’t waste your time! It may be useful for someone looking for an “Administrative Assistant” type of position but not for a more specific position, especially if you have an advanced degree and want to be picky. Employers receive boatloads of these – they’re impersonal and you’ll have a much better chance if you actually know someone at the company or at least have had an informational interview with them.

Networking isn’t only about schmoozing at industry events or conferences: informational interviews are perhaps the best way to expand your professional network and make solid connections. Talk to everyone that you can who might be related to the field you’re looking to work in. Use your existing networks of fellow alumni, professors, family and friends. An informational interview is a great way to get your name out there and also to learn more about the field, specific companies, and specific types of positions- it can be very helpful to guide your search.
Be proactive about meeting people and finding positions. Investigate the companies and organizations that you want to work for. Who are the big companies in your field? Who are the up-and-comers? Find out their main business operations and which employees seem to run the show. Has the company put out any press releases, or been mentioned in any articles? Try to find someone at the company to reach out to for an informational interview to find out more about a certain sector, position, or business operation. If you can, use your existing networks to make a connection at the company- LinkedIn is great for that!

Keep up with industry news and events. You never know who will show up at these things- it could be your next employer! Even if you don’t make a good connection at an event, it’s a great talking point at a future interview.
You never know who knows who or what can lead to what. Your best bet is to put yourself out there, meet as many people as you can, and stay on top of industry news and events for good talking points.

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