Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Job Hunt Tips: Focusing Your Pursuit

To commemorate my first year working as a recruiting coordinator, I’m sharing some tips I’ve picked up at work and during my 7-month job hunt before that. Here’s the first batch!
Part 2: Linkedin
Part 3: The Resume

Job hunting can be very discouraging, but it doesn't have to be!  Here are my tips for keeping motivation, making progress, and measuring your progress.

Find a Community
What helped me the most in my job search was finding this Job Seekers group that meets in Peachtree City. Look and see if there's a similar group in your area. It's a great way to keep positivity and motivation in your search, and it's a great way to practice networking. Caleb and I both went to this group and learned loads and loads of invaluable information that helped us land our jobs.

I'm sure you've heard this over and over, but there's a reason for that. I'm going to assume that I don't have to tell you why it's important. If you're new to networking, though, or if it makes you nervous, there are many ways to ease yourself into it. Here's an excellent article with tips for how to start networking. Go out and see what your area has to offer!  (Also, if someone asks you to send along your résumé in an email, be sure to follow up.  It's common sense, but I've got to mention it.)

Networking Pro Tip:
Make yourself some business cards and have them ready to trade at networking events.   This is nonnegotiable.  If you're looking for a job, get yourself a business card.  Using a Word template and printing your info on card stock will do.  Having a business card ready to swipe out of your wallet will make you appear much more professional and put together.

Get Focused
CareerBuilder. Job Fairs. The career center from your university or your community. Those are all great ways to get exposure for yourself and you can learn a lot through these avenues, but I want to let you know something else. One, see if there's a recruiter around who specializes in the field you're interested in. If you're entry-level and “just looking for work,” check out staffing agencies in your area. (Kelly Services, Hire Dynamics, and Randstad are popular ones in Atlanta.) Here's the other thing, though. Quite possibly a more important thing. A thing you should definitely think long and hard about. Is there a company you'd really like to work for? The Georgia Aquarium? Focus a large percent of your efforts on that company. If you know any contacts there, call them up. When you’re networking, mention that the Georgia Aquarium is your goal. Make connections, work the web, and ask people if there's anyone they could put you in contact with who does the job you want to do. Then say to that person, "I've been interested in penguins my entire life, and I just finished up a research project in Antarctica. It's my dream to work at the Georgia Aquarium. Could you tell me what it takes? How can I get to where you are?"

Build relationships in your target company. Keep in touch. Show them your drive and your purpose. Don't let them forget you. Show them you mean it when you want you want to work for the Georgia Aquarium. My friend Sim spent 3 months bugging emailing the guy who eventually hired him to be the strength coach at the Yongsan army base in Korea. Persistence is powerful. Never forget that.

Track and Celebrate Progress
During my job search, I recorded every little thing that I accomplished in a Word doc. The first page is almost entirely "applied for this place, applied for that place," but later in the timeline I would add in bullet points that said "revamped resume," "edited LinkedIn page to include recent experience," or "decided to pursue administration specifically." I also saved all versions of my resume and my different cover letters. If you laid all of my records out together, you could see a good jump in quality once I started going to Job Seekers. I got to list interviews, correspondences, my impressions, and things I wanted to change. The difference from the beginning of the list to the end is pretty stark.

When I became discouraged and I worried that my efforts were useless, I looked at my list and told myself, "No, girl. Applying for 98 positions is a heck of a great achievement. Now, how can you do better?" If you're getting advice, readjusting your focus, and constantly improving yourself and your image through your job search, you can rest assured that you are getting better at this.

Find a partner. Think of your job search as your job. As the leader of my Job Seekers group said, If someone were to try to convict you of searching for a job, would there be enough evidence? Don't stop. Onward and upward. You got this.

For more Job Hunt Inspiration, check out the articles I've pinned here and be sure to check back next week for some LinkedIn tips.

Did I miss anything? If you have any questions or thoughts, be sure to comment below.

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