Recently, a colleague emailed to see if I could provide tips to a recent graduate looking for work. Though I am working in a different field than the job seeker, I think my suggestions were helpful. I’m sharing my them here along with some other ideas I had because they apply to other vocations.
Tell everybody, and make your role easy to remember.
The first step to finding work is to let everyone know that you’re on the hunt. Don’t write off friends or family as irrelevant contacts, thinking they will be unhelpful to your search. It’s impossible to guess about what others know about open positions. Speaking with friends may jog their memories about a position they read or heard about.
Make sure friends and family know what you do. That sounds funny but it’s disappointing when you get a job listing from a friend that isn’t clear about what you do. Try to summarize your job in one sentence. Give an example of a project they can relate to as well. This will help them retain the information by providing a frame of reference. A short description of your role will also help when you meet new people who ask “What do you do?” and the example helps to solidify your role in their mind.
A solid job description also helps as you attend meetups, talk with mentors, go to parties, meet friends, or speak with colleagues asking for tips on finding work. As I mentioned, a job can come from a person or place you didn’t expect and this will help you to be prepared.
Walk through an internet search of yourself to see what employers see.
While you’re looking over your resume, remember that you have a record online. To see it, go into private browsing (to be unaffected by your past search history) and look up your name. Curate your visibility online, marking accounts as private or pruning posts to link to professional profiles. If you have no search presence, this is a chance to claim an identity for yourself. You have the ability to change your search engine visibility. How? First, start social media accounts. LinkedIn and Twitter are most helpful in professional settings. Next, set up your own site and start writing.
Yes, start a site and begin writing.
The knowledge you have is valuable to others and helps you to show up more in searches. Writing about your profession reenforces your expertise while helping others to learn. Imagine getting an interview question that related to something you already answered in a blog post. Writing also helps to clarify your own thinking and is a skill applicable to every job. If you are able, make videos that share your expertise. This will help your presentation abilities during interviews and video is easier than ever to produce.
Don’t wait for a job to start working.
If you’re looking for work, finding clients in the meantime is a great idea. Freelance projects can boost your social skills and strengthen your work. In interviews, freelance project give you have more to talk about. For extended periods of job searching, freelance could help fill gaps in in employment. Freelance can help take some pressure off of financial needs at the same time.
If you are working on side projects, make them worth your time! Work on projects that take you closer to the work you want to do. Imagine 6-12 months of side projects where your work is relative to a dream job you have always wanted. With gradual progress on related projects you can shape your resume to be an even greater match for the job you always wanted.