Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Help! I need a Job!

Actually I don't need a job, at least not yet, but I know other's that do. Here's a list of things to remember/help when taking on the task of finding a new job.

*I'll be updating this periodically so stay tuned

How to find a job when you're an English major.

1.  NETWORK - Use your network. This is probably the most important tool you have to find a job. You have a network, you just may not realize it.  If you're at this website because you heard me mention it, then I'm part of your network. A network consists of anyone you know who is kind enough to lend you a hand in finding a job.

Your network isn't likely to give you a job, but they will make you aware of jobs available and that's a big part of the process. To use your network, you need to publicly announce you're looking for employment.  Start with social media but don't stop there.  Let your professors know, your relatives, friends.  "I'm looking for a job, let me know if you hear anything."    Under normal circumstances you'd meet in person, but given the pandemic this isn't practical or safe.  Instead you can text, call, or even write letters.  It may feel awkward or self serving and it is a little but you're going to have to get over that to increase your chances of finding a job.

If anyone has suggestions on how to network during a pandemic for new college graduates, please list them in the comments.

  • Linkedin
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Family
  • Friends and their Family
  • Church
  • Clubs
2.  JOB SITES - In addition to your network, start looking at job sites.  I like because it has a lot of start up jobs and tech focused companies. These companies tend to be more progressive in their views on employment and ok with things like remote workers.  Make sure you have your resume completed before you start looking. 

Search for
Skill = English
Currency = US Dollars

1,219 results as of 4/21/2020  - Tech Jobs - National consolidated list - National consolidated list - National consolidated list

3.  RESUME - There are a million formats for resumes that are free on the internet.  It's important to spend some time on refining the resume to look good visually and contextually.  I don't have a personal favorite template to share, but if you do please list it in the comments below to help others out.  In general I prefer resumes to be one page, no pictures, and simple. I want to know what you've done or how you did it and I'm reading your resume to try and figure that out.

Unfortunately most large employers will do a "key word" search as the first screen through resumes.  This is a terrible practice and they should stop. In the meantime it's important to have key words in your resume.  You'll find the keywords in the job posting. Use your critical thinking skills to figure it out.

I typically update a resume for each position I'm applying to and try to make my resume match up with the job posting as much as possible.  Don't lie.  Don't say you know something you don't, but also don't be self-deprecating in your resume.  Reasonable companies realize you're not going to be an expert at something as a new college grad. However, if you don't meet any of the qualifications they're looking for they're not going to interview you (unless your network convinced them to).
Keep track of which resumes you submit to which position.

In the resume convey what you've done. Accolades and achievements are only metrics for your experiences.  If you don't have awards of some sort, no worries, just tell me what you have done that would be relevant. A high GPA says you're smart or work hard or both.  A side project tells me you have passion and work ethic.   "I write short stories with a friend and publish them on wordpress", "I wrote captions for a friend's business on Instagram".  

4.  INTERVIEWS - The first interview is typically decided very quickly. Do I like this person? Yes/No? Interview over.  This means that first impressions are actually really important.  Be early.  Be well dressed. In Pandemic times this means install zoom or whatever video chat they want to use early, not 5 minutes before. Make sure you have a good connection. Find privacy and low noise areas. Your dog is cute, but not during the interview.  Be aware of what you have in the background of your video.  Take it seriously.

Interviews are supposed to be a chance for you and your potential employer to get to know each other.  They are supposed to be a conversation, not an interrogation.  As an employer I want to know what are you good at (skills), are you a psycho (teamwork), are you going to quit or be late every day (work ethic) and will you lie, cheat or steal (core values).  I figure out these things by talking with you and getting to know you.

Personally, I get incredibly nervous when doing interviews.  The best way to overcome this is to practice.  Practice with your parents, roommates, or anyone you can find.  It's not a skill that most people do regularly so you'll need to practice.

Be prepared for the interview.  Research the company. Research the person who is conducting the interview.  They are likely to give you an opportunity to ask questions.  Have some prepared.  "What's the work culture like?"  "What's your favorite part of working at Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc?"  It's important to ask questions because it helps them get to know you and continues the conversation.

Common interview questions include, "Tell me about yourself", "Tell me one strength and one weakness you have", "Tell me a problem you had and how you overcame it?". Prepare answers to these questions ahead of time.

Clean up your social media or make it private.  It's a free country but employers are also free to not interview you if they find your social media offensive or scary.

6.  PERSISTENCE - It's possible to get an interview by being persistent without being pushy.  I followed up 5 times over a 2 month period to get my first job. Each follow up was in person and lasted less than 5 minutes, but eventually they felt sorry enough for me to offer an interview.

7.  HUMILITY - Mopping the floors at SpaceX is still working at SpaceX. Don't miss an opportunity to work at a great place because you didn't start in the role you've always dreamed about. Once you start working at an company, it's easier to move into a new role. Finding the right company is more important than finding the right position.

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