Back in April, I found myself in the ranks of the unemployed. The reasons and causes are, in hindsight, not all that important, but I’ve learned a lot of very valuable lessons in a very short timespan about finding a job.
- Know people. Half of the interviews I went on were due to personal referrals. The other half consisted of dumb luck from sending my resume out to literally a hundred different employers. The response rate from sending in your resume blind is about the same as you’d expect from a targeted direct mail campaign. (In other words, not too good.) So how do you meet and know these people? I did it from blogging and using social media (Twitter and Facebook). I’ve also started participating in a few professional networking and user groups as a way to expand my social circle. It’s 50% what you know and 50% who you know.
- Requirements aren’t set in stone. You’ll often see job openings with a list of requirements much longer than what you likely know. Don’t sweat that. If you can meet most of those requirements and prove your ability to pick up the others, you’ll probably do just fine. Especially in technical fields, nobody can know everything.
- Be persistent. Don’t just go on an interview and leave it at that. Make follow-up calls or emails to see if any decisions have been made. Most of the time, it’s going to be a “we went with another candidate” response, but you won’t know until you ask. I didn’t get an offer back until almost two months after one of the interviews I went on, and part of that was rattling the cage to see what was going on.
- Hustle. I had my resume up to date and had followed up on a half-dozen job leads by the end of the day I had been let go. In under a week, I’d been on several job interviews. Why? Because I didn’t give myself the opportunity to mope around. I was constantly hitting up people I know for leads, going to networking groups, going on interviews, and sending out resumes. Jobs belong to those who hustle and look for a job with a sense of purpose.
- Don’t be in a job you don’t like. I hadn’t been happy at my last job for a while because I felt like I had hit a professional dead end. The career path that was clear when I was hired on became much more murky within just a few years, and promoting from within became an increasingly rare thing. In hindsight, I should have started looking in earnest a few years earlier instead of taking the “lucky I have a job” approach.
- There are a lot of resources you aren’t using. Sure, you think to hit up Craigslist and Monster when you go job-hunting. But did you think to check in with the state Department of Workforce Services? How about seeing what your church has to offer? (The LDS church has an AWESOME employment service.) Also don’t forget to find out who the major employers are in your area and go to each of them directly, including state and local government. If benefits aren’t a big deal for you, taking on short-term contract work might play out nicely for you.
I feel a lot smarter about job hunting now that I was forced to do it. Lifetime employment is largely a thing of the past, so be prepared now for when the inevitable strikes.