The Millennial’s Guide to Getting a Job…That Doesn’t Require a Name-tag

This is the first time all week that I have been able to pull my sorry ass into my office and sit at my actual desk to work…and it’s Friday. Ugh.

Unfortunately, every orifice on my face is leaking incessantly, and I have halfheartedly attempted to clog the flow from my scabbed nostrils with a crumpled tissue. Although I’ve been trying to add more photos into my posts, I’ll spare you this particular visual.

To prepare myself for my triumphant return to my desk, I spent the morning drinking vegetable broth and ginger tea with an unyielding belief in their power to magically heal me.

To be honest, I’ll probably be back in bed watching Confessions: Pet Hoarders through my eyelids by 2pm, but I was desperate to be at least a little productive.

While wracking my Advil-addled brain for topics that I would be excited enough to write about to actually get up today, I decided on something that will be a bit surprising to anyone who has given anything more than a cursory glance at this blog.

Today, we’re talking about how to find a 9-5 job! (also, not that exciting of a build up since you read the title).

Ok, I get that I’ve made it clear that I’m not into the 9-5 thing and that I will do anything I can to avoid going back to that place. But, there are plenty of people that I’ve talked to who want nothing more than to be employed somewhere that a name-tag is not required, but who aren’t ready to strike out on their own.

I understand that. I was that person a little less than 3 years ago.

I researched the absolute crap out of how to get a job after I finished school. And I honed a technique that got me 2 job offers around 4 months after graduating! So, if it can help anyone, I’m happy to share.

1. Be Good To People

This is probably the best advice I could ever give anyone.

It’s easy to be selfish. It’s easy to think about your wants and needs first and ignore everyone else. It’s easy to worry that kindness will get you taken advantage of and left with less than others.

But, most people get jobs through networking.

And despite what you’ve heard, networking isn’t about formal events where you shove your business cards in people’s faces, it’s about forming honest connections with people.

If you build the reputation of being selfless, the good you’ve put out there will come back to you, I promise. And no, don’t be that calculated person who only help people you know can help you. Help anyone who needs it, just because you can.

If you’re still a little weary of this advice, helping others also helps build confidence, skills, and teaches you how to talk to people. It’s also what got me one of the two job offers I received not too long after graduating!  

2. Know Your Keywords

If you aren’t already aware, most places have software to filter out resumes they think will waste their time.

Generally, your resume will be ranked on keywords used. So, research the terms people are looking for in your industry, and pump them into your resume with abandon.

If your resume sounds like it was written by an alien, you’ve gone a little too far. Make sure to balance keyword stuffing with readability.

Yes, this balance is hard to find.

I have actually heard some people suggest putting extra keywords in white at the bottom of the resume so that human eyes won’t see them, but the software will.

I haven’t tried this, but if you do:

  1. You didn’t hear it from me.
  2. PLEASE reach out and let me know how it goes!

3. Realize No One Cares About You

This sounds harsh, but it’s true.

People are out here trying to relay their wonderful education and experience, and are constantly left scratching their heads when the phone never rings.

If you just talk about your experience, the hiring manager has to do all the work to connect the dots between your skills and how you will fit into the company. And trust me, everyone is lazy, it’s not work they’re willing to do.

It’s your job to spell out what they really care about.

And what they really care about is finding someone who they know can solve their problems. So figure out what their problems are, and frame everything in a way that speaks directly to that.

If you don’t know where to start, consider changing your chronological resume to a skills based resume. It’s a much easier way to persuasively talk about how you can do what they need. And importantly, you can keep a master sheet with everything, and just copy and paste sections with the exact skills they were looking for in their ad.

Another way to do this is to create a minimum viable portfolio. Figure out the kind of work they’re looking for, and create a small sample of that kind of work that you can share with them.

4. Strategy Is Everything

Every place you apply to wants to feel like they’re the only place in the world that you want to work. But, that feeling is really hard to put across when you’re sending out hundreds of applications a month.

I once entered a living hell where I got an interview, but could not for the life of me find the ad again to prepare before I went in. Long story short, I had no idea what job I was interviewing for, and looked like a complete idiot.

Never again.

After that, I created folders on my bookmarks bar. One for jobs I was interested in, and one for jobs I had applied to.

For the ones I was interested in, I would put the due date in the file name, so I could prioritize my submissions. For the ones I applied to, I kept a separate ‘job hunt’ folder on my desktop with the exact copy of my resume and cover letter I sent out, as well as a screenshot of the job ad.

Now, even if they deleted the post before I could review for my interview, I would have everything saved in neatly on my computer.

As an added bonus, I could talk about my insane job hunt process as evidence of my organizational skills during my interviews. People found this quite funny and charming.

5. Perfect You Online Profile

As tough as the competition is, I’ve heard plenty of business owners complain about the difficulty of finding the right candidate for their open position. They’re on the hunt too!

And they’re scouring websites like LinkedIn to find the perfect person to join their company (or they’ve paid recruiters to do it for them).

If you’re reading this, and you realize that your profile is a little neglected, not quite up to date, or is not as professional as you’d like it to be, go and change it now. This post will be here waiting when you come back.

A couple specific hints to get it spick and span:

  1. Get feedback on your photo to see what other people actually think of you. You can get unbiased results by posting your photo to websites like photofeeler.com.
  2. Write articles on LinkedIn about topics in your desired field to start positioning yourself as a thought leader in the industry.
  3. This should go without saying, but make sure your profile is 100% complete. It will get you higher in the rankings and prove that you don’t half-ass your work.
  4. Make sure you use your keywords here too!

6. Exhaust Your Resources

Does your Alma Mater have a graduate society/club? Does your old faculty have a job board you can access? Do you have professors you worked closely with who are able to give you a recommendation?

So many people graduate school and think they’re all on their own. But you’re school wants you to get a job. It improves their stats, and you become someone they can point to as a success story.

Find out what job counseling, job boards, etc. are available to you. You never know where you’ll find the advice or the person who can push things in the right direction.  

Job boards are the most important! Not only are they likely to be looking for recent grads, they are also more likely to value your education, since they chose to post with your educational institution.

That other job I got offered? It came from a company who only hired grads from my school, because they trusted what we learned.

Use absolutely everything you can find to your advantage.

7. Don’t Get Overwhelmed

You may be looking at this advice thinking that I might as well have just asked you to put a feather in your nose and fly like Dumbo. Fair.

But thinking back to times where I have been desperate to get a job, I became a woman obsessed. Jobs for people newly entering the workforce are so scarce in my city that I thought if I messed up one application, or flopped one interview, I would just be done.

The world would crumble below my feet and I would become a homeless, drug addict, turning tricks to survive. Or worse, I’d have to keep working at Best Buy.

Setting all ego aside, this led to many instances of being curled up in the fetal position under the covers, crying uncontrollably when I realized I’d screwed up.

I was tougher than tough on myself. I still am sometimes.

That level of pressure, and the feeling like you need to send out thousands of absolutely perfect resumes to get even a bite does so much more harm than good.

It’s cheesy, but your attitude makes a big difference. If you find a way to believe in yourself, others will believe in you too. Likewise, if you think of yourself as the loser and the screw-up, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Breathe.

Think about the logical best and worst outcomes. Focus on your support group. Do you have people who are willing to lend a hand if things go sideways?

If you have to take a job that is below your skill set to survive, know you’re not the only one. Don’t get comfortable. Believe it is temporary and keep trying to find a better fit.

Breathe some more.

Let me know about your job hunt experiences in the comments!

 

– Jenn

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