I Graduated… What Now?

Lessons and advice on the job search from one recent graduate to another.

Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet.

Frustration coupled with distraction is to blame for my recent job-search “hiatus”. I must admit, for every ounce of me that pines for a break-through on the job front, another ounce counters with gratitude for a flexible, low-responsibility lifestyle. Honestly, how much rejection (or worse; neglect) can one endure from the business world before it takes its toll on our motivation? Is it wrong to weaken to the current job market and let our hair down for the duration?

Lately, I have spent less of my free time dwelling on possible job options, and more time on what I enjoy, which I feel is ultimately contributing to my future success: helping, socializing, and working.

I am helping my friend, Rob Coats, market his brand online (check out his new book- Connect and Grow Rich!). Meeting with him once a week feeds my creative fix, enlightens me on new ideas/ different views, and allows me the opportunity to sharpen my social media skills. Socializing keeps me connected to others (you never know who you will come across!), open to different things, and happy. Work obviously pays the bills.

I am glad to report that a few prospective job opportunities have arisen in the past few weeks. Sometimes opportunities are right in front of you. I think taking a step back allowed opportunities to surface that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.
I am not suggesting anyone out there looking for a job right now should give up entirely. I am merely stating that it’s OK to be OK with where you are right now. Cut yourself some slack, have patience, and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. – Martha Washington

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet.

I’m Here. I HAVE To.

With each year of my life comes less and less self-doubt. Maturity is coupled with wisdom and self-acceptance. Still, there are certain situations that unleash those middle-school identity crises.

img_1356_dance[1]One to pride myself on being an open-minded person, willing-to-try-anything-twice, you can imagine my surprise when, upon my arrival at a gay-bar for the very first time, my mind was filled with feelings of inadequacy and out-of-placement.

Cute flowing top- check. Tight black jeans and chunky heels- check. Hair and makeup in agreement with a night out-check. Self doubt- check. WAIT! WHAT?!

I couldn’t cap the worries fast enough: Could they smell my heterosexuality a mile away? Did they think I was a poser, or worse, a mockery? Was I going to be exiled from their community and stoned for attempting to enter? It’s funny how a new situation can be a non-stop ticket back to that awful 6th grade lunch where you found yourself silently begging for an invitation to that weekend’s “popular” party.

I can best identify these anxious feelings to those I had towards social media. Though both worlds intrigued me, I felt they were not places I belonged. My knowledge of social media did not branch far from Facebook and mass-texts, and I was not personally gay. Who did I think I was and what did I have to offer this gay bar, or this social media world?

Ok. Here I am. At the bar. Desiring acceptance by this elite group, and not wanting my insecurity to ruin the night for my friend Michael, who was so ecstatic to finally be somewhere that he was the majority. I HAVE to get comfortable. social-media-people

I’ve found that it’s much easier to realize what you want once you verbalize it. I WANT to be accepted at a gay bar. I WANT to be a member of the public relations professionals.

Ok. Here I am. In the midst of the job search. A desire to be the newest edition to a public/media relations group, and not wanting to limit my abilities. I HAVE to familiarize myself with social media.

Social media, like sexuality, is about being confident, open, experimental and adaptable. People respect you in each group when you are willing to try in spite of the possible failures. In my experiences, they welcome your attempt and help in any way they can. Disregarding my question of what I had to offer either group, I jumped right in. Maybe it wasn’t about what I could do, but rather, what I could gain? I got in the middle of the dance floor sans friends, void of any unease. I couldn’t find Michael. I started my Blog. I didn’t wait for an employer to show me the ropes. I Googled WordPress and taught myself as I went. My blog led into other social media accounts such a Twitter, Brazen Careerist, LinkedIn, Etc. So what if I failed- at least I attempted.

Not surprisingly, through my social media and gay-community endeavors, I’ve gained valuable friendships, knowledge, and experience. I’ve found like-minded people who I can identify with and gain value from. You do not have to change who you are. You don’t have to be a guru, and you don’t have to alter your sexuality. You DO have to put yourself out there, try new things, and be vulnerable. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you get past the fear.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Brand It Right The First Time

Those of us that are unemployed seem to have all the time in the world when it comes to discussing our professional future. However, this is not the case for working professionals. We only have a few moments/chances to “brand” ourselves and we need to make sure it’s MEMORABLE.

Check out this video where Fonzworth Bentley, an average guy, got P.Diddy to not only notice him, but bring him on board.

diddyumbrella_thumb

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDefBNfFSxk&feature=youtube_gdata

From this video, I learned that in order to make a successful impression on someone one must:

*Build Rapport

*Be Smart/Knowledgeable

*Act like an expert

*Be Risky

*Brand yourself

*Take your time: Have patience

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Your Turn To Ask Questions

Ever thought about seeking out an informational interview? This situation is reverse-role, allowing YOU to seek out the information you want, and puts the professional in the hot seat.

Informational Interviewing, a session where you seek advice from a professional rather than a position, is a great way to learn more about the field you are interested in, or gain additional knowledge about careers you are thinking about pursuing.

Most employers are open to this type of interviewing, as you are not asking anything more of them than to share their knowledge. Also, this gives them an inside look into what job seekers are looking for.

job-interview-woman-seated-main_Full

Make sure not to waste anyone’s time, including your own. This is your chance to pick the brain of someone who holds the position you think you’d like. Be sure to have well thought-out questions prepared and have a goal in mind. Great questions include: How did you get where you are now? What are the benefits/downfalls about your field? What advice do you have for those aspiring to be where you are now? What skills sets are most important to be successful in this position?

Informational interviewing has been around for years, in the form of career shadowing days and guest speakers in class. But, it can also be very beneficial to those looking to enter the job force. Take it upon yourself to find someone that is where you want to be, and set up an informational interview.

P.S… Don’t forget your thank-you note!

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Simple Thank You

Thank_you_small

Dear Job Seeker:

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. One should be sent after every interview, meeting and/or conversation and always addressed specifically to the person with whom you spoke. Nothing too long, but remember to include something personal so the recipient will be able to remember you immediately. Reiterate your interest in the specific position. Emails are not nearly as personal as a hand-written thank you. Be prompt. All letters should be in the hands of the professional no later than one week after the encounter.


Best of Luck,

Danielle

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Try Before You Buy

“The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.
The sure-thing boat never gets far from the shore.”
– Dale Carnegie –

http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2054-Job-Search-Try-Before-You-Buy-How-to-Get-a-Job-That-Doesnt-Exist/?sc_extcmp=JS_2054_advice&SiteId=cbmsn42054

I found this article of particular interest. The idea of “Try Before You Buy” pitching to companies sounds like a unique way to get yourself noticed. But, does it really work? Is a company who is on a hiring freeze, or worse, letting people go, really going to find the finances to  support this temporary offer? Personally, I like the suggestion to skip the cover letter and go for the elevator speech in writing, at least for the industry I’m interested in. I’d love to hear what you, the job seeker and employer think!

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Look Around Once in a While

Time

Impulsivity has kept me from enjoying this gap period between school and work. Instead of enjoying my flexible schedule and free time, I’ve been fretting over what my next move needs to be. Only last week did some unexpected turn of events lead me to the realization that if you don’t stop to enjoy the moment, it’ll most certainly pass you by!

With my new found outlook I was able to accept that this was not a gap period, but rather an unexpected detour. Not only has my time as a server allowed me to travel and enjoy things I may not have had time for, I’ve recognized how it’s helped me to grow as an individual. Here are some highlights of my lessons learned:

Patience

There are some times you have no choice but to be on someone else’s time.

Teamwork

You cannot succeed in any industry, especially the restaurant industry, without working together

Diversity

You learn to successfully communicate, understand, and work with people of all backgrounds, education, beliefs, values and work ethics.

You will not love everyone you work with

But you will have to learn to work with everyone.

Dedication

No matter how much you hate your job at any given time, you better be there the next day if you want your paycheck.

Innovation

There are only so many options on a menu. But, there are endless ways to pitch them. Learn to read people and figure out how to best accommodate them.

How to bite your tongue/pick your battles

The costumer is always right is not a saying- it’s a mind set- and a lifestyle during work hours. Whether a co-worker or a guest, some times it’s better to let things go.

The immediate affects of divisional functioning of an organization

The results of each division of an organization aren’t directly apparent faster than in the restaurant industry. Managers, servers, bartenders, food runners, cooks, chefs and bus staff operate as a unit, each executing their own responsibility in order to run an efficient company.

So, the next time you are stressed and feel like the ship has sailed while you’re still at check-in, take a look around and improvise. I guarantee you can take something positive from the situation. In the meantime,Look there’s always happy hour 🙂

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Your Search Straight

clever-miss-multitask-lg-83513889Lists, journaling, excel spreadsheets- whatever method best suits you- get started!

I recently spoke to a family-friend who is investing his time in helping me get connected to the right people. His first question was: “What have you been doing on your own?”

No matter how much you’ve done so far, it’s important to keep track of everything. What would be more embarrassing than being put on the spot by a reasonable question, such as this, that we aren’t prepared to answer.

I feel that I’m reaching out to many people for advice, direction, and mentorship. To be honest, I laughed at my dad when he originally suggested that I keep track of everything, so I’m not confused. “Dad, I know who I talk to and I know what I’ve applied for,” was my response.

Honestly, he has a point (Although I’d NEVER admit that to him, and I doubt he even knows what a blog is.).  I can recall who I’ve talked to and what I’ve applied to, yet I wasn’t able to provide a sufficient response to this question. Organization keeps us from forgetting anything as well as keeps it in order. STEPS are important. A simple example:

  1. Emailed Joe Smith to inquire about a position with ABC company.
  2. Joe Smith put me in touch with his HR department as well as gave me John Doe’s contact information at XYZ corporation. He thinks they may be hiring.
  3. Got in touch with John Doe, who is forwarding my resume on.

Thanks to my newly developed list, I will not get my connections mixed up, I will have record of initiatives and results, I won’t forget to follow up with John Doe, or to thank Joe Smith for his efforts, and I’ll now be able to give a detailed summary of the steps I’ve taken on my own. The friend will now be able to recognize my determination and dedication, thus assuring him that his own time will not go to waste. Also, I can refer back to my list to see what actions resulted in positive feedback, and which actions yielded little response.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Be Careful What You Tweet For

A flawless job-search experience would probably be asking too much. How do we learn without be critiqued? These are the sentences I found running through my head a few months ago, but I couldn’t lay them on thick enough to mask my mortification.

Earlier this summer I applied for an assistant account executive position with a local advertising agency. For those of you not familiar with this term, an assistant account executive is an entry-level position that allows you to provide support on accounts, yet limits the amount of independent decision making you have. This sounds perfect for a beginning professional! Or so I thought.

So excited by the possible new position, I contacted a friend who knew someone at that particular agency. My friend, whose advice and encouragement has greatly eased the stress of this horrific job search, forwarded my resume to her contact at the agency. What better way to get noticed than from the inside, right?

Now I’m really enthused! A recommendation from a respected professional! The next morning I woke up early and decided to check my Twitter account, only to find that someone had retweeted a post made by the contact at this agency.

A part of me died that morning. In 140 characters or less, this “professional” had made fun of my resume embarassing_45526.jpg_320_320_0_9223372036854775000_0_1_0for having Twitter listed under my proficiencies. Worse yet, another professional (not employed by the same company) found it funny enough to repost. Correct me if I’m wrong, but social media skills are a highly sought-after skill in most companies.

I understand that this woman meant no personal harm, does not represent the entirety of the agency, and I could have worded it in a more marketable way. However, I was taken aback by the lack of empathy and professionalism a woman, whose own company uses Twitter as a marketing tool, had.

A good laugh with some colleagues, in the privacy of their office, probably would have been a better choice. Thankfully, I got over the embarrassment, didn’t take my sister’s advice to continue my job search in another country, and checked off another lesson learned.

I never heard anything back from the agency, so my only impression of this company will forever be of this negative Tweet.

To those of us circling on the perimeter trying to break in, remember to ALWAYS present yourself in the best light both in person and on social media sites. There is a line between sharing our personal life, and making our selves look bad. If it’s on the internet- anyone can see it!

Share your most embarrassing job-search experience in the “comment” box below!

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | 2 Comments

May I Have Your Attention?

Are our cover letters and resumes being sent to outer space? Am I the only one that gets 1 response for what seems to be every 100 positions I apply for? Not even an automated response!

While at my waitressing gig tonight, I was offered some well-intended advice from a guest: “You need to just get your resume out there!

As fun as slinging meatballs can be,  if “just getting my resume out there” was all it took, then my passion for public relations would be far more than an aspiration.

After attempting to politely redirect the conversation, the guest continued: “All you need to do is get an entry-level position and you’ll work your way up!

Did my intentions come across as expecting to take over for Daniel Edelman tomorrow?

It takes experience to get an “entry-level” position nowadays. What a catch-22. There are no positions out there for truly “entry-level” professionals, yet we aren’t hired without experience. Hmmm….

Internships? I am on my fourth. Every professional in my chosen industry, although extremely helpful and encouraging, has offered me a different skill that needs to be mastered to be considered for a position. How much mastering does it take to land an “entry-level” position? Because I have gained great experience, skills, and contacts, I  continue to welcome unpaid internships.

Networking? I continue to connect with people I believe to be knowledgeable, respectable, and successful. I’ve gained so much valuable insight and suggestions, yet I’m still slinging-meatballs.

Here are some things I’ve found useful in gaining employers’ attention:

  • People WANT to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and opinions and definitely keep in touch with those you’ve connected.
  • I’ve received better responses/feedback from the companies I’ve sought out. Many positions have actually been filled by the time they are listed on the Internet.
  • Contact people in the industry you’re looking to enter into. So far, no one has been bothered by a polite e-mail inquiring about their position/company. In fact, I have yet to not receive a response. Even if there is not a position available, I’ve gained additional knowledge through each contact, as well as a new friendship. Bonus: now you’re on their radar. When a position becomes available, you are more than just a name on a resume.
  • Persistence rarely goes unnoticed.
  • Taking the extra step to follow up with a phone call or an e-mail shows you’re serious about the position and committed to the hiring process. Do a little research to find out the name of the company’s hiring manager, or even go straight to the president. Worst case scenario: no response.

Although I don’t have a solution (but welcome those you may have!) to gaining an entry-level position with little experience, I do know how to gain the attention of professionals. The next time you find yourself checking your email every hour for a response that you may or may not ever receive, why not take the extra step?

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Advice | , , , , , | Leave a comment