Landing my first “real” job was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I never thought it would be so difficult and such a long process. After graduating I knew my dream job wasn’t going to fall into my lap, but boy did I not realize the long journey ahead! After a couple years of internships, random jobs, and more job applications than I can count, I finally landed my first job over 6 months ago at Avoya Travel. While it’s not my dream job, I’m learning a ton, my coworkers are awesome, and I’m in the travel industry. It’s a great start! Over the past couple of years I’ve learned quite a bit about the job hunting process, and while I am not an expert by any means, I thought I would share what I’ve learned with you guys.
Here are my job searching tips:
1. Stay organized
When you’re applying to job after job, which are usually similar positions at similar places, they can all start to blur together. To avoid forgetting where I’d applied, I made a Google spreadsheet and kept track of all the jobs I’d applied to, the date I applied, the link to the job posting/company, when I last followed up, and any contact info. It made life SO much easier. I could just jump in my spreadsheet and say hmm, I haven’t followed up with this person in 2 weeks, maybe I’ll send another note. Applying to jobs is already stressful enough, so this eliminates having to worry about the little details by having everything in one place.
2. Get personal
When there are hundreds of other people applying to the same position as you, it’s important to stand out. One way I did that was by sending a personalized, handwritten follow up note. It can be a bit tricky to find addresses, but if you spend a little time searching you’ll be glad you did. I would search Linkedin and find the HR manager (or pretty much anyone in HR) and then find the address of the company. It doesn’t always work, but I made an amazing connection with one HR person from a company I really admire. I received the nicest email from her, saying how thoughtful it was because no one writes handwritten notes anymore. She ended up setting up a phone interview with me that week! Even though it takes a bit of time, you’ll definitely stand out.
3. Follow-up is key
Okay, I know this is a no brainer, but it’s really important. If you make a Google spreadsheet like I mentioned above, your life will be a lot easier in the follow-up department, which already puts you a step ahead. After applying to a job I typically wait one week until I send out my first follow-up. If I don’t hear anything back, I’ll send out another friendly follow-up. If I still haven’t heard a response, I would either a) triple check that I have the right contact information and b) try a different type of follow up—call instead of email, or send a handwritten note instead. After that, you might just need to try applying again the next time they are hiring. It’s tough—the squeaky wheel usually gets the oil, so you want to be persistent, but not annoying!
4. Google and Linkedin are your friends
There will be plenty of companies and jobs that you know you want to apply to right away. Once you’ve gotten through those, it can be a little daunting. Like, what now? Enter: Google and Linkedin. Whatever types of companies you’re interested in, search on both sites and see what you come up with. And I mean search. Search for things that might be outside of your ideal company—you never know what might find. On Linkedin do the same, and also search for people. This was immensely helpful for me! I would look up people who worked somewhere I wanted and see where they worked previously and how they got there. Often times this would lead me to find out about new companies and new people to reach out to!
5. Don’t rule out internships
I had 3 internships post-grad! After the first one I thought okay, now I’m ready and I’ll find a job right away…wrong. I ended up at another internship (which was my first full time office experience and taught me SO much) for almost a year. After that, I thought the same thing: okay, now I have some actual experience and finding a job is going to be a breeze. Again, wrong. In a moment of desperation, I accepted my third internship. I was pretty embarrassed at the time, but looking back now I realize I shouldn’t have been. I learned tons from all of my internships and they really helped me figure out where I wanted to go with my career. So if you think you’re somehow failing by accepting an internship after college, you’re wrong!
6. Don’t get discouraged
As I said before and I’m sure you all know, the job searching process is HARD. It sucks the life out of you, makes you go a little crazy, and stresses you out constantly. After thinking I nailed tons of interviews and then getting an email saying they went with someone else…it sucks. Just plain ol’ sucks. But even after your 5th rejection letter you just have to keep going. Just know that the right thing will come along! Good things come to those who wait. 🙂