To say I was thrilled, when I heard my daughter got her first job, would be an understatement. I was overjoyed… for her. It took a while – sometimes it felt like an eternity – but she landed a great position with a really good company. The hard work had finally paid off!
Moving to a new city didn’t make the job search any easier. The old adage “it’s not what you know but rather who you know” wasn’t going to work in this case. Julia had to role up her sleeves and figure it out without help from friends and family.
I wondered what my daughter had learned from the journey, what could she share that might help other first-time-job-seekers start their professional career? So I grabbed my phone and sent a text: “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” Here’s what I learned from my interview:
- Take your time and find a good fit: The job search might take longer than you think, especially if you want to find the right job with the right company. If you are not completely sold on the job or the company, walk away now rather than in six months. Be patient.
- Network, network, network: Whether you are looking in your hometown or moving 700 miles away to a new city (like Julia did), network with everyone plus their grandmother. Start with family and friends: do they have any connections to employees in the companies on your radar? Ask your friends to ask their parents if they might know someone they can introduce you to.
- Get out and meet people: Get out of your apartment. Meet people for coffee and lunch. Go to networking meetings. Sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring will make time stand still and lead to depression. You’ve got to interact with people or you’ll go nuts.
- Internships: If you’re still in college make sure you find summer internships with companies that you might want to work for later. Once you have your foot in the door of the company – and if you really do a good job while your there – the chances are pretty good that they might hire you after graduation. Julia was able to use her internships to get some really good written recommendations and two of her bosses were even called as references. Also, stay in touch with the people you worked for and with during your internship. Let them know what you are doing and how your career is going. You never know when they might be able to support you in the future.
- College Resources: Make sure you use your college career center and alumni network. Go to the career center and meet the people who work there. Ask them about the services they offer. Also, check with the Alumni office to see if you can get a list of graduates who work in your city or who are employed at companies you are interested in. If you can at least get some names, you’ll be able to do some more research on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn: Upgrading to LinkedIn Premium will help you with your job search. You can set your profile to keep your searches anonymous while you look up people. It will also show you how many people have applied for a position and how you rank against other candidates based on your personal profile…Julia said this was an extreme asset.
- Job Website: Get connected and apply for positions on multiple job websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Monstor.com and Glass Door. Check each day but limit your screen time. Again, it is more important to get out and meet people then spend all day looking at websites… for sanity’s sake.
- Stick to the Process: Stay disciplined every day: applying for jobs, setting up coffees, sending electronic or hand-written thank-you notes after meetings and making follow-up calls. Be organized and keep a log of what you have done and what you need to do and when. Don’t let anything slip through the cracks.
- Other Forms of Income: Figure out ways to generate income before you land your dream job. Why not get a part-time job at Panera or William Sonoma? Julia was able to work with a few companies as a Freelancer. Use these places of employment to engage with customers. In a subtle way you might be able to network your way into the right job.
- Be Flexible: You might have your heart set on a very specific job or a very specific company. But, there are different ways to Rome. Be flexible and realize that your professional career is a marathon and not a sprint. Your dream job might be one or two jobs in the future. The main thing is that you are learning, growing, gaining experience and doing quality work…which your boss will notice.
Finally, try to remain positive during your job search and see it as an adventure that is helping you grow and reach your full potential.
Also, remember, after every interview, it’s important to follow up whether via phone call or email. Even if you don’t think you got the position, follow up with the interviewer. They’ll appreciate this and it may even help you get the job!
Looking for guidance on landing that first great job? Want to know how to best match your strengths and talents with what employers are looking for in today’s job market? Contact me at
Burt@Lohoff-Gaida.com for a discussion.