Let’s face it…searching for a job is awful. I’ve just arrived home from being an Aupair in Berlin for the past two months, and I am now back in Atlanta to face the “real world”. Speaking of which, I apologize for this post coming a bit spaced out from my previous one. I was without Internet where I was staying and the busiest I have ever been in my entire life. Those families aren’t joking when they say they need an extra hand around the house (and this family even had two Aupairs…). It was an experience to say the least, and now I’m happy to be back in Atlanta and to find that first “real world” job to jumpstart my career.
I believe that with any process, there are stages that a person goes through. The same occurs with attempting to find a job. I’ve been through some of these steps before in this process, but it was when I was trying to find a part-time video production job while in school, so I was completely busy during the whole search. Now that I have graduated from college and the next “step” in the process of this thing called “life” is to find a job, it’s easy to start to freak out. I mean if you think about it too much, you picture yourself constantly on the computer applying for jobs that you know you may never hear a response about. You sit typing away on your computer with no money coming in the door, and it’s a bit overwhelming. The stages of the job search that I have come up with are as followed:
- EXCITEMENT: In this first stage, you are extremely excited to start your job search. It is the first step to that dream career of yours! You may have narrowed it down to one city or to a few tens of cities, but that doesn’t overwhelm you…the more cities, the more options, right? You decide just to browse a bit – no need to actually apply for things yet. I mean, you still need to do some final touches on your resume, so for now, you’re just simply looking at your options. Ah, there are so many options!
- PREPARATION: After seeing the possibilities, you think, “I need to polish my resume fast before it’s too late to apply to those jobs!” But, with today’s society, it’s not only the resume that needs some final touches. You have to update the LinkedIn page and make sure it matches the resume, and then you have to make sure your online portfolio or website is talking about the right things, and so on. Perhaps a Vimeo page needs some monitoring? You have to think about every aspect that an employer will see and everything that your one simple resume will link them to see. Yeah, it can be a bit overwhelming. My hint: act like you are the employer who is receiving the resume and links to the online portfolios, blogs, and the like and see if everything adds up in your head. And, of course, when all else fails and you need a second opinion, only one word is necessary: “Mom!”
- DETERMINATION: So, you’ve perfected your resume and looked at your options; now, it is time to actually begin your job search. I know in your mind, you started the job search at step one, but let’s be honest, that was your lazy day to slowly absorb the job listings without actually doing anything about them. In the beginning of this step, you apply to two, maybe three jobs, and you feel accomplished. “They’ll have to get back in touch with me…I’m perfect for the job.” You even filled out a few of those really long applications where you have to fill out every detail about anything you’ve ever had experience with. You know, the one that takes two hours and when it’s finally completed, you feel like you’ve completed a marathon? You might even take a little break, eat some chocolate as a reward (Dove chocolate in my case), because you deserve it…that application was ridiculously long. But, it only means they’re really serious about finding someone, right? Those applications that only require a resume to be sent have to be some sort of scam…they just seem way too easy.
- MELT-DOWN: Where are all of the short applications?! I refuse to fill out another application with all of my past experiences, when I performed them, and why I am the “perfect candidate” for the job! I just am, trust me! You’ve cracked. Or, you’ve experienced the first break into your foundation at least. At this moment, stop. Yes, I know that sounds like bad advice, but I don’t mean to stop forever. Simply stop for that moment until you know you can efficiently fill out the next application. There is no point for you to “kind of ” fill out an application or to rush through it. Just relax. In today’s economy, there isn’t some huge sea full of jobs just waiting for you to choose one; there is a limited supply. So why would you ever ruin one of your opportunities just to have it out of the way? If it gets to a point where applying for jobs upon jobs is causing you to crack, then just stop. Maybe apply for one of those jobs with a long application in the morning, and be content with that. Take a break, have a snack, and then return. In your mind, make it so that you feel satisfied with having three applications finished in one day. I mean, let’s face it…you have nothing else to do. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true. (Hey I’m writing this post on one of my little “breaks,” so you’re not alone).
- CLARITY: The last stage is a grey area, which is ironic given its name. Either, you cracked so badly because of the last stage and you’ve become mentally deranged or desperate: “I don’t care what job I get…I will scrub toilets…just give me a JOB!” Or, you have successfully timed out your applications and realized that patience actually is a virtue, and you are calmly waiting for that email of congratulations. This email of success may be offering a job or simply an interview, but let’s face it, even getting an interview can be a stretch at some times, so you should celebrate. In this stage…you get a job. Yes, people, relax, you WILL find something. It may be weeks or maybe months, but you will find something if you are persistent and keep trying. I know it will feel like eternity, but it will happen. So, like I said before, just relax. In this stage, I suppose you really can relax.
These stages will happen to everyone; it’s just human nature. Unless you are some really special person who lands a job on the first day of their job search (in which case, I hate you), then you’re just going to have to sit through it. But, there’s good news, you’re not alone. There are tons of people in your same exact position, which may make you think…great, even more competition for a job. However, sometimes your “competition” can be your biggest advantage. What I mean is, all of these people know what you have been going through, and they are not all looking at the same jobs as you. Instead of trying to rise above them, join them. Meet up with them at a professional job networking event and see what they are looking for. They may be in accounting, and what do you know, your dad’s an accountant. They can, in turn, help you connect with a potential employer.
Networking is key!
Use LinkedIn, and use your contacts. Think about all of your connections to potential jobs. There are networking events at churches, at cafes…it’s actually really easy to find one! The easiest way for me, other than at my church, has been a website called, Meetup (http://www.meetup.com). On this website, you can find people getting together for certain things all over the world. I used it in Berlin, and now I’m using it in Atlanta. I simply typed in, “job networking” and boom, there they are: pages of groups that organize meetings for unemployed people (and even those with jobs) to attend with business cards and resumes to network. You talk, and they talk. It’s as simple as that. Connections are the way to a job nowadays. It’s sad to say, but it’s mainly who you know rather than what you know. However, you can now use that to your advantage.
So, there you have them, the five stages of the job search. The cure to cracking is to simply treat the job search as a job itself, and then relax! Wake up early, write those emails, and apply to those jobs. However, when the clock strikes five in the afternoon, just stop. Most people won’t be checking their emails after that time anyway, and you need to be fresh on your feet and still determined to wake up the next day and apply to more jobs. And, to spice up your “workday” a bit, go network! It is a fun and social way to look for a job. Get out of your house and off of your computer and meet people!
Hey, even if you don’t find anyone to connect you to a potential job, you still made a few friends in the area and maybe you helped them out! And, I am a strong believer in karma: what goes around comes around. You help them find a job, and somewhere down the line, they may find something for you. My life motto is everything happens for a reason. Trust that, and just stay determined. That’s all you really can do. I suppose while I’m on here, I can promote myself a wee bit: I’m looking for a job in Atlanta, Georgia in media production, social media, or basically anything in the communications department! This includes film, television, radio, and the likes. My online portfolio and resume can all be viewed here: http://melissamsmith.webs.com. Now that that’s over, I hope you all enjoyed, and I promise my next blog post won’t take so long! (I do have Internet now, after all!) And when you have moments when you can’t take it anymore, remember: relax and do something else. I carved a penguin pumpkin in my time of despair):