10 Helpful Job Search Tips for Graduates & Job-Seekers

To say that my pursuit for the “right job” has been a journey would be an understatement. As a manager from a major tv network, I thought finding a job that was equally as good as the one I was leaving wouldn’t be too difficult. This was one of the reasons I decided to accept a buyout package from my company of ten years back in the spring of 2016. The company had already gone through a few of these cycles and I could see that a lot of changes were taking place. When it came time for me to get separation package offer, I weighed the pros and cons pretty seriously, but knew I wanted out. I didn’t know if I liked the changes going on within the company and had already been trying to land a new job elsewhere. While my search was already difficult up to this point, I had no idea what was in store for me moving forward.

After everything that has happened over the past several years, it is safe to say I am an expert on many topics relating to the pursuit of a better job. I’ve been to job fairs, networking events, resume writers, and everything else in-between. Recently, after several tough years of searching, I finally feel like I found the right job for me. A company I feel good about and a salary that matches my experience. I won’t say the journey is over, and there are legitimate reasons for that, but I can say that I atleast found a good 9-5 job that makes me feel like the agonizing search I was going through is now over. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I do have a few pieces of advice that I want to share. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. I think the advice I have to give will help those of you who might be going through the same thing. I hope the ten pieces of advice I have will help you to maintain hope that the right job is out there for you.

Minimize The Use Of Job Boards

Technology has many upsides and downsides. This is especially true for job seekers. The days of suiting up and knocking on an employer’s door and/or other face to face job search methods have either gone completely extinct or aren’t practiced as much today. However, this isn’t always a good thing. It’s so easy to sign up for a site like Indeed or Glassdoor, upload a resume, and apply to a number of jobs in hopes of getting a few responses. The truth is, atleast from my experience, is that you will get no response way more than you will receive interest. You can get lucky with this process from time to time, but you can’t bank on it. Employers want to see the personality and face behind the resume. In many cases, a good looking resume just isn’t enough anymore. You also have to factor in things like HR/recruiter screening, keyword search, internal applicants, etc.

I would never tell a job seeker to not use job boards at all. However, it shouldn’t be where the job search starts and ends. This is a tool that should compliment your job search, not be the job search in itself. Although technology has made the process easier, you still need to put yourself out there and network. Finding a new job, especially the right one for you, takes a lot of time and work on your part.

Your Resume Isn’t Everything

This is a heading I never thought I’d write in my entire life. So much emphasis is put on having a solid, eye catching resume that says all of the right things about our background. I still believe a good resume is important, but it’s not everything. Putting too much emphasis on this can lead you to feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. I actually had a resume created for me by a professional resume writing service in my area. Many people agreed that the resume looked great, but it didn’t necessarily generate more interest in me from employers. I don’t think it hurts to put the time and effort into creating a great looking resume, Linkedin profile, portfolio, etc as these things all say something about you as a professional. However, landing the right job is more than submitting a bunch of resumes in order to get an interview. It takes a lot more work than that. Much like your degree from XYZ prestigious university, don’t assume your glowing resume alone will be your ticket to a great job.

Rely On Your Own Instincts, Not Experts

Anybody who knows me probably knows I am one of the most resourceful people you will ever meet. However, even I know there comes a point when you need to ask for help. I got to that point early on in my job search. By the time I received a buyout package from my company, I knew I needed to step up my game. From resume writing companies to other random experts I’ve met along the way, very few have been able to offer me the help I was seeking. In most areas of my search, I felt like I was already doing many of the things I was advised to do. In some cases I was given terrible advice in general. In other cases I found that I was more organized and on the ball than the so called expert. None of us have all the answers, but I believe we have more answers than we may think. Sometimes our luck during the job search is just that: LUCK. That’s why it’s important to maintain mental toughness during the search. As long as you stay true to yourself, you will eventually find the opportunity you deserve.

Use The Networking Tools Around You

I’d be the first to admit that I used to downplay the role of networking due to technology and the information I had on my resume. Once I got to a point where I had a job at well known, highly respected company, I pretty much figured it would be a cinch to find work elsewhere. If I was good enough to pass all of the obstacles to get into such a prestigious company, then why would it be hard to go elsewhere? This was a very naive perspective on my part. This was mostly due to the fact that I never worked on expanding my network beyond my own company. If you want to further your career and/or move on to another great company, then you need to open up and put yourself out there.

Local professional sports teams often hold networking events before games. I didn’t know this until I went to an event before a Boston Red Sox game a few years ago. An employer I desperately wanted to land a job with was there so I bought a ticket (you can also get into the game with your ticket!) and made the several hour drive to Boston for the event. I landed several phone screenings with this company, but never landed the job. However, the way I see it, the experience gave me plenty of interview practice and it also convinced me that this employer I coveted so much may not have actually been the right fit for me after all. Especially since they kept passing on me.

Every job I’ve landed, whether it was an internal or external position, had something to do with networking. I’ve been found by recruiters on Linkedin, I’ve transferred to new offices due to old connections, and have been referred to companies by former colleagues thanks to networking. Never dismiss anybody you meet during your career. I’ve found that some executives who have a lot of connections and knowledge haven’t been very helpful while the most unlikely fellow colleagues have come through for me in a huge way. You never know who might have the ticket to your dream job or at the very least your way out of a tough working situation. Networking can play a subtle or active role in your job pursuit. Chances are, your next job will be due to some form of networking.

Use Linkedin The Right Way

Simply creating a Linkedin profile and connecting with friends and colleagues isn’t enough. This is a very safe networking approach. You MUST take this a step further. Do a search for Linkedin Local and find out who runs the event in your area. Go to these events and meet new connections in person. Connect with highly regarded influencers and connect with them and others who are looking to network. Last summer I barely had 300 Linkedin connections. However, once I started posting my own blogs on the site I started to find my way. I found influencers, other professionals started to find me, and I started attending Linkedin Local in my area. This approach really opened up my professional network and now I have 2,000 connections and growing. You have to get out of your comfort zone with it.

Linkedin isn’t the same thing as Facebook. You need get up the courage to network and get to know others who may be able to help you. Simply searching for a hiring manager or recruiter from a company you want to work for and InMailing them isn’t enough. It also doesn’t help to be passive on Linkedin. Join some groups, find some influencers in your field, and start interacting with other people. It may also help to use the video posting option as well. This may seem like an intimidating idea, but it may actually help you to come out of your shell. If you develop a niche for yourself, it could turn out to be a really great tool that could help your career in ways you probably never imagined. Linkedin is a great tool if you use it the right way.

Don’t Sweat The Interview Process

I am taking a risk with this piece of advice as the interview process can be a tricky one. However, The whole “question & answer” process we all dreaded appears to be a thing of the past. Sure, you will get a few questions about work ethic and how you might fit into the culture of the work place, but overall I’ve found job interviews to be very conversational. Especially when they are held in person. Expect to have more of a conversation about your background and experience rather than getting grilled with questions. A phone screening is still likely to be more of a “question & answer” session so you will need to do your homework if an employer requests to speak to you before they meet you.

Much like in the dating world, the best piece of advice I can give when it comes to job interviews is to just be yourself. Cultural fit seems to be more important than the skills and experience you have to offer. That’s not to downplay what you may have to offer, but it should compliment the impression you are making. With that said, sometimes “failure” during the interview process has nothing to do with you. In some cases, the employer (for whatever reason) finds out that you’re not the right fit. There is nothing wrong with that. Both sides are better off walking away and moving on if something doesn’t seem right. This is why it is important to go into this process cool, relaxed, and 100 percent YOU.

This paragraph could easily be an 11th point for this piece, but I will put it here and say you shouldn’t a follow up from an employer after an interview. They SHOULD do that, but I’ve found that this doesn’t happen very often. If you truly want to know the verdict on an interview, then you may have to seek out the recruiter or hiring manager you spoke to. Unfortunately, we live in an era where getting a proper follow up after an interview rarely happens. No news probably means you either didn’t get the job or something else happened to the position. It’s not right, but sadly it has happened to me more times than I can count.

Be Willing To Settle For Less

I am writing this piece fresh out of three years of contract work. All of these roles were non-management roles. After spending almost four years in a managerial position, it took a lot for me to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to simply apply, interview, and land a managerial position. Without a strong network, it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I had to put my ego aside and learn the hard way on this one. It doesn’t seem logical or fair since I had more than proven myself in the past, but if other people don’t actually know you or what you’re like, it doesn’t seem to matter that much. Also, if the job search is really dragging out, then you may need to settle just for that reason. Especially if you don’t have a job at all. If you find a company you really like, but are taking on a lesser role, then I would consider that a win. However, You may need to keep working on your job search after you find yourself a job. This happened to me multiple times since I took the buyout package a few years ago. It’s reality and it happens to the best of us.

Work On Yourself During The Process

One of the best things I learned over the past few years is that there is more to life than Corporate America. That is not to say that the corporate world has no value. As the new era of my career dragged on with a lot more questions than answers, I started to feel like I wasn’t valued anymore. This is natural as I went from looking after a large staff of employees to simply clocking in and out of a job I was overqualified for. This wasn’t a completely negative thing for me as I started to soul search and ask myself important questions.

This blog and all of my social media networking came out of this era of my life. I even started writing a book in order to help me to feel better about where I was in life. Starting these projects was probably one of the best things I could have done for myself. It made a big difference in how I felt about myself and it helped me to see that I am doing a lot of things that people value. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, take some time to think about what you can do for yourself. Take a few classes, volunteer, network, etc. Find a passion and start working towards something that could become bigger than simply focusing on the company you’re working for. It could be a blessing in disguise that you are in a situation that isn’t very favorable.

Take A Break From The Search

If you had told me a few years ago that it would take YEARS to find the right job I would have said you’re nuts. However, that’s exactly what happened to me. Sure, I landed some contract work along the way, but I received far more no’s and no response at all than I have a yes. This is a grim reality you might have to face at some point in your career. It’s important to stay with the search and not give up, but it is just as important to step away from it for awhile and take a break. Especially if it takes a few years to accomplish your goal. I’ve been through this process personally so take my advice when I say it will be good for you to step away from the job search process once in awhile. It’s similar to many other things we do in life. For example, as much as I love writing this blog I do take some breaks from posting once in awhile. When I come back to it, I feel refreshed and ready to share a lot more ideas. It also feels less like work. The same thing is true of the job search. Sometimes stepping away from it for awhile could actually help you to find what you’re looking for.

Stay Positive & Don’t Give Up

This may seem like a cliche’ point. Especially if you’re feeling as down as I’ve been about the interview and hiring process. However, when all is said and done, I can confirm that it does pay off to stay positive. Whether an employer says you’re too inexperienced, overqualified, or anything in-between, you can’t let it affect how you view yourself. The right fit does exist. Sometimes the process takes longer for some than others. That doesn’t make you any less valuable of a candidate. If employers are showing interest, then it also means they feel like you are qualified for the job. When you don’t get the job, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have the skills or ability to do it. There are so many factors that can play into why you don’t get a job. I’ve had a few experiences where the job posting was taken down or not followed through on due to budget or other internal reasons. Sometimes politics plays a role. Other times more than one person might be making the decision. You just don’t really know. All you can do is control what is in front of you. When one door closes, another one will eventually open. Take it from somebody who managed to stay with the process even though it took them a few years to get what they wanted.

Looking for more career related content? Check out some of these older posts!


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2 Responses

  1. Bob Haegele says:

    These are great tips, Marc! The professional landscape is changing, and it shows.

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Thanks Bob! There’s no doubt about that statement. I pretty much threw everything I thought I knew out the window a long time ago. The process of establishing yourself as a professional is a pretty intricate one nowadays. Hopefully posts like this will shed some light on that!

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