If you’ve applied for every job in town with no luck and are now ready to find other ways to get the job you want, try networking. It’s the best way to tap into the “other” job market. Some experts say 70-80% of available open positions aren’t posted online. I’d agree that a majority of positions aren’t posted or easily found. You’re doing a disservice to yourself if you are ONLY looking at the job boards.
By attending events in your area, you can meet key decision makers and contacts that may be able to help you find your next job.
Here are 10 tips to help you get more out of your in-person networking.
1. Find Groups That Target Your Industry
If you want to work in PR for entertainment, as an example, visit Meetup.com and see if there are any groups or organizations that cater to this niche. If not, aim for a public relations organization like PRSA, which might have local chapters in your city. By connecting with people in the industry you work in or plan to work in, you can find out what’s happening in the field and what companies are actively looking to hire people with your skillset.
2. Have Your Elevator Speech Ready
When you meet someone new, you don’t want to stumble over what you say when they ask about you. You want to talk about your current role, and maybe briefly mention that you’re interested in finding a career in X area/Y industry. Keep it short and leave room for people you meet to ask questions.
3. Speaking of Questions… Ask lots of them yourself. People like talking about themselves, and this is a great way to get them to open up about hiring. While it shouldn’t be your agenda to aggressively approach a new contact about hiring you, asking casual questions like “what does your company have planned for next year?” can open the door to you getting a little insight into what might turn into a job opportunity down the road.
4. Take Notes
Ask for business cards of anyone you find to be a valuable contact (just don’t be that collector who goes around the room with nothing to offer!). If you can step away from the event, make quick notes on each card so that you remember who you met and maybe something you should follow up on. This will help you keep from letting good opportunities slip through the cracks.
5. Don’t Be a Wallflower
So many people feel awkward their first time at a networking event. That should help you realize you’re not alone in wanting to nurse your ice water along the wall and blend in with the plants. But fake it until it’s easier. After all, you came to the event to make new contacts, so make yourself walk up to someone who maybe looks as nervous as you do. It gets easier.
6. Don’t Self Promote
Yes, you want a job. But chances are, no one is going to interview you on the spot for one. That’s not your purpose. Instead, aim to meet a variety of people, and follow up later to grow the relationships. You should aim to make new contacts that could, down the road, develop into an opportunity for a career move.
7. Pay Attention
Once you attend a few industry events, you’ll begin to see the same people. Remember who you meet, and make an effort to recall something you spoke about at the previous meeting. This will impress your new contacts and help them remember you.
8. Bring Business Cards
Seems straightforward enough, but many people end up forgetting their cards and waste a great opportunity to connect. But don’t machine gun spray the room with your cards; focus on making quality connections.
9. Pick a Few Events
It can be tempting to attend a different networking event each night, once you get the hang of it. But you’re better off focusing on a couple groups that you can really commit to and start building relationships in. 10. Master the Followup After the event, make sure you reach out quickly. And please, don’t just automatically subscribe your new contacts to your automated email newsletter! Send a personal follow-up reminding each person where you met and why you want to stay in contact – and then keep in touch.
If you want to dip your toes in the marketing world, but aren’t ready (or aren’t hireable enough) full-time job, give freelancing a try. Apparently it’s a good time to do so.
Every quarter and year, Elance looks at which industries are hiring freelancers. Looking at last year’s data, marketing grew in leaps and bounds in specific niches:
- Digital marketing
- Social media
- Content writing
- Blog writing
- Web design
- Graphic design
Local Economies No Longer an Issue
One hypothesis on why earnings have increased so drastically (just digital marketing saw a 190% increase year-on-year) is that geography is no longer a barrier to finding good talent. So if an employer runs an office out of Church Point, Louisiana (population 4,575), he can find talent anywhere in the world. That opens up the possibility to finding better talent. What that means for you as that talent is that you aren’t limited to finding a job within commuting distance.
The report showed that Rhode Island, whose unemployment rate is 10.2% showed an 89% increase in earnings for marketing freelancers. So in addition to removing geographic barriers, the freelancing industry is helping alleviate a bit of that unemployment rate to boot!
More Marketing, More Jobs
While a few years ago, companies of every size held back on social media and blogging as part of their marketing strategy, they’re embracing them like crazy now. And that means that they need more bloggers, social media strategists and overall Internet marketing experts. But that doesn’t always mean they want to hire full-time roles. Often this work can be done part-time externally, which saves the company on benefits, salaries and overhead.
If you’re smart about it, you can piece together a decent living through freelancing. Find a few clients who need content marketing, design work or social media execution — all of which tend to be ongoing work — and you’ve got yourself a paycheck!
How to Start Freelancing in Marketing
Step 1: Search for Gigs. If you’ve got some experience in marketing, you can start looking for projects on sites like Elance, as well as Guru.com and others. Beef up your profile as much as possible: add samples of your work to your portfolio so potential clients can see what you’ve done.
These sites let you search categories for projects. Some will be one-time projects, while others may need someone long-term. Make sure you have the skills the project requires, and send a well-crafted application letter, targeting the key points you feel make you qualified. If you’ve worked on similar projects, make sure to say so, as many employers would be more comfortable with someone who has worked in their industry before.
Step 2: Get a Website and Blog. Build a simple website that also highlights your work, outlines your services, and provides contact information. It’s wise to start a blog and write about the areas you want work in. The more you demonstrate your expertise, the easier it is for potential employers to trust in your skills and hire you.
Step 3: Network. Reach out to companies in your area — especially smaller ones that might not have in-house marketing and let them know the services you offer. Also connect with marketing agencies, as often they have more work than they can handle and need extra help.
It may take a while, but you’ll find that once you get a few projects under your belt, you’ll have some experience to back you up and it will because easier to close a new project.
If you can’t claim one of these excuses on why you shouldn’t blog professionally, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using a blog as a fantastic tool for marketing yourself to potential employers. Here are ten ways starting and managing a blog can make you more hireable, in case you need more reasons to get started.
1. It makes you look tech savvy.
Blogs are search engine fodder, and if a potential employer searches for your name, you want a smattering of blog posts you’ve written to appear. It shows you’re being proactive in managing your online profile.
2. You prove your writing skills.
Employers are no longer asking for a folder full of your newspaper clippings; they’re looking online. And if they can easily see in one place samples of your writing, they can assess whether you’ve got the communication skills they’re looking for.
3. They don’t know how to blog.
While this isn’t true of all companies, many are still desperately seeking talent that has experience in this realm, and if you prove your mettle, you just might get the job.
4. It proves you’re paying attention to your industry.
If you’re blogging about the field you work in (or want to work in), you’re staying on top of industry trends and sharing your insight on them. Employers like that.
5. A blog shows you’re a go-getter.
If you start a professional blog that’s not part of a college assignment or part of your responsibilities at a company, you’re showing that you want to take the effort to improve yourself professionally by taking on the task of blogging on your own.
6. A blog can cover up lack of professional experience.
If you’re just entering the workforce, your blog doesn’t have to reveal that. If you consistently post great content, it can make up for a lack of real-world experience in the professional world.
7. It can help you segway into another field.
If you suddenly decide to switch fields or roles midway through your career, a blog can help ease the blow. Rather than applying for a new role in a new field with zero experience, at the very least, you can direct hiring managers to your blog to demonstrate your eagerness to immerse yourself into something new.
8. It shows you’re diverse.
Even if the job you want doesn’t require blogging as a skill, showing off your blog can demonstrate that you’re not afraid to take on new tasks. From pitching journalists to analyzing social media data, you’re ready for a challenge.
9. Blogging helps you understand bloggers and journalists.
If you’re considering PR as a career, blogging can give you new appreciation for the media. You will understand better what motivates them, as well as how to approach them with a pitch (especially if you’re a blogger who gets pitched). You’ll also be more likely to be considered “one of the gang” by bloggers if you blog in addition to working in public relations.
10. You might find a new career without looking.
Many people start blogs as a hobby or as a way to show off their writing skills to potential employers, but instead find that they really want to turn blogging into a career in and of itself. If you love writing and begin expanding your readership, you might find a way to turn blogging into a full-time job, or at the very least, a side job that brings in a little extra cash.
The key to using a blog as a branding tool is to start it long before you start looking for a job. Maintain it by regularly contributing useful content to it and sharing it through your social channels. By the time you do begin the job hunt, your blog should be established enough to impress any hiring manager.
In addition to dozens of job boards providing an easy way for you to instantly apply for a job online, now mobile and tablet apps can help keep you connected to your job hunt, even on the go. Here are some of the best.
1. Indeed.com’s Job Search
If you’re on the go and want to browse job listings, this app lets you view all the jobs you’d find on Indeed’s website, in a handy mobile format. And you’re not limited to just US jobs: you can also search jobs in Canada, UK, Ireland, India, South Africa, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia, if you’re interested in working abroad. You can save jobs or email them to yourself.
Job Search is available for Android and Apple products, and is free.
In addition to letting you search jobs, JobMo also lets you compare salaries and trends for the job you want in your city. You can search for a job in a geographic region, and get involved in the forum to ask questions of other job seekers.
JobMo is available for iPhones and iPads, as well as Android phones. It’s free.
If the job hunt is taking longer than you’d like, download Gigwalk and find part-time and freelance work you can do to make money in the meantime. Join private groups to get access to even more gigs without having to apply. Projects include tasks like:
- taking photos of store displays
- testing mobile apps
- delivery services
- mystery shopping
The app is free and available for all Apple products.
To balance out the job hunting apps, try Lunchmeet. It uses your LinkedIn account and contacts to help you find people you can network with in your area. Set up a time slot when you’re available to meet up over coffee, and others can set up a get together. It’s a great way to meet people at companies you want to work at, as well as find mentors who are willing to give you a little free career advice.
The app is free and available for Apple products.
5. Monster Job Search
If you use Monster to hunt for a job, you can tie in your account through the mobile app. You can get instant notifications of new jobs that fit your search parameters, and search for jobs in your geographic area. The app’s available in 19 languages, in case you speak more than one!
Monster’s app is free for Android and Apple products.
6. Interview Prep Questions
If you have an upcoming interview and are nervous about the questions you’ll be asked, this is a great app to do a trial run with. The app has some of the most commonly used interview questions, and you can flip through them flashcard-style. Give your best answer and practice what you’ll say, and you will rock that interview.
The app is free for Apple products, and $2.99 for Android phones.
7. Job Juice Social Media Search
This app leverages social media to help you build your online network with recruiters and hiring managers. It provides tips for building those relationships without overstepping your bounds, and helps you learn to beef up your online profile.
The app is $14.99, and available for iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
8. Pocket Resume
If you don’t have time to sit down at a computer and create your resume, this app will help you update your resume from your phone. It uses pre-created templates and layouts to help you design a professional-looking resume in minimum time.
The app is $2.99 for Android phones, Blackberry phones, and all Apple products.
Companies want to hire applicants who demonstrate superior social skills and network contacts, especially in business, marketing and sales. Social networks allow people to network effectively within their industry and leverage media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to complement their efforts to find better jobs. The best social media efforts enhance job searches, but applicants still need to follow traditional job-search methods to increase their chances of finding suitable job openings.
The social media allow applicants to study potential employers, connect with current and former employees, and learn about company brands. People can find out the details about organizations that companies prefer to keep hidden. Former employees often see things quite differently than corporate media outlets describe. Job seekers can find out whether they really fit the company’s profile before committing to time-consuming application processes or jobs that hold little promise for the future.
Strategy for leveraging the social media includes approaching all social media posting and interacting in a professional way, staying focused on the goals job seekers want to achieve. People seeking to make career changes should first polish their resumes and change their social media profiles to match that information. This technique does not involve exaggeration or lying, but simply exercising discretion to include only those interests that companies would perceive as benefits. For example, if a company has a conservative reputation, then job seekers should avoid listing personal information that suggests liberal leanings.
Networking with other professionals within an industry helps develop contacts for employment and personal references, and job seekers can strengthen their reputations as experts in their given fields. Most dynamic organizations use social media for marketing and research, so people who take part in the networks with strong media presences show potential employers that candidates care about their images and have essential media savvy they could use in their jobs if hired.
Remember that serious recruiters also use the social media to investigate potential employees, so job seekers should avoid posting information that could prove embarrassing or compromising. Bullhorn Reach recruiting techniques offer software that helps employers find and recruit talent, and careful companies can monitor their employees’ social activity, personal brand choices, and other online activity. Strong social media presences in certain industries could lead to companies recruiting job seekers, so applicants should always keep their social activity within the bounds of good taste.
Social media research allows applicants to create focused, relevant resumes and cover letters that highlight the qualifications particular companies are seeking. Savvy job seekers cannot afford to ignore the important influence social media have on modern business.
This is a guest post from Sam Peters, a blogger who enjoys writing about career development.
You dream of landing the perfect job at a public relations agency, working with the most interesting clients in the industry and getting them all sorts of public recognition. I’m always amazed at how some PR pros are brilliant at their jobs, but when it comes to selling themselves in a job interview, they crumble. Where did that confident, over-achieving, media rockstar go? Apply some media relations 101 rules on your job search will help pitch yourself as the perfect fit for your next job.
- Do Your Homework. It gets tiring sending cover letter after cover letter. You’ll be tempted to just use a template and be done with it. But spending just a little time digging into the company you want to work for will pay off. For starters, it’s impressive because you have already set yourself apart from 90% of the applications the company receives. Unfortunately, most people try to shortcut the job search. Making a tiny mention in your cover letter that shows you’ve read through the company’s website, blog, or recent news can show the hiring manager that you put thought into your letter, and that you really are interested in working for this company.
- Know Who You’re Pitching. Sometimes those “Dear Hiring Manager” generic openings are unavoidable, but if you do a little research (see #1), you may be able to get the name of the person who’s interviewing for the role you want. Look on the company’s site, and call if you need to in order to get this information.
- Customize Your Pitch. Both your cover letter and your resume should be tweaked slightly for each PR job you apply for. One might look for industry-specific experience, while another may want someone with a wider depth of experience. Play to what they’re looking for, and highlight your skills to match. If you are agency-side, a quick blurb about each client you represent helps set the tone and show how you are the security software PR expert they are looking for. Don’t make the reader think too much to connect the dots.
- Hesitate Before Sending an Attachment. Not everyone wants attachments. Read through the job description carefully to see whether it mentions how the hiring manager would prefer to receive resumes. If you have an online link to your resume, include it in the cover letter.
- Proofread! Nothing looks sloppier than grammatical errors in your resume or cover letter. Everyone in the world must know this rule by now. Yet I’d say at least half of the applications I receive have some glaring issue. Go over each carefully, and ask a friend to do so as well, to ensure its perfection. Then, just like with a PR pitch, follow up. Give it a few days once you’ve submitted your application, and then check in to see when the hiring manager expects to make a decision.
Traditionally, we’ve thought of the hiring process as one in which job applicants are judged based on their resumes, cover letters, professional appearances, references, and ultimately face-to-face interviews. With the rise of social media we’re seeing a new factor come into play for prospective employees looking to find a career: social media background checks. We’ve all heard stories about people getting fired for an untoward tweet or Facebook post.
Even before being hired, many applicants are rejected because of negative material found online. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly 70% of employers had refrained from hiring someone because of information found online. This could be in the form of blogs, photos, videos, and social media posts.
Social media background checks are now being packaged into services and employers will have to determine whether they think these services are efficient at choosing the most worthy job applicants. One such service, Social Intelligence, was approved by the FCC last year and has been implemented by a number of different companies.
Social Intelligence essentially mines a person’s social media profiles and creates a comprehensive document that flags and assesses racy material. Instead of focusing on credit scores or criminal backgrounds—though those may be pursued independently—SI paints a portrait of a job candidate based upon their social media activity. Hiring managers can then look at this information and make a determination. They can store this data in their archives for up seven years.
Regardless of how you view this practice ethically, it’s certainly worth both employers and job seekers taking note of the trend. In the near future, resumes and degrees will increasingly being competing with the online reputations created through social media. The implications of this are obvious: job seekers must do their own reputation management—similar to how companies monitor their brand online—to ensure that social media background check companies won’t be able to dredge up damaging material.
Yes, this means not posting pictures of yourself drunk or naked. It also means limiting the vulgarity you use. It is also certainly worth looking into your privacy permissions and making sure your social media accounts are locked to outside observers. That is, unless you want employers to see inside your profiles. If your material is squeaky clean and full of positive posts, this could be beneficial.
Hiring managers will also have to make sure that they are not overvaluing these background checks. Incidents and posts must be contextualized. A job applicant’s sterling job history, educational degrees, and skill sets should not necessarily be trumped by a propensity to post irresponsibly on social media sites. That said, cavalier online behavior is certainly a characteristic worth looking into, especially if your company deals with sensitive or highly classified material.
Many employers may ask for a written recommendation letter from a previous employer, professor or personal reference. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to reference letters.
You should carefully consider who you ask to write a letter of recommendation. When you do, it’s important that you explain why you have chosen them and what unique relationship you have with that person that will allow them to effectively communicate your skill sets to your next employer.
You should arm your former colleague with the tools she needs to write you a recommendation. It’s time-consuming and inconsiderate to just ask someone to spend lots of time to write something for you from scratch. You don’t need to put words in her mouth, but do give her some direction. She needs to know your specific intents with the letter (is it general, for a specific job, the job description, etc.) and the characteristics and skills you’d like to highlight. Giving some points of reference or even a draft will help you get a more customized, stronger recommendation letter.
Components of a Recommendation Letter
First paragraph: In the introduction of your letter, provide an explanation of how this person knows you. It might be your previous boss, a professor of a class that relates to the job you’re applying for, or a personal friend who can vouch for your character.
Second paragraph: This is the meat of the reference letter. It should detail about your qualities as they relate to the job description, what you bring to the table, and why this person is writing the letter for you. If necessary, this can be expanded into two paragraphs, but don’t make it too long.
Third paragraph: If there is a specific job description, this is the part where you specific skills for the job should be explained. Remind the person of any examples from your past they could highlight in the letter.
Conclusion: Be sure to summarize your — the job seeker’s — skills and recommend you for the role.
Contact info: The recommendation letter should also provide all contact information for the referrer – name, job title, company, phone number and email.
Keep a Copy
You may need a similar letter for future applications, so make sure you keep copies/scans of your letters in a safe place. You can use the same letter for multiple job applications, although if it was geared towards one job, you’ll obviously need to have it modified another position.
It’s a good idea to keep your references list and your recommendations on hand and current. Scrambling to get references together at the last minute looks disorganized and if getting the job comes down between you and another candidate, the lag time could cost you the job. Some contacts might be a better fit for some jobs than others, so keep a list of more than you need so you can rotate them.
Not too long ago, having a long list of roles on your resume was a drawback to potential employers. Is that still the case?
Times are a’ changing
The average person under 30 changes jobs once a year, while the average American changes jobs once every three years. Gone are the days when we put in a good 20 years at a company and got a pension. The younger the person, the more likely they are to have a changing work history.
Some employers are bothered by short stints (it works the other way – some employers worry if you have worked at the same company for too long!). You may encounter some prejudice if you’re labeled as a job hopper, but it’s up to you to turn the situation around.
How to Spin a Changing Work History
If you’re worried your long list of jobs will impede your ability to get your next job, find a way to show the silver lining. Focus on the benefits you’ve received from working in many positions.
You’ve likely gotten exposure to many different types of companies, which makes you well-equipped to handle a variety of work environments. You’ve learned more skills and have become highly adaptable by proxy of different employers’ requirements.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Don’t play down the fact that you’ve worked at many companies (especially if some of them are well-respected in your field; employers should know you’ve worked at these places and will probably find out by asking and searching around). You can ease some of the initial questioning by not listing the exact months of employment on your resume (employers know this trick). Keep the places of employment that best relate to the current role you’re applying for, and toss the rest, as in your university or immediate post-university jobs that are no longer relevant.
Sometimes it’s not your fault; many people have fallen victim to layoffs and cutbacks, so explain that if it’s the cause of your job hopping.
Employers major concern with job hopping is you’ll get bored and leave their firm after a long, grueling search and significant investment in hiring and training you. They may also question your decision-making process, especially if you have weak responses for your reasons for moving on or you seem to follow typical pattern.
Consider Your Own Reasons
If you feel you’ve been labeled a “job hopper”, have you considered why are you changing jobs so often? Is there an underlying issue you can prevent?
Do you like what you do? If it’s an issue with your profession, there isn’t an employer in the world who will make you happy if you continue down a career path that makes you miserable. If that’s the case, it’s time to consider a big career shift.
Does it seem like everywhere you go you have personal issues with your boss or colleagues? As hard as it is to admit, it might be time to look at your interpersonal communication in the workplace.
If you constantly seek change or get bored, look to take on new roles and responsibilities at the same company. Even if you move from one position to another, staying with one company shows you’ve taken initiative to be promoted or moved to other areas.
It’s a circular argument: you need experience to get the job, yet you can’t get experience without the job! But these days, it’s perfectly possible to take your portfolio of work into your own hands. Content creation is abound, and if you’re not taking the incentive to gain experience on your own terms, you will be less likely to get hired for the job you want.
1. Write a Blog
It literally takes minutes to set up a blog and start writing. And since blogs are a great way to demonstrate not only your writing skills, but also your ideas, employers can get a great sense of you as a person and employee by reading your blog.
You don’t need to be the industry’s most-read blogger. It’s not your popularity that really even matters. Simply written good content on professional and industry topics and sharing the link in your job application can help hiring managers could give you an edge.
What to write about:
- Your take on your industry
- Opinion pieces on industry news
- Link to other industry blogs and comment on the topics
2. Press Releases
For PR professionals, the press release is the quintessential tool for the trade. But if you only wrote a couple of releases in college for your Comm class, you might feel like you don’t have an adequate hand on writing them.
Reach out to charities and nonprofits and let them know you’re looking to build your portfolio. Offer your services (free of charge) to write press releases for their news. It’s more impressive when you’ve got releases that are found online, so collect links to your press releases for your virtual portfolio.
3. Case Studies
Case studies are a great way to show you’re paying attention to how your industry helps companies. Create a case study from anywhere you’ve worked, interned, volunteered, or attended (school) that demonstrates areas you want to work in. For example, maybe you interned at a PR firm, though you didn’t get to dabble much in the publicity side. You could still create a case study about a client (leave names out of it) who saw an increase in visibility, thanks to the firm’s efforts.
There are literally hundreds — if not thousands — of magazines, newspapers and websites clamoring for content. Sometimes they can’t afford to pay, so they’re perfect for you as a beginner to pitch an article. Get to know the audience, and try for one that has a focus in the industry you want to work in. Come up with a unique story idea and sell it to the editor. Then keep the link or physical cutout for your portfolio.
Whether you write these samples for yourself, volunteer at a nonprofit or intern at a company, they’re a great way to show a potential employer that you take initiative to overcome that circle of no-experience-no-job.