What I Wish I’d Known Before Beginning the Job Search
By Alyssa Goldman
Even before I was handed my college diploma, I was ready to take on the world. I graduated with a degree in journalism, was an editor at my college newspaper, interned at various publications, and eventually, moved to New York to pursue my lifelong aspiration of writing for Marie Claire. All I needed was to find a women’s magazine that would give me the opportunity to do what I was born to do — write and edit. I truly believed that the process would be quick — I’d find my full-time dream job within a month.
As if. Fourteen months, hundreds of applications, countless interviews, rejections and no shortage of tears later — I landed a job. And not the one I ever imagined I’d find… but more on that later.
Here are the top 5 things I wish I’d known before starting my job search:
1. It will take longer than you think. You might land a job tomorrow, but more likely, you may still be looking seven months from now. The average American stays unemployed for 40 weeks — try to pick your jaw up from the ground. But just because you don’t have a steady salary, doesn’t give you an excuse not to do anything. So, in the meantime …
2. Keep busy. We all know that employers are more interested in candidates who are already working. Your best resource: recruiting agencies. They’ve got lots of positions available including: short-term temp (filling in for a day or a week), long-term temp (working at a company for a few months), temp to hire (typically a three month trial period before you can be hired by the company), and of course, the rare, but highly coveted, full-time position.
Temp jobs aren’t convenient — I was often called at 8 a.m. about a 9:30 a.m. job — but they get you out the door, allow you to interact with others (who may help in your job search), and possibly, in the door of a company you like. At one point in time, I was working with six different recruiters, all from different agencies.
3. You can create your own opportunities. My friend Chelsea was only scoring low-paying, temporary magazine jobs — not the full-time gig she had expected to land with a resume of high-profile internships and a portfolio of enviable bylines. After examining her clients’ pay rates, Chelsea realized she could earn more money, and have greater flexibility and creative control if she took her freelance full-time (like a full third of the American workforce). So instead of settling, Chelsea decided to start her own business offering copywriting, designing and photography services. Chelsea is proof you don’t have to wait for your dream job to come along — go out and create it.
4. There’s no such thing as a straight and narrow career path these days. My dad has worked at the same company for 36 years. But he’s the exception, not the rule. Millennials are projected to hold 20 to 25 different jobs over the course of their careers. Take comfort — you’re not alone. You don’t need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Just go out and do something now.
5. Be open to positions where your skills are transferrable. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. I’m currently the Program Manager and Social Media Director for Great on the Job (GOTJ), a startup communication training and leadership development firm. While not a straight shot to Marie Claire, I’m pursuing my love of writing and covering the career space, a growing interest of mine. I also get to work in a small, fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment and have a super hands-on role. Last year, I would never have considered a job outside the publishing field. Today, I love what I’m doing and know this is where I’m meant to be right now. My advice: stay open-minded and find positions where your skills are transferrable.
Have any good lessons to share with others searching for their dream job? I’d love to hear from you.