Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn. Job seekers are very familiar with these sites and use them endlessly in hopes of catching an interview, and, if things work out correctly, the ultimate prize … a job! But is applying to every open position that remotely fits your skill-set without even thinking about it the right way? Is applying to infinite jobs online worthwhile?
From my experiences, I say (brace yourself for this wonderfully cliched phrase): It depends.
It depends on what area you are looking for, and what level of experience you are at (entry-level vs. mid-level). The majority of the time, probability will be against you when you blindly apply to every available position on earth, throwing out 10 to 20 applications a day hoping to catch just one. What are your chances? More than likely hundreds, heck, maybe even thousands of others are applying to that same position with your same mindset. So what is a job seeker to do in this day and age?:
1. Research what you really want to do. Applying to companies that you’ve never heard of, or don’t care for their missions or areas of interest probably isn’t the best way. Let’s say that you did land a job at a company you could care less about, would you be happy after some time has passed? If you apply to be, let’s say, a blogger for a high-end fashion company whereas you never step foot in any designer stores or despise anything and everything clothing-related, what are your chances of being satisfied? (I’m sure there are many out there who would be more than satisfied, as I am merely speaking out of contrasting interests). But if you narrow down areas that you would love to work in, or are already experienced in, then that will help out your job search IMMENSELY.
I am experienced in the science communications realm. I absolutely love science and all that it stands for and think that it benefits the world and humanity, though I don’t know the first thing about calculus or physics, I still think the process and results are exciting and relevant. Working at the U.S. EPA for two and a half years, I learned much about research and the science world, and I discovered that my passion lies in the environment, nature, technology, and anything science-related. After pinpointing those areas of interest, I started to narrow my search down to science-related positions in North Carolina. Lo’ and behold, I started getting more interview requests and found that I was way more comfortable in those interviews, and you know why? Because I love communicating science and am experienced in it!
2. NETWORK. I cannot stress this word enough. You have a ten-times better chance of getting into a company if you know someone who works there, has worked there, or have a connection who knows someone there. Networking, especially to entry-level seekers, sounds terrifying. ‘How can I compare to those who have been in the field for years or even decades? Why should they care about knowing or talking to me?’
Here in lies the rub. Every person has or knows something to teach another. You have some form of expertise in some area or experience that a person out there would love to know about, maybe without even knowing it themselves! Once you start to share your knowledge and opinions with others, then you can start talking about career goals, how you could work or volunteer with them, or help them out in networking with people you know. When I first started networking, I was 23-years-old, and I was nervous, but confident. I figured, I will promote what I do at my current job, explain why I believe communicating what I do in progressive forms of media (e.g. videography, web content) is important, and hear what they have to say in return and how I can service them.
Pass out your business card like candy! People will research you especially if they were interested in what you said or represented. You not only make great connections (some strong, some weak), but you also can learn from and meet great, professional and motivated individuals in return!
Resource: How to Network Like a Pro. (Business Insider)
3. Become Digital! Since I am a digital / multimedia journalist, I have an online portfolio that I try to update and keep organized as often as possible. I also have a blog (what you are reading), a LinkedIn profile and a Google+ page.
If you have an online site — be it an online portfolio (if needed, which doesn’t hurt!), an online blog or a social networking site (I recommend LinkedIn) — then it shows that you are motivated, keeping up with the times, and confident in your work. There are great sites out there that are free, or cost a minuscule amount to get started. I use WordPress hosting through GoDaddy and bought a template for my site, and I helped a few other people get started with their personal websites, as well. From there, you can use analytic tools (Google Analytics, or WordPress’ analytical tool) to see which pages are most popular, which have the highest bounce rate, etc., where you can improve your site based off of such data.
I could give so much more advice and tips on how to improve your job searching skills / how to represent yourself to a potential employer or network connection, but I think these three are very important to master. Needless to say, I am writing these tips from my own experiences and from many articles, other blogs and studies I’ve read online.
By following these tips and actions above, I recently landed a new position at a company that I already love (their mission, and what they represent) and will be doing what I love to do (digital journalism including web development, design, writing, etc.). I also saw an increase in interview requests leading up to my current opportunity because of my change in how I searched for positions.
It pays off in the end, but there are two things you must NEVER lose on your journey in job searching: Patience and Confidence.
Never lose these very important things. You are an awesome person to get where you are in life, and everyone will always face bumps, so if you are currently in a bump, just know, as my mother always said during my bumps, ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn.’
Don’t give up! Learn from experiences and go from there!
Imagine a park bench that can measure certain types of air pollutants and weather data while sending all the data directly to a website minute-by-minute! This nifty research project is called the Village Green Project, and was created by EPA scientists in RTP, N.C. It was placed outside of Durham County South Regional Library in June and is completely solar-powered.
I helped lead the communications campaign with it so as to bump up awareness and encourage people from local communities to check it out! This was a huge campaign and took many months to plan. The team and I worked with many people in different areas of EPA as well as outside partners including the library and Durham County. It was well worth it.
My biggest joy out of this communications campaign was designing the Village Green Project’s information sign that stands right next to the system itself. I started from scratch and developed a bright and fun infographic:
I also assisted in writing and developing the press release, invitational letter to various officials, and the fact sheet. These items helped get the word out about the ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place in June as well as general information for those who visit the project in the future.
Another area that I was very involved in was social media. I crafted many Tweets and even live tweeted at the event (@EPAresearch // #villagegreen). Ialso worked on posts for the EPA’s Facebook, Foursquare and Google+ accounts relating to the project. We are also watching analytics regarding the outreach with Google Analytics, Maxamine and social media outreach.
When the day of the event came, I was filming various areas of the celebration while photographing, too. It was a huge hit with some media outlets appearing and officials making speeches and cutting the ribbon in front of the bench.
This campaign and research project allowed me to experience deadline pressures, the ability to work with internal and external partners in a timely manner, and the mastery of juggling many different tasks. This research project communications campaign gave me a real-life experience in the communications area, one that I know will help me in future situations.