My heart goes out for all the people currently searching for jobs because I recently just got out of that ’bubble’ and I know how stressful it can be. The truth is, not everyone lands their dream job right after college or before they graduate- some, if not most of us have to go through the job hunting process and all the stress it entails.
Although I finished school two years ago and have been working for most of the time, I just got a permanent job this year. In those 2 years, I have worked as a receptionist, had a few temporary roles and completed my second degree.
Now, I don’t think I know a lot about the job market or how to secure a job, I don’t specialize in that. However, here are a few tips that I and people I know have tried that have worked out for us all.
Know exactly what you want, chase it but, be flexible: At the start of the year, I wrote down a list of all the things I wanted my future job to have. Not everything on that list was a priority but some of the things on there were non negotiable. For example, not only did I need a permanent job, I had to ensure it met the requirements for my CPA experience. Paying for my professional accounting designation was a high priority but not as high as the first two. Location and sector, I was flexible with. It was easy to filter out jobs that didn’t match my requirements. Finding a job is a two way street, both you and your employers should ideally meet each others requirements, a perfect fit.
Work with a recruiter: A year ago, I would never have said this to anyone but, hey. I’ve not had the best experiences with recruiters (especially in the accounting world) as I found they would rather have kept me in temporary clerical roles than help me find a role best suited for my needs and career growth. However, working with recruiters gave me great insight to what the market was like, how much I could realistically get given my skillset, skills I needed to improve, resume building and insights- all FOR FREE. I probably had about 5 recruiters I was working with before I got my job but, I was very clear on what kind of job I was looking for.
Find a mentor: I think this is so important because they usually have more insight to the workforce than you do and genuinely care about your growth and success. For example, one of my mentors told me it was absolutely okay to start out in a private firm and switch to public practice if I wanted to when she sensed I was too keen on public practice and I wasn’t getting any jobs in that field. In addition to that, she put me in touch with some people in her network. Another one of them reviewed my current job offer with me and was able to share her thoughts on the job and address the concerns I had. Amongst the many things mentors provide, guidance is one of them, which I think is important as you start out your career. Note: your mentor doesn’t have to be in your field but, it is good to have one in your field too.
Be professional but be yourself: Last year, I had a major breakdown and this was mainly because I felt I had lost myself. In the process of trying to find the “perfect” job, I tried so hard to be the perfect candidate, losing touch with myself. This not only affected my professional life but, my personal life too. During college recruits, they sort of give you an idea of the perfect candidate but what I missed was that they wanted me to be myself, not who I thought they wanted me to be. Be professional, whatever that means to you but, most importantly, be yourself.
Don’t dismiss every experience or anyone you meet on your journey: Top of my head, my first temporary job was only good for one thing: paying my bills. I mourn the six months I spent there because I didn’t feel any actual growth or career enhancement during my time there. Interestingly, here are subtle ways that job affected my life- I became more compassionate, improved my telephone skills, started volunteering courtesy of that role and my biggest takeaway- understanding how much comfort impedes growth. So, you may not currently like that job but, that may not mean the job isn’t right for you at this time. Every experience has a lesson, you just have to be willing to learn.
Be proactive: Get on LinkedIn, use the free premium service, edit your bio and resume. Send messages to people you want to connect with, sell yourself. Attend networking events in your field. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve tried this and it hasn’t worked out just yet for me but then again, I only have a few months worth of actual work experience and was learning just like you are. However, I’ve seen this work out for a number of people so, I’ll say give it a shot. Remember to send follow up emails after events and be very gracious. No one ever gets tired of the thank you’s.
Never be scared to let future employers know what matters to you: Interestingly, I learnt this at an event organized by a big accounting firm (traditionally, they are known for long work hours and well, sucking up your youth). For me, I think it was important to see that I couldn’t let the things that mattered to me the most down in the pursuit of a job. Spending time with my family is important to me and I wasn’t scared to let my employers know how much this mattered to me.
Ask for feedback: I’ve done this a few times and it was great to know exactly what areas I need to improve on especially in an interview. I’ve been told I needed to work on being more confident before. Note: You may not always get feedback but, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Finally, don’t lose hope or settle!
Have any tips you would like to share, was this helpful? Please leave a comment or send me an email- also share with your friends.
Wishing you all the very best,