July 15, 2014

Day 44: The Elevator Pitch on Job Hunting

I've read some great posts recently, particularly these by Brittany and Sarah, about the dos and don'ts of getting a job.  Brittany is Recruiter for a living and Sarah just rules at life in general, so there's not a whole lot else to be said on the topic.

But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.  One of the perks of being a blogger is that you get to claim "expert" status on just about anything, after all.

I'm not going to pull the expert card here but I am going to tell you what I think anyway: the hands down most important thing you can do to get an interview (and a job) is without a doubt to network.

Obviously it's important to have a witty cover letter and a firm-but-not-quite-serial-killer handshake but in the end, everyone who is serious about getting a job has both.  Everyone was the president of their school's "Future World Domination Society," everyone interned for Oprah and Obama, and everyone's mom told them that they are a special snowflake destined to rule all that the light touches.

Like my dad has always told me, pull is infinitely more important than push.  In other words, it's who you know not what you know.  The world's second most infuriating cliche, right after "Money doesn't grow on trees."  Because I wouldn't be writing this post if it did.

This is an elevator pitch, so I'm not going to give a step-by-step on how I think networking should be done.  But I will tell you what I think are the important points, most of which I learned from experience.

1.  Contact everyone and anyone you know.  College teachers, high school teachers, former coaches, friends, friends' parents, parents' friends, friends' parents' college coaches... you get the idea.  Just because someone isn't in the field you're trying to break into doesn't mean they don't play poker with someone who is.

2.  Don't just contact people asking for jobs.  One, because that's just annoying.  And two, it's not going to work.  I mean, if someone asked you to give her your last pink Starburst because she used the same locker room shower five years after you did, would you?

3.  Be sincere.  Because brown-nosers give off a distinct odor you can smell even through an email.  Besides, every person you contact shouldn't be just a "foot in the door" anyway; when I switched from research to patent law, I had at least five "informational interviews" that ended up providing me with some good information I didn't find on Google.

And you thought those things were just a joke they played during Freshman Orientation.

4.  In addition to LinkedIn, use CareerShift.  And if you were a college athlete, use Career Athletes too.  I thought these were Freshman Orientation jokes as well, but they both helped me find contacts I probably would not have otherwise.

Now even though these things worked for me, I know there's a lot more to networking and to job hunting in general. After all, finding a job is one of the most stressful and complicated things there is other than IKEA furniture. And like I said, I'm no expert.

But then again, I do have a blog... so I guess I kind of am.