My dear millennials, here me when I say this: the job hunt struggle is REAL.
It seemed like it was just a little over a year ago that I penned “The Chronicles of the Young, Educated and Unemployed“, and while I’m grateful to currently have a full-time position, I’ve now found myself back on the grind looking for the next opportunity.
But as a 20-something living in today’s society, I know I’m not the only one. To help me provide better perspective, I’ve solicited the help of three awesome millennials (all of which coincidentally attended Syracuse University – Go Orange!) to share their stories. Whether it’s working in magazine journalism, digital media or higher education, each of them have very unique experiences when it comes to the job search.
CC: So tell me, what has been your experience like on the #jobhunt? What tools have you used/are using (job boards, LinkedIn, Twitter, personal references, ect) to find that perfect position?
Leah: Oh, the job hunt. I wish I could say it has been fun and easy, but that would be a lie! It is a very time-consuming, stressful, and sometimes disappointing experience. Whenever I have free time, I find myself looking through Ed2010, MediaBistro and company websites for open positions. When I use these sources, I look at anything that says assistant or associate because anything higher up would require more years of work experience. I read through the job and then decide whether I would be happy. As unhappy as I may be with my current job, I don’t want to leave it for a job that is just as fulfilling / unsatisfying. When it comes to networking, I stay in touch with former bosses and co-workers and many have told me about available positions. I don’t use this as my main method, however, because I haven’t truly mastered the art of asking about position info. I hope to get better at that as the year goes on.
Jemar: To be honest, it was pretty depressing. It took me a little over 2 years to finally land the full-time dream job that I wanted. Between graduating and VaynerMedia, I’ve interned at other places and did several odd jobs through a temp agency. I used Craigslist, Indeed, Mashable, Startupers, LinkedIn, Twitter searches (twilerts), and tried tapping into my personal network as much as I could. After being rejected so many times and having to do work that felt below myself, it was hard to not feel worthless and regret spending so much time and money on a college education.
Mairead: When I searched for my position at Texas Tech, I went to the Oshkosh Placement Exchange where I was able to interview with multiple schools over the course of one weekend. As I gear up to search again this year, I’m relying more heavily on Twitter and personal references. I participate in #SAChat as often as possible in order to network in the field and get a preliminary idea of where I would like to search next year. My intentions are to attend The Placement Exchange in March in Baltimore, where I’ll look for professional level housing positions for next year.
CC: How did you find your most recent position? Could you talk more about your process in finding that position, what you learned from it and how you hope to improve your job hunting tactics this time around?
Leah: I actually started with Time Inc of January in 2013 as a Freelance Online Producer. The job was perfect for me. I wrote original content, built magazine articles onto the website, and worked on search engine optimization. Unfortunately, the company went through some financial issues and did not have the budget to keep me on longer than three months. Towards the end of my term, I was applying to jobs and saw an openings for a Fashion Assistant position at Time Inc. While it was not my dream job, I applied thinking it was a way to make money and keep my foot in the door. They hired me, and I have held the fashion position since April.
Jemar: The funny thing is, I don’t think I did anything special to find VaynerMedia. I don’t really remember, but I’m pretty sure I just saw a posting on Indeed.com and went for it. I was so excited to get an interview that I showed up 10 minutes and a week too early! It was pretty embarrassing but luckily one of the hiring managers thought it was funny and gave me another chance.
I was also sure to do all the 101 stuff like say thank you for the interview, except I made sure to hand write and sign personal cards for the people that interviewed me. I’m on the job hunt again now and using the same tactics, but this time I’m trying to use more personal references and general networking to find the next opportunity.
Mairead: Finding my GHC position was relatively easy due to my attending the placement exchange. If I were going to give someone advice in finding a graduate program, I would recommend looking at the education itself–assistantships are kind of “a dime a dozen” and it’s easy to do an okay job for 2 years, but if you’re not getting the education you want, that’s going to hurt you long term. As far as gaining professional experience, I’ll say that I’ve been lucky to be in a department that allows a lot of professional autonomy.
With that being said, I’d say it’s important to be a self-advocate. If you want to try something, ask someone! We’re young and I’ve found that people are (almost) always willing to talk to you about their work. If you’re lucky, you can shadow for a day and if you find you like something, think about internships. I’m treating my grad experience as a sponge–let me get as many experiences now so I can really have a clear idea of what I want to do in the future!
CC: What advice do you have to those millennials that are sending out lots of applications, cover letters and tweaks to their resumes but still aren’t getting a response? How do you stay motivated and positive throughout the process?
Leah: 1.) Never be afraid to reach out for help. If you know someone (granted, you have to know them well) who works at a magazine you’re applying to, see if they know who is hiring. As a former boss told me, that’s the only way to get hired these days. 2.) Find a group of friends going through a similar situation and lean on each other. Face it, your friends and family will get sick of hearing about this and they may not offer the best advice. Your #millenial group, however, will understand why you’re so frustrated and may have an idea you haven’t thought of yet. 3.) Breathe (and cry if you have to). Things will turn out okay in the end.
Jemar: There’s no secret advice to staying motivated, you just have to do it. Keep applying, keep tweaking, and keep networking. Those days that you feel like giving up? Accept them. People are going to keep telling you to be positive and it may even start to annoy you. Just go through the motions, do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you’re the sh*t and whatever you do, avoid reading too many articles or watching too many documentaries on Netflix about how messed up this whole economic situation is. That right there is what really got to me. Make sure to go beyond email if you have the chance. Try to get on the phone, and even stop by the office if it feels right. Just don’t be annoying and don’t be a creep. As long as you keep going, you’re going to get there. Never settle. Keep pushing. You can do it. Believe in yourself. Dreams come true. Also, be sure to check out other options like Enstitute, Experience Institute, UnCollege, Pave, and Upstart. They are other routes to success that go beyond just taking an unfulfilling full-time job.
Mairead: A point of reference for searching: I’ve noticed that a lot of people our age limit themselves when searching for their first job or grad program. They get in their heads that they need to be in 3 or 4 states, in 2 or 3 cities, and at just one or two schools/company/firms/whatever. CAST A WIDE NET! I would say make sure you’re following up with employers, especially those you’re very interested in. If you haven’t heard back from someone, reach out to them! The worst thing they can do is say, “Sorry, we’re not interested.” If that’s the case, collect your thoughts and move on. I know that can be easier said than done, but I like to remind myself that jobs are about fit. Even if I thought an interview went really well, or I know that I have an awesome resume, I just tell myself that a school must not have needed me right at that time. I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s hard to stay positive sometimes–rejections seem to come in groups and it can get discouraging–but I just continue to tell myself that the right job WILL come for me, I just need to be patient.
And there you have it! For those of us that are actively looking, we can’t give up! As Leah, Jemar and Mairead have all eloquently stated , the job hunt is going to take time, strategic planning and persistence — but the goal is completely attainable.
Be sure to keep me posted on your job hunt progress, and share words of encouragement in the comments below!