Question: “What are some other ways a person can look for jobs when you feel like you’ve explored all your options?” – J. Washington, Chicago
Answer: Despite the vast amount of opportunities available, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve reached “the end of the line” when it comes to finding the right positions that fit with your goals and experience. Contrary to how it might initially appear there are options that you can seek out or explore further when this phenomenon happens. After all, 70-80% of jobs aren’t even advertised. It’s all about growing your network, no matter if it’s online or out in the world!
Instead of sending off countless resumes and cover letters to positions posted on online job boards and company websites (where they might not be read), consider actively using LinkedIn to network with potential employers or future colleagues. The great thing about this platform is that—whether or not you have a premium membership—you’ll likely get a glimpse of not only the type of work a current employee does, but also their career path leading up to their current role. This can be crucial when reaching out to them to network, allowing you to ask specific questions about their experience. Connecting with a professional in your desired field or fellow university alumn subsequently gives you access to their connections, thereby expanding your virtual network.
A word of advice: make sure to connect meaningfully and with people you’re genuinely interested in networking with. Most people generally don’t appreciate feeling like they’re being solicited, so keep that in mind before you press, “connect!”
Volunteer opportunities are more varied now, offering more flexibility to work with different peoples’ schedules. You’ll gain invaluable exposure to nonprofit skills such as event planning or fundraising while also learning new software and technology. Being an active and passionate volunteer will undoubtedly resonate well with your supervisors when they’re looking to fill positions so long as you express interest and prove your mettle. Be sure to commit to a few or even just one to avoid getting overwhelmed or even deterred from your job search. You’ll meet new people, contribute to charitable causes and build your skill set: a win, win on multiple levels!
An antiquated notion regarding the networking event is that you need to talk to as many people as possible and give out hundreds of business cards. As with most things in life, quality trumps quantity—network smartly with just one or two people and you’ll be surprised what may come of it. The more meaningful conversation you have with one person versus ten can open the door for you—perhaps this person can arrange for you to get coffee with one of their colleagues; or, they may sit on the board of an organization that you’re looking to get involved with.
Don’t exhaust yourself by attending a different function each night. Find the ones affiliated with companies or causes you’re truly interested in and make sure to have your “elevator pitch” down pat!
The Cold Email
After reading the title of this section, you may be thinking that a cold email is about as effective as blindly submitting a resume to a position posted online—bear with me! To start, a cold email is one that’s sent to a potential contact with whom you have no prior relationship. It’s often sent to express interest in an open position or in working for the company if they don’t have any current job listings. A thoughtfully-written and carefully executed cold email can be the difference between getting your resume in the hands of a decision-maker and the ‘trash’ folder of the recipient’s email.
The person receiving your email may head the department at your dream company, and as such owes you very little. Needless to say, it’s important that you’ve done your research and assessed—honestly—if you’re a good fit for the role and the company. The last thing you want is to become notorious amongst hiring managers as “The Mass Applier” and have your name blacklisted after one too many emails sent to the entire HR department. Craft the email like a cover letter, speaking to your experiences and offering them your skills—in short, how they can benefit from bringing you on board.
Often thought to be limited to those in creative fields, an online portfolio can go a long way in getting your work noticed by hiring managers. Portfolio platforms such as Behance or Wix have the layouts ready so those without coding experience you can still have access to a functional and easily customizable portfolio. Those in more corporate environments also have platforms where they can upload previous presentations or papers in one place.
A portfolio usually contains your best work (no matter how old or recent), a resume and contact information. Obviously, this is a basic iteration—you might find that you want just a running list of publications your work has been featured in, or a slideshow of past presentations. An online portfolio is a great addition to any jobseeker’s “candidacy package” that can help show your creative sides no matter what industry you’re in or trying to break in to!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.