Job hunting can be an extremely stressful process. Maybe you’re unhappy with your current job, but feel too drained to look for a new one. Maybe you were recently laid off and feel overwhelmed with the next steps. Or maybe you’re a recent graduate who can’t find a position without “years of experience.” I’ve been in all of those situations!
In December of 2019, I was laid off from what I essentially thought was my “dream job”—a producer at Condé Nast. I was working with high-profile talent, attending cool industry events, and regularly sharing elevator rides with prestigious media figures. Since then, I’ve been on a stressful job hunt multiple times.
At first I was pretty optimistic because I had a number of interviews in January and February. Then in March the world shut down because of COVID-19 and there went any promise of a steady paycheck. I lost faith in finding another job and fell into a negative, low self-esteem spiral. Unemployment soared as people lost their jobs due to the pandemic and I felt more lost than ever. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling financially either. I truly don’t know how I’ve somehow (miraculously) managed to stay on top of my rent and bills. And not having health insurance has been a big stressor too.
After I rode out all my feelings and hit that neutral numbness that follows a depressive episode, I took another approach. I defined and monetized my skillset and offered them as services. Along the way I built my experience, network, and resume. I gathered testimonials, optimized my LinkedIn, updated my platforms, and started getting interviews! I was eventually offered a senior position at a creative agency, but because of the toxic environment I left. Now I toggle between freelance and job applications, but along the way I’ve learned what it really takes to streamline your job search.
Customize Your Resume
The first step to job hunting is having a knock-out resume. Your resume is an extension of yourself—it should show your personality and creativity while still being professional. Find a template that works for you (you don’t have to stick to the outdated formats we’re all taught in school!) and customize it. Etsy has really great ones!
Be sure to go hard when it comes to listing your skills. Are you good at social media? You better list every single platform you’re familiar with operating! Can you use different types of editing software? Write them down!
Optimize Your LinkedIn
Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn! It’s a fantastic tool for personal marketing, one that many recruiters use to find qualified candidates. Choose a professional profile picture, list your skills, type up a detailed summary, and grow your network! You can now spotlight services you offer and turn on job notifications relevant to your field. Don’t forget to customize your title too.
Personalize Your Cover Letter
This is your chance to really sell yourself. Society teaches us, especially women, to downplay our accomplishments. I’m here to tell you to proudly embrace them. Were you part of a team that pulled off a big project? Talk about it! Was there a time when you stepped up as a team leader? Put it in the cover letter!
For every cover letter you send, make sure to personalize it targeted towards the job you’re applying for. List the skills you already have that will be perfect for that particular job. Say how the position fits your talent and career goals and how you can’t wait to start helping them hit their goals.
Use Your Resources & Networks
There are online resources everywhere to help with job hunting: LinkedIn, Indeed, even your town’s Department of Labor! If you’re a student or recent graduate, your professors are the best resource because they have highly influential networks. Meet with your professors just to formally introduce yourself or chat about their course. They teach hundreds of students, but they’ll remember the ones who made an effort. Then someday someone in their network will mention they’re hiring, and guess who your professor will refer? You!
Follow industry-related pages on Instagram and check their stories regularly for networking events. Turn on job notifications from sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and apply to jobs they email you about. Join industry-related Facebook groups and engage in them. Speaking of Facebook, be sure to join my community HERE for more resources on career-building!
Sell & Monetize Your Skills
After my downward unemployment spiral, I read through my own blog posts and reflected on what I had already accomplished in my short career life. I put pen to paper and wrote down any and every skill I have. If I put down “writing” I’d get more specific and add: essays, resumes, blog posts, Instagram captions. Something clicked, and I realized that while I was waiting for another full-time job, I could sell the skills I already have. And so I did. 🙂
I began tutoring and offering career services and even rebranded my entire blog! Slowly, I attracted the right audience for me and by posting cross platform (including on LinkedIn too!) I established myself as a successful freelancer.
I also started leaning into what I first saw as weaknesses. For the longest time I was convinced my too hard to pronounce name (by white American standards) was a reason I was passed on jobs. And to be honest, my resume probably has fallen across HR desks who passed me up over my foreign name, even if I was qualified. But in my most recent interviews, I asked about the diversity and representation in both the workplace and the content. I mentioned how important these are to me, and how I would like to help bring in new ideas.
It’s all about mindset: I’m not just a minority, woc looking for a job. I get to be a woc who brings valuable skills and a unique voice to the table.
Don’t Give Up On Yourself
Job hunting is a tedious process. Being passed up on a job is not a reflection of your abilities, it only means that was not the right opportunity for you. Remember, the universe is always working in your favor—trust it! I’ve been passed up by sooo many “dream jobs” after interviews, but something way better always came along. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the opportunities I thought I wanted.
If you need to take a break from applying to jobs, take one. At the end of the day, your mental health and wellbeing should come first. But don’t ever give up on yourself. You are worthy of the job and title you deserve.
If you’re looking for more tips career building, be sure to check out my career coaching services HERE!