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Maximize your potential and stay organized: Thoughts and advice on managing a job search

15 Jun

For the past few months, I have been employed part-time at Park Place Publications doing web maintenance, design, email marketing and some social media planning. This job gave me the opportunity to solidify my web skills, but still with time left over to work on freelance projects such as writing and social media marketing.

I think when I took the position, I saw it as a way to not only get more experience, but also to take time to figure out what I really wanted to do career-wise. I had just spent the past six years in college, first obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism and then a master’s in new media. My job at Park Place even led to an offer to apply for a full-time position, but I wanted to see what else the marketplace had to offer. As my time draws to a close there, I have started to think about the direction I am heading and what I want to do in the future.


It may not be what I planned, but I can still do other things

It was my goal out of college to pursue a career in the media industry as a web journalist and producer, but I know the reality. Not too many media organizations are hiring at this time and the positions that are open are very competitive. I have had the opportunity to interview with the NBC-affiliate KXAN and Univision. I’m happy that I beat out dozens of other applicants and got to interview, but I still haven’t had an offer.

Nonetheless, what I discovered in the past few months is that I have a very diverse skill set, but with two main interests: communicating and creating. Now, those are two really broad interests. To drill things down more as I applied for various positions, I thought about what I would really love to do and who I wanted to work for. I still want a job that is related to the media industry and utilizes the skills I have. So I narrowed my search to media production, web design and communication positions for tech and media companies. Still, these are very broad, but it has been a more concentrated search.

With my new-found focus, I took a few steps to get on people’s radars and hopefully better my chances at a job interview. I’m happy to report that some of this has paid off as I now have an interview with Demand Media this week.

Utilize your social network to connect with with other job searchers and employers

It’s true. When it comes to looking for a job, who you know is REALLY important. Many friends and acquaintances who are searching or just landed a job have been valuable resources for finding out what employers are looking for and what companies are good to look at. My professional contacts like professors and former employers have been extremely helpful in sending me job tips, advice and putting in a good word if they know someone at the company I applied to. It was how I got my interview with KXAN.

Another thing I have found particularly useful is my online social network. I have been connecting with people like crazy and making sure I stay on different people’s radars. This is how I was able to connect with people at Univision and get an interview there. I make it a point to post regularly to Twitter and think of relevant information to provide on the web. Last week, Mark S. Luckie, the man behind @10000Words, sent a tweet out asking if anyone had a personal business card they wanted to show for a blog post he was writing. I responded as soon as I saw it and my card was picked and featured at the top of the samples in his post.


Furthermore, take advantage of networking events in your area. The great thing about living in Austin is a lot of people are very tech-savvy and connected. Fellow tweep Jacqueline Hughes put together an amazing calendar of tech, social media and networking events in Austin called Bridge the City. I would highly suggest attending these events with business cards and a positive attitude. You never know when the CEO or hiring manager for the company you want to work for maybe in the room. Don’t forget to follow up too if they offer a business card. I know even I can get lax on that.

Keep your applications organized

Keeping track of all the places where you have applied can become quite the task, especially if you are looking in a couple of different fields like I am. I think the easiest thing to do is to keep a list or spreadsheet on hand with a short description of the company and positions you applied for. That way when someone calls back for an interview, you know what skills to highlight and where to begin your research. Keep contact information as well. If it doesn’t work out, try to keep in touch with those in charge in case they start hiring again. You can also pass on the information to a friend who might be better qualified. Remember, it’s good karma to share!

Web tools that let you know who’s keeping tabs on you

I have a personal website where I share my job history, provide a download of my resume, a link to my portfolio, contact information, and a short bio. Oh and I have this blog of course. While all this information is out there for people to see, it’s good too know who those eyeballs belong to. That’s where Google Analytics comes into play. If you haven’t set this up for your site and blog, do it now. It provides a wealth of data on your visitors. It can tell you from what area of the world people are looking, right down to the city. I use the service provider information since a lot of companies have their own ISP. For example, I know someone at The New York Times has taken a peek at my site.

Another app that I like to use is Friend or Follow. It tells you who on Twitter is following you or not following you. When you get a lot of followers at once – maybe thanks to a great link you posted – this becomes a good way to manage and follow back interesting people.

Stay inspired

The hardest part of a job search can be staying positive and inspired. Finding a new job is a job in itself. It can be frustrating when you get rejections or a company you were really interested in does not follow up. Having a good support system really helps too, whether that is friends and/or family. Know that your search will not be in vain and something good is around the corner.