I've recently started speaking at local universities and high schools. During the ending Q&A sessions, I usually get asked "What's your advice for landing a good job out of college?"
Get creative. Be proactive about your career. The job you want is out there. But the rest is up to you.
Easier said than done, right? Maybe so. But I truly believe the difference between getting a job you eventually leave and landing a job you love comes down to attitude and approach.
Disclaimer: I don't have a bulletproof formula for getting a good job that fits your every need and desire. Even the term "good job" is subjective. This whole post revolves around what I know to be true from my own experience—A little more than a year ago, I drastically improved my career by adopting a more creative, more proactive approach to earning a leadership position at a company I desperately wanted to work for.
Whether you're a new college grad looking for a great start or a seasoned pro looking to begin the career you've always wanted, the actions I prescribe below are meant to give you momentum going into the job hunt.
STEP 1: AUDIT YOURSELF
At the onset of your job search, it's important to understand why you're looking in the first place. I highly recommend spending a good amount of time auditing yourself. Spend that time discerning what drives you and what you're shooting for. Figure out what your North Star is.
Is there an industry you are particularly passionate about? Are you driven by money? Do you value status and clout? Do you want to make a big impact at a small company? Do you want to work remotely? Do you want to travel?
For me, I've realized I exhibit entrepreneurial tendencies. Which means that I act and think like an owner, but I don't have the kind of risk tolerance necessary for starting my own company. I have a strong desire to lead. I value having a seat at the decision-making table. I prefer to be in an office over working remotely because I need human interaction. I get real enjoyment out of managing people, and take a lot of pride in helping other people improve and reach their goals.
The conclusions in the last paragraph are just some results of a deep dive audit. Try it. You might be surprised what you find out about yourself.
STEP 2: RESEARCH
Do your homework. If you REALLY want to work for a company.....like you have it bad for that company....then spend a few extra hours learning everything you can about it. Visit every page on the company website, check out their social accounts, read press releases and articles, look up people who work there, search the company on Glassdoor, ask around within your network. Learn more about the products or services the company offers and the markets it serves. You'll never know exactly what it's like to work for a company until you're employed there, but I think it's worth the time and effort to learn as much as you can early on.
In November 2014, I read an article about BoxCast that piqued my interest. I was drawn to so many things about the company just after reading one quick puff piece: live video streaming technology, sports, young startup with big aspirations. It was that article that led me to BoxCast's website, which led me to the Our Team page, which then led me to first learn about Toby Maloney. And Toby is a key reason I have the job I love at BoxCast.
STEP 3: ASK
Five short paragraphs into Toby's BoxCast bio and I learned that we have something in common: we both are John Carroll University alums. That was my in. Our shared experience at a small Jesuit college in an eastern suburb of Cleveland would be my soft reason to reach out. A couple months later, I sent an email to multiple versions of what I guessed would be Toby's BoxCast email address. The subject line was "Fellow Blue Streak Interested in Learning More." I attached my resume and hit the Send button.
One mail delivery error notification did not deter me. I tweaked Toby's email address a couple times and eventually my message went through. I asked Toby if he had time for a conversation over coffee so I could learn more about him, his experiences and about BoxCast. A few minutes later, he responded. Toby suggested breakfast on a Saturday morning. And what I later found out was supposed to be a quick meet and greet turned into a two hour breakfast that I'll never forget.
Once breakfast was finished, Toby and his wonderful wife Melanie offered to introduce me to BoxCast president and co-founder Gordon Daily. The rest is history.
You know what they say about shots you never take, right?
STEP 4: BE PATIENT
It's important to mention that BoxCast never had an open position for director of marketing. To my knowledge, they weren't actively looking for one. There was no LinkedIn job, no Careers page listing, and no description on Monster. I didn't have a family member or friend who worked there. The title and position were created for me. I guess you can say we were both looking to fill the same position at the same time.
I should also note that this was not a quick process. I didn't interview a few days after I had breakfast with the Maloneys and then signed a big contract. I met Gordon for drinks, formally interviewed, attended multiple weekend lunches and weeknight dinners, and sent dozens of emails back and forth. Months and months went by. BoxCast was in the process of switching over their website and CRM to HubSpot, while also securing another round of funding. I was determined to continue the conversation with BoxCast, keep improving my skills, concentrate on the job I held at the time, and just be patient.
Patience is key. I know it's hard to wait for anything, even for a month. But most great things in life are worth waiting for. Be patient and believe in your process. It works if you let it.
THE EXTRA MILE
After every coffee meeting, introductory call, informal interaction, and formal interview, don't forget to follow through on the small stuff. Write a 'Thank You' email or send a handwritten note within 24 hours. Be persistent but not annoying. Be gracious at every opportunity. Be respectful of people's time. Never underestimate the amount of time, thought, effort and resources it takes a company to hire a new person.
Don't just be another cover letter and resume. Don't be part of the pile. If you do what everyone else typically does when looking for a job, you'll probably get the same results as everyone else.
Good luck out there. I truly hope you find a position you want at a company you love to work for. If you do, let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear how you got there.