In 12 years that count as my working experience, I’ve done everything from telemarketing to sticking declarations on one of the popular cosmetics packaging. It wasn’t for a while that I found my true calling and started to develop a career in journalism. From starting my own fashion blog to landing a writing gig at Cosmopolitan and Elle, I’ve must have done something right to join the editorial team of two of my favorite magazines. Here are my tips on landing that dream job:
1. Try yourself at various professions
If you don’t have a life plan worked out and are clueless about what you want to do when you “grow up” than trying out as many different jobs might just get you a better idea of what career path you should take. Or at least zoom out the ones you don’t want to proceed. The best time to do such experiment would be during your studies.
How does a life of an artist appeal to you? Or maybe it’s business that really gets your career juices flowing. Try yourself at different professions, but don’t detain yourself too long at one. Learn as much as possible at each of them and then move on. When the job isn’t a challenge anymore, it’s a sign to leave it and continue the search. Or on the contrary, maybe you’ll discover your dream career during your summer internship at the PR agency around the corner.
2. Experience work abroad
Working abroad will bring you more experience and opportunities with employment. On top of that you’ll learn important life skills and a few lessons on the way, that will surely come in handy when pursuing any career path, as well as in life in general. Employers have a strong preference for those who have at least one or two experiences of such kind in their resume, whether it’s from your student exchange program, work or personal experience.
Think about student exchange programs such as Erasmus. If your student days are long over than every once in a while check for vacancies abroad (choose the countries that most appeal to you – Netherlands and Denmark are very high on employee satisfaction lists) and send over your resume. Some companies prefer to employ an international team and you just might be what they’re looking for.
If relocating doesn’t really work for you than consider the idea of collaborating with a foreign company remotely. Internet rocks!
3. For the reference
At the beginning of your career path it’s extremely difficult to find a well-paid job. Most of the employers looks for experience and if you have none you’re bound to get them somehow. Usually it’s by providing free service. It’s the most common way to get the references you need.
But be wary and only select the employers and projects that offer something in return for all the free work you’re doing. Whether it’s all the knowledge they’re giving you or obtaining new contacts, the collaboration should go both ways. Sometimes it’s hard to except that you’re going all the work free of charge, but trust me when I say, sooner or later your work will be acknowledged and rewarded. How soon that happens depends entirely on you.
Also think about your after work curriculum. I started my career with writing a blog which is still active after 6 years and has helped me get some really great projects, even jobs. Even though people don’t consider blogs being a professional journalistic platform, I still get asked on my job interviews if I write a blog. Having a hobby or being involved with a personal project that relates to your profession is a big plus. It definitely shows your passion for the field.
4. Explore your interests
It may sound completely unnecessary and a waste of space but nonetheless give a small space in your resume to your hobbies. Recently I read an article about Facebook and how they advise their employees not to work even a single minute over their work hours, to close all their emails and social media profiles after work, forget about all the workload and rather spend their afternoons with family and friends, and last but not least devote time to hobbies.
It’s known that people who develop other talents besides the one they make money with are more likely to be happy, successful and productive in their jobs.
Does sport relaxes you, maybe you’re a creative person or can’t stay at one place for two long and travel really excites you? Whatever interests you may have, write them down in your CV, your recruiter just might be impressed by your ability to yodel.
5. Pimp your resume
Are you a copy and paste kind? This is the one example when that will not work in your favor. If you really want the job than putting that extra effort won’t be a problem, right?
This is how it works: companies receive hundreds in not thousands of applications to one single vacancy. Most of them look alike, not just by structure and layout but content as well. It’s crucial to stand out! This is what I did for my Cosmopolitan gig… I designed a template of Cosmopolitan’s website and inserted all my experience and reference instead of titles and photos on the page. From my pdf resume I then hyperlinked to my online portfolio and my published articles.
Now I’m not saying you should copy the company’s website and make it your resume, by all means if you’re applying to a position of receptionist or assistant to the lawyer office than this would be an overkill. If you’re applying to creative positions then show off all your skills, in contrast if your application is addressed to a more formal environment than stay formal in your application as well but all in healthy boundaries of reason. You can still add some sparkle to your presentation document in form of the font and color or replacing words with something more visual. Recruiters take only a glimpse at your resume before deciding to pursue your application any further.
6. Impress at the interview
If you’re invited to discuss your work experience in person, you’re half way through the door. Something in your resume got their interest and they want to know more. This is your chance to win them over with your personality.
Job interview should never be just an enumeration of facts you already put in your CV, it serves as an opportunity to justify these facts by stating your actual experience. When the recruiter asks about your skills or personal qualities try to answer by giving examples from your previous work experience. You want to highlight your kindness towards the customers? Don’t just tell him you’re kind, but rather make an example stating a situation where kindness at your work place saved you from an unpleasant situation or made a special impact on one of your customers. This way your recruiter will know you’re not just enumerating qualities he wants to hear but rather give him a reason to hire you.
7. Create your own opportunity
Opportunities usually appear when you least expect. If you’re interested in a specific company then get in touch with them. Visit their offices, get familiar with their service and get to know their business in and out. Follow them on social media, on LinkedIn, sign up to their newsletter and be the first to know all their news, including new vacancies.
If you have the opportunity than offer the company of interest to do some work for them for free in form of an internship, working half time, during weekends or summer vacation. If you show enough interest in the company and impress with your devotion then you can be sure who they’ll call when there’s a position to fill up.
8. Never give up
If you want something bad enough, then never stop working for it.
Maybe the company you’d die to work for isn’t employing right now, but it might be in the future so every now and then remind them of you. If you’re always on their mind than your name will also pop up when they’ll be recruiting new staff.
At the same time don’t give up if after dozens of sent applications you still don’t receive a positive response. Or a response in general. Many successful people admits they were countlessly rejected at the start of their career, until after years of sending applications and making calls to recruiters they were finally noticed by the right person. Rejection is a part of life, and so is failure. Let that be a motivation to improve yourself, your resume or your verbal presentation. Believe me, you as well can be a recognized scientist/supermodel/psychologist/CEO.