A Constant Learning Process

After sending out another batch of resumes last week I have interviewed with a couple really good companies and just finished a third interview with one (fingers crossed!). While this process has definitely taken longer than I initially foresaw, I am still happy that I chose to continue looking for a job that I enjoyed with a company I could learn and grow in rather than taking the outside sales job that was offered to me in the beginning.

I have learned a lot about myself along the way. In interviews potential employers ask you personality questions that force you to define yourself in short sound bites. They want to know what your strengths are, your weaknesses, how you describe yourself in three words, what conditions you work best under. This sounds like basic stuff, and it really is, yet it is not a way people tend to think about themselves in real life. Maybe the truth is that we rarely think about ourselves in quantifiable, concrete ways. From repeatedly being asked these questions and contemplating them in my own time as well I have a better understanding of the type of employee I will be and what I have to offer to the office environment of a company.

I am an outgoing, bubbly, people-person. I like a fast-paced, energetic environment. I tend to take the initiative and when I see something that needs to be done, I get it done. I do not prefer highly detailed direction. I like to be given a list or outline of tasks that I can then manage myself. My weakness is that I have no real, professional experience yet I am a fast learner and I intend to correct this sharp attention and listening skills.

I may not have landed a job yet but I am learning nevertheless. I am learning valuable skills about myself and what it takes to succeed. When I get a job, it will be these skills that I will employ that will allow me to be successful and to excel at what I do.

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Who You Know

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and one of the questions on the forms asked what my occupation was. I ended up putting student down despite the fact that I am not because I could not bring myself to write ‘unemployed’. When the doctor called me back and we started talking she asked if I had graduated and I laughingly explained my actions. She immediately went into a long discussion about how there are currently no jobs out there for college grads and how her daughter is a college senior this year and she is already worried about her for next year.

We started talking about how, for the most part, its not what you know or how many internships you held in college, it is all about who you know. Now, its not like Steve Jobs is my uncle or something. I have not been hiding some ridiculously fantastic connection away in the closet. I do have to admit though that up to this point I have been too proud to ask the people in my life (the ones with actual jobs) if they knew anyone that might be able to help.

The thing is, that I totally believe the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. And that works just fine for my friends. Problem is that I have not been ok with applying that mentality to myself. For some mixed up, psychotic reason I have felt that it doesn’t count for me if I don’t do it on my own. I tend to expect much more out of myself than I do others, which is normally fine, but in this case it could be hurting me greatly.

So I have decided that it’s time to become a little bit more humble and admit that I COULD USE A LITTLE HELP and that admitting so does not make me any less of a person or any less qualified of a candidate. Maybe in some twisted way it’s actually a lesson that makes me a better candidate because I have realized that sometimes in order to accomplish a goal you do need other people to help you, you can’t do everything on your own, and that is perfectly ok. There is nothing wrong with not being a super person.

With this in mind I have started talking to a couple people I know, just ordinary people, and I am going to keep talking to people. Admitting to them that hey, this was harder than I thought, I am open to any advice or help you have. And who knows, maybe they have a friend who has a friend that knows that one special person that is going to take a chance on a girl like me. A girl that learned it was ok to ask for help.

42 Days in

I have gotten a good amount of feedback from my last batch of applications, some turned out to be cheesy but a couple have been very promising. I got a call this morning to set up the third and final interview with a company BusinessWeek ranked in the top five best companies to start a career with. I’m really excited about that and am still waiting to hear back from an interview I went on last week that went very well. I read an article this morning that said the average job search for recent grads is eight months. After reading this I felt a little better because while I don’t have a job yet, I feel I am ahead of the curve and that I will have a job way before I hit the eight month mark.

In the mean time I am going to keep doing what I do best; submitting applications, searching for new opportunities, and knocking employers socks off in interviews.

Persistence, Patience, and Positivity

I have to start this by saying when I started this job search I was under the impression that I would have found and started a good job within a couple of weeks. That happy little bubbled was quickly popped. When I think about it now I realize that my expectations were unrealistic, especially considering the current job market. I must admit that while I do realize that it takes more than a few weeks (its been four now for me) at times I have found it extremely discouraging.

This past weekend I found myself pretty depressed. I had sent in about thirty resumes that week and had had very little feedback by the time 5pm Friday rolled around. I was beginning to spiral downward in a self pity party, thinking maybe I would never find a job, maybe I wasn’t as smart and skilled as I thought I was. I am ashamed to admit that this pity party lasted the better part of the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, with the support of my family, I decided I was done being a downer. Being sorry for myself would not help my situation in any shape or form and honestly I was disgusted with myself because I do think very highly of myself and believe I can be successful in whatever I apply myself to.

Monday morning began with a new determination, persistence, and attitude. This is a marathon, not a sprint (which is actually better for me because I have short legs). I had an interview on Monday which I think went very well. I really liked the company and felt that I would fit well with them on an interpersonal level and that the position, Assistant Media Buyer, would be a great place for me to start my career. The only bummer was that they said they wouldn’t be able to get back to me for two weeks. My new attitude has me spinning this in a positive light: the wait gives me the chance to find another job so that when they offer me the position (because of course they will, I’m pretty awesome) I will be able to choose which job is better for me. And I have another interview tomorrow that seems promising.

As stressful and emotionally taxing as this job hunt has been so far, the lessons to be learned have not been lost on me. I am fortunate to say that in the past disappointment has been mostly a stranger to me. I have always been a smart, academically advanced student, only once had I applied to a job/internship that I did not receive, I have always been proud of my accomplishments and willingly shared them. This job hunt has taught me lessons in modesty, humility, and patience. While many of my friends have already begun exciting jobs or their first classes as grad students I have had to admit that no, I’m not working yet. I’m still looking. It has been an ego check but it has also made me realize how much I want a job where I can learn, grow, gain experience, and begin a lasting career with a stable company.

I am going to find a job that will be the perfect job for me at this point in my life. It will be perfect because it will set me on the road to reach my career goals. I might not find a job this week or next but I will find one. I will find one because I am persistent. I am patience. I will remain positive. And because I want it, I want it badly.

“Experience”

As a recent grad trying to land my first real job I have found ‘experience’ (or lack thereof in my case) the most difficult obstacle to overcome in my job search. Yes, I had three internships throughout college in marketing and sales positions and yes I have worked as a sales associate for Nordstrom on and off for the past four years whenever my class schedule permitted a job. However, I do lack professional experience. Not because I don’t want it, not because I am not qualified, and not because I haven’t tried but for the simple reason that most companies would rather hire someone who already has the experience. And with the job market and the economy the way it is, there is usually an applicant that has more experience.

I interviewed for a position as a Marketing Specialist this past week where that was just the case. I knew I could excel at that job. They wanted to begin using social media and had no idea how to go about it. Social media is, as I believe, the one key advantage younger job seekers have over the more experienced applicants. We have grownup with social media and know how to use it to reach wide and targeted audiences. Still, as my interviewer pointed out, I was going for my first job out of college, I lacked experience.

The funny thing is that I do have experience researching consumers and target audiences, finding out their demographics, their interests, what media sources they turn to in their free time. I do have experience formatting surveys, gathering data, analyzing data and using it to create effect campaigns. I do have experience creating powerpoint presentations for clients. I do have experience with account management, managing distribution teams, networking, cold calling, composing competitor analysis charts, and annual marketing reports. Problem is, that I gained all of this experience in the classroom or at an internship and thus employers see it as lacking real-world applicability.

I disagree. On each of those school projects I got a grade, feedback from professors who had had, or still had, careers in marketing. They critiqued my work, showed me where I could improve and areas I had succeeded in. I embraced their feedback and applied it to the next project, and took those skills to my internships where I could apply them in real life situations. From each class project, from each internship  I grew. I got better. I learned from my experiences. True, I still have unlimited amounts of learning ahead of me and I will for the rest of my career because the marketplace we work in is constantly evolving. But I have a strong foundation to build on. I am confident in my skills and abilities. I am confident in myself.

So here I am, continuing the search, pushing forward. I can’t lie, it isn’t always easy. At times I find myself discouraged and have to remind myself that I am talented, I am motivated, I am determined, and that I will get a job that will allow me to utilize my current skills, enhance and sharpen them, and gain invaluable experience. Yesterday I submitted eight more applications, today six. I am continuing to push forward, to do my research, to stay positive. I want a rewarding career that I can be proud of and that I want to work hard in.

As Theodore Roosevelt said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”

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Old meets News

The practice of writing down one’s skill set and experience has been around for so long that the origins of the resume are not clear. History of the Resume is an interesting article that shows the modern resume dating back to feudal England. In today’s competitive, fast-paced society the importance of the resume has exploded. While it is ultimately the candidate’s ability to sell himself in the interview, it is the resume that must gain him that interview by setting himself apart from the competition. Traditionally, the content of the resume has been the sole focus of jobseekers when constructing a resume. However, social media has again changed something so deeply embedded into our culture.

The latest way jobseekers are setting themselves apart are through interactive, nontraditional resumes. The introduction of self-photos, video resumes, and hyperlinks have separated the creative and technologically savvy from the rest of the pack. The most important aspect of interactive resumes is that they have the ability to communicate without text the candidate’s knowledge of social media, ability to recognize its value, and to utilize it for personal advancement. A skill they will be able to apply to the job.

I found Mashable’s How To: Spruce up a Boring Resume really informative.

This is all well and good but the crafting of an interactive resume is a whole other story. Something I am currently learning. What to put  in, what to leave out. How to best create a theme and make it flow like the article suggests. Not to mention that you want to keep in mind the actual position you are applying for when constructing it. While I am far from done I have already found that my interactive resume truly does reflect my personality in that when in doubt I have followed one rule of thumb… less is more.

Up Until Now…

After I graduated in June I traveled around Europe for a month with my two roommates, Sarah and Allison, and a group of other recent UCSB grads. The trip was amazing, we hit ten countries (which almost made the trip exhausting!) including: England, France, Brussels, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Lichenstein, Italy, and Greece. As a history and food lover I can easily say that Paris and Rome were my favorite cities and I will definitely be going back to both at some point. When I got back to the States at the end of July it was time to start my job search.

As a Communications major I have always wanted to pursue a career in marketing but I still was not sure what I specifically wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work on the more analytical, business/management side of marketing rather than the creative but I still wanted to know more about the daily tasks of certain positions. I began by positing my resume on LinkedIn and on Monster, applying for entry level marketing positions. I quickly got a lot of responses for outside sales positions due to my experience as an Account Executive. I knew I did not want a career in sales but I had been told by some that in order to get to the positions I wanted (I still only had a vague idea of what that was however) I would need to put in my time doing sales for a year or two to gain experience. I understood and accepted this as I believe that in order to achieve something worthwhile one must work hard and start from the bottom. As a result I spent a couple weeks interviewing with four different companies for outside sales positions.

During the time I spent interviewing I was meeting with a contact in the marketing industry who provided me with invaluable information. From her guidance I was able to determine that I wanted a career as a marketing strategist or project manager. With these positions I would be able to work with a variety of department and compile research and data that would contribute to the marketing campaigns. I would be able to work on the campaigns dealing with the statistics and analytical data that would help shape the creative aspects. She explained that for strategist and project management positions I did not need to start in sales. While this was good news it also left me with a choice to make. I had just finished the third interview for an outside sales position which was an all-day field interview and was basically guaranteed the job. I had to decide if I should take the sales position that was in front of me right now because

1. It’s a job (a valuable thing in today’s economy)

2. I could stop feeling like such a bum

3. What if I don’t get the positions I want and am left with no job

or do I put my excitement and motivation from figuring out what positions I actually want into an even more aggressive job search because

1. It’s what I actually want to do

2. I will push myself everyday to make sure I am a competitive candidate

3. When (not if) I get the job I will continue to push myself each day to learn and grow as much as I can

I decided to take the risk. And this is where I currently am. Today begins my hunt for a position as a marketing strategist, project manager, or a more entry level position where I will be able to grow into one of those positions. This blog will outline my journey throughout that process. It will discuss all of the social media articles I feel are worth sharing and my experiences in interviews as I learn more about what it takes to make it into the marketing industry. I may be relatively inexperienced but I am young, motivated, and most importantly am integrated with and proficient in social media, utlizing its value.