By Samantha Haimes, Associate Director, Career Readiness
In my role here at the Toppel Career Center, I find myself talking with students and recent grads about the job search on a daily basis. Especially for first time job seekers, the job search process can seem very foreign and daunting. And what else can seem pretty daunting? Between my friends, famiy, and the occasional RomCom, I know the answer to this can definitely be DATING. While I am no expert in the dating department, I do consider myself savvy in the job search process (thanks, Toppel!) so I am hoping to make some connections between these two seemingly separate ideas. Single, married, taken... Whatever! No matter where you find yourself these days I hope you can relate.
So many "fish in the sea"
There are sooooo many jobs out there! It might not always seem like it (especially to those actively searching) but there really are. So many different industries, job titles and levels, responsibilities, and to to mention, innumerable places to live while doing these jobs. But with that, many find themselves confused about where to begin. Just like determining who you want to go on a date with, you need to narrow down your options in terms of a job. You have the outdoorsy type, the movie-goer, and the animal lover; similarly you have the job in the swanky new office, the family-run company, or the job with high-impact responsibilities. And just like dating, you need to weigh your options that may have all, parts of, or none of these sample characteristics. Ultimately you just need to decide what it is you're looking for in a significant other job!
Put yourself out there
Gone are the days where Prince Charming shows up at your house to kiss you from your peaceful sleep and start a life with you (ok did that ever really happen to anyone but Sleeping Beauty?!). So what does that mean? It means you've got to get out there and find your very own Prince or Princess Charmings of the Job Search. Putting yourself out there also means doing more than only applying to jobs online. While this is a necessary step in the process, if you stop there your job search will be slow and unexciting. I found myself searching for a job a few years back in a brand new city, knowing no one. The amount of time I spent at random coffee and lunch dates may surprise you. I went from place to place meeting up with professionals to conduct informational interviews, connect with alumni, and learn about the industry and open job opportunities. It was that effort that actually landed me my first job out of grad school. You should do the same- connect with people on LinkedIn, reach out to alumni from UM, former supervisors/colleagues, etc. What do you have to lose? A bad date? It's worth the risk!
The first date
We have all done it - you have a date coming up and you suddenly have NOTHING in your closet to wear. A trip to Dadeland Mall and [too much] money later, you have a brand new outfit that is going to make you look your best! While it is wonderful to look your best on a first date, it is equally, if not more important, to look that good on your next job interview. You're probably saying, "Samantha I have heard this a million times...next!" but I can't stress this point enough. You want a company to remember you for everything you bring to the table, not for what you are or are not wearing. So splurge for a nice new suit, work appropriate shoes, and ease up on things like cologne or jewelry - less is more.
How many days should you wait to call?
There's nothing like having a great time on a date and then not hearing from the other person for a few weeks! You're likely on pins and needles, checking your texts and voicemails, just in case you might have missed them. "But whyyyyy haven't they called?!" Nine times out of ten, active job seekers go through this exact same slew of emotions. You have this great interview, you write a stellar thank you note, and then.... crickets. "Did they not like me! But we had such great conversation. Maybe there is someone else?"
Here's a little secret: the hiring process takes [far too much] time. For many companies and organizations, there are many stakeholders and steps in the process of bringing in a new employee. So while they may think you are a perfect fit for their company, there maybe be external factors that contribute to their limited (or lack of) communication. You have a few options here:
1. Pester them constantly until they listen to you and offer you the job.
2. Simply wait to hear from them.
3. Follow up in a professional and timely manner
If I was hiring for an open position, had 20 resumes sitting on my desk, and three of those individuals followed up with me to check on the status of their application and process, permitting they are qualified, I would likely focus on those three applications first. Why? Because they seem the most interested in the position and I want someone working for me who wants to work at my company, not just work anywhere. So wait about two weeks after applying for a job and then follow up with them expressing your interest and reminding them why you're a good fit. If you've recently interviewed, ask about the timeline and respect it. Send updates on things you've been doing and offer to provide additional info or references if need be. It takes strong organizational skills to follow up with every company you apply to in a professional, timely manner but it can be a game changer. Instead of waiting for a call from your dream date (or in this case, a job) pick up the phone and call them!
The perfect match
They say when you know, you know. Throughout this whole job search process, you should be learning what you Iike and don't like in a job or company. Ideally, the job that you offer and accept is an excellent match for your knowledge, skill sets, and professional goals. Your new "relationship" will take work and putting in time and effort to a new job is going to give you the best experience. So get out there and start applying!