So often in my job search I find myself wondering if I should apply to certain gigs based on myriad of reasons (I’ll go into detail below).
Having been out of college for 10 years now and accumulated solid professional experience, my interests have also led me down different corridors. I have a professional writing career, but I’ve also spent a number of years working in marketing for professional services firms and most recently dipped into communications roles. There’s also the nerd in me that’s embraced the web development/technical end of writing online and now has proficiency with HTML, CSS, and some of the other easy-to-learn web languages.
What’s the magical equation that gives me the # of years experience I need or packages my qualifications in a way that presents the best me to employers? In short, how do I brand myself? What jobs do I pursue? And then there’s the most glaring question of all…
WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP?!!!
Before I can answer that question, the one definitive I’ve learned through all the rejection and success in the job hunt is that in the end, the only person you need to bother selling to or convincing is yourself. This statement also begs the question of how do you measure success in your job hunt. ( a future post idea).
And before you can start selling a future employer on why you’re the tastiest treat since Julie’s Empanadas, you need to be certain you’re actually into the job you’re applying for. Below are some helpful tips and common scenarios:
- You see an ad for a job that lists in its criteria of desired or required qualifications a Masters/advanced degree or a certain # of years experience or certain technical proficiency, but you’re concerned you’re lacking in some of these areas.
This happens to me a lot. The key here is turning whatever you’ve deemed your “weakness” into your strengths. Life is a lot like Chess in that way. I used to never apply to jobs which called for over 10 years experience in a certain field or if I didn’t have expertise in some computer program I didn’t want to mislead anyone by submitting my resume. Now I’ve come to realize that it’s so rare to find a job that you’re 100% on board with pursuing that when you do, don’t let those types of things get in the way of you going after it. Let them do the weeding. That’s what recruiters are for. Besides, more often than not, that assembled list is an employer’s “wish list” of quals. Keep that in mind and even if they’ve written a disclaimer on the job ad that they won’t contact candidates who don’t meet their wish list, you do your thang.
- You see a job ad that sorta interests you, but you’re not really digging it, but you really need to pay the bills and find something steady. Do you apply anyways? Similarly, you see a job that you’re certainly qualified for in an industry you have experience in, but aren’t all that into, do you go back?
This one is a tough question for anyone to answer outside of you. I’ve taken jobs when I’ve really needed moola that didn’t interest me so much and been pleasantly surprised. I’ve usually gone the route of temping so that I can take my time more and opt to be more selective in my search, but there’s really no right answer. Anything that brings in a paycheck and brings you a certain level of fulfillment is fair game. When I do see jobs in my search that I feel qualified for but if I’m not really dying to go back into that line of work, I think twice about applying for those jobs and usually decide against it. For me, there’s a reason I moved on. Conversely, if it’s a job that’s more in line with where I am presently in my career within an experience industry, I may apply based on the company and cultural fit.
- Applying for jobs is a full-time job. It sucks up so much of your time and isn’t all that effective in terms of the output you get.
I hate sounding so cliche here, but getting responses from ads you’ve applied to is really luck. It’s also a bit of a numbers game. (ugh, I’m killing myself here!) A friend of mine developed an amazing computer application, Findbits, that saves you the time of applying to a number of jobs. It scours Craigslist for job openings based on keywords you’ve entered and sends out your resume and/or generic cover letter to those jobs. While you might get some undesired responses, your rate of receiving responses from gigs you might actually be interested also goes up. You can also filter based on location, company, etc (in case you don’t want to reapply to the same ad you already applied for or your former employer puts up an ad for the job you just vacated!).
- You see your dream job, but the payscale is lower than you’re worth or we’re shooting for.
I’m not the first person to address this question, but it’s one I come up against a lot. I guess this one depends on your finances, but generally don’t sacrifice too much on the pay. Your ideal job should also be in the ballpark of your ideal salary. Money is important. You want to be able to live comfortably without feeling your lack of pay is seeping into both your professional and personal life. Don’t be naive on this one. Negotiate!