Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Job hunting tips

I am psyched that a few of my friends recently landed jobs. Of course, I still have quite a few looking!

A few thoughts / job tips came to mind as a result that I wanted to share...

Here are some tips:

1) Obviously "who you know" is incredibly important. Knowing someone can get you a job interview stat! So definitely ask everyone you know if you see a job you want to apply to but don't have a direct contact at the company.

2) Also, ask every single friend and family member and contact you have if they know anyone in (insert your field here). LA is a small city in many ways. Chances are someone you know can get your resume forwarded...

3) Don't ignore online ads - you should still submit your resume online for any jobs you are perfect for. Tailor your resume AND cover letter to each job to maximize your chances of being called in.

4) Don't take it personally if you aren't contacted for an interview, especially if it's from a blind online submission - they get hundreds or thousands of resumes and it's easy for a "perfect" one to fall through the cracks. I also know a few recruiters who are just slammed with resumes these days - hundreds for each job post. So don't get down or take it personally if you don't hear back. Just say "next" and keep going!

5) Don't rely on only posted jobs for job hunting. If you're in a specific industry, read the trades and use Google to find contacts at that company. i.e. if you want a marketing job at a studio, look up the heads of marketing online or in a directory and submit to them directly through email or mail. Hey, you might even pick up the phone and cold call - it can't hurt! When I worked for a production company years ago, we got calls every day by freelancers looking for their next gig. I bet those freelancers called 100 companies a day -- but I bet you those people got hired compared to others who just mailed or emailed resumes out...

6) Use your college alumni database and network. I got a job interview when I first moved out here because I blindly mailed out hundreds of resumes - but one of the interviewers called me in because we had gone to the same college (and I didn't even know it - ah, it's a numbers game)! Use all your resources. Many colleges give you online access to databases of their alumni. You can also search university alumni on facebook and myspace - where I discovered a former classmate does casting at WB and another does A&R at a major label - who knew! I also had a friend who used her USC alumni book to contact a lawyer who had also gone to the same graduate film school program as she did - and there was no job open at his small firm - but she convinced him to hire her to do legal work - so never underestimate the power of persuasion, especially the female kind ;)

7) Follow-up. Artists do this with me all the time. If you email someone you personally know or have worked with and don't hear back, email that personal contact again. Always be polite and professional, i.e. "Have you had a chance to review my resume" goes a lot further than "Why haven't you gotten back to me?" I also forward the original email and include a new email note at the top so they can see I've emailed them before. If after 3-4 attempts you haven't heard back, it's probably a good idea not to go overboard but some people are just BUSY and that's why they aren't responding. Don't assume it's because they are ignoring you....

8) Don't rely on email alone. If you know someone and they haven't responded, either send them another email "hey it's me, just checking in again" or pick up the phone! I don't know about you but on a busy day I can get 100 or more emails and sometimes emails just slip through the cracks, especially if someone is busy or traveling, etc. But I only receive a handful of a calls a day, by comparison, and sometimes I even answer my own phone ;)

9) Keep a positive attitude. Yes, I've heard it's rough out there - but I also have had many friends get hired recently. Sure, some of them are in more of tech fields but believe me, your negative attitude will come across in an email or cover letter - or on the phone and in person. STAY POSITIVE no matter what. Go for a walk, bike ride, run, or hit the gym or yoga if you need to get out any negative energy. Go for a hike. Kick boxing. Anything!

10) Use all your resources. If I were looking for a job, I would be looking through all my friend's contacts on linked in - and emailing friends saying, "Hey, I notice you have a friend at XYZ company, can you forward this cover letter and resume to them"? Don't expect anyone will do the work for you and offer up all their contacts. It's your job to find out who you want to connect with and THEN ask for the hook up!

11) If it's been a long time and you feel like you aren't getting anywhere, consider a) going back to school to learn a new skill - from nursing to accounting or teaching - any field that is more in demand than what you're doing now b) starting your own business and/or blog about your industry - lots of companies may have downsized but they still may need someone to do X job and may just outsource to you to save $$ - contact your old company's clients and see if they will hire you directly c) move to a cheaper place / area / city / state and/or cut out any unnecessary items to cut down on your monthly expenses. I'm amazed at people who are "broke" but they still manage to pay for their Blackberry each month...I'm just saying...

Hope that helps!

Got any other tips to share?

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