Fresh out of college, I thought finding a job would be relatively easy. I had internships, freelance work, recommendations, a solid GPA, and honors awards in my job-hunting toolkit. I was confident OKC had what I was looking for, according to all the “growing job market” articles sent by well-meaning relatives. In the end, I found what I was looking for, and I’ve learned some valuable tips I wish I’d known at the beginning of my search.
Widen your horizons
It’s easy to get caught up in job titles or specific companies, but don’t limit your opportunities because of your narrow search. For every two or three “dream title jobs” I applied for, I applied for one that was related to them, keeping in mind that everyone starts somewhere and sometimes it takes getting a foot in the door before you get where you want to be. You may also discover a position you absolutely love that otherwise would not have given a second thought to, had it not been for this broader acceptance.
Use your network
Don’t be afraid to use your network. Starting out, I felt awkward asking people for help or suggestions on where to look. I didn’t want anyone to think I got a job because of someone else. I’ve learned that networking widens the net that you’re casting, but it doesn’t always mean that you’ll catch something. It can help you find openings, give your résumé to the right person, or get you an interview, but it’s ultimately up to you to prove you’re the best fit for the job.
Gain experience while you wait
The most common feedback I received was “not enough experience.” While I was hunting, I also had a part-time, unpaid internship with a local nonprofit. It helped me gain more experience as well as providing me with more opportunities to network. Most nonprofits always need another pair of hands, and you can learn the “ins and outs” while helping an organization you’re interested in. It also helped provide talking points in interviews and gave me examples to display how I was taking initiative.
Rule of 3
Never go to any interview without at least three copies of your résumé or any other work samples to hand out. Typically, a first interview doesn’t have more than three interviewers. You may not need them, but always better to be prepared, especially in an interview. Don’t be that person who asks the receptionist or interviewer if you can borrow the printer.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your goal shouldn’t solely be getting a job offer. You want to see if that company/job is a good fit for you. Do your research and come prepared with questions other than pay, vacation days, and benefits (you really shouldn’t ask those in a first interview anyway). Ask about office culture, management styles, where they see their company going. Well thought-out questions show you’re already interested and invested in the company.
All of these principles helped me in some way attain my position here at liquidfish. I heard about the opening through my network and I applied even though it wasn’t my “dream title job,” but I knew I wanted to work for an agency. I learned several skills at the nonprofit that prepared me for working at liquidfish. I asked questions to get a feel for what the agency was like day-to-day, and I really liked what I saw.
So best of luck to everyone hunting out there! I hope you find a job and a company that you love working for as much as I do.