(Guest blog by Jennifer Dillenger, Director of The Space to: Prepare in The Space at Wofford College. You can reach Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Growing up, freestyle drawing always intimidated me. I avoided finger paints for the same reason – the lack of structure scared me. My elementary art skills didn’t adequately convey the beauty I was sure I could capture, if only I knew how.
However, I loved coloring books, and I spent many hours meticulously filling the pages with color. You see, these artful expressions offered an existing framework upon which I could apply my unique combinations of color, polka dots and stripes.
Starting to look for a job offers the same ambiguity as finger paints: no one is born knowing how to find a job. Just like a coloring page, a career search strategy gives direction and structure, allowing you to highlight your unique skills, experiences, and knowledge.
So, to get started, you need to divide your time into three specific areas: online applications, networking and targeted.
1. Commit 15% of your time to online applications. Yes, I know. They’re tedious and it seems as if you’re throwing your resume into a black hole. However, online job postings still result in new hires for the companies that utilize them. Consider these applications an opportunity to hone your writing skills (yes, that means you should write a personalized cover letter for each and every application).
2.“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I don’t agree with this all the time, but you really need to make networking a priority in your job search. In fact, I recommend spending 50% of your entire job search on networking. These activities include building your contact list, writing emails, making phone calls, coffee and lunch dates, handwritten notes and industry events.
3. Choose 20-25 companies you want to pursue. Once you have your target list, cross-reference your contacts for matches, apply on each company’s site, stalk their social media, and generally pursue every opportunity to interact with them. The remaining 35% of your time falls into this last area.
This is a quick look at how to divide and concentrate your time in order to successfully pursue multiple avenues at once. Essentially it’s a career “coloring page” that you should fill with your individual brand.
What’s your career search strategy? Have you started one? Are you doing something different? I’d love to have your questions or comments.