Image: Destiny Lalane/The Well (Jopwell)
Working as a freelance writer can feel like a never-ending job search (even when you’re in the middle of a gig, you’re always looking for another). But finding new assignments has taught me quite a bit about what to do – and not do – when looking for work. The biggest takeaway? It’s all about your mindset.
Here are a few ways you may be sabotaging your job hunt and how to ditch these destructive behaviors.
I can’t count on my hands and feet how many friends and family members have told me that they’ve only applied for “a few jobs” during their search. While they want to move out of their current role, they’re still holding onto it as their fallback plan, and, as a result, they’re less aggressive about putting themselves out there. Cast a wider net and get your résumé in front of as many people as you can.
Name-dropping where you went to school isn’t enough to woo hiring managers anymore. Companies are interested in your relevant experience, skills, and even your personality. If you’re really looking to stand out, start researching and learning the skills required for the jobs you want. You could pursue a new certification, or launch an online project to gain practical experience. Do the work and it will pay off.
Let me tell you a story about a girl who was underqualified. She didn’t have a degree, but she really wanted to work for a tech startup. She figured that with her high school retail experience, she could probably land a role in customer service. That girl applied for 30-plus customer service jobs in the tech industry. Almost all of them required a four-year degree from a top-tier school. But in May 2014, that girl accepted a job offer at a tech startup as a customer service rep. Six months later, she transitioned into a role in software sales, doubling her pay. That girl is me. If I can do it, you can do it. When you’re underqualified, don’t just walk away. Take the chance and submit a strong application, even if it’s a long shot. You may end up landing the job after all, or at least forging a connection for the future.
There’s an easy solution to this one—just reach out! You don’t have to start by cold-calling people, either. Connect with friends you already know in the industry and ask for advice. Find out how they got their start. You’d be surprised how many job offers are the result of networking. Another tip: Don’t ignore recruiters or be suspicious of their motives. A recruiter’s job is to source high-quality candidates for awesome companies. They hold the keys to a treasure chest full of opportunities, and the next one could be yours.
Nothing is worse than blindly accepting the first job that extends you an offer. Give yourself options, so you can decide which position, company, or salary is the best fit for you. The position you choose should also match your interests and experience. Trust me, you’ll be happier in the long run.