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Getting That First Job: 5 Pieces of Advice to Ignore

Published on October 7, 2015 12:00 AM EST

You’re finally ready to enter the job market. Whether you recently graduated from college, finished a vocational school, completed high school, or wrapping up an internship, entering the job hunt can be an overwhelming task. It’s something all adults have to endure, whether they are pursuing their dream job or trying to get into a growing profession. Everybody has their two cents to give about it, and plenty of times the advice will contradict each other. Here are 5 pieces of advice you should ignore during your job hunt, and a few tips on what you should do.


1. Just Walk Into The Business And Hand Them A Resume


I heard this time and time again, from family, friends, and complete strangers.


This job hunt strategy is on par with the door to door salesman. All you will do is annoy the staff, waste the hiring manager’s time, and promptly get your resume in the trash. The strategy worked pre-internet days, but with tools like email, resume analysis software and job posting websites, it’s ineffective. Don’t waste your time and a good lead.


What to do: Try to find out who the hiring manager is and obtain their email. If you can get your resume directly in their inbox versus a web form or resume application tool, your chances are that much better. Also, most people have an IM chat set up with their email address, so see if you can instant message them and start a conversation. The more “face time” you can get with the hiring manager, the better off you’ll be.


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2. Print Off Resumes And Give Them To Everybody


Another pre-internet tactic, giving people a piece of paper leads to your precious resume getting stained, crumpled, lost, and thrown out. Most people don’t like holding onto important documents for others and feel awkward using paper in a digital age.


What to do: Have a digital copy of your most recent resume available at all times. Have one on your computer, tablet, smartphone and Google Drive. That way if somebody does ask you for a resume, you can simply email it to them. Now they have a spill proof copy of your resume and you have an email address for them. You can follow up with them after a few days and stay connected with them.


3. Go to a career fair/networking event


I’m not knocking networking at all, but career fairs and other “networking” events are not effective uses of your time. Career fairs get so much foot traffic that it is next to impossible for a business to remember you or are businesses looking to fill the dead end jobs you don’t want.


Networking events for job seekers help you connect with other job seekers, but not businesses. Having a support group of other job hunters can help you locate places hiring in your field, but remember that some of those job seekers are your direct competition.


What to do: A great way to start networking in a field is to find a mentor. Find somebody who is fairly influential in your industry and ask for advice. Don’t approach them about helping you find a job or if they know anybody that’s hiring. They already know you’re job hunting and will recommend open positions when they learn of them.


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A mentor not only helps you connect with others in your field, they will focus your approach. They know what works and what doesn’t in your industry and may have even be a hiring manager. If you can impress your mentor, they will become invested in your job hunt and will work that much harder to help.


Use resources like Alumni networks, LinkedIn, family friends, and social groups to find a mentor. Don’t blindly approach a company’s CEO in hopes that he’ll mentor you. You need a real connection to them as a person before they will be willing to help.


4. It’s a numbers game, so apply everywhere


While yes, the more applications you get out, the likelihood of getting hired goes up, always focus on quality over quantity. HR and hiring managers get hundreds of resumes with vague skills sets that sorta match the job requirements, and they have to weed out the worst ones quickly.


What to do: Get creative and stand out from the crowd. With every job you apply for, your resume should be slightly different. Tweak your skill set and achievements to best match the requirements and your much closer to landing an interview.


Don’t be afraid to go big. I once applied for a job way out of my experience range at a major video game developer. By researching the company and knowing they love card games, I sent them a digital trading card with my beautiful face plastered on it. I included my skills and included a link to a website I built just for them. It included an introduction, my resume, portfolio and reasons why they should hire me. I got an interview with the business, and they considered creating a position to match my experience and skills. All of this took about a day to create, but I impressed them enough to take a serious look at hiring me.

5. Take any job you can get


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Finding a career is your full time job. I understand if you need to take a part time job to make ends meet, but don’t take the first job that comes your way. There are entire businesses that prey on these type of people. They find job hunters, hire them quickly, abuse them for a few months until the worker quits and start all over again. That way they have a constant stream of fresh faces and don’t have to pay for benefits. These type of companies are associated with pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing, door to door sales, and poorly funded call centers.


What to do: The more time you spend on the job hunt, the quicker you’ll find the right job. Make sure that if you do accept a job offer, it’s a place you want to work. You don’t want to be dumped back into the job hunt four months later after learning the job wasn’t a good fit. During an interview, ask questions about the company culture, expectations of the position, why did the previous employee leave, and work style preferences. Analyze any red flags and ask yourself if you really want to work for the company.


Don’t be afraid to reach out to current and previous employees of a business. Find out their thoughts on the company and why they still worked there or quit. Check out sites like Glassdoor to see CEO approval rankings and what other employees think.


I wish you the best of luck on your job hunt. Keep working hard and seeking good advice and I’m sure you’ll land a great job.


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Do you have a list of bad advice to ignore? Is there a certain trick that worked really well for you? Share it in the comments below to help out other job hunters.

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