Finding your first job straight out of college is a difficult task. If you combine that with a global pandemic that shut down hiring during your final semester, matters are made worse.
My quarantine experience consisted of hours of reaching out to recruiters, hiring managers and friends or acquaintances. I tried speaking to anyone that would give me guidance on my future career path.
One of the first lessons I learned throughout the pandemic job search process is that, even under normal circumstances, but especially during the height of a global pandemic, determination and grit are a prerequisite for success. Rejection and lack of responsiveness to emails, phone calls and LinkedIn messages can really hurt a young job seeker’s confidence and self-morale; only unwavering determination can get you through.
Personally, the biggest challenge for me was sending emails and scheduling interviews knowing with a fair degree of certainty that I would not get the job.
The “tinkering” stage wasn’t easy either; the “tinkering” stage is where people spend time fixing and editing their resumes and skill sets to cater to the specific job description they are applying for. My personal opinion on this strategy is that it’s pointless and a tremendous waste of time. The time it takes you to adjust your resume would be better spent taking skill training and free courses available on the internet to better understand the current state of the industry and the lingo used in the field you’re applying for.
There’s a certain naivety young job seekers possess when it comes to interviews; when asked a question, they think they need to know every answer and check every box on the job description. But what I’ve found with experience is that it’s more important to showcase your character, values and communications skills than most of the practical aspects of the job.
Right after I graduated from college, I was lucky enough to get a job; but it was in an industry that I was not interested in long term. A few months into the role, and as companies started hiring again, I once again explored different options and roles. This was more of a passive search compared to when I was trying to find my first job - and as fate would have it, I was introduced to a specific Udemy course in the field I wanted to be in during this passive job search process.
For those reading this who aren’t familiar, my boss, Isaac Rudansky, has one of the top-rated Introduction to Google Ads courses on Udemy. I responded back to the older mentor who referred me to Isaac’s course and he recommended I check out the How To Hide A Dead Body podcast; I loved every bit of content and information that these guys were speaking about. I knew from that moment on that Isaac, Patrick and the AdVenture team were special. I needed to get my foot in the door.
After realizing that I wanted to work at AdVenture Media Group, I tried thinking of different ways to stand out in the application process. I asked all of my friends and family if they knew any of the employees at AdVenture Media. I found a mutual connection between a friend and Isaac’s cousin, so I leveraged that connection to get in touch with Isaac. I went on to message every single employee at AdVenture Media on LinkedIn to build more connections, but this was a miserable failure. Eventually, after stalking Isaac’s posts on LinkedIn by liking and commenting on every piece of content that he put out I got my foot in the door with an interview.
The first interview went well, but then I was given an assignment to work on and present in the second interview. Overall, the assignment was way beyond my expertise and skill set and I did a less than mediocre job presenting my work after working on it for a few weeks. Even though the actual work wasn’t impressive, my personal goal in delivering the presentation was to showcase my grit, creativity and guts despite not knowing the concepts or technical skills required of me.
After my second round interview, I was scrolling through LinkedIn and saw Isaac posted a job post, “If filling out a quick online form isn't your thing, handwritten notes sealed with wax are appropriate and encouraged. You can also show up at our office. I'll probably be there.” When I read this, I took it as my queue to act fast and be different.
I called my father for advice and asked him the craziest thing he has ever seen someone do in the business world. He told me that back in the day people used to send a chocolate foot in the hopes of closing an upcoming deal. It was most definitely cheesy and outdated but I thought this was my way to get noticed. The problem was that it was New Year’s Eve and most places were closed, so I called seven places and paid expedited shipping to ensure the chocolate foot would show up before my next interview. Long story short, it showed up and I got the job.
My advice to first-time job seekers or anyone who’s struggling with the process: when you are struggling to find a job, work harder and invest more time into what you are doing. Nothing can stop you from achieving your optimal success more than your own despair in giving up. When you find something that you want, don't let norms, standards and precedents - whether it’s skill set, experience or degree requirements - get in the way ... Think creatively to solve complex problems, starting with how to get your foot in the door.
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