07 Oct Job Search Unsuccessful? Try These 5 Approaches.
You’ve got your degree and you’re ready to take on the world! You’ve been active in extracurricular activities and even held some leadership roles.
You continue to read articles about the talent shortage in agriculture. You see thousands of openings on job boards.
You apply and wait…and apply and wait…and apply and wait.
Nothing happens. Nobody seems interested. Self-doubt starts to creep in.
What can you do when you have tried to put yourself in the position to get hired, but can’t seem to get an opportunity?
Some tough love (because I care): many will just keep applying because it’s easy and you can blame everyone else when you don’t get an interview. The truth is there are other things YOU can do to improve your chances of actually landing a job.
Here are 5 approaches to consider:
Expand your parameters. At a very basic level, job fit is a function of three criteria: position, location, compensation. Your attractiveness to a potential employer depends on fit to each of these three factors. Position: How well do you meet the qualifications for this position? Have you demonstrated aptitude in this role and in this industry? Even if it’s just an internship, this is important. Location: How open are you to relocation? Sometimes you are more likely to make progress toward the position and compensation you desire if you are willing to compromise on your location (at least in the short term). Compensation: Are your expectations in line with the job opening and in line with your experience level? If you’re a new graduate, it’s unlikely that you can improve your experience level if you can’t find a job, so you can increase your chances by expanding your parameters on location and compensation to start picking up that experience.
Consider an internship. Many graduates look down on internships as something that should only be pursued by students. This is a mistake. Internships are a fantastic low-risk way to get your foot in the door. They offer both you and the employer a chance to get to know each other in a defined period of time. If you perform well, they will often lead to a permanent job offer or a better chance to work for another employer in that same industry. Employers are MUCH more likely to “take a chance” on someone for an internship vs a permanent position. Best of all, in agriculture they are usually paid.
Request to job shadow. This is probably the most underutilized job search technique, and it’s so simple. You find someone on LinkedIn that is doing the job you want to do and/or working for the employer you want to work for. You send them a personalized LinkedIn request that says: “I’m a (your major) graduate from (your university). I’m very interested in working as a (job title) for a company like (their company). Would you be open to me shadowing you for a few hours to see what it’s like?” Send 10 of these out and I would be surprised if you don’t get some takers. Don’t go after executives here. Focus on those that will remember recently being in your shoes. I’ll write a separate post on how to execute the perfect job shadow so stay tuned!
Create content. I’m a huge fan of this (as evidenced by my podcasts, blogs, social media, e-books, etc.). What’s shocking to me: almost nobody does this. I find it especially ironic when Ag Communications majors want a job to communicate about agriculture and they are doing very little right now with the free tools at their disposal to communicate about agriculture. (Again, tough love, because I care). Get out there and start! You don’t need anyone’s permission to build your personal brand. In fact, try this technique: for every job you apply to online, create one piece of content to show off your work for that particular job. Depending on your skills, you may choose writing, audio, video, or images. Don’t have anything to say? Interview an industry expert! Ask the questions you personally want the answers to and share them! Even if you’re not an ag communications person (I’m not), this is an extremely effective approach. I am continuously amazed at how many people find me because of my content. You can make sure the right employer or recruiter finds you. Best of all, almost none of you will take this advice. Those that do will stand out postitively in the crowd.
Build your network. No, not networking events (most are wastes of time in my opinion). Build an intentional network by reaching out individually to people you’d like to know. Introductory phone calls, coffee meetings, lunches, and happy hours can all be effective first meetings. When you reach out, just be honest! Tell them you are looking to break into the industry and would like to build relationships with successful people. It’s SO much easier to see job opportunities once you’re in the industry. These relationships can be invaluable to getting hired, referred, or recommended for opportunities.
These approaches are unlikely to get you a job TODAY. I understand the urgency of not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from. There is a chance that these would have to happen in conjunction with taking a job that is not on your desired career track to maintain an income. That’s real life.
What these approaches do, however, is put you in the driver’s seat. You can make PROGRESS rather than just sitting around waiting to hear back from HR on your job application. If for every job you applied for you created a piece of content online, asked for a job shadow, and asked a professional in that industry for a coffee meeting, you would drastically accelerate your progress. Plus approaches focus on building relationships rather than just asking for a job. Those relationships can stick with you for your entire career, whether they lead to an immediate job opportunity or not.
This is hard – but worth it. Get started right away, and stick with it.