After getting hired for a new job a month after publishing the original article, I wanted to follow up on Part 1 of my marketing job-search lessons from August 2010. I have 12 more tips—they come down to building relationships, asking for help, and focusing on what you can control.
Start by Building Relationships
1. Show up, and keep showing up. A former boss described it as this: “You keep going to industry events ’til you start recognizing people and they start recognizing you.” Helping at the door at the first Raleigh Media Leaders networking event, I knew no one. Helping at the door at the fourth Raleigh Media Leaders event—11 months later, now as one of the volunteer organizers—I recognized two-thirds of the people.
2. It’s not just one thing—it’s a series of events. I got my job offer at Coalmarch Productions in early September 2010. I met Coalmarch partner Jake St. Peter after joining the board of TIMA (the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association). I joined TIMA after meeting Janet Kennedy at the first Raleigh Media Leaders event in January 2010. I went to Media Leaders because I saw Phil Buckley promote his new event on Twitter. I saw the promo because I started using my Twitter account. Perhaps I’d have gotten the same job eventually (Janet is ubiquitous!), but who knows?
3. But single instances can help, if you have a reputation behind it. I got a first-round interview after making a single, thoughtful comment on an agency CEO’s blog. He emailed to ask me to come in to meet the team. But I believe it wasn’t just the comment—I’d built a large library of content by blogging for months, and I’d built my offline network, too.
4. Online communication can supplement—but doesn’t replace—face-to-face interactions. In one of my blog interviews, smartest-guy-in-the-room Greg Ng mentioned sending twice as many Twitter DM’s (private direct messages) as public tweets. Greg elaborated:
“It’s building relationships, purely one on one. Not me “@”-ing you and everyone else sees it all. That’s great too. But conversations that you and I may have in direct message will now build an even deeper relationship. It’s just for you.”
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
5. Invest in yourself. Hiring career coach Darrell Gurney of CareerGuy.com gave me a framework for my search. After I realized I needed a bold “Hire Me” call-to-action on my website, I hired designer Maura McDonald to create the graphic. After a hiring manager said I came across as un-spontaneous, I signed up for improv classes at DSI Comedy in Carrboro.
6. Have an accountability system. Finding a new job is a long process, with lots of smaller activities that lead to bigger results. My career coaching with Darrell included weekly check-in calls with him and his other clients. We’d report on our progress and make commitments for the following week. If you can’t afford to hire a coach, find a reliable accountability partner or join one of the local job-seeker groups that offers this service for free. But you have to stick with it for this to pay off.
7. Get an office somewhere. I did on-site marketing consulting for a startup that had a spare office. It was a part-time gig but they let me use the office for my job search the rest of the day. After two years of working from home, it was great to be around other people on a daily basis. If you’re currently unemployed, think about people you know—they might have an extra desk.
8. Help other job-seekers. This bears repeating from Part 1. First, it’s rewarding to help other people. Second, helping others lets you focus on something other than the fact that you’re looking for a job. Third, you’re not directly competing with them—either they’re in a different area, or they’re either more or less qualified if you both apply to the same position.
9. Have something specific to ask for. For instance—an industry you want to research further, a referral to a specific company, someone who might have office space to trade for advice, etc. I was floored by how many people responded to the last article with advice and encouragement. You will not find a job by sitting at home and emailing resumes to ads on Monster.com.
Reduce Stress by Focusing on What You Can Actually Control
10. Start a blog as a platform for your ideas. After hearing both Beck Tench and Phil Buckley extol the benefits of blogging, I was convinced. From an SEO perspective, blogging helps you “own” your Google search results. More organically, blogging is an opportunity to show hiring managers how you think. Whether you do WordPress self-hosted (my choice) or quickly set up a Tumblr blog, make a brief plan, and then just start doing it. Your first few posts will be bad and then they’ll get better. And go to the Raleigh SEO Meetup for guidance.
11. Do informational interviews. I did 75+ informational interviews over nine months. I found most people I asked were glad to meet with me. You never know where a connection will lead—to a job, a consulting gig, new ideas, a new employee, or something else. And always ask if they can recommend someone else to speak with—at one point, I met with someone four degrees removed from the original contact. Stay in touch with people on a regular basis, to help stay top-of-mind.
12. Bonus tip: Keep refining that business card. You can’t control everything in your job search but you can at least fine-tune your job-search business card. I used mine as a way to test my pitch—to see how people responded and to optimize it along the way. Don’t focus on your business card to the exclusion of building actual relationships, but it’s nice to have someplace to focus that isn’t dependent on others’ whims (e.g., interviews). I really liked using Avery’s Clean Edge business cards, which don’t have the cheesy perforations along the sides. Or hire a designer for help.
Add Your Advice!
Have any of these suggestions worked for you? What would you add to the list? Read my earlier article for 11 more tips.
Marketing agency business consultant Karl Sakas helps overwhelmed and frustrated digital marketing agency owners love their agencies again. His consulting and business coaching helps agency owners find more free time, make more money, and enjoy their work again. Outside of work, he volunteers as a bartender on a 1930s railroad car.