I’m Employed!

That’s right!  I have real life, full-time, post graduation, big kid PR job.  I start today as an account coordinator for Kel & Partners, a web 2.0 marketing and public relations agency.  I’m proud that all of the internships, extracurriculars, blogging and networking has finally paid off.  I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

However, the purpose of this post is not to tute my own horn.  Rather, I just want to share some honest advice to all the other 2009 grads out there who are looking for jobs.  I’m no expert, but here are some things that worked for me:

1. I didn’t look for jobs, I looked for companies

I’m not a huge fan of job posting websites. Let’s not beat around the bush: I’m talking about Careerbuilder and Monster.  I think these websites tempt people into applying for hundreds of jobs they either don’t really want or aren’t really qualified for.  I think it gives you a false sense of accomplishment and a heightened sense of frustration when you never hear back from these places.

A friend of mine did a corporate communications internship last summer. She was a rock star intern, so they kept her around for the fall.  When she graduated in December, they created a full-time position for her.  However, before she could officially start the job, they had to list the job on a couple of websites for equal opportunity/ legal/ HR purposes.  So even though the job was created for her, they listed it anyway.  I’m sure they received tons of resumes from hopeful candidates who never had a shot…

It wouldn’t be wise to completely disregard job listing websites. There are absolutely “real” jobs listed from legitimate companies. However, I like to think of them more as job search tour guides rather than The Source of open positions.  Use them as a supplement to good old fashioned networking. Check out what companies are (supposedly) hiring on those job boards.  Check out their websites.  Go through your LinkedIn network – are you connected to anyone who works there?  Can you find out if there are any other opportunities at the company that aren’t listed online?  More importantly, what type of company is it?  What do they do, and how do they do it?  Are they deserving of your awesomeness?  It takes a long time to customize your resume and cover letter for each company you send them to.  Do not waste your time writing, editing, nit-picking and re-writing unless you actually want to work there. Your time is worth more than that.  Quality, not quantity, baby.  Quality, not quantity.

2. Informational interviews!!!!

My original contact with my company was through an informational phone interview back in February.  When you are just approaching a company asking to have a casual, informative conversation, you aren’t putting the potential employer on the spot.  You’re basically just two people, talking shop.  The advice I got from these interviews was extremely influential.  The feedback was incredibly helpful.  I think informational interviews are the new pink.

3. I kept my chin up

Unemployment is the worst. It feels like failure.  It feels inadequate, lazy, hopeless, boring – and most of all, like you are not in control of your destiny. (And I really really really hate that.)

Personally, I’ve ignored a lot of news since January, when economic things really started to go to hell. Whenever the news reporters started talking about lay-offs or stock markets or bailouts, I turned the channel and watched something happy and frivilous.  (My top recommendations include What Not to Wear, the Bachelor/Bachelorette, Flight of the Conchords and Bridezillas.)

Although being informed is important, I think having a positive attitude during the job search is much much more important.  Ignorance is bliss.  Dwelling on the thousands of workers who got laid off at a company a million states away from you in an industry that has nothing to do with you won’t motivate you to hunt for a job.  It’ll give you an excuse to mope around in your jammies and feel sorry for yourself that you graduated at such a difficult time.  That kind of information will intimidate you from trying.  You need to surround yourself with positive information.  Spite the recession like he’s your ex and keep trying.  You have to keep trying.  You owe it to yourself to keep trying.

Seriously, turn the channel, and look at every action you take toward getting a job as an accomplishment.

I hope that somewhere there is someone who will be a little inspired by this.  I’m very excited to start my professional career, and I will continue to blog about public relations and social media at this website.  In addition, I have a strong interest in career development so I may ponder that topic from time to time. (If you want to learn about career advice from someone who really knows what she’s talking about – read Heather Huhman’s column on Examiner.com.)

Last but not least, I just wanted to give a shout out to my parents, my brother, my best friends, and my adorable boyfriend – all who supported me through this journey.  Job or no job, cash-money or broke, you people love me for me and I cherish our relationships.