Job search success doesn’t just magically happen for most marketing and creative professionals. You need a job search success strategy. Let's be honest, finding a job isn't for the faint of heart. It can require tenacity, persistence and a significant amount of positive energy. The best results happen when a job seeker commits to the search as if it were a job. The more time and concentrated effort devoted to a job search, the greater and faster the payoff.
Investing the time and energy to build a strategy for your search is a smart way to approach the job-hunting process. It doesn't have to be overly complicated; a brief outline that includes your short- and long-term career goals and the time frames you’re targeting can help you focus and zero in on the opportunities best suited for you.
Here’s practical advice for developing your personal job search success strategy.
1. Start with self-analysis
Our top job search tip? Get introspective. Looking inward can be incredibly valuable when it comes to job hunting. Take a close look at your unique combination of skills, attributes, work history, credentials, academic profile, interests, volunteer activities, values, priorities and more. Put them all under a microscope. Also consider your work ethic, attitude toward collaboration, interest in working independently, as well as personal principles. Each of these traits or factors are important for determining which career opportunities will make a great fit.
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2. Prepare and organize
Now put your project management and multitasking skills to work. Create a spreadsheet to track employment applications, responses and all interactions with potential employers. Get up to speed on any competency tests required for specific positions. Create a pristine resume (no typos or grammatical goofs!), make sure your portfolio is up to date, secure approvals from any references listed, and draft a cover letter template. Organize a support group of friends, professional contacts, fellow creative industry association members, college alumni and even relatives interested in helping (via encouragement, introductions, phone calls and other acts of job search-related kindness).
3. Search in the right places
Don't confine your job search to a (emphasis on "a") job board. Cast a wide net and cover the many places where job opportunities might be advertised, mentioned and otherwise communicated. Ever overhear conversations while waiting in line for coffee? Keep your eyes and ears open to all possibilities. Consider using any or all of the following resources to identify promising opportunities:
- Staffing agencies: A specialized staffing agency such as Cella can be an invaluable resource for job seekers. Staffing professionals often have inside knowledge and may know about available creative and marketing positions before the general public becomes aware of them. Recruiters can also lend a wealth of experience in advising job candidates on how to put their best foot forward with hiring managers.
- Existing contacts: Employers often fill positions by hiring someone recommended by a trusted employee, friend or associate. When you find a role or company of significant interest, consider reaching out to friends of friends and colleagues of former colleagues. Remember: It never hurts when a job seeker's name is passed along by someone an employer respects.
- New contacts: Network, network, network. Purposefully focus on building a circle of new contacts. Think of all the possible ways to meet the right people: online communities, professional associations, industry conferences and volunteer organizations are just a few.
- Informational interviews: Seeking informational interviews is another technique to gather knowledge about the skills, training and experience needed for a certain position. It’s also good for learning about a company and gaining key contacts there.
- Company websites and job search sites: Many online resources can aid you in your career quest. For example, after creating a list of appealing companies, check out their websites or review sites such as Glassdoor to uncover additional info, including insights into whether they're likely a match for you from a company culture perspective. Other sources include job boards such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkedIn and Monster. But watch your time. When giving job search tips, career experts typically recommend limiting job board research to about 10% of the effort. Spend the bulk of your time and energy on the other options listed here.
- Creative and marketing associations: Many industry associations offer employment information on their websites, including open positions and job search tips.
4. Dust off those interview skills
As job hunting isn't usually an everyday task, even the most self-assured creative candidate can get a little rusty. Before an interview, consider what questions may be asked and prepare thoughtful responses. Practice the answers with a friend. This will build confidence, alleviate anxiety during the real interview and reveal opportunities to fine-tune your presentation. After each job interview, jot down any questions that proved particularly difficult to answer, or moments that caused you to stumble. Self-awareness and continued practice are keys to being an adept and poised interviewee.
5. Stay positive
Many job seekers approach their search with trepidation. They may become easily frustrated by small setbacks. Try to look at the job search as an opportunity for discovering new options and embarking on a more satisfying career path.
Sometimes jobs are scarce; sometimes they're more plentiful (such as now). Today, the outlook is generally sunny for marketing and creative job seekers as the demand for specialized talent often exceeds the supply of qualified candidates. Nevertheless, anyone seeking employment should approach the job hunt like it's their actual job, showing employers the very best they can be. Rewards come to applicants who are poised, prepared and enthusiastically relentless.