The Creative Job Search

By Calvin McDaniel and Tiffany Gaston

Many individuals feel lost and overwhelmed when faced with the daunting task of searching for a new job.  They have no clue where to start and we understand we understand how difficult this can be.  So we decided to review and share with you a couple of our favorite ideas from fellow Spartan alum, Kevin Donlin, who wrote a book called “51 Ways to Find a Job Fast- Guaranteed.” (You can find it on Amazon.com, if you want to read the rest of his ideas on creative job search.)  

13. Network Using Your College Career Office

This is one of the most obvious job search strategies for all college graduates, yet many do not even take advantage of this resource. MSU is highly invested in its Career Services, however many graduates feel that this resource is only beneficial to students who are currently enrolled at the university, but they can still be a major source of assistance even after you leave campus. Take this strategy a step further and connect with professors, old classmates, people who you built relationships with in sports or clubs- basically anyone you know with a connection to your alma mater. Most people are always willing to lend a helping hand to fellow alum, or send you in the right direction (especially Spartans!). It has been estimated that approximately 80% of jobs are filled through word-of-mouth and employee referrals, so take advantage of the most valuable resource that you have- your “social” network! This is yet another very simple tip, but one that is underutilized and could lead to a number of positive outcomes.

18. Know That You Are More Qualified Than You Think

Sitting on both sides of the table (as an interviewer, and an interviewee) will show you that more often than not, people tend to underestimate their skills and abilities. Let’s say for example, you are applying for a human resources position. Despite the fact that you have never been employed in this field, experience that you have gained as a sales associate, teaching assistant, barista, or even a childcare provider all have relevance when it comes to the transferable skills that you have acquired in your previous positions. When answering interview questions, be sure to provide examples of situations when you showed initiative, integrity, analytical or interpersonal skills, leadership, or teamwork, which are few of the skills that are valued in this field.  Donlin suggests reviewing your resume for these overlooked areas of expertise, and emphasizing them when you go on interviews. Your hobbies, skills, and experiences (both paid and unpaid) have given you a wide range of skills that you may not even realize.

22. Look Only For Jobs That Excite You.

Often times when people are looking for a new job, they tend to aimlessly apply for every position that they see. Well, if you ace the interview for a job that you really have no interest in, you will more than likely end up back in a job that you don’t enjoy, and the vicious job search process begins yet again. Although it may be tempting to take the first thing that comes along, make sure that you are staying true to yourself, so that you can avoid the unnecessary frustration in the future. Donlin suggests utilizing websites such as hotjobs.com or monster.com to search for jobs using the 3 skills that you enjoy the most, and see what results appear. If these jobs are similar to the jobs that you were seeking prior to this exercise, this is a good sign because clearly there is a match between what you enjoy doing, and what you are working towards doing next! If there are no matches, you should spend some time identifying what it is that you truly want to do, not what you feel you should do because of advice from others, potential salary, or any other factor that conflicts with what would provide you with a sense of happiness within your career.

22. Reject Rejection.

Too often after applying for positions and not receiving an offer for employment, people give up hope and move on to the next “job”.  They assume that the recruiter did not like them or they were not qualified for the position.  This could potentially be a big mistake.  In some cases you might be passed up for a position solely because there weren’t enough spots available or the company might feel that you are more qualified for another position within the company.  So instead of just giving up hope, send a thank you note, stay in touch and who knows, another opportunity might present itself in the near future.  Persistence pays dividends.

0.  Attend Social, Professional and Networking Events to Meet Wealthy and Influential People (unlisted in Kevin’s book, but we wanted to throw it out there because we like it).

One of the best ways to meet powerful, wealthy, highly connected individuals is to attend social, professional and networking events.  Almost every profession has some type of society or organization designed to foster communication between individuals within that profession.  This is a perfect opportunity to meet someone that could serve as a potential gate-keeper of a prospective organization or could put you in contact with the right person.  When attending these events don’t go looking for a job, go looking to make meaningful connections.  You could learn a lot from these individuals and even provide them with some of your knowledge and expertise.  However, don’t be foolish, always dress business casual, carry business cards and a portfolio; You want to be prepared for unforeseen opportunities.

Kevin Donlin has done a great job describing 51 job search methods in his book, and you can find even more ideas on the website he shares with fellow author David Perry. However, there are countless job search strategies, and as with every other aspect of this process, not every strategy will work for you. Which is why it is a good idea to try a combination of approaches, and see what works best for your personal circumstances!

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Calvin McDaniel is an Alumni Career Services Assistant in the MSUAA and a graduate student in the Human Resource and Labor Relations program at MSU. He has a passion for helping people to reduce conflict, manage change, and grow toward their potential.

Tiffany Gaston is an Alumni Career Services Assistant for the MSU Alumni Association and is also a graduate student in the Masters in Human Resources and Labor Relations program at MSU. She has already been hired by an amazing company that she looks forward to working with upon her graduation, and hopes to continue to mentor many more Spartans in the future.

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