Seeing big picture can be difficult for many of us, hard for us because we get so caught up in all of the things we can do and learn right away. Our “projects” keep us from landing a career-focused job that would allow us to exercise our muscles with the salary and benefits we deserve. My key advice for actually finding “the dream job” is to always be looking.
Here are four steps you can take today that can help you start you on your successful job hunt in 2016.
Simplify your job hunt
Make job hunting and applications easy. The harder it is the less likely you are to follow through. Always keep job search apps on your phone and get notifications of new job opportunities in your intended area straight to your email.
Write yourself a cover letter email with your resume attached. That way if a job opportunity arises you can copy and paste it straight from your phone. It seems like that’s happening more and more thanks to Instagram and LinkedIn.
Keep your brand with you
Keep “freelance” or “for hire” business cards if you don’t have a current set with your job or business. ALWAYS have cards in your wallet, car or purse. It shows that you value yourself. I have three cards on me; one for my full time, one for my part time and one for my business where I’m a freelance photographer and marketing consultant.
Have references handy
Keep three references who know your strengths and weakness up to date and ALWAYS on deck. Some of the freelance and pro-bono cases I took on last year were opportunities I specifically needed for my reference list or portfolio. Take a genuine look at your circle, do you have three people you can trust to sell you for the kind of job you’re after? Will they get stumped on basic questions about your qualifications? A great reference is someone that has seen you work in the capacity in which you are applying and whole-heartedly believes in your worth like you do. Sometimes even more. If you don’t have references like this, put yourself in some situations this year that will get you there! It’s always best to start with people you already know and be transparent in your search for a new job.
Update your headshots
Let’s be clear — a headshot is not a good selfie. It’s a photo that frames your face with little or no distraction in the background. Someone asked me how often they should update their headshots and I say whenever you update your look! You’ll get a variety of advice on what makes a good headshot but to me, it’s a visual representation of who you are. Just your facial expressions alone can say a lot about you. Are you serious, laid-back, creative, fun? Talk to your photographer about the composition and lighting. I like to take mine outside with a softer look to soften my appeal. Don’t forget you are your own brand. Every decision you make from the color scheme of your resume to the way you sign your emails should reflect how you see yourself and how you want others to view you as well. I get calls weekly via LinkedIn from companies offering me positions. It’s an investment in yourself. These days, especially in the creative field, people are even putting them directly on their resumes. I also keep my Gmail profile updated with professional headshots so that way when I correspond with potential hiring managers they can easily place my face and recognize my brand.
Tell your story
For jobs you might be “under-qualified” for, make sure you deliver your resume directly to the owner or HR manager’s email. Don’t bother with the online application, because more than likely if you don’t fill out the necessary qualifications, your application won’t even make it where you need it to be. Make sure the body of your email is compelling and speaks to your high points without mentioning the negative or obvious. In fact, I like to spin the negative:
Hiring Manager: I see you are still in school.
You: I think I will always be in school. I love learning, and after my undergrad I want to go straight into grad school. I never take on more than I am capable of, and that’s part of the reason why it has taken so long to graduate, I always put work first. I think I do my best work with a couple of classes a semester that are based on my current job (marketing), so I can supplement my learning.
Make sure the money is right
Don’t forget to always do the salary and qualification research. It’s good to know what you’re up against. That doesn’t mean see what a job is looking for and lie, but if you know where you want to be and you’re not there yet, focus on growing those determining factors. It should also be a determining factor in how much time and money you invest in gaining the necessary training and certifications. For instance, as of last month, Glassdoor puts graphic designers in Atlanta at making around $45k while creative directors make almost $135k on average.
Big difference, right? Not if you ask some extremely driven designers! The ones that stay late, know the big-picture importance in brand management and have experience in managing creative teams. They’d probably say “Hey, maybe I should switch tracks” if only they knew they could triple their earnings with some simple goal setting. Until you know what you’re after, how can you know what you need to get there? Don’t get me wrong, there is a huge difference between the two job descriptions, however there’s no reason someone with a design background and great leadership couldn’t take that route if they wanted to. I’ve seen several great freelancers and brand management professionals go from hitting the streets searching for clients to getting recruited to the corporate high life, driving company cars and flying first class. Kudos to great health insurance and a 401k! If you’re happy with your current position stay there and be the best you can be, but if you’re not and are looking to make a change…do the research!
Not only does Glassdoor give information on salaries per locations and positions it’s awesome for looking up real reviews of businesses and current openings!
Seeing The big picture can be difficult for many of us because we get so caught up in all of the things we “should” be doing right now. Our “projects” keep us from landing a career-focused job that would allow us to exercise our muscles with the salary and benefits we deserve. My key advice for actually finding “the dream job” is to always be looking.
2016 is YOUR year. Never be afraid to go for what you’re after. The ‘perfect job’ is waiting for you, you just have to go get it! Make structured use of your time. Rather than posting about, talking about or even thinking about how much you want a change this year, dedicate 30 minutes a day to actionable items that will take you one step closer to big changes in the new year!