It’s been a frustrating couple of months for you, looking for work opportunities. You’ve been to career fairs, networking events, and visited every job board you can think of. Yet, opportunities have not presented themselves. But fear not! An opportunity will come. Searching for the opportunity is not the top priority unless you have financial hardship. Before jumping headfirst into the job search cold, prepare yourself.
Many people have received jobs or jump-started their careers by being found by employers. They were hired because they prepared. So what did they do right?
They updated their résumés!
Is yours up to date? How about your LinkedIn profile? Or an online portfolio such as MuckRack or Behance? If you’re an actor, is your demo reel up on YouTube or Vimeo? Regardless of your profession/industry, you must have your credentials updated and available by immediate access or upon request.
Many recruiters will scan through your online profile to decide if you have the necessary qualifications for a job. Many job postings on LinkedIn have an ‘Easy Apply’ option where you agree to allow the employer/recruiter to see your profile. Not having to draft a résumé or cover letter – but your profile should have job details, letters of recommendation, skill endorsements, and a headshot.
They kept in touch
This is a challenging one. With the pace of life being what it is, it’s tough to meet with your closest friends, let alone keep in touch with everyone in your network. You may even be that person who cannot tolerate social situations and would rather work remotely from a monastery in the hills of Bhutan. However, people are creating opportunities and are seeking others to fill them. Make yourself known so that they think of you.
If someone in your network has you on LinkedIn and sees that you finished your Marketing degree and recently interned as a Social Media Manager, they may contact you with a potential opportunity. As time passes, people in your network will move in their jobs or start businesses and will be able to offer you an opportunity that may otherwise be hard to get.
The key is to be memorable:
- Go above and beyond in your line of duty. Do more than your job description (what you’re authorized to do, of course!)
- Express an interest in moving up.
- Broadcast your goals to cement them in the minds of others.
- Participate in discussions, share LinkedIn articles and comment (thoughtfully) on them!
Your actions should create an impression on others. As friends become entrepreneurs, colleagues get promoted and former instructors, mentors etc. become investors — they will remember and support you.
If the opportunity does not yet exist, create it yourself.
It is not always possible to create your own opportunity, but it is easier than ever. Costs can be low if you leverage the free technology that exists to for creators and businesses that are scaling, such as Squarespace, Flock or Slack, Canva, Hubspot, Github, and Wave. Maybe you require a certain skill for your dream career but you haven’t gotten work experience to develop that skill. Going back to school is not the most likely option, and does not come with guarantees. Learn the skills yourself; it costs you nothing but time. Continuous self-education is now a necessity.
You can start small, by learning a single piece of this skill, and doing it as a hobby. Then, try to sell it, to friends and family as a “pilot program”. Use your revenue from the sales to fund improvements. Continue self-educating to develop the skill, and expand your offerings to include the new skills you have developed on your own.
This small opportunity that you created can serve as a stepping stone for an expanded opportunity in the future. Keep working at it until you can start to sustain your lifestyle, and then you can go full speed ahead, and dedicate yourself full-time.
What will you do to prepare yourself when the time has come to locate and act on opportunities?
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