For many fresh college graduates finding employment in today’s times is a difficult feat. With the unemployment rate hovering around 9.0%, companies have their pick when it comes to hiring people and that has certainly made things even harder for those who have yet to gain any job experience.
If you are reading this article, I suspect you have already tried the traditional ways of looking for a job, such as networking, career centers, job boards and haven’t had much luck. You’re looking for more ideas. What I am going to share with you is not only some creative tips, but also an approach that you can take in order to create a long lasting rewarding career, not just land another job:
- Find your ideal work and then look for a job: You know why most people change jobs so quickly and still find themselves unhappy? It is not because they didn’t get the right salary or perfect boss or colleagues, but because they are not excited about the job that they are in. They go from one company to the next thinking their next job will be better, that more perks or a bigger title, perhaps a change in environment, will bring more happiness. They spend some time and quickly find out that was not the case. Years go by and before you know it, they are in their 40s and 50s. And yes, on paper they may have a great resume, but inside they feel burnt out and lost, stuck in a job that pays the bills but doesn’t do anything else for them. What if you didn’t have to get to this place? What if you could plan your career better, where it not only brought an income, but also fulfillment and joy? If you are interested in creating a meaningful career, don’t just focus on finding any job, instead identify your ideal work first and then look for an appropriate job. When I say ideal work what I mean is identifying what you would love to do for years to come— something that you feel strongly drawn to and based on that, create your job search. First jobs are important, as they set the tone of the path you’re likely to continue on, so it’s better to give it your careful consideration.
- Get creative: Many people restrict their options by thinking there is only one or two ways to find their ideal job, and when they don’t get it they get discouraged. But in order to find something that you enjoy, you are going to have to broaden your thinking and get creative. Look at all the possible ways that you can take to express your passion or interest. For example, if you thought of becoming a veterinarian because you love working with animals and for some reason you can’t, does it mean your dream job will never happen? No. You may just have to look at it more broadly. You could find a position in the vet’s office, work at the zoo, animal shelter, start your animal care business, become a dog walker or take care of pets and so forth.
- Why should someone hire you: Yes, that is the question that you must think about if you’re looking to get hired, even if it’s for the very first time. Often hiring is not just about the education and resume alone. It’s also about what you bring to the table, how can you be of value to your prospective employer? Research the company and look for ways to stand out and how your presence there will benefit them.
- Can’t find a job? Then use your time to volunteer: Some experience is always better than no experience, and remember jobs can often come from unexpected quarters. Volunteering is one such avenue. While you are still working on finding a real job, explore your options and see if you can find the right kind of work in the right kind of volunteer organization. Now what do I really mean by that? It means looking for the kind of work that you are interested in so that you can network, as well as help you gain relevant experience.
- Is there a hidden entrepreneur inside of you? There are so many young people in their 20s who have started successful companies; they didn’t have a lot of work experience; and they didn’t work several jobs before venturing out on their own. Instead, they had an idea and they went with it. Could that be you? If you are having trouble finding a job that you like, I say create your own job.
- Don’t forget start-ups and small business entrepreneurs: Most tend to focus on finding jobs with larger corporations, but that is not where all the opportunities lie. Consider looking at start-ups and small business entrepreneurs who may need your help.
- If it’s not working out, step back: In the past six months or more if you have been seriously looking for a job, going to job fairs, applying on job boards, networking and nothing is really working out, then maybe it’s time to step back, get creative and add some new manoeuvres to your strategy. Try and see if you can come up with some new ideas or even things you would like to pursue instead of what you are currently focusing on.
In the end, please remember that there isn’t one way of looking for a job. People find employment in all sorts of ways, so don’t be afraid to explore what works for you. While you continue your search using traditional ways, such as networking and applying via job postings, broaden your thought process to include what else you can do that others may not be doing.
Is your company hosting a holiday party this year? If so, take a moment to brush up on some office holiday party dos and don’ts to ensure that you don’t find yourself the “talk” of the office. Remember, your office party is still a business setting disguised as a social event.
Most importantly, do attend! If your company is kind enough to host a holiday party this year, do take the time to make an appearance. With the economic uncertainty around us, if your company is investing the time and money, you should show your appreciation in person.
Do RSVP by the deadline. Think of the party planner.
Do wear festive, but appropriate clothing. If you have to ask your friend, significant other, or co-worker if your outfit is appropriate, it probably isn’t.
Do be on time and arrive in a happy, positive, and festive mood. No one wants to be cornered by a “Debbie Downer.” The holidays are a time to celebrate and have fun with your co-workers. And don’t make your office party the third stop on the party circuit. Arrive fresh, early, and ready for holiday cheer.
Do take photos, but keep them respectable. No one wants an unflattering or compromising picture on the company blog, Intranet, or Facebook page. Take light, candid shots of all attendees and make an online scrapbook to share with co-workers and friends.
Do keep your significant other or guest in check. You don’t want to be the one whose better half went rogue. Making sure you are on the same page will ensure a good time had by all.
Do work the room and listen more than you talk. This is a great opportunity to meet that new co-worker or use the time to have small talk with the big boss you otherwise don’t have immediate exposure to. Getting to know your boss in a more relaxed, personal level can actually boost your relationship!
Finally, do enjoy the food and drinks (and in that order!). If you are having a few drinks, remember to turn off your social networks, or, like my grandmother would say…”act like you have some home training.”
As stated above, don’t be a no-show.
Don’t forget to thank the host and don’t complain over the details. It’s no small feat to pull off a successful holiday party and you don’t want to be the one caught in the ladies’ room commenting how you would have served shrimp versus the pigs in the blanket.
Don’t fall back into your comfort zone and sit in the corner with your best office friends all night. Give yourself a challenge to talk to three new people – you might just surprise yourself.
If doing a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa, don’t go over the suggested gift amount. Set a limit, stick to it, and don’t try to be the hero.
Don’t forget that people are celebrating various holidays this season. Keep your holiday greetings neutral in respect of those who observe Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the like.
Don’t forget that shots are never a good idea (especially at an office holiday party). Choose beer, wine, and non-alcoholic options. Know your personal limits and stick to them.
Don’t drink and drive. Find a designated driver to ensure you and others on the road enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
Lastly, don’t forget to have a good time. The year-end holiday party is a great time to unwind and have some fun. You earned it!