Looks like all the job hacking has finally paid off – I start a new full-time job next week! I won’t go into the details here (you can creep my LinkedIn profile if you’re really interested), but I’m glad to say it’s a great position in the Marketing & Communications department of a non-profit career and employment services agency. As you can imagine, I’m very excited and relieved. This has also given me some time to reflect on my job search since I was laid off, and analyze what went wrong and what went right with my job search technique and methodology.
I’m always curious as to how people with great jobs get hired, because it seems like such a one in a million chance. The answer is usually not as detailed as I’d like (“Oh, I just applied and they called me for an interview…”), so allow me to sperg out and explain to you, in excruciating detail, how I got hired. If you can learn from what I did right, and avoid what I did wrong, perhaps this will help you in your own job search, or at least make you feel more confident that you’re on the right path. For those who just want to jump straight to the point, skip down to my chart where I list what I did right, and where I went wrong.
As mentioned previously, after being laid off from my previous position, I panicked. It was September, the second busiest hiring season of the year (after January), and I thought that if I sent out as many applications as possible I’d have a good chance at getting hired before the dreaded Christmas slow-down. I was lucky enough to be covered by Employment Insurance, which meant that I could cover my rent and bills without having to worry about sleeping on the streets or diving through the dumpsters at Metro. I cannot overstate how crucial this was in keeping my stress at a manageable level and affording me ability of focusing only on jobs in my desired industry – Marketing & Communications. I’ve been in a similar situation before without this luxury, and I know from experience how stressful it is to have no money coming in and no job prospects on the horizon.
I start firing off applications with abandon, hitting up Eluta, Indeed, FreshGigs and any other job search engine service that posts semi-decent jobs in my area on a daily basis. I register email job alerts with large companies in the city, the government’s official job board, and recruiting agencies that staff for communications gigs. The job postings start pouring in, and I spend a few hours each day applying to them all. In late September and early October I get calls from two different companies, and breathe a sigh of relief – surely I’ll get an offer from one, right?
Wrong. By mid-October I’m still jobless and starting to get a little uneasy. To compensate I go on an application binge, desperately trying to get something before the holiday season hits and the hiring process goes into hibernation until the new year.
In addition to the job search, I’ve also been using my spare time to brush-up on my technical skills, and am slowly completing the Web Design course on Treehouse that allows me to update and re-launch my very own online portfolio: the seeds of Job Hacking were unknowingly being sown.
November hits, and I realize that something has to change. My application binges have resulted in zero calls, it’s now the Christmas season and I realize that I’m probably going to be unemployed until at least January. I decide to change my job search technique and become more focused and targeted in my applications. I also decide to integrate my online portfolio with Google Analytics in order to see if employers are checking out my work – the process of sending out endless applications without feedback is wearing me down, and I figure tracking page views is a way to at least see if my resumes are being received.
It’s December, and I still have no leads. However, I create the Job Hacking blog, partly as a way to keep myself busy (extra time on my hands now that I’m not applying to every job under the sun) and also to stay motivated and create something that will get noticed by employers. I’ve been reading a lot about modern online marketing techniques and data analytics, and realize that I can apply all these theories and methods to my own job search.
For a crash course on what I learned in Job Hacking, including detailed instructions and tutorials, check out this post.
January comes, and the hard work pays off. I get calls from five different employers, and end up interviewing in-person with four. I feel more confident in my interviews compared to October since I now have a portfolio and a blog that showcases my talents, which makes talking about my skills with interviewers much easier. Perhaps this confidence is tangible, because I’m lucky enough to receive two offers, and accept the one that best fits my skills and interests. Across the board, every interviewer mentions how impressed they are with the blog and the site, and cite them as key reasons for them contacting me.
So here I am, seven months later, with a job that I’m looking forward to starting and some hard-earned job search experience to share. Here’s a breakdown of what went right, and what went wrong.
What I did wrong
- Not being targeted enough in my applications, and taking a shotgun approach instead of using a laser beam focus. It was a waste of time to try and apply for everything that vaguely fit my skills, and I had a better response rate when I applied to fewer positions.
- Relied only on my resume to showcase my skills. If you’re looking for a job, have a portfolio, website, blog, anything that shows your creative skills! It’s far more effective than adding a bullet point to your resume.
- Became too complacent after getting my first two interviews. Not going to lie, I slacked off a little in early October when I should have kept searching and applying. Interviews don’t always result in job offers.
What I did right
- Signed up for EI immediately. If you are eligible for government help or benefits, do not delay in sending your paperwork in. This was a life-saver.
- Integrated online marketing techniques in my applications to get indirect application feedback. This was a huge psychological boost, because I could see who was checking out my applications and visiting my website.
- Used my spare time to improve my job skills that made me more employable. Even small side projects can be useful in showcasing your talents.
- Started this blog (duh). Yeah, it was a good move. If you enjoy writing, I encourage you to do the same!
- Never giving up. Probably the hardest one to maintain, but the most important one of all*. The job market today can break your self-confidence and make you question your skills and talents. Keep sending out those resumes, and integrate whatever job hacking techniques you can. You’ll only never get hired if you stop trying!
So where does all this leave our blog? After giving it some thought, I’ve decided to keep updating the Job Hacking compendium, although perhaps a little less frequently than before. Since I’ll be working in a career and employment services agency, I hope to be able to further explore and test my job hacking ideas and share them with others. Keep this blog bookmarked readers, we’re only just getting started 🙂
* Special thanks to my girlfriend, family, and friends for always being supportive and encouraging!