January brings lots of new years' resolutions to be better at this, that or the other. Career aspirations are often somewhere on the list. I recently started a new position as Manager of Client Services for Sequentia Environics, which basically means I am responsible for account and project management and anything in between. I am now two months in, and the novelty has far from worn off. I'm learning new things every day and love the feeling of being challenged. Unlike most of my previous jobs, this role did not land in my lap with little to no effort. Quite the contrary. I decided a while ago that I wanted to pursue a career in digital media and communications. By the fall I was ready to start seriously putting myself on the market. I started where most people start, by dusting off my résumé, shining it up with new achievements and aspirations, and sending it out to a few job postings that fit my desired role. Tick-tock went the clock. I got a few call-backs and a couple of interviews, but nothing major and no real offers.
I decided to enlist the help of so-called professional recruiters. I focused on the firms that specialize in the digital media and communications industry. I only got one or two more interviews from a total of three recruitment firms. Sigh. Time to take matters back into my own hands.
Throughout the last year and a half, I attended a ton of different networking events and met people who were heavily invested in the social media community. I decided to start with this network. I set up phone and coffee meetings with my contacts. These meetings were never phrased as interviews in any way. Their purpose was for me to ask questions to experienced professionals about what skill sets they would look for in a potential hire, and also to tell them about what I wanted to do. They were never formal.
I found these meetings really beneficial and educational. Often times, if the person I was speaking with wasn't looking to expand themselves, they led me to speak to someone else who might be. I also got to talk shop with some pretty interesting and well respected people. Once the well of my own soft contacts (and their contacts) started to dry up, I was still jobless, BUT I was definitely making some inroads.
Next, I started doing some further research to find other firms and individuals who were making digital waves. This took me all over the place, from Advertising to PR to Marketing and In-house. I figured my best bet was to cold call and cold e-mail the people at the top of these organizationsoften with the same aim of grabbing a coffee and chatting about the industry and what I was hoping to achieve. I was surprised how many people said yes within a day of receiving my e-mail or phone call. Almost everyone I reached out to was really receptive and open to sitting down with me. Now I was finally getting somewhere. This is exactly how I landed my new role at Sequentia. I saw Jen Evans speak at The Canadian Institute's Managing Social Media conference and e-mailed her to see if they were expanding. As it turned out, they were. Within two weeks of that initial e-mail I had a firm job offer.
Like I said, this was not an easy process. It took about four months and a lot of networking, reaching out, tons of coffee and not being scared to pick up the phone or send someone an e-mail (no matter how high up their title read). If you want to make a move, be your own recruiter. It will pay off, but be patient and stick with it.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any job-seeking secrets to share?