For better or worse, the advice given to the students by the panelists at the Levo event are no different from what I was told when I graduated from UNCC in 2007. The resume is still an integral part of looking for employment, however, there's so much more to finding a job than passing out your resume.
I would know. Last year was a year of transformation and looking for the next step that would propel my career and allow me to do what I love. It was a time when I discovered Levo League, ate up the advice dished out by Liz Ryan and J.T. O'Donnell, and read Lean In. I also had to swallow the bitter truth pill, on more than one occasion. What I was taught not long ago no longer applied to today's job market.
Here's what I learned and hope it helps you too:
- Your personal brand is important. Figure out what you want to do when you "grow up." Focus on that. It's okay if it changes.
- Clean up your social profiles. Start by Googling yourself. There are several tools that can help you clean up your online presence.
- Define your value. Sure, you have a degree, but what are you going to do for the employer that brings value to the business.
- Get connected. Network. Break out of your current social circles. Your next job will more than likely come from your networking efforts. If you're an introvert, the internet is your friend. However, nothing beats one on one in person meetings. Your goal should be 50 coffee meetings.
- Sell yourself. Love it or hate it, you're in sales. Embrace it.
- Read. A lot. Doesn't have to be books. Industry blogs, rags, etc. It's your responsibility to learn about the industry that you want to enter.
- Hand write thank you notes. They go a long way, few people do it, and it will make you stand out from the crowd.
- Volunteer. One of my favorite professor, Dr. Sunil Erevelles, told us a story of a young woman who was unemployed. Her dream company was not hiring so she volunteered and worked there for free. She provided so much value for the company that they created a position for her and found money in their tight budget to pay her a competitive rate. Have a bare resume? Volunteer! Non-profit, for profit, it doesn't matter.
- Avoid the black hole. Did you find an opportunity on a job board and spend 30 minutes filling out a form, copying and pasting your resume into neat fields, and pressed send to never hear anything about your "application?" Your resume went into a black hole and will never be heard from or seen again. HR managers have more on their plates than they can handle so it's no doubt that they have embraced software that "reads" resumes and only spits out ones that matched a certain number of key words.
- Break the rules. Did you encounter a black hole and and the website explicitly states not to contact anyone? Do it anyways but don't waste that person's time. Be focused, be direct, be clear about the value that you bring and the problems that you will solve. Find a person in common (and with their permission) name drop. My friend Brandy is a pro at this. If they don't hire you based on the fact that you "broke the rules" then you don't want to work for that company anyways.
Nobody said that it was easy.
This is the short of the long of it. I can expand and talk about each point for hours on end. What can I say, I love helping people.