Strategic Roadmap to Employment

Being a recent college graduate myself, I understand — Finding a job is time-consuming, uncomfortable, and incredibly hard for most people.

Having seen too many of my close friends, classmates, and past colleagues struggle with the job search process, I’ve tried to offer support on an individual basis and it’s been graciously receipted. The only problem is that this personal support isn’t scalable.

This blog post is my solution to the masses.

Outlined below are three core principals with which I approached my job search process. Regardless of which industry you chose to pursue, I’d encourage you to try the same.

There are three core “checkpoints” in my opinion throughout the job search process that one encounters:

The Checkpoints

  1. The Initial Conversation
  2. Getting an Interview
  3. Closing the Deal

The following three correlating principals are what I’ve used along the way to ensure the three checkpoints are achieved:

The Three Principals

  1. Utilize People over Portals
  2. Obtain Relevant Projects and Experience
  3. Maintain Impeccable Fundamentals

1. Utilize People over Portals

Now more than ever, it’s increasingly easier to passively apply to companies via their “job portal.” It takes little to no time to put together a cookie-cutter, template-looking cover letter, pair it with a generic resume, submit your application to the abyss, and cross your fingers hoping the company takes the initiative to call you back. I encourage those looking for positions in such fashion to maintain possession of their employment opportunity for a little bit longer.

In this day and age, there are endless approaches to expedite this process. This scenario is where the first principal, utilize people over portals, comes in. If you’re looking for a position, it only makes sense to seek out those potential people that are eventually going to make the decision to hire you, or alternatively, find someone that knows this particular individual. Take the proactive approach to find them.

If you’re looking for a technical position, seek out the company’s current employees on GitHub or open source projects. If you’re a designer, Dribbble or Behance could be a great place. For those not in the technical field, try reaching out to these individuals on Linkedin to learn more about their career history, current role, and potential opportunities. If all else fails, there’s always this thing called Google where using this following search may help:

position title + “at” + company name

Some might refer to these approaches as “stalking” or “creepy” — let it go. These services enable new avenues for you, as a job seeker, to set yourself up for more meaningful, personal conversations in the upcoming future.

Point being, seek out the community where you might find these people, and take the initiative to start the conversation.

2. Obtain Relevant Projects and Experience

Best case scenario, the previous principal got you a conversation with the direct hiring manager, and at worst case, you found someone that might know the person for you. Now what?

Prove to them you can do the work.

Before applying to the position, spend some time doing the job you’re applying for. This could mean side projects, internship experience, volunteer work, and much more. The situation may very depending on the particular position and industry, but do what you can do show the hiring manager or contact you have already done the work they’re seeking.

If you’ve taken the time to do put together presentable work, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. If not, now is a better time than ever! Take it upon yourself to expose yourself to relevant industry tools, software, or preparatory requirements. If you’re unaware of what this consists of, rinse and repeat principal 1 until you know what this means for the position you’re seeking out.

Given the foresight and awareness of what responsibilities come with the position you’re seeking, have them be presentable to your new contact! Be prepared to share with the person why you chose the approach you did. Elaborate on any challenges you experienced. Explain how you came to a solution. Most of all, express your passion for the subject matter. This gets you an interview.

3. Maintain Impeccable Fundamentals

So the buck stops here. You’ve made the right contacts, you’ve taken the time to prepare yourself as much as possible for the position at hand, and now it’s show time. This is the last critical step where I’ve seen people miss the mark.

Let’s all be transparent here, interviews are hard for both the person being interviewed, as well as the person giving the interview. What the interviewer is really looking for is that are you someone who is not only capable of doing the job, but are you someone they, and their team, can work with. Although awareness of new, cutting edge industry tools, techniques, and methods are great, it’s not going to make or break an offer.

That being said, what is surely a deal-breaker is a lack of fundamental awareness in the area of expertise you’re interviewing for. If you can’t showcase mastery of the basics, how can you convince the person interviewing you that you can learn, and truly understand, the more complex things? I know it’s cliché, but it’s stated over and over by some of the best of our time.

“The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.” ~ Gordon Moore
“The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether its proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.” ~ Michael Jordan

After putting yourself in the position to have the right conversation and being prepared with the relevant experience, undoubtedly knowing the fundamentals is what gets you a job.

Best of luck to all of those who are embarking on their job search, or are currently fighting the seemingly uphill battle. If you’re one of those individuals that is comfortable with the “shotgun” or email blast approach, I’d encourage you to get out a bow and arrow, and try being a bit more targeted with your job search efforts. May the odds be ever in your favor.

As addressed earlier, this post was crafted to be as generic as possible, and definitely varies per industry and position. For any of those who are curious on suggestions for their particular situation, feel free to reach out by Email, Twitter, or LinkedIn and I’d be happy to offer my two cents!