By Yolanda M. Owens
You’ve survived final exams, graduation parties, after parties and are flying higher than the empire state after scoring your college degree. Now, it’s the morning after. Your liquid courage has vanished and you wake up facing the ultimate post grad hook up—finding a J-O-B. I know you’ve been on the dating scene long before you took your ceremonious walk across that graduation stage. You flirted with employers at career fairs, information sessions, networking events…You keep hitting the refresh button on your email and checking your call log to see if the company of your dreams took time to give you the time of day…But at the end of the day, you’ve got nothing but radio silence to keep your employment status warm at night. So how do you score a “date” with potential employers when you’re new to the employment dating scene? Here are a few tips to help you get lucky and score that interview…
Cleanse your chi. You’ve come out of college hyped that hooked-on-phonics worked for you and ready to take on the world. But once the tassel turns and the ink dries on your diploma, reality sets in and the excitement fizzles. The key is to keep that same energy, ambition and self-confidence you sported pre-graduation throughout your job search. Plan for each potential “dating” experience like it’s your graduation party. I realize it’s hard to keep your cheery disposition when you have blisters from continually pounding the pavement. And this can come through when you interact with prospective employers. So treat yourself to some new shoe insoles and meditate on three to four stories from your academic, professional and personal history that demonstrate your strengths, weaknesses, leadership, teaming and professional dexterity. These stories should be candid and succinct, sound fresh and confident and make you smile the first and the 101st time you tell them. You won’t hook up with employers sounding like a rehearsed pageant queen. So shake off the negative energy and inhale a little confidence. Employers will be drawn to your aura and your future will look brighter with your third eye no longer blinded.
Don’t be afraid to pimp your friends. There’s something to be said about the power of association. A former boss once told me “you’re only as valuable as the reputation of your associations.” In other words, the more reputable company you keep, the more your personal stock increases. So if you have a penchant for hanging with nerds with nerve, use it to your advantage during your job search. Say you have friends with talents that could benefit someone you’re trying to network with for an interview. For example, a friend who fixes cars, does party planning, catering, designs websites…if you have valuable, reliable, cost effective, readily accessible contacts that you’re willing to share, you’re a golden commodity. A person with contacts like that is a treasured asset on a personal and professional level. So do a personal inventory of your friends’ skills and abilities. You could score yourself a “date” by referring their talents and bolster both your professional reputations.
Use your job search as an excuse to hit the bar and club scenes. Start going to professional happy hours and be someone’s plus one at company events. Employers will find you more attractive when you show up on the arm of one of their own. They already like and trust the company you’re keeping and know that birds of a feather…you know. So be guilty of greatness by association and work that plus one status like it’s your job. And while you’re at it, become active in industry-specific clubs and volunteer to gain exposure and learn what’s new on the employment radar screen. But keep it classy and subtle. You don’t want to be THAT person who cruises the bar/club asking everyone for a date with hopes of getting lucky. Desperation is never a desirable quality in any dating scenario. So don’t make it your post grad tattoo while job hunting.
Update your dating profile. Create a website that showcases your work and talents then add the link to your résumé, email signature and social networks. This will add visuals to your professional biography and make the story about your qualifications a more interesting read. Also note…Intelligence is a sexy quality all employers are attracted to. So why not use your social networks to flaunt your brainiac muscles? Use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to brand yourself as an industry expert and stroke employer’s egos. Post your comments and start a discussion. Demonstrate your professional prowess and market yourself as a thought leader in your field. Retweet employers’ insights and share their accomplishments with your network. This kind of flattery will get you noticed in a positive way and possibly expand your dating prospects.
Ask your friends to set you up on blind dates. As a recruiter, I can honestly tell you that employee referrals are one of the best ways to get you noticed and interviewed by employers. Referrals go to the top of the food chain when reviewing resumes. That birds of a feather comment from the bar scene tip applies here, too. So ask your friends to submit your resume to their company’s employee referral program. Many of these programs offer monetary rewards up to a few thousand dollars for referrals who work their way up the interview ladder. The result? You could end up gainfully employed and your friends will see you with dollar signs in their eyes.
Learn to effectively use your six degrees of separation. Instead of blind emailing random people you don’t know from a can of paint asking about positions in their organizations, take a more strategic approach. Cruise LinkedIn to see if you have any connections in common with said random persons and ask for an introduction. This will give you a common denominator with the strangers you hope to work with, give you an opportunity to gain some inside intelligence from the person you both know, and keep you from being branded a stalker and having your email end up in the recycle bin.
Yolanda M. Owens is an author chick and GenY Recruiting Specialist who’s fluent in humor and employer dating issues. Her book ‘How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer’ parallels job searching with dating from the lens of a corporate recruiter. To learn more about Yolanda and her book, please visit her website at www.yolandamowens.com