These are my adventures in finding a job. This post is a basic overview of the things I’ve been doing and what is and isn’t working for me, so far.

Recruiters

I used to think recruiters were annoying troll-like people who hassle you and try to put you into any job just so they can move on to the next person. I honestly didn’t know how it all worked, and I never really took the time to. BIG MISTAKE.

I eventually ended up with a recruiter in the most backwards way possible. I had already found the job, but since it was a contract and not direct full-time employment, I was hooked up with an Aquent rep. Now, I’m pretty glad it happened that way. I probably would have never gone out and found a recruiter on my own.

(If you’re looking for jobs in marketing, web design, production, and more check out Aquent.us. I’ve had a great experience with them, and they are really fantastic. But mention me if you do. Disclaimer: I get stuff if you do).

I’ve finally connected with my new recruiter this week, which was great. She gave my resume a good look and then gave me a list of things to change. It was good a relief to have another pair of eyes on it and for someone to say “Ok, lets focus on this and remove that.” My resume looks the best it has in years. Oddly enough, those little changes increased my confidence a lot. The moral of the story: let someone look at your resume before you send it all over the place.

Job sites

I hate to say it but sites like careerbuilder.com and monster.com are like throwing your information into a black hole and hoping that someone somewhere finds it. I’m sure there are people out there that will swear up and down that these sites are helpful. But there’s just so much information that’s it’s really difficult to weed through it. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, it’s not like I don’t have the time to do it. I just feel like I could be using my time more effectively searching elsewhere.

Networking

I was told that LinkedIn is a great way to network with people and find a job. I’ve explained that already in my post about social media sites the other day (read it here). I feel like LinkedIn is similar to the other job sites, except it’s more targeted and easier to find things based on your connections. I’m still working on trying to find a good way to incorporate it into my job hunt. I’ll let you know when/if I do.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading on using social media to help in the job search. This is tricky for me. I found my last job through a Twitter follower, and that was great. But I don’t want to be that annoying girl that blasts twitter with “HIRE ME, PLEASE!!” tweets. I unfollow those people and would expect you guys to do the same. That’s not effective.

I’ve also been intending to follow more writers and journalists on Twitter. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that turned into me following nearly all of the Minnesota Twins, Ricky Rubio and @chriswarcraft. But I promise, I’m working on it. (If you have recs, feel free to send them my way.) I hope it eventually it leads to a better network of writers and even if I just gain more insight, that’s more than I have going on now.

Freelancing

This terrifies me. Mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing. Also, if you’ve ever looked at a freelance job board, it’s intimidating and slightly scary. Most of the time there are blind posts that will say something like “need a short-term content writer, send your bid” or something similar. I have no idea what site I’d be writing for or if it’s a topic I know I can write about (I probably can’t write about healthy eating without being a liar). Regardless, many of the people seem to be bidding pretty low, and I don’t know if that’s the going rate or if they’re writing in India or if $3.00 for a 1,000-word piece is “reasonable.” I am clueless. So, I’ve been avoiding them for the time being. I will keep doing research and eventually figure it out. I really need someone to explain it to me and show me the ropes because there are so many bad sketchy people out there.

Writing for free

Right now I’m writing for free on this blog. I haven’t come across many opportunities to write for other people lately. I suppose now since it’s an election year I could jump back into poli-blogging, but politics makes me want to kick puppies, and I like puppies. So, I may have to use the wait-and-see approach here. At least for now.

If you have job hunting tips please share. I’ll take all the advice I can get.

I guess I’ll be a writer

December 29, 2011

I never outright said, “I’m going to be a writer.” In fact, that thought never really crossed my mind. I had plans to be a marine biologist, nurse, doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, and life-long student. Clearly, not one of those plans worked out. I didn’t go to college to be a journalist or a writer. I blogged, essentially because Twitter didn’t warrant enough space for my thoughts. That’s it. Eventually, blogging triggered something that spoke to me and said, “Yeah, this is something you can do.” And I’ve been doing it, kind of.

I’m not saying I’m a good writer, because I don’t feel like I am. My grammar sucks at times (however, I can totally blame living in Minnesota for my backwards use of the English language), I overuse commas like a teenager overuses initialisms (I learned the difference between initialisms and acronyms about six months ago), and I ramble. A lot. In fact, if there’s one thing I could change about my writing habits, it’s being more concise. I’m still working on it.

The job I had at MSN this past year really helped forced me to tighten up my writing. The pieces I was writing essentially had to tell a story in less than a paragraph. Including most of the who, what, where, when and whys in as little as 2 sentences. It was a challenge.

The other challenge with that job was I was writing for a massive audience. With my blogs, I was writing for a couple dozen readers, on a good day, who didn’t really care if I screwed something up. It was always a little shocking to hear the number of daily page views in the hundreds of thousands, and monthly views into the millions. It sounds huge, and it was, but I never really thought about it much. I think if I obsessed over the numbers, I wouldn’t have been as semi-successful at my job as I was because the O.C.D. would have kicked into high gear.

Aside from my first “big gig” as a writer, which literally fell in my lap and I am ever so grateful for the opportunity (Stephen, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU!), I haven’t worked as a writer. My first job was huge, I’m not sure I’ll be able to beat that just yet. The simple fact is, nearly everyone can write. Which means that my writing needs to be so far above average to even be considered for most jobs. And in order to get more jobs, I need to get more clips and build up my portfolio. So far, I have a few links to pieces I wrote for MSN and a blog.

I know this is something I want to do, and something I can do. However, I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty intimidating profession. One in which you have to catch the lucky breaks and run with them because the market is so flooded with really talented writers who are still struggling after being in the business for years and still trying to pay off their journalism degrees. I, on the other hand, will throw myself into the crowded pool of writers and keep writing, occasionally posting on my blog, applying for freelance gigs and going after every opportunity I can get. It may take a while, but I’m OK with that.