I’ve spent the last 6 weeks on “vacation” since I’ve had some time off in between leaving my last job and my new job which will get started in a few days.  Besides giving me some major time off to relax, travel and work on personal projects, I’ve been spending time at neighborhood mixers talking to my neighbor’s kids about the job search.  Most are recent graduates in need of advice so I gave them the following unconventional advice.  Why unconventional?  Because sending out 2-3 resumes a day just doesn’t work anymore.  Nor does having a degree guarantee you a job anymore.  Most people have college and graduate degrees nowadays.  If you want results then you’ve gotta set yourself apart from the crowd.  I tell you how below:

Network, Network, Network!

This is an oldie but severely neglected goodie.  You’d be surprised how many job offers are made based on knowing someone who can vouch for you or give you a lead on inside positions not published to job seekers.  Just the other day, I told a few new graduates and colleagues on LinkedIn in my field about positions within my company that were not published.  I also gave them information on positions I knew of in other companies since colleagues there made them available to me via email and listservs.  Why are they not published?  Who knows.  But you need to network in order to find them.  Maintain ties with old coworkers and supervisors as they tend to be great resources for positions in your field and may be able to vouch for you when your resume hits the recruiter’s desk.

No Positions Available?  Send HR Your Resume Anyway!

I can personally attest to this strategy working for me with a few of my positions.    After reviewing current company’s website, I was thoroughly impressed with their mission and dedication to my field.  My current position was created for me after emailing the HR department asking them to review my resume and let me know if they might have a position open up in the future.  I received a follow up email within the same week and met with the Director, then the Director and CEO the following week.  A few weeks later I received a job offer which I then accepted.  I am still pinching myself at how serendipitously things came together but when you really want something you go for it and let the chips fall where they may.

Create Your Ideal Resume Then Curate It Till You Get To the Top

This is something I’ve done every year since graduating college.  I have quite a few “ideal” resumes that list positions I’d like to have based on my interests.  I often scour LinkedIn to find out how people in my ideal position got to where they are today.  We call this the career trajectory. What does yours look like?  Focused and intentional or riddled with happenstance?

My ideal resume has changed over time due to changing interests and goals.  However, what remains constant is the focus it gives me on my job search.  I’ve declined positions that were not in line with my career goals and while some may say that is crazy in this economy, I’ve not regretted those decisions.  By curating my resume as described below and focusing on my ideal job, I have been able to gain more focus on what I really want in my job search over the years.  As a result, I really love where my career has taken me so far and don’t regret declining certain positions to get there.

Don’t List Unrelated Jobs On Your Resume

During graduate school before my internship, I worked a few minor/unrelated jobs to make money on the side.  These included dog walking and mystery shopping which have nothing to do with my day job goals.  However, these positions never see the light of day on my resume because they aren’t related to my “real job” and simply detract from my goal: to land a job in my field.  These positions distract the person reviewing your resume since they tend to ask questions as to why you took that position and then begin to wonder as to why you were forced to take such a position.  Scratch that.  Give them meat and potatoes and stick to that.  If asked about any other jobs, then I full disclose, however, they are never added to my resume.

Volunteer.  Intern.  Yes, Work For Free!

Trust me.  Do this even if you need to get a job at McDonalds on the side at night to make ends meet.  This way you get a foot in the door with valuable experience.  In the year between graduating college and beginning my graduate program I volunteered with 2 nonprofits in addition to my day job at the time.  I knew that the job at the time was nothing more than a stepping stone so I was very intentional as to how I spent my off time.  That volunteer work gave me the experience needed to get my first clinical position prior to graduate school.  This also gave me awesome experience which helped me relate to the field when applying to and during graduate school.

If you’re thinking, oh heck no, then you don’t want a job.  The job you want?  I guarantee that your resume is 1 of several including those who are more qualified and some who are willing to take less than you are for the position.  Get an edge by gaining more experience and showing potential employers your commitment.  I assure you this is better than working an unrelated dead end job which doesn’t speak to your strengths and commitment to your field.

What are some unconventional ways that you’ve used to get a job?

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