For some, the holidays are a greatly-appreciated and much-needed time to relax, read a good book and catch up with loved ones. But when you’re unemployed or unhappy with your current job, the only question worse than your aunt asking “So, are you dating anyone?” is any inquiry along the lines of “Uh, did you find a new job yet?” Instead of spending your time Googling how to transition the relationship with your aunt to the “twice removed” kind, take a moment to be extra grateful for these tools that can make your job hunt a little easier. Who knows, maybe you’ll land an interview by the time the turkey is finally done browning.
Gone are the days when employers only looked at what’s on your resume to find out if you’re a good fit. But with this extra pressure to appear extra special online comes the opportunity to network, showcase your strengths and get a glimpse into your potential company’s culture. Even if the position doesn’t require you to be social media-savvy, you can almost guarantee someone is looking at your accounts—so give them something to look at.
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Currently, Gillie Houston has almost 100K followers on Instagram, which is rather unusual for a journalist. But it means more than people just “like” her posts. “A large following shows a brand, publication or company that you have the natural skill and impulse for social media, which not all people—particularly those who didn’t grow up sharing every part of their life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—have,” says Houston.
She didn’t land her first job strictly through social media, but her employers were “shocked” by the amount of followers she had when they hired her. “Since that first job [at Yahoo], I’ve definitely gotten writing gigs and other freelance opportunities either directly because of Instagram, or because of connections I’ve made through Instagram, which I think is one of the most amazing things about the platform,” says the now full-time freelance writer.
Brandon Chivers, an art director at Movement Strategy, also landed his first internship through a recruiter who had stumbled upon his online presence. Since then he’s learned that the “creeping” works both ways.
“Social media has always affected my job search because it gives more insight to the companies that I want to apply to,” he says. “I tend to heavily use Instagram for this specifically because I like to look through who these agencies have as clients, the quality of work and their vision.” He also notes it’s a good place to start to see what kind of influence a company has in your industry and how you are already connected.
If you’re already pouring your energy into your work, why not show it off?
Chivers was not only discovered from his personal blog, but then poached to work internally at the agency doing the hiring for another firm. “It’s kind of funny, actually,” he says of the bait-and-switch.
“I think potential employers are drawn to my blog because I work primarily in a visual formatting, so I’ve developed an eye and sense of aesthetic when I post something,” he says. Chivers describes his work as “moody” and “cohesive” which he says translates to the type of client work he was recruited to develop. His internship turned into a job offer three months later, which lead to him dropping out of art school to come on board as one of the company’s lead art directors. “It just works in my favor,” he says of his blog’s influence in the advertising industry.
Quick tip: Chivers recommends adding your email address to anything and everything online to make it easy for companies to reach out directly. This can especially be helpful if you are already at a job and trying to discreetly make moves.
Friends and Family
‘Tis the season to let the little things go and remember why you tolerate your loved ones at the table. It’s also a chance to pass around the spiked cider and put the feelers out to see who’s hiring. Even if your brother-in-law is a pilot and you really want to be a painter, he may have overheard a passenger in need of a hand letterer.
Jesse Hirsch, a current contributing editor to GOOD Magazine, said he has almost never strictly applied to a job online or with a resume. “My job hunts are usually not traditional hunts,” he says. “Almost every job I’ve gotten so far has been word of mouth about a particular position while I’m still at another position.”
Even if your contacts aren’t aware of anything at the moment, you can still use this season of selflessness to call in a favor. “I recently did a trick where I asked a bunch of editors if they would write two to three nice sentences about me, then compiled them into a PDF,” Hirsch says. “Feels like a good ‘bonus item’ to include in an application.”
But be sure it’s not just the tryptophan from the turkey talking. “You have to be able to back up everything,” says Chivers. “Build a brand, build a story. But show them what they’re really getting.”