I guess it’s time I finally announce that I have accepted a new position with Online Marketing SaaS company HubSpot, and I am totally psyched about the adventure. As it happens, the way start-ups go my previous employer could no longer find the money to fund my position (ouch) and I had to spend a while job searching, but here is why this is the best thing that ever happened to me.
1.I’ve gotten to explore new careers, and places!
One of the most exciting, and most stressful parts about job searching is figuring out how to narrow down what you want to do. My interests range from higher education to start-ups and technology. I’ve also done some work in television, so my resume is pretty diverse. Exactly what I want to do, however, was a different story. A job interview process is a great chance to really explore different possibilities, imagine yourself in different situations and ask questions that can help you narrow your path or discover what you want to do.
Job searching is also a great excuse to explore different cities. Don’t be afraid to apply to jobs in different locations. If a company likes you enough they will probably fly you out to interview, and you can ask to stay an extra day or two (meals and lodging will be on your dime). Trying to decide between California, Austin and Boston, check out companies in each of those places!
I have been invited out to California at least twice by this process and Boston once through this process.
2. I’ve gotten to learn about different subject areas.
In one of my previous job searches I applied to work at a company that sold SEO optimization software. Part of my interview process was to present to the department how SEO would be important in the mobile space. What is SEO? Great question, I didn’t know either at the time. It stands for Search Engine Optimization, or the idea of optimizing your website to come up higher in search results (on Google, Bing, etc).
Not knowing much about SEO I had to do a lot of research on what on earth this thing was and how it could be useful to companies. Apparently that went well because I was asked to visit the office and to make another presentation on how SEO would be affected by Google+ algorithms. Now, while I did not end up taking the job, the information I learned in pursuit of that job helped me market myself for new jobs (SEO is big for online marketing now) and to apply it to future careers. Pretty cool, right?
3. I’ve become a better writer and editor.
Writing effective cover letters and resumes is not generally enjoyable. I’ve only had one friend who enjoyed this and this is the same friend who got her accounting degree for fun. Writing these materials over and over should, however, give you some practice at expressing yourself and honing your story.
More importantly, the more you work to evolve in this process, the better you will be able to recognize fluff. For me, this meant resume bullet points that didn’t actually add much value, or lines in my cover letter that just sound fun. The more you grow the stronger, more compelling lines you will be able to write.
Getting feedback (especially from a trusted friend in the business world) is also a great way to help you write better, to pull out examples that are relevant to what you’re doing, and to write compellingly about yourself.
NOTE: Writing a cover letter for each new position can be a bit daunting, but I find that if I am inspired enough to write a new color letter, its probably a better than average fit for you.
4. Time to build my online brand.
Potential employers WILL Google you. They will definitely look at your LinkedIn profile, any websites or blogs you have. This is actually great news because it is a chance to prove yourself and what you can do. For me it was a great excuse to start blogging about topics I cared about and to connect with industry thought leaders.
It was time for me to discover what I had to offer (based on the things I liked to blog and tweet about) and factor that into what I wanted for my job search process.
Ex. I love the idea of online marketing and social media (which you may be able to see from this blog), so I looked at companies where I could be involved in and learn more about this process.
5. I got to know myself much better.
I have had to ask myself a lot of questions during this job search process. What is it I want to do? What are my strengths and weaknesses? How do I interview? etc. I found that the more interviews I had, the more I told the same story about myself, but the more questions I was asked the more I had to think about how I operated. The more I was also able to gauge people’s reactions to those comments and change answers to those questions.
For example, in one of my interviews I was speaking to the manager of my potential department and he asked me a question about the information science classes I took in college. When I answered I started by putting the department in context and then zooming in on how my classes fit into that. The interviewer was really impressed with my answer and pointed out he was impressed by how I described it. Because the position was going to be in customer support and education, this appealed to him. And while I ended up being offered (and taking), it’s now a piece of self awareness I can use for the future.
Even better, the more I bombed interviews, the more I was forced to ask myself why. For example I was asked by several companies (and people) what I wanted in my next position, and the answer I used was pretty broad, and I think actually sounded quite dumb. I learned to make my answers pretty specific, and to see how I felt giving that answer. In one job specifically, I realized the job I was interviewing for just felt so boring, I knew that was not for me!
6. I gained more confidence in my abilities.
This is probably counter-intuitive, but this is probably the best thing to come out of my interview process. Partially this happened as some of the earlier points took shape (I knew myself better, I learned about different topics, etc.). The more interviews I went on and the better I knew myself, the better I felt giving bold answers that let my personality shine through.
I once interviewed with a start-up doing marketing and they asked me why I wanted to work at a start-up doing marketing and I told them “I had always told myself I would avoid working at start-ups and community management, but through *knowing myself* I realized that I couldn’t avoid that my personality was actually built for that. I was offered the job the next day!
I was also able to ask dominate interviews by asking a lot of questions, which really impressed hiring managers because it helped me appear confident, well prepared, and self-aware.
The bottom line of this extremely long post is that while the job search process can be scary, it can also be one of the most helpful processes in your life if you take the time to learn. Now, you will likely go through more than one of these processes in your life, but the more you learn, the better they’ll be. Now what are you waiting for, get searchin!