There’s no point in sugarcoating it — new college graduates had it pretty rough in 2020.
Landing your first job is hard enough in a normal year, and the pandemic only made things more difficult. As businesses in nearly every industry struggled to retain their current staff, new job postings were rare and highly competitive.
Things are looking up in 2021, but that doesn’t mean job hunters can get complacent. While a healing economy means a better job market, there will also be plenty of hungry young professionals out there applying. If you’re looking to land your first job in 2021, you might want to get creative.
Lucky for you, we tracked down some unconventional job hunting strategies from a few of our favorite career experts. Here are the best ideas they had to offer.
- Join relevant clubs
Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass, said recent graduates should find clubs and organizations geared toward professionals who might work in your industry. Since these people will get to know you personally, they’ll be more comfortable recommending you for a position.
“If you are interested in working with animals, joining clubs that incorporate animals can be a great way to network,” he said. “If you are a writer, join a book club.”
You can find relevant groups on MeetUp.com, Facebook, NextDoor or by asking around on social media. Due to the pandemic, many of these clubs have shifted to virtual meetings. You can still get to know people during these online-only meetings and inquire about job opportunities.
If you’re open to relocating for work, virtual meetings could actually be an advantage. You can look for groups in any city you’re interested in, allowing you to expand your search and make professional connections in multiple locations.
- Volunteer for a non-profit in the field
If you don’t have a solid network to draw from, volunteering for an organization can help you meet people in the field. For example, if you’re trying to find a job in healthcare, volunteering for a healthcare-related non-profit can introduce you to professionals who can help you find a job.
“They get to know you on a personal level, so it’s a very natural way to network through the joint mission,” said Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls.
- Search for contract or temporary positions
Even if your goal is to find a full-time job, you should still keep an eye out for part-time, contract and temporary positions. These may lead to full-time jobs or help you meet people who can find you a full-time job at a different company.
“At the very least, it allows you to build experience and earn an income in your field while you’re searching for a full-time position,” said Darrell Rosenstein, founder of The Rosenstein Group.
- Ask around at your side hustle
Tom Nathaniel of Lushdollar.com drives for Uber on the side and has gotten job offers from his passengers. He’s not pushy about it. If the passenger asks Nathaniel what he does for a living, he’ll mention that he’s actively searching for a full-time job in the marketing industry.
“As long as you’re pleasant and not overbearing, it can work wonders,” Nathaniel said.
If you already have a side gig, don’t be afraid to mention that you’re looking for a job. If you have a profile on sites like Fiverr or Upwork, mention in your bio that you’re interested in full-time opportunities. You can also include this in all your social media bios.
- Be bolder than most!
When Alek Asaduryan, founder and Chief Editor of YesCycling, graduated from college, he tried job hunting the usual way. He applied for jobs online and sent his resume and cover letter to countless companies.
But one day, he decided to try something a little more direct. He picked a company he wanted to work for and went to their building. He asked the receptionist who the hiring manager was, and she led him to the office.
He spoke to the hiring manager, presented his case and ultimately got a job offer with that company. While this approach isn’t likely to be effective while people are still working from home, it’s a novel idea to try once everyone is back in the office.
- Join Twitter chats
Twitter chats are scheduled virtual chats where one person or company asks a series of questions about a particular topic that anyone is free to answer.
Most professions and industries have Twitter chats on a regular basis. These may be hosted by companies, industry associations or other organizations. Dana Case of MyCorporation.com said if you join these chats, you may connect with people who can let you know about potential job openings.
To find Twitter chats, try searching for different hashtags or do a Google search for recurring Twitter chats for the industry you want to work for.
During the chat, follow people and companies that join in, as these accounts may post about job openings. Make sure to put in your Twitter bio that you’re looking for full-time work.
- Be creative
Actress Angela Kinsey is best known for playing accountant Angela Martin on “The Office.” But she started at the bottom, trying to find a way to break into the entertainment industry.
She had been trying to get an internship at 30 Rock for three months. Every day, she would call and ask to speak to the person in charge of internships. Every day, the receptionist would transfer her to a number, where Kinsey would leave a voicemail.
After months of not getting a callback, she decided to try something different. She called the main office number and said that she had been talking to someone about an internship, but had gotten disconnected. The receptionist connected her with the internship director’s main number. The director was impressed with Kinsey’s spunk and offered her a gig at the “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” show.
This may sound risky to you, but if you’ve already tried to get a job the traditional way, it may be time to try something funky.
Be patient and persistent
Getting a job in this kind of market is a numbers game. You can’t apply to 10 companies and hope that one will work out. You have to be willing to apply to dozens, even hundreds of positions, and keep applying even when it seems fruitless. Persistence will pay off!
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