It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

21 Jul

On Tuesday, I announced to the blog world that I have accepted a position. I received a few questions on how I went about finding a job. Because I know that each industry is a little different when it comes to landing a job, what worked for me might not work for someone else, but there several things that I believe that any recent grad (or someone switching jobs or fields) can benefit from.

1. Start early. Although I graduated in the middle of May, I began my job search months before. I used my extra time over Christmas break (December 2010) to start sending out my resume. Although I didn’t really hear from anyone during the winter months, it was good practice, and gave me time to refine my resume and cover letters. I had my first interview in March, over spring break.

2. Attach a cover letter. Many times the job description will say “Cover letter- optional.” You should just pretend it says “cover letter- required.” The cover letter gives you a chance to describe your strengths, skill set and experiences, intriguing the employer so they’ll contact you for an interview. I wrote a different cover letter for each job that I applied to. Yes, it takes a long time to write multiple cover letters, but it might help you land a job in the end. has helpful tools for building cover letters.

3. Network, network, network. I don’t think I could stress this enough. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job. Ask them if you can give them your resume, in case something were to pop up at their company. Create a LinkedIn account, and use it daily. Keep in contact with old professors and past employers. You never know who may be able to help you. When I went in for my final interview, I found out that I used to go to college with one of their employees. My former classmate told his supervisors that he knew me, and that was a great conversation starter for my interview. I have no idea if this helped me land the job or not, but I strongly believe that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

3. Don’t limit yourself to large job search engines. Yes, CareerBuilder and Monster may be convenient, but in my experience, they weren’t always the most effective. I signed up with Indeed, a job search engine that compiles job postings from all over the internet. sent me notifications of new job postings everyday, and I applied to any that were of my interest. However, I had the best results when I applied to smaller, more personal websites. Most companies have their own job listings on their websites. Going through their company website and saving a profile for their HR department might help your resume get a better review.

However, I had the best results when using the job search website of my university. Students and alumni can use the website for free, and the companies that I applied to received a referral directly from my university, with my resume and cover letter attached. I landed my previous internship this way, as well as the job I just accepted. Staying in touch with the career center, or professors from your college or university can have great benefits- they will most likely be more than willing to help you (and after spending all of that money on classes and books, you should be more than willing to take their free help!).

At my previous internship

4. Treat it like a full time job. Yes, I have had my fair share of relaxation this summer, but I have also sent out resumes and cover letters like crazy. I have a specific folder where I save all of my application materials, so I can keep track of where I have applied to, and when. This makes it easier for following up with companies I may not have heard back from right away. Sometimes a follow-up call or an email to show your interest can make all of the difference.

My outdoor job search station

5. Don’t be too picky, but don’t settle either. Yes, it would be nice to find a dream job right out of college, but everyone has to start somewhere. At the beginning of my job search, I turned down a second interview because I didn’t feel like the company and I were a good fit. I am not sorry I did this, because I would never want to feel uncomfortable in place where I would be spending the majority of my day. However, as I continued my search, I didn’t limit myself. I applied for administrative and HR positions, even though that’s not what I went to school for. I also didn’t get discouraged by salary and benefit packages. It’s very rare that a recent grad (especially one who studied Communication Studies, like me) will start out making a dream salary, with an abundance of vacation days, a 401K and excellent health insurance. Of course those things are desirable, but they can also come with time. For me, the opportunity to gain experience was more important than pay.

Okay, so I know that is a lot of information. I am no expert on the job search process, but I just wanted to share a little insight on how I went about finding a job, in hopes that it might benefit some of you!

Unemployment can be frustrating, but one of the most important things to remember is that things will eventually look up :).

Do you have any job searching advice?

How long did it take you to find your first job?


7 Responses to “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

  1. Mallory @ It's Only Life After All July 21, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    This is a really excellent post. I agree 100% with everything you said, as a recent graduate who just landed a job as well (I haven’t decided if I’m taking it– that’s a blog post right there! Haha)

    I especially like #4, “Treat it like a full-time job.” I think it’s important to get up at a decent time, take a shower, get dressed, and search from a desk or someplace other than your bed. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, gets you in a routine, and leads to more productivity in my opinion. You will hear back from a very small percentage of resumes you send out– so sending out as many as possible is important!

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy July 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

      Congratulations on landing a job! Yes…it’s so easy to just lounge in pajamas all day long, but that never feels good by the end of the day!

  2. Laura @ LauraLikesDesign July 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Ah! Congrats on the job! That is exciting!

  3. sara @ the foodie diaries July 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    Congrats on the job! I was lucky enough to get mine right out of college, but I started applying about 5 months before I graduated. I couldn’t be more excited to start this next chapter in my life!! 🙂

  4. squigglefloey July 22, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    I got one of my first interviews through a Craigslist posting haha. Weird, right. And it was a legit company too (which I was surprised about).
    Yeah, everyone tells me how important networking is. I feel like I’ve been utilizing my resources (professors, ppl, etc) but it doesn’t seem to be enough yet!

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