As I’m convinced that 95% of online applications aren’t going to amount into anything, I’ve been splitting my job hunting efforts into filling those out (the 5% could very well be worth it) and networking. And by networking I mean reaching out to anyone and everyone that I know in Charlotte that might know of a job opening or someone at a company that might have a job opening that I’d be perfect for. This process has reminded me of just how many people are rooting for me, how many believe in me and are willing to lend a helping hand to push me in the right direction. As anyone unemployed and searching for work has learned, job hunting is incredibly discouraging but by reaching out to those who you know and know your strengths you’re reminded of the support system you already have in place.
Past co-workers and bosses
Since I got back from Edinburgh I’ve caught up with my former boss (the owner/operator) from my time as Marketing Director at Chick-fil-A. He took more than two hours of his busy schedule to just chat with me. We talked about what was going on with the stores, the “quick-service industry”, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and my current job search. He has been eager to serve as a reference for me, put me in contact with higher-ups at corporate (I would love to work there but it’s in Atlanta), and reach out to other business associates he’s accrued in the 20+ years he’s been in the business world.
I’ve also sat down with the girl I hired to replace me as Marketing Director at Chick-fil-A, she’s still loving the job and doing it well. She’s offered to reach out to the contact I established while in her position as well as the new relationships she’s built.
My past internship director at Greater Good Productions, Katie. She’s interested in my life and wants to do anything she can to help me find a job that fits just right. Her husband, Steve, who I also worked with at GGP recommended me to a college buddy who is VP at a recruiting firm and the next day I got a call asking to schedule a meeting so they could help place me.
When I first got back in town I had dinner with my mom at the Chick-fil-A where I worked in high school and college. The managers and owner/operator greeted me with hugs and questions about my time in Scotland and then asked what kind of job I was looking for and how they could help. I haven’t worked there since 2010 but here they are, still rooting for me.
While none of these wonderful ladies are in Charlotte, I’ve reached out to all of them at some point or another for references and any suggestions they may have to help with my job search. Life as a professor keeps them busy but they still have found time to write reference letters on my behalf (Dr. Comeaux and Jennifer Chin helped me get into my master’s program) and send encouraging emails or words of wisdom via Twitter.
My mom is one of those women who knows about a million people, if she used Facebook a lot she would have at least 2,000 friends. She put me in contact with one of her friends from church, Sandy Fulginiti who co-owns a now award-winning fabric shop that her and her partners turned from bland to brilliant and has an impressive marketing program. I was able to steal more than an hour of Sandy’s time last week to pick her brain and hear her advice. Sandy’s put me in contact with the marketing firm her business uses to see if there are any potential opportunities there for me, either in the form of a job or just someone in the industry willing to take the time to chat with me.
On the Newark to Charlotte leg of my trip back from Edinburgh I struck up a conversation with my seat neighbor who we’ll call H (I’m not sure if he’d want his name mentioned). H is a successful consultant at a huge company based out New York, he travels thousands of miles a week for work but clearly loves what he does. We talked the entire flight about business and his experience and he gave me advice on my job search. At the end of the flight H gave me his business card and told me to email him my resume which I did. He put me in contact with the VP of Marketing and Communications at a huge industry leading company here in Charlotte who I eventually got to chat with over the phone. While she didn’t have any open positions after talking to me she was willing to keep an ear out and told me to email her if I had any interviews set up and she would reach out to any contacts she may have at the company I’d be interviewing with.
H was back in Charlotte last week and we met up for a drink, he looked over my new business cards and gave me feedback as well as just general advice on the job hunt. He has no ties to me other than a shared flight and good conversation but he’s been willing to take the time to pass on some of the wisdom his experience has taught him. Even as I write this he’s texting me suggestions to improve my resume.
While I haven’t mentioned everyone I’ve talked to about my job search, hopefully these examples illustrate my point:
In the same way that I didn’t get to where I am now on my own, I’m not alone in this job hunt.
This is such a positive realization for me. My advice to those looking for jobs, talk to everyone you know. Here are a few reasons why:
– The person you’re talking to might know someone who has an open position or knows someone with an open position
– Your contacts are often willing to put you in touch with their contacts
– You can learn a ton from their experience, sometimes it’s general industry insight and others it’s specific advice to help with your job search
– It’s encouraging to interact with the people rooting for you to find the right job
– So much of the job search process is intangible, you apply for things and see no results, but sitting down and talking with someone leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment which helps push you through the mundane applications
To those of you I mentioned in this post and those I wasn’t able to:
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I can’t even articulate how much I appreciate your time, support, and insight. I look forward to being able to pass on all you’ve given to me to future recent grads who come into my current position.