Hey. My name’s Drew. For the past two years I’ve had a really unique situation in that I have been basically constantly job hunting. I’ve worked temporarily or as a consultant, but not had a steady ground-under-my-feet job in a while, if ever. Recently, I have started a new position working as a QA Analyst for a local Internet of Things app and hardware company in Royal Oak, Michigan, called Powerley. Prior to that I have been in early-stage startups, mid-stage startups, established local companies, you name it and I have done it. Well, all except, the corporate route.
I have had opportunities that allowed me to be happy and build something awesome, but the risk was enormous (not getting paid or paid very little) and on the other side, I’ve had opportunities that gave me security of a steady paycheck and benefits, but made me feel like a miserable robot, trapped and stuck in quicksand.
In all of this I have learned some important things when looking for the job for you. Some of this is personal experience, and some of this is wisdom I have learned over the years from people around me.
First, never overlook your mental health. If it feels like you are giving more than you are getting in return for your hard work and don’t see a benefit on the horizon, maybe you are not in the right place. If you feel like you are happy and excited about work but aren’t able to meet the financial obligations of life and still pursue your passion, this may be another time to consider your options.
The most important thing I’ve learned in all of this is that your network is more important than you know. It’s more important than your degree, if you have one. It’s better than a community service project or beautiful resume. It is one gigantic foot in the door, and if I have learned one thing, your network can really help you out when looking for a job.
I just recently was laid off from an early-stage SaaS startup that just couldn’t make it work. The first thing I did as I was walking to my car that day I was laid off was messaging every connection I had any sort of leverage with to see what I could get in motion. This included recent job leads, friends in similar fields, previous colleagues, etc. These people are the ones that can introduce you to people they may know who could use the help.
This isn’t always easy to do. It definitely requires eating some humble pie. One thing I have found key is finding a community that ties closely to your passions, which is what I did with the Support Driven community. I have made some incredible friends, met a ton of people that I can come to for advice, and best of all it is a gigantic community of like-minded individuals who share common career goals. I have made some awesome friends and developed some connections that have helped me locate a job quickly in a time of need or have given me advice in figuring out the best ways to advance my career.
Another thing to keep in mind is that LinkedIn is more important than you may think. It may seem like some stiff, professional social network – but more importantly, it is a public forum for you to showcase all of the awesome things you have done in the past or are working on currently and/or let companies know that you are open to new employment.
When it comes to applying, don’t just send out a generic cover letter or resume. In my experience, that will just get you looked over. Find a way to be unique – but appropriate. See if there is something in the company culture you align with and make sure to drive that home on your cover letter. Most importantly, make sure that the resume and cover letter you are submitting is appropriate for the job you are applying for, not just something basic or reused for every opportunity after changing out the company name.
Something else that I highly recommend: don’t just take the first opportunity that comes up, even if it gets you out of a really awful situation. Carefully look over your experience while interviewing and make sure that they align with your goals and what you envision for the future. There’s nothing worse than a bad rebound.
In short – look for what is right and what drives you (personally and professionally), put in the effort you feel it deserves to prove to someone you are the best person for the job you’re applying for, and work the hell out of your network – these are the people who know you best and can help point you in the direction of something promising. You’ll end up somewhere awesome, I know it.