Why December Is A Great Month For Your Career Search

The following was originally posted last December but bears repeating. Here are the best reasons to keep up your career search–even in December.

I get it. It’s not that you don’t want to look for a new career mid-December, it’s just no one is hiring. Everyone knows that, right?

Free clip-art.net

Free clip-art.net

Wrong!

I had this very conversation with someone last week. Not only did I tell the person she was mistaken (As a recruiter I thought that would carry some weight. I was mistaken.), I asked, “Have you even looked?”.

Crickets.

Turns out she was basing this logic on her experience with employment agencies in the past.

Here’s the deal. Yes, some companies wait until the beginning of a new year when a new budget becomes available before they take on the expense of adding personnel. But not all companies. If that were true there wouldn’t have been any public career fairs in your city in the past couple of months. Or weeks. Plus, do you really think we recruiters get to put our feet up on the desk for the entire month of December? Come on. We want to be busy. Busy hiring people.

So, in an attempt to take the momentum out of the ‘nobody’s hiring’ rumor, here are a few really good reasons to look for a new career right now.

Make a statement

Looking now could tell recruiters something about you. You don’t follow the crowd. You’re ready to dive in—right now. You plan ahead—why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and all that. These are great qualities to bring to the table at any company and gives an idea about your work ethic. Just make sure when you get in front of the interviewer you back those qualities up with good examples.

One in a million fifty

Because so many people believe the “no jobs ‘til January myth”, competition is usually very low. This means your application is automatically closer to the top of the pile. You still have to bring the goods of course, but at least the hiring manager won’t have to wade through hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other folks’ information to get to yours.

Recruiters have more time on their hands

When sorting through tons of applications reviewing can become scanning for the sake of efficiency. But when your resume or application is one in a handful it will naturally receive more of a perusal.

After 14 years of recruiting and observing trends it seems as if everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to find a new job. The number of applications we receive increases dramatically come January 2nd. But you, oh wise one, are smarter than that. Your odds of getting the job are way higher when you’re only being compared to a fraction of those in the New Year frenzy. You just might catch the eye of the recruiter (who would have otherwise passed over your resume quickly in January) and land an interview.

It Could Be Good for Your Health

Health benefits, that is. In most companies, the date on which you are eligible for benefits or perks is tied to your hire date. That means if you can start before the end of the month your benefits could kick in up to a month early.

One Step Ahead

 Ahhh… That is the sound of relief. Relief because, not only did you get the job, you’re already well into your training. And your friends who made that, “First thing on Monday, I’m looking for a job” vow are sweating it out without you. When you hang out after work next month you can relax and offer them words of wisdom. Or comfort. You choose. But, for you, the pressure is off.

Some of you are still not convinced. I know what you’re thinking. You really don’t have the time to begin a career search now. You’re doing your holiday shopping and the holiday party circuit and making New Year’s plans… Recruiters might not be busy but you are.

Trust me. Start now and you’ll thank me next month. Cruise on over to those jobs sites and start putting in your applications. Today. Happy searching!

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Quick Tips: Career Fair Season

 

January and February are typically chock full of career fairs, both college and public. If you plan to attend do so with a single goal in mind: be memorable. This will significantly increase your chances of landing an interview and a new career. However, you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Career Fair Mistakes To Avoid

1) No company research (You can’t effectively navigate without a plan.)

2) Wandering around the fair with a group of friends (Prove you’re a leader by striking out on your own.)

3) Grammatical errors on resume (Acceptable in casual settings, i.e. Facebook, but shows the recruiter you lack attention to detail.)

4) Choosing the wrong outfit (Professional is the way to go.)

5) Not practicing your pitch (Never utter the words, “So what are you hiring for?”)

6) No clear career focus (“I’m willing to do anything,” can also convey desperation or lack of commitment.)

7) Collecting too many freebies (aka shopping)

8) Arriving in the final hour (During the last 30 minutes career fairs can become virtual ghost towns.)

9) Failing to follow up (Don’t miss out on an opportunity to reiterate why you’re the best person for job.)

10) Not applying the way the recruiter has instructed (Demonstrates poor listening skills.)

Over the years I have seen at least one of these violations at every career fair. Don’t end up on the list–if you’ve been a perpetrator take time to prepare for the next fair by clicking on the links below.

Good luck!

Career Fairs: Why Bother? http://wp.me/p2Yxve-K

Career Fairs: Don’t Just Show Up (Part 1) http://wp.me/p2Yxve-N

Career Fairs: Don’t Just Show Up (Part 2) http://wp.me/p2Yxve-R

Career Fairs: Don’t Just Show Up (Part 3) http://wp.me/p2Yxve-Y

December Career Search

I get it. It’s not that you don’t want to look for a new career mid-December, it’s just no one is hiring. Everyone knows that, right?

Wrong!

Photo by Stuart Miles

Photo by Stuart Miles

I had this very conversation with someone last week. Not only did I tell the person she was mistaken (As a recruiter I thought that would carry some weight. I was mistaken.), I asked, “Have you even looked?”.

Crickets.

Turns out she was basing this logic on her experience with employment agencies in the past.

Here’s the deal. Yes, some companies wait until the beginning of a new year when a new budget becomes available before they take on the expense of adding personnel. But not all companies. If that were true there wouldn’t have been any public career fairs in your city in the past couple of months. Or weeks. Plus, do you really think we recruiters get to put our feet up on the desk for the entire month of December? Come on. We want to be busy. Busy hiring people.

So, in an attempt to take the momentum out of the ‘nobody’s hiring’ rumor, here are a few really good reasons to look for a new career right now.

 

Make a statement

Looking now could tell recruiters something about you. You don’t follow the crowd. You’re ready to dive in—right now. You plan ahead—why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and all that. These are great qualities to bring to the table at any company and gives an idea about your work ethic. Just make sure when you get in front of the interviewer you back those qualities up with good examples.

One in a million fifty

Because so many people believe the “no jobs ‘til January myth”, competition is usually very low. This means your application is automatically closer to the top of the pile. You still have to bring the goods of course, but at least the hiring manager won’t have to wade through hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other folks’ information to get to yours.

Recruiters have more time on their hands

When sorting through tons of applications reviewing can become scanning for the sake of efficiency. But when your resume or application is one in a handful it will naturally receive more of a perusal.

After 14 years of recruiting and observing trends it seems as if everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to find a new job. The number of applications we receive increases dramatically come January 2nd. But you, oh wise one, are smarter than that. Your odds of getting the job are way higher when you’re only being compared to a fraction of those in the New Year frenzy. You just might catch the eye of the recruiter (who would have otherwise passed over your resume quickly in January) and land an interview.

It Could Be Good for Your Health

Health benefits, that is. In most companies, the date on which you are eligible for benefits or perks is tied to your hire date. That means if you can start before the end of the month your benefits could kick in up to a month early.

One Step Ahead

 Ahhh… That is the sound of relief. Relief because, not only did you get the job, you’re already well into your training. And your friends who made that, “First thing on Monday, I’m looking for a job” vow are sweating it out without you. When you hang out after work next month you can relax and offer them words of wisdom. Or comfort. You choose. But, for you, the pressure is off.

Some of you are still not convinced. I know what you’re thinking. You really don’t have the time to begin a career search now. You’re doing your holiday shopping and the holiday party circuit and making New Year’s plans… Recruiters might not be busy but you are.

Trust me. Start now and you’ll thank me next month. Cruise on over to those jobs sites and start putting in your applications. Today. Happy searching!

Where the Jobs Are 2013

You visited all the top job sites, prepped your resume—and had someone review it beforehand, thank you very mucJob Searchh—and applied for some jobs you came across that first day. There are tons of them though, and it turned out to be a grueling day. You posted your resume so now all you have to do is sit back and wait for those employers out there to find you, right?

Actually, you couldn’t be more wrong! Remember what I’ve said in the past—with so many people seeking work, it’s all a recruiter can do to keep his head above water at times. Between the career fairs, job postings, phone screens, interviews, coordinating the interview process, running background checks and, for some, generalist duties (benefits, legalities, unemployment claims, trainings…)

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. We recruiters are swamped! That means, that while we still prospect, you can’t count on us seeing your resume as the only way to find job leads. And while the popular ones—Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed—will all send you jobs that might be of interest you’re going to find a lot more opportunities by having a plan for your job search. Not to mention, as a recruiter, I want a self-starter who is results driven and ambitious, not the guy that waits around for something to fall into his lap.

 

Below is a list of the top fields hiring new grads this year, so there are definitely jobs out there. The question is, how do you go about finding them?

1.             IT — 26 percent

2.             Customer service — 19 percent

3.             Finance/accounting — 16 percent

4.             Sales — 16 percent

5.             Business development — 15 percent

6.             Health care — 12 percent

 

(Find the complete article at http://www.examiner.com/list/top-6-jobs-for-college-new-grads-2013)

 

Top Places to Search for Jobs

Internet 

By all means, do not discount the job sites listed above. You might also check out career rookie, simply hired and even snag-a-job. Granted, Snag-A-Job primarily posts part-time jobs but perhaps that can lead to a full-time position. These sites are definitely viable, and the place I find many of my new hires, but I encourage you to go beyond the obvious. Check out Twitter, Linked in and Facebook.

True, the careers popping up on on Twitter could be in Timbuktu, but if you utilize the search feature and enter your city (ex. Jobs Atlanta) you can see the companies posting local jobs. Follow them and it could open up a world of opportunities that might never be posted in the more traditional ways. The same goes for Linkedin. In fact, if you visit your home page, on the right side mid-way down, you’ll see job opportunities that might be of interest to you. If you follow the link for more jobs you will also see which of your connections already work for those companies. Now you have an in—as long as you haven’t been randomly connecting with people you don’t know on Linkedin. You can reach out to your friend to do research, ask questions and, perhaps, even ask for a recommendation.

Is one of your friends raving about his new job on Facebook? Is he posting about how much fun he’s having, how much he loves his manager and his team and just got promoted after only six months? Find out where he’s working. Have a conversation and see if that company is hiring in your field.

 

Employee Referral 

Many companies, mine included, offer incentives for employees who make referrals for employment. Let your friends know you’re looking. Keep your resume up-to-date and be prepared to email it at a moment’s notice. The last thing you want to do is make your acquaintance wait while you make revisions.

A few years ago my brother-in-law, John, was in between contracts in the pharmaceutical research field. John’s resume found its way to the desk of a hiring manager and a colleague who knew John saw it. Because she was familiar with him, his performance and his work ethic she told the hiring manager, “You need to hire him.” John got a phone call, had a brief discussion and hung up with a job offer! Sometimes it really is who you know.

 

Colleges 

As I mentioned in a previous post, career services at your alma mater is a great place to visit. You can also jump on the career services website and browse jobs that have been posted by their employer partners. During the school year attending the career fairs is a must! You can make a much greater impact as a real live person vs. just words on a piece of paper that can get lost in a sea of other resumes. If I am impressed with someone face-to-face I am much more likely to bring that person in for an interview.

 

Networking 

During a presentation a few years ago the speaker emphasized the importance of a viable network. If you can’t help others and vice versa, he said, you don’t have a network, you have a netbroke. One candidate I came across definitely understood this. He worked at a country club throughout college where many affluent guests were members. He was a server but knew he was in a position that could open up doors later on. He kept resumes in his car and had his elevator pitch memorized, so when he got a chance to strike up a conversation with a business owner he was ready. That interaction led to an internship in New York where he was able to hone his marketing skills in a position the company created for him. When you impress people sometimes they go out of their way to help you!

I mentioned Linked in before, but it deserves another mention in this category. Take time to join groups of interest and comment in discussions. That way you can meet more people to add to your network. I recently posted a job and got a recommendation from someone who’d read my feedback. For my contributions in another group I was recognized as the Contributor of the Month and was offered a gift card. I was able to provide valuable information and, though it wasn’t my motivation to do so, I got valuable feedback in return. The same can be said of your job search.

 

Other Sources

 Employment Agencies

Employment agencies can be very expensive for companies so the agency might have a limited number of clients. Similar to your internet search, don’t just sign up and sit back and wait for a phone call. Agencies have numerous clients which means your competition could be significant.

Local Organizations

Oftentimes your local Chamber of Commerce, Urban League, even the unemployment office will have a place for employers to post jobs, so check out the website. In addition, they and other local organizations might host a few public career fairs. Do an online search for “career fairs (name of city) 2013” to see what events will be held locally this summer.

Think outside the box 

If you want a job in a creative field, be creative. With the internet at our fingertips people are thinking way outside the box. I read a story about a guy who put up a billboard to get the attention of employers—and found a job! Utilize Youtube to put together a video. Pin your works of art on Pinterest. Take pics of your fashion designs and post them on Instagram. How about using your marketing skills to draw people—including employers—to your blog? What better way to prove your results than a huge following.

I have yet to hear anyone exclaim, “Yay! I get to search for a job!” Let’s face it, it’s not fun. Keep a positive attitude, but don’t make your job search last any longer than it has to. Take advantage of these tips, exhaust every avenue and keep plugging away until you get that job offer you’ve been seeking.

 

New Grad & No Job Offer? Make Your Summer Count

So you haven’t landed your dream job yet. Last time we established that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you can’t justify your break forever. What can you do to improve your chances of getting the one you have your eye on when you embark on that career search again?

First, let’s review the obstacles you encountered.challenges

You only applied for one job. But, hey, it was the one and the first two interviews went really well. How were you to know they’d offer the job to someone else? Bad move. Take advantage of all the money you invested in college and visit Career Services. They have relationships with tons of employers and can give you some referrals.

This time, make sure you cast a wide net. Where do your interests lie? Is it only nursing, or do you also enjoy physical fitness, social work or other fields where you’d be able to help people? Or you might be interested in some totally unrelated fields—aviation and IT and law. Personally, I am not only interested in recruiting, but finances, writing and philanthropy. Since few jobs would incorporate all of these areas, you will have to satisfy some of your interests outside of the workplace. Just make sure you tailor your resume accordingly when applying for jobs. Don’t send your aviation-related resume in for a programming career at Microsoft.

Do some research to find out if you’ll need more education or a certification for your desired career. If so, consider it—the cost, the time and what sacrifices you might have to make. Perhaps, with those qualifications under your belt, even more avenues will be open to you.

You bombed the interview. It happens. Use it as a learning experience. You will live to interview again—believe me. I walked into an interview for a sales position my senior year in college. Back then I was extremely shy. (Shocking, I know.) Much to my horror I found myself facing five—yes, five—interviewers.

It did not go well. I filed it under the category of Things I Don’t Speak Of. If interviews make you break out in hives, this is another area where Career Services, local organizations like the Urban League or other job centers can help. Take advantage of a mock interview (or two) or a resume critique and get some feedback on where you can improve. You’ll walk into your interviews much more polished than you were in March.

Lack of experience 

If this is the case, is there something you can do over the summer—volunteering, working part-time, taking a course—that can help you gain that experience? Let’s say you applied for an accounting position but you never had an internship. Why not try to obtain one over the summer if a company is open to hiring graduates as interns? If that doesn’t work read some entry-level accountant job descriptions. Will the company accept banking as related experience? If so, head over to US Bank or 5/3rd and fill out an application. You’ll not only gain cash handling experience, you’ll gain customer service and sales experience as well. You might even qualify for promotion into their accounting division after a few months of proving yourself.

This is the best way to gain experience—hands on, and it’s what I personally like to see on a resume. But there are also other ways which I’ll cover below by order of preference.

 

Honing Your Skills

Do not take a random summer job if you can avoid it. Choose one that will help you gain new skills. If you were turned down for a communications position and re-apply for the position in the fall with the same resume you’ll more than likely get a similar result. And I’m not sure you can sell your parents on taking another three months to find work.

Previous jobs

As I mentioned, I love to see real life experience on a resume. Because I hire for a sales & management trainee position I am even more drawn to candidates who held leadership roles or who met goals. So if you work in a department store and there are no sales goals established by the company, and you would like to get into sales, set some goals of your own and highlight the results on your resume.

Volunteer/Organizational

Rotary, relay for life, habitat for humanity, missions trips just to name a few. This is also solid experience because it involves real situations. Don’t settle for showing up at organizational meetings and filling in where needed. Is there an opportunity to take the helm for a project? Conceptualize and plan events? I am so impressed by candidates who can organize and motivate teams to accomplish tasks. Why? Because so few recent grads have that experience.

No too long ago I hired two candidates who had been on missions trips. They had to raise money (sales/persuasiveness/resilience), set appointments (communication/self-starter) and organize Bible studies and outreach (time management, leadership). All of this while in school (flexibility/adaptability).

Classroom — This is impressive when you have had the opportunity to present solutions to an actual company who decided to implement them. However, classroom experience is typically hypothetical or simulated. While it gives students an understanding of what happens in a company nothing beats that face-to-face customer encounter you had as a server where you were able to turn him into a repeat diner at your restaurant. No theoretical idea can take the place of the organizational process you implemented at your last job to help keep track of inventory that was later adopted by three other divisions.

Years ago I interviewed a solid guy for our internship program and asked him to tell me about a time when he had a leadership role. He was an Assistant Manager at a car wash but for some reason he started telling me about his classroom project. I interrupted him and said, “If you tell me about your capstone… You were an Assistant Manager! Tell me about that.” We both laughed, but he got it. He went on to describe some of his responsibilities, the number of people he managed and even how he was able to impact the bottom line. I brought him on board and after he graduated we hired him full-time.

Check out this link for even more ways to gain experience:

http://education-portal.com/articles/10_Ways_for_New_College_Graduates_to_Gain_Job_Experience.html

Transferable Skills

Let’s face it, there is only so much experience you can gain in three months’ time, so what’s an alternative? I guarantee many of you already have valuable skills you never even considered—transferable skills.

Some of the most beneficial skills include: leadership-ability to motivate a team, communication—written & verbal, flexibility/adaptability, teamwork, time management, self-starter, problem-solving, organization, creativity, resilience, results driven

Recent grads often discount their “college jobs”, but don’t sell yourself short. Server, Sales Associate, Laborer (warehouse, landscaping), construction and athlete are all job experiences that will add to your skill set. Think about the skills you’ve gained and ways you can highlight them on your resume and, once you land the interview, what specific examples you can share that prove you have that competency.

Job   Title Experience   &Transferable Skills
Server Multi-tasking/adaptability, customer service, sales,   leadership–ability to oversee a process
Athlete Leadership, work ethic, tenacity, resilience, teamwork,   dedication, goal-setting, problem resolution, results driven, time management   (school, practice, games/meets & sometimes a job)
Landscaping/Construction

(bonus points for crew leader)

Self-starter, ability to meet deadlines, teamwork;   entrepreneurship if you started your own mowing business, leadership
Tutor Planning, training, teaching, motivation (with proven   results), communication
Resident Assistant Leadership, customer service, planning, problem resolution,   organization, creativity, sales if you had to persuade other RA’s to accept   your ideas, budgeting
VP of fraternity Event planning, leadership, creativity, able to motivate a   team, sales—ideas or fund-raising activities, budgeting

Job Shadow

One final suggestion for your summer. You think you’d like to work in a non-profit, but you’re not entirely sure. Why not tap into your network this summer for a connection in that field? (Networking is a topic all its own that I will cover in a future post.) Perhaps you can shadow someone a few days a week or even volunteer. This will give you insight an interview might not offer and you could discover you’re not as interested as you thought or it’s the perfect fit for you.

Remember, just because you haven’t landed your first job is not a license to take it easy this summer. Take advantage of some of these tips and, after you get a few months’ experience under your belt, get back out there! Everyone had to start somewhere. Make that first step pay off in the long run.

Post Grad & No Job? Relax.

The ceremonies and graduation parties are behind you at long last, but you are in meltdown mode because you still haven’t found a job. What are you going to do? Student loans are looming just six months away. How will you ever repay them? And you’ve seen the news reports. Jobs can be hard to come by. (Insert panic here.)

Panic

Image from Photobucket

You might feel like it’s your fault. You put all your eggs in one basket or submitted too few applications. You were so sure you’d get an offer you didn’t even bother putting in applications at other companies and now it’s too late. You learned a valuable lesson. Now take some time to regroup.

On the flip side, maybe you were the one who did everything right. You’ve been going to the college fairs since freshman year. You had your first interview in October and accepted the job in December. And then…the offer was rescinded. Can they do that? It wasn’t even your fault! What is up with this company? While it’s rare, an offer might be rescinded for a number of reasons. Budget cuts. Hiring freezes. You took too long to decide and another candidate accepted. The recruiter detected your uncertainty about the position. No one wants to get this news, but if you did, it’s not the end of the world.

Relax. That’s right. I said it.

I realize mom and dad probably won’t agree—especially if you’re camping out in their house with your feet up on the coffee table. If that’s the case they absolutely should give you the kick in the pants you need to get in gear. Give me a minute to make my case.

‘Relax’ does not translate into ‘do nothing’. It just means not having that career locked in this summer might be a blessing in disguise. You have your whole life ahead of you and you will be working for the next forty plus years. (!) Why not make this summer work for you?

Relax2

 

Why it Might be Okay to Find Your Career in the Fall

The competition was fierce. Sadly, another candidate swooped in and took your perfect job right from under your nose. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Apparently, it wasn’t the perfect job for you. At least not right now. Maybe you didn’t get the job because you weren’t quite there. It’s very difficult due to the volume of applications and interviews for recruiters to give you specific feedback regarding your interview. Or any feedback at all. Go back and read the job description and be honest with yourself. If the position required six months of customer service and you only have three, summer is the perfect time to remedy that. Choose your summer job wisely. Make sure it will add to the skills you can offer an employer.

You didn’t feel good about the offer(s) you received. You’re sure a better fit is out there. You took a risk and declined an offer or two, and that’s okay. It wouldn’t look good on your resume to quit a job just three months in. I see short stints like this frequently on resumes, but despite the message sent by many professors, new grads can and do enter companies and build very successful careers without job-hopping. I interviewed for several opportunities the summer after graduation and weighed my options before making a decision. I’ve been with my company for several years, as have many of my co-workers, and have received many promotions.

But on the other hand…some of your classmates might have accepted the first job offer that came their way thinking they wouldn’t receive another one. Or they really thought it was the right job. In a few months reality could set in. It becomes obvious their skill set or interest(s) don’t line up with the company goals or job duties. Perhaps the career path isn’t going to take them where they want to go. (They want to be an event planner, but there are no opportunities like that in the organization.) If by that time you’ve spent the summer discovering and honing your skills you might find that same job would be great for you!

You were barking up the wrong tree. Admit it. During your final semester you applied for anything and everything. Big mistake. You’re a sales person. You knew it in high school, the day you talked your dad into buying you a $6000 car for you instead of the $2000 beater he had his eye on. So why did you apply for Administrative Assistant? Well, you reasoned, it’s a foot in the door. But maybe not the best way in. Wouldn’t the company be most likely to promote someone in their training program who they are specifically grooming for sales management over someone in an unrelated role? Plus, the recruiter could tell when she read your objective: To contribute to an organization by increasing revenue utilizing exceptional sales techniques and negotiation skills. So, you avoided six months of misery typing documents when you don’t even like typing!

Enjoy one final summer before you begin your ‘real job’. Everyone earns vacation time, but unless you become a teacher the chances of having three full months off work again are slim. But I caution you, don’t do this without planning ahead. You should have attended career fairs, collected information, and shook a few hands to lay the groundwork for your career search. Use this time to do something meaningful—volunteer, travel abroad or reflect on your long-term goals.

Three months to network and find the right job. Networking happens every day, not just at networking events—and it’s not all job-related. I meet aspiring writers all the time and invite them to the writing group I attend. I invited a girl in the cafe at my gym to church. (Yes, l make conversation with random people. I consider it a gift.) I put an acquaintance seeking work in touch with someone who works in her field. You can connect with others at your summer job (and you should all have one), parties, wedding receptions, sports leagues and anywhere else you find people. Luckily, due to social media you don’t have to limit your networking to your own city. But remember, it’s not just about you. Consider what you can offer to those you meet.

Get to know your likes & dislikes through your summer job. Shadow, volunteer or intern in your field of interest. You might find it’s right up your alley. Or it’s not what you’d hoped for— and you’ll have time to make adjustments to your plan.

Now that I’ve talked you down off the ceiling, realize you’re not the only recent grad still waiting to begin your career. Your free time can actually work for you. Be sure to check out my next entry for tips to make your summer count.

 

First Job Offer Woes

After you’ve stood in line at career fairs, after you’ve sweated your way through endless grueling interviews all you can think about is that job offer. And you finally get one! But wait. Should you just go and accept the first job that comes your way? It depends.

When I graduated from the University of Toledo there was no particular city that appealed to me so I decided to move back to my hometown. But for some reason I applied for a job in a small city. After six years in school—full time—I finally held a degree in marketing with an advertising focus. Trust me, after all that time I was set on getting a job in advertising. What I discovered was that advertising jobs weren’t so readily available. Which is why I suppose I applied for the advertising job at a little radio station in…we’ll call it Littleton, so as not to insult anyone in the real city.

Normally, I’m 15-30+ minutes early for any appointment but I somehow ended up skidding up to the doors of the radio station about 10 minutes late. I’d miscalculated how long it would take me to drive to Littleton from Toledo. In reality, I think I knew on a subconscious level I really didn’t want this job. But I sat through the interview and it went really well.

Well, maybe Littleton wouldn’t be so bad. I drove around town a bit, checking it out, and ended up at the mall. I’ve never been one for shopping but I figured the mall would be a good representation of what the city had to offer.

In a word: tiny. In fact, it would have to get bigger to be tiny. But I overheard someone mention another mall. I stopped a woman to inquire about it.

“Oh, you mean the small one?” the lady asked.

“You mean this is the big one???” This was an OMG before OMG was even a thing.

Now what was I going to do? The radio station wanted me to come back in a few days to take a personality assessment test. I drove back to Toledo pondering the dilemma. Easy! I’d fail the test. I mean, it’s not like I could actually turn the job down, right? I was a brand new grad who ought to be lucky someone wanted to take a chance on me.

I arrived in Littleton as scheduled and took the assessment. I wasn’t quite sure how to fail a personality test but my theory was to answer the opposite of what I thought they’d want in the person they wanted for the job. I left confident in my failure and with a spring in my step.

A few days later I got a call. The lady on the other end of the phone raved about how great I’d done. Oh, come on!! How was I going to get out of this? Reluctantly I went for the final interview in Littleton hoping against hope they’d choose another applicant. It never dawned on me I was probably the only idiot who’d applied.

At that time I worked in the Admissions Office at my university. I talked to Shelly, one of the Admissions Counselors, who is still a good friend today, about the situation. And what she said changed everything. I might be a new grad but it didn’t mean I didn’t have a choice about the career I accepted. She assured me I shouldn’t feel bad about turning the job down if it wasn’t the right one for me. Something else would come along. What a relief! But I still hoped I wouldn’t have to have that difficult conversation.

Then the call I was dreading came. Much to my dismay they loved me and wanted to offer me the job. (Darn this charm of mine!) The conversation turned to pay. To say it was low was a severe understatement, like saying Harry Potter was a small success. Were they serious? It would be different if there were opportunities for advancement but there weren’t. I was going to be stuck with that pay for who knew how long. And Littleton was a tiny town far away from friends and family. And civilization.

So I took a deep breath and politely declined. The lady wanted to know why, of course, and I explained. That’s when she told me they’d upped the pay $2000.

Wow.

Now, as a professional, I realize I should have spoken up sooner. As a tremendously busy recruiter I hate to waste my time, so I regret doing that to the hiring managers. But after making a decision I was finally relieved. And Shelly was right. I got turned down for a couple other jobs but I also got a couple more offers. I accepted one of them and, eighteen years later, am still with the same company and have received five promotions over the years. Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t in advertising. But we’ll discuss tunnel vision in another blog post.

Recently I had a similar situation come up and I remembered this dilemma. As an aspiring author I have been attending conferences and reaching out to agents and editors in hopes that someone will either represent or publish my young adult manuscript. About three weeks ago I got an email that I thought was another rejection. But no, a publisher was interested!

And so much faster than I anticipated.

The company sent me the contract and I began reading it over. It might has well have been hieroglyphics! What was a decent advance for a new author? What about royalties? I started doing some research and reached out to other authors and agents that I’d met at the conferences for advice. The feedback varied from: It sounds very reasonable except ____ to: ‘Get a book on the shelf no matter what’. And, ‘They need to increase royalties and you need to keep the foreign, dramatic and commercial rights’.

What? I need an agent. Badly.

And then I remembered Shelly’s advice. Just because I’m a new author doesn’t mean I have to take the first deal. I learned a lot over the past few weeks and something else will come along.

Bottom line?  If the job that comes your way is right for you, grab it. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Just like me, your perfect fit will come your way in due time.