The following is the first entry in a new series featuring answers to Frequently Asked Questions from readers. I do my best to respond to every question, so feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to message me on LinkedIn. Thanks!
I just graduated from college in May, and I’ve been on the job hunt since March with no leads. I submit applications all the time, but I feel like I’m just tossing my resumes into a void.
My question is: after applying for a job, what comes next? I’ve heard about looking for people at the company who went to my school and setting up informational interviews, but what if I can’t find someone?
Alternatively, how do I know who to follow up with? Usually for the jobs I’ve applied to, I send my materials to a generic “email@example.com” email address and not an actual person. The listings typically don’t have a hiring manager on them either, and I can’t find people’s email addresses on the company website or on their LinkedIn.\
Additionally, I’m trying to get a job in the political space, especially since it’s an election year. Most campaigns or political orgs don’t post jobs on LinkedIn, and if they do have a careers tab on their website (which many don’t), the listings are for positions that are way above my experience level (things like directors or VPs). I’ve tried sending my resume to these people through their “contact us” tabs, but I usually don’t get responses there either.
This pandemic has made my job search a huge struggle. I’m a first generation college student and daughter of a single mom who didn’t finish high school and lost both of her jobs because of coronavirus. My family has been struggling a lot to make ends meet, and I’m reaching the point where if I don’t find a job soon, I don’t know how I’m going to get by.
I would be so grateful for any help/insights/advice you could offer on any of these topics during this difficult time. Thank you so much for everything you’re doing.
“What Do I Do?”
Dear “What Do I Do”,
This is such a difficult time for recent graduates and it sounds like you are working really hard to launch your career in really challenging circumstances. I am really sorry that you are struggling. Here are a few suggestions that I hope will be helpful:
- Have you reached out to your University Career Center? They can help you identify alumni of your school who would be good networking connections and probably even make direct introductions so you can bypass LinkedIn and those generic website email addresses.
- When it comes to political campaigns, I agree, it’s very hard to break in. My best suggestion is to start volunteering for a campaign that interests you (most of this can be done virtually) and start to impress them with your talent and ask about full time opportunities on that campaign and others once they’ve gotten to know you a bit. Usually they need to see you work before considering your resume.
- Have you tapped your personal network of friends/family/classmates/professors? I know you mentioned you are a first generation college student, but I bet you know more people than you think. I would suggest simply telling each person you know exactly the kind of jobs you are looking for and asking if they know anyone who could offer some advice or an introduction to an employer who is hiring. Sometimes it’s too much to ask directly for the introduction, so if you start with advice, you’re more likely to get a positive response and start your networking there.
- To earn money while you are job hunting, check out part-time, gig and freelance opportunities on sites like FlexJobs, Upwork and ParkerDewey.com.
I really hope this is helpful. I promise I will keep sharing advice on LinkedIn!