7 ways to land your second “real” job

“Tell me about what you would bring to the Senior Kitten Manager role”  

You’ve made it out of college and survived your first internship, your first day on the job, your first performance review, and your first office holiday party. Whether you’ve been at your first job for months or most of your adult life, at some point you may want to explore what else is out there. Your first job equipped you not only with the skills specific to your industry, but also how to function in a workplace environment.

From here, you can go anywhere. Finding your second job is different from your first. There’s no college career center to guide you, no campus recruiters inviting you to networking events. Instead, the most precious tools you have are your experiences, your network and your perserverance. Here’s how to get started:

1. Search for the right reasons. The job search is an active process. Before you formally commit to finding your second job, ask yourself why you’re looking to make a move in the first place. If you’re relocating to be near family or your employment is coming to an end, it’s fairly obvious why a move is a good idea. If you’re employed for the foreseeable future, ask yourself why you want a new job. Is it that you’re not getting promoted quickly enough? Has your workload slowly changed into projects you hate? Talk to your supervisor before deciding to jump ship, and explain what you’d like to change. It’s a lot easier to negotiate with a manager than find a better offer. If you can’t imagine the issue you have with your job changing in the next six months, it’s time to get out.

2. Tell everyone you know (except your boss). ABC News says 80 percent of jobs are found through networking, and I’m surprised it’s not higher.  I found my second job out of college when I was out to dinner with a group of friends. One asked how things were going, and I mentioned I was job searching in New York. She connected me with another friend for an informational interview. Six weeks and several anxious steps later, I was sitting at a desk next to his. By now, you’ve built up a network of professional and personal contacts where you live. These may be co-workers you trust, friends from school or back home, or your afternoon kickball league. Tell them you’re job searching and explain where you’re looking to go. Even if someone may not work in a relevant industry, chances are they know someone who does.

3. Get off the couch. Passively scrolling through Monster and Indeed may be a good way to learn about the jobs in your industry, but they’re no replacement for human interaction. Ask your friends and people you trust to set up a series of informational interviews with companies whose jobs match your skills, but may not necessarily be in the same industry. For example, if you’re gunning for a role in writing about the tech industry (as we all should be), try setting up conversations with a journalist at a tech outlet, a content manager at a startup, and an account manager at a tech PR firm. Talk with people close to the level of the job you want, if possible. This will give you a sense of how they ended up in a role you may want. If you’re looking to find a job in a different city, this step is especially important — just replace the coffee dates with a series of phone interviews. At the very least, you’ll widen your social and professional circles.

4. Write for the role you want, not the one you have. Update your resume and cover letter through reading job descriptions of the job at your level, or just above. These can show you how to organize and prioritize the responsibilities at your current job. For example, if you’re looking for a role as a Kitten Manager, see how competing companies describe the responsibilities of Senior Kitten Managers. Are there any that overlap with what you currently do? Learning about what responsibilities companies value will help you craft a cover letter and resume tailored to the role you want.

5. Grit your teeth. Finding a new job is an art, not a science. Rarely does the perfect position fall into your lap, and the state of the economy doesn’t make it easier. Plan to commit at least 30 minutes a day to your job search, whether that’s answering emails, scouting for new positions, or writing a cover letter tailored to fit each position. Be sure to limit your time on the job hunt to before or after work as much as possible.

6. Find a champion. Whether you’re bursting with excitement about the second-round interview you just scored or need a pick-me-up after your dream job gets filled, find a person you can trust with your job search who’s been there before. They can help you navigate what’s normal (my dream company hasn’t gotten back to me for two weeks!) and what’s not (my interviewer asked me to walk her turtle). Take this person out for drinks or dessert after you land your dream gig.

7. Other resources. While the second-job search can be long, it’s important to remember that most people have done it before. Sites like The Muse, Ask a Manager, and the Washington Post’s @Work Advice can walk you through each step of the job search process, including what to say when it’s time to break the news you’re leaving. Once you land your new job, they’re also good sources for navigating the first few days in a new workplace.

Bethany Hill

@andbethanysays

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