This week I got some wonderful news… I’m officially employed! It’s such a relief and wonderful feeling, after leaving Ethiopia almost 10 months ago, to know that I’ll soon be doing meaningful work again.
I went back to the master spreadsheet I keep of all the jobs I’ve applied to. Revisiting my experience, I have to say that I’ve been quite fortunate in that I received a good response rate and my job search only took several months from first application to job offer. It probably would have been longer if I hadn’t found the right job at the right time.
But those job hunting months taught me some things pretty quickly.
- Target, target, target
One properly targeted cover letter and resume can take you much, much further than ten or twenty generic ones. The Ask A Manager blog has amazing advice on this, especially her bit on cover letters.
- Everyone has a unique angle… use it!
For a lot of people, my Peace Corps service sounded like a great experience that not a lot of people had. And it might be, arbitrarily, but when I’m looking for development jobs in Washington, D.C…. I was just one of many. But everyone has an angle and it pays to use it.
- Find the spark
The jobs I was called back about were the ones that I understood the best and found the element that I would feel most passionate about… and I could use that element in my cover letter to call attention to it.
- You are qualified!
If you get an interview, that means the employer thinks you’re worth talking to. Don’t sell yourself short.
- Use your network.
There are a ton of articles about networking out there (here’s the Ask A Manager category) so I don’t feel the need to reiterate all the points here, but everyone has a network. Find it. Use it.
- Do other things.
This is where I struggled the most, enjoying the time I had and enjoying other activities because I felt like I HAD to find a job as soon as possible. It’s okay not to spend ALL of your time job searching!