Standing out in the job market

Information management is a relatively new field. What is it like to get a job with a degree in Info Management? First we gave tips about learning new software for a job, and now we’re helping you think about networking.

Picture of Ted Williams seat at Fenway park My first rejection letter came via email. Over three months of job searching, I placed 50 applications, received about 13 rejection letters, and didn’t get any interviews. The lesson I learned: even if your resume is professionally made, when you apply online, you’re only one more resume in a company’s growing pile of resumes. You are not a person to the recruiter or the hiring manager.

I played what I called “the numbers game” online. With the numbers game, I was applying to seven or eight jobs a day, on my more motivated days. I pored over job listing sites and searched company websites, seeking direct-hire positions. What I thought I knew: if I played the numbers game, I would eventually get an interview somewhere.

Two months ago – almost serendipitously – I landed a position as a Data Analyst with an international non-profit organization. Getting hired couldn’t have come at a better time; in December, I have to start paying back student loans. The numbers game may have panned out eventually, but getting hired, as it turned out, resulted from talking to someone in person.

What I know now: as useful and necessary as online applications are, nothing compares to meeting someone face-to-face. A hiring manger needs to know you’ll be a great fit for the team and the company. And really, as a job candidate, you need to know if the company and position is a great fit for you. This is why recruiters and hiring managers prefer to meet you in person instead of skimming your online resume. And why you should, too.

This recent lesson is in contrast to my behavior in graduate school; the entire two years I spent at the University of Washington, I had been advised over and over to get out and network. My professors and program alumni all said the same thing: networking will get you further than online or paper application will.

So why didn’t I follow their advice when I was there? Frankly, it’s because I often found myself wondering: What does it mean to network? It took some trial and error, but I figured out what worked for me, and here are some things you can do to get on the fast track to finding a job:

Attend conferences, school events, and other networking gatherings. These are great places to meet new people and let you do what’s really important: talk about you (and even just practice talking about you). Just be yourself and talk about what excites you the most. The people you meet and the relationships you build will lead to a job offer, I promise you.

Build a portfolio! Start during your first quarter/semester of school and save all of your projects. Papers you write, pictures you take, and videos you produce: save them all! Go online and create a portfolio of all of these things. Make sure you add the link to your resume. Don’t have any website building experience? That’s OK. There are plenty of free services online that will host and create your website for you.

Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about your job search. You never know where an opportunity will arise; it could come from the least likely of places and you’ll miss out if you don’t speak up.

Leverage social networking. Get on Facebook and Twitter (if you’re not already) or, if you host your own blog – whatever it is – let the world know you’re looking for work. In fact, once you’ve created your portfolio, share the link with everyone. Remember: showing is always better than telling.

Finally, in general, think of networking as an opportunity for you to get creative and market yourself when you are job seeking. Networking enables you to really dive in, exploit your strengths, and articulate what separates you from the rest. Most importantly: sitting at a computer limits your ability to use these skills, to let an employer see the real you and “wow” a hiring manager with your talents.

I’d like to thank fellow contributing author, Jordan Eschler, for co-authoring this piece. Photo by joyosity. Used in accordance with a Creative Commons 2.0 license.