According to my Google searches, the amount of time necessary to find a job in today’s economy is one year.
And so, I began job hunting when I had 28 credits left unchecked on my degree audit from the University of Central Florida, which gave me a little more than one year to land the career of my dreams.
As it turns out, though, I landed a good job in just two months.
It did help that I wasn’t starting from scratch. Earlier in my college career, I had undertaken two writing and marketing internships, which provided me with beautiful portfolio pieces, lines on my resume, a few great testimonials from former superiors, and a pretty decent network.
That said, if you only have a few weeks to land a job before graduation, I’d bet you a dime to a donut that what I’m about to tell you to do will get you a good job before you walk down the aisle to pick up that expensive piece of paper. Here’s what I did and how I’d do it again if I had to.
My Google searching taught me something else extremely important to my job search: 56% of hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than they are by any other personal branding tool—yet, only 7% of job seekers actually have one.
It was an “aha” moment for me. So I headed over to GoDaddy, bought a domain name, and built a dedicated online place where I could showcase my work experience.
This is simpler than it sounds—sites like Squarespace and WordPress make it easy—and you’ll only need to make a couple of pages to start. I suggest creating “Home,” “About,” “Portfolio,” and “Contact,” though if you create a blog and post consistently, then you earn extra credit. Here’s a step-by-step process.
Keep your home page simple and to the point, giving any recruiters or hiring managers who see your page the information they want immediately—who you are and what you’ve done.
According to a study by TheLadders, recruiters spend a mere six seconds reviewing each resume, and nearly 80% of their time is spent on your name, your current title and company, and your previous title and company. These stats are screaming at you to flaunt the brands you’ve worked with, been featured in, or interned for.
You can also consider including testimonials or praises from former or current superiors. I recommend putting a face to each testimonial, as I did on my homepage, which makes the recommendation come to life.
The best “About” pages display your personality, tell your story, include a short, professional biography, and put a smiling face to your name.
Before you begin this page, open a new Google doc and brain dump all of the things you’ve done or accomplished recently. I personally do this every year and then update my portfolio accordingly, but if you haven’t, now’s better than ever to do so.
Once you get everything down, bucket these portfolio pieces into categories that represent your work. For example, I created social media, design, and writing sections for mine.
Then, choose the best (note: not all) of your work in those categories and decide how to display them on your site. Screen shots, links, photos or other visual representations are all great—graphs that show you increased traction, numbers, and testimonials are even better.
Finally, include your contact information that you want public and a contact form that sends inquiries directly to your email address, where you know you’ll receive them. You’ll be surprised—people actually fill them out.
Also, don’t forget links to your social media networks, such as your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. And don’t be afraid to be personable here (like I did)—your contact page is a great place to do it!
The hard part is over. Now, it’s time to get your beautiful new website everywhere. That means putting the URL on your resume, your email signature, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, and anywhere else you have an online presence. Get in the habit of sending links to your website in addition to your resume when introducing yourself or applying to jobs. I always hyperlink my name when introducing myself via email, and according to Yesware, 90% of the time, people click it.
Remember: Having a great personal website is a way to get your name and work out in the world, and it’s more impressive to most hiring managers than anything else. Making it very easy for people to find will put you leaps and bounds ahead of other new grads in your field.
Step one should take you no longer than a week to do, and then it’s onto step two: relationship marketing.
You’ve heard it before: 70% of jobs are secured through networking. This means you want as many people as possible to know who you are. The more people you know, the more opportunities you know of.
So, networking, outreach, writing emails—this should represent 60% of your job-hunting efforts.
Begin by emailing professionals you already know—first-degree connections, as LinkedIn calls them. These can include professors, advisors, former internship supervisors, employed friends, parents, professional acquaintances, or family confidantes. You want people who will be comfortable “vouching” for your past performance and future potential. Let them know that you’re looking for a job, and be specific about your skill set and the types of roles and companies you’re looking for. (Here’s a template you can adapt.)
Beyond that, see if they can help connect you to others in their networks. Try researching your first-degree connections’ connections by using tools liked LinkedIn or Conspire—this way, you can just ask your connection for a specific intro.
Most of the time, people are more than happy to connect you with others for informational interviews or job leads. Of course, make sure you follow the golden rules of online networking: Never ask for too much, always be grateful, and offer to return the favor where you can.
Beyond that, don’t be afraid to send some cold emails to professionals you admire or people who work at your dream companies. You’d be surprised to hear that 94% of cold emails I send receive replies—and even what I asked for.
Cold emails, however, require you to be genuine and to have a specific ask (the last thing you want is to leave your idol confused by your email). Here are a few suggestions I’ve used before:
Finally, remember that networking is an ongoing process that does not end once you’ve met someone once and connected on LinkedIn. For people to remember you—and think of you for opportunities that come their way—you’ll need to follow up and keep the conversation going in an unobtrusive way. (Here are a few ideas.)
This is how I got a job—by making sure the best version of my professional self was out there for the world to see, and by creating relationships with people.
To this day, I still update my website every few months and send 50 emails per week. I don’t receive job offers on the reg because I send a perfectly concocted resume to millions of hiring managers. Job offers come to me because I’ve made my work easily accessible, and I’ve invested the time to build a strong, helpful network of influential individuals.
Build your site, build your network, and they will come to you, too.