Just because you didn’t attend a top university doesn’t mean you can’t land a great job.
More important than a fancy degree is the amount of effort you put into your job search and the passion you exude for the industry, says Esther Lee Cruz, insights and content marketing manager at LinkedIn, in a recent LinkedIn post.
“I’ve always competed with people who were smarter, smoother, and faster,” she says. “The one thing you and I can always out compete with them in is how much blood, sweat, and tears we pour into the things we care about.”
For Cruz, it’s all about finding what motivates you and working your way up. Here are four components of her own job search that helped her land the job she loves today:
Find your true passion.
The first step in landing your dream job is figuring out exactly what that job is. Cruz advises spending time on “vocational soul searching” to discover “the intersection between your passion, strengths, something to get paid for, and the world’s needs.” She combed through several self-help books, including “What Colour Is Your Parachute” by Richard Bolles, “The Start-up of You” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, and “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath, and recommends taking the time to do all the exercises they provide as a way to concretely look at your goals and passions.
Develop soft skills.
Many of the crucial skills needed in strong leaders can be developed in unconventional venues, such as volunteering at a nonprofit, starting your own side business, or participating in extracurricular activities, says Cruz. Anyone can take advantage of these creative ways to build a skill set that then shines in a corporate environment.
Once you begin your job search, take advantage of every resource available to you. Cruz suggests setting up job search alerts on sites like CareerBuilder and LinkedIn, applying to jobs both online and through internal references, setting up informational interviews whenever possible, and talking to friends and family about different industries and companies. And don’t forget to clean up your social media profiles. “You want your brand to resonate through all possible channels,” Cruz says. “Let your personality shine, show your domain expertise, and give a lasting impression.”
Nail the interview.
As with job applications, Cruz recommends doing everything you possibly can to prepare for interviews. “With or without a fancy school brand name on my resume, hard work was always the differentiating factor in my job search success,” she says.
Before the interview, talk to previous employees about how the company runs interviews, write up possible questions and practice responding quickly and concisely, and decide what overall message you want to leave each company. “I made sure my story articulated my competitive advantage, or why I was the best person for this job,” Cruz says.
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