How to Find Your Dream Job Without Waiting for an Ad

Let’s not sugarcoat: finding a job can be terrible. It’s a bit like hunting for an apartment. Or hunting for a partner. You have to go through many unattractive options to get one gem in its raw form. But there are much better, more efficient, and smarter ways to find engaging work that doesn’t require an Indeed or Monster update.

Most of these suggestions are about playing long games and building relationships that will serve you well throughout your career. Yes, some people use the terrible word “networking”. But you will learn to appreciate networking when it means you can be proactive rather than reacting to job searches, and when you can skip the hell of a job posting “send your resume into this black hole” line. A lot of people have done this before you; a few success stories below.

Here’s how to find a job in the new year.

Determine where you want to work

Study the landscape – which companies do you find attractive? Where do the people you admire work? What business do you see yourself in: a corporate monolith or a daring startup? These questions will give you clarity and enable you to work in the opposite direction. If you are unsure, think about the locations that you would like to hire. These pointers to the North Star will save you a lot of options.

Tell people where you want to work

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, refused to look at the menu and expected the waiter to bring you delicious mac and cheese? Of course not. You are not crazy. It’s the same with work. People cannot read your mind. Talk to your friends about what you are looking for – as specific as possible. You will be shocked by what is happening. Things like “My friend’s ex-brother works there!” Even if it doesn’t lead to a direct connection, putting it in your ear is a crucial step: you have a clear idea of ​​what you want and you will think about them in the future.

Assess the work culture of your potential employer

If you work on Twitter (or in an industry obsessed with Twitter), look for and follow people who work for the organizations you want to work for. You will gain insight into the past and interests of the people who work for the “companies of your dreams” and soon realize that they are just people. The beauty of Twitter is that you can start any conversation you want. You can write someone’s article and tag it, or add one or two to your favorites to get on their radar. It’s also a good way to keep in touch with who is hiring or leaving. A word to the wise: do not tweet people greedily and do not ask directly for work – use the environment to search and collect information, do not cause inconvenience.

Meet and benefit other people

The job doesn’t hire people. People are hiring people. So … go meet people. Depending on where you live, there are likely to be networking activities as well as training courses, classes, or conversations that can lead you to contact people who might hire you or connect you with someone who can.

After the company he worked for collapsed more than five years ago, Chris Winfield , an entrepreneur and life coach from New York, decided to step out of his computer and meet with at least one new person every day – in mostly in person, with others via Skype. , Zoom or by phone. “Instead of thinking about myself and what I can get, I started thinking about what I can give,” he says. “How can I help this person?” Everything changed after he developed deep relationships with people. “I’m also not afraid to talk about my fears about insecurity, and as a result, people will open up more with me, and this will lead to a deeper level of trust,” says Winfield. “Who can you recommend for work? Someone they trust. “

If you are looking for a job, you will hear about jobs that are not suitable for you. Don’t sit on them. Pass these tips on to your friends and acquaintances. (I send out a lot of emails with the subject: “In case of interest for you or someone you know!”) And connect some of the new people you meet if it seems like they might have a mutually beneficial relationship. A simple email can be of immense benefit to someone else.

Don’t be afraid of cold email

Guessing someone’s email address isn’t hard – a few quick Google searches will point you in the right direction. Before moving from Los Angeles to New York in 2014 to work in magazines, Audrey knew she needed support and decided to email 40 editors from her favorite magazines ( Vogue , Vanity Fair , Elle , New York Magazine, InStyle , Marie Claire , etc.) and tell them that she was in her senior year of college, studied journalism and writing, and that she would like to pursue a career as a journalist. “Then I listed all the places where I had my internship to show them that I take it very seriously. I ended my email by saying that I just wanted to know about their careers and if they could give me any advice, ”she says. About 18 editors or assistants agreed to meet or chat. But before moving to the city, she stayed in touch and added value by emailing people she met once a month, commenting on an article they wrote, or sending something they might find interesting. “I wouldn’t ask every time I tried to keep in touch about vacancies because I didn’t want to sound annoying, but sometimes I did,” she says.

The email turned into coffee meetings, which turned into two internships at New York Magazine and InStyle because the editors she met were thinking about it when the commercial opened. In the end, the assistant editor told her that she sent a two week notice, which led to Audrey getting her first job as a beauty assistant and now she works for a beauty site. While she was networking, she still looked through the career pages of Conde Nast, Hearst, and Time, but had never heard of her apply that way. Her advice to newcomers to cold mail: “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a response. Now I know that editors receive so many emails a day. First of all, they have a job, and those who are called to help you will return to you when they are free. ” If you are acting on the assumption that everyone is just busy, it’s easier not to hold a grudge.

At least try to be in a good mood.

Think about how you present yourself in social situations. People don’t often want to work with or help negative people. If you are not in sunny free space right now – and this is easy not to be! job search is stressful! – then at least try not to communicate your despair over the concert. When you talk about looking for a job, focus on the positive – new people you meet, interesting companies you study about – because that enthusiasm can attract more people who want to help you instead of quietly observing happening. exits from the room in which you are.

Email people earlier and more often

There are some digital gifts that are as good as an email that you don’t need to reply to. When you hear that a friend or former coworker has been promoted, send quick congratulations. When you hear that someone got fired, tell them how much you know it sucks, but what you know is that there is great opportunity for such a talented person. Then, when they get a new job, send them “good luck!” email. Do all this unconditionally. This is how you “communicate” and keep in touch with your connections without feeling rude. Plus, you can always ask them later on what their new position is – and who knows, maybe they’ll be hiring them in the future.

Say hello to everyone, not even people

It doesn’t matter if you don’t work with the development team, wish them good morning anyway. Recognizing the people or pets you work with can pay unexpectedly big dividends. “I was an aspiring writer, working as a receptionist and receptionist at an advertising agency. There was an executive producer who brought his French bulldog Patsy to work every day, ”says speechwriter Lacey Taylor . “Our conference rooms were in the hallway from the main office, so every time he went to a meeting, Patsy would follow him to the door and then wait for him to come back.”

Naturally, Taylor began bringing Patsy to her desk and paying attention to her while her owner was at meetings, which led to a friendship with the EP and eventually his wife, Patsy’s mom. “When the speechwriting company she worked for was looking for a new employee, I jumped at the chance,” says Taylor. “I’m now a speechwriter and junior creative director at a speechwriting agency, and Patsy’s parents are some of my closest friends. If I weren’t a dog lover, I might still be answering phone calls at an ad agency! »Friendliness – or carrying dog treats – pays off.

Follow up when you meet someone

You never know what kind of connection might help in the future. Bethany Hill got her current job after sitting down at the right wedding table. “A few years ago, my boyfriend (now the fiancé) was the fiancé at his college friend’s wedding in Canada, and I didn’t know anyone but him and the fiancé,” she says. “Since both were doing wedding duties all day, I ended up making friends at our dinner table, and one of them also worked in the tech startup world for a company called CommonBond.” Hill wasn’t looking for a job, but she joined LinkedIn after getting married because she was excited about the company’s mission to make higher education accessible. “[A year and a half] later, I saw a job posting at CommonBond that matched my qualifications. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to my contact and see if he thinks I’m a good fit too. He immediately sent my resume to our marketing executive and within 24 hours I had my first interview scheduled! “She has been supervising communications there for almost a year. Finally, the incentive to make friends during the “wedding season”.

Stay up to date

Social media makes it incredibly easy to stay relevant and the center of attention. This does not mean that you constantly post memes or filtered selfies, but a few posts here and there about your topics of interest or what you have been doing will help keep you with friends and colleagues. As entrepreneur Winfield notes, people are always watching, even if you think they are not. “Different people who don’t even necessarily interact with my posts or my videos will tell me, ‘I saw you doing this, can we talk about it? »» And these kickstarts are talking about a new concert.

Join Communities (both digital and IRL)

There are two ways of looking at finding a job: either it’s a competitive world with dogs, or there are people who really want to help or encourage others. Your job is to find these people through communities such as Ladies Get Paid , the workplace network and a series of events that are dedicated to helping women advance their interests at work. They have a robust Slack group with channels for work, gigs and collaborations, salary questions, or other career-related advice. Kerri Drapcho landed her current dream job as a freelancer as a senior designer at a brand social justice agency after seeing a job posting on Slack posted by her current boss. Drapcho wrote her a direct message; they met the next day.

“It was the FASTEST interview turn I have ever had, and since we were able to chat, I felt comfortable expressing frankly my excitement about the role,” says Drapcho, who started her new work. a few days later. “I think usually, especially as a freelancer, I get a little nervous accepting the role so quickly without having a lot of experience with the company or the mood of the people, but I definitely felt confident that it was a proven job ever since she was. published. a member of LGP ”. So go find your people. There are hundreds of Facebook groups for writers, entrepreneurs, and people in the tech community, and ConferCal can help you find conferences for your industry.

Consider short-term gigs with long-term benefits

When you’re looking for a full-time job, it’s easy to overlook temporary jobs, part-time jobs, or one-off assignments, but these can all translate into longer or more lucrative gigs. Plus, staying busy while looking for a job is another way to keep your sanity and stay financially afloat. Maggie McKenna has a background in brand strategy and research, but while applying for a full-time job, she responded to a holiday gift wrapping performance on Ladies Get Paid. That one-off performance expanded to a few weeks, and the flexible work allowed her to make money, continue interviewing, and meet new people before moving to Washington for a completely new permanent job that she eventually found.

“One-off” work can also turn into something unexpectedly long-term and conducive to career development. Jennifer Bryant , a copywriter and content creator, applied for a random ad on Craigslist back in 2011, leading to one of her best (and longest-running) clients. Bryant had an accountancy degree and started writing professional – she started writing content for the site, and that relationship expanded to managing a group of CEOs, moderating webinars, and writing video scripts. This is evidence of exploring all possible options. One temporary talk can be the basis for a fruitful working relationship.

If you’re still tempted by the traditional way of looking for a job – and it’s generally wise to keep an eye on industry listings even if you’re looking for other ways – keep checking Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or a job with a company. boards. But at the same time, if you spend a little more energy creating opportunities and connections, you will feel more active, in control, and empowered in your job search.

Oh, and did I already say that you have to be nice to everyone? Be kind to everyone. Career karma is real.


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