Job hunting during the holidays can make anyone say “Bah, Humbug” especially when looking in the ever-competitive market of Austin technology roles. Not only are many checked out of the day-to-day office mindset, but most employers have also drained their current year budgets and must wait until January for funds to be refurbished and redistributed. From personal job search experience, mentoring others as they attempt to break into the industry and now being in a hiring manager role at a digital design agency, I have developed a well-rounded approach to the hunt for creative jobs with a creative methodology.
It’s easy to see an interesting job opening and feel that you must immediately apply. By dropping everything to apply to an individual listing, you could be losing efficiency as well as get yourself into a dangerous pattern of allowing applications to take over every moment of your life with the probability of less concentration and lower quality results. An alternative approach is to assign two 4-hour blocks a week to send out applications. When you see a great opportunity, store the link and any additional notes (i.e. contact information, references, the way you found the listing) as a note in a “To Apply” category.
A great resource for this could be a Trello board. A free version of Trello is available for individual users. Once stored, you can come back to it during your next scheduled window of application time. It’s been said that the best days to send out applications are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This is when the Monday pile of emails and to-dos have been cleared but recipients aren’t yet in wrapping up the week mode. By having a list of openings to apply to in specified time period, you will be able to systematically create a workflow with your mind fully committed to the task at hand since you’ve dedicated your time to this specific effort.
It’s always helpful to have an insider whenever possible. For any applications you have deemed worthy of collecting in order to move forward with, you should search for a member of that organization with a similar role. For this, the LinkedIn search tool will be your best friend. Offering to buy a coffee in exchange for some insight on someone’s daily professional duties along with thoughts on company culture is an easy way to gather intel and grow your network. It may be intimidating to reach out to a complete stranger, but the absolute worst that could happen is that they say “no”.
In most rejection cases, they will just ignore the message, and you won’t even have to go through the process of being denied. But from what I’ve seen within the industry, many are happy to share their experiences in an effort to help a budding artist. On this note, it is also valuable to reach out to a company you may be aspiring toward, but that may not have a current job opening. You could learn a lot on when to expect openings and what to do in preparation of that opening that will set you ahead of the pack. On the other side of the coin, you could learn some aspects of the organization that will make you change your mind about them entirely prior to putting forth the effort to fight for a role offering.
How can you remain productive outside of your scheduled application time? Don’t forget to keep your skillset agile and growing. In the same Trello board (or other task management tool of your choosing), you can create a column for “Reads and Resources”. Give yourself two new 4-hour windows in your weekly schedule for continuing your education. If you find yourself stumped in an interview or keep hearing an industry term that leaves you with a blank stare, create a card on the specific topic and search for links on the subject. This is also a place for you to quickly store resources that others recommend to you without the fear of forgetting it before having a chance to absorb the information. If a portfolio is involved with your job hunt, this is a great chance to store the never-ending update efforts.
Through all of these daunting tasks, never forget to take care of yourself. If you burn yourself out before you even land that dream role, then you won’t be in any condition to appreciate it once it begins. It’s easy for self-care to feel unproductive, but know that you are setting yourself up to have more successful and meaningful endeavors along the way. While plugging in the aforementioned task blocks in your calendar, go ahead and add one hour a day for some self-love. This may come in the form of exercise, enjoying the outdoors or trying a new craft or hobby. Try to avoid any “veg” activities during this time though. Know that you have dedicated this section of your day as a recharge of inner spirit and brain power.
At the end of the day, it’s all about your attitude and how you approach your efforts. When in doubt, review the advice given above and happy job hunting!