Just get a job?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been kept pretty busy and unfortunately have been MIA in terms of my blog!

I experienced my first ever Portland snow – I LOVE snow, so for me this was great!  Check it out!

I continued to apply for marketing/communications/PR jobs and watched a little Olympic figure skating in between.  I’ve always been jealous of the fluidity and skill these ladies and gents have, not to mention the amazingly intricate skating outfits!

Ashley-Wagner-Hot-Sexy-2014-Winter-Olympics-Sochi-Figure-Skating

I also celebrated a few milestones with my wonderful boyfriend (we had our second Valentine’s day and our first anniversary within the last week or so)!

Excuses, excuses, I know!

Other than work, my job search is what’s kept me most busy and I’ve gained some interesting insights in the process.  Currently I work retail – not the most glamorous, but it’s a job.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for customers to comment on how my degree (which I earned less than two months ago) “obviously didn’t pay off” because “if it had, you wouldn’t still be working retail”.  Excuse me!?  I never ceased to be amazed by how blunt and completely rude total strangers can be.  These people know nothing about me, other than the limited information I share with them while I spend 30-60 minutes helping them with their purchase, and they clearly haven’t taken a look at the current employment situation in our nation.  I’m always tempted to snap back that I’m actively searching for a job where I can apply my interests and education, and an Always Sunny in Philadelphia gif frequently comes to mind:

I know I talked a little about how frustrating it is to come across entry-level positions requiring 3-5 years of prior experience in a previous post, but since then I’ve observed more and more with each posting I review, each application I submit, and each interview I attend.

Job hunting can be…frustrating, exhausting, and depressing.

Searching through job boards, company websites, Craigslist, and anywhere else you can find job postings, is time-consuming – filtering by field(s), looking for postings with titles that contain anything relevant, reading each post to see if everything matches up and you’re qualified, and deciding whether the salary (if listed) is fair and enough to pay the bills, only to come out the other end with a mere handful of potential jobs.  So you go back again, searching a little more freely and being a little less picky.  Search after search and day after day, this routine becomes monotonous, frustrating, and frankly, discouraging.  Pair that with the fact that you (probably) aren’t going to hear back from all (or many) of the companies you’ve submitted applications to, and things can start to look pretty bleak.

Over the past few months, my job search and rejections from a few coveted positions has at times made me feel pretty depressed –  my mom suffers from depression and I’m always aware that I’m potentially at risk – so I found a few ways to avoid letting the job hunt drag me down.  Taking breaks to go for a walk, clean, bake, re-pot a plant, or get crafty with a DIY project; just getting out of the house for fresh air or immersing myself in a creative or hands on endeavor has helped. A lot.

Valentine's baking

I also try to make sure to treat myself – for every x number of quality applications I submit I reward myself with a brownie or spend time giving myself a manicure.

photo 3-6

Basically, even though the job search can leave me feeling downtrodden, I always try to balance it with other activities so I don’t get burnt out or overly discouraged.

Interviews provide a lot of insight. Also, don’t let them freak you out too much.

Nerves are good – to a certain extent.  In my experience, if you’re not a little nervous, you’re probably not prepared, or you think you’ve got it in the bag – and a cocky attitude might not be the best attitude to take into an interview.  While a few butterflies are healthy, letting yourself get overly worked up before an interview can be detrimental.  The biggest piece of advice – other than a few deep breaths – that has been invaluable to helping me balance my interview nerves? An interview is as much an opportunity for you to learn about the company and the job as it is for the company to learn about you.  Every interview I’ve ever been to, from retail to professional jobs, has provided an opportunity for me to turn the tables on the interviewer and ask my own questions.  So show up prepared with a couple of key questions that will not only answer the questions you have about the company and the position, but also help you determine if the company is a good fit for you and your career goals.  I went to an interview recently and after speaking with the interviewer, asking my questions, and reflecting on what I had learned, I felt confident that, while the job had looked promising on paper and was a phenomenal position, it did NOT fit what I was looking for in a career.

Follow directions. Double check everything.

Read application directions carefully.  If it says to mention a certain phrase in the subject line, do it – no matter how weird the request might seem.  If it asks for your application materials in PDF, convert those .docx files.  Another huge thing I’ve learned along the way: research the company, figure out who your audience is and tailor each cover letter and resume (and hopefully interview conversation) to individual postings – if a company is very formal and buttoned-up use a more formal tone in your communication and demeanor, whereas if the company is more laid-back and creative, find a way to incorporate that.  I cannot stress the importance of tailoring your application materials to individual postings!  No two jobs are the same – and if they are, the companies are probably different, so find that difference (even if it’s small) and work it to your advantage!  Part of this individualization also involves proofreading!! Double and triple check your spelling and grammar (spell check and grammar check aren’t perfect, trust me), the dates you list on your resume, and – if possible – have someone proofread your documents before sending them off; one slip up might be what leads an interviewer to throw out your application, and no one wants that.

Smile.

No matter how rough things seem, or how disparaging the job hunt can be, don’t forget to smile – on the phone setting up interviews, during interviews, and every day!  Life is beautiful, even when things look bleak. Go watch a sunrise/sunset, take a walk, visit with family and friends, cook a sinfully delicious meal, and eat one too many gummy bears, because things could be worse.

Anyone else out there on the hunt for a new job?  Let me know what works for you and how you’re getting through!

Pet Peeves: Social Media Edition

I love social media. Sure, it has its downfalls – like face-to-face interactions overtaken by technology, anonymity that makes bullies feel brash, less personal privacy…the list could go on forever if we wanted it to. But social media also has a lot of great benefits, like connecting people from around the world, sharing stories and pictures, opening doors to what the rest of the world has to offer, and it gives us the ability to connect with our favorite companies and brands.

Many of my social media pet peeves arise from how people use social media.  Dozens of game requests bogging down my notifications, poor use of grammar and spelling, hashtags on Facebook (am I the only one bothered by this!?), redundant content…just some of the things that tend to grind my social media gears.

One such example: I have a friend or two who consistently and frequently post complaints about their jobs, their coworkers, everything and anything they have on their plate.  I get it – it always feels great to vent a little and let out some stress and frustration – but I personally don’t think that doing so on social media is the route to take.

Why you ask?

Well, for starters, you never know who could stumble across one of your heat-of-the-moment grumblings.  What if it was a coworker you had complained about? Or your boss? A future employer?  Are those really the messages you want to send to the people in your life? Is that really the professional identity you want to establish on the Internet?  If we’re being honest, I know I get incredibly annoyed by friends whose complaints constantly pepper my various news feeds – I get it, no one wants to have to work, but if you’re blessed enough to have a  job in the current economy, recognize that while you may not have the job of your dreams, you have something giving you income and experience.  Unless you’ve just won the lottery and are set for life, no one should stick their nose up at either of these!

My advice for unhappy employees:

Take a few deep breaths or head outside for a walk.  Afterwards, ask yourself whether what was bothering you is worth complaining about.  Chances are, it probably isn’t.

Find a body to vent to; your friend, your roommate, your mom, your dog, anyone who you can trust not to broadcast what you’re saying.

Get a journal – not a blog – a real, paper journal and vent there.  Then go back a few days later and read what you wrote. You’ll probably realize that whatever was frustrating you was pretty insignificant in the scheme of things.

Consider addressing your discontent – rationally and calmly – with the people directly involved, whoever they may be.  Communicate!! After all, they might not know that they’re causing you stress.

And, if you find you’re still unhappy…it might be time to search for a new job.

What social media habits drive you crazy and momentarily make you want to cancel your accounts and go off the grid? Let me know what your social media pet peeves are!

Examining Social Media in Organizations

My last semester of graduate school has arrived! Despite my excitement about this forthcoming accomplishment, this last hurdle to freedom means that I have to write my capstone – I shudder when I remember the frantic feeling that was present when I wrote my undergraduate thesis.  I sat down a few weeks ago to hash out ideas for my capstone; what topic was I going to want to examine, study, and write about for four months?  I’ve always been really intrigued by social media – its uses, applications, culture, all of it. Over the course of my MS program, I’ve become really interested in organizational communication. Ta-da! I had found a basis for my topic: social media use in social movements.  Now I was left to whittle down to a more detailed topic and figure out what methods I wanted to use while exploring my topic.  A few cups of coffee and a slice of cheesecake later and I had my plan, complete with a title.

The Digital Wave: How Social Movements Take Flight on Social Media

The title is pretty self-explanatory, but I want to examine how specific social movements use social media to manage their identity and accomplish their goals.  Do social movements use social media effectively? Are social movement’s able to accomplish their desired goals and outcomes by using social media? Do they post in conjunction with ‘on the ground’ efforts or on social media alone? Do they monitor their own posts and the posting of their friends to ensure “accuracy” in the eyes of readers?

To answer all of these questions, I decided to use both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data.  I will be conducting interviews with volunteers. I will also be distributing a survey to gather answers to questions regarding social media use in social movements.  My goals are really to dive into the topic and examine it under a lens of interpersonal communication and network theory.  I want to see how individuals that are a part of social movements use and prohibit social media compared to their personal life and compared to individuals that are a part of different social movements.  I’m curious as to whether it varies industry to industry (i.e. are some industries more prone to have activists on social media), and I hope to find out how an individual’s social media activism might shape the movement, as well as the success of the movement.

So, it’s time to hit the ground – and the library – running!

Social Media Goals: I Didn’t Even Know I Had Any

Over the last few years I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want my social media profiles to look and what message I want them to convey, on both a personal and professional level.  I want profiles to be inspirational, entertaining, and representative of my personality and myself.  Alternately, on a professional level I want my profiles to convey my skills, work ethic, creativity, and motivation.  Ideally I’d like my personal and professional goals to be accomplished on separate profiles; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all profiles I want to keep personal, whereas LinkedIn is ideal for helping me launch my professional development.  Realistically I know that rarely is any situation black and white; I expect that future employers might search for my Facebook to gauge who I am and how I might represent myself as a brand representative on my personal social media profiles.

My social media goals are to maintain social media profiles that are representative of my personal self and my professional self without becoming unbalanced in favor of one self or the other.  I want to be able to have a potential employer to look at my personal profiles and see not only who I am as a person, but who I am as an employee.  I think personality can play a lot into whether an individual fits into a certain firm; if a firm is very serious and buttoned up, someone exuberant and creative might not feel comfortable on a daily basis.  To achieve this, I’ll need a plan. What social media platforms will I use?  Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog quickly come to mind as bi-purpose platforms.  Twitter, perhaps?  I find this particular platform less open to use as a dual role platform; my general feeling is that a Twitter account is either personal – and contains jokes or comments potentially not suited for work and potential employers – or used professionally as a vehicle for advertising, or to reference industry relevant news and articles.  Pinterest, Instagram, Vine? There’s potential there, although again, my sense is that these platforms may be harder to use to represent two separate, yet intertwined, identities.

There are dozens of other social media platforms out there; if I got creative I might be able to find a way to use each of them for both personal and professional aspirations.  I’m very interested in pursuing a career in either marketing or conflict management for organizations.  I know that any career in marketing will deal heavily in social media and digital advertising, given recent evolution of the marketing industry as part of the digital age; it’s probably about time I start exploring more social media platforms – learning about them, trying them out, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

Follow noramf25 on WordPress.com

Connect