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!

Figuring Out the Secrets of SEO

In nearly every class I’ve taken, I have heard the term SEO used at least once, but no matter how many times I’ve had it explained to me I’m still spinning trying to make sense of it.  Search Engine Optimization. It’s an important hammer to keep in the toolbox for many websites, blogs, and companies looking to succeed.  So, I figured it was high time to do my own digging and get my fingers around the neck of this beast.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid search results. Typically, the higher ranked on the search results page and the more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.  SEO can help you position your website properly to be found at the most critical points in the buying process or when people need your site.  During all of my research and digging, it seemed as though there isn’t one right way to optimize your website for search; it takes a lot of trial and error, combined with a certain intuition as to what will work and what won’t.  While this only adds to my confusion, it is reassuring to know that there’s not a cookie cutter mold for using SEO to:

  • Have the best opportunity to rank highly in Google and Bing
  • Earn traffic from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
  • Be worthy of links and shares from across the web
  • Build your brand’s perception, trust, and potential to convert visitors

I had the privilege to hear from an SEO expert recently and while I have a somewhat better understanding of SEO and how it works, I really believe that it takes savvy, practice, and a lot of work to be successful at it!  And get this, there’s no real science to it; yes, there’s a whole algorithm and a ton of systems that can help you figure it out along the way, but it depends on your industry, your product, your audience, how you want your audience to perceive your brand or product, the list of potential factors is innumerable… So, here goes nothing: I’m going to dive in and give SEO a go on my own blog!

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