Lessons I Learned While On The Job Hunt Post College

 by Janay Smith


Whether you’re facing it now or later, it’s no secret that the job search is probably one of the most intimidating and nerve-racking experiences of your young professional life. And as I’ve navigated through the anxieties of interviewing and playing the waiting game, it came clear to me that the path guiding me to my “dream job” may not be so linear. With three weeks left in my final semester of graduate school, the advice I’ve received from mentors, colleagues, and loved ones are, to my surprise, beginning to make more and more sense. Before you throw your hands up in frustration and claim that you have given up, I urge you to remain positive as I share some key takeaways from my personal experiences when on the job hunt.

1. Your dream job may not be what it seems.

My entire life I grew up with every intention of being a physician. However, what I thought would be a dream turned out to be a pure delusion. The psychological hardships of the medical profession had proven themselves to be a mountain I simply couldn’t climb. In truth, I felt the work to be very impotent - it was all black and white with little wiggle room to cater to my creative spirit. The good news is that I wasn’t completely at a loss. “Another myth of the dream job is that it’s the be-all and end-all. Dreams are adjustable.” These words come from the wise Julia Millay Walsh from MY DOMAINE. And it’s true! If the day comes where you realize that maybe the career you dreamt of since you were little, isn’t your dream, don’t panic and remember that this is a good thing. It’s a realization that will lead you to your highest happiness potential which is an incomparable achievement.

2. Your resume is too general.

Let’s be real —  if you’re in a creative industry and you want to stand out, you need a resume that debuts your skills as well as your personality. Just take a look at the success of Amber Grimes, a college dropout who landed a senior managerial role at Spotify before age 30. Her secret? Her resume.

“I stayed up one night until five in the morning working on my resume. I wanted to create something that speaks to who I really am because this time around I wanted to be hired because I’m creative and colorful and a little bit crazy. And, I wanted them to know that off the bat, because if they hire me, then they like me for who I am already,” said Grimes in an interview with Forbes.

3. Don’t harp over job titles (and salary).  

I have had the pleasure of having four incredible women from Smashbox Studios mentor me through one of the most pivotal times in my professional career. One thing they’ve stressed to me is to not stress and get caught up in the idea of the perfect title and the perfect salary.  “Don’t worry about the title. Just get your foot in the door...” said Stephanie Schneider, Executive Director of Consumer Marketing at Smashbox Cosmetics, “Work your butt off, establish your value, and the money will come.”

4. Send thank you cards — even if things don’t necessarily go your way.

 This is crucial. Whether it was the worst interview you could ever imagine or the best one and you’re already planning lunch dates with your coworkers, always always send a thank you note. It would be up to your discretion and evaluation of the company whether or not the note is handwritten or sent in an email, however, even Forbes knows the importance of thank you notes and gives the following reasons why you should do so:

  1. It’s the right thing to do (duh).

  2. Jimmy Fallon does it (and Jimmy Fallon can do no wrong).

  3. It sets you apart (along with your amazing, creative resume).

  4. Gratitude is good for the brain (and for the soul).

  5. Handwritten letters perpetuate a very important part of our culture.

5. When one door closes, another one is bound to open.

So you didn’t get the job you wanted — that’s perfectly okay. I’ve been rejected countless times and it's in the exact moment when you feel like nothing is out there for you that an opportunity presents itself. Whatever you do, don’t give up. You are destined for greatness and your hardwork will yield an incredible return on investment. Your education is valid, your experiences are valid, YOU are valid. Remember that and the job you were meant to have will come when you least expect it.