A RealWorld University student writes:

I am a recent college graduate. I have an MBA in MIS & Finance and have been looking for a job for some months now. I have been unable to get any positive responses. Can you give me some advice?
Dear Student:

I really feel for you in your situation. Many college graduates find themselves facing similar frustrations. All I can tell you is that there are many ways you can solve your problem. That’s the good news; however, the bad news is that whatever you try may not work as fast as you would like.

In my opinion, job hunting is about purpose, persistence, positioning, and patience (that’s assuming that you’re qualified for the position for which you’re applying). Therefore, the advice that I suggest centers on those four areas:

1. Purpose.

Nine times out of ten, your first lead may not end up in a job offer. Even if it did, that doesn’t necessarily mean you would want to accept the job anyway (I don’t care how desperate you are). Therefore, before you start looking for a job, determine exactly the kind of job you want. In reality, you’re not looking for a job anyway, you’re looking to establish and build a career. They say that a J.O.B. means just over broke; I’m sure that’s not what you want.

So before you go on your search, ask yourself at least the following four questions:

What kind of job would I be willing to work for free (if money was not an issue)?

What kind of environment would I like to work in (outdoors, indoors, in a group, by myself, laid back, professional, etc.)?

What kind of people would I like to work for, around, and with (similar values and beliefs or diverse and divergent opinions)?

Where would I like to work (in the Southeast, on the West Coast, in Europe)?

These questions should at least get you started.

2. Persistence.

When it comes to job hunting, you’ve got to put your “I WILL” to the test, not just your “IQ.” There are thousands of “qualified” job seekers out there. And trust me, I don’t care how good you are, there’s always somebody better. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will get the job. You have to be hungry and persistence. Don’t ever give up! Keep knocking on doors (the ones you’ve hopefully pre-selected in your search — remember, purpose is the key).

If you knock long enough on anyone’s door, they’ll eventually have to let you in or call the cops. Don’t worry, nobody has ever been arrested for persistent job seeking.

I will share one strategy that a college friend of mine tried after he graduated. He identified the company (Ted Turner Broadcasting) he wanted to work for and the position he wanted, which was in public relations at CNN (remember, purpose).

He moved to Atlanta, and started knocking on the company’s door. Several times, they either rejected him or ignored him (I believe for more than six months). But he wouldn’t give up. He “knew” he wanted to work for CNN. So he told them that he would work there for “free” doing anything and everything they needed done.

He said that if they didn’t like him, they could fire him, but if they did, he would like to be offered a position in their PR department. He told them that they could take as long as they wanted to evaluate his performance.

Well, to make a long story short, he did everything they asked of him (and then some). A few months later they offered him a job in the PR Department, and he’s been there ever since (8 years now)! You have to be persistent.

3. Positioning.

You have to put yourself in the right place at the right time. This was my way of getting a job. I never liked looking through the newspaper and classified ads for jobs (the best positions are usually the ones that are not advertised), and I hated to send resumes. Therefore, I networked with my family, friends, past employers, professors, and acquaintances, and I let them ALL know “exactly” the type of job I was looking for (remember, purpose).

Then I followed up with each and every one of them once a month. I’m not saying this is the quickest way to landing a job, but it always seemed to work for me — quite easy I might add.

Before I knew it, one of my contacts would invariably give me a call and say “Joe, I just heard about a position that you might be interested in.” I usually followed up the lead with a phone call, set up an appointment (referring to the friend who gave me the lead), and usually got a job offer before they ever posted it in the newspaper (that’s what I mean by positioning).

Every job I got after my first job out of college, I always received an offer BEFORE they posted the opening publicly (including two teaching positions at universities). Note: I do extremely well in interviews (that’s another topic). Also, I always made sure to thank the person who gave me the lead.

4. Patience.

This is a difficult one to swallow when you’re out of school, with a degree, broke, and jobless. But you’ve heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue.” It’s true! I think if you are purposeful in your search, persistent, and the timing is right, all you need is patience. I usually spend my quiet time waiting in prayer. Sometimes all you can do is all you can do, and you have to ask for divine intervention. Hey, it works for me.

Use your down time after you’ve pursued your leads, to search for new ones, follow up on old ones, and to establish new contacts.

Yes, job hunting can be a waiting game, and very frustrating. But if you know what you’re looking for, persistent enough not to give up, willing to position yourself, and exercise patience, you will eventually find the job you’re looking for. Trust me, with an MBA in M.I.S. and Finance, you’re too talented NOT to succeed. Keep the faith.

Living Purposefully — Prof. Martin

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