An Administrative Assistant for a non-profit dance organization provides details on how she found her job. Furthermore, she reflects on how she would mend her professional experience.
My Job Search Experience
My current position is Administrative Assistant for a non-profit dance organization. Initially, I applied for a temporary job through an agency that advertised on Craigslist. The agency placed me on my current position, and after a few months of working at my company, I was hired as a permanent employee. Before being hired for this position, I had been searching for a job about three months. During that time I had taken courses and seminars to keep my skills sharp. I had also done some volunteer work to fill in the unemployment gaps on my resume.
Although technology didn’t play a huge role in my recent job search, I did use a few programs to help with networking. Before my current position, I worked as a volunteer for another non-profit arts company. I found out the Administrative Assistant at that company had recently left, and I offered to volunteer to cover for her until they found her replacement. I found out about that position from one of my contacts on LinkedIn. After that I used a few job boards to find out about other non-profits that were hiring. I did use popular search engines for job searches and to research potential employers.
If I were applying for the exact same job tomorrow with a different company, I would take a few steps to make myself stand out from the other applicants. It may seem difficult to believe, but many people still do not research the company they want to work in. To begin with, I would create a really unique cover or introductory letter. I would try to imagine what every other applicant would say in their cover letter and do the opposite.
For example, instead of listing my experience, which may appear boring, I would cite specific examples of things I can do to improve the business. Instead of ‘organized and efficient’, I would write ‘I can re-organize your files, streamline your scheduling system and answer important phone calls–all at the same time’. I think of cover letters as mini-sales pitches. Another trick I learned is a bit of psychology that seems to be very effective. I get a copy of the job description and tailor my cover letter to match their description. If they say they’re looking for someone with excellent communication skills, I write “I have excellent communication skills from my background in English and Journalism. I also write for several publications.” It seems to work well.
Like most professionals, I’m very mobile. E-mail is essential to connect with other professionals; social networking sites are a great way to increase the number of possibilities. I connect with other professionals during networking socials every month. We arrange those on social networking sites; therefore I would say those are the most effective at helping me connect with the necessary people to obtain the right positions.
I had one really great interview for a position with a financial firm. It went well because I was very prepared and I had compiled a great list of questions to ask the interviewer. He was very impressed with my knowledge of the company, and by the end of the interview I was pretty certain he was going to offer me the position. I learned from this experience doing your homework goes a long way. I always think of the job interview as a two-sided process. Yes, they have a great job to offer, but I’m also determining if they are the type of company that is worthy of what I can bring to the organization. So it’s almost like I’m interviewing the company just as much as they’re interviewing me.
The single most important thing that I learned on my own about the professional job search process is that it’s beneficial to think outside of the box. My dream job did not come in the package that I thought it would. I had to work for free to get my foot in the door. Then I paid my dues as a temporary employee before I was hired. I guess there is no direct and surefire route to the perfect job. I think a lot of people have a title or type of company in mind and they look specifically for that. I always keep my mind open to possibilities I may not have considered.
I did not use my university’s Career Services program and I think I missed out on a valuable resource. They are one of the best sources of networking on the campus as they deal with employers on a regular basis. They also offer a mock interview service, which is great for someone who is preparing to go on their first job interview. On my campus the Career Services Office also offered resume review services, which are extremely helpful. You wouldn’t believe how many people miss out on opportunities because of the errors they didn’t fix on their resume.
If I could mend my professional or career experience, I would create a blueprint of what I wanted career-wise and then work toward specific goals. In some of my past positions, I just worked to be working. I didn’t have a clear-cut goal. In some of these jobs, I quickly found myself unfulfilled and disenfranchised. If I could go back in time, first I would define what I hoped to gain from these positions.
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