Graduate Series - Job hunting in the 21st century


I often kid about the fact that I will one day write a book about my struggle to get a job after graduation, but I really think that I will do it. It’s been 3 years now since graduation from my masters program, I have made great strides since then, like winning a seed fund to pilot a project, and got a full time job in a great company that gives me the flexibility to still work on my project/startup. To get to this point, I have sent over 150 job applications, been interviewed 10 times, and no job offers. In all fairness, I am not applying for any job, I am applying within a particular niche, which I realize may limit my options. However, I cannot settle, I get it 'all experiences are important', and you don’t want your resume to show that you are unemployed for too long or else it is a bad look, but the alternative seems much more daunting to me.


I have been told that the definition of insanity, I think but I could be wrong, is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. That was my conclusion with my exhaustive traditional online job application approach, it wasn’t paying off like I wanted too. In the past, I have always gotten opportunities through networking. I decided to go back to that strategy, but with the advice of a close friend of mine, I had to slightly shift gears in my networking strategy. This time, I had to be more intentional and strategic when networking to leverage a job with my top employer of choice. Here is what I did, and it is bearing more fruit than the old school online application route:


  1. Start by selecting your top 4-10 employer of choice
  2. Go on LinkedIn, identify 2-5 people within each company that hold positions that based on your past experience and education level, you too could hold that same position. For example, right now, I have a masters degree, and just over 5 years of experience in global health work, I will approach an associate or program officer, not the president or CEO.
  3. Send them an invite message “Hi, I came across your profile and would like to ask you to grab lunch/coffee/dinner/skype, so that I can learn more about your career trajectory that lead you to your role at X company”
  4. When meeting them for what some call an ‘informational interview’, come prepared with 3-5 insightful questions.
    • Questions must be tailed to the person you are meeting; google 'Forbes informational interview questions', focus on asking them about the company culture and their day-to-day job tasks - These are key information you’ll need to know during an interview, to better sell yourself and know key indicators that will assure you that your skill sets aligns with what the company needs and looks for in a new hire.
  5. At the end of the informational interview, diplomatically (don’t look too desperate) for them to refer you to their senior manager, someone in an authoritative position of hiring within the department of your choice.
  6. The following day, email them your resumé with a thank you note. Again, follow up with reminding them to refer you to their hiring manager. Preferably, they’ll CC’ you into the email with their supervisor, follow up directly.


When meeting the supervisor, dig further into hinting that you want to work for the company, and sell your skills and added value to the company based on what the first employee that you met told you. This type of relationship building, and getting your name out there, will lead you to your dream job.


I hope this helps!

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