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Most advice on how to get a job is filled with drab cliches that only make you feel worse the more you hear them and the longer you search.
Kind of like when someone tells you to just “be yourself” on a first date.
In my career, I’ve cracked the code on how to get a job at Google, Eventbrite, Fox, and Disney (twice). So I can definitely say I’ve learned a thing or two about how to get a job. And I can tell you for sure, it didn’t involve blasting my resume to thousands of listings on Monster.com.
In fact, 80% of the work to get a job happens before you ever even send your resume out. Below I outline the exact process I used to get a job at Google, Disney, Fox Studios, and more.
How Can You Get a Job in 2021?
1. Start with Your Purpose
- What do you hope to contribute to the world?
- How do you enjoy helping other people?
Let’s address the problem with ‘Follow Your Passion’. What is passion anyway? We can all be passionate or dispassionate from one moment to the next about something. It is intangible.
Instead, try: “Craft your passion,” or even better “Let you passion follow you,” Passion is often earned with mastery.
I use the word “purpose”, because if you find a way to contribute value, the passion for what you do will come.
Can you find a job that isn’t aligned with your purpose and values?
Will you be happy doing it? Unlikely.
Every job (or business) is going to become a slog at some point. What will get you through the rough days isn’t the paycheck, but the purpose.
To reflect on your purpose, write your own obituary.
How did you live your life? What are people saying about you at your funeral? How will you be remembered? Maybe this is dark, but it might be just the medicine you need to shake you awake.
Remember, this is your life’s work! This is where you will spend at least 30% of your precious time on earth. Let’s make it count.
Whodda thunk that the ONE skill I learned in college that proved to be valuable and profitable – was the endless hours I spent procrastinating on Facebook.
When I graduated college, nobody cared about my passion for film. But, everybody did need to figure out how this Internet thing worked. Helping people build their own website or digital brand made me light up because I knew how much of a difference it could make for business or personal success.
My passion for what I do is driven by the purpose of helping. I enjoy teaching, coaching, collaborating, and inspiring others.
While job demand can come and go, your purpose is flexible enough to evolve with the fast paced demands of a changing world and economy.
My purpose as a storyteller has allowed me to fluidly morph into new roles throughout my career.
To tell stories, and empower other people to tell their own, I have been a film producer, author, book coach, UX designer, digital media savant, and content strategist. These days, I use my podcast, YouTube channel, and this blog to tell stories, and give a platform to others.
2. Determine your Value
“Vocations can be shape-shifters, outlets for one’s craft that don’t necessarily take on a stable or specified form.” Steve Rose, PhD
The book that launched my career is What Color is Your Parachute? I read the book page by page and did every exercise with deep and thorough detail. Doing this self-reflection deep dive is key. It will give you a North Star direction to follow. It is also the perfect prep work that will empower you to communicate your value and purpose in interviews.
The end result of this book will give you a “flower” (as pictured below). Each category in the flower involves multiple worksheet exercises to circulate your best interests and skills to the top.
I highly suggest you buy the book and create your own flower to help you define what kind of work you will thrive in. You’ll also be surprised to discover how much you really do have to offer to the person who is lucky enough to hire you.
To determine your value, ask:
- What are you bringing to the table?
- How are you impacting your employer’s bottom line?
- How are you solving their problem?
Even if your role can’t be directly connected to monetary value, you are there for an important reason. Define what that is.
Can’t figure out how to get a job?
3. Make Your Own!
This is my favorite tip. Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission. If you love doing something, just START. Trust me, the world will take notice.
Emily Weiss started the blog Into the Gloss in 2010 to showcase her writing and share her passion for beauty and self care. In less than a decade, that blog morphed into the billion dollar business known as Glossier.
In fact, the #1 piece of career advice I have gleaned from super successful power players is to simply start blogging.
Want to try it for yourself? Click here. to setup a blog a get free domain,
Looking back, all of the passion projects and side hustles I pursued eventually lead to a successful position. After writing a book on digital media, I was hired at a tech media and learning company. From hosting a women’s business conference, I was hired at Eventbrite, just to name a few examples.
When people as me “How can you get a job at Google?” this is the story I tell:
Getting a job at Google by selling antler headbands on Etsy?
On a whim years ago, I started selling handmade couture headpieces on Etsy. While this is one of my strangest business adventures to date, I believe this is a reason (if not THE reason) I was able to get a job at Google’s emerging wearable fashion brand.
If you had told me that my random Etsy shop would someday turn into an opportunity at Google, I would have told you, you are crazy. But, looking back it makes sense.
Like attracts like. That means, if you give yourself a job as (for example) a fashion designer, you will naturally start to attract professional opportunities and people with the same interest.
Google is notorious for scouting entrepreneurial self starters. Employees at Google are even given a “20% project” outside of their typical duties, as an effort to encourage professional growth. In fact, many of the company’s successful ventures began as employee side projects.
When I was interviewing for Google, this project allowed me to convey my self-initiative, first-hand experience, and personal interest in fashion.
*Full Disclosure: At Google, Disney, and on The Simpson’s I worked as a full-time contractor, which is different than being a full time, permanent employee.
Stop selling yourself short, and…
4. SELL YOURSELF
Again, the What Color Is Your Parachute flower will show you how many incredible skills and abilities you have.
Even if you aren’t feeling confident (yet) here are some exercises that can help:
- Create a portfolio and “Wins” folder of accomplishments
- Fake it Til You Make It
- Write and tell you career story
- Check out this post I wrote on how to be more confident
- Even if your story has yet to be written, write it yourself!
5. Find your “Champions”
Rally an army to help you by telling everyone what you are looking for. Or even better, ask if they can introduce you to someone who can help.
You can tap into your support network to:
- Schedule ‘informational interviews’ to explore roles and industries with people already doing it
- Conduct or record a mock interview
- Get multiple eyes and feedback on your resume
- Find an existing employee connection that can vouch for you to bypass gatekeepers
You never know who’s going to have a cousin that knows a guy. Drumming up support for your search will get people excited and involved to help.
“Attend at least one event per week, and make one quality connection at each event that you have a follow-up 1:1 meeting with. Start planting seeds now. Seek out people who manage a department you’d consider working within and ask for an informational interview. Sometimes the difference between who gets the job and who doesn’t, assuming two equally qualified candidates, is whom you share an alumni network with,” – Stephanie Thoma
No network? No problem.
Here is the real secret sauce of how I was able to get in the room with many big name companies and heavy hitters.
Offer your services for free, ideally to someone who you find successful.
The free work I did at the beginning of my career was more than compensated for in future opportunities. The people I did this solid for became ‘champions’ for me for several years, for which I am forever grateful.
The Recession Proof Grad by Charlie Hoehn articulates this technique in detail.
I took a free gig as a Production Assistant when I first moved to Los Angeles. The producer who recruited me also happened to be a career coach AND the casting assistant on The Simpsons. I didn’t know this when I accepted the role. I was just seeking to help out and deliver value, while earning some hard won resume experience in the process.
As a show of gratitude for my work, this producer helped me revamp my resume AND brought me on The Simpson’s for work.
Another Producer whose set I volunteered on continued on to connect me with new opportunities and hired me on film sets for years to come. We are still good friends to this day.
By the way, it is one thing to deliver a sample of free work at the very beginning of your career, when you are cold calling a high profile company or individual, or after you have been on an interview.
For some reason these days it is common practice for companies to ask people to do assignments prior to an interview.
Here is why I typically decline and walk away on that request:
- You are shooting yourself in the foot. Delivering top notch work requires an in depth understanding of the company’s unique goals, stakeholders, and an array of other intricacies. It is impossible to know these things and deliver quality work without at least meeting with the team first.
- Your work can be stolen. Sadly, many companies often request this so they can use your creative ideas and then not hire you.
- This is also often a “filter” mechanism. Companies who make this are either not respectful of your time, or serious about you as a candidate. What does that say about the working relationship to come?
- It’s like a someone expecting you to put out on the first date. Or the equivalent of those guys on Tinder who ask ‘Want to be friends with benefits?’ and your response it ‘But we aren’t even friends yet…’
After a few years into your career, you should have built up a strong portfolio of work that speaks for itself, so you can hopefully forgo this request.
6. Be the Bacon!
I’m not talking about breakfast food, unfortunately. You know the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon? Try to be Kevin Bacon by building your own 6 degree network.
Let’s be real: adding someone on LinkedIn means nothing. Digital networking is only valuable if it turns into real person relationships and opportunities.
How to approach successful people in a way that will actually resonate and last:
- Comment regularly on their blog or social media posts
- Say thank you or compliment their work. Bonus points if you can cite how their work has helped you
- Subscribe to their email list, and reply back to one of their emails
- Offer to help for free
- Purchase something they have put out there, and leave a review or feedback
- Create something for them – anything from a personalized gift to a business plan proposal
- Start a blog or podcast, and offer to feature people you admire
- Request a quote for an article
7. Get “Woo Woo”
I don’t care what anyone says. Job hunting can be a grind. It can be thankless and discouraging. Sometimes, the single thing that separates successful people from the rest is the ability to just stay in the game and endure grueling rejection. Or at least, that’s my secret!
You CAN do hard things. But, to maintain endurance you must nurture your own psychology. Your success will directly correlate with your ability to believe in yourself. Above all else, you must train yourself to stay positive when things look bleak.
Everyone does this differently.
Some people chose to apply for jobs by waking up at 7am every morning and putting on a suit as if they were going to work. I am not one of them.
What fun is unemployment if you can’t catch up on sleep and take a break from leg prisons (a.k.a. pants)?
To stay in the game when the going got tough, I developed a practice visualization, affirmations, meditation, and mental rehearsal. On the way to interviews, I would listen to high energy, positive music playlists to keep my motivation high and attitude in check.
If you need an extra boost to stay motivated, click here to check out the playlists on Spotify I made to keep my head in the game.
8. The Briefcase Technique
After my interview at Google, I created a mock presentation of the strategy and project timeline I would implement if awarded the role. The presentation was a reflection of the questions I was asked my in interview. I included it with my follow up thank you note, and landed the job.
Some people even take this to the next level by building a proposal to present during the interview. I promise if you do this, the hiring manager’s jaw will drop.
Personally, I am hesitant to show my work until I achieve a very clear understanding of the unique problems and goals a company or team is facing.
However, if you are able to identify a company’s problem and present a solution in your interview, you are sure to impress. This can even be as simple as a one page SWOT analysis to convey your understanding and interest in delivering value for the company.
9. Work with Recruiters and Agencies
I have worked with contract agencies throughout my career. Working with recruiters is wonderful, because you can outsource your search to a team who is monetarily motivated to get you in the door. Having an advocate in your corner to smooth the corners of the hiring process can also be extremely helpful.
*On the flip side, being a contractor is tenuous work. Contract work can turn into a full time opportunity, but it is rarer than you think. As a contractor, you have very few of the legal rights granted to an employee. Even with a designated contract, there is no guarantee or security.
Choosing experience over security in the form of contracting can make for a more rewarding career, but it can also create a confusing resume timeline. If job security is your priority, always accept a full time, permanent role over a temporary contract.
How to Get a Job: Top Tips
If you have been laid off…
- Take a week to relax and refocus
- Focus on small wins
- File for unemployment ASAP
- Examine your healthcare options
- Use the opportunity to explore your deeper purpose
- Don’t be too narrow: apply for a range of job titles that interest you
- Build an online personal brand that is always working for you
- Work for free in your desired industry to gain references, experiences, and networking
- Follow up and don’t be shy. Send a thank you note the day after an interview. Keep the conversation going
- Treat your job application process like a sales process. In many ways, it is a numbers game
- Try not to take rejection personally
- Work with contract agencies – but beware the double edged sword (see above)*
- Your resume should be as LEGIBLE and SKIMMABLE as possible
- Align the text left
- Make the margins clean
- Use a San Serif font (arial, helvetica, roboto)
- Use bullets
- Choose ‘power’ verbs and NO FLUFF. Every word on a resume should earn its place
- When possible, use numerical measures of value (i.e. increased revenue by 30%)
- Use a testimonial quote on your resume or website
- Only include relevant experience
- Use a professional email address
- Create a personal website
- Link your resume on your website, and add your website URL on your resume
- Do a deep dive Google search on yourself, and clear out any ghosts of college party days past
- Do not update your LinkedIn profile headline to say ‘Seeking Work’ – this screams desperate (sorry, it’s the truth)
- Show up early with a paper copy of your resume and/ or portfolio
- Dress your best and practice obvious principles of personal hygiene
- Listen closely to your interviewer’s description of the role and needs
- Repeat what the interviewer says back to them to ensure clarity and understanding
- Answer questions by telling stories of situations in which you used similar skills to the job description
- Don’t B.S.: interviewers can see directly through false bravado
- Be as authentic as you can, despite the unavoidable awkwardness and tension that comes with ‘job dating’
- This is a two way street. You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.
- Always be prepared with at least 5-7 questions for your interviewer, which can include:
- ‘Who is the ideal personality for this role?’
- ‘Why do you believe I’m a good fit for this role?’
- ‘What do you enjoy outside of work?’
- ‘Can you hire me for this role today?’
- Bonus points: use the ‘Briefcase Technique’ by presenting a proposal to help the company improve or solve a problem
- Write a thank you note and send it WITHIN 24 hours
- Don’t be shy. Follow up again. And again
- Use your thank you note to clarify any gaps or correct any missteps from the interview
- Go the extra mile: create a mock strategy and timeline based on information gleaned from the team and your interview questions
Accepting an Offer
Congratulations! You earned it. This is only the beginning.
- Now comes the fun part. It’s time to know your worth.
- Was the role a good fit for you? If not, be prepared to walk away.
- If yes, be grateful but not content. NOW is the time to negotiate your salary.
- There is more money on the table. It is your job to ASK for it.
I love helping people accomplish their career dreams. Please reach out if you would like to discuss a free career, resume, or digital branding consultation.
What are your top tips for getting a dream job? Let me know in the comment below! I always love learning and growing from my smart, successful readers (like you!).