446. That’s approximately the number of jobs I applied to from June 2018 to January 2019. At least through Linkedin.
However, this figure doesn’t include applications sent through Glassdoor, Indeed, or those applied directly through the company’s website (Scroll down for a more detailed breakdown, month by month).
While i’ve recently been hired as a Social Media Intern, the details of which i’ll mention a bit later, this is not meant to be a vainglorious attempt to wow you at my hustle.
Instead, I want to lay down all of the unglamorous trials and errors I made along the way so that you can see the effort it took a newly-minted coding bootcamp grad with a few years of experience in marketing to land a new role.
Below, i’ve outlined some of the things that helped and hurt me in the job search process.
But please keep in mind that even the things that worked for me are much less a blueprint for success, than an acknowledgement of the creativity it takes to get a job or internship these days.
As always, feel free to share your own tales of the struggle in the comments below.
I had a planned, detailed trajectory of all of the major and minor paths my skillset could take me.
In 2017, I started my first coding bootcamp.
Before then, I was a Content Writing & Social Media Intern for an online marketing resource, and had approximately 8 years working various roles in digital marketing.
So very early on I realized how important computer programming would be in helping to strengthen my digital portfolio (Visual Branding & Frontend Development + Content Development & Marketing).
As I started to apply for jobs, I broke up the categories I targeted into 3 areas:
Hybrid roles that combine both (Ex. Frontend Developer, Marketing)
Some of the roles I applied for included Marketing Manager, Digital Content Manager, Frontend Developer, Marketing Internship, Social Media Manager, etc.
While I tried to apply for a mix of Junior/Entry Level and Associate level full time roles in the beginning, (With a few Senior-level ones throw in for good measure if it was for a particularly great company. I was willing to risk the chance they might not see my resume. You never know.), towards the end I started applying to more internship and junior-level roles in Marketing.
Simply put, it was a better use of my time.
I knew my ‘sell’ and the best-case scenario to get a proverbial foot in the door was in Marketing; namely because I had already developed a small body of work that demonstrated my understanding of the field.
I had cultivated a digital portfolio for at least a year
You’ve heard it before.
A social media presence is no longer optional.
Regardless of your area, having one can be the difference between getting found and, well, not.
Over the last few months i’ve gone through several iterations of my digital brand:
I finally created 2 separate websites & Instagram accounts for both my personal brand and an Art blog I run.
I went from a this-screams-i’m-a-student portfolio site to one that is much more suitable to my niche.
I worked on consistently producing content around a marketing schedule.
I developed social proof of my ability to engages audiences.
This year, i’m working on building those KPIs with even bigger goals...
Essentially, I started doing entry-level tasks that would be expected of me as a possible hire.
I used marketing tools to promote my work
Whether i’m a student, software developer, content marketer, freelancer, or entrepreneur, marketing has always been at the forefront of my mind.
As a student learning web development the question was: Ok, i’ve created this awesome blackjack game. Now, how do I get people to see it? It’s obvious that letting it sit and collect dust in my portfolio wasn’t an effective strategy...
The answer was always social media.
Some of my more creative uses of social media marketing the past year:
Adding my resume to Slideshare, tweeting it with engaging copy, and then boosting it via a paid campaigns on Twitter.
Creating paid campaigns on Linkedin as a job seeker; either linking to my LI profile or portfolio site (I created multiple campaigns to test).
Turning sections of my resume into bite-sized chunks for Instagram and targeting relevant hashtags for those skills and experiences (As well as popular hashtags for my field in general).
Using storytelling in a way that is inspirational and helpful, but also communicates my skills and experience. Some of these IG posts have turned into light evergreen content.
Publishing a new press release for my freelance business as soon as I graduated from coding bootcamp and continuing every 3-6 months or so (As I had before).
I started going to more events in my fields
A prime example I have of how going to events can help you as a job seeker is attending the Game Developers of Color Expo last year (As volunteer).
I met the head of a Brooklyn-based gaming company, pitched what I do as a digital marketer, got a 2-week role as a Marketing Consultant...which then spawned into a long-term gig as a Marketing Specialist (freelance).
I also had a few other opportunities last year, such as meeting Editor-at-Large George Anders at Linkedin Headquarters for my #AcetheInterview video submission, going to the LatinoTech pitch night at Ebay headquarters, as well as attending my first hackathon - The Immigration Heritage Month Hackathon.
Go places. Meet people.
That’s how you can start to get on people’s radar.
I became way more active on Linkedin
Since I just picked up work as a Social Media Intern, i’ve found it difficult to be as active during the day.
However, I still plan to post at least 2-3 times a week and comment on other people’s posts at least once a day, if not more.
Before, I posted every day between work hours (9-5).
Whenever I read an interesting article about Marketing or Technology, I add it to a Google sheet and pre-plan content to be used another day.
This is great practice for developing engaging copy for other social media platforms; trying to get the perfect words to sum up your admiration for the article and why others should read it.
I went through the entire cycle of job etiquette with every job - before, during & after
When I was contacted about positions I applied to, I was very thorough about the entire process.
Being up bright and early for phone screens.
Arriving at least 30-45 minutes in the neighborhood where the interview would take place.
Asking about the follow up process and then promptly emailing when those dates had passed, etc.
Knowing when to send thank you letter after interview
I learned to gracefully negotiate and decline offers, while still being flexible to counter-offers or pitching myself for freelance work when opportunities weren’t favorable
The more callbacks I got, the more confident I became in my skills and abilities. I had something both startups and well-established companies saw as valuable to their teams.
I re-researched my freelance + full time salary expectations, and compared/contrasted them using sites like Glassdoor.
Is the role i’m applying to paying the market value for this skill? Is it comparable to the range i’m seeing for similar companies or roles?
And, when I asked for a salary, I did so with conviction.
Me: My range is xx,xxxx.xx
Interview: Yeah...That’s perfectly within our budget.
Get used to that.
I made sure to highlight the fact that i’ve done a lot of self-learning in the past, as an employee, a programmer & student (teaching myself programming and spoken languages, as well as learning new software for jobs).
I highlighted things i’ve learned on my own in the company’s industry (Ex. SEO for websites and blogs); as well as people and companies whose content I follow (like Neil Patel).
Always reiterate your willingness to learn.
I used every opportunity to work as a way to build my portfolio
I had a Web Development & Digital Strategy Internship earlier in the year, before I graduated from coding bootcamp. And, later on I took a few smaller opportunities working with local startups to help further build my portfolio.
All of these have significantly helped direct my pitch in all of the interviews i’ve gone on.
Put yourself out there as someone who’s willing to work on projects.
I didn’t hit the ground running
So i’m going to be completely honest. The last time I applied for a job (The last 2 times in fact), which is when I was just starting the coding bootcamp and realized I needed a job that would work with that schedule, I was relentless.
I applied to at least 5 jobs a day, including weekends, spent a few hours cold calling, emailed founders directly about roles on Linkedin, etc.
But this time around, there were some days I applied to 20+ jobs, and others I didn’t apply to any. In the beginning I was very lax with the job search. I did apply to some; particularly in software development.
But zero of those were through Linkedin.
Looking at the chart above, over time you can see my desperation in the sharp incline of jobs I applied to; peaking at around 2-3 months ago. The fact that I really needed a job clicked somewhere and I went into berserker mode.
Unsurprisingly then, it was around this time that I started getting way more callbacks; roughly at a rate of about 2-3 days by email, Linkedin inmail, call, or text.
Not bad, as I was previously able to count the number of callbacks I received each month on a single hand. All of my efforts were starting to pan out and my name was making the rounds somewhere in the IoT ether.
Side Note: Even though I feel my efforts could have been a bit more streamlined, I think it was a good thing I wasn’t so much concerned with getting a job fast, as getting a quality job.
I didn’t always keep track of jobs I applied to as well as I have in the past
I allowed myself to get flustered by the arduous job of, well, finding a job. That hurt me. I usually take great notes in the job process; with rows and columns for dates applied, date to follow up, names and emails, etc.
But halfway into the search, I spent so much time applying to jobs and not as much keeping track of them, that I didn’t always know which needed following up with.
Where am I now?
I’m currently a Social Media Intern at a NY-based startup (Primarily working on Content Development and Marketing) and am excited about any opportunity to continue to grow with this company.
I’m also working on my first software program with a small team, as well. This was another one of the best-case scenarios I mentioned earlier.
While I am not currently working in technology, it remains a very important aspect of many of the ideas I hope to bring to life in the near future. And, even more, working on my own projects will inadvertently help me further develop my skillset in these areas.
If there was a takeaway from this article, it’s to remember to be creative in your job search. It’s as simple as that. It takes a lot of repetition to achieve results.
Applying to jobs, following up with them when you get the interview, but also not being let down when you’re not chosen for the role.
In fact, my eureka moment came a few months ago when I realized all of the companies I interviewed with found something worthwhile in my resume. Even the ones that chose not to move forward with my candidacy. Not getting interviews would have been a far worse fate.
That’s the little bit of juice you need to push you forward...To make you realize there is a fit out there for you.
You got this.