I’ve been very fortunate, but smart, when it comes to my career. The thing is, I’ve been told through the years that I’ve gotten “so lucky.” I’d love to think that, but it goes so far beyond that. Nothing has come easy and I’m going to share with you how I’ve secured the three jobs I’ve had in my career.
During the spring of my senior year in college, I was feeling disheartened and anxious about my job search. I was constantly comparing myself to my friends who already had full-time offers lined up. Little did I know, the advertising industry does not typically offer jobs months in advance like say, the business/finance industry, does. Anyways, I made the trip from Champaign, Illinois to Chicago in March of that year for a career fair and was so unbelievably nervous. It was truly the first time I was “networking,” and I was unsure of the best way to go about it. I stood in the middle of the large room and looked at all the companies that were present and silently told myself I could do it – I had to do it. No turning back now! I saw the media agency I dreamed to work for and marched right up to its booth. I introduced myself to the recruiter and had a quality and thorough conversation about my experience and career goals. I handed her my resume and knew I had made a good impression, thinking for sure I had landed an interview.
Until, I didn’t. Weeks passed. I followed up with the recruiter multiple times for the next two months. I didn’t end up hearing from her during that time, so I continued on in my search. I ended up getting a paid internship making $10 an hour at a Chicago marketing agency and honestly thought that was the best I was going to do.
Until, it wasn’t. Right after I graduated, I got an email from the media agency recruiter saying the company had an opening and they wanted me to come in for an interview. She mentioned that I had stayed top of mind to her from our conversation and because I continued to follow up via email. I drove to Chicago that week and interviewed with the recruiter and the potential team I’d be joining. Lo and behold, I received a full-time job offer – ten days after I graduated. I made the decision to contact the marketing agency I had the internship with and let them know I had received an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
Job #1 – Secured through networking at a career fair and continuing to stay top of mind.
After about a year and a half at the media agency, I was overworked, micromanaged, and mentally exhausted. After months and months of being forced to work 12-14 hour days without the flexibility to take my work home with me, I started to look elsewhere for another job. Getting interviews never seemed to be a problem for me; however, landing the job was the struggle. Competition was fierce and I was picky. I knew agency life wasn’t for me, so I was looking primarily at account management roles in digital ad sales, which really diminished my options. After about five months, I realized I had to change the way I was job searching. I began quietly opening up to people in my industry who I could trust, letting them know I was on the job hunt. After speaking candidly with one of the ad sales vendors we worked with, he told me there was an account manager opening at his company. I interviewed with his team and successfully landed my ideal job a few weeks later.
Job #2 – Secured through networking and having open conversations with individuals in my industry.
After about a year and a half in ad sales, I realized I had reached my peak. I wasn’t being challenged and my role felt stagnant. I enjoyed being in account management but really had no desire to move into sales. I saw a shift happening in the advertising industry at that time and knew it was time to make my move into social advertising. I started my search and again, had no problem in securing interviews. I made it to final rounds at one company and had to put together a presentation and present it to their entire office. I thought for sure I had it in the bag, until I got a call from the recruiter saying I had “too much experience” for the role and they didn’t have another position to offer me. What? I was frustrated at the time, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise.
Because guess what? Before the final interview with that company, I began searching the company on LinkedIn to see if I knew anyone that had worked there. I wanted to get an honest opinion on the company and I knew this was the best way to do it. Little did I know, I had been introduced to a contact a few months prior who had actually worked at the company prior. I was already connected with him on LinkedIn and I immediately shot him a message. We exchanged numbers and I gave him a call. He gave me honest feedback on the company and then asked what kind of role I was looking for. He then told me that the company he worked for, Salesforce, was hiring an account manager for their social platform and that I should apply.
At the time, the only thing I knew about Salesforce was that it was a CRM-focused company. I wasn’t aware that the company was developing a marketing cloud. I ended up getting in touch with the hiring manager through my contact, who set me up with rounds of interviews. After a few weeks, I received my offer from Salesforce. All in all though, it took me nearly six months, which really just goes to show that patience is key.
Job #3 – Secured through using my LinkedIn network to connect with professionals about potential opportunities.
A survey released last year by LinkedIn revealed 85% of jobs are filled via networking. I guess you can see my main point here is, networking is critical. There are a number of ways to go about it – you just need to find the way that works best for you. When it comes to job searching, there will be moments of anxiety, hopelessness, and rejection. But know that you do have the tools to succeed! You simply just need to get creative and put yourself out there.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.