When I started working at ESPN about six years ago, my friend count quickly shot up. I don’t mind the friend count on Twitter or Facebook. I mean the kind of friend who will email you or call you and ask if I could get them a job at ESPN. Or ask me how I got so lucky. Or ask me what they can do to get in the door.
Look, you know how to get a job. You just don’t like it.
The answer is persistence. Keep at it.
- Send your resume.
- Call every number you can find until you find out where your resume went.
- Ask if the resume got passed on to a hiring manager. If so, find out who. If not, find out why. If it didn’t get passed on, go back to step 1.
- Ask the hiring manager if you’ll be phone screened and what to expect. If the manager says you didn’t qualify, ask why and go back to step 1.
- After your phone screen, find out how you did and ask if you can expect to be interviewed. If you didn’t pass, go back to step 1.
- After your interview, ask how you did, and if you can expect an offer. If you don’t get an offer, go back to step 1.
The crucial point here is to learn. You only fail on your last attempt. If you keep trying, you’ll never ultimately fail.
Does this mean you may have to apply 100 times? Yup. Does this mean you may have to pack up and move to the area without having a job? Yup. Does this mean you’re going to have to get comfortable with rejection? Yup. Does this mean you’re going to have to annoy and pester some people. Yup.
If you do this are you guaranteed to get the job you want? Nope. But you may learn so much about that job you may not want it. My point is, there is no easy path to any job that more than four people want. The process can be arbitrary, unfair and a game of luck. I’m not going to lie.
When I was hiring, sometimes I wasn’t even allowed to interview candidates I felt were the most qualified. That’s the way it goes. I had to apply three times before ESPN didn’t throw out my resume.
Before I go, I want to answer a few questions I got on LinkedIn.
What is the best way to go about getting in touch with people in this industry?
Every industry is the same. Go on LinkedIn. Go online. Move to a city where that industry is big. Talk to people. Make some cold calls. There’s nothing new here. Just do the legwork required in networking.
How can one get themselves noticed in such a competitive field?
What sort of skills or knowledge do companies look for?
Passion or Skill. There are two camps. Some think passion is more important than skill while others feel the opposite. Either way, you have to have examples. These don’t have to be work examples. Just something that can be easily visualized.
What other companies should I look at that would have entry level work for an eager entry level candidate?
As far as I know, there isn’t really a minor league for big companies. That said, I worked at a newspaper before moving to ESPN. Most people on the editorial side do. The technical side is a crapshoot. It’s not just about the company. It’s more about the department you want to be in. Find out the backgrounds of those people and emulate them.
Do you know anyone who might be looking for an entry level worker or even an intern?
At a big company, it doesn’t really matter if I know someone who is looking or not. Everything goes through human resources. I can recommend you until I’m blue in the face, but if you don’t pass the HR screen, it won’t matter. And if I’m not either your hiring manager or very close to your hiring manager (both highly unlikely) it won’t matter. Go check the company’s job board and apply for every position you want.
Cody is a Product Manager and Social Media Specialist at ESPN. He manages, conceptualizes and develops many of the social aspects of ESPN.com. He also is Founder and CEO for Gunner Technology, Inc an end-to-end Web strategy company, providing solutions for businesses. Previously, Cody worked as a developer for ESPN.com, building many of the live scoreboards and GameCast applications. In a previous life, he covered Florida Gator sports as a beat reporter, talk show host and television producer. Cody earned an MBA, Masters Degree in Communication and Bachelors Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He currently lives in Los Angeles. To find out more, read his blog, follow him on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.