How to Get Ahead in the Job Search Race

If you’re a recent grad still looking for a job, you may feel like you’re running in circles trying to get to the career path highway. You spent four years training for your sprint from School Street to Wall Street only to find yourself in a race to the unemployment line. But don’t let your ego get blistered from pounding the pavement. Go buy yourself some new shoe insoles and try these exercises on for size. While they may not shorten your job search journey, they may put a little pep back in your strategy steps.

Spend time in the hallways.

Go back to your high school days for a moment. Remember sitting in class making mental notes of who you wanted to talk to or ask a question of in the hallway? You accomplished a great deal of networking, socializing, strategizing, note exchanging and event planning in the halls during those two minutes between classes. Then you’d schedule to meet after school to close the deal.

So revisit this ghost from your high school past. Instead of filling your calendar with countless meetings trying to make your case known, stroll the halls like you’re on your way to class. It’ll help you get to the point, save time, and focus your attention. Movers and shakers don’t get their reputations for being the “it” person by sitting stationary to plot their next moves. They walk the halls chatting everyone up, taking inventory of what’s going on, gauging the climate, and preparing their targets for the close.

Remember, meetings should be the finale, the way to tie up all the details and add the finishing touches. You need to cruise the halls before you get invited to the table.

Network with your parents.

You’d be surprised at the amazing company your parents keep. Their friends have connections, long standing reputations, and influence at the companies you want to be hired into. So at last, this is your chance to repay the parents for all of the teenage angst and tuition money you cost them by showing their social circles some love and attention.

Believe me when I tell you their friends will be more than happy to help you strike out on your own. It will win them major BFF brownie points with the parents by assisting their efforts to get you out of the house and them one step closer to being empty nesters. But on a serious note, your parents’ friends will genuinely appreciate your enthusiasm and be happy to use their means to help you move ahead. So don’t be bashful. Ask your parents to spread the word about your journey towards the road of employment.

There are no bylines in advertising.

This line (which I took from the TV show Mad Men and a former manager) has become my mantra for success. Unlike a movie or television show, when you see a great magazine ad or television commercial there are no credits at the end; just the the influence of something great. So as you go through your job search, your career, and life, remember– as long as you don’t care who gets the credit, you’ll accomplish a lot.

Be a filter, not a sponge.

When we’re younger, we’re taught to act like a sponge and soak up all the experiences we can so they can help us later in life. But as you get older, you need to wring the sponge out to eliminate the excess and shape you for where you’ll fit in life. So in your job search, be a filter, not a sponge.

Take a personal inventory and figure out what you want, what you don’t want, and what you’re willing to compromise in the positions/companies you’re seeking. Ask lots of questions. The job search process is not only meant for companies to assess you and your talents.

It’s also an opportunity to make sure the company is the right fit for your personal and professional needs. Don’t over-saturate yourself with opportunities you know won’t be a good match for you. You’ll carry a lot less weight with you on your career journey and fewer blisters for the cause.


Yolanda M. Owens is the award-winning author of “How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer” and CEO of Straight No Chaser, LLC, which offers college speaking services and career coaching for students and recent grads entering the workforce. Yolanda has been a College Recruiting Specialist for over 15 years managing internship and entry-level talent recruiting programs at Fortune 500 companies such as Bausch & Lomb, Ernst & Young, The Washington Post, Freddie Mac and AOL. As a speaker and career coach, she uses her candid sense of humor and unconventional style to bring young professionals a fresh, relatable view into the corporate world by paralleling job seeking to the dating process. Yolanda also uses her recruiting knowledge to give GenY an insider’s look at what companies seek in young, potential candidates. Yolanda has been quoted as a top recruiting expert and contributing writer for various publications including USA Today, The Huffington Post, AOL Jobs, The Ladders and CBS News. Yolanda is originally from western New York where she attended St. Bonaventure University. Yolanda welcomes connections on Twitter, through her website or on her Facebook Fanpage.

Related posts:

  1. Social Networks and Your Job Search (Part 1)
  2. How Grad Students Should Approach the Job Search
  3. Social Networks and Your Job Search (Part 2)

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