If you want a career you'll love, use this 3-step process before sending in any more job applications

Amanda Nachman, author of "QUALIFIED: You Are More Impressive Than You Realize."Amanda Nachman
  • Amanda Nachman is a TEDx and keynote speaker, and the CEO of College Magazine, a guide for students navigating college and post-grad life.
  • The following is an excerpt from her book "QUALIFIED: You Are More Impressive Than You Realize."
  • Nachman says it's time for people to rethink how they build their careers. Instead of blindly applying for jobs, begin by getting to know the companies you really want to work for.
  • Think of your career journey as a long-term research project, she says, and do a little bit of studying and research every night on the businesses and professionals you admire.
  • Nachman also shares the 'TABSE' acronym as a full-proof method for sending thank you notes after making new connections, or while job hunting.

Just as I've asked you to rethink your career journey, I'm now going to ask you to switch up the way you apply for jobs. Your mantra should no longer be: "One job application a day keeps unemployment away." Now, you should be repeating to yourself: "Researching one company and making one courageous connection a day gets you on your way to your dream career." (Okay, okay, that may be a bit long-winded for a mantra, but you get the point.)

Lily Maslia, a journalism student at The Ohio State University, shared that she's stressing about not finding any job she loves. She's afraid she'll end up bored no matter where she's working. "Should I just stop blindly applying places online and instead work to make physical and interpersonal connections in order to find a job?" she asked me. The answer is a resounding yes, 100%! Especially if you want a job you love.

If you need just any job, get a job. Even if you ultimately want a career you love but need a job in the meantime, find work. Everyone has bills to pay. There's no shame in the game.Advertisement

But if you're ready to start your intentional career journey, follow this process, speak your passion like your life depends on it, and doors will open. It's a different mentality; instead of a feeling of scarcity (telling yourself the only jobs out there are the ones on Indeed.com right now) versus one of opportunity and attraction (my dream career exists, and I'm on a journey to discover, connect, and achieve it). You can, you will, you must.

QUALIFIED: You Are More Impressive Than You Realize.Courtesy of Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press

I say "upside-down job application" because it's the reverse of what people think they should be doing. Instead of seeking the job post, applying, and getting the job and then getting to know the company, you're going to learn about the company and potential future coworkers and assignments first before even learning what role you might play in the organization.
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If you have all the free time in the world, you could bulk-up your research and courageous connections right this second. But to do this while still working your current job or finishing school, you must treat your career journey like a final research project. Minus the existential crisis at 11:59 p.m.. Every day we're going to put in work and get closer to accomplishing the final product, the project, the paper; or, in this case, the job offer.

If you are in for the slow and steady approach, here's how you can make steady progress on your intentional career journey:

Step 1: Research

Every day look up one company or organization that you think sounds incredible. Advertisement

Step 2: Connect

Track down an employee who works there and connect courageously — send that LinkedIn message and email.

Step 3: Repeat

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Every damn day.

Alexandra Blackwell, my graduating editor in chief at "College Magazine," spoke to me recently about her career vision. She's following this very process. She's passionate about theater and communications, so she reached out to the general manager of Theatre Jax and then to the managing director at The 5 and Dime. She then diligently added them to her little black Excel workbook of courageous connections. Yes, you heard right; she's maintaining an actual Excel spreadsheet to make this a serious assignment — because it's an intentional career journey and it requires the level of diligence you would give to a research project. Advertisement

"Making this kind of an assignment has really helped me," she said to me in a message over Slack, the tool we utilize for team communications. "I am definitely way more excited to apply for jobs than I was applying for newsroom positions."

Once you've sent that connection message like Alexandra, follow up. If you don't hear back again, follow up. It never hurts to message more than once or twice. Don't be a stage five clinger, but let it be known that you're an eager beaver. Then once you've held an informational interview, follow up again to say thank you (as you should with anyone who helps you on your career journey).

I can't stress this enough: It is so important to stay in touch. Make yourself center stage of their mind at all times. Advertisement

Through her courageous connections, Alexandra was offered a communications internship at Players by the Sea Theatre. Then after a couple months she applied and was accepted for a full position as the marketing and communications manager.

"It really is a dream come true! It feels so good to be starting my career journey in the theatre world while putting my communication and writing skills to good use," said Alexandra.

Most importantly, if someone gives you their time, whether it's through helpful feedback on your resume or cover letter, connecting for an informational interview, or a job interview, always send a thank you email. I can't tell you how much this will separate you from everyone else who felt like a thank you email was a frivolous idea or who never even considered sending one in the first place. Advertisement

Not certain where to start with your thank you note? Follow 'TABSE,' an acronym which Rima Kikani breaks down in her article on "College Magazine:"

Thank you: Thank the interviewer for meeting with you and relay your enthusiasm about the possibility of working for the organization you applied to. If this is a competitive position with numerous applicants, mention the date of your interview and the position for which you applied.

Admire: Maybe you met some very intelligent people. Maybe you were impressed by the workplace structure. Or maybe you felt energized by the challenging opportunity of the role. Praise the company and make it believable.

Brag: Review your qualifications and what makes you the perfect candidate for the position. Briefly discuss why you would be successful. Professional writer Alice Feathers said, "You might want to mention an interesting topic or rewarding moment from your interview."

Second chance: If you forgot to mention something during the interview or just thought of something else, here's your chance. "[This is] an opportunity to answer or further address any question you felt you didn't cover well in the interview; the brilliance that occurred to you in the elevator ride down to your car after you left the office," said author Christine Hassler. Don't miss it again.

Echo: Thank your interviewer one more time for considering you for the position. Reiterate yourself as a valuable candidate and finally, let him or her know that you look forward to hearing back soon.

Keep your note short and sweet… and sincere. No one wants to read three pages frosted with lies, and they will be able to tell. Remember to send your thank you note within 24 hours of your interview.

Excerpted from #QUALIFIED: You Are More Impressive Than You Realize by Amanda Nachman, copyright 2020 by Amanda Nachman, used with permission by Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press. Amanda Nachman is a TEDx and keynote speaker, CEO and publisher of College Magazine, and author of #QUALIFIED: You Are More Impressive Than You Realize. She offers advice to college grads about how to handle the job market during and after the pandemic and economic crisis. Nachman also gives guidance for how to land a virtual internship or first job, how to interview and network from home, and much more.Advertisement

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