Negotiating You, Part 1: How to Market Yourself in the Workforce
Finding a job is one of the most stressful experiences. It can be difficult to determine where to apply, how to apply, and what to choose with multiple offers on the table if you haven’t received any advice from others.
With some practice, however, you can learn how to best present yourself as a professional and negotiate for yourself once you find that dream role.
First, you need to decide where you’d like to apply. But how can you find the available jobs for which you are qualified? Fortunately, the internet provides ample opportunities at your fingertips. LinkedIn is the most mainstream choice, and its jobs board and accounts are both available for free. Create an account, select which jobs would be of most interest to you, and LinkedIn will provide several options that exist in your location and field of interest. Another excellent option is your school jobs board page. Most high schools and colleges have jobs boards or entire career centers devoted to finding jobs for their graduates. Especially if your school has a career center, take advantage of these resources while they are still available to you.
Once you decide what types of job interest you, take note of the deliverables you’ll need to apply. Most roles require a resume and cover letter, which can be tough to get right. According to Glassdoor, most employers determine whether to consider a candidate in 6 seconds or less. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be as clear and concise in both as possible.
There are many great tutorials available for free online, but American University (my alma mater) has a free resource page that includes information and FAQs for resumes, cover letters, and more. I recommend consulting this or a similar page from your own university before applying anywhere.
After talking with friends and colleagues, it’s clear that many struggle with composing cover letters. I have a couple tips for writing them, especially if you work in the nonprofit space. First, highlight at least one example of you successfully performing the role or aspect of the role for which you are applying. This can help the hiring manager envision you in the role. Second, if the organization has a mission statement or set of principles, make sure to mention which are important to you. But don’t be cheesy or insincere with this: nonprofits, in particular, care about whether their employees embrace the mission and are committed to advancing it. Make sure you’re bought in, too.
Also of note, the cover letter and resume are not always the only products required for an application. Make sure you know everything you need before submitting because an incomplete application could immediately disqualify you.
Before submitting, I recommend you have someone review your materials at least once. Usually, you should consult someone who you professionally admire and with which you have a good relationship. If you don’t have access to such a person, consult a friend or family member to help you determine whether or not your submission looks professional and respectable. Having even one person look over your work once will make it better. Everyone processes information differently, and knowing how someone else interpreted what you wrote will help.
Then, hit submit! It can be terrifying and stressful, but you can’t get a job in which you don’t express interest. Even if you get rejected, keep trying to find the role for you and seeking feedback.
Next month, I’ll go through tips for interviews and negotiations. Stay tuned!