5 Expert Tips on Navigating the Job Search in New York City
Posted on January 25, 2017
This is a guest blog post written by Mercey Livingston.
Last September I attended a Career Insights Breakfast with Six Degrees Society and Lauren Berger at Bar Works in New York City. Several NYC recruiters attended the event where the conversation ranged from how to move to New York and land a job, to how to explain gaps on your resume.
Navigating the job search can be challenging in any city-especially in one as competitive as New York. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when first trying to get your foot in the door, whether you are in a new city or trying to break into a new industry. In these circumstances, your success can really depend on who you know.
If you are cringing at the thought of attending another networking event, it could be because you’re attending the wrong kind of networking event. Networking really doesn’t have to be boring or awkward thanks to Six Degrees Society, an organization that is changing up the networking scene by hosting fun and personal events.
Six Degrees Society Events are not your typical networking gatherings. Emily Merrell, the founder of Six Degrees Society, started the organization to create a space where intentional networking is easy and meaningful connections are made. The events always involve a fun activity or informative session that kick off with “speed-dating” style networking sessions. In these sessions attendees are matched with each other, making each networking event more intentional and facilitate meaningful connections.
The NYC Career Insights Breakfast featured speakers with a wide range of experience in high-powered companies in the fashion, PR and tech industries. After kicking of the morning with a coffee and curated matches, we asked for their advice on all things related to navigating the career search in NYC. Here are some of their best tips.
- Rethink Job Qualifications. Don’t be intimidated by the qualifications section of a job posting. If your resume is strong and and you are interested in the opportunity, apply. Then reach out to your connections for support. “Do your best to connect the dots for your employer and don’t focus on what you don’t have–focus on what you do have and why you are the best person for the job,” Lauren Berger said. If you communicate your strengths and why you will work hard in the role, then you will stand out despite not meeting all of the specific requirements. Keep in mind that “Minimum Requirements” and “Desired Qualifications” are different.
- Have a Gap on your Resume? Be Prepared to Explain. Any length of time over three months with the absence of work experience or school on a resume is considered a significant gap by most employers. If you have a gap, be prepared to explain what you did during that time. “My biggest concern as an employer is that somebody is going to leave. When I see a gap on a resume my fear is that they aren’t ready to go back to work. As the candidate the best thing you can do is speak directly to that concern. Talk about your commitment and that this job is something you are ready to do, and that you want the job and you are focused,” Berger said.
Also, recruiters get that life happens. So if you have a gap on your resume because you had a baby, got married, or had some other personal or life circumstance–it’s totally understandable. Have a story ready to tell about your experience and convey why it makes you a better job candidate.
- Focus on Transferable Skills. If you are looking to change industries, focus on what transferable skills you have. If you are worried that your experience is not relevant to an industry, think through some of the tasks, projects and responsibilities you’ve had and reframe them. Write your resume with a focus on skill over content. Many skills like writing, communication, organizing or project management are all transferable skills across many different industries.
- Know Your Story. “The way you pitch your story can help sell the person on why they need to hire you. A piece of paper can’t convey that. Push open the door a little and get yourself in front of a person. It can make a difference,” Emily Merrell said. Think beyond your resume and use every opportunity you can to sell yourself when you tell your story.
Your first opportunity to do this is in your cover letter. But even then, a cover letter and resume can’t fully convey your true personality. So whenever possible, get in front of a real person and let your energy and passion for the opportunity shine.
- Loyalty is Key. Millennials have a reputation for being notorious job hoppers. If you have experience that includes a side hustle or freelancing, be sure to convey your focus and commitment when applying for a job with a company. “A lot of young people don’t want a job these days. They want to be a freelancer or have gigs. I want to know that you want the job and that you aren’t going to leave and start your own business tomorrow,” Berger said. When applying for a job, always be sure that the opportunity is something you are passionate about. It’s great to have diverse work experience, and your freelance work or side hustle can even make you a more interesting job candidate. A lot of things have changed in the modern job market, but at the end of the day, employers want workers who are loyal and dedicated.
For more advice on landing and navigating your first job, check out Lauren’s book, Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job into Your Dream Career.