When I think back on most useful practices I learned there are the obvious classics such as “bring shiny penny,” the “blunt instrument,” network, practice interview questions, volunteer, etc. which were all valuable lessons for me, but the “Top 5” that stood out during my search were:
1. Have an Accountability Partner(s)/ “Continue the Fellows” – Immediately after Fellows graduation I went into a “Post-Fellows” funk and started to slip back into some bad habits: staying up late, not wearing shoes, etc. Fortunately I was able to attend a Monday morning group of “Mini-Fellows” led by Julie-Ann, with Monique, and Lorita that had an agenda and weekly homework assignments. Just knowing that I had to start off my week with at least three people expecting big things from me really made a difference and helped keep me focused throughout the week. It also helped me feel like Fellows was still ongoing as we already knew each other’s issues and had an amazing shared experience that we could all draw from. I recommend that everyone have at least one “accountability partner,” but if it can be a few former Fellows I think the experience will be that much richer because you can reinforce to each other what you learned in the program. (Also, be friends with Joy Gemberling if possible: she is very resourceful, helpful, and a human good luck charm!)
2. Adjust Resume for Each Job (Use Hybrid with “Selected Accomplishments”) – Although this is a huge drag (especially when the “no’s” start rolling in) I took Lynnette’s advice and only applied for jobs that I thought I was really qualified for, and created at least a new unique “selected accomplishments” section for each with my best three bullet points that fit the job. This helped me immediately understand how I was qualified for the job, got my best attributes on to the first page, and became the basis for my cover letter. (If you don’t want to do this you have to at least use Lynnette’s resume template and follow it exactly to the letter unless you want to get in trouble : )
3. “Be Completely There” During the Interview – I would get super nervous during interviews and over-prepare which would create a tightening effect, but Larry’s numerous tips about speaking from your lower abdomen, “mee mow moos,” shaking it out, and finally just “letting go and trusting it will be there for you” really made a difference for me. I also found that using his SOAR template and putting those concepts on flash cards instead of actually writing out full interview answers allowed me to still grasp the basic concepts but sound less rehearsed…
4. Help “Non-Fellows” Job Search (Teach) – As I mentioned numerous times before many people in my other networking groups are very interested in LA Fellows: I used these opportunities to teach people the lessons which helped me better understand what I had learned and made it obvious to me when I was not practicing what I was preaching.
5. Take Risks/Get Out of Your Shell – I used the Fellows program to take advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me, even if it meant getting way out of my comfort zone (like speaking at graduation, attending black tie affairs, or having informational lunches with complete strangers that prefer to talk about “chicks” instead of job openings, true story : ( I figure whatever I had been doing for the last few years had got me unemployed so changing it might reverse the effect? Although none of those experiences directly led to me getting this particular job, I saw each of them as accomplishments that went in my “backpack” so when I started feeling nervous about the next panel interview I just thought: “this is easier than the graduation speech and that went ok so calm down.” It really helped put things in perspective forced me to see myself in a totally different light.
Although these were all important to me I really can’t emphasize enough the importance of continuing the spirit of support and community with other Fellows: in fact I think the only downside about landing for me is no longer having the chance to go to Mini-Fellows (that and the whole working every day thing : ) Seriously, please get together with each other because it really is the easiest way to “keep” what you learned. I wish you all luck in your job search and if there is any way I can help please let me know…
Victor Beauchamp, Cohort 4