This #StoryTime is told by Generation PR contributor Lauren Scallen.
I’ll start by saying that I’m not going to sugarcoat my experience in the hunt for my first “big girl” job. You’re going to hear a lot of no’s and I know how discouraging it will make you feel. My experience looking for work after graduation had a lot of ups and downs. At one point, I took a long break from applying to contemplate what my next step was going to be. But this story has a happy ending!
Without further ado, here’s how I landed my dream job as a Marketing and Social Media Coordinator at ShopStyle.
Taking a year-and-a-half break
I hated my internship. There, I said it. I think that a lot of grads in this industry share my feelings towards PR internships. They can be gruelling and involve emotional abusive. I’m not going to name any names here, but I think it’s important to note that my experience isn’t uncommon. By the end of my six weeks, I was exhausted both physically and mentally. It like my entire soul had been sucked out and given to the PR world. I needed a break, big time.
So, I took one. During that time, I thought long and hard about what sector of PR I wanted to work in and started doing research on companies and brands, and the positions that were out there.
I found work in my hometown as a part-time social media coordinator for a local jewellery store and a marketing and social media coordinator at a local private golf course. I worked at both those jobs for about a year and finally, with those experiences added to my resume, I started being called back for second and third interviews.
After having such a difficult internship, I became picky and really focused on what I wanted and who I wanted to work for. In the end, I think this worked out well for me because I never would have found Shopstyle if I had said yes to two other opportunities I was offered. For the record, I turned those opportunities down because I just didn’t get good vibes from those companies. Your mental health and overall well-being are important. Make sure you pick somewhere that fits you as a person and not just a place you go to collect a pay-check.
Taking such a long break was definitely not the plan I had for myself after graduation, but finding a full-time job was hard. I felt stressed and discouraged by the entire process, especially with student loans looming over my head. That was why I decided to stray from the typical application process and get creative.
From LinkedIn to… Instagram
In my post-grad PR program at Centennial College, there was a course dedicated to interview skills, resume writing and how to apply for a PR position. I found this super helpful when it came time to apply for my internship and I ended up getting a highly competitive opportunity because of the skills I was taught. However, when I finally felt confident enough to start looking for a real big girl job, I put all the lessons I learned from this course on the back burner.
I knew I wanted to work in a company that would allow me to be creative, somewhat informal and be a part of something I loved. I also knew that to shine as a candidate I really needed to show why I was passionate about the companies I was applying for. LinkedIn is a great tool and I applied for hundreds of jobs through its resources, but it only really gives you the opportunity to be formal. So, I went to Instagram.
I had applied for a position with Shopstyle Canada via LinkedIn and I thought there was absolutely no way I would ever get an interview because the listing informed me that over 100 people had already applied for the position. Afterwards, I was scrolling through the gram and came across the feed of a Toronto-based woman who loved the beauty industry as much as I did. I decided to give her a follow and days later she posted on her story that she was looking to hire a Marketing Coordinator. I had no idea who she worked for as I didn’t even think to look at her bio but I thought, “Hey, I’m going to DM her and see if this is an opportunity that would be good for me.” Turns out, she was the Director of Shopstyle Canada. Serendipitous, right?
And the rest, as they say, is history. We chatted, I sent her my resume and she invited me for an interview a few days later. Not long afterwards, I was signing my hiring contract. The entire process probably took about a week. It’s crazy how it can all happen so quickly and when you’re least expecting it to.
Be bold in your approach
I’m going to leave you with this advice: use all your tools. The corporate world changes every day and as we grow, we must use the tools we have to their full potential. So, go ahead, use Instagram as a tool during your job hunt. Try and find the person you want to work for. Give them a little lurk and suss out if you think it’s appropriate to send them a DM introducing yourself. If they post a job opportunity on their Instagram account, it’s usually a safe bet that they’re comfortable receiving interest about that job through Instagram as well.
However, be smart. Do not reach out to them via DM if your feed is full of inappropriate pictures. What you do in your own time is fine, but your Instagram feed says a lot about who you are to future employers so just be wary of that.
During my job hunt, I went to a lot of interviews, applied for hundreds of jobs and received over 50 rejections. But I eventually found a job in a company that cares so much about its employees. I’m excited about my future with Shopstyle Canada and I hope that my story will encourage you to be bold when applying for jobs!
The right yes could be just a follow request away.