Welcome to the Real World: The Real Girl's Guide to Finding a Job

You’ve doubtlessly heard it by now. From parents, from professors, from older friends and siblings who’ve “been there.” It’s a sobering phrase that likely enters your mind right after you envision a post-grad summer of margaritas and beach hair.
Not so fast with those grand plans, girlfriend. As everyone knows, looking for a job is a full-time job.
But does it have to be? Absolutely, if you commit yourself to a crazy weekly plan like this one from the media gurus at Cynopsis. Waking up at 7:30 to do cardio and work on your flexibility? Talking to strangers for an hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Videotaping mock interviews on Tuesdays and Fridays? No TV, even during lunch!?
Sounds more like a prison sentence than a realistic way to find a job. And while I know there’s a chorus of you out there saying, “But Alex, this is hardcore for a reason. It probably works!” (and you’re right, you’re right), I do have to counter by asking you the following: What about those of us with part-time jobs and internships? Rent doesn’t pay itself and that resume won’t build credentials on its own. It’s great to get serious about finding a job, but it’s also important to factor in living your life while you do that.
That being said, here’s what I like to call the Real Girl’s Game Plan:
You don’t need to start from scratch every day. Find five job sites to check regularly. Pick ones that update their postings frequently and have them saved along your Internet toolbar or in your favorites folder. (Some sites, like indeed.com even offer daily or weekly emails filled with job postings in your desired industry.) Go in knowing what search criteria to use on each site. That way, when you find an hour each day to devote to the cause, you’re making it as easy on yourself as possible. Then, once a week, instead of checking your regular sites, branch out and conduct broader searches across more outlets to make sure you’re not missing anything.
Sign up for email blasts. I agree with Cynopsis when they say you should keep current on happenings in your industry. But instead of wasting time blindly Googling for headlines, invest a few hours on the front-end finding and signing up for industry newsletters. Once you’ve found a handful and entered your email address, that stuff’ll come right to you every morning. Then it’s just a matter of grabbing a cup of coffee, sitting down with your laptop and actually reading through it all. (Hint: it’s only a smart tactic if you don’t start marking those pesky emails as spam.)
Need some ideas to get you started? If you’re into fashion, often times designers and stylists offer their own daily emails. Rachel Zoe’s got one, and NY Magazine’s The Cut is a fab inbox addition. Maybe advertising’s more your specialty. Ad Age’s blast has got everything you need to go head to head with industry pros. And for all your business, global, artistic and miscellaneous needs, The New York Times offers customized emails. Just tell them what you want to hear about, and they’ll make sure you’re in the loop.
Talk to friends. Facebook is called a social network for a reason. When you go on, pay attention to where people are working. Even if you haven’t talked to the person since freshman orientation, they’re still a contact. Everyone knows times are tough, and it’s completely reasonable to send a friendly message asking so-and-so if their company has any opening is X field. It’s even more helpful if you’ve already taken a peek and have a position in mind that you want to inquire about. Most people are more than willing to share email addresses and phone numbers if you’re polite and sincere (some even get bonuses if they recruit a new hire). And don’t forget to say thank you!!
Keep a copy of your resume in your car. Or in your weekly planner. Or in your handbag. Or even freakin’ crumpled in your back pocket. The point is, always be ready to sell yourself. Want to hear a true story? The summer after I graduated, I happened to have a few spare resumes in my glove compartment. I honestly don’t remember why, but most likely I came out of a stressful interview and just didn’t feel like looking at the things, so I stuffed them away.
Fast forward to Labor Day weekend. I was at the beach with some friends and a massive hurricane was rolling in. Everyone in town was out watching the waves crash over the boardwalk and there were camera crews from all the big networks pulled up along the road to cover the impending storm. Suddenly my mind went to my stash of resumes.
I have a journalism degree! I want to work for you, CNN! Or you, NBC! Or even you, Fox!!
Faster than my friends could ask what the hell I was doing, I ran back to my car and fished out the stack of resumes. I cross my heart when I tell you I stuck one under the windshield wipers of each news van there.
Guess what? Someone responded. Not everyone, not even half of them. But one did. And one is all it takes.
Moral of the story: hang out near natural disasters and recognize that job opportunities exist everywhere. Be ready when they come along.

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