Just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t mean your hustle should be put on hold. For ambitious young professionals, the challenging times have served as motivation to come up with new, more innovative ways to stand out (virtually) to hiring managers. One of these more “direct” ways to make your job interest known is simple: send the company or business leader a direct message. Shoot your shot, girl.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still apply for the position online, but afterward, why not send the company’s Instagram account a message introducing yourself? Let them know why hiring you is the best choice. Then, if you happen to do a little extended research on the company’s hiring manager, department manager or CEO/president, send them a message too. While this method may seem a little forward, it has proved successful.
Jessica May, a journalist in her 20s, is proof that a single DM can make all the difference in landing the job. In her final semester at the University of North Florida, May knew she wanted to pursue a career in journalism. She also knew that getting a foot in the door in such a competitive industry is often the hardest part. Thinking of alternative avenues into a role within the news business, May remembered that the digital content manager at a local station had spoken during one of her college classes. After multiple unanswered corporate online applications, she wondered if maybe he could help her get a job there.
“I reached out to him about the job I wanted with the idea being that even if he didn’t answer, at least I could say I tried. I used LinkedIn so he’d know I was keen on social media,” May explains. “Two weeks later he messaged me back asking when would be a good time to come in for an interview. Honestly, I didn’t really expect him to answer me, let alone offer me an interview.”
After a few years at that station, May was ready for a new career adventure, and maybe a somewhat normal work schedule. Yet right around the same time as she began exploring other opportunities, COVID-19 hit. Between hiring freezes and layoffs, career prospects weren’t exactly blooming last spring. Instead of losing hope, this time around May started sending DMs to companies she wanted to work for, regardless of whether or not they had posted openings—because, why not?
“I was talking with a friend about how cool it would be to run social media for a large company, and I said, ‘Let me just DM a company and see if they answer,’” May recalls, “The company I messaged replied asking for my resume, and a month later I began working for them. I needed to use my creativity to get noticed, and would never have guessed that could be done as easily as sliding into a company’s DMs. As it turns out, social media accounts can serve as resumes too.”
Social media expert Matt Navarra says he loves these sorts of social media hustle moves. He says his former employer, The Next Web, always encouraged this creative approach from candidates seeking roles with the company. The Next Web felt these messages demonstrated that the candidate has confidence, salesmanship skills, and creative thinking.
Geekout on Discord – Geeks Wanted
I’m finalising the setup of Geekout on Discord and need help.
I’m looking for people who:
1) Love Geekout / Social Media
2) Have lots of exp with Discord servers
3) Have exp of creating / using bots on Discord
Is that you? DM me.
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) January 13, 2021
However, Navarra stresses that for those looking to try this method, they should do some research first. He believes that this sort of approach may only work for certain types or roles and in certain industries. For instance, less social media-savvy brands may not appreciate this approach.
“If you are going to slide into a company’s DMs and sell yourself into a role, I’d advise you to spend a bit of time honing your pitch. It needs to be very concise, original, and grab the intention of the person on the other end of the DM,” Navarra cautions. “And remember, won’t be a recruiter or HR staff. They will be a social media manager or similar, so think about how to appeal to them to spark the response you want and get your foot in the door.”
Although it takes courage to reach out, the “DM application” might be more common than you think, according to Hannah Morgan, founder of Career Sherpa. In her work as a job search and career search specialist, Morgan says she has seen job seekers use DMs and create qualification videos and accomplishment presentations in job application efforts. While these self-marketing materials are risky in the sense that there’s a chance they may never be seen, she says that “you also never know what will happen unless you try.”
Morgan adds that social media platforms are a great public forum to use to catch employers’ attention and get noticed. Job seekers should first understand the needs of the company they are targeting, then create their pitch to highlight how they could help the company succeed and overcome challenges.
“Only about 20% of jobs are filled through online job boards. This means that job seekers should diversify their strategies to include as many as possible,” Morgan, author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success, explains. “If they think about their search as a marketing campaign, they can use social media marketing strategies. Companies are on social media.”
For example, Paul Yacoubian, founder of copy.ai, recently took to Twitter to seek out his company’s first hire. How was he fielding job applications? Through DMs, or what he refers to as his “personal customer relationship management system.”
I am looking for someone to help us build, run and scale growth at https://t.co/3MbLWEzu88.
This will be our first hire.
If you need a job description, this is not for you.
If you are interested, I want you to pitch me in my DMs.
If you know someone, tag them below.
— Paul Yacoubian (@PaulYacoubian) January 15, 2021
“DM‘ing an executive at a company you want to work at and showing them the passion you have for the company’s mission can give you a really high chance of success for getting an interview and landing a job at the company,” Yacoubian says. “You can add value by identifying some high-value project that the company isn’t doing yet, and just do it for them and show them the results too. DMs are the biggest value creation feature of any social network in my opinion, and Twitter’s is the best.”
Based on social media recruiting statistics, Morgan recommends engaging in career outreach on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, in addition to Twitter. She noted that smaller companies often have less structure and hiring hurdles, so they may be more responsive to a creative approach. Any hiring manager who respects innovation or out-of-the-box thinking may also be receptive.
“The best time to reach out to a company is before a job is available. Pitch yourself as a solution to the company and show how they need you on their team. Leaders are always on the lookout for their next great hire,” Morgan advises. “Aim high and be a risk-taker.”
Images: 13_Phunkod / Shutterstock.com; mattnavarra, PaulYacoubian / Twitter; Hannah Morgan / LinkedIn
I don’t need to say it, but times are tough. The changes we have experienced are enough to make anyone run for the hills. And maybe that’s actually not such a bad idea right now, TBH. But as much as you may want to abandon your life and go live full-time on a beach somewhere, there is such a thing called reality. I know, buzzkill. Since these you-know-what times aren’t going back to any semblance of normal soon, it’s time to be practical, consider your options, and make things work.
The good news is, there isn’t only one way to get ahead now. Consider these five creative approaches from the utterly practical (Nike’s “just do it”) to the spiritual (calling on your higher powers) to support your future plans. Your best approach to life and work depends on your current circumstances and needs, skill set, and risk tolerance.
1. Embrace Your Skills—Become A Technical Specialist
Which new technologies can you master right now to become the “go-to” expert in a specific area or tool that is in high demand? Are you a digital marketer or data analyst to the stars (using the term “stars” aspirationally here)? This can be your time to shine! Consider all your current skills to see which ones can fill the demands that companies have right now. For instance, helping companies get online successfully as they move their businesses away from brick-and-mortar stores can be a game-changer. Are there other specialized tools or specific software programs used in your current role, business, or industry that may be critical to ongoing business operations? Identify the sweet spot that you can capitalize on, then let people know how you can help them.
LinkedIn’s list of the ten most in-demand hard skills for 2020 ranges from blockchain to cloud computing to UX design. But if you don’t have these skills now, don’t sweat it. There are a ton of online training courses available, and many are free on YouTube. Additional resources like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, UDemy, Harvard classes from EdX (what, like it’s hard?) are great online tools with so many classes to offer. And according to Forbes, the soft skills you’ll need to succeed in a post-COVID world might not require classes—adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and creativity are all things you can practice on your own. Remember, your goal is to become both valued and immediately applicable to potential customer needs.
Power Tip: Don’t forget to brand and capitalize on your expertise by seeding relevant “key words” about your new focus throughout your LinkedIn profile and social media so the AI searches and algorithms identify you as the best potential fit for those seeking your skill set.
2. Follow The Money
Let’s get real: why not be an opportunist? Dig deeper into where the needs for talent are right now. If you’re flexible enough to go where the opportunities are, you can find project-based work. “Have a valid passport, willing to travel”—I see you, Carmen Sandiego. You get the picture—you could get hired to work on important, time-sensitive initiatives that often pay well. Depending on your personality, you also follow your desire to serve. There is likely to be a huge demand for teachers, healthcare workers, and others who know how to deal with trauma and personal service right now as others are hesitant to return to work.
Look at your flexibility and tolerance for risk. Obviously, moving can create opportunities, but is not without higher risks from changing conditions. If you’re amenable, check out other cities and countries, or switch industries. (Might not be such a bad idea to get an international visa… just saying…)
3. From WTF To WFH: Shift To Remote Work Altogether
It’s no surprise that most work is moving online in some ongoing capacity. You probably already know how to work Zoom, but are you comfortable working virtually? There are even more opportunities beyond the “gig economy” as the need for global services increases if you can be time-zone agnostic. There are also multiple platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and other on-demand freelance websites that connect customers with service providers. Consider working remotely for a company directly, or maybe it’s time to work for yourself. If you’re creative and don’t mind the hours you work or prefer working from home, remote work lets you work wherever you are, and in some cases, whenever you want. That means never having to change out of your PJs.
Many digital skills transfer seamlessly across industries. More jobs are conducted with tele-support, no longer requiring face time or presence in a physical work space. According to U.S. News, careers in software and web development, IT management, and accounting are especially good choices for those working remotely because they can be done virtually anywhere with computer access. But currently, some of the most popular remote positions are accountant, customer service representative, project manager, nurse, and writer—which means that there’s a pretty wide range of industries well-suited to this kind of work. So if you don’t mind having technology become your life line (as if it’s not already), consider ongoing WFH to give you more flexibility. What a time saver to create more time, reduce your commute and still add value.
4. Become A Minimalist
…and not just because Marie Kondo says it will spark joy. A smaller footprint is not only good for the environment, but it will also minimize the space you need, which can save you money in the long run. How? Less weight and obligations lower your cost base, which translates into needing less income. Smaller spaces equate to lower rent.
Power Tip: What do you value about your lifestyle? Is it time to focus more on “being” than “doing”? Which begs the question, what is the meaning and significance of work in your life? Looking at the type of work you want to be doing in the world will open up a whole new set of possibilities for how you might live.
5. Start Living Within Your Means
No, really. Why not question everything? When you look at what you need to live and survive (financially, spiritually), maybe there are ways you can cut back. When the economy was on an upswing, money was easy and more was more. That was then; this is now. Perhaps it’s time to consider that less is more.
Power Tip: Bring your spending in line with your income. Where can you reduce your outlays to become more thoughtful? Maybe cheap is the new smart. The more you put into your savings and the lower your costs, the easier it will be to weather a storm. With few people having enough savings to last a month, now is an important time to pad (or start) that emergency fund to provide an extra cushion to extend your ability to get through a period of financial hardship that may be longer than expected.
Only you will know what is the best way for you to adapt to change right now. This truly is an opportunity to focus on what makes sense for you. By knowing what you care about and value, you can make choices that position you for the future. Taking steps that are both practical and personal will equip you to become more resilient to face future challenges.
Image: Magnet.me / Unsplash
The past few months have been big for change. Companies have been called out for systemic racism. The Supreme Court gave LGBTQ workers federal civil rights. Sexual predators are having a renewed #MeToo moment. Powers-that-be are being held to account. That’s phenomenal for social progress. It’s also horrible for workplace sexual harassment.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (amidst an already heinous 2020), but you’ll want to beware of increased sexual harassment when you’re on the job, as harassholes hate this new world.
Here’s the skinny: Workplace sexual harassment is a power play. Basically, harassers are insecure people who want to make you feel small because they find you threatening and/or seek a power boost.
Don’t get it twisted, though: Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be sexual. What matters is that you’re being targeted because of your gender or sexual identity.
Harassholes may try to “put you in your place” by using typical sexualized come-ons, like ogling your goodies in the office, jumping in your DMs to ask you out for the umpteenth time, or promising you a promotion in exchange for a Netflix and chill. Or, harassholes may leverage hostile put-downs that humiliate you, like calling you crude names on conference calls, cutting you out of morning meetings, berating you for not dressing the way a woman “should” dress. The displays of disrespect are limitless.
Now that our new world is pushing for greater respect for marginalized persons, women included, harassholes see our world as a less hospitable place for their antics. They’re frustrated about not being able to mistreat you and others with impunity, and they’ll try to reclaim their sense of power by stepping up their harassment game. Protect your purse and your mental health by being prepared.
Here are three quick tips to help you beat workplace sexual harassment:
Identify The Harassholes
You may be a butterfly, but harassholes aren’t very unique. They tend to have shared traits, among them being gender. Men make up some 90% of harassholes. In addition to that, they’re more likely to embrace these characteristics:
⭐︎ Support traditional gender roles
⭐︎ Maintain a strong male identity
⭐︎ Think men are superior to women
⭐︎ Believe men and women should be segregated
⭐︎ Sexualize women, girls, and LGBTQ people
⭐︎ Trivialize victimization or engage in victim-blaming
⭐︎ Lack egalitarian attitudes toward gender and/or race
You can spot these traits by listening to what a harasshole says about gender and sexual identity. For instance, harassholes often think men are better suited for traditionally male jobs and leadership positions whereas women should be in “pink careers,” stay-at-home moms, or in supporting roles. Harassholes use activities and terms typically associated with women to demean other men, such as calling a man a “pussy” or promising to wear a dress in public as part of a bet. These are the dudes who use stereotypes about women as punch lines.
The thing is, there’s nothing funny about harassholes. Keep an eye out for them and remember—just because someone isn’t a harasshole to you, doesn’t mean they’re not harassing another colleague. Harassholes are shady shapeshifters.
Document, Document, Document
Your records of what happened are essential to beating workplace sexual harassment. Why? Memories fade. Plus, there’s a 99% chance that the harasshole (and your employer) will lie. Avoid the he said, she said situation by documenting what went down. On your personal computer or encrypted email, maintain a log of the who, what, when, where, and how of the experience like you’re writing a bland yet detailed screenplay. Also, attach supporting documents such as text messages, emails, DMs, and notes.
You’ll want to have it all, especially if you ever need to speak out or if you suffer retaliation. Documentation can make the difference between getting the heave-ho with nothing and getting out of a company on your own terms with solid references and a strong severance.
Always Trust Your Instincts
Pay attention to that still small voice that echoes within when you’re uncomfortable. Never try to override your instincts with rationalization. You know what you’re sensing, what you experienced, and what you need not tolerate. Don’t ignore it.
Do ignore gaslighting and shade-throwing coworkers. As much as I hate to say it, research shows that some coworkers will try to discourage you from speaking out about sexual harassment and many will distance themselves from you for fear of being mistreated by your employer too. That’s a bummer. But it doesn’t mean you should “take one for the team” by keeping quiet. Real friends won’t insist you be disrespected and won’t try to deny your reality.
Stick close to your instincts, demand to be treated with respect, and do you. You may not be The Boss, but you are a boss and you deserve to work in a harassment-free workplace.
Adrienne Lawrence is an on-air legal analyst and the author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment (TarcherPerigee, 2020). Lawrence has contributed her insight on workplace sexual harassment for outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneLaw and IG @AdrienneLawrence
Images: Song_about_summer/ Shutterstock.com
It’s been over six weeks since seniors in college began to realize that the Senior Spring they had been dreaming about since their first semester wasn’t going to happen. No darties, no senior week, no thesis presentations, no more wine nights with your roommates, no more chances to shoot your shot with that guy in lecture, and no walking across the stage in a cap and gown to tie it all up. For a lot of seniors, this news hit hard because, aside from all of these losses, it felt like the world was telling them they needed to become full-grown adults a few months before they were ready (if any of us can really be ready to enter into the real world). In March, rather than May, they had to face the inevitable truth: college actually does end.
As April comes to a close, and as some of us have maybe gotten into the swing of online classes, virtual graduation dates are fast approaching. So what does life look like when college actually ends during a pandemic? Many seniors are feeling the weight of the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the impending recession pressing down on them. Many have had start dates pushed or jobs offers rescinded altogether. All in all, it’s a clusterf*ck, leading many to wonder: what the hell should we do? Betches spoke with career expert Joy Altimare for suggestions on how new graduates can prepare to enter this now-f*cked-up workforce.
Do: Use This Experience To Your Advantage
me, turning my wifi off & on again: i am a woman in STEM
— Karen Chee (@karencheee) April 23, 2020
Recent grads can and should use this online term to their advantage. “Recent graduates have an advantage,” Altimare told us, “The new normal in the workplace will look a lot like how they have learned during the last four years.” So basically, all that time you spent on social media during class was not time wasted, and simply knowing how to set up a video chat puts you ahead of the curve. (If you think I’m exaggerating, ask your parents to make a Zoom call, and realize that’s what most companies are dealing with.) Altimare says, “virtual and tele-learning are very similar to how professional environments will operate moving forward.” Wow, I can’t wait to tell my mom that I actually learned something useful in college (how to open a bottlecap with a spoon does not count, apparently).
Altimare also advises new grads to tell companies what you learned from online classes, and apply that to a professional environment. She says, “now more than ever, employers are looking for very smart individuals who are energized to help navigate this new normal.” So, we should “tout that as a skillset unique to the existing workforce and provide examples to demonstrate how you can apply this approach to add to the success of the company.” This could mean showing off that you know how to change your Zoom background, or explaining how you can stay efficient and motivated in any environment. If you’ve figured out how to manage your time during these insane past few weeks, that is definitely a skill you should want to share with future employers.
Don’t: Forget About Networking
I feel like as far as social media goes, LinkedIn is definitely the awkward middle child. In the midst of a pandemic, it feels even more forgotten. Like, when was the last time you actually thought about logging on? Even though it may be the last thing on your mind, it’s still super important to keep networking. “Continue to use technology to network,” Altimare tells us.“Do not go dark on your LinkedIn and make sure your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter do not only contain videos of you doing a #dontrush challenge.” I guess I’ll keep my challenges to TikTok, since I’m pretty sure nobody is networking on there.
What you put on social media is just as important as ever, so before you go posting all the pictures you’ve had stashed of you chugging alcohol underage, Altimare advises that “It’s super important that you use this time to demonstrate resilience and positivity across your social platforms.” She recognizes that it doesn’t necessarily fit into everyone’s aesthetic. “You don’t have to begin a daily gratitude post,” she says, but “it is important to show you’re using this time to stay focused—are you helping the elderly in your neighborhood? Ask others to join you vs. just posting you delivering meals. Are you organizing a virtual yoga class for your friends? Show that instead of the virtual happy hour on your feed.”
Don’t: Spend All Your $
I’m a huge “add to cart, check total, close window” girl, but quarantine has led to more than a few “treat yourself” moments, which I justify by telling myself I’m saving so much money since I’m not eating or going out. Since we can’t have nice things, apparently this is not the move, according to Altimare. “Start saving your money… in fact, massively start saving,” she says. “You are probably not in the dorms, not going to the movies, not buying your food and not going to any of the activities that you would have had to contribute to for your senior year.” Okay, you didn’t have to rub it in like that, but I see the point. Even more, Altimare says, “if you are really lucky, you’re staying with your parents, so you’re not paying for rent. That is a huge lift to your bottom line—save that money.” I mean, she’s right considering the job market is unstable right now… I just want my tie-dye loungewear.
Altimare warns that if you’re imagining all the ways you’re going to indulge once you can leave your house, you might want to think twice: “when the country begins to re-open, do not spend that money on a trip with your girlfriends.” Altimare suggests “look to creating a nice nest egg—something around 3-months’ worth of expenses—so that when you finally find that job and move out into your own apartment, you have a bit more comfort.”
Do: Start Working From Home
What’s the age where you transform from ‘young professional’ to ‘professional’?
— U Up? (@uuppodcast) April 17, 2020
Altimare’s last piece of advice for new grads is “if you can, try to start working from home.” Everyone has so much time on their hands (especially when school is over and you don’t have a job), so “use your creativity to turn a hobby into a lucrative side-gig while we’re all quarantined.” If you’re looking for ideas, Altimare proposes to “try to get published on a weekly blog, or begin selling your wares via a marketplace.” And then, of course, “save that money!”
The prospect of starting your adult life right now does not sound appealing to anyone. However, if you can make a few proactive and productive decisions during this period, you might be able to save yourself some stress later on when we finally get out of this mess (BTW can someone tell me when that will be?). Hopefully, these tips can help you get a head start on where you want to be and what you can be doing to help your future.
Images: Pang Yuhao / Unsplash
Need more brutally honest career advice? Buy our third book, When’s Happy Hour, available now in paperback!
If you work in an office, you probably get approximately one billion emails a day with all sorts of corporate phrases that no one actually says in real life. Honestly, the fact that emojis and GIFs are semi-taboo in the corporate email world is beyond my understanding. Yes, I’m that millennial.
The worst part of email is that you never know what the f*ck people are TRYING to say. Sometimes it feels like people are trying to be so politically correct in corporate chatter that meanings get muddled. Like does following up actually mean, “why the heck did you not read my message?” (hint: yes, it does).
Have you ever asked a co-worker a question and had them come back with something like, “Per my last note”… To have your stomach drop and be like, “ouch”. This feels… passive-aggressive?! You’re not alone.
What’s a straightforward girl boss to do?!
To help you understand all the work drams coming your way in your inbox (grab some popcorn, babes), we have gladly written out a full-on dictionary (ok, eight) secretly aggressive email phrases, and what they mean. So next time you have that stomach drop feeling at work you can totally understand it! Lucky freaking you.
Here are 8 secretly aggressive email phrases and what they mean.
“Per My Last Message”
After you send an email with “per my last email” in it. pic.twitter.com/MArj5jVUaf
— Phillip Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) May 6, 2019
This means: Why didn’t you pay attention to my last message?! Your colleague is basically telling you to f*ck off and they already told you this answer. Freaking ouch.
This phrase is basically like saying, no I’m not going to just simply answer the question you asked. I’m going to acknowledge that you are literally an idiot and you should have more carefully read my email. I don’t love this phrase because odds are if someone is asking you a question that you already know the answer to, there was something unclear in your last email.
Tati Westbrook’s public video to James Charles is kinda like if you sent a passive aggressive email to a coworker and cced your whole company and then framed them for murder
— Alexis Paige (@_loxsmith_) May 13, 2019
This means: No, I’m not going to make a decision, you make one. Maybe you’re in an argument between two people and need them to make decisions for you, or maybe you’ve just had enough for one day. Whatever it is, this statement is passive-aggressive because you could just say, “what do you think?!”
This means: Something was misunderstood. Must clarify in a politically correct way so there’s not some massive confusion and yet, I still look like the good guy.
PS. I like this one.
“Thank You in Advance”
This means: You haven’t agreed to what I’m about to ask you, but the expectation is that you are going to do it anyway. If you are asking someone to go above and beyond for you, skip this phrase! It makes it sound like you are forcing someone to do something for you they haven’t agreed to yet.
when my boss follows up on a project I was supposed to finish a week ago pic.twitter.com/O3gxVgoktG
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 14, 2019
This means: You haven’t responded to my email in the normal time frame. I’m going to remind you that you haven’t responded by started my message with “following up”. Lol. Like I know you’ve emailed me three times, of course, you’re following up. (Although being the extremely timely person that I am I use this one….every day)
“Checking In On Updates”
Sorry for the delay, this week has been insane! – me answering emails every day of every week
— Ashley Fern (@disco_infern0) March 21, 2019
This means: You probably didn’t finish a project or the person emailing you has crazy expectations. They want updates sooner than you provided, so they passive-aggressively emailed you about it. And although you want to replay back something equally as passiv- aggressive like, “k, thanks” you can’t. Ugh.
This means: I mean, how many different ways are there to say, “f*cking respond to me?!!?” I could probably think of a million more. Once again another passive-aggressive way of saying, you didn’t respond so writing you another message to force you to email back to me. K cool.
“Not Sure If You Got My Last Message”
This means: Trying to be nice and be like, “I know you saw my last note but didn’t respond so I’m going to try and play innocent.”
There you have it. Is your mind blown from what *actually* is going on in your inbox? Put your favorite phrases below!
Need more brutally honest career advice? Buy our third book, When’s Happy Hour, available now in paperback!
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (4); majorphilebrity, _loxsmith_, betchesluvthis, disco_infern0 / Twitter; When’s Happy Hour