In The Job Search, Instagram DMs Are The New LinkedIn Message

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

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.” 

“DMing 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

10 Tie-Dye Pieces You Can Actually Buy Now

Truth be told, (which is what I thought #tbt stood for back when Instagram first became a thing) I did not fully understand this revived obsession with tie-dye. Like overalls, I kind of thought tie-dye was a thing of the 90s that should have stayed there, especially since my only experience with it was in 2004 at a summer camp literally I tried to escape from. However, upon doing some research for the purpose of this article, I’ve found a few tie-dye pieces I would definitely wear and I can happily admit that I no longer hate the trend. In fact, I want all of the pieces I found and maybe thanks to unemployment money, I can get them!

If you no longer associate tie-dye with hippies and children and want to expand your style horizons, these are the seven pieces you’d love. But act fast, because just like loungewear, tie-dye is selling out at the speed of light.

Splendid Twilight Tie-Dye Pullover, $148

I actually own this sweatshirt and it’s one of my favorite things in my dresser. Yes, I paid nearly $150 for a f*cking sweatshirt. Judge me. Here’s the thing, though: you know how your grandmother’s front lawn always had those low-growing plants with inexplicably soft fuzzy greenish gray leaves? That’s literally what Splendid loungewear feels like. It’s like a kitten’s ear. It truly makes no sense to me, but I’m not going to question it. This sweatshirt in particular is in muted enough colors that you can definitely wear it out and not feel ridiculous . I’d pair it with a pair of white boyfriend jeans and silver ballet flats.

Free People Movement Love Tie Dye Tank, $23.20

free people tie-dye tank

Need a casual shirt for lounging around? Something you could do your light walk around the block in? Boom, and this color combo is on sale right now. What more could you want?

French Connection Satin Tie-Dyed Dress, $98

On the model, this dress kind of looks like something Serena van der Woodsen would wear to sleep, but I would most definitely wear this out. I would wear it with a pair of Greek-looking sandals that you tie around your ankles. The dress is kind of quiet, so pairing it with something with a little more personality would really tie (dye lol) the whole thing together.

Dippin’ Daisy’s Serene Tie Dye One-Piece Swimsuit, $33.60

Are swimsuits canceled this year? I have no f*cking idea, but I’m being hopeful anyway. This one piece is business in the front, party in the back with a low back and cheeky cut on the bottom. I feel like you could get away with wearing this to your family pool party and a day club (remember day clubs?) equally.

Urban Outfitters Out From Under Jenny Tie-Dye Fleece Jogger Pant, $49

I feel like you can’t name a pair of tie dye joggers “Out From Under Jenny” and give zero context in the product description, but okay Urban Outfitters. Tbh, I haven’t stepped into an UO since I was in high school, but their loungewear has been on point as of late. I am very particular about joggers because I don’t like when they’re too baggy or too fitted, and these are right in the middle. They’re also made of a a fleecey type of cotton, so they’re definitely very cozy.

Emerson Road Tie Dye Haze PJ Set, $68

Shopbop calls this a PJ set, I call it a working from home outfit. This lightweight jersey set has a cute pastel color scheme and tie details on the side, which basically makes it formalwear if you ask me.

Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Carry On Vanity Case, $30

If you want to jump on the tie dye bandwagon, but don’t want to wear it on your person, consider a super-cute and extremely durable cosmetic bag. It’s got a zip closure and a few extra pockets so you can stash your random Chapsticks or whatever, and it’s lined.

Onzie High Rise Basic Midi Legging, $32

I’m a huge fan of Onzie’s leggings, sports bras, and activewear in general, so these leggings will be perfect for my socially distant runs. (JK, it’s more like a jog, if you’re very loose with your definition of “jog”.) Anyway, they’re high rise and high performance, so you can actually do a legit workout in them.

Target Tie Dye Leggings, $17

From a distance, these leggings look more like marble than tie dye, which I’m not mad about. I like that the pattern and colors are subtle enough that you’re not out and about silently screaming for people to look at you. These are another item I’d happily wear out. I’d throw on a white tee and an oversized denim jacket and call it a day.

ASTR the Label Retrograde Square Neckline Bodysuit, $68

Ugh, this bodysuit is so perfectly summery that it’s making me kind of sad. I might just get this to wear it around my house underneath some jean shorts while gazing longingly out my window and pretending I’m on a rooftop.

Images: Splendid (2); Nordstrom (2); Bloomingdale’s; Urban Outfitters; Shopbop (2); Target; Verishop (2) 

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What To Do If You Were Laid Off Due To The Pandemic

In addition to dealing with a global pandemic and basically having to buy toilet paper and Clorox wipes off the black market, millions of people are currently filing for unemployment. As much as I’m thrilled that non-essential employees are staying home and know it’s beyond necessary right now, it means mass layoffs and furloughs. Depressing, right? And I thought the saddest thing I was going to see this week was Peter Weber’s TikToks.

If you are out of a job due to the pandemic—for one, I’m SO sorry. But, you’ve come to the right place. As much as I want everyone’s quarantine “job” to be watching Netflix and eating Ben & Jerry’s, rent and bills are, unfortunately, still a thing. And if you live in San Francisco like me, rent is a very big thing even though you would never guess from the size of my apartment.

I am the first one to acknowledge that what’s going on in the world right now is freaking hard. I mean, it’s a literal pandemic. And as much as I’m hoping I make you laugh with my (attempt at) jokes while giving sound career advice throughout this post, I know that if you lost your job, that must be super hard. I can’t imagine the stress and anxiety that this situation is causing millions. That being said, I don’t want a situation that we cannot control to stop anyone from getting their next career opportunity, if that’s where your head is at.

Just because we’re all pulling a full-on Rapunzel and locking ourselves away in our houses for the foreseeable future, does not mean that you cannot make moves to work towards getting a job. And lucky for you, your biggest decision today would have probably been whether to watch TV in the bedroom or the living room—so you’ve got some time on your hands. Here’s what you can do right now if you were just laid off.

Update Your Resume

You’ll hear any career experts say it time and time again: update your resume! I know it seems like a chore to write down your accomplishments, but you never know how soon you’ll get your next job interview. (And, again, what else are you doing?) So take off the quarantine goggles that are telling you to simply drink wine and watch Real Housewives all day and get to work.

You might be thinking, “I was never laid off before, how do I frame that in my resume?!” Well, look—I’m sure there are a ton of correct answers to how you could put this in your resume, but I think you could handle this in two different ways. I’m of the belief that when applying for a job, it’s actually a positive when a company realizes you are unemployed for a reason out of your control. That indicates that your performance is still great.

So I don’t think it hurts to put a small italic note at the bottom of your most current experience that says *Laid off due to COVID-19 or however you want to phrase it, and then secondly, when you do apply (yes, surprise, I’m recommending still applying for jobs), you can follow up in your cover letter reiterating this.

File For Unemployment

If you are out of work due to the pandemic, don’t forget to try and file for unemployment. I’ve seen on the news lately that it is extremely difficult to get through to unemployment offices right now, so even though the millions of Americans who are out of work should get this benefit, it doesn’t sound as easy as it should be.

In doing a few quick Google searches about how to file for unemployment, I learned that the benefit is provided by the state. So, when you Google to find out more, make sure you’re checking directions for your state specifically. It looks like each state has their own website, where you can see how you can file (ie phone, online, fax—but who has a fax anymore?!).

When you do decide to file, make sure you have the appropriate documentation and information ready. I’ve heard it’s hard to get through (either with the website crashing, or not getting through to the phone lines), so I don’t want you to miss your chance when you finally do get someone on the phone.

Good luck on this one. It sounds like a super difficult (and potentially frustrating) process, but despite that, it absolutely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You might even want to come up with a strategy to try to get through faster, like setting alarms and logging onto websites at off hours. The outcome is some income, and it is definitely worth the wait for that (and some states, like New York, will pay out retroactively to account for how difficult it is to get through to the unemployment office).

Learn A New Skill

From Zoom happy hours to trying to figure out how to actually cook myself meals, I know quarantine can seem busy. But wouldn’t it be cool if you came out of it with a new skill you could market to employers? Lots of colleges and other places are offering free online classes, and it’s the perfect time to get that certification you’ve had your eye on for years. When else will so many digital things be free? Probably never, that’s when.

This might not only pass the time—it could also beef up your resume. Especially if there’s some sort of skill or course you need for the new type of job you want—this could be a good time. Maybe you’ll even discover a new passion and turn into one of those people you see in commercials who started a tiny business out of their kitchen and is now a millionaire. Don’t forget about me when you’re famous, ok!?

Network

Regardless of the pandemic, I’ll always vouch for networking. You never know when someone will refer you directly to their company, which is a whole lot more powerful than applying online.

As we said before, it seems like, over everything, many people (not all, but many) have time right now! Also, I imagine a lot of people would be open to talking about something other than the world falling apart right now. You could probably find a lot of people who are open to a phone conversation nowadays. I’m always a big fan of reaching out via LinkedIn, or even guessing someone’s email address at a company. Who knows, maybe they’ll be a great contact.

When you are networking, remember, this layoff is not about you or your performance, so don’t let it seep into your confidence.

One tip: Be mindful of how you network. Maybe do a quick Google search of the company before you reach out to make sure there weren’t mass layoffs there too. The last thing you want to do is come off tone-deaf, but I think if you phrase it in a respectful way, you’ll be gucci.

Apply For Jobs

When I’ve seen people online talk about getting laid off during this time, it’s usually paired with something like, “and I can’t apply for new jobs right now”. It probably is an extremely competitive time to try and find a new job, since so many people became unemployed all at the same time and many companies are not hiring.

The notion I want to clear up, though, is there are still some companies that are hiring. Not all, but some. Some industries are absolutely struggling right now, that’s no secret, but there’s a whole slew that aren’t.

I’m going to tell you a little secret. There’s a website (it’s all user-generated, so take it with a grain of salt): Candor.co/hiring-freezes/ that has listed over four thousand companies’ hiring statuses. You can use this site as a starting point for those who still have job open to whittle some down.

Most importantly, I don’t think it hurts to apply and try to interview—because what’s the risk at that point? You’ll watch one less episode of Gossip Girl today? Worst-case scenario, you practice interviewing for when this is all over. Best-case? You’re employed.

That’s all folks, thanks for coming to my TedTalk. If anything, I hope this post inspires you to take your career into your own hands and start taking action before the pandemic is over, because honestly, I’m not good for much else right now.

Images: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production / Unsplash