Crystal’s Solid Gold Tips for Job Searching

image**NO APOLOGIES FOR TERRIBLE PUNS. Crystal White is solid gold.**

A couple weeks back, we heard from responsible adult Crystal White about her career path, her impressive and varied personal interests and activities, and how she ended up in her job at the National Press Club. But Crystal is also a font of interesting job opportunities, some of which she shares on Facebook and more of which she sends her friends directly. One of my favorites had something to do with researching and writing about British castles. I feel like my mom will be disappointed that I didn’t pursue that one.

I asked Crystal to share her secrets to finding the coolest-sounding jobs in the DC region, and her advice is below. I don’t mean to freak out her current supervisor, but with her interest, supportiveness, and insight, I think Crystal has the makings of a great recruiter or career coach. Responses have been edited very lightly for clarity.

I have admired the jobs you’ve shared on Facebook for a long time and I appreciate the ones you’ve been sharing with me even more lately. They’re really unique and interesting opportunities, tailored to really specific combinations of skillsets, and they’re not all just from Idealist or other big job boards. How do you find them??

I’ve job searched a lot over the past 13 years and I just stay signed onto the various listservs I stumble across. Thanks, Google! Once I see an interesting posting, I read more about the org, see about their other affiliated orgs/groups and read up on the positions they are hiring for. I’m also always on the lookout for online job postings: if I’m researching something completely unrelated to job search stuff but come across an interesting org, I’ll see what positions are available. I check on them periodically to see what opening they have and mentally tag friends who had an interest in something similar.

Why do you share any job listings at all? Do you think doing this work reflects anything about your personality, past work, and/or social media persona?

I wished that someone were doing it for me. I’ve job searched a lot so I know how long, frustrating, and isolating the process can be. Having someone send you a job posting that reflects to a goal you have or a skill you want to use feels affirming and supportive. It may not pan out or be the right fit but it’s nice to know someone else feels invested in your being in the right job. I really don’t know if they are helpful but I’ve found that looking at different job postings help open up my research to what’s out there and even more importantly expands my thoughts on what I think is possible in my professional life. For example, when simply reading a position’s title I assume I’m not qualified for it but when I thoroughly read the skills required and position responsibilities I learn that i could totally could fulfill those things and more. Why do I get so intimidated and turned off by something that I could possibly be good at?

What resources do people tend to overlook when job hunting?

I think we don’t realize that the best opportunities for jobs often come from personal relationships and recommendations. So talking to everyone you know that you’re looking for work is a good thing. Also, it’s not enough to say you’ll take anything. Not only should you narrow down the field you want to work in, but take time to figure out a list of what it is you want to get out of this position (it could be as simple as a paycheck, or a list of certifications/skills learned, or even flexible schedule/more time with family), what skills you would bring and what you don’t want in this new position. Managing expectations is a big part of what I’ve learned job searching; more than just the job, you’re looking for the right fit and if you haven’t done work to figure that out you’re potentially stepping into a bad place.

Regarding hard resources, your alumni groups and college career center (assuming you attended college) often have national and international postings. Professional associations in and adjacent to your field often host a jobs page. Library websites have a ton of resources. Research the museums, theaters, clubs, associations, organizations you love. Talk to people about their jobs and ask how they got there. People love to talk about themselves.

Lastly, an easily overlooked resource is an investment in self-care while job searching. It’s impossible to job search for 8 hours straight, 5-6 days a week. You’re not going to be productive. However 3-6 hours daily is manageable. Take care of yourself by not fritzing out on stress; go regularly to the library or gym, take walks, meet with friends for lunch or coffee, invite yourself over for dinner, go to all manner of “networking” events. Try not to take on other people’s stress about your job searching. It’s a weird thing but talking all the time about how stressed I was while job searching didn’t help me job search any better. It just manifested more anxiety that things weren’t working out more quickly. Not isolating myself and being sure to find outlets in friends who will listened and supported me did help me put all of the work i was doing in perspective.

How much time do you think you spend browsing job listings? 

I’m not in an active search for myself now but a number of really talented friends (you included) [Ed note: aw, shucks!] have been looking so it’s usually a little bit every day. it doesn’t take long to see something, read the posting and forward it to people who expressed an interest in something similar.

How do you spot a good one over a dud?

A dud is a position that is posted every year because there’s obviously a lot of turnover. I read up on websites and 990s [nonprofit tax forms] to see what their average staff size seems to be. If there seems to be a regular turnover, there is likely an office culture issue. A dud also has an unhealthy number of expectations and doesn’t seem to pay very well. If it reads like two disparate positions smashed together, it probably is.

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