Here are five tips that I lived and breathed during the pursuit of my dream job: working at a top-tier consumer packaged goods (CPG) company. I share them with you with the hope that they help you land your dream job as well.
I’ve been quite fortunate with the breadth of mentors I’ve come across in my life. Mentors mold you into being the best you can be by providing relevant and timely advice. Find an anchor mentor (one that you go back to often, learn from and follow up with upon completing your tasks) and ensure that this mentor is alongside you the whole journey.
Trust me on this one. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the valuable mentors I’ve gained over the years.
Upon graduating, one of my mentors asked me to make a list of fifty professionals in my network and reach out to them for coffee (highly recommended). Coming out of university and returning from my six month exchange in the south of France, this was the last thing I wanted to do. I dreaded it; I hated it in the beginning, thinking it was completely pointless.
The result? In the first six months after graduating, I applied to 150+ jobs online and got zero interviews. However, when I networked with thirty out of the fifty professionals on my list, I got two interviews and ultimately landed my dream job in marketing. Networking even became fun after a while because, as it turns out, it was more than just trying to find a job, it became about meeting new people and learning from them.
3. Set a plan.
Start off your career-search by setting a plan. Make a five-year plan and write down where you would like to be and have had accomplished in that time. In 2012, when I was in my final year at York, my goal at the end of five years was to be enrolled in a reputable MBA program.
Once I understood this as my five-year goal, I worked backwards and set milestones that would help me get there. My three-year goal? Have international volunteer experience. My one-year goal? Work at a Fortune 100 in marketing and start a non-profit. I set these subsequent goals by identifying milestones that will help me get into a reputable MBA program.
The purpose of this five-year plan is to give you clarity. You may not accomplish everything but once you set this plan, you will instinctively start working towards your goals. I started a non-profit, not even remembering it was a part of my five-year plan. It was something I wrote down and forgot about, but instinctively started working towards.
All in all, make a five-year plan now.
4. Make a list of twenty companies you would like to work at
This is quite tactical but it allows you to narrow your job search. By making this list, you will gain focus on where you need to network and apply. Notice I said network AND apply. There is no point in applying if you don’t network with someone within that company.
This is another one of those instinctive lists that you will start working towards without even realizing. I completely forgot that General Mills was twelfth on my list until after I had networked and applied.
5. Be determined
I graduated with a sub-par GPA, went on my exchange during key recruiting season and had to work at Best Buy and a startup for twelve months after graduation. I had my fair share of setbacks in this pursuit of my dream job. However, I never gave up even when I was at my lowest.
Don’t ever think anything is below you. No matter what school you go to, what GPA you have and how many people are in your network, never think a job is below you. Whether it’s making photocopies at a small business or selling TV’s at a retailer, experience is experience. Best Buy gave me great sales experience and the startup gave me great marketing experience, which set me up for the job I now have at General Mills.
During 2011-2013, I probably applied to fifty to sixty marketing roles within a CPG company. I even printed a rejection letter I got from a top tier CPG company and framed it on my wall as motivation. Perhaps most relevant, General Mills rejected me four times before I finally landed this job. Be determined in this pursuit. If you want it and work for it, it will come.
To close off this long post, I want you to know the road to that five-year goal or that dream job is not straight. You’re going to have to plan for it, learn from others, face setbacks and move backwards before you can move forward. However, if you set your mind to your end goal, nothing will stop you from achieving it. Trust me; take it from someone that has been there.
If you want to reach out for advice on any of the above recommendations, connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll be more than happy to help.
This blog post has been written by Tayyab Rizvi. Click here to connect with Tayyab on LinkedIn. Tayyab is a CPPA Mentors seeking to make a difference in the lives of his mentees.