Setting up a Life in 10 Days?
June 3, 2013 12:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in NYC next week where I'll be looking for a sublet, and trying to get a handle on jobs. I'm hoping to move in early July. What can I do in 10 days to find a full-time job as quickly as possible in my field? I'm looking for work in content strategy/communications.

I've interviewed with two headhunters, who both spent about a half hour talking to me. One said at the most it would take three months to find me something. The other asked how quickly I could get to NY if need be. It's been a month already and nothing. I've asked both of these agents about the possibilities for freelance work, but haven't heard back yet. (Is it possible I'll never hear back? I was sent to them through a Mefite recommendation. Also, they've seen my LI page, resume, and portfolio, so they should have some sense of my saleability, no?)
  • In the meantime, I've contacted another three agents.
  • I've designed business cards
  • I've signed up for about 8 tech-type meet-ups in NY/Brooklyn, though only one will probably meet while I'm in NY.
  • I'm in the midst of answering a full-time job advertisement. On the whole, I'm not seeing much advertised that's appropriate on simplyhired/indeed/craigslist.
  • I've identified two or three companies that interest me. Should I write (?) or call (?) asking for informational interviews? How does that work in NY? (Or anywhere? But particularly NY, given its size.)
What else am I missing?

This is an expensive trip for me, and feeling ready to re-embark on the jobhunt with a new skillset has been a long time coming. What else can I do?

I'm leery of moving without a job, am afraid I'll get one no other way, so then I worry how long it will take....
posted by Violet Blue to Work & Money (18 answers total)
If taking a trip to NYC is an expensive proposition for you right now, then I fear you're not quite prepared for just how expensive moving to NYC in July will be for you.
posted by xingcat at 12:45 PM on June 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick Reply: I've priced out monthly costs, and was only surprised at the cost of express buses (!) So I've some idea of the investment.

The issue is, I've gotten the best feedback from prospective employers (via agents; there were 4 total thus far, but 2 wanted agency experience I don't have), of anywhere I've looked, which includes two other major cities. And I desperately need a new job (and living situation) asap.

I decided on the leap, calculating that I don't want to move in August since the city will be sluggish work-wise due to vacation, and I don't want to move in September because there will likely be so much more competition to sublet. So the idea was a three-month sublet, a job asap, and then a more stable living situation later in the fall. So the question is, How to find that job?
posted by Violet Blue at 12:58 PM on June 3, 2013

Your best bet is to call companies that you are interested in, and ask to speak to whoever would be your boss. E.g., if you think your role fits in the marketing department, ask to speak with the head of marketing. Once you get him or her on the phone, pitch yourself. Say you're going to be in town next week, and you want to meet for coffee.

But, really, you're putting a hell of a lot of pressure on yourself here. Perhaps a better strategy is give yourself time to find a job, then worry about relocation.

I wouldn't worry much about competition for living spaces. Though NYCs rental market is tight (I'm assuming you'd be renting), it's always tight. Moving during one part of the year isn't going to make an appreciable difference in finding an apartment.
posted by dfriedman at 1:06 PM on June 3, 2013

Can you give a little insight into the industries/businesses/fields that interest you? I'm in strategic comms, live and work in NYC, and it's a wide world. Feel free to memail me.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:07 PM on June 3, 2013

Have you looked for actual jobs on websites and applied for them?

I do a search of job boards (LinkedIn, SimplyHired and CareerBuilder are MY favorites.) I also go to the career boards of large companies in my area and search.

I've found that for me it can take about 10 resumes to get a call, 20 resumes to get an interview and 2 interviews to get a job. So I usually do a total of 50 resumes before I've locked down a job.

Is there a freelance board you can find contract work on?

I've only ever been placed by a head-hunter once. That was a total fluke.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:12 PM on June 3, 2013

Just as a data point regarding dfriedman's advice, there are very few things I hate more than recruiters (or candidates themselves) figuring out my office number and calling me directly, uninvited. They often have the wrong person or department entirely and even when they don't it's irritating. I have never hired someone who did this.
posted by miskatonic at 1:17 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Miskatatonic, are you recommending a note instead? Or something else? What informational interview approach do you think is preferable?
posted by Violet Blue at 1:20 PM on June 3, 2013

People talk about connections and networking and such but the way I have gotten every job I've had is by sending a cover letter and resume. I think your best strategy is identifying organizations where you would like to work and applying for openings.

I agree that you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself. I work in communications and even if you had great conversations with head hunters, you are probably one of hundreds of people looking for a job who they are dealing with. Have you applied at temp agencies? Are you looking for any job or a specific job?

Regarding informational interviews, both my husband and I have had coffee or lunch with people interested in working in the fields in which we work. It's easier if you can do this via friends of friends though because as friendly as I am, I don't really like the idea of having lunch or coffee with a stranger. A stranger who is also friends with one of my good friends - still not ideal but a better idea.
posted by kat518 at 1:23 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't trust the headhunters' estimates. They're not incentivized to give you an honest appraisal.

Moving to NYC without a job lined up is an incredibly risky proposition for anyone. It's one thing if you're hoping to work as a waiter or bartender and securing accomodations to match that budget. But expecting to land a professional, salaried position in ten days of interviews is wildly optimistic.
posted by ewiar at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Last peeps, but:

Kat518: I've been one of the vast army of un-/underemployed over the last few years, during which time I answered literally hundreds of ads, to no avail, or usually even response. Although my skillset has, thankfully, grown since then, I've begun to believe the conventional wisdom that networking reaps higher rewards than answering a blind ad along with another few hundred people. That's not to say I'm ignoring the ads completely, but another part of my impetus to move to the city is to speed up the meet and greet network angle, which I simply can't do a state or two away.

Ewiar: My guess would be that headhunters wouldn't bother talking to me if they didn't think they could sell me. After all, LinkedIn + Resume + portfolio is a lot of information. But I don't really know. I have had a little experience with NY headhunters, but not much. Anybody have any insight into their mysterious ways?

Anyway, I don't think I was really hoping to get a job in 10 days, just move things along as fast as I possibly can. Headhunters can help with that in my past experience, outside of New York.
posted by Violet Blue at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2013

An informational interview is not appropriate if your intent is to get the person you're interviewing to get you a job at his/her company. Informational interviews, to the extent that they're a good idea at all, are a good idea when what you're hoping for is to find out more about the person's field, or to get advice about how to plan out next steps in your career, or otherwise to get general information about the other person and their work. Basically, they're doing you a favor by agreeing to sit down and spend time with you. You can't follow up that request for a favor with a request for another favor, help getting a job.An informational interview is for you to get information about the other person or general advice about their career not for you to make a personal pitch to be hired. I get really annoyed when someone asks me for an informational interview and it turns out to be a pitch for why I should hire them or recommend that my company hire them.

I know it's incredibly frustrating, but I think you should reconsider your plan to move without a job. Unfortunately, finding a job can be really hard, especially if you're working in an industry where you haven't worked in a while in a city you don't live in. The recruiter who told you that it would take three months to find a job is being ridiculously optimistic, and if they're not responding to your calls or sending you out on interviews, I think that's an even worse sign. I know people who have lived in NY their entire lives who have been unemployed or underemployed (as in, working retail when they have masters degrees in their fields) for more than a year. I wouldn't move to NY unemployed unless I had $50k in savings or free room and board indefinitely.
posted by decathecting at 2:30 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have had a little experience with NY headhunters, but not much. Anybody have any insight into their mysterious ways?

The ones I have worked with work for very large companies that have hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes on file and definitely not nearly that many jobs. However, they make commission, so keeping you on the hook is incredibly important because they need to have that beefy database of qualified candidates to keep up client confidence.

I don't know how your industry works, but I know how professional industries work on the whole. Unless you're supremely qualified (the sort of qualified that means you're using headhunters because you're too busy to look for a job yourself) you're another resume in the database.

What happens is that a client needs someone and contacts the headhunters. The headhunters send the client a number of resumes, the candidate picks a few, and those people are sent for interviews. Maybe the client will take one of those people, maybe not. To the headhunter, it doesn't matter if you get the job, as long as one of the people they send out there gets it.

And, yeah, you're not going to hear back from most of the feelers you put out, whether its an resume, a headhunter, a hiring manager or whatever. The economy sucks, it's a buyers market, and every Craigslist ad is responded to by dozens and dozens of qualified candidates, of whom exactly one is chosen.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2013

To add: please do not underestimate the difficulty of finding a sublet without already having a job unless you can knock out those three months of rent upfront.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 2:45 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

First, you're not going to get a job in your field in 6 months. Ask me how I know. Be prepared to bar tend.

Second, don't move to the city without first having a place to stay. It doesn't matter where but never move into a place because you have to have a roof over your head and your roommates or neighbors are sketchy as hell. That's a good way to get arrested or shot. I had a friend who's a roommate was a drug dealer and he almost got arrested in the bust even though he was clean. Don't live in the Bronx or Manhattan. You can't afford Manhattan and the Bronx is dangerous.

Third, you're not going to get a job emailing resumes. Positions get flooded with thousands of resumes in the first few minutes and they usually throw them out and hire their neighbors cousins sister in law they played tennis with that one time. So endeavor to be that person. Go out and make friends. Do stuff.

Fourth, don't take anything I've said too seriously. If I knew what the hell I was talking I'd have a job and friends and wouldn't be posting on an Internet message board.

But for serious don't live in the Bronx.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 3:58 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

You don't want to use informational interviews to ask for a job. Some even call this the "cardinal rule" of informational interviewing.

I used to work as a department head at a boutique strategic communications firm in New York and I was cold called/ emailed at least three times a week by people asking for jobs. (Around this time of year, just after graduation season, I'd get multiple inquiries every day.) It always made me sad and I wished I could help them, but at the same time I resented having to deal with desperate people in the middle of my busy workdays. I'm telling you this because you'd do well to keep in mind the perspective of the people you're contacting.

I hate to pile on when I know it's not what you want to hear, but please do reconsider your plan to move without a job. As others have said, you will have difficulty finding someone to rent to you if you can't provide proof of income, and the rental market will not change appreciably in the next few months.

I've never heard of headhunters placing entry and mid-level people in communications jobs. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but I suspect that what's going on is something along the lines of what A god with hooves, a god with horns described. A lot of headhunters are paid a fee based on the annual salary of the person they place, so I can't imagine that it makes economic sense for them to work with people who'll be starting on the lower end of the payscale.

Good luck with the apartment and job searches. Try to hope for the best (a quick job offer, an affordable and livable apartment) but make sure you've positioned yourself so that you can handle extended unemployment and a difficult housing scramble.
posted by drosophelia at 4:49 PM on June 3, 2013

Response by poster: I actually just got invited in for an interview with a third headhunter. And I guess I'm contrasting the NY headhunter response to me (so far, so good, nothing concrete, but nearly everyone's responded) to the DC response a few years back when almost no one responded.

A couple of quick clarifying points: I fully expect to live like a student in NY, and I've got a close friend who's a native NYer helping me, so I feel pretty good about finding inexpensive neighborhoods and shares. (None are in the Bronx!) But part of the reason for the trip is to make sure my analyses from afar are right.

Thanks for the multiple clarifications about informational interviewing. I tend to get exceedingly shy in such overtly favor-based situations, so I've rarely done one.

I should also note, though I plan to live like a student (and have done so before), I am nowhere near one. I've got a long reasonably impressive background in a related field before I transferred into CS/communications.
posted by Violet Blue at 5:04 PM on June 3, 2013

The Bronx is dangerous? What the heck? For example, Riverdale is in the Bronx.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2013

Oh! And as far as jobs are concerned: I work contiguous to your field, in New York City. I have experience with more than one digital agency. I believe that unless you are very lucky or your resume reveals something uniquely suitable to a particular position, it will take longer (probably significantly longer) than three months for you to find a job here, unless you set your sights a little bit lower.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2013

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