When do I start applying for jobs?
May 2, 2008 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to Chicago in the fall. I have no job prospects at the moment, but I'd like to before I get there. Ideally I would like to work for a non-profit theater in some capacity to build up my applicable skills for later on, but ultimately I'd be fine working for any kind of non-profit. I've found a few websites with job listings, and I know I should probably start sending out my resume to places I'd like to work that don't have current postings, but I'm not quite clear on the timing. It seems awkward to say, "Hello, I'd like this job... in 4 months." But I don't want to arrive with a lease, a rapidly diminishing bank account and nothing else. Advice? If nothing comes through, I will become a barista. Again. But I'd rather not.
posted by ictow to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, As someone who was just doing hiring at a non-profit in Chicago, people who weren't in town yet who applied ended up at the bottom of the pile. In my case, I needed someone now, not 3 months from now when they were moving.

Good luck!
posted by thedanimal at 11:13 AM on May 2, 2008

Exactly what I suspected. Thanks!
posted by ictow at 11:36 AM on May 2, 2008

it IS awkward to say you want a job in four months.

look, i've done this move across the country thing. i also tried applying for jobs before i moved. yeah, never got a call back about those.

but after i moved here, when i had a local address and was IN town, i had no problem getting a job. ymmv.

also, don't lie about your address just to get an interview. it looks bad.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:38 AM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

IANACNW (Chicago nonprofit worker), but I've worked for nonprofits in several cities. Ditto to what the others have said about applying earlier.

However, it really is never too early to start networking. Networking is super important in getting a nonprofit jobs, because most orgs don't have huge HR depts or recruiting budgets. Often times, good jobs don't even get posted.

So I would still start sending out resumes to people or places you'd like to work with. Ask them if they have 15 minutes to talk with you about the field. Almost everyone loves the opportunity to be seen as an expert or a mentor, and I bet you'll get some responses. Hell, if I got such an email I would definitely respond.

Start with your university alumni association, or any alumni association or society you may be a member of, and find out if there's a directory of names and employers. Look at these months as a good opportunity to start developing contacts that will be useful in getting a job and building a professional reputation.
posted by lunasol at 12:20 PM on May 2, 2008

I am a former Chicago non-profit theatre worker. (I now work in non-profit theatre elsewhere.)

If you haven't already checked out chicagoplays.com, do so. It's the League of Chicago Theatres' website and they have job listings. I know you said you've checked out job listing boards, but in case you don't know about this one, you should.

Also, to agree with lunasol, it's never to early to begin networking. I'd look into emailing artistic/managing directors of smaller, but fantastic companies to ask them about their theatre and what they do. Don't say, "I want a job at your theatre." Do say "I hear your company does x. How did you get involved doing it? What challenges are there?" and other such questions. I once had a fantastic phone mentoring session with Nathan Allen of The House Theatre of Chicago right before I moved. I said that I wanted to create something similar where I now live, and asked how they did what they did.

Again, I recommend choosing the people you contact wisely -- Bob Falls or Martha Lavey probably won't have the time for this, but if you look for the smaller companies that repeatedly do good work (Timeline, Shattered Globe, ect), they are probably more open to mentoring.

Read up on what is going on. Visit before you move to see theatre. Theatre companies like knowing that you're familiar with their work and believe in their mission before hiring you.

And as a word of warning, it's a hard market to break into. There simply aren't a lot of entry level jobs beyond front of house. I graduated from a prestigious theatre conservatory that is well respected by the community. I had a lot of great contacts. I still worked two house management jobs and sold subscriptions. I moved and two years later I'm working in a high level position that I would have never even dreamed about in Chicago.

If you do end up being a barista, I recommend joining the Saints. Ushering is the cheapest way to see theatre. And Chicago really is the best theatre town in the United States.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 12:45 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Looking for a javascript formatter   |   Must I disclose my race? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.