In this class, we're focusing on strategies you can use in building your career in web-related fields. There is no magic bullet to success - but evolving toward active and consistent work in your field of choice includes persistence, moxy, flexibility, common sense, and focusing on being active and progressive in growing your craft even when work is lean.
Three things can help you tie it all together:
Your action plan
Your reputation boost.
Here are some basics to consider. Develop your own mix from the three areas to help you build professionalism while you seek and get work.
Your package is everything you put together and manage that puts your professional face forward:
Solid practice and comfort level with interviewing.
Business form(s) for if you freelance: invoice, client survey, project management sheets, database for tracking, contact and thank you letters, direct mailers/flyers for leaving in local shops, etc.
Online board resume profile(s)
Thank you cards
Personal name plates, name badges, etc.
Special skills, like tutorials, free downloads, articles, blogging, and other publicly available examples of your skills
Your Action Plan
Your action plan includes the steps you need to consistently follow on a daily/weekly basis as you look for new work and prepare for existing work to end:
Sign up on a job board aggregator, like Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com.
Sign up on a company job board aggregator like LinkUp.com.
Sign up on a professional networking service, like LinkedIn.
Sign up on a job-matching service, like JobFox or Bintro.
Look for and apply regularly to serious job listings in these online boards.
Sign up with at least three industry-specific in-person agencies, like Aquent, Parker Tech, Filter, 24-Seven, ComSys, Robert Half Technology, CampusPoint (post-student), etc.
Check in once a week with each agency while looking for work, and once every couple of months with each when you are on a contract. LinkIn with your reps too.
Look for full-time, part-time, flex-time, dual part-time, time share, project contract, short temp, and individual company freelance opportunities.
Choose companies you would like to work with and set up informal informational interviews so you can learn firsthand what they look for.
Sign up for one or more service-based online opportunities, like VolunteerSolutions, VolunteerMatch, and Idealist.org.
Connect with your local small businesses, community centers, artists, and services and get/do freelance projects.
Update these profiles as your information changes, like new skills/successes from contracts.
Join one or more local networking groups for your skillset and goals: MeetUp.com, Biznik, etc.
Join a networking group outside your main skillset but with people who are entrepreneurs, small businesses, and potential clients.
Join one or more local job-search support groups, and/or create one.
Attend free/low-cost seminars, quickie classes, lectures, how-to's, etc. to learn new things and network.
Join one or more professional organizations, like AIGA, GAG, Digital Eve, the Freelancers Union, etc., so you can get resources and perks.
If a designer, commit to learn more about basic dev, marketing, and corporate concerns to round yourself out.
If a developer/programmer, learn more about design, presentation, marketing, and soft-skills to be more accessible.
Get one or more digital and/or print magazine subscriptions so you keep up on your business and have fresh material to review & try out.
Your Reputation/Skills Boost
You can and need to continuously add to your skills toolkit and your portfolio samples. This is so you always seem fresh and in-the-know, so that you are always doing something progressive and not feeling hopeless, and so that you keep looking for opportunities instead of waiting for job listings. Make it happen!
Evolve your portfolio so that it becomes as professional and individual as you can make it. Add to it!
Look for opportunities to be a tester.
Join one or more collaborative/cooperative project groups for your skills area, or create one.
Sign up on a free/low-fee project marketplace site like Guru.com, Crowdspring, or Odesk where you can bid for bits and projects - but focus on fair and real bids/projects.
Find a serious blog in your skillset industry and become a contributor.
Create tutorials, how-to's, and snips to share so that your network and build a skills reputation.
Teach, tutor, and or mentor - local community centers, senior centers, junior and senior high kids, job search centers needing tutors, online, etc.
Speak at schools, meetings, and networking groups as an expert.
Subcontract as a bit part of a project, dev for a design team, design for a dev team, etc.
Build a bit of any freelance effort to cover your ability to consult.
Commit to a minimum of one interesting but low-hourly-impact pro-bono a quarter when unemployed, and a couple a year when employed.
When visiting someone out-of-town, look for networking functions and meetings in that area of your existing networking groups.
Use Twitter, Facebook, your professional networking profile, and your portfolio to update announce your new materials, and share your growth & professional presence.
A Final Word
The key is for you to find and practice what works for you. A few tips:
Limit the number of overall profiles, groups, and agencies you join to what is comfortable and easy for you to keep up without betting burned out.
At the same time, don't just sign up for one or two and call it good. You have to push!
Consider how you spend your unemployed days:
20% handling online applications, sign-ups, and check-ins
20% getting out and circulating in some way
60% building fresh portfolio samples, skills, and education that moves you forward from here!