Antonia Harler is a friend from the {grow} community who blogged and tweeted about her challenges finding a job in social media marketing. And then, it finally happened! She has been gracious to write this post about what it’s like finding a first job these days …

Getting a job is tough. Especially when you are fresh out of university and faced with a recession. And that’s why I’m here today. I’m here to tell you the story of what a job hunt is like right now and how a blog post changed my life!

I graduated in September 2010 with a diploma in Management, Communications & IT. My choice of studies was probably wrong in many ways for social media marketing but had some advantages, too.  Facing the job market as well as the strong competition was daunting. It scared me and I didn’t know where to start. I only knew I wanted to work in digital Marketing/PR in London but had no idea of how to go about it. How do you find a dream job in London when you are based in Austria?

I decided I just needed to go there so I booked a flight in October to spend two weeks job hunting. While I met many nice people and practiced my interview skills, I returned to Austria empty-handed. So many people were telling me “You should just look for a job here. It’s your home after all.” Their doubts started to eat at me. I asked myself many questions. Was I doing the right thing? Should I settle?

Luckily, I’m a stubborn character.  I just had this picture of myself working in London in my head and I wasn’t ready to dismiss it quite yet. I held onto that image despite the doubts creeping up inside of me. And on one Saturday evening after a couple of glasses of wine (trust me, if you are job hunting, you sometimes need those!) I decided to be more pro-active. CVs aren’t working anymore. They are faceless and hundreds end up on every employer’s desk.

That’s when I wrote the blog post that changed my life. I wrote from my heart and told people that I am worth hiring!  I had built up a meaningful social network and I reached out to them to help get the word out.  People like Mark Schaefer, Danny Brown, Stacey Hood, Shelly Kramer, and Kyle Lacy. Chris Brogan and Scott Monty also helped out.  In total I sent 20 Emails to people around the world. I explained my situation and asked for help. I needed my story to spread. It was a long shot, but I had nothing to lose.

Amazingly, all 20 people were happy to help. They spread the word or helped in other ways and before I knew it the post had been viewed over a thousand times by people all over the world. My inbox became flooded with emails from total strangers offering me jobs or simply telling me how much they loved the idea.  I soon started working part time for a social media agency in Manchester.  A month later Adam Vincenzini contacted me on Twitter to offer me a job I really wanted. And here I am now, happily employed at Paratus Communications, working with kick ass clients and learning from an extremely smart Australian.

It took me nearly four months to find a job. While it felt like an eternity, in retrospect, it’s nothing.  I know there are many people who suffer far more.

In the end, the doubts, the tears, the constant explaining about why I want what I want was worth it.  I didn’t choose the easy way out and settle.

And even now that I’m employed, I put a lot of pressure on myself. After all, I made my job search very public. A lot of people know about it, a lot of people helped and the last thing I want is to disappoint any one (especially my employer).

So, what advice can I give to all the people still looking for a job?

Be creative — We are still battling the recession. Companies have a ton of applicants to choose from and if you don’t differentiate yourself from all the others, you won’t be successful.

Use the power of social media – Forums and comment sections of blogs are an important way to network.  Make sure to be active and treat Twitter, Facebook and all the rest like it’s your job. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. A while ago I wrote a post for Kyle Lacy: “6 ways to get noticed by people on Twitter” In my job search, I lived and breathed my own advice and built wonderful relationships. Leverage the opportunities the social web has to offer.

Ask for help – People will surprise you with their willingness to help. I know they surprised me and I couldn’t be more thankful. At the end of the day, their help and kindness helped me reach my goal.

Blog!I put an exclamation mark behind blogging because I never thought it would be *this* important to employers. But it is. If you apply for a job in social media, people will Google you. They will stalk your Facebook and Twitter and they will want to find a blog. The social web is all about content creation. Always remember that.

Be pro-activeShow initiative. Be persistent. Keep thinking of ways to draw attention to yourself. Start thinking of yourself as a “brand”. Simply showing up to an interview doesn’t demonstrate drive or passion nor does it add anything valuable to your mission.

Be patient & don’t give up! — Hold on to what you want and keep fighting, even though times are hard.  I know, it’s easier said than done and more often than not you’ll have to overcome your own fears but it will pay off.

Antonia Harler holds a degree in Management, Communications & IT and works as a social media strategist at Paratus Communications. For more information about Antonia, visit her blog www.socialglitz.com, follow her on Twitter @antoniaharler or join her on Facebook www.facebook.com/socialglitz.

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