That’s what the slightly uptight, middle-aged woman across the table told me. I was a naive 22 year-old eager to find a job and this no-nonsense, tweed-wearing consultant said she could help.
Until that very moment, I had no idea that my choice of lip color was going to be an impediment to landing employment. Good to know!
I took her advice to heart, not only as it related to lipstick, but also about acting like the professional I aspired to be.
And because it’s May and colleges across the country are releasing seniors from their captivity, I thought it would be a good time to pay it forward and offer some advice to recent college graduates looking for a job in the liberty movement.
- Send Talent Market your resume immediately if not sooner. We are here to help liberty lovers find their dream jobs, so let’s get connected! We will use this information to keep you informed about potential opportunities, but we will not share your resume or information with other nonprofits unless you apply for a specific job! And we have plenty of entry-level jobs so you definitely want to be in our orbit.
- Create a resume that illustrates your experience and interest in liberty. Free-market nonprofit managers want to hire people who are just as excited about liberty as they are. And what better way to prove this than to include things like liberty-oriented internships, seminars, fellowships, programs, and networking groups? Did you intern at Cato? Did you attend a FEE seminar? Were you a member of Network of enlightened Women? The hiring manager won’t know unless you tell her! Oh, and keep it to one page! After a decade of work experience, you can graduate to two pages!
- Create personalized cover letters for each job you apply for that illustrate you’ve done your homework about the organization. Make sure the cover letter is addressed to a human (a little research on the organization’s website goes a long way) and explain your interest in the organization’s mission. Generic cover letters usually lead to instant rejection in our world, so if you can’t muster the enthusiasm to write a tailored cover letter for a specific opening, you probably aren’t that interested in it and likely should not apply!
- Figure out a realistic salary range for the role to which you’re applying. Are you applying for an entry-level job in NYC or Columbus, OH? Because you can live like a king in C-bus on the same salary that will have you living in a cardboard box in the Big Apple. Most applications will ask for a salary range, but if they don’t, you’ll almost certainly get the question during an interview, so be prepared!
- Proofread your application before you hit send. You know how your college professors were happy to extend the deadline on that research paper or let you reschedule the exam you missed because you went to SXSW? Well, don’t expect that kind of leniency in the real world. I’ve seen more applications rejected for spelling/grammatical errors than I can count, so make sure you proof it before sending it off on its cyber journey!
- Follow-up with the hiring manager (but don’t harass!). If you haven’t heard anything for a week or two after you’ve applied for a job, you might want to follow-up with the hiring manager via a kind email that reiterates your interest in the role and asks if any additional materials are needed. Hopefully, the hiring manager will be kind enough to respond. And if you’re working with Talent Market on an opening, you probably won’t need to check-in with us because we’re big on sending updates to candidates even if we don’t have news! We’ve all been in your shoes and we know how it feels to not know!
- Choose quiet, professional locations for phone/Zoom interviews. Coffee shops are an absolute no. The hiring manager won’t want to hear “Java Chip Frappuccino for Kimberly!” in the background as she asks about your project management experience. And if it’s a Zoom, make sure to consider the background. No roommates passing by or marijuana leaf tapestries on the wall.
- Prepare for the interview! Review the job description again before the interview. Spend time on the organization’s website and, if possible, review its latest annual report. Know the organization’s mission and the broad scope of its work. Review its recent 990s. Read the bios of the people with whom you’ll be interviewing. Finally, come to the interview with questions. The hiring manager will likely ask you if you have questions for her. Make sure you do! Aren’t sure what to ask? Talent Market offers lots of ideas in this article.
- Talk like the professional you aspire to be. If you talk like, um…you’re like, um…ya know…still in college and stuff…the hiring manager will, like, totally notice, right? Correct. And it will be very, very bad for you. So, practice dropping those words from your vocabulary.
- Look like the professional you aspire to be. Maybe your most serious job thus far was lifeguarding at Camp Miniwanca, but now you’re ready to trade in that swimsuit and whistle for professional attire. Even if you’re applying for a virtual role, you’ll want enough professional clothes in your wardrobe to visit the office, attend conferences, etc. And remember that the super tight/super short clothes that were fine for college almost certainly won’t be for a job in the free-market nonprofit sector (don’t worry — you can still wear them bar-hopping on the weekends!). Oh, and whatever you do, don’t wear purple lipstick!