Here’s a great piece of job advice. Start meeting and talking to people before you need a job. Not just anyone though. Find a mentor.
It’s cliche to say that it’s not what you know, but who you know. The greater reality is that it’s what you know AND who you know. This is doubly important when you’re starting out.
Here’s what I mean. If you approach someone because you want a job, very often they’ll put up their guard to some degree. Simply because you’re a stranger who wants something from them. They don’t know you and so there’s no level of established trust or any kind of pre-existing relationship. That simply makes you another name in a stack of applications. You may find a job this way simply because you have a killer resume, but it’s not necessarily the most effective path.
The other option is to find someone who is an insider months before you actually enter the job search. If you’re young and starting out this is extremely important. They don’t have to be the boss or the owner. My advice is find someone who’s doing what you want to do in the kind of company you want to work for. Often they can be found on a company website, sometimes it just takes a little asking around. Once you find them, just let them know that you’re trying to do what they do. If they’re someone whose work you respect (and they should be) tell them so. And then ask if it would be okay if you showed them some of your work and ask for some advice on how to improve. Often people are flattered to be asked for their insight. If they’re not interested, thank them and move on. If they do agree to help you, then treat that relationship like gold. If they offer you advice take it. If they suggest you do something then do it. If they ask you questions answer them promptly. By doing these things you’re establishing social capital and demonstrating to them that you’re taking them and your path to a career seriously. If you flake out on them you’re just going to earn a reputation of not being dependable.
Here’s why this is important. First and foremost it gives you insight into exactly what you need to know and where you need to improve. Secondly you begin to form a professional relationship with someone inside the industry. This person can eventually be a strong reference on an application and hopefully also be someone who can give you the inside path to the career you’re after. Sometimes all it takes is phone call or a text message from the right person to put your name at the top of the stack of applications.