What to Know About Starting a New Career in Chicagoby MindSpring Partners on April 13, 2022 in Job Seeker
Whether you’re established in your field or just beginning your job search as a recent graduate in Chicago, preparing for a new job can be difficult— especially if you’re thinking of relocating somewhere as large as the Windy City. It’s also exciting! With all the hustle and bustle of a big city, plus its Midwestern generosity, Chicago is the perfect place to work hard and play hard.
While it can be easy to get lost in daydreams of eating Giordano’s deep dish pizza and watching sailboats on Lake Michigan, it’s important to come up with an action plan if you’re serious about starting a career in Chicago. Take time to consider your personal interests, professional experience and qualifications, and workplace expectations before making a conclusion. After deciding what matters most in your career path and taking the steps to accomplish your goals, your Chi-town job search will be much more productive. Let’s dive in a bit deeper.
Identify Your Personal and Career Goals
If feeling fulfilled in your career is important to you (isn’t that everybody?), it’s essential you align both your intrinsic and external goals. A successful career starts with self-reflection turned into actionable goals—both personal and professional. What are you looking to gain from your job? How can you best showcase your talents through your work? When making your list, first note the main goal and then describe in detail why it matters to you or how you plan to accomplish it. Here are some examples to get you started:
Best Practices for Accomplishing Your Goals
Invite new challenges. With every new job (and city) comes a learning curve. You’ll encounter new workplace cultures, tasks, and people of different personalities. By keeping a positive mindset, welcoming the growing pains, and viewing failure as a learning opportunity, success will be even more satisfying.
Find a sense of purpose. Beginning a new career can emphasize or create a sense of purpose in your work. Maybe you feel burned out after your years of studying; finally accepting a job in your professional discipline can remind you of why you chose the field in the first place. Seeking roles that spark joy and allow you to learn can leave you more motivated, engaged, and fulfilled in your career.
Meet new people who share your professional interests. Getting to know new people in your career field is an exciting aspect of starting a new job. It’s also important to learn as much as possible about a company’s workplace culture before accepting a position. If you find the demeanor of other staff members to be positive, it’s a good indication you’ll enjoy working there.
Fair pay. It’s important to advocate for yourself and your earning potential. Think about everything you can offer your prospective employer, so you can determine the salary that allows you to perform at your best everyday. Employers that offer a fair, living wage are employers that care about their people.
Healthy work environment. Seeking out a positive work environment is necessary if you want peers, leaders, and mentors who will help you grow in your career. Find out how team members interact with each other and what leadership envisions for the company. Plus, look over the company website for values and mission statements. Be positive but also exercise a healthy level of skepticism.
Work-life balance. If one of your career goals involves having a flexible work schedule, chat with the hiring manager or HR lead about paid time off and the possibility of working from home. Ask about general work-life balance at the company and find out if leadership is modeling those values.
Once you’ve narrowed down your personal and professional ambitions, it’s time to put in the work to find a job that combines both sets of goals. Here are our top five suggestions as you begin your job search.
6 Steps for Chicago Job Search Success
1. Subscribe to local Chicago industry publications. A quick Google search can provide you with blogs, magazines, and other industry-specific publications. For example, if you hope to work for a marketing firm, search “Chicago marketing firm blog” and you’ll find Chicago-based marketing agencies and thought-leaders such as Bounteous, Clique Studios, and closerlook, all who have great, industry specific blog pages. It’s also beneficial to check out general industry-wide publications. For the marketing industry, this could be Chicago Media & Marketing News from the Chicago Business Journal or the Media & Marketing section of Crain’s Chicago Business.
2. Network at local professional events and find job fairs to attend. Regularly check sites like JobFairX for job fairs in your area. Type in your zip code, and you’ll find a list of virtual and in-person career fairs. Some are even citywide, spanning multiple industries, such as the annual City Career Fair and People’s Resource Center’s annual career fair. If you attend a university in Chicago, it’s likely your campus career center will have information on these events as well. For example, the University of Chicago holds the UChicagoGRAD career fair every year. These events are a great way to meet current employees at companies you’re interested in and get a feel for their culture.
3. Join social media groups for young professionals in your area. Try searching for Facebook groups related to recent graduates in your industry. For example, groups like Chicago Job Opportunities and Chicago Jobs & Who’s Hiring post around ten open positions a day! Or connect with current members of a company on sites like LinkedIn and ask them about their roles. Social media can be a great way to network, especially if in-person events aren’t feasible for you.
4. Take advantage of formal or informal interviews. It’s an accomplishment to land an interview, whether you’re offered the job or not. So, take advantage of the time you have with the hiring manager or HR leader. Show the interviewer what makes you stand out from other recent graduates by highlighting your experiences, personality, and potential.
Also, try requesting informational interviews as you’re networking. Rather than reaching out about a potential job, consider asking someone to take a few minutes to speak with you about their industry, company, and role. This will not only allow you to lead the conversation, taking a bit of pressure off of you, it may also make those in your network more willing to speak with you.
A lot of professionals are hesitant to have a conversation if they know they don’t have a fitting job immediately available, or they aren’t the decision maker in the hiring process. But they’re often open to sharing their experiences and insights. And while it might not lead to a job immediately, you never know where professional connections might lead down the line.
5. Don’t skip the small stuff. Write the cover letter, proofread your emails, dress sharply for events and interviews (even if they’re virtual), and always send thank you notes. These small details are essential for success, and they show your potential employer you care.
6. Connect with a Chicago staffing firm like MindSpring. For over ten years, we’ve assisted the people of Chicago in finding the perfect jobs for them. We’ll take all of your personal and professional needs into account, our mock interviews will prepare you for whatever comes your way, and our support doesn’t stop when you get the job. MindSpring will be a resource and guide for the rest of your career.
Finding your first job in Chicago can be stressful. Our team at MindSpring wants to help you find your perfect role. Not in Chicago? MindSpring is also hiring remote roles throughout the country. Complete the form below to get in touch with a hiring expert today or click here to search our open positions.