New Year. New Job. New You.

Dearest Second Day friends,

Is your New Year’s resolution to find a job that is truly meaningful? Ours is to figure out better ways to help you along in the process.

The hiring pace at most social impact organizations is slow over the first few weeks of the year, but now is the perfect time to update your job search infrastructure to hit the ground running in January. And so, please enjoy these tips from our team below. Shoot us a note at hello@secondday.org with any feedback or ideas for other articles that would be helpful!


10 questions to ask when looking at your resume

  1. Resumes are like works of art.  Everyone has an opinion. So, take in the suggestions, including mine, and personalize for yourself.  Is every word yours so you can explain it?

  2. The purpose of your resume is to generate interest to get an interview. Does your resume sell you or is it more like a backwards obituary?

  3. An employer hires because s/he has problems to solve. How does your resume show you are a problem solver?

  4. Does your resume market your relevant experience and skills to what the company/organization needs?

  5. Do you show the value of your internship, extracurricular, and job experience through what you accomplished and what you learned?

  6. Have you eliminated what is not relevant or are you trying to tell everything you have done?

  7. Does your resume read like a job description? Do you show what you did with those responsibilities?  Does it bring out what you accomplished and how you measure those accomplishments?

  8. Have you looked at your resume objectively and from the hiring manager's perspective?

  9. Have you proof-read thoroughly? The smallest tweaks in one place often lead to unexpected formatting errors in other parts. Getting others to take a look is a great way to also gain them as an advocate in your job search.

  10. Is your profile on www.linkedin.com consistent with your resume?

    1. On your LinkedIn profile, have you included your email address and a link to your resume?

    2. Are you using a professional looking photo?

How to not just survive, but ~thrive~ via networking

Networking is a strange artform that is incredibly relevant at every stage of your career. You often hear “it’s all about who you know”, and that sentiment is not entirely off-base. Networking is about expanding the “who you know” part. According to Commongood Careers, for every cold application that lands a job, thirteen are secured through a personal connection. The secret is that you don’t have to know people before your job search begins: networking can get you there.

It can feel uncomfortable or forced, but do not underestimate the power of putting yourself out there. Networking requires the right balance of being systematic and deliberate, while speaking in your own voice and being genuine. If you don’t feel confident that you have a strong starting base, don’t be intimidated.  Here are some tips to get yourself started:

Lay the Groundwork

  • Build your own online profile: We aren’t saying anything groundbreaking when we point out that everything happens online now. Building your presence should happen there, too! LinkedIn is a particularly important social media platform. We all know there are certain rules to how you conduct yourself on Twitter vs. Instagram vs. Snapchat. LinkedIn has its own social norms on how to conduct yourself. Here are some tips.

  • Follow your dream brands/companies: LinkedIn works well in the reverse; be sure to follow your favorite organizations on social media to stay tapped into major announcements, thought leadership activity, and better understand their voice and mission. If they offer a newsletter, make sure to subscribe to learn other ways to engage with the organization.

  • Get business cards made: You’re a grown-up now. Yes, you need business cards. Not only are they any easy way to make a strong impression when networking, but you never know when you’ll be out and about and meet a potential contact. Business cards are a powerful tool in how you represent yourself and network. Here are a few templates to get started. They can be simple; be sure to indicate your name, phone number, and email address (the one you check most regularly). Undergrad students can include school, graduation year, and majors. If you are a creative and have an online portfolio, be sure to have your website on there.

Where to Find People

  • Career services: Every college career center offers different levels of service, but they are a good place to start. They can give you some great starter tips and contacts through the alumni network. Alumni are particularly passionate and devoted networking partners, so take advantage of them as much as you can. Also, alumni are often still able to access career services!

  • Faculty/staff: Start building relationships with faculty and staff as early as possible, particularly those you feel you can build a personal connection with. This will serve your future networking needs, and it certainly can’t hurt your GPA.  Make your presence known in class, find time to chat in their office, and stay in touch on email after the course is over. You would be amazed at how far many professors will go to support you if you share your ambitions.

  • Recent Grads:  As noted above, your alumni network is going to be especially willing to help. They literally know where you’re coming from. Career services are a good start, but you can also use LinkedIn to search for people who attended your school and see where they are employed (Click on search bar > “People” > All Filters > Schools). You can also search for companies you are interested in, and LinkedIn will note if any alumni from your school work there.

  • Networking Events: For current undergrads, the school will often organize events for you: everything from industry-specific panel discussions to job fairs. Be sure to join email distribution lists across different departments or organizations. For those out of college, local nonprofit groups often convene people for networking, such as YNPN.   

  • Internships or volunteer opportunities: The often frustrating reality is that you need to have worked to get work. It’s worth making time in your busy schedule to intern or volunteer a few hours a week if you are able. It allows people to get to know you personally, and see how you operate. If you can impress and deliver, then they can be a way to reach a broader professional network not necessarily only built on having attended your specific university.

  • Take a shot at cold outreach: If there is someone that has a cool job or works at a company you admire, you don’t have to wait to meet them in person. Often, people in the social impact space will respond to cold outreach if you are earnest and reasonable in your request to connect with them. If you aren’t able to get their email from the organization’s website, try tools such as Huntr or RocketReach.

You Have a New Contact! Now What?

  • Follow up: No matter how you met this new contact, there is usually some sort of follow up involved. If you meet them in person, then ask for a business card so you can email them directly. Do this within a day or two of meeting this person, and think strategically about when they would be seeing the email. It shouldn’t get buried in a storm of other work emails in the middle of the day, and they may not check their email on the weekends. We recommend a weekday evening (not too late) so that it is at the top of their inbox when they go into work the next day. Be sure to use your own voice and write it to be specific to the person you are talking to (it shouldn’t feel like a copy/paste job). A few important things to include in the email:

    • Remind them how you met and who you are (“I’m a student at Hogwarts, majoring in Potions with a minor in Transfiguration. We met at the ‘Future Aurors of America’ Conference last week.”)

    • Specifically reference your interaction (“I appreciated your perspective on the future of Defense Against the Dark Arts”)

    • Be specific on your ask (“I would like to get a butterbeer and discuss your career trajectory, and get your perspective on how to navigate the bureaucracy of becoming an auror. Please let me know your availability next week, I’m available Tuesday and Wednesday any time.”)

    • Acknowledge their time and thank them (“I appreciate your help as I jump start my career and look forward to speaking to you soon.”)

  • Ask for an Informational Interview: An informational interview is a powerful tool that is a mix of an info session, informal job interview, and networking event of two. It allows you to dig into a contact’s professional history and their perspective on the industry, and get ideas on next steps on how to advance your own career. Here’s how to get the most out of that interaction:

    • Do research beforehand: Take the time to LinkedIn stalk your contact. Where did they go to school? Where else did they work? What’s going on in their industry and with their company?

    • People LOVE to talk about themselves (it’s science) so if you go in genuinely curious about someone, they will enjoy themselves. However, it’s always good to prep a list of 3-5 thoughtful questions ahead of time

    • Be clear on your asks: What types of roles do they have for someone in your position? When do they typically hire for them? What’s the best way to follow up? Any other organizations or people that you should connect with?

  • Have a plan for ongoing stewardship - maybe the first meeting isn’t the place to make the ask, or maybe you just want to make the connection and see where it goes. Add an event in your calendar to send a follow up note!

How to set yourself up for success in the job application process

If you haven’t heard the old adage “applying to a job is a full-time job itself!”, you’ll soon find it to be true. Applying to a job requires being resourceful, disciplined, organized, and a little creative. Here are some ideas on how to structure your search

  • Block out time: Being organized and deliberate with your time becomes more important than ever. Check your calendar every week and look for the chunks of time that are available.

  • Make to-do lists: We all know that half the battle can be figuring out what you want to accomplish when you have a limited amount of time to work on something. When you block off time to work, make specific goals of what you want to get done in that time frame. Lists will be your best friends!

  • Create a tracker: We love GoogleDocs here at Second Day, so we’ve shared a sample tracker that you can make a copy of and adjust for your purposes. It allows you to view all the positions you’re interested in and/or applying to and what action items are left.

  • Find an Accountabilibuddy: Dance like nobody's watching, but apply to jobs like someone is. Even better, find someone else who is going through the job hunt process (or just a really pushy friend) to keep you honest. For many people, sending them a weekly update on your progress can be a good way to keep moving things forward.

  • Sign up for...everything: It is important to get yourself on the right email distribution lists, industry newsletters, and networking groups related to your industry to constantly track where your counterparts are going and what they are saying. Outside the structure of an undergraduate environment, most prospecting requires active research and engagement.

Sorting through an existential crisis: words of wisdom from our content director

There are entire fields of study about this - about understanding one’s personality, or analyzing one’s job satisfaction, or determining one’s day-to-day happiness.

Second Day isn’t here to teach out about all of these (for now). We want to give you three of our favorite tools for self reflection, understanding what you want out of your career, and working through the occasional existential crisis.

The very basics: Self Care, Self Reflection, and Self Awareness

Some of the best advice I ever received was that before I could serve others, I had to first take care of myself. This has held true for me and even grown, from not just taking care of myself, to knowing myself. This thought process relates to a lot of buzzy concepts - mindfulness, well-being, self-care, etc. But let’s break this down for a moment, because it’s not complicated and it really is fundamental to having a fulfilling career.

Everyone has coping mechanisms, whether they are conscious of them or not: ways to escape to their happy place, to seek calm in the chaos. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, going for a run, listening to a podcast, or even watching TV - these are all methods of self care.

Taking the time to note which mechanisms work well and which don’t, which moments you find yourself wanting to do certain coping activities - this is where we get into mindfulness and self-awareness.

It seems simple, but we are often too busy to note these things. When are you feeling burned out? What activities drain you? What did you like about your day and not like about your day, and how can you make it better?

Asking yourself these questions requires you to take a moment, pause, sit in the moment and think about the past (however short- or long-term), present, and future (again, however near or far). This, my friends, is self reflection.

Everyone comes upon this habit differently - some people I know specifically schedule time for it, some interweave it into their daily lives. But taking time approximately once a week to think about the good, the bad, and the ways you want to manage each is immensely helpful for keeping tabs on your mental health - and, by extension, helping you either avoid existential crises or combat them when they do occur.

Some basic, helpful self-reflection questions (if these seem wrong or silly, adapt them so they fit you!)

  • What did I like about today/this week? In what moments did I thrive? What was exciting and energizing?

  • What did I not like about today/this week? What did I find annoying? What, if anything, made me angry?

  • In what moments did I feel most at peace? How did I take advantage of this peacefulness? How did I fail to take advantage?

  • In what moments did I feel most stressed? How did I allow myself to cope with this stress? How did I fail to cope with this stress?

(Some of these inspired by this list of self-reflection questions from Positive Psychology Program)

Write these down, talk them out, think through them - reflect in whatever way is most productive and helpful for you. But taking regular time to pause and zoom out is a really important part of this process.

Tying it into your career: Mission Statements

You may have heard of the book by Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is this book that popularized the notion of a personal mission statement [1]. There are countless ways to approach this exercise; I, for one, obsessively self-reflect, so while I believe that I have a fairly strong mission statement channeling the decisions I make about my career, I have never written it down. It also bears noting from the get-go that your mission statement is likely to change throughout your career - certainly in the nuts and bolts of how you act on it - but there will likely be a fundamental basis for it that remains constant.

What am I on about? Purpose, values, “what you want your character to be and what you want to contribute to society”[1] - or, as Forbes puts it: “a framework for what you want to do, as well as why you want to do it.” [2]

It’s an exercise in zooming out, taking that self-reflection and self-awareness and layering it with concrete goals and priorities. Balancing motivation with achievement, what makes you happy with what is realistic and necessary - but all and always as defined by you. I like to think of the middle ground as fulfillment.

There are a few guides and tools out there for crafting mission statements - we do not endorse one single option; ultimately it depends on what works best for you:

  • Forbes breaks this into 13 ways [1]

  • Develop Good Habits has a good explanation of the origin and ways to approach, including… [2]

  • This Mission Statement Generator which also has examples

You and your job

Employers will often conduct employee engagement surveys to help them understand how to maximize their employees’ potential. This is beneficial for both the employee and the employer, because a happy employee is a productive one. But there are personal lessons we can glean from these types of surveys and ways to generalize the kinds of questions they ask - so you can see what motivates you at work, what doesn’t, and how to adapt accordingly.

  • I know what is expected of me at work.

  • I have the materials and equipment to do my work right.

  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

  • In the last 7 days, I’ve receive praise or appreciation for doing good work.

  • My manager, or someone else at work, cares about me as a person.

  • Someone at work encourages my development.

  • At work, my opinions seem to count

  • The mission/purpose of our team makes me feel that my work is important.

  • My teammates are committed to doing quality work

  • I have a best friend at work


Once you have reflected on what gives you energy and how you want to live into your personal mission statement, MAKE IT HAPPEN! If there are other resources that you think would be helpful for us to include, please let us know!

Second Day