Tips for Job Searching in Ann Arbor, Michigan

The saying about searching for a job is “It’s not what you know but who you know.” That means that the top strategy for job hunters should be networking and making face-to-face connections. Luckily, Ann Arbor, Michigan and the surrounding area are full of job fairs and networking groups that make job searching easier, even during a recession.

First, here’s some general advice for using networking in a job search:

  1. Put your resume up everywhere online you can think of: LinkedIn.com and monster.com are good places to start. However, the more specific you can get, the better. For instance, if you have experience working in journalism, make sure to post your resume to journalism-related jobs boards and resume banks. In Michigan, a good choice would be the Michigan Press Association’s resume bank. If you’re an I.T. professional or an accountant, find resume banks and jobs boards specific to your area of expertise and get your information out there.
  2. Contact any former co-workers or supervisors with whom you still have a good relationship. Ideally, it’s good to stay in touch occasionally with former colleagues even when you’re not job searching, because you never know when a professional contact will come in handy. When you’re facing the prospect of unemployment, that’s the time to email or call those connections you’ve been nurturing. It’s good to express an interest in how they are doing, both personally and professionally, but don’t beat around the bush. Let them know that you’re looking for a new job and that you hope they’ll keep their ears open for any good opportunities for you.
  3. Tell everyone you know that you’re job searching, not just professional contacts. This includes friends, relatives, and the clerk at your favorite coffee shop. You may think it’s unlikely that your elderly aunt or barista can get you a job, but it’s good to cast a wide net. You never know who will turn out to have a useful business connection unless you make your needs known.
  4. Consider joining an organization related to your field. Many times this is free, but even if you have to pay a small amount of dues, it may be worth it to establish some professional connections. Though this may not directly lead to an interview or job offer, you will find opportunities to hone your communication skills and may be able to get additional training in topics or skills that will make you a better hiring prospect.
  5. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for. Don’t go the easy route and fire off a bunch of generic resumes. Take the time to highlight the most pertinent information in your resume and touch on the requirements you saw listed in the help wanted advertisement. It’s also a bonus if you can send a letter or email to just the right person, instead of to a general “Sir or Madam” or to “The Human Resources Department.” Try your best to find the correct contact and target your letter and resume to that person.

Now that you have the basics of networking and job searching under your belt, here is some job searching advice specific to Ann Arbor, Michigan and the surrounding area.

  1. Take advantage of the local universities and colleges. The University of Michigan is the obvious first place to look, and its various departments are often hiring. It’s fairly easy to get signed up on the university’s web-based jobs board. After you do that, upload a resume and start searching for jobs by keyword. The U of M isn’t your only option, however, Eastern Michigan University also has an online careers board, and EMU frequently hosts job fairs that are open to the general public. Cleary University in Ann Arbor also hosts job fairs that are open to the public.
  2. Get connected to Ann Arbor SPARK. SPARK hosts tons of free or low-cost seminars and networking events. The Hot Shots Career Connections events are free and usually involve free appetizers as well. You just show up with a stack of resumes and get a chance to mingle with other job seekers and meet face-to-face with job recruiters from a number of top regional employers. SPARK also has an online career services web page you can check any time. Additionally, SPARK sends out several email newsletters that contain notices of job postings and networking opportunities, so it’s smart to sign up for those as well.
  3. If you’re looking for a job in the creative field, start making connects with the Arts Alliance of Washtenaw County. They offer a newsletter with job openings and grant opportunities and sponsor frequent meet ups for creative types. These “Creative Connections” sessions allow you to give a quick spiel about any special projects you’re working on and the chance to network with other creative people in your area. The meet-ups and other Alliance events attract people in a variety of fields, from freelance writers to graphic designers, actors, visual artists, actors and musicians.
  4. Visit the Concentrate Media website or sign up for the weekly newsletter. The newsletter contains business news for the Ann Arbor area, including information about which companies are expanding and hiring. There’s also a “Talent Crunch” section with job listings. Concentrate is especially useful for those in high-tech careers, but it’s a good resource for job seekers in any field.
  5. Consider the Young Professional Connection. Though the group is aimed at young professionals in Metro Detroit, they occasionally host networking events in Ann Arbor. If you live in Ann Arbor, Michigan but are willing to commute an hour or so, this is a good informal networking group. The only requirement to join is to sign up for the newsletter. The newsletter will alert you to casual cocktail mixers and will connect you to the blogs of members who are trying to further their careers in southeast Michigan.

Even in the face of a recession or an unexpected brush with unemployment, there are job opportunities in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the surrounding area. If you stay optimistic and work hard to establish personal connections, you’ll increase your chances of landing just the job you want.