Recent Grad Turns Job Search Into a Career
PSFK talks to Willy Franzen of onedayonejob.com.
As anyone currently seeking a job can tell you, it’s a rough market out there. Perhaps no one is more acutely aware of this than recent grads, who left college after four years with diploma in hand expecting an entry level job and left with the daunting prospect of cold calls, message boards, and months to years of unpaid internships. Instead of letting this get him down, Cornell grad Willy Franzen decided to share his job searching methods with other potential employees and employers by launching onedayonejob.com – a daily blog and newsletter highlighting desirable (and often hiring) companies and how to best apply for a position. PSFK recently asked the young entrepreneur five questions about what drove this endeavor, as well as his advice for other daring job seekers.
PSFK: What made you to decide to start the website? Is it a solo effort or do you work with any others?
WF:I graduated from Cornell a semester early in January of 2006 with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. I had spent two summers interning in HR, yet I was very certain that I did not want to purse a career in HR. A contract job writing an affirmative action plan for a call center outsourcing company cemented that feeling. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew that HR wasn’t it. Because I had invested so much time and effort in pursuing HR, I was lost. I decided to take some time off after graduation, and then I started job searching, but without any clear direction.
During the job search I realized what a poor job employers did of marketing themselves to new grads. I knew there were a lot of interesting companies out there, but I didn’t know how to find them. I also began to realize that I was much more interested in entrepreneurship than finding a job. I had run a business building websites when I was in high school, and I was always interested in the Internet, so I decided that I could build something on the web to make the job search better. It took me a while to come up with a concept, but I eventually realized that a site that took an in-depth look at one company every day would be a really great way to expose new grads to exciting companies. One Day, One Job really came out of my own frustrations with the job search. I built a resource that I would have wanted to use when I was job searching.
I do have a number of guest writers who work with me occasionally, and I also partnered with author/speaker/consultant Jason Seiden to develop a course for job seekers called Found Your Career, but for the most part I do everything when it comes to One Day, One Job.
PSFK: How long have you been running the site?
WF: I started One Day, One Job in late May of 2007. I officially launched the site on November 2007.
PSFK: What is your criteria for choosing which companies to showcase?
WF: My criteria for choosing companies is pretty simple. They have to be interesting. Maybe it’s what they do, or where they’re located, or how they do things, or who they are. There are a million things that can make a company interesting. Even if a company isn’t specifically interesting to me, I try to see how it may be interesting to a segment of my audience. I obviously also try to make sure that the companies are places that new grads would actually want to work.
I find these companies from every imaginable source. Twitter is a big one. I also get a decent number of recommendations from readers and friends. Magazine lists are often helpful. I’m looking everywhere that I can for interesting companies. Sometimes it’s a billboard on the side of the road or a new product that I love. I’m a big proponent of what I call “the always looking approach.” I find job boards to be mostly useless for job searching—everyday life is a much better source for finding cool companies.
PSFK: Have you gotten any letters or emails from people it has helped?
WF: I actually do get a decent amount of fan e-mail. Most of it is pretty general thanking me for One Day, One Job or One Day, One Internship. Some of it is more specific. If you look here: http://www.onedayonejob.com/media-kit/ and scroll down to the heading The One Day, One Job Effect, you’ll see a number of success stories from employers. At the bottom of that section I mention that we have specific success stories from job seekers who landed jobs or internships at MWW Group, DailyCandy, Shmoop, Ifbyphone, Academy for Educational Development, Motley Fool, and All Terrain. Tracking down success stories isn’t easy because of the nature of One Day, One Job, but I still hear from a good number of people whom I’ve helped.
PSFK: What is the best advice you can give to prospective job seekers for this economy?
WF: I don’t think the economy changes much. Job seekers need to understand why they’re valuable to a prospective employer. That means that they need to understand the employer’s business. If you can demonstrate that you’ll create value, you’re a lot more likely to get hired. A lot of new grads have a fundamental misunderstanding of where they add value. They think that they can be the CEO and try to show off too much—it comes off as arrogance. A willingness to work hard and solid intelligence will go a long way to getting entry level job, but job seekers need to understand how that fits into the employer’s needs.
This problem often manifests itself as a bad attitude. Getting familiar with the company through research can help a lot, but sometimes job seekers need to start all over and get smacked upside the head. It all comes down to understanding things from the employer’s point of view. Ironically, had I had a better attitude going into my job search, I probably would have landed a job and never started One Day, One Job.