How I Braved an 8-Month Job Search—and Found My Dream Job in a New City!
Our mission here at The Muse is simple: to help you find your dream job. So, there’s nothing we love more than hearing about it when you do!
Today we chatted with SJ McMillan, who bravely worked through an eight-month job search in a new city because she knew her dream position was out there somewhere. And she was right! She now works as an Onboarding and Learning Specialist at Ultimate Software, helping new hires happily transition into their roles and facilitating continued training for employees.
Tell us about yourself!
All my previous roles focused on customer service in various settings with some divergence in training and management. I thrive on delivering dynamic and personalized solutions to customer concerns. Being creative and personable is fundamental to my personality, so it easily comes out in my work. I want to inspire true satisfaction and trust in every interaction. Now I get to support others so they thrive and feel empowered to always do the right thing. Yes!
What were you looking for in a job?
I had been adamantly on the hunt for a new career since moving to Atlanta for my husband’s work last March, but I didn’t want just any position or with any company. My husband’s glittery new job came complete with beer kegs, doggie days, and team workouts. He was over the moon for his new company and I could tell that his real joy came from his sense of belonging. I am not a beer drinker—and I’m a cat lady through and through—but the part about belonging and trusting your team spoke volumes to me. I needed that for myself and sought it out with fervor.
Unfortunately, most of us in corporate America have been abused and trained to accept sub-par situations in the workplace. I really wanted to work in a place that treated me like a person: a living, breathing, feeling person who could be trusted to have the company’s best interest in mind while making decisions. I just wanted to be me and join a team who trusts one another.
What attracted you to Ultimate Software when you found it on The Muse?
It looked like a fantasy company! At first glance, I knew this company was something special. When I heard the motto “People First” and watched the videos on the company’s Muse profile, I was sold. I could tell this was actually a people company and knew I had to be a part of it. I then searched around for all the information I could find on the company.
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Is there anything you did during your application process that helped you stand out and land the job?
After thoroughly researching the company, it was plain to see how our thoughts and beliefs aligned—and I wanted to show the team that I operated on the same principles they did. With a new burst of energy, I took several days to create my cover letter and tailored my resume to the role. I also displayed my personality in the “anything else you’d like to tell us” part of the application and stayed away from canned answers. All this I learned from articles on The Daily Muse!
I spent about a week researching, updating my materials, and perfecting my application—and the work I put into it paid off.
What’s your favorite part so far about working at Ultimate Software?
The people! My manager trusts me to take care of things. I absolutely love my team—they keep me grounded and support me. The new hires are excited to begin, and I feed off that energy to ensure they have what they need to get starting on their roles. Everyone really embraces each other for who they are, and I couldn’t ask for more. I work with a family of superstars!
I also love how true to our culture we are. I have worked at Ultimate for nine months so far, and I still feel the same as when I started. Our culture is so important, and you get wrapped up in it every day. It touches you somehow, no matter how you are feeling, and centers you.
What advice would you have for someone who wants a job like yours or who is stuck in a difficult job hunt right now?
If you want a job like mine, you need to be brave to do things in your own creative way. I was a ball of nerves through the whole interview process, but I wanted to make a lasting impression. So after my final interview, when I met with my teammate, my manager, a team director, and my VP, I wrote them all cards thanking them for their time and referencing something specific we talked about. I had never done that before, so when I came back up to deliver the cards, I was so worried that I would run into one of them. The receptionist took the cards with a big smile on her face and said she would put in a good word for me. I felt so brave!
I know exactly what it means to be stuck in a difficult job hunt. I found Ultimate Software eight months after I started job searching, months full of a couple of interviews and numerous dead ends. I really wanted to stay true to myself. I always stayed positive and knew there was more for me on the horizon. In between job hunting activities I focused on increasing my strengths and finding (then augmenting) my weaknesses. It was a radically difficult time financially but I knew there was a perfect fit for me somewhere and stayed stubborn until I found it. I suppose this is a type of bravery, too.
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