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Congratulations Music Graduate - Now What?

If you aren't leaving music school with a diploma and a job offer, graduation time can seem daunting.

In the immediate aftermath of graduation, you have a few options:

  • Take some time off to decompress
  • Find a summer music job to give yourself a breather while you search for a permanent position
  • Start executing your master plan to land your post-music school dream job

You may decide to exercise all of these options in different measure. That's fine too. Regardless, you will need to start putting together the building blocks of a professional job search. That way, when you are ready to make the full-time push in job searching to find that full-time job, your ducks will be in a row.

What are your job options?

First step is to build a list of different types of jobs that suit your interests and talents. You may be a violinist, but playing violin professionally is only one of your career options. Indeed, anyone with a music degree, whether in music education or performance, has a wide array of potential job tracks ahead of them.

You can also research job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Music Jobs, and Musical America, just to name a few. This research will expand your vision as to what music jobs are out there, and it will give you a sense of what music jobs are in demand.

Understanding what the demand is for specific music-related jobs is critical to shortening your job search time.

Get your collateral in order

Different jobs have different application demands. You don't want to scramble to get the right assets in place to submit your application on short notice. Here's a list of the collateral you need to get in order:

  • A different music resume for each different job type you'll be going after. A resume is a sales tool. You'll want to develop multiple versions of your resume that re-order and emphasize those skills and experiences that are most valuable to the specific job type. For example, your performer's resume will look very different from the one you'd send for a music promoter or manager position.
  • Practice your interview and audition skills.
  • Put together stellar performance demos. You can have one video with multiple performance excerpts. You can have others that are single works. If you've spoken on stage, include a clip of that. You can record your own performances. Build your demo library the same way that you build the versions of your resume. Different clips will display your different talents.
  • Find out who's happy to be a reference for you. If possible, get a written recommendation from professors and previous employers.

Constantly update and revise your job search collateral too. Whether you start volunteering somewhere or playing a gig here and there during your job search, get these new experiences into your job search collateral.

Work your network

The truth about job searching is that most of the time – the juiciest job openings are never publicized. Hopefully, you've been networking throughout your college career, networking with your peers, your professors, and the other music professionals with whom you cross paths.

You can add a line to your social media profiles letting people know you're ready to work in the music industry. If you can be a bit more specific than "music industry," that's good. However, networking is mostly about direct relationships, not passive announcements.

Inventory your personal and professional networks. People you know who have nothing to do with music may still be valuable contacts in your job search. List out those with whom you have a close relationship, those with whom you only interact with now and again, and those with whom you've not connected in a while. Approach each with an appropriate level of expectation.

  • Folks you talk to all the time: Make the personal call or face-to-face contact. Tell them what kind(s) of job you're looking for and ask if they know anyone who may need assistance. If they don't have a job available right now – they may still be someone who can be of assistance in your job search. If so, ask for an introduction so you can try to set up an informational interview.
  • Folks you know, but only interact with occasionally: These are people with whom you may not be close, but they definitely know who you are. This is a pretty broad group. The people in this group you run into naturally, or talk to when you see them. Since part of job searching is staying active within your music community, you should be running into people. Let them know you're looking. If there's anyone in this group you think can be especially helpful, you might reach out to them directly.
  • Folks you've not spoken with in forever or with whom you've never been more than acquaintances: These can be tricky. Don’t send out form emails or DMs. Make it personal, remind them of how you know each other if necessary, and don't stalk them or get angry if they don't reply.

When you find a job or an organization you're interested in, do some research to find if anyone in your network has connection there (LinkedIn is fantastic for this). These are both great circumstances to reach out to the right person in your network too.

Find a music job, any music – and then go from there

Finding a job sooner rather than later is better. If your first job out of music school isn't ideal or your dream, it's better than not working while you wait for the magic opportunity. When that unicorn position opens up, it may well get filled by someone who's been working in a music store for the past six months! 

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