Archive for the ‘Job Hunt’ Category

What a Wonderful Week!

Unlike last job hunt I have quietly hunted for my job. I have made some great connections on an offline the past few months. I have also quietly almost finished up my second semester of graduate school and am waiting for a six week break before I start a field placement at an unknown location (scary!).

Last week I had three follow-up job interviews. They all were great interviews. I would have been stoked to have accepted any of the three if they were offered to me.  I did all the reqesit Thank You letter follow-up. I e-mailed and sent letters in the mail within 24 hours (unless they said they would make decisions within 24 hours) and then waited.

Instead of going to the gym like I have been lately to clear my mind (mind = beyond blown) I drug my stay at home mother with my to a local strip mall to do some retail window shopping. It helped some, but that couldn’t last all weekend. So, Saturday and Sunday came and went as always.

Then, Monday came and went as well. No phone calls. I tweeted, I applied for 3 jobs, all courtesy of Craigslist. The quiet confidence of last week was slowly disappearing.  Poof! Phone call from a radio station. Radio station?! I’m not in the radio industry (I wish i was that bubbly and outgoing, though!) I had won a trip to Houston, hotel room, back stage passes and tickets to Bruno Mars concert two days later. Say what? You’re Amazing, radio!

So, Wednesday comes around. I woke up feeling like P. Diddy. Packed up, ready to go. Not even half way there (it’s a three and a half hour drive) and holy cow! I get a flat tire! Yes, a flat tire. Thank goodness my trustee sidekick, Amber, knows how to fix a flat because I never planned on having a flat (well…yes, never planned on it…). We’re working our magic when I swear a little angel in an old mazda truck pulls over and helps us fix our flat in 30 minutes. He was a little Grandpa who got his hands dirty for us and when I asked for his address to send him a thank you card he said no, please don’t. And he faded into the distance of I-10.

Now, more than halfway to Houston, new tire in position (a new full size spare nonetheless), I get a phone call from one of those 3 places I had mentioned.  The manager asked me if I was driving and I said, “Well, yes, but I won’t be at a stopping point for a while…” And then he sounded sad, I was like “Oh, no. I didn’t get the job.” Then he goes, “Well, let me cut to the chase then, we’d like to offer you the part time position.” Yahtzee! I knew something was going to happen.

So not to bore you with the rest of my personal diary…the hotel was pretty. Traffic in Houston still sucks. It made us late. We obviously got our picture taken with the beautiful Bruno Mars. The concert was wonderful. The drive back was uneventful-except for the drizzle in Lulling. And I have a part time job!

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Dear Lower Unemployment Rate, We are not friends!

The February unemployment rate was the lowest reported number since 2008. That’s great news! Jobs have been created in a numbers of sectors. To those of you who have found jobs in those areas, congratulations! For those of you who are still looking, I would like to welcome you to our joint pity party.

While it is great news that the unemployment numbers are moving up and jobs are being created, it also means several things for those of us that are still looking for employment:

  • It may take longer for us to hear back from hiring managers

With up to 200 applicants for a posted position on the internet job boards, hiring managers are really have their work cut out for them.  While I have given them some heat in the past for not getting back to me when they have said they would, I do understand the volume associated with posting a position.  So, if you’re a job seeker, realize that your goal of finding a job now is not the same goal as the hiring manager who has a goal of finding the right candidate.

  • We may have to tweak our resumes and cover letters more

There is an art to matching keywords. If you find the art, please let me know. I haven’t figured it out   yet. If I had, I would share it.  🙂

 

 

 

  • We may have to go after temp to hire jobs

As much as I dislike the idea, many people champion this idea. It’s a way for companies to test out employees and positions.  It also keeps an employee busy while you look for the next full time position.

  • You may have to network more (offline and online)

Let everyone know you’re looking for a job. If you go out to eat with friends and you meet someone new and they ask you what you do, don’t be embarrassed, maybe they know someone who can help you! I’ve started saying that I am currently going to graduate school, but I am also looking for full-time employment. It kind of pads the shock that I am unemployed, but then the person also knows that I am looking.  If networking mixers scare you, try networking online. Start joining twitter chats like #jobhuntchat and #HFChat.  It takes the pain out of the face to face networking. Do not be afraid to connect to those people on other platforms like LinkedIn either. Those connections can turn into real connections and will take the fear out of the face to face meeting. Then, once you get that down you’ll be able to network like a pro in real life!

  • We may have to settle for jobs that are not in our sector or are below our level to wait out the recession (still!)

Continue searching for the next best thing, but also remember that the next door may not open         at the right time. Look for things that can lead you to that next door. Look for a CNA position that could lead to an RN position. Look for an Administrator position that could lead to development. Look for a teller position that could lead to loan officer.  It’s all in what you make it.

Even though I give all this advice it doesn’t mean that I’m still not bummed about the state of the economy. It’s holding everyone back. With only 3 interviews and a handful of auto-generated e-mails since this latest unemployment stint, there are some times when I continue to stumble and wonder what the next step is. For those of you that are unemployed know there is someone out there feeling the same thing. For those of you who know a friend or family member who is unemployed, give them a cookie or watch a really bad movie with them to cheer them up. And for those hiring managers and recruiters who come across applicants who are unemployed, please give them a chance. They’re good people.

Burying the Past

I might be in a bit of a slump. Saturday I put on a t-shirt to look presentable for my morning Human Behavior class. What my 4 classmates and my professor didn’t know was that I had sweatpants on throughout the class and I didn’t take them off the rest of the day. I was supposed to go to the gym Saturday too. I didn’t. Sunday wasn’t much different. Before the job loss I could count on Sunday to be very productive. Get up, go to the grocery store, do some laundry, go to the gym and go to bed. Get up and do the whole thing over again. Too bad the whole thing isn’t the same.

  Sure, cry me a river. I’m sad.  But I think I’ve found a symbolic resolution to this sadness. Much like a bad break-up I have decided to bury my past. Throughout my time with my previous organization I have amassed a few mementoes. I have three t-shirts, some papers and some training materials. The t-shirts I just haven’t had a chance to look at or throw out. The papers I pulled out in my harrumph to get out of the office and my training materials I brought home to write an organizational paper.

So, today, in this breezy sunny mild south Texas late winter day, I have decided to bury my previous employer to move on. I put on my black skirt, a black shirt and got a shovel. I went outside with the dogs following me. They were interested in my “stuff.” I had some scissors, a box to put the stuff in and nothing much else. I dug a rather large hole (the binder is a 3 inch binder), cut up the t-shirts and put them in the box with the papers.  I put all the stuff in the hole, covered it back up and said my good-byes.  I said good-bye to the mean people, the unnecessary drama, the lonely lunches, the unplanned and unexecuted fundraisers, and all the other things that just weren’t a good fit.

While I said my good-byes I also said a prayer. I said a prayer for a new beginning, a new start. Maybe the new beginning isn’t tomorrow or next week, but I asked for a new beginning.  I also asked for continued strength through this tough period because even though I know I said my good-byes, like the death of a loved one the loss of a job is not easy and I may be able to go to the grocery store and to the gym today, but maybe not tomorrow.

So I buried my past and I’m moving on to my future, whatever that may be. And I recommend that anyone who has gone through a bad job loss joins me in burying their past. It will only hold you back in the future.

What Did You Learn At Your Last Job?

Whether you’ve been laid off due to the economy, left your previous employer due to mutual differences, or are leaving your position to move on to a brighter future, all professional positions can be considered learning experiences. It may be hard to see past terminations and lay-offs due to downsizing. But! consider that the average American will change their career 3 to 5 times in a life time, leaving a job in the grand scheme of things should just be considered part of life. Think of the following few things after you leave:

Lots of people use a previous position to rule out their next step in a career.  Maybe the position will help you become more specialized in specific area. Or, even realize that one specific specialization is not the area for you.

Did you hate working on your own? Maybe you loved the specialization but you want to work on a team to support the cause.  Or did that team just clash with your views? Maybe a different company will help you realize your dream.

How about your boss? Was there something that just irked you about your boss? Did her make-up just drive you up the wall?  Or maybe it was something real, like no feedback on projects that just was not helpful. Well, during your next interviews take an extra look at your potential boss’s appearance or ask on one on one feedback.

Was there a way paperwork was completed that drove you crazy? Ask about administrative policies. Did your previous company take forever to reimburse travel expenses?

Ask! Find a company that meets your expectations! So many people say that you are interviewing the company as much they are interviewing you. If you don’t feel like the company is a good fit for you, you’ll just be back at square one. And that’s a bummer.

Professional development does not stop when you don’t have a job. When you walk out the door for the last time, ask yourself what you learned at your previous place of employment and how you can find a new employer which builds on what you learned while you were there.

The Right Answer Today: I Don’t Know.

We visited the topic of professional confidence a few months back.  The question is, though, what happens when that confidence all but disappears? The organization says, “I’m sorry even your coffee and cookies aren’t good enough for us so we’re going to need your keys and your cell phone. You’re no longer an employee here.”

Obviously the next step is to find someone to help you find your confidence again. Find that job description on Craigslist, Indeed.com, Idealist.org or whatever that perfect job search site is (or talk to your network about the perfect job) with skills you have and write a killer cover letter and resume. Problem is, it’s going to be a huge struggle. Right now I don’t even feel like I can write an appropriate cover letter without someone sending it back to me without corrections.  I might have made some changes personally, but professionally I feel as though I have taken several steps back. It sure feels like the rug has been ripped out from under my feet.

Other blog entries have spouted out some sort of advice, even if it’s been some cheesy “Keep your head up.” However, I don’t have anything for this. How do you deal with the loss of a job when an employer just basically ripped all your professional skills to pieces? I don’t know. Maybe that’s the answer for now, “I don’t know.”

Crazy God Things: The Job Hunt

Oh world. God is a crazy God. Friday I thought this world was a mess and that I might not get through it at all. As I mentioned previously, Friday for that matter, the last thread that was holding together the little bit of sanity that was my unemployment broke. No hard feelings, but I did cry a bit and I stayed hunkered down inside this weekend. Friends were celebrating the remission of cancer and 25th birthdays (yeah I know…I probably should have gone out…but I didn’t. Social anxiety a bit maybe? Anyway…).

I took to oDesk on Saturday morning. I got my stuff together and by Sunday afternoon I already had an over on the table which matched, if not outdid what I was doing previously. It’s different work, kind of ghostwriting and guest posting blog entries, but nonetheless it will make a dent in that $200 a month that I will be missing. Yah! I was stoked this morning.

I also found some great jobs to apply for Sunday afternoon, a Volunteer Coordinator position and a few Admissions Advisors at a local private  university which I may have gotten an interview for.  I was ready to be an employed unemployed person.  Cover letters, resumes, blogs to write. It was a busy Monday for this unemployed lady.  So, I turned off tweetdeck, turned off the TV, put on my headphones and starting jamming out to Matt Morris (the other guy in the Justin Timberlake Hallelujah Hope For Haiti song).

I lasted about 30 minutes before I had to check my e-mail. It’s a problem. I know I’m not a rock star. I know I’m not popular.  I’m no celebrity. Hell, this blog gets no more than 39 hits a day and that’s when I write about James O’Keefe (man I still hate that guy).  So, I’m checking my e-mail.  I see some sale alerts, some stuff from facebook (no one got the memo I gave up FarmVille for lent), and then there’s an e-mail from the organization that was going to set up a second interview with me a few weeks ago but never did. They eventually called to get references from me.  I had no idea what this meant. Were they still looking at me? Did they want different references? Did they misplace the application where I put down the same references? What the heck? Anyway. I opened the e-mail.  The person I’ve been going back and forth with wants to talk to me about offering me the job.

Too bad I couldn’t do a happy dance, the dogs were asleep, so was the rest of the house. I didn’t want to wake anyone up. So, I did a virtual happy dance. I tweeted, I updated my status, I took to the blog. I did everything.

Here’s the thing. I lost the freelance gig at the perfect time. I mean, absolute perfect time. This new job, barring I have some crazy false positive enzyme problem that brings back a positive drugs test, is a big job (pee well, my friend…as a friend said). It will require full time attention and is an increase in pay.  I probably would have juggled to find the time to do my writing. And in the end, I probably would have had to quit.  This new freelance gig is weekly. I’ll finish it up this week and say “Hey, this was nice..but it’s really not for me. I cannot commit to this much writing every day…” and we’ll part ways.

This God thing is seriously crazy and mysterious. Things happen at the weirdest and the best and strangest times. Just thank God for all of it.

My Friends Misguided Career Advice Sucks

Today was a rough day. The only thing holding me together, financially fell apart. It is a game…this freelancing thing. And I’ve played it well for the last year and a half.  Companies go in different directions and when those directions do not match people part ways. So, that’s way happened today.  I won’t whine about it. I won’t disparage the company.  I won’t say much more. But I will ask my friends to please think about their reactions.

I understand that many of you are employed. And gainfully. You love your jobs. You may complain and you whine every once in a while, but you love your co-workers and the work you do. So you don’t very much relate to my situation.

For the last few months I have only a handful of times commented about my joblessness on facebook or in person. I don’t feel like it should bring down our friendship or change our relationships. I do not want to be that person who complains about the lack of a job. So, when I do update my status, tweet, or actually bring it up in conversation it probably means that it’s serious business.

Today, after I found out that I lost my freelancing gig I took to my facebook. It wasn’t anything ridiculous or out of control, but I did broadcast to all 341 friends that I had lost the gig. I didn’t expect much, but maybe a virtual hug, an “I’m sorry…” or even, from the handful of people I do know in the field perhaps a “hey check this out…or I have a person I could get you in touch with.” While I did get some of those I did get others that just make me want to shake my friends….

  1. Why don’t you check Monster?
  2. Have you applied for jobs with This Big non-profit, That Extra Big Non-Profit, and These Super Popular Selective Non-Profits?
  3. Read this article about stay at home jobs.
  4. Why don’t you be a telemarketer?
  5. Have you joined LinkedIn, BrazenCareerist, BrightFuse, etc?

Yes!! Yess! Yesss! I have done all of those things! So have all the other millions of unemployed people that are out there today. Monster? Yeah? Okay. Like I don’t look there every day. This, that and the other organization…if you named it and are not in the industry other people have thought of applying there as well. I’ve applied. Read an article? Okay. Gotcha. Telemarketer? I’ve talked about the dream. This isn’t it. Social networking? Yes! That’s where I am now. Ugggh.

I love you all. I love my friends. I want to drink with you. I want to watch movies with you. I want to play board games with you. I want to talk to you about your family problems and be there if you need to be picked up from a bar at 3 am and didn’t think to bring a DD. I want to go dancing with you, and hear about bad dates….and perhaps be there for your children and weddings and all that stuff that comes along as we get older. But what I need from you now is real advice, some direction. If you cannot do that I kind of need you to stop giving me the worst advice known to man.

Please know I say this not because I am being mean, but because I need some support in this uncertain time. I don’t expect you to be career experts, HR pros, or resume writers. What I need is some sympathy, some empathy and a shoulder to cry on.

Should I Be Asking These Questions on My Job Interview?

Oh blog. I have missed you. It’s not that I haven’t been here. Oh, I have. My computer and I have been attached at the hip (or lap?) for the past two weeks. With Fashion Week finishing up much of my time was devoted to finding my inner Anna Wintour and channeling the Kelly Cutrone within.  I also discovered (or found my misplaced) my love for Apolo Anton Ohno as he made his run for the Winter Gold Medal record. Unlike some celebrities, I’ve decided he and I have no future. He never sleeps. I need my eight hours (or 10….). Anyway. Back to reality.

So. Back to the world that I live in today. It’s a lonely not yet desperate, but coming to the point where I may start watching SNL reruns, unemployed world that I know many others live in. Since my hot streak of a few weeks ago I haven’t heard much more than a “we’d like to schedule a second interview but we haven’t set a date for that yet….” from any of the positions.

I can always say that there is someone better than me out there. But, what if there isn’t? I saw one position reposted this weekend. Thanks but no thanks, much? There’s clearly something wrong with my interview process…am I not asking the right questions? Do I not show that I know enough about the company/organization? What the heck?

Yes, it is true that I should always have questions prepared for a job interview. My favorite thus far is, “Is this a new position or is someone leaving?” Many of my interviews have been for new funded positions while one or two positions are for recently vacant positions. But, asking that question isn’t all that needs to be asked. What are some more that I should ask? Oh dear. Now I’m lost.

Oh, not to worry! That’s where #JobHuntChat comes in.  Much like #U30Pro this group of great tweeps has come together to chat (in 140 characters or less) about how to land the next great job. And, one of the questions asked this evening as “What types of questions should you ask on a job interview?” Here’s a handful of the ones I particularly liked (probably  because I should be asking them now).

How will I be evaluated?

I actually haven’t ever thought of this one…as many of the jobs I am applying for aren’t performance or sales driven..they’re people driven…if it gets done and documented you’re good

What is a typical day in the life of _____ position?

For many of the positions I have applied for the job is flexible and changes day to day….but for others it is not. Knowing what you are responsible for right off the bat is super important).

What type of developmental training dos your organization over (training, conferences, mentors, etc)?

For many organizations it is a learn as you go type of job that is indicual to the organization. If you don’t get the right training or if you are left out on your own it won’t be fun. Letting the organization know that you are willing to train will show them that you are interested in growing professionally.

What are some immediate concerns that your organizations needs addressed?

You are willing to take the iniative and are a go getter.  You are planning to get the things done that they need done. Do it!

How do you define success?

Some companies define it with sales, others define it by finished files. You need to know!

Where do you see your company in the next 5 years and how will this position help you get there?

This shows you that you are willing to stay with the organization for quite sometime (even if you aren’t!) and are not a job hopper. If they are willing to grow with you then you are a great professional position.

What is the company culture? Business casual or professional?

This gives you an idea of how everyone works. The organization already knows how they work (and how you can or cannot fit in). See if you can picture yourself at that empty desk after they say they dance on tables on Fridays or have Beach Day every other month.

Well. Now that I have some great questions to ask for my next job interview I have to get it! On to working on the cover letter, resume, networking, volunteering, never ending world that is the job hunt!

For more info on #JobHuntChat check out @CornOnTheJob‘s blog.

Working for the State: A Requirement?

Here’s the current conundrum. It’s an unspoken requirement that you have Child Protective Service experience in the state of Texas to get a Case Manager position. But, how do you get that experience if they won’t hire you either?

Many independent foster care and adoption agencies only require a Bachelor’s degree for their entry level case management positions. A new position, due to funding, turnover, expansion, etc. will appear every few weeks on a number of websites. In their educational requirements they usually list a BA with no experience necessary. I have a great cover letter and resume put together for these jobs. 4 out of 5 times I will get the interview. But, is it even worth it these days without experience with the state? I will get that interview because I have worked with at risk youth and have worked with the community.

Score! I get super excited and walk in confident and even score 41/45 on their personality tests. I get a second interview. They love me. They compliment my domineer. I am very calm. I speak Spanish.  I can work with the bilingual families. They start thinking about how they can use me in their agency.  And then…two or three interviews later someone comes in who has 2-3 years experience with the Department of Health and Human Services and Child Protective Services…on top of all the other things I have. Of course they get the job over me. I’m not upset. They deserve it.  They have case management experience; they won’t need to be trained. Their investment is close the nothing to train the person who has case management experience. But for me? Someone will obviously have to train me (right?).

Had you spoken to me 2 months ago I wouldn’t have considered applying to work for the state, again. The things I hear about the work and the things the Investigative workers see is not necessarily scary, but just something that I would like to avoid. It’s kind of like working in the mail room to get that PR gig you really want. Everyone talks about that one really bad entry level job.

Now, nearly 4 months into this job search I’ve finally broken down and decided that maybe I should consider working for the state-because it is damn near a requirement. Nevermind that the last time I thought that working for the state was the best route for me to take I applied for at least 20 positions within a year and received one interview.

You may be asking why I didn’t continue with the application process last time. Well, I had an interview for two positions –a Conservationship worker and an Investigative Worker just day before I was asked to join ACORN Housing. It was easier said than done to say “I’ll take the job that I know I will love,” than to even worry about proceeding with a job I wasn’t even sure I would get.  Now, here I am…almost a year after I started the ACORN Housing job wishing I had taken the job with the state. Ugh. As is life.

Human Resources: Please Stay True To Your Word

I understand that it’s a tough world out there. I understand the Human Resource world is a busy world. Interviews, resumes, applications, meetings, conferences, etc.  I understand if you are interviewing hundreds of people that it is impossible to call them all back to say “I’m sorry you will not be moving forward in the employment process.” However, if you say, during the interview, “I know that waiting is hard and we will be in touch-whether we hire you or not- it would be nice to get a phone call to find out what the answer is.” Actions speak louder than words. That’s all I’m saying. If you don’t say anything about calling me, though, you’re alright. I still love you. Otherwise….continue reading (well continue reading anyway)….

Human Resources is usually the first impression of the company a potential employee gets on the company.  If the interview goes so-so and the HR person says, “Hey I’ll call you back no matter what,” and they end up calling and saying, “Hey sorry there was someone better than you.” I won’t hold that against them. I will keep them on my list of good companies and companies to apply for in the future, when there may be another better position for me. I may even pass on the name to others in my professional network. Their Human Resources department is reliable, dependable and stays true to their word. And so is the company! If, on the other hand they say they’ll call and say something and they don’t I probably won’t keep them on my list because they aren’t true to their word and reliable. Sure, it may be that one individual that I was working with – but they have to remember they are representing their whole company. And they just left a bad taste in my mouth. Their actions weren’t that great – actually kind of bad.

Many of the positions I have applied for have been in small organizations and companies. It’s a small victory even getting an interview. Some have even shown me the stacks of resumes they’ve gotten via Craigslist.  So- say from that stack – a small company interviews 13 of 100 resumes they received.

They interview people for two or three days. They also say they’ll call back these potential employees back no matter what.  In my estimation this type of phone call could last about two minutes. Just a quick, “Hi this is so and so from small organization. I’m sorry we won’t be proceeding with your application.” A few questions will be asked and a polite thank you will be exchanged.  Thirty seconds for a breather and then the Human Resource person will continue with the next person. That’s about Thirty Three minutes. Thirty Three minutes of your time Human Resources….that’s it. Like I said before, I understand your time is money and I want you to use your time wisely but can you use it to do some community relations work? Let the community know that you are true to your word – reliable, dependable,  a good person? It would just be nice to know there are still good people out there (I know there are some!)

I say these things because this has happened to be a handful of times. It irks me to know that there are probably a handful of other people that may have been waiting by the phone for the same “yes” or “no” answer that I was. Of all the job hunting, job interviews, thank you notes, and uncertainty that I have had to feel in professional life I have been told 4 times that I will receive a phone call about my professional fate. Of those 4 statements, I have only actually received 1 phone call back. So, HR professionals, stay true to your words because 3 organizations have lost 1 great voice due to bad actions.