Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Research: Essential to Job Hunting

The great job hunt continues apace. Thank you for your kind words and advice. I had a phone interview with a local company, but so far it has not gone any further, and no response to my inquiry. I think they have decided to pursue other options, though I have a cross-your-fingers hope that I may be called back, say, if their first choice does not work out?

Anyway. I remembered that once upon a time, my favorite teacher in college recommended a book called "What Color Is Your Parachute?" I, of course, never read it, assuming it was an extremely out of date and irrelevant book. Because, of course, my teacher was older than me (she had children! therefore she was so much older than me! yeah, maybe 15 years, max). Because she was so much older than me, whatever she recommended must have been around when she was a student, so how could it possibly be useful?

I'll be the first to admit I was wrong. Apparently this is one of the best titles for job hunters to read, and has been updated every year (except one) since it was first published thirty years ago or so.

I am reading the 2007 edition, since the 2009 edition is checked out at my library. I am not done with it yet, but I am finding it extremely helpful, and full of statistics that make a lot of sense to the average job hunter.

For example, yes, the internet and its various career-finder websites have revolutionized the way people hunt for jobs. But did you know that an average of only 4 to 10 percent of jobs are found on the internet? And only 7 percent of job hunters find a job by mailing out resumes to employers. Responding to newspaper ads has a fluctuating success rate of 5 to 24 percent, and signing up with employment agencies fluctuates just as much, between 5 and 28 percent success rate.

Depressing, isn't it? I mean, how are we supposed to find a job if these "traditional" methods of job hunting have such low success rates?

This book makes several good points, the most important of which (so far) is job hunters prefer to find a job in the above ways. And it's no wonder we like them - job hunting this way effectively removes us from direct contact with anyone else. They're time-tested ways of reducing the pain of rejection!

But job hunters are not the ones who matter - it's the people doing the hiring that matter. This book makes the point that if I, as a job hunter, don't approach the hiring people in the way they prefer, I'm just wasting time.

So how do hiring people operate? Well, they most often like to promote from within their own company. After that, they prefer referrals from their colleagues, like someone their colleague formerly worked with who is now job hunting. Working with job placement agencies, placing ads, and reading resumes are all waaaaay down at the bottom of the list of ways to get noticed by the hiring manager.

There's some practical advice about using the internet to help your job hunt, and to network with people who can help you get your foot in the door. To that end, I signed up with one of the websites recommended in the book, LinkedIn.

I'm going to equate it to a gi-normous Rolodex, except you can also see all the people who are connected to your friends and family, and potentially tap into them to get your foot in the door.

Another neat feature is that you can input companies you have worked for, and then search the people who also worked for that company. It's kind of fun to look up my college job, and see that the cranky Regional Manager I didn't like at that retail job has moved on to another company. Or to see that the people you did like are more successful now.

I spent some time with LinkedIn this afternoon, and I already have 7 contacts. The good news is that one of them is the person who hired me for my last position. She moved on to bigger and better things a couple years ago, and now that I contacted her again, she is expressing an interest in my skills, and where I want to work.

Overall, not too bad for one afternoon! I had a lot of fun checking my e-mail frequently to see if I had new contacts. If you have a LinkedIn profile, let me know!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Great Job Hunt

So I have been unemployed now for two weeks, officially, today. Which means that technically I have not yet missed a paycheck, and am even a little ahead of where I would normally be, what with receiving money for vacation time and also being paid early for the days through the end of last month.

The great job hunt continues, but is slowing down a little bit. I was in such a flurry of sending out e-mailed resumes, and registering for various job, excuse me, career search websites for the first several days that I have already sent off my resume to a large number of companies in a relatively short period of time. And, grrr, hiring peoples are so annoying, I have received very few calls so far.

I am perfect in every way for your posted marketing job, I exceed the skill level of what you want, plus am trained on both PC and Mac, and oh-my-god that's what you're offering for money? I am was so underpaid. Why have you people not been lining up to call me?!

And yes, I realize that instant gratification is not going to happen. I'm impatient. I want this over with already. This feeling of not accomplishing anything on a daily basis is really beginning to drag me down.

The calls I have received? Um, two for staffing agencies, which are very eager to get you to sign up, and fill out your tax forms so you can be one of their employees, and get paid very little to temp at many places, and not be sure how many days you will actually be employed this week. Yeah, not digging that.

Also two calls for positions I am not sure about.

Call number one, for a web position at a very large company that is not too far away, and is actually very convenient if splorp! wanted to move closer to his work, but the very nice lady who was calling me in the process of screening resumes seemed unsure if they want to hire one person who can do a lot of website and database backend stuff (which I am not qualified to do), or if they want to hire two people, one who would do the higher end stuff, and one (maybe me) who would do the lesser stuff. Eek.

Call number two, for an entry level marketing position at a relatively large company that is involved in very interesting technology. However, this company is located in a place that is not really convenient, and might even take me an hour to commute one way during peak times (big yuck). It is also a very, very entry level position, that does not pay very well. I'm not really sold on this company, though the product they produce is interesting, and a higher level marketing job could be interesting. I really think I might be bored here, and quickly hate the commute.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ahead of myself with the idea of committing to either company.

(big sigh) This job hunting thing is getting depressing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Only NOT Sleeping In

You would think, what with me being unemployed and all, that I might enjoy the chance to sleep in.

No deadlines, no pressure, nothing to do but make dinner when splorp! calls to tell me he's coming home.

Except for the sleeping in part. And the no pressure. Oh, and the "nothing to do" part. Technically I don't have a deadline, although I'm driving myself bonkers here because I'm so bored, so the sooner I'm employed the better.

While going to school I would never have considered myself a "morning person." I liked to sleep in, stay up late doing homework, and I never signed up for a class that started before 9 am (Except the very first semester. That 7:30 am class was horrible).

Now, I find myself with a whole day in front of me full of just a couple of hours of job hunting online, maybe an errand or two, maybe take the laundry over to mom and dad's, maybe dig in the garden ... Or maybe not any of those things. I mean, I need to do them, so I do actually have stuff I need to accomplish. I just don't think I need to do them at 8 am, do you?

Only, my body doesn't agree with me, and I keep waking up early! Like, I could go back to work anytime early! So stuff gets done around here.

I think this is a sign I'm growing up or something.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Unemployment, huh?

Today I started off the day with my telephone interview with the Unemployment peoples. You know, the department that will send me checks for being unemployed, yet looking for work?

I am so confused. I've never done this before, this registering for unemployment benefits. It's the kind of thing I hoped to never have to do, because of course I am indispensable, and they love me, and I do such a good job!

Which of course, the last two are true, the first one, not so much.

The lady was very nice, and there was just some confusion about how my final check was issued, and what it means for when I start getting checks from unemployment.

I got laid off on Friday 9/26, but they opted to pay me through the end of the month, which meant I got paid for Monday and Tuesday 9/29 and 9/30. Except the Unemployment lady was confused about what they are calling this money. While I was filing online for unemployment, I chose "pay-in-lieu-of-notice" which is apparently the wrong choice, because that's usually something like 60 days worth of pay, not two. Oh.

So I guess maybe it's severance? It's not a back pay award, and it's not vacation pay, because I actually got my vacation pay. It's not a pension, or a bonus, or a commission, because those categories weren't offered for my position. Idle time pay? Other? I'm going to have to go with one of those.

Crap, now how do I properly fill out the stupid forms for actually getting my unemployment check? It's all too confusing. Also, being unemployed is extremely boring.