Monday, April 16, 2012

Reservations Not Accepted

Getting a coveted interview with a great company, for a position that is well-advertised, for which one seems like a very good fit: a bit of a golden ticket, eh?

Well, I thought so. A lot of us have been there. Fast, positive feedback on the resume and phone interview. A half day filled with several interviews in succession, including both execs and a hiring manager. Kick it all off with an HR download, org chart, maybe sort of testing if that's what they're into. You've come armed with list of questions, because you've done the prep work suggested by the staffing company presenting you. Receptive people. Good answers. Until a few days later when the most important answer turned out to be "no," they'll pass. They just didn't get the right impression.

That smarts. We can do our homework and try to stack the deck in our favor before interviewing, and we should, but we can't win them all. Actually, in today's job market, it can be tough to win any at all.

But remember, each of us only needs to win one--the right one. The best one for us. And for our new employer, too. So when I ran across the U.S. News article linked below and its list of fantastic questions to ask prospective employers when on an interview, I felt like I had a winning lottery ticket in my hands. Not only do I wish I'd asked some of these questions about positions I didn't get, they also will prompt the type of answers I wish I'd had for jobs I'd actually taken the past.

Almost everyone I know wishes they'd have thought to ask a future boss this, at one time or another:
  • How would you describe your management style?
There's a huge difference between a supervisor who says they're basically hands-off and will try to trust their team to work together to get the job done, versus one who says they are exacting and demanding, but will always reward the highest achievers. We don't all thrive under either style.

In any future interview, I will now do my best to ask this question before I leave:
  • Are there any reservations you have about my fit for the position that I could try to address?
If they do have a reasonable doubt that I find I can't really address, maybe I'm not a great fit after all.

If there is a mistaken reservation about me, based on a vibe I've given off without realizing it, or a comment heard the wrong way, now is my chance to correct the wrong impression. I came armed with a sheet full of questions, for example. Does that come off as overly prepared, or not confident in conversation. Or, what about this blog and my tweets? Could it be I seem unwilling to focus on one informal, social kind of writing, only? None of that is true, so this question lets us discuss my confidence, preparation and ability to focus on one style of writing when needed at work. A win-win.

Here's the full article to read:

The Right Questions to Ask At Your Next Interview
by Alison Green

From it, I learned I've likely made a few mistakes by not probing a little deeper into the nature of the positions I've interviewed for. I now know to ask what it will take for me to succeed not just as a candidate for the job, but as an actual employee day-to-day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Pros of Job Seeking

When it comes to job seeking, are there really any pros? Mostly it seems like a lot of cons, right?

By pros, I mean Professionals--no, not the chronically unemployed who manage making a living at looking for work (huh? Nobody does that, silly). Professional Job Seekers are the recruiters and staffing experts of the world. See, they are employed in the field of finding jobs--for you and me. Better still, they also find the people to fill the jobs (again, you and me) for employers.

What wonderful matchmakers they can be, taking so much of the pressure off either side of one of the most important interactions in business: putting people to work, trusting people to perform for your company, finding the place and the people with whom you will spend a third of your life working side by side with, trusting people to deliver the conditions, the pay and the benefits they said they would for the work that you've done for them. It's no game, matching employees with employers, for either side.

That's why Pros can make such a big difference. If you feel at all amateur about your job search, consider working with a recruiter or staffing service. I truly believe there is someone for everyone.

Job seekers can benefit from the remarkable strengths of Manpower, the worldwide Fortune 150 Company with a 60 year history and over 400,000 job-providing customers. Originally a temporary staffing service, now a sophisticated employment services organization, Manpower offers training programs at every career stage and placement services in numerous fields, from industrial to professional. And despite the name, they help women, too.

For 20 years the recruiting and staffing pros at Paladin have been making matches in the creative, marketing and communications arenas. They work both ends of the transaction, and develop in-depth relationships with their clients and the talent they represent. If you are a job seeker in advertising or marketing, either client-side or agency side, you might want sign on with a placement agency to help get you in front of hiring managers. I myself have just done so—with Paladin, so here is my nod to them. The website has a job posting section as well as the useful advice in the knowledge center, linked below.

IT remains a hot field for employment, and you don’t have to be a programmer, consultant or engineer to take advantage of all the hiring opportunities, either. Data entry personnel, switch technicians, cable installers, even phone center staffers can find positions listed at this #1 ranked technical staffing and services company. Of course, if you do happen to speak Oracle or Java…well, the next question might be, where would you like to live?

Where to Find Work
Here’s a simple idea that just about anyone could find interesting: according to the website, you can “get local jobs delivered to your InBox, free.” Sound good? A free service that has put thousands of people together with new positions sounds good to me. Signing up may be a good thing To Do.

Note: Look into staffing and recruiting agencies  based firston the number and type of opportunities the company can offer you, and second, the actual person/people you will be able to work with. There are plenty of good recruiting agencies out there, but it’s key for you feel your job interests and requirements will be addressed, and that you form a good connection with the pro who will be going to bat for you out there in the market!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The 6 Stages of Non-Wages

Have you heard of the stages of grief, sometimes called the stages of loss or mourning? It is said to be a universal pilgrammage for grieving people; and so it seems to be a healthy thing, to move through these stages, and get "stuff" out of one's system so healing can take place and life can progress. I guess it also makes sense, that when you "lose your job" you might go through something similar to a mourning period. It's not a person that is lost, so I don't want to make as dramatic of a statement as grief, per se, to describe some of the feelings we go through being unemployed. But hey, if the act fits, maybe I should stage it.

According to experts, the five or seven stages of loss tend to range from the initial shock and denial, all the way through anger, bargaining, depression, and usually the experience is said to end at acceptance. We can see how some of these natural responses would be likely in the realm of the recently laid-off worker. For someone who had worked a very long time in a certain business or for a certain employer, I'm sure the effects are harder still to deal with. Many people truly love what they do, and they center a good portion of their life around their job, and spend a lot of time at their company and/or with the people at their company.

However, in the case of the unemployed, we have to be very careful about how long we catch ourselves lingering in some of the stages of grief. Because, unlike mourning the loss of a person, being unemployed isn't really a permanent situation. A job, unlike a person, can be replaced. Maybe not exactly the same job, but for all intents and purposes, one can resurrect one's work life.

So, for example, let's tread gingerly around the depression stage, shall we? If you feel the blues set in, that's understandable, but get some help, pronto, because you need confidence and energy to get out there in order to solve the cause of the depression stage in the first place. Meaning, you need to put your best foot forward to be re-employed. And if you're unemployed long enough to get to the acceptance stage, well... hmmmm. This is a bit perplexing. You must accept the loss of the old job, yes. That's all there is to it, though. Not to be harsh, but the fact is, it's gone. When it comes to employers, we're making room for the new.

I started this blog using the analogy of zombies and the scariness of being re-animated once bitten. You know, I gotta admit, zombieland has almost happened to me here over the last couple of weeks. The old fleece robe I banished two months ago has re-appeared as of late, sometimes remaining on my body until mid-afternoon. Loaded with cat hair. I noticed this as I sat here by the computer recently.

Actually, "noticed" is rather gentle. I kind of panicked. Because, I mean, I know I've gone mousy with my blonde, but really, has joblessness turned me this gray, this fast? Plus how much hair am I losing now? Turns out the "good news" is that it was gray cat hair all over my robe, not mine, in bad lighting, which made it so I couldn't tell for a minute there. Yet, I didn't really...get up. You know, to look closer. Until later. When I got food.

Eww. So, fortunately for me, I'm managing my stages fairly quickly. Like that Lazy/Crazy Stage I just passed out of. I washed that hair right out of my robe, and that grey right out of my day, and by that afternoon I had been called for a really great job interview.  Funny how that works. Making room for the new.

Here's how I've found my Six Stages of Unemployment to be--all bearable, very natural, and quite usable for strengthening and self-improvement. Remember, we're kicking ass and finding inner peace this year. That's not a stage, it's a promise!

Stage 1: Chin Up I was optimistic and had a lot of energy to make the most of things. I set out to be a model of how to be laid off and still be okay...better than okay, actually: to thrive.

Stage 2: Sad I missed people I worked with, even though I knew them less than a year--I missed the idea of knowing them longer. One gal just got married and she sent pics. I cried over her happiness and wished we worked together during this, since we were there for her engagement, etc.

Stage 3: Settled I felt I should enjoy this time and maximize the heck out of it, undertaking many projects, being domestic, working on writing a novel, reading, getting taxes done, lunch with friends and family, cooking more and being more present with the home life and personal goals. Good.

Stage 4: Cranky I began to have my nose out of joint a little, with the low response to my resume submissions. Why are they not calling me back for interviews? Don't they realize/I'm doing every thing right? Increasingly hurt inside and irritated outside that I'm hardly being given a chance.

Stage 5: Lazy/Crazy Onset of zombieland syndrome; hairy robe sightings (went out to mailbox in said robe one afternoon), online job search efforts less frequent aka "not worth it," daily plan to do yoga and work on novel and update this blog consistently ignored. Greek yogurt spoiling in fridge.

Stage 6: Nervous ... but Sane. This is the honest stage, where I come back from the brink of zombieland to tell you the truth. I haven't been unemployed long enough to feel desperate, but I can see how that could become Stage 7. I also don't have small children, or elderly parents I must support, and my husband still has his job and insurance. But I need to work, plain and simple. I need wages. We have obligations we must meet and goals we feel strongly about, as well. And there's a guilty feeling in all this, too, even though I know it's not "my fault" my company laid me off.

So, yes, I'm grateful we have family and a home to help us through when we need it, if it comes to that. I've said it before: I'm a lucky jobless person. I have enough for food, a computer, electricity, etc. However, I'm still nervous. I'm owning this stage. Just know this: I'm not letting this stage own me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thinking Outside the Jobbox

Being unemployed has required due diligence for weeks now. There has been plenty of time for filing of papers and keeping of copious notes. The first real payoff of any kind comes today, as I head out for my first interview since I was laid off in early January.

Whatever vigor I had a few weeks ago has admittedly waned a little since then. The job market is tough and the responses to my job applications and resume submissions have been slow to almost none. I am well-assured that is far from my fault. But I don't rest assured, if you know what I mean. Now that my unemployment benefits have kicked in, it's hard not to focus on how small of a payment those checks really are. And for me it's only been less than two months... gulp. After what I saw about the long-term unemployed on 60 Minutes last Sunday, I've felt an urge to swallow, hard.

That could be me. They were quality people with great resumes. They, too, had felt they had done everything they could. But they had been trying for a lot longer now. Still, this conversation shouldn't drop down too far--the segment showed there is hope. These people were getting through with innovative help and by thinking outside the box. For example, a man in his fifties was taking on a job as an intern, with a chance to earn his way to a full-time position. Well, why not, right? When you're jobless, internship is a job. He was happy as a lark, having something to do, a reason to get up and go somewhere every day. I guess there's a big employment benefit that's often overlooked: being productive and feeling useful.

I learned from the show that being jobless for a long time does seem to sap a certain amount of zest from even the sparkiest of folks. I don't want that to happen to me, or anyone I'm trying to be a cheerleader for. So while I do think it's best to keep at it, nose to grindstone and all that, I also think we need to maintain some side doors to other possible lands of whimsy and hallways of wonder. Would you ever consider going back to a job of your youth and starting over as an intern?

Maybe you have way more potential now. What about moonlighting--ever done it? Can it become a stronger possibility, now that you're unemployed? After all, you have time on your hands. You can give something a go, when you could never find time To Do it before.

I have some back roads and less trodden paths identified for myself. I also look around at other parts of the country, just to see what the cost of living would be like, if I worked for less in a place where it costs less to live. I've thought about having two part-time jobs instead of one full-time. Maybe there's room to grow a position along with a company. Even this blog was a seedling of an idea for potential income in the future. I don't know how, affiliates?

The point is, if jobs were boxes, you've kind of been dumped out of your old one, yes? No need to only search for the same kind of box to hop right back into. If you ever had a cat, you know how to do it. Fit yourself in there, even if it's sort of the wrong shape, go ahead, give it a squish and a squeeze. Or tip that other big box over and crawl inside the back corner real cool-like, cuz, yeah, you meant to do that.

Look, maybe you could work for a celebrity!

Maybe you could get a job in the Caribbean!

Or maybe you could just get inspired, scratch a couple ideas together, and think outside your jobbox for a while. What might you do if there wasn't much holding you back? Be curious, like a cat. Tell your iPhone to call you Whiskers.

Just remember to change that when you go on your next job interview.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Places to Go, Jobs to See

At the very least, job seeking is an opportunity to learn about what other people do for a living. If you're open to looking around enough, you can run into all sorts of occupations that you might never have know existed. Companies and industries, too. There are websites that sell that? What, you mean there are actually people with those qualifications? Wow, who knew there was an entire industry devoted to serving just those people, and they're will to pay how much? And so on.

If you're open to considering new avenues for your own employment, this post, as well as the next several, are meant for you. I've run into some vertical veins of information for job seekers that could lead to a whole new view on where to look for work doing what you do, but in a new industry. For example, government work, which I'll focus on in a moment.

I've also discovered great sources for quick and easy leads for work in specific areas of the country, if your dream job is more about where and when (here and now!) than what. If you're into reinventing yourself, improving your odds, or reading success stories of others who've been where you're at and found happiness in new jobs, there are resources for all that, too. In short, there is no shortage of fine links with which I'll be linking us up. Bookmarking, then, may be an important To Do.

So here's something most of us might not have ever thought of: government work. We hear a lot about government jobs, but other than politics, the DMV and the post office, what does working for the government mean really?

There is a TON of information on this topic at a giant website for job seekers, This is a free portal to many directories and websites covering all sorts of job search resources. A one-stop shop if you will, but the information on federal and state employment is what drew me in. It sure is comprehensive: Government Job Search Info

I wondered what kind of work a writer or marketing professional such as myself could do in a government position. A look at the directory descriptions gave me some ideas:
  • Directory of Employers by State - links to over 8,000 employer recruiting pages (government, education, hospitals, banks, companies), job sites, job support groups, and more
  • Directory of Government Employers - links to the recruiting sections of US Federal, state, and local employer websites plus links to associations of government employees, and articles on how to apply for these jobs

I realized that employer recruiting pages for state and federal facilities could include the same types of positions that private companies would feature--banks and hospitals need marketing and educational materials created, and employee communications and websites exist in all these places. This will also apply to other job seekers. "Government" job listings could include everything from housekeepers to accountants to pilots to security guards to professors at state universities. So my vision of working for the feds in a trench coat and really conservative 2 inch heels, while kinda cool, turns out to be not really accurate or necessary.

Job-Hunt has links to tens of thousands of sources and pieces of advice to aid you in your job search. You can follow this resource on Twitter, too: @JobHuntOrg

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mad Job Lady. With Cats.

I have a friend who lives in another country who recently wrote to me that he has been reading my Don't Hit Snooze posts, and feels he "would go mad" before he could attempt to get a job over here.

Hmm, thought I. I must be giving him quite the bad impression, with all my resource scouting and advice sharing, dos, don'ts, how-tos, etc. I thought this to the point of not blogging here for a couple of days. Maybe it's just been too much. From my first post when my position was eliminated, I decided to make writing my way through this journey a daily discipline of sorts. Well, I can tweak that plan. But being a new job seeker myself, and new to the feelings of being suddenly unemployed, I have to say I'm about as opposite as I can be to what my friend said--I'm literally attempting to get a job over here before I go mad, like I feel I could.

I've worked since I was 14, so sure, I feel a pressure there. Not in a workaholic way, but in that's what I do for income way. The region and the social class in which I was raised has contributed to how I've worked, too--meaning I've work for others. But not on a farm or in a field, not for rich parents, and not in a crime ring. Just regular ol' pouring coffee and serving eggs, writing headlines and teaching exercise classes, clocking in, collecting wages, going home to family afterward types of jobs.

Sure, I've worked for myself some. Yeah, I have a novel in the drawer. I tried to be a choreographer that one year when I was 20. I'm trying to get freelance jobs right now. Regardless, one needs customers. I need them to have an interest I can capture and monies to pay me. So, really the same rules apply to all of those independent endeavors as to everything I've been blogging about getting a job.

Is it less maddening to not try to get a job, and to instead just have less to pay for? YES it must be. But that's not my life. So getting a job is for me, no matter where I live, about my choices. There are many other choices here, but I just haven't written about them. Yet. However, in my country, being now unemployed means I could also head down to the Florida Keys or out to the Colorado Rockies and just camp mostly, and not have a real job at all. I could be like that guy with the cats on Mallory Square, or the like the painted man that looks like a statue. Or I could invest in a bike with a basket on both front and the back and run people's errands for them in a well appointed ski village. I'm a cute older mom, it's clear I know a ripe avocado when I feel one, people would totally trust me with their grocery lists.

Maybe if I didn't raise a family? Honestly, I could have ended up a beach bum, a mountain mama or livin' la vie boheme. I do have a feeling though, that still I would have been very organized about it. Oh, I would have journaled it for sure. There would be lists. If I could have been the best one of the beach bums, you know, had the largest crowd for my cat tricks...or came up with a web ordering system for my bicycle delivery service... I'm sure I'd have enough material to blog about every day, too. Like, people need tips on how to deal with the business of getting city permits for public entertainment with animals, and what about the safety hand signals for riding a bike across one way mountain roads?

My friend had pointed out how he would make something and sell it, or charm a stranger instead. I guess to avoid the hassels getting a job, like I'm going through? But wait--I think that's kind of the same thing. I'm making something, when I write my pitches to potential employers. I create the plans for what I'm making when I research places I'd like to work and the jobs I'd like to do there. And I'm definitely charming strangers throughout this whole process. Or trying to, anyway.

Over here, we have access to a multitude of helping voices and cool tools, just a few keystrokes away, to make getting a job before we go mad a little more possible. I just uncovered a mother lode of those tools on alone. Depending on what you're looking for and where you live, you can get new jobs and recruiters and other related links scrolling across your screen every few minutes all day long if you like. You don't have to, but you can, and that's what's important.

There is so much help for you out there, if you are trying really hard to use every asset the internet, industry, and our government has to offer. If you really want to get yourself to work, so you can start getting a paycheck, getting insurance, getting into a field you have a passion for, whatever your motivation for getting a job is, hang it there.

No, it's not perfect. Especially in the most urban and rural environments. Especially in the most competitive and underfunded fields. But I do think it's makes a certain amount of sense. We might need to be continually adjusting our expectations in this country, though. I myself might be pouring coffee or teaching exercise classes again one day soon. I'm making peace with that. In fact, if I decided to get either of those jobs right now, most of what I talking about on this blog wouldn't be necessary for me to be doing.

But for now, if you're in the U.S., and you have access to Twitter, and you're still thinking getting a job is the sane way to handle your unemployment, check out @TweetMyJobs. Or you can visit them online at It's the number one social recruitment network matching job seekers with employers. Employers can quickly and simply post what they're looking for on the website, and TweetMyJobs will distribute the need via the social network on Twitter, boom!

That's so easy it can't possibly make people go mad, right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From Their Mouths to Your Hiring Offer

I found a really neat resource online for job seekers. It's an easy-to-read booklet in pdf form:

100 Job Search Tips from Fortune 500 Recruiters

Published by EMC2 and dated December of 2009, its content remains current enough for our purposes now and for a long time. It is filled with advice from the very people who will be scouring our resumes, conducting telephone interviews with us, and in many cases, hiring us.

The organization of the tips is so concise and very useful. Also very telling. Each page contains content under the same headings: Top 10 job search strategies, Top 3 common mistakes that job seekers make, My top recruiting sources, Favorite recruiting story, and Final words.

A quick scan of the Top 10 strategies has shown me that networking appears to be number one, or close to it, on most recruiters' lists. Looking at their Top 3 recruiting sources shows me it's absolutely the right thing for me to be spending so much time on LinkedIn these days. Based on the mistakes we job seekers tend to make most often, I think I'll look into more information on preparing for interviews. It is cited as a big problem, and I must say I never thought much about interview prep before.

I hope you enjoy this little gem of a read. Don't miss the list of recommended resources at the back, either! I plan on tracking down this book's producers and thanking them for making it available to us. (Turns out, sending thank you notes is still a good thing for job seekers To Do.)