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 yet...consulting, 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! www.findcelebrityjobs.com

Maybe you could get a job in the Caribbean! www.jobinthesun.com

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, www.job-hunt.org. 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:

job-hunt.org 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 Twitter.com 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 tweetmyjobs.com. 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?