Sunday, March 30, 2014

On the Job Search Part 5: You Never Know

New lesson on the job search: even if an interview doesn't seem exactly right for you, do it anyway. This weekend I had a job interview with a major retail chain. I have very little retail experience, but I did have some client relations on a previous job, so I figured I'd play that up. The interviewer was the store manager for the franchise. I was up and positive and he said he liked my energy. He didn't think I was the right fit for an in-store position, but he thought there might be something for me in marketing which would employ my writing skills. I also commented that I had some event planning on my resume. He responded there was community outreach and event planning involved  I had gone into the interview prepared to take on a job in which I had little experience, but it turned out there was a possibility for a position employing my skills.Even if nothing comes of it, I'll have made a connection.

So it only shows to go you (as they sang in that song from Movie Movie), take an opportunity for an interview if it comes up.

After this interview I had a life coaching session at a community center. While they were playing Hitchcock's The Birds in the large gathering room next door as part of the afternoon movie program, the coach dispensed some useful information:

Build your connections on LinkedIn and find people who work for the firms you want to apply to. Then ask if they have a employee referral bonus program.

Because of rapidly changing technology, people will have to change their careers--not just their jobs, but careers--three to five times in their working life. As old skills becomes obsolete, new ones are created. A few years ago, who even heard of SEO. (That's Search Engine Optimization, grandma.) Now it's a requirement for any media-related job.

On information interviews, ask What do you like about your job, what do you NOT like, What do you recommend to someone who wants to get into your field?

Take a look at any previous jobs you enjoyed and break them down into the elements you liked doing. The find positions which contain the most number of elements that made you happy. We call it "work" rather than "fun" or "play." But that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy it as much of it as possible.

Friday, March 21, 2014

On the Job Search Part Four: Elevator Pitch

In an interviewer with a recruiter, I received this advise on networking:

1. When you meet a potential contact at a networking event, at a party, or even on the bus, have your elevator pitch ready. If you haven't heard of it, the "elevator pitch" is your presentation speech which can be spoken in the time it takes ride an elevator. Also, it's gotta be interesting enough to distract anyone from those newsflashes now in all elevators. I actually look forward to reading those headlines, recipes, and advertisements for MeTV. But I digress--Your elevator pitch should say Who You Were, Who You Are, and Who You Want to Be, all in about 30-45 seconds.

2. If the pitch leads to conversation, don't say "I need a job, help!" Try finding common interests to discuss such as what was on TV last night. Then...

3. Have a business card ready and when you present it say, "I would appreciate 20 minutes of your time to help me on my job search." Then see if you can give them a call to set up an information interview. You aren't asking for a job, but for information. This person may not have a job, but they may someone who knows someone who does.

4. Don't spend more than 30 mins. a day on your computer. The recruiter said that according to a survey she saw in the New York Times, about 60-70 percent of those asked found their jobs through networking, 20 to 30 percent through agencies and placement services, and only 5 percent through postings on the Internet. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

On the Job Search, Part Three: Interviews

In going over my notebooks from attending employment workshops, seminars, and job fairs, I came across these points about interviews

1. This is probably the most important lesson of all: NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR SAD STORY. Yes, it's fun to vent during job interviews or recruitment events or when anyone asks you to "say a little sometime about yourself," but do NOT dwell on the negative. If you've been dealt a bad hand on your last job, boo-hoo. Everyone has been in that boat. Mention if briefly in a positive way (as in "It was a learning experience") and move on.

2. All job interviews are really about three questions--1) Can you do the job?; 2) Will you do the job?; 3) Will you fit in?

3. The interview is about the company, not you.

4. Have several copies of your resume at the interview.

5. Have specific examples of your problem solving ready and your stories to illustrate your point should not be more than four sentences long. Don't drone on and on.

More to come as I find them.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ellen and the De-Glamorization of the Oscars

The Oscar selfie retweeted by several million people
 including me.
Right after the Oscars, I received several Facebook posts from detractors of this year's host Ellen DeGeneris. I absolutely loved her. I thought she hit exactly the right note between cynical debunking of Hollywood and acting as a surrogate for crazed movie fans. It was clear she loved being there close to the stars and enjoyed kidding them gently. Her whole shtick was to tell the audience, see these big film people are just like you and me. They get hungry, they eat pizza, they pose for selfies. It was a big improvement over last year's snarky Seth McFarland who was determined to be as nasty and lowbrow as any of his Family Guy characters. I'm still cringing from the "We Saw Your Boobs" choral number and the endless, unfunny opening bit with William Shatner.

Friday, March 14, 2014

On the Job Search, Part Two

Here are some more job search tips I've picked up:

1. Always have ten leads or searches going on at the same time, because six of them are not going to lead to anything.

2. On the flip side of number one, don't apply for just anything. The principle of throwing spaghetti and seeing what sticks to the wall does not apply in job hunting. Make sure it's something you can tolerate doing, also if you do get an interview for a job you wouldn't normally do, the interviewer can always tell. Recently, I went on a group recruitment event. You could tell who was really interested, who was faking it, and who just walked in off the street. The recruiter asked everyone the same questions "Why do you want to work for this company? What are its competitors? Why should I hire you?" One guy, who was constantly fidgeting in his chair and combing his hair, forgot the questions when it was his turn. When he was reminded, he answered "I need a job" and he couldn't think of anything to say beyond that.

3. Don't spend too much time on the Internet. It's isolating, less effective and more competitive. For every job posting on search engines like, Indeed, Craig's List, etc., there are at least 400 applicants. You should spend 10-15 percent of your job search time in front of your laptop. Only target one job a week found on the Internet, one that you have seriously thought about, rather than blindly applying to everything (see number 2).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On the Job Search, Part One

I've been going to various job search seminars and workshops in my hunt for full-time employment. I've been taking notes on helpful tips, and thought it would be neat to share some with you. Also, it would be helpful for me to have all this stuff in one place so I'm putting it on the blog. Here are some ideas based on what I've learned:

1. When applying for a position online, follow directions. You'd be surprised how many candidates eliminate themselves by skipping over the instructions. If the potential employer wants a separate cover letter attached with your salary history, and you don't provide one, your resume goes straight to the virtual trashcan.

2. Send Thank-You notes and be specific in them. Handwritten thank-you notes are imperative after every in-person or phone interview. All you have to do is find a pack of these cards at the CVS. They're only about $10. Enclose your business card, and be specific in your note. Don't just say, "Thanks for the giving me your valuable time." Make references to what was discussed, possible connections and networking opportunities, etc.

3. At the end of the interview, ask for the interviewer's business card and also ask what is the best way to contact them (Email, regular mail, LinkedIn, etc.) I sent a Thank-you card to a recruiter and she emailed me back saying she loved getting actual physical cards.

4. Volunteering is a good idea. It may not lead to a paying job, but you might learn a new skill and meet new people who will lead you to one.

That's all for now, but I will continue posting these as I hear them.