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Posts Tagged ‘layoff’

In case you hadn’t noticed the sadly neglected blog, I’ve kind of stepped away from the computer for over a week now. Well, less from the computer, more from my social networks and this blog.

I’m going to take a moment here, take off the professional happy face, and just be honest.

I’m on the verge of burn out. I’ve been unemployed six months. During this time I have been just as busy as I was while ‘working’. The difference is, the past six months have been focused on me… working on my resumes, cover letters, online portfolio, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, checking the job boards, making connections, applying, following up, interviewing, researching, hoping… wishing…

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking. I’m still doing all of the above. But for about 30 minutes a day I sit in the car line, waiting to pick my niece up from school and just think (and listen to my iPod).

I never expected to be here. I never expected to graduate and make my part-time college job a full-time job. I never expected to be laid off two years later. I never expected to still be looking for a job half of a year later. I didn’t think I would have to write dozens of cover letters and I definitely didn’t think I would ever lose track of the number of interviews I had.

Yet, here I am. When I got laid off I felt confident that it was for the best. I was unhappy in my position and I knew that there was no room for growth there. I had already started my job search anyway, now I would be able to dedicate all of my time to it. No more difficulty while trying to schedule interviews. Since my job search had been going strong for a few months already, I expected to find my dream job in three months or less. I was obviously wrong.

Still, I continued on, month after month, interview after interview. Every time I didn’t get a job I assured myself that it wasn’t meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. I still believe that… but I’m starting to wonder if I’m missing something. Maybe there is some other big lesson I’m supposed to be learning and I won’t find employment until I do.

Or maybe the economy just sucks. Hard to say.

I know there are people out there who have been fighting through unemployment for much longer than I have. How are you handling it? I feel like I’m falling behind, despite my best efforts to stay up to date with all things marketing, communication and social media related. Am I the only one doing a lot of thinking and reflecting? What else can I do right now to help my search? Let’s start up some honest conversation.

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I have heard many similes and metaphors for unemployment, interviews and the job search in general. Interviews are like dates or job searching after a layoff is like dating after divorce. I agree with these sentiments wholeheartedly and wanted to share my own.

For me, the job hunt is like surfing.

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica
Stay with me here for a minute, let’s see if I can explain…

Sometimes the ocean is calm, maybe even a little boring. You’re looking around for opportunities (waves to ride) but they are few and far between. You aren’t getting any call backs or interviews, and you look out into this endless, flat sea and begin to feel frustrated, impatient and maybe a little hopeless.

Then the waves start rolling in. They start small, the job postings you find or leads you get, and they grow into the surf-worthy interviews. For me at least, the waves roll in quickly and all together. I’ll go a week without hearing anything positive and suddenly in one day I have 3 new job leads.

Of course, so far, I haven’t been able to stay up on a wave. I’ve had the interviews, gotten up on my feet, felt the excitement and thrill… but the wave always takes an unexpected turn and I fall off the board. Of course then I’m stuck underwater for a while, feeling as though I might drown, thinking that wave was my last chance. I swear I’ll never get back on the board because the aftermath is just too difficult to deal with. I decide I’ll just sit up on the beach and watch everyone else succeed.

Eventually though, I always surface. Usually the ocean is calm and I have time to take a deep breath a prepare for the next set to roll in. Then I do it all over again!

See? It’s like surfing!

As an afterthought, I should mention that I’m not a surfer. I have attempted… and I am in the picture above (taken last summer at Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica). However, I was terrible and I never got up on my feet at all. I know they say the bigger boards are easier, but the 10 foot board I was trying to handle nearly killed me. I even had a nice big bruise on my arm (just in time to be a bridesmaid at the wedding I was there for!) So, while I can make the comparison, the truth is I’ve never gotten up. Still, I rode a wave while laying on my stomach and that was fun and I’ve fell off my boogie board before and gotten caught underwater… so I know what I’m talking about 😉 Plus, I think my lack of success just makes the comparison more truthful. Surfing is hard and not everyone is successful, especially not on their first try. The job seach is also hard and you have to be dedicated to keep on trying before you find success.

What is your favorite unemployment metaphor?

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You know you love that cheesy title.

The job hunt is a rollercoaster. You get a few job leads, have a few interviews, get your hopes up while impatiently waiting and then possibly face rejection (once again) and that sends you down into the ‘woe is me’ pit of despair. It’s tough out there.

After a few leads that didn’t turn into the job offers I was hoping for, I’ve been feeling a little down. I’ve been trying my best to focus on the positive and have been surprised by how much Twitter has helped.

When I joined Twitter I didn’t expect much. I definitely didn’t expect to ‘meet’ other unemployed people who would basically become my safety net, preventing any excessive wallowing. Yet, it never fails… if I post an update about having a bad day or feeling frustrated, I’m guaranteed a few encouraging messages from some of my favorite people. They may not know it, but this encouragement seriously helps. For me, it means even more than positive thoughts from my friends and family. These people are like me. They are riding the rollercoaster along with me and understand in a way that none of my IRL (in real life) friends can.

So to those of you on Twitter – you know who you are – who continue to lift me up, send me funny links, give me advice and generally just care… THANK YOU 🙂

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I made the mistake to apply to basically anything and everything when I first graduated from college. I didn’t know that it was a much better idea to tailor your job search. If the position was at a company in my chosen location, I would apply without paying much attention to the qualifications. I realize now that I was HR’s worst nightmare. As an end result, I had an unsuccessful job search and wound up remaining at the company that I worked at part time through college.

Now I know better. I don’t apply to anything and everything. I have tailored my job search. My applications, resumes and cover letters reflect that. Still, sometimes there are jobs that I’m not quite sure about.

I know that I need to have the bare minimum qualifications but I read an blog from Keppie Careers that got me thinking. This blog post claims that sometimes you should consider jobs beyond your qualifications.

When “desired qualifications” include experiences you do not have, it can still be worth applying. As long as you can make a direct connection between what they want and what you offer, I advise going for it!

I’ve had to deal with this before. I read a job description, get excited as everything sounds fitting and then get slammed with something like 8 years of experience or advanced graphic design knowledge. It’s disheartening, especially when I feel that I could truly do this job! Should I ignore the basic requirements and apply anyway? Will my application even make it to a person?

A job opened up at a company that I would LOVE to work for. It involved social media, marketing and communication. I got excited reading the job description… and then I found out it’s a management position. They want someone with management experience. Darn.

Then I start to wonder… just because I don’t have management experience doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make a great manager. One of my career goals is to become a manager, but am I ready for that now? I decided to ask for feedback from you guys. What makes a good leader or a good manager? How much experience do you think someone should have before becoming a manager? Do you need to be an expert first then a manager?

Please, leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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I started to feel like my blog was focusing too much on the job hunt and not enough on communication and marketing. Then I realized, job hunting is communication and marketing. You are marketing yourself to potential employers. You look at who your audience is and figure out the best way to communicate with them and appeal to them.

This leads me to interesting marketing strategies in job hunting.

Resume Cake from Flickr

Resume Cake from Flickr

Thanks to a few tweets, I ran across this article on CareerBuilder about unconventional tactics that job seekers are using. This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard of weird and interesting approaches to job hunting. I’ve read about graphic designers putting their resumes on t-shirts and job seekers buying space on billboards. Yet I wonder, how practical are these oddball approaches?

 

A couple of my favorites from the above mentioned article:

Candidate sent a shoe with a resume to “get my foot in the door.”
Candidate sent a resume wrapped as a present and said his skills were a “gift to the company.”
Candidate sent a cake designed as a business card with the candidate’s picture.

What do you think about these tactics? Do HR managers take them seriously? Does it depend on what field you are in? Are these candidates praised and remembered for their creativity or frowned upon for not taking the job search seriously?

With massive amounts of candidates available for each job, the rules of the job search are definitely changing. A simple, generic cover letter and resume don’t cut it anymore. There are the Web 2.0 options like a VisualCVor other online portfolio, creating a Twitter account or joining LinkedIn. Then there are the guerrilla marketing style tactics. Some are mentioned in the CareerBuilder article: staging a sit-in to get a meeting with the director or handing out resumes at a stoplight.

Are these unconventional tactics necessary in today’s market or are these job seekers just getting laughed at? I would love to hear from any employers or HR pros! Should I put my resume in a shoe box and wrap it up?

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Awhile back, I was inspired by a Tweet from @katiebailey

 The more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know.

Unemployment gives you a lot of time to research, read and learn. This can be a great thing. You have the ability to stay on top of your field and learn new things. This can also add to the overwhelmed feeling that already comes with job hunting.

As I connect with more people on Twitter and LinkedIn, discover more blogs and create more connections, I begin noticing how much I don’t know. One Twitter link leads to an informative blog, that blog leads to another blog and an hour later my eyes hurt and I’m getting a headache from information overload. My computer time always snowballs from 30 minutes to 3 hours.

If I’m not learning a new tip or trick for job hunting, I’m learning of a new social media tool that I need to become involved in. The amount of information available to learn seems never-ending. To me, this is both a blessing and a curse.

I love that social media, marketing, PR and communications are constantly evolving. I love knowing that learning doesn’t stop after your walk across a stage and receive a degree. I hate that overwhelmed, inadequate feeling I get sometimes after reading one too many blogs/tweets/articles/etc.

Nonetheless, I will continue to realize how much I don’t know. I will continue to be a sponge, soaking up all the information that I can find, making all the connections that I can and hopefully finding that perfect job.

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adviceSo far on my blog I have offered a little advice and stated my opinion. Now I am asking for something back.

 I have no idea how many people (if any) read this blog. I’m hoping at least one or two and I’m hoping these readers (yeah, that would be you!) come out of hiding and contribute. Maybe asking for comments is against proper blog etiquette (though somehow I doubt Miss Manners has rules for blogging) but I’m taking a chance and potentially rebelling against the status quo (and pretending that the status quo song from High School Musical didn’t just pop into my head.)

But I digress…

I would like some job hunting advice. I know the basics, I’ve done the basics (you know, all that stuff I talked about here) and I’m still hunting. I’m hoping to find some insight, something that I’ve missed or just hadn’t thought of.

As we already know, I’m on all the social networking sites. I have profiles on CareerBuilder, Monster, and get daily emails from Simply Hired. I check the local big companies (Aflac, TSYS, Auburn University, etc) several times a week. I have written and re-written my resume more times than I can count. I have a VisualCV, a blog, and a Twitter account.

Maybe it’s just the economy or maybe it’s just the areas I’m looking in (Columbus, GA and Auburn, AL). Maybe I should blog more or connect with more people on Twitter, or contribute more to those social networking sites I’m a part of. What do you think? Other than the same ol’ stay positive, keep on trying, be confident advice, what can you tell me?

I don’t want to sound desperate here because I’m not. Sure, it’s been nearly 6 weeks since I was laid off and yes, I was job hunting even before then. However, I’m still not feeling desperate or depressed or pessimistic. I simply want to be sure that I am doing everything. You see, when you are unemployed and finding a job is your full time job, you need to do it right! I just want to see what else I could be doing.

So what do you think? More in-person networking? (I’m thinking this would be good… but where? In a small town area, where can I go? What should I look for?) More followups with potential employers? (I always worry I’ll bug the crap out of people who are already busy enough) More blogging and Twitter and social media and social networking and patience? Please advise.

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