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Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

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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My last post was quite a vent, so I don’t want this post to come off that way. However, there is something I need to address.

The employment process is a two way street. There are employers and employees and if we don’t all do our part, the process will fall apart. In an economy with unemployment rates in the double digits, it can be difficult to keep it all together.

Honestly though, we (employers and potential employees) are handling the same tasks.

  • I take time to sift through hundreds of job listings. Some of these listings are time wasters, they either want to con me out of money or they are listed under my city even though they are located in another state. Many postings make me shake my head and wonder what these people were thinking. Some try to re-word their posting to trick me into thinking the position is something that it really isn’t (it’s not a door-to-door salesman it’s a residentual marketing director!)
  • You (employer, hiring manager, HR person) take time to sift through hundreds of applications and resumes. Some have grammar errors or don’t relate to the posting at all. Some make you shake your head and wonder what these people were thinking. Some try to re-word their resume to make it seem like they have the experience even though they obviously don’t.

You see? We’re not all that different.

That is why it pains me when an employer pulls over to the side of the road as I struggle to make it up the hill. If you expect me to follow up after an interview, you should really respond to my email or call. If you fill a position, you should really let me know so I can cross it off my list and stop sending those unanswered emails. If you are sending me a rejection email (which is painful enough to receive, but again, I’m just glad to hear back!) please at least spell my name correctly. My name is Danielle, not Daniel. I am a girl, not a boy. I go through great lengths to ensure that I spell names correctly and use the correct title. You should really do the same.

I realize that you are dealing with dozens of applicants and numerous jobs. But you expect perfection from me. If there is a spelling or grammatical mistake in my cover letter or resume, I’m in the trash without a second thought. I get it, we (job hunters) should take pride in our work and put a lot of effort into what we do, but shouldn’t everyone?

You want respect and strong work ethic and attention to detail from us and we simply want the same thing. It’s a two way street, that’s all I’m saying.

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I opened up TweetDeck about an hour ago and unexpectedly became very angry.

I’m not easily angered and I’m definitely not one to express any anger here on my blog. I’ve read too many horror stories about the consequences of blogs that are a bit too candid. But, let’s just be blunt… I’m incredibly annoyed.

The back story…
There is a girl, maybe you’ve heard about her already, who decided to sue her college because she hadn’t received a job offer. Basically, she felt that her school did not do enough to help her find employment.
My Twitter feed was a-buzz with negative feedback. People generally thought that this move would hurt her professionally, making her appear whiney and unable to accept responsibility. I remember one tweet even saying Who will hire her now?

Well… someone did. The Ski Channel did.

Now, I have to hand it to them, the company is definitely getting publicity from this (I’m blogging about it, I’m contributing, I know) but I don’t live by the motto that all publicity is good publicity. This has tacky stunt written all over it, starting with the fact that the job is in California and the potential employee is in NYC (and when I click on your press release and there is a picture of a half naked woman on the right hand sidebar linking to “Super Babes of Snow” I’m less than impressed). Nonetheless, the company is of less importance to me.

What bothers me so much and has me grinding my teeth as I type out this post, is that out of the millions of hard-working, responsible, dignified unemployed people out there, this girl gets a job offer. It even looks like they are creating a position for her! She exploited herself and her school and blamed someone else for her lack of success. The Ski Channel calls it ‘fiesty’ I call it ‘ridiculous’

Ranting aside, I do in fact take this with a grain of salt. In the press release the company founder and CEO even says;

If she is this fiesty, we’ll try her out.  But if she is playing the victim card and pushing her problems onto everyone else – then her job wouldn’t likely last long.

Not exactly the bode of confidence I would like my future employer to have for me.

I'd like to apply for a refund on my college education

We all think we’ll step out of the classroom and into a corner office at our dream company, then reality hits. I don’t blame my college for my current lack of unemployment. Sometimes I blame the economy (don’t we all these days?) but that is more for the lower numbers of opportunities than it is my ability to actually get a job.

Your college not preparing you is not an excuse. The crappy economy is not an excuse. These things are challenges. They have to be faced head on, dealt with and conquered. They are lessons to be learned. I am facing my challenges, not pointing my finger, and I know that my outcome will be positive. These challenges will make me a better employee and a better person, I have confidence in that and I’ll take ‘better’ over ‘fiesty’ any day.

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Sorry it’s been so long since my last update… I’ve been busy holding my breath.

Unemployment is a waiting game. You wait for the right positions to open up so that you can apply. You wait to hear back after you apply, crossing your fingers for an interview. You wait after the interview (the worst of the waiting) to see whether or not you got the job. If you are lucky, you’ll find out either way… or you may just wait around forever while the company fills the position and doesn’t tell you that you weren’t chosen. The waiting really starts to weigh on you.

I’ve had a couple of interviews lately which is why I’ve been holding my breath. Oh, and crossing my fingers of course. I think they are permanently stuck in the crossed position.

So, as I continue to wait, holding my breath and willing the phone to ring, I’ll leave you with some links. These sites helped me prepare for what I think have been some successful interviews. I hope they can help others too!

Interview Tips to Make Your Next Interview Your Last from the VisualCV blog (If you’re a job seeker and don’t have a VisualCV yet, definitely check them out! It’s free and easy and a great supplement to your resume.)

In job interview, passion packs a punch From MSNBC: an interview with the author of What Color is Your Parachute? Really great advice.

Ace the InterviewTo-the-point interview rules from David Silverman

And just in case… the negative side:

5 Common Reasons For Failure at a Job Interview From one of my favorite blogs by Bill Vick

Job Interview Tips: How to Handle Rejection From Lewis Lin explaining how to cope with the worst part of the job search

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One of the benefits of unemployment (yes, I admit, there are some perks!) has been the time to think, reflect and realize. When you take a step back from your job (or you’re pushed back from it) you can focus more on your field in a broader sense.

During college I changed majors several times. I couldn’t quite find my niche and didn’t feel passionate about my classes. Honestly, I was on the verge of my senior year and my dad kept reminding me that I had four years – and only four years– to graduate. I had been pre-physical therapy but realized I hated math and science. I remained undeclared for about a year and focused on general pre-req classes. I ventured into psychology and enjoyed it, but couldn’t see a career emerging from it. Then I somehow arrived at the department of Communication and Journalism. I started in public relations, taking classes in marketing, communication, PR and journalism. I realized that I loved to write and edit. I was fascinated by my communication classes. I switched my major to comm. after realizing that the communication classes were the ones I really enjoyed (and because I could graduate on time in Comm but not PR… just being honest!)  I left Auburn with an interest in everything I had studied but little direction. Majoring in communication isn’t like majoring in accounting or nursing… you don’t graduate with a job title, you have an entire list of avenues you can choose.

I now realize just how great my time at Auburn was. I enjoyed learning how to speak in front of an audience comfortably and how to work successfully in small groups. Interpersonal communication was my favorite course at Auburn by far. I loved learning how to deal with different types of people and the difference of communication style between men and women or introverts and extroverts (both have really helped in my marriage as well as my professional life!) Over two years later I can actually say that I am passionate about communication. I have realized how broad communication is and everything that it entails and I love it all.

I can wholeheartedly say that communication, in its broadest sense, is my passion. Have you found yours?

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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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