Saturday, July 11, 2009

Job hunting

Everyone has advice on how to find a job in this economy. I've got advice too, but more along the lines of "this has worked for me in the past." Your mileage may vary. I should note that the current job hunt has attracted many job offers in the form of "work from home" and "start your own business working part-time." It's mildly discouraging, but necessary evil. I try to keep my spirits up by reminding myself that the last time the economy was bad -- 2003 -- it took me about 3 months from the day I graduated to the day I started my new job. And I'm lucky, comparatively, as I live in a part of the country that isn't hurting as badly. But still, it's not easy.

That being said, here's how I'm doing it:

1. I use job boards. I know people frown on them, but my last three jobs were found through,, and, respectively. Prior to that, I applied for my job at Very Big Insurance Company through a newspaper ad. I also use (have gotten interviews in the past through, but no job) and as well. There's also a search engine,, that can help round up the jobs available on a variety of other niche boards. also has job boards, but I've no experience on whether that site is any better than any other.

2. I write cover letters. Each cover letter is specific to the job I'm applying for. I tell the person where I found the job and why I think I'm a good fit, citing experiences that fit with the job description. It used to take a longer time to write these, but now I have a lot of general cover letters written and I just tweak each one accordingly.

3. Spell check!

4. I only use one resume. I know they say you're supposed to have different resumes for different jobs, but at this point, my experience and skills are aimed at such a niche area of the job market that I only use one. I may reconsider this one in about a month if I don't get anywhere.

5. I keep a spreadsheet of every job I apply to. I started this spreadsheet back in the summer of 2003 and it has basically every job I've ever applied to since then. It's kind of sad, really. But it keeps me sane, in a way, and makes me feel like I'm doing something since I really haven't gotten any responses except 3 (1 headhunter who forwarded my resume, and two outright rejections). The spreadsheet acts as a measure of activity. I keep track of when I applied for the job, the company, the location, where I found the job online, and what the results were. It also keeps me straight on whether I've applied somewhere or not before.

6. The old me used to apply for any job whether I was qualified for it or not. I figure quantity over quality. The end result was I'd have to apply for 50 jobs before I got one interview. Now, I only apply for jobs that I'm actually qualified for. If it asks for an engineering degree or Ruby on Rails, I don't apply, even if I can do everything else listed on the description. Applications take forever to fill out and I don't want to waste my time or the hiring company's time when it's obvious I don't meet key criteria.

7. I still follow my loose adage that it takes 50 applications to get one interview. That's another sanity check, because it's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you're going to get an interview right away and keep checking email on hourly basis thinking someone is going to respond. I haven't reached the 50 application market yet, so I'm not discouraged yet.

It is hard slogging. But as my 2-year old niece once said, "But then it will be better."


Lori said...

And in some fields, you just sprinkle incense on the altar and pray.

Seriously - social services is being cut willy nilly and reorganized, I'll be lucky if I can find volunteer work.

Good luck on your hunt. I'm sure there's work for the sane, rational people among us, you included.

Seema said...

I'm hoping there's work out there for me, but in the meantime, here's to tightening the belt and hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.