Friday, October 30, 2009

The Hunt, part 3

I think the hardest part of job hunting is that when you are voluntarily looking -- i.e. you've made the decision to move on -- you're impatient to move on and put whatever it is that is causing you to leave your current employment behind you. Mentally, you've said good-bye to the company, to your colleagues, and you're already trying to wrap up projects as not to leave any loose ends behind. With that mindset, it makes the time horizon seem even longer than it really is.

While I admit to being relatively passive in the job hunt, it doesn't mean I'm immune to the impatience. The only thing I could do once I made the decision to move on is to take action and do what I could to find another job. At the same time, you have to stay engaged and committed to the current employer and energetic and enthusiastic at home to get your daily chores done as well as the job hunt. It's not easy so I don't want anyone to think I was implying it's easy. It's stressful, soul-draining, and just awful.

The two pieces of advice I would give -

* Start looking for a job before you're absolutely desperate. This is easy enough to do if you are employed and not involuntarily terminated. The problem is drawing the line of when is enough enough, when is it time to move on, and what are you willing to put up with? In one case, I decided to move on because my manager was verbally abusive not only to me but to my teammates; the day I threw up at the office because of stress was the day I realized it was time to move on. Already, I was late making the decision because I was desperate to take any job that came along. Luckily, the next job that came along came with great people who are still my friends now even though it's been several years since we worked together. I believe in being honest -- if something's not working, you need to either figure out how to make it work or leave. Evaluate what your threshold for pain is and make a decision accordingly.

* In conjunction with the above advice, even if you're relatively happy with your position and aren't really interested in looking for other jobs, take some time every couple of months to see what else is out there. There might be something you're interested in applying for -- it doesn't cost anything but time. And even if you don't see anything, at least you know what's out there and you're making an informed decision about your situation with full knowledge. I think it's always important to know what types of jobs are out there, what types of skills are being asked for in the marketplace and who is whiring; after all, in this economy, the more information you have about about your marketability, the better.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The hunt, part 2

As a follow-up to my previous post, I realized after talking to a friend that there's something else I don't do: try to circumvent the stated application process. There are all sorts of tricks and tips out there on how to get your resume to the top of the pile by doing something sneaky like calling HR to ask if they have your resume, showing up at the office and asking for an appointment, stalking other people who work at the company and asking them for help, etc. In general, my MO has been laziness, mostly because I have been a stalkee in the past and I'm not inclined to give the time of day to people whom I don't know when I'm busy. Plus, I figure if the company is interested in talking to you, they will call you. Kind of passive, but so far the passive approach -- i.e. following the process as stated in the application (if it says no calls, don't call!) -- has worked for me.

Along the same lines, I don't think I've ever followed up after an interview. If a certain amount of time has passed and I haven't heard anything, I don't bother emailing or calling to uncover the status of my application. It's the same attitude I stated above -- if the company is interested, they will call ME. If they are not interested, then me calling to find out if I got the job or not is probably not going to help me in any way.

As I said, I'm a terrible job seeker. I do everything completely backwards and in a rather solitary fashion. Maybe I would find jobs quicker if I followed the advice given by experts, but I do take a peverse delight in that I conduct a job search in all the wrong ways and somehow -- with a lot of patience -- it seems to work out for me. Your mileage may vary.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The hunt

I'm a terrible job hunter. I don't follow any of the recommended rules, and I'm not necessarily proud of my not following etiquette or procedures. I like procedures and I like etiquette so my willful disobedience startles me greatly. To wit:

* I don't hire resume writers to write my resume. They are incredibly expensive so I do it myself and rely on spell-check and one or two friends to look over. I try to make sure the first word in every bullet point is the same tense and same type of word. I also try to make sure I tie activities to results.

* I don't have an objective on my resume. Many experts on resume writing say you need to have an objective on the top of your resume. If I want to be really blunt, my objective is almost always to "Find a great job with a great salary with an opportunity to grow." So I leave it off because I don't think it helps my resume in any way. After all, who doesn't have "find a great job with a great salary with an opportunity to grow" as an objective?

* I only have one resume. There are recommendations to tailor each resume per job posting, but if you're only applying to jobs you're a) qualified for and/or b) resemble your resume of skills already, then I don't see the point of tailoring a resume for every job you're applying to. I do recommend, however, tailoring the cover letter for every job, though I say this hypocritically (see below).

* I don't write cover letters for jobs I'm half-hearted about.

* I don't network. I should, but I don't. Instead, I rely on job boards and public postings. To date, I've been employed by 5 different companies, three of them with more than 100,000 employees and the other two considerably smaller (less than 2,000 employees). I found these jobs through the local newspaper, hotjobs.com, journalismjobs.com, careerbuilder.com, and jobfox.com. No networking involved. So if anyone tells you that job postings or newspaper ads don't work, remember me; all of my jobs have been found this way.

* I never send thank you notes after the interviews. I should, but I don't. Invariably I forget or I don't have the address. And this is odd because I'm a firm believer in thank you notes and yet... strangely though, it hasn't affected me actually getting the job. I don't think I sent a thank you note for any job I actually got. I should probably do better on this one though.

* Last three job interviews on, I didn't wear hose. This could be a regional okay thing -- hose melts to your legs in this part of the country -- so few women wear them. Still, if I was going to be all proper, I'd wear the hose.

I start my new job on Monday. I'm looking forward to the new experiences, meeting new people, and gaining new skills and expertise. That's always the fun part of a new job. Of course, I'm always stressed about where I should eat lunch, where is the bathroom, and how do you fill out an expense report? And usually, by the time I'm comfortable with the answers to these and other questions, it's about the time to move on.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Not in my Facebook yard

I defriended a "friend" on Facebook today, the first time I've done that. And to be clear, this person was someone I went to school with and got along with, but was never close to; I think we might have gone for burritos once or twice, but that was the extent of the relationship. But I'd always thought of this person as a fairly intelligent, nice person. Well, they posted some remarks to their Facebook page that I found insulting and derogatory towards Indians (which I happen to be). My first knee-jerk reaction was to respond and point out the error of their ways. But then I thought, what's the point? He posted such a comment knowing that I was his friend and he probably has other Indians as friends and it didn't seem to bother him or filter his remarks. So I defriended him without a word.

I know ignorant people are plentiful in this world, especially online where they are not aware of the impact of their words; I learned that through the fanfic world. However, as much as one expects and to an extent, tolerates, such comments from relatively anonymous, non-flesh, non-RL contact people, it's hard to take from someone you considered a friend or acquaintance. In fact, I was so startled that I read his comments several times before I realized he was serious and not joking at all. I figure he can continue to share his ignorant opinions on Facebook; I'm just not going to read them myself. And at least, now I know where he stands so I can effectively write him off for the future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LotD

Vanity Fair on the Gosselins here. As with anything else Vanity Fair touches, a pretty insightful and revealing article on how Jon and Kate have eclipsed even Brad and Angelina in their "celebrity". Interesting, but still scary.
Vacay

I'm on vacation this week as I'm between jobs. My last day at the previous job was last Friday and I start the new job this coming Monday. It seems a little surreal to have found a job so quickly -- about 3 months from application to start date -- in this economy when there are so many stories about people who have been looking for months, who have applied to so many different jobs, etc. It's actually demoralizing to read those stories and I stopped about 2 months into the job search. Each of those stories is a data point of just how bad the economy is, but there aren't any stories on people like me -- who found a job fairly quickly considering. So for those of you who are out there looking, there is hope.

Note - I'm aware that some parts of the country are better off than others and I happen to be very lucky and living in a part of the country that while it has a 9%+ unemployment rate, it's not as bad as other places and that could have played some into my job search.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Update

After a battle o' passwords with google, I'm back. I have this weird situation with my gmail account where someone is using the account and so I get all sorts of whacky work-related email, friend requests, plane tickets, law school missives, etc. It's annoying, to say the least. What's crazy is that this person doesn't seem to realize that they have appropriated my email. Incidentally, this person recently opened a Facebook account using my email address and I promptly cancelled it; hopefully they've figured out what's going on.

But just in case they haven't noticed the missing email or the cancellation of their Facebook account, I keep changing my email password to increasingly hard and incomprehensible nonsensical words. Which is fine except for the part where I forget what crazy jumble of letters made up the password and inadvertantly get locked out of this account. So I'm back now and hopefully won't forget my password again. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, October 05, 2009

LotD

Back from another business trip and came across this article on how airline fares might be leveling off soon. I've been appreciating the lower fares lately. Even with the 2-week advance purchase for today's plane fare, it still came in under $200 and that was insane, especially on a sold-out flight. I was anticipating having to pay $400 to $500 for the ticket, but no -- paid $178 round trip two weeks out. So I guess the message here is, if you're going to go on a vacation and need airfare, buy soon!
LotD

You know that effect in black and white pictures when one element, such as a rose, is the only thing in color? In the example I suggest, it would be a black and white picture with a red rose in it. I've been wondering how to do that effect for years in Photoshop (I have version 7.0) and had tried a couple of different tutorials to no effect. And then I found this one, and it's super easy. Try it if you have the software (not sure if it works in stripped down versions of Photoshop) for really cool effects.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

LotD

Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against the Nazis, died Friday at the age of 90. You can read about the uprising in his words here. It's an amazing and tragic story.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

LotD

Planned Parenthood will connect you to your senator's office so you can leave a message asking Congress to protect women's health care. Sign up here. It's about time people started listening to us, especially since I'm convinced all the people who are blowing smoke about abortion in the health care reform debate wouldn't support any kind of reform anyway. So make the call and ask your senator to protect women's health care and vote against any amendment that would restrict our options to pick our doctors and make our own choices about our healthcare. Women deserve comprehensive health care and I, for one, am tired of my health care choices being used as a political football for other people's agendas.
LotD

Scary article from the NY Times - Driven to Distraction - At 60 M.P.H.. Honestly, I can barely flip radio stations and drive at the same time, let alone check email/voice mails etc. I suppose most people who are like me put the cell phones away while driving, while everyone else is talking on the phone or texting and thinking they're doing just fine.

It scares me I'm on the road with people who are this reckless and careless. As my earlier saga with the car illustrated this past summer, people are trying to save themselves 10 to 20 minutes but in the meantime are costing the rest of us time and as this article points out, sometimes something much worse.

The article also comes with a game to test how distracted you are while driving and texting. I failed miserably. I can't text when I'm parked and concentrating 100% on the text, let alone while driving.

However, as I said, I think people who realize the dangers have already put away their cell phones. Everyone else thinks they're invincible or better than everyone else and nothing you say will ever convince them otherwise.

Scary stuff.