Thursday, October 14, 2010

Job hunting advice

I still have too many friends who are looking for jobs right now. So, I thought it would be cool (and helpful) to do a blog entry to help them.

People always say, "Read the book 'What Color is Your Parachute'" and perhaps that's not a bad idea. Or "Who Moved My Cheese." Yes, pick up either one at your local library.

But I think more practical advice is in order. After all, this is the worst recession and economy in 70-80 years so I think a lot of people just have no good advice for people who are out of work because there is no good advice, is there?

Here are a few of my thoughts. Please feel free to comment and add yours:

1. Be willing to "think outside the box" - ummm, WAY out of the box. A friend of mine recently left his music PR job of 20 years after being laid off. He considered and looked into everything -- from joining the police department to real estate. He settled on real estate, got his license and is now forging ahead in that area, while still keeping himself open to corporate PR jobs. Smart. I know a LOT of my friends who are out of work used to work in music or the entertainment business - so be willing to look into ALL industries - from health care to the police department to teaching to working at UPS or selling insurance, or working at Trader Joe's. I hear managers there can make $90K.

2. Go back to school. A friend of mine used to do A&R and is now going back to school to study drug and alcohol counseling/therapy. Smart. There are lots of things you could go back to school for - from getting your MBA to getting a teaching or paralegal certificate. If I were smarter, I would have been a computer programmer as I always see tech jobs out there so when in doubt, learn some programming skills or something technical, even if it's outside of your comfort zone. Most people are afraid of technology, even employers, and employers generally will pay high salaries for tech jobs as they themselves don't even understand what tech people do. Bear in mind though, don't get any private student loans - they are scary. And know that even with a gov't student loan, you can't bankrupt yourself out of that debt so if you take on $100-200K in student loans to get your law school degree (or any advanced degree for that matter), you better get into Harvard and get a 6 figure job so you can afford paying that money back because your payments will be $1K a month!

3. Another music refugee was laid off from her corporate job and is now temping. I'm pretty proud of her for this as when you temp, the wages may be low, but it gets you working and your foot in the door with companies and in industries you might not normally even know about much less try to work at. One of my first real jobs out of college I got through temping. I took a lowly temp salary and turned it into a nice paying full-time job with benefits. Oh, how I miss the Internet boom!

4. Move. The fact of the matter is, California's unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. I hear there are lots more jobs in NYC and DC and jobs in smaller towns and cities across the country. Apply for jobs out of the city and out of state.

5. Go where your friends and contacts are. It's all about relationships. It's always easier to get a job through someone you know (or someone who knows someone) that blindly off an ad.

6. Use but don't rely on the Internet and applying for jobs online. I've heard from many people that they just aren't getting responses to their online job applications. Sure, keep applying online (and tailoring your resume AND cover letter to each job), but don't rely on applying for jobs online. Companies are literally getting hundreds, if not thousands of resumes for each job posting. Find a contact there - ask everyone you know, use LinkedIn or Facebook if need be but find SOMEONE at the company (cold call someone if you have to) to get your resume on someone's desk. Be CREATIVE. One applicant bought Google keywords of a guy's name (Bob Smith) of where he wanted to work. When Bob googled himself, his guy's resume came up. Needless to say, this got Bob's attention and the guy got the job! (I think it was for a creative job at an ad agency...)

7. No matter how bad things get, KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. I emailed with a few job hunters earlier this year that I was trying to help. One was looking for work and yet was so cheerful about everything. I sent her resume to an entertainment assistant gig opening. They really liked her but by the time things moved along and they wanted her, she had already accepted a gig at another company. Nike I think. I'm 99% sure her cheerful attitude got her hired over dozens of other applicants. Another searcher was more "down" and was out of work for months longer. Believe it or not, your demeanor comes across in your resume, cover letter and job interview - and little things you type, say or do. Be happy, fake it if you need to but a HR person or interviewer will be a LOT more impressed with you if you seem cheerful and upbeat than "man it's horrible out there" when you meet with them.

8. Start your own business. No matter how bad you think the economy is, there are ALWAYS opportunities out there for entrepreneurs. Can you do what you used to do in corporate America for yourself? Before you automatically say 'no' really think about it. Maybe there's a way! Making even a little money to start is better than making nothing!

9. Really use your creativity. I was watching that Nate Berkus TV show the other day and some guy on there was out of work so long. He knew he was a "decisive" person so he created a business/web site "Pay me $5 and I'll make any decision for you." Questions could range from "What color nail polish should I wear to my 20 year high school reunion?" to well, you name it. He seems to do be doing well with this business venture. Enough to be paying back his student loans anyhow.

10. Write down the top 5-10 things you are good at. Are you good at communicating, like being your own boss and like kids? Maybe teaching or being a nanny is for you.

Most importantly, keep your expenses low. Can you move back home or in with a friend or family member? If so, do it. It will save you a lot of money every month and take a lot of the stress off you. I know it's not cool or fashionable but I have a few friends in this boat.

Anything to add?

Monday, October 11, 2010

For my east coast friends - My crazy LA friends

I'm in a bad mood so I thought I'd recap all my crazy experiences with friends I've had in LA. Oops I mean "friends".

So as to protect the guilty, I've changed their names.

Leslie - Let' see I met Leslie at some singles mixer. She seemed cool at first. We were both single and griping about how hard it is to find a decent guy in LA so we decided go hang out and try to meet guys together. She was a sweet girl but got married when she was 18 or something (and divorced at age 30) so she literally didn't know how to do ANYTHING for herself as she'd been a "kept woman" for 10+ years and missed out entirely on her 20s. We went "bar hopping" one night and she didn't like the first place. Fine. So we left. Then she didn't like the 2nd place. I mean, these were nice bars in Santa Monica, not dives we were going to. Anyhow, after heading to our 3rd spot, I was over it. It was like being friends with an infant because she didn't know how to do *anything* for herself because her husband has always taken care of her. She had a roommate who didn't pay the rent for a month or two and she had no idea what to do. She "spotted them" and asked me after the fact if I thought they'd pay her back. Umm, no.... I mean, who does that? Even at age 18 I'd have known that was dumb. Anyhow, the icing on the cake was when we went out one day and she commented I should be wearing a bra with my tank top. Now, sure, in retrospect, that was probably good advice but I didn't think I looked particularly slutty. It's hot out and besides, people shouldn't be looking so closely at my shirt to see if my nipples are poking out. Anyhow, it wasn't what she said but the way she said it. Very bitchy and controlling like. Bye bye.

Jessica - Jessica was a good friend for a while. We met through work years and years ago. Only problem was, she had some health issues, including major depression. Ok, not her fault, right? Of course not. But I'm sorry, if you're clinically depressed, drinking does not help it! I deliberately don't drink because even one cocktail can make me sad and mopey for days. She would always drink when we went out and even though it was only a glass or two of wine, I couldn't help but wonder if she'd be a bit less "depressed" if she stopped drinking. She also made ZERO effort to exercise. And yes, I know, if you're clinically depressed, exercise and cutting out alcohol won't cure you. You need meds. I get it. But the meds didn't even work. I just don't have any sympathy for people who don't at least try to help themselves. If you work out AND give up drinking and then still are depressed, fine, but at least TRY something. Sadly, it was too much to handle because she also flaked on 75% of the things we were supposed to do together.

Mary - Mary also suffered from depression. I can't figure out if people who are depressed move to Los Angeles because of the eternal sunshine. Or if living in an old, dingy apartment with a view of another building and no natural sunlight, surrounded by concrete everywhere and no trees makes people here depressed? Maybe it's a combo of the two. Anyhow, Mary was a talker (and a drinker) which is fine. I listened to her mindless ramblings for years because she was pretty and fun to hang out with and amusing much of the time. She literally talked 95% of the time we were together. When I hit a rough patch, she didn't act like a normal person by saying "what's wrong" but went on and on about herself EVEN MORE! When I stopped her, saying, "Hey, I'm going through some serious shit here - I need you to shut up and listen (for a change) and be a friend" she just couldn't do it. She said her endless talking would "distract me" from my problems and that we all "have problems" so why should she stop talking about hers just because I'm having a rough patch? Seriously? Yes, I agree, we all have problems but that does not give you the right to dominate 95% of our conversations and then REFUSE to talk about me when I need a friend! She went so far as to lie and say she'd offered to talk to me but I wouldn't answer her questions. Out and out lies! I stopped talking to her after that and cut her out of my life for good. Did I mention she was also "depressed" and on meds that didn't really work? Hmmm.

Britney - Let's see. Britney was first. She was always happy, chipper and upbeat. However, as I got to know her better, I realized that her pleasant demeanor was about as real as a Stepford Wife. She probably had a mother than always put on a "happy" face, even when times were bad, and that was likely transferred to her. Anyhow, we were good friends for a while. She always would be up for trying a new restaurant or doing something new. She never said "no" but "sure, let's try it" which I found to be a refreshingly fun and good attitude to have in a city full of depressing "no" saying peeps. Anyhow, things were fine until we went to Vegas. She had some mild reaction to the food we had at dinner. Nothing major - just an upset stomach because *she* waited too long between meals to eat!? Totally HER fault, not mine nor the restaurant's. Anyhow, she locked herself in our hotel bathroom for 20 minutes, like an 8 year old might do. I had no idea what was going on - she was upset and pouting - not in there because she was sick to her stomach. Anyhow, come to find out, she's livid at *me?!?* because I'm not consoling!?! her more because her tummy hurt. She's over 30 years old - what am I, her mom? She wasn't even that sick...just a minor tummy ache. Anyhow, we got in a HUGE fight about it as we had both planned and wanted to go out that night and now we couldn't. I wasn't really *that* upset...disappointed, sure, I mean, who wouldn't be as it was our only Saturday night out in Vegas! But she projected that *I* was REALLY mad at *her* for getting sick (which I wasn't) and had a tantrum and went to bed. Needless to say, that was one of the last times I hung out with her. Because after that, she invited me out to dinner, then flaked the same day on me, 3 TIMES IN A ROW!!! She even had the nerve to admit that she was just going to go out to dinner with her boyfriend instead?!? I wrote her a "kiss off" email and said I didn't need flakey, rude people in my life.

Ashley - Ashley was the closest thing I've ever had to a "best friend" in my entire life. We were such good friends for 8+ years that we even went on vacations together - San Diego, New York and the Caribbean. She was always a great friend, an even better listener and fun to boot. Then, one day, she met a guy. Oh, she always had a boyfriend of some sort. But that didn't stop us from being close, good friends and being on the phone for hours and hours at a time. Then she met "him." He was a new kind of guy. Much more controlling than any of her previous boyfriends. I'd run into them at our gym and he'd come over and criticize my work out technique, complaining that I wasn't even "breaking a sweat." Umm, yeah, I'm a girl and I barely sweat even when I do work out really hard. Anyhow, he was mean and bossy and would treat her badly. As time went on, our phone calls became shorter and shorter. One day, we'd been on the phone for all of 5 minutes when he came home and she suddenly "had to go" because he'd walked in the door. What, you can't be on the phone when your boyfriend comes home?? Anyhow, after blowing me off slowly for years, she then suddenly became all chummy again as her wedding date neared and she wanted me to be in her wedding. We were such good friends - I was convinced that she'd ask me to be her maid of honor. She only had 1 sister but they often fought. Anyhow, I was a shoe-in. Or so I thought. She choose her sister, ok, fine, understood as they may fight but they are family. But when she suddenly called me last minute and expected I would drop everything in the middle of a weekday to go downtown with her to look at dresses, I was livid. I'm self-employed, so yes, I can make my own schedule, but not when you call me up last minute and give me NO notice and want me to go spend an afternoon dress shopping with you. Maybe 24 hours notice and I could have but every minute I'm not at work, I'm not earning money - something people with corporate jobs fail to understand. When you work for yourself, you have to work 10 times harder than when you work for 'the man' because you're responsible for every penny you bring in (or don't bring in). Anyhow, I backed out of her wedding and she was pissed but after expecting me to suddenly be her best friend again when she'd been MIA from my life for months if not years, I'd had enough. We haven't spoken since and I'm sure she's still married to that asshole.

It's not just the women in LA that are crazy:

Mike - Mike and I met at a singles mixer. We sorta dated for 1/2 a second but were really just friends for much of 8 years. We'd have dinner every 6 months or so and catch up and I always went out of my way for him to send him job leads because he was a freelance editor and was sometimes (often) out of work. Anyhow, he got married a few years ago. I had lunch with both of them and things seemed fine. Then he was going to come to my birthday party but last minute blew me off because they had just adopted 2 dogs and couldn't leave them at home alone. Ok, understood, but my bday party was literally 10 minutes from where they live. So close he probably could have walked. He didn't even stop by for 10 minutes to say hello and wish me a happy birthday. I mean, his wife could have watched the dogs for 10 minutes, don't you think? Then I found he defriended me from facebook. Nice treatment from someone you've known for 8+ years.

Sam - Sam I've known longer than anyone else in Los Angeles. We met when I first moved here and I went apartment hunting. We were going to be roommates but I had too much stuff to move into his beautiful condo, so we just kept in touch and were good friends. Pretty good friends for 12 years. We saw countless movies together and he often cooked dinner for us or took us out to eat. He was always a bit "off" I suppose. I mean, nice guy, got his MBA and had good job, unlike a lot of people here in LA that don't have real jobs. Always was screwed up with women - so much so that he almost married this girl that wanted to trick him into getting her pregnant. Yeah, he was attracted to *that* kind of crazy girl! Anyhow, after 12 years at failed attempts to meet "the right one" here in LA, he went back to his home country, found a girl there and imported her. Then for no reason, stopped being my friend. Defriended me on facebook. We never had any bad words between us even! Nice!

The icing on the cake, however, must go to people like Tanja, Amy and Stacey. Yes, these people take the cake because instead of saying, "Sorry sweetie that you're going through a rough time" they just dropped me like a hot potato. First I was sad about it but now I realize they are the worst "friends" of all because they have somehow bought into the LA bullshit that says you must act like everything is ok even when it's not. So to them, I say, goodbye and good riddance. Karma is a bitch!

I know I'm forgetting a ton of people so I may have to come back to this and update this blog entry!

I wonder if my experiences are unique. I mean, do I have horrible luck? Horrible taste in friends? I could say a lot of the "crazy" is because a lot of my "friends" work in the entertainment business but certainly not all of them. Is being an editor considered "entertainment?" Sorta but it's a pretty boring, regular job. Same with my friend that got his MBA. He had nothing to do with entertainment at all. Or my friend that married at age 18.

Maybe one of my high school friends was right when she posted on facebook not long ago that everyone in Los Angeles was a "loon". Ok, not everyone. There are some amazing people here. But I yearn for REAL people that aren't flakey, selfish and can SHOW they care. Are the people in Los Angeles all crazy or does the LA culture make people crazy?

Seriously. I feel cursed. And the worst part of it is, I feel like I go so far out of my way for others - to listen, to be a good friend, to help others find jobs and with whatever they need in life. Yet this is what I get in return?

Maybe I'm the one that's crazy after all.

Or everyone here is just selfish.

What do you think?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hey it's been a while!

I've been so busy working this year that I forgot I had this blog!

Wow, well, 2010 has been a crazy, crazy year for me. Most of you know why. Moving twice. Trained and worked with 5 interns this summer. My cat had to be put down. Almost bought a condo. I know I'm forgetting some things. OH yes, a trip back east and a trip to Portland. What else?

I've learned LA is a very, very, very bad place to live in the worst recession we've had in 70-80 years.


Well, LA is all about image. So when people aren't doing well, either emotionally, financially, or both, people withdraw. No, I take that back. They don't withdraw. They fucking disappear. I lost friends this year to marriage (goodbye Siamack and Matt - hope you don't need any friends now that you have new wives - fuckers). I've lost friends, well, not lost them but sorta lost them to work. Not their fault, of course, they are lucky to have jobs but geez. Let's see, oh yeah, wanna really lose your "so called" friends in LA fast? Complain. Yup, speak the truth. Say you're having a rough time and watch them defriend you on facebook faster that you can say "boo". Nice guys really nice. I hope you too go through some of the worse years of your life and lose people you thought cared about you. What kind of person does that? Oh, I know. Someone in LA.

LA is a strange place. If you act like everything is great in your life you get more business and a pat on the shoulder. But complain or act "normal" like anyone else out there who doesn't live in LA and watch your so-called friends drop like flies.

It's fine though. Because only through living through these past 2-3 awful years in LA have I come to realize who my true friends are.

Friends like Kathryn who call you to see how you're doing and even take in your elderly cat and care for her when you have to move and can't have pets in your new place.

Friends like Amy and Guy who call (not email or text but fucking CALL) to see how you're doing, what's new and all that good stuff.

Friends like Sarah who listen to you through all your problems and give a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on.

Friends like Jenn and Stephane who take you out to an amazing sushi dinner to cheer you up.

I'm sure I'm forgetting people here but let's face it. These past couple years have been rough for many people. And if you're for some reason one of the lucky few people in the world not affected by this economy, all I can say is "good for you" and "go find someone who has been" because they fucking need a shoulder to cry on right about now.