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?

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

I would say volunteer. If you're unemployed and going stir crazy, get out of the house. Use your skills to help others. It gets your mind off your own dilemma and focuses your energy and efforts on others. This too can lead to job opportunities as the non-profit sector is actually doing a bit of hiring.

I would also say start your own networking circle. If friends/associates are in the same boat, establish a network to help each other strategize and looks for jobs. Share resources, information, contacts. You never know where it can lead, and the social element will help eliminate any embarrassment or loneliness you many experience.