I don’t know the entire backstory of this adorable job posting by a 7-year-old, but I want them to write all my cover letters in the future.
About three weeks ago, I applied for a part-time job at the mall and, one week later, I was interviewing and, a week after that, I was in training.
So far, after about 3 days of working, I am really enjoying having a reason to wake up in the morning and put an outfit together. While it is not exactly the type of employment I was hoping to have, I am not one to look a gift-job in the mouth. And it felt great to have someone respond to an (online) application and have a successful interview.
I highly recommend applying for a part-time position, even if you are over-qualified. It is a great mental refresher to have blots of success in a streak of tough luck. Also, for me personally, it is great to be able to interact and socialize with people under the age of 50 (as much as I love my parents!). $$ doesn’t hurt either!
Sometimes timelines and 5-year-plans just don’t turn out. I think the most important lesson I will learn from this experience (other than all those little lessons about how the 21st-century job search really works) is to be able to adapt on the fly and let new opportunities dictate new plans.
I have experienced all of these during my year-long job search. And, because I found this article on Buzzfeed, it is illustrated by cats.
It’s been over three weeks since I began testing the “power” of LinkedIn with what I’ve named “My LinkedIn Project.” As a job seeker, you’ve read repeatedly how important LinkedIn is to your job search, but are you taking full advantage of its power? As I’ve learned from tweaking my keywords, I wasn’t. Because taking the keyword advice more than doubled my appearances in search results, I decided trying more expert suggestions on using LinkedIn to further my job search.
I’m guessing I’m like the majority of job seekers who are unsure or uncomfortable about using social media to network for a job. It’s not much different from using LinkedIn as a sales tool like I had done in my last position. I shouldn’t be hesitant to use it for my job search and either should you. At first, I thought it wasn’t the same, but isn’t it? The idea is to reach out to employees from your company target list by using common connections. Basically, I did the same thing to grow advertising revenue through referrals.
I have three experiences to share.
The day after I posted My LinkedIn Project, I noticed a job posting from a company of one of my former colleagues. Even though the company wasn’t on my target list, after researching the company and reading the job description, I decided to apply.
Immediately after applying, I reached out to my former colleague via email and told her about the position. Even though it was a Saturday, I heard back from her that day. (PEOPLE DO WANT TO HELP!) She told me she’d contact her corporate office and tell them about me. Unfortunately, the job had been posted already for a few weeks. The following week I followed up with her to see if she’d heard anything. she said she’d find out and let me know. Later that day she told me they had already hired a candidate.
Even though I didn’t get a chance at the job, it gave me an idea for another job search tactic to look at current contacts’ companies for job openings. LinkedIn search makes it easy.
I have a connection at one of my target companies. Although I didn’t work with him on any projects, we did work at the same company for a brief period. Besides him, I had two second-level connections. I decided to reach out to all shared contacts as well as my former colleague. I checked and didn’t see any open positions fitting my skill-set, but 70-85% of jobs aren’t advertised (the latest stat I read said 85%).
All four of my emails were answered with information and all four people offered an introduction email to their HR contact. I haven’t received a reply from two of the recruiters, but this took a couple of days, so I haven’t given up hope. Both replies came back with no sales openings at the moment, but I made the connection and would feel comfortable reaching out to them if I see an opening or it could lead to a phone call to me for an unadvertised position.
A schoolmate from kindergarten through high school works at a company that had a few jobs available matching my skills. His company is large, but he was directly connected to the recruiter who posted the jobs. Since I hadn’t researched the company, before applying I contacted him via email. I asked him how he liked the company since he’d been there for over ten years.
Within an hour I had a return message. Again, I keep finding out that people want to help. We need to get over the stigma that asking for help is a weakness when it’s really the smartest thing to do.
He was candid and told me about chronic company problems which relates to why he’s actively looking for a new position. He told me if I was in a bind he’d help. Despite his kind offer, I skipped applying for the jobs, but we both said we’d let each other know if we saw or heard about any openings in our respective fields.
Since I’ve had positive feedback from these attempts, I’ll continue to reach out to contacts in my network. I took small steps, but it’s still progress.
If you’ve had any luck using shared connections in your job search, please share!
Good luck to us all!
Great job! Some tips for all of us to use our network more actively!
I am currently reading a book called Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I saw it on the NYT bestsellers list and thought it sounded interesting (and, so far, it really is). Gladwell discusses how “outliers” come to exist—those people who are extraordinarily successful and/or intelligent and/or high achieving. There is a particular quote that stood out to me as I was reading the book and thought I would share it here:
"The sense of possibility so necessary for success comes not just from inside us or from our parents. It comes from our time: from the particular opportunities that our particular place in history presents us with."
It refers to a broader discussion about how you need to be in a certain place, certain age and certain time to fully and successfully harness your skills and talents. And it really struck a chord with me because in our time right now, we have a huge spectrum of incredible entrepreneurship on one end and incredible unemployment on the other and I was thinking about how we will explain that in decades to come. Who will we discuss as outliers of our time and generation where we have all manner of innovation and success? (Hopefully the list will be fully devoid of Bravo celebrities and all Kardashians—although I will definitely be watching the new season of Real Housewives of OC in April. Don’t judge me!).
I will keep you updated if I come across more interesting tidbits—but, so far, I definitely recommend this book.
Most Asked Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
A VERY thorough list…try this link if clicking on the picture does not take you to the page with the full-sized image (http://careeralleyblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/most-asked-job-interview-questions-and-how-to-answer-them/).
Have any of you been stumped by questions in interviews? For me it was always those strange “If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” ones. Back when I was in Kentucky, I always said a thoroughbred horse! But, seriously though, human is ideal because I can purchase, unscrew and consume as many jars of Nutella as I please (for which, the limit does not exist)!
Target the second or third person in command when contacting a start-up about a potential internship or job, advises Airbnb Product Manager Jonathan Golden (MBA ’11). These people in slightly lower positions are more likely to get back to you, and they still have influence in the company.
Solid advice. Let me know if anyone has tried it and what the results were!
My parents’ couch functions not only as my office space, but also as my shrink’s couch. And my shrink is the wonderful combination of my own mind and the internet. A couple of months into this blog and many many many many months into this job search, I decided it was time to evaluate my process, my thought process. But before I delve into my findings and psychoanalysis I just want to make a disclaimer: I am not a qualified psychologist and neither is the internet. I am just speaking from experience and basing some of my analysis on articles I have read.
I started with my state of mind exactly one year ago, in March 2012. I was still in school and had work, my upcoming Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico and UK’s chance at a National Championship to occupy my mind. I was looking into open positions, but was not overly concerned with not hearing back (ah, to be innocent again!).
April and May were pretty much devoted to Graduation craziness and something called finals? I was starting to get a bit antsy, but I had an upcoming trip to Disney World with my grandparents and a trip back to India, so something to buffer the tension. But, this was also the time most of my friends had confirmed job offers, so there were definite moments of self-doubt.
June through August involved traveling with my grandparents, visiting India (and, finally, the Taj Mahal!). But, of course, while I was in India people kept asking me about jobs and the job search and I had only an evasive answer to give them. But, still, I had some remnants of confidence and a game plan that involved targeted job searches and only a handful of cover letters in my job application folder.
September saw me start to become really friendly with the couch…where I still expected responses to job applications, follow-up phone calls and emails and had a stash of optimism. But, before I knew it, October had already passed me by without my having made any progress. The only thing that I had acquired were a few dozen versions of my resume, a few dozen versions of my cover letter and a few dozen confirmation emails that basically meant my resume had never seen human eyes and was lost in cyber abyss.
November and December were particularly trying because it meant a new flock of people were graduating and my hopes for a job started to melt along with the slush on the road. I changed my tactic and cast a wider net, but soon realized that tactics made no difference in this market. This is also the time I started to delve into what professionals had to say about the job market and search…reading a lot of the articles I have discussed here over the past few months.
In January I felt a bit more optimistic only because I had this blog to focus on now and sharing my experiences lightened the load. And January and February also allowed me to have a few face-to-face interactions with recruiters which helped me put my resume in front of a pair of human eyeballs, unfortunately that was not enough to result in employment.
Thus, March is here and I feel more defeated than I ever have in the past year. How many more times can I rewrite my resume before it actually does its job? How many more cover letters can I type without just coming out and saying, “Butt asleep from sitting on couch, please consider hiring, need reason to wear bra?” There are only so many career fairs that are in the area that are looking to hire someone with my qualifications and in my position. I can’t call myself a recent grad anymore because there will be actual recent grads in the next couple of months.
Being unsure about your life and choices in your twenties is commonplace, but the limbo that comes from unemployment is trickier for a number of reasons. There is the obvious one of not having an income or occupation, but I have recently also started to feel shame. I find that I can’t reconcile my current status with the successes and achievements I had in college. I was confident I could accomplish anything I wanted to and, in fact, knew exactly how to go about it. But, one year into the job search, I find myself wondering if I have just lost a year of what should be the prime of my life. Will this setback haunt me for the rest of my career (if and when that materializes)?
I came to the conclusion that I was in the teen angst phase of the job search. The beginning was childhood where you could be anything from a doctor to an astronaut to a teacher and aspiration was not complicated by the realities of the hiring process. Tweens were the middle part (for me, around November onwards until March) where you start to develop self-doubt and attempt self preservation, but there is still an undercurrent of optimism. Now, I am in March and teen angst has set in (once again). I find myself made moody by the daily process of applying for jobs, living with my parents again and needing to move out. I experience jealousy towards my friends and peers who are much more established in life than I am and I keep looking for external factors to blame and direct my angst towards (at least my parents are not at the receiving end during these teen years—sorry for anything that happened between the ages of 13 and 17, mom and dad!). I have those same feelings of missing out on something important that I did on those Friday nights as a teenager when everyone seemed to have plans but me. And social gatherings where there is a chance that someone might ask me about what I was doing bring up a level of dread that I have not experienced since I was 13, fresh off a plane from India and realizing that actual middle school in America was nothing like 90s movies.
The only sage advice my shrink (a.k.a. the internet) has been able to offer me is to stay positive and know that there are a lot of others in the same boat as me. But knowing there were a million other teenagers when I was 16 did not make those years any easier, right? I just have to hope that these growing pains will pay off at some point before long and I can lay in bed without worrying about my unemployment and all those unanswered applications and need never write an angst-filled Tumblr post such as this one again!
Have you experienced any of these emotions? If so, how did you deal with them? If not, any advice on how to refrain from falling into this trap? I haven’t posted an original post in a while because I was still trying to process what I was going through—but I want to know what you think! Keep in touch here and on Twitter @parentscouch.
PS: Go Cats! Let’s beat Vandy!