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The One Thing That Helped me Get a Job

The one thing that helped me get a Job: Activating my Network.

Most folks will find their eventual job via their network of contacts. I have not seen more than a hand full of folks who got a job by dropping their resume off. Putting your resume into a job database rarely works either. If you succeed in this, good on you, but maybe it is time to build your network.

Activating your network means: telling folks you are looking for a new job. You don’t need to be blatant, but you do need to be precise. Don’t be too vague. You want folks to know you are looking. An email broadcast may not be required, but make sure folks know you are looking.

Job Hunting
Job Hunting in Classifieds? Not any more!

Parts of Your Network

  • Former employers and former bosses. You need these for your references and if these folks are working, they will know better than anyone else, where jobs might be. These folks are the Insiders. Treasure them and treat them well.
  • Again, former co-workers, if these folks are employed, will know of inside jobs and who might be hiring. These are good insiders, and you should stay in contact with them and treat them well (don’t buy them lunch or anything, but maybe buy them a beer or coffee).
  • Acquaintances in your industry. You meet these folks at conferences or other events. These can be very good folks if you cultivate good relationships with them.
  • Those you meet on your job searches will include:
    • Other job seekers, these folks are helpful because they may have heard of folks hiring, but remember they are competitors, and if they don’t have a job, they aren’t as valuable as the first two groups of folks.
    • Headhunters are useful because they might give you tips on what areas are hiring and even find you a job (yeh, right).
    • Trainers and folks who teach job hunting courses. These folks will give you valuable tips on how to make your resume more compelling and have more tips for you.

This is a good list of valuable folks. Remember, you are trying to discover the inside jobs that will not be advertised. Often, these jobs are unavailable to most folks, but if you have an excellent insider, you may be able to work around that (keep that in mind).

Job Searching Isn’t Easy

Job searching is hard these days (I knew of what I spoke), but nothing worth having will come quickly now.  

Activate your network before you think you need them. It is just being prudent.


Chutzpah in Job Interviews

I have written before about Chutzpah (see for Joys of Yiddish full explanation). The phrase is used to describe a specific type of person. Audacity would be the closest English equivalent word.

Many years ago I was interviewing for a job in a very interesting group. I had heard of the leader of this group but didn’t know him personally. When he called me for an interview, I was very happy to come in and chat.

The interview seemed a little stunted in the discussion. It was mainly¬†this person pontificating about his views on how technology would go in the future, but having been to many interviews, I didn’t think much of it. I asked a few questions to keep my interviewer going. I think the more an interviewer talks, the better the interview seems to go. I asked open-ended questions as follow-ups to his statements, and time seemed to fly by, with me saying very little (of substance).

There was a pause, so I felt obliged to ask my interviewer another open-ended question. I asked, “What kind of person are you looking for to fill this job?”.

Ask “The” Question

This is an excellent time-wasting question for an interview. Most interviewers don’t really have a clear answer for that question. If they are very confident like this chap, the answer can take up to 10 minutes. All you do as a candidate is point out how you are that exact person (a trick I learned long ago).

Sure enough, this interviewer ran on and on about someone who could create symbiotic technology concepts, and show an ability to create a fused capability delivered cross-domain in the pike position,etc., etc., etc.,. I noted the catchphrases being used. I was formulating my follow-up to this statement when the interviewer completely de-railed me with an idea.

Don’t get “The” Answer

It started off with the phrase, “If I could sum up what I am looking for in a candidate for the team, I’d have to use a word I learned a while ago. It’s a Jewish word…”. I fought the urge to point out that it would have been Hebrew or Yiddish. I figured that as long as he didn’t say “Schmuck“, I was ok, but what he did say was entertaining.

“The word that describes it best is someone with CHOO-TS-PUH…”, (I spelled the word phonetically so you could get the gist of this story). Now the word chutzpah is pronounced HH-oo-tzpa (along those lines at least), and the CH is most definitely not pronounced as CH. I must have had a bewildered look (it was actually the look I have when I am attempting to not burst into laughter), because the interviewer proceeded to give me an explanation of chutzpah (a relatively correct one).

I sat there using all of my inner strength attempting to:

  1. Not correct this individual on pronunciation because he seemed positive that he was correct.
  2. Not burst out laughing at the mis-step (terrible form for a job interview)
  3. Figure out whether I wanted this job.

There was a long pause at the end of the interviewer’s ramble and I felt he was expecting me to respond, so I carefully responded how I fit the bill of this kind of person without actually saying the word out loud, for fear of offending this individual. After summing up, the interviewer then had to recap by saying, “So you think you have this CHOO-TS-PUH, do you?”, again, I fought hard to not burst out laughing.

Am I That Guy

My only way to respond was, “Yes, I think I am that guy.”.

I didn’t get the job, but I did get an interesting anecdotal story that I tell sometimes.


Good Money Podcasts

One day I will inventory the few Podcasts I have been a guest on. Here is a list of good money podcasts. However, there are others out there as well. Great listens while commuting or when you have spare time.

I am on the Debt Free in 30 Podcast with Doug Hoyes this past weekend for those who didn’t notice. We discussed my Job Search at Age 47 (see Job Search on Menu now a new item). It was a great deal of fun chatting with Doug, who has a book out as well (Straight Talk on Your Money, Amazon link). I learned a great deal speaking with Doug (off mic), so it was a fun experience for me. Doug’s understanding of the Bankruptcy laws puts him in a unique position. Rumour has it I may be on again sometime soon.

Doug Hoyes a Good Money Podcast
It might be how Doug looked when he first saw me, Big Cajun Who?!?

As usual, I don’t stay on topic, and I answer the critical question, why am I not a Media Whore? OK, Doug didn’t answer that question exactly, but I do answer that question.

That is the second Podcast I have done. One of the first guests on Preet B’s money podcast, Mostly Money (episode 4). It is always fun to chat with folks about money, especially folks who know the topic well. Best line of the day, “We are all three paycheques from living on the streets“, and Doug said, “Less than that!”.

Are there other Good Money Podcasts that I listen to? Plenty, my biggest problem is finding time to listen to them all. I listen typically in my car, but also if I take the bus to work (when I am not listening to Audiobooks).

There are many others. If you want to comment with other Money Podcasts, I will check them out. Doug’s book is also available as an Audiobook (as most folks know who send me books, I am not a big reader).

Other Sitings Likely ?

Will I be on other podcasts and such? I am always available to flap my gums about most topics and available for Bar Mitzvahs, Weddings and Family Reunions (try the veal, it’s to die for).


Job Hunting: Your Social Media is Your New Reference

Job Hunting: Your Social Media is Your New Reference, the personal reference for a job is a key part of the hiring process. Many applications now ask for your Social Media “handles” for this very reason. Hint: if you give one handle, they have all of your handles, even your secret ones.

Bad Reference

More than once, when I have been involved in hiring someone, I have checked the persons references, only to find out that the reference:

  • Doesn’t know the person used them as a reference, and thus doesn’t really have much to say about them.
  • Doesn’t know the person used them as a reference, is annoyed and thus gives a bad reference
  • The person doesn’t even remember the person

The importance of a solid personal and job reference is the cornerstone of any job application. What is now supplanting the reference as the major impediment for folks who are qualified getting hired, is your Social Media Page(s).

Social Networks ?

If you enjoy Social Networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or whatever, remember that whatever you put there, future employers are going to see it as well. Many folks think that if you set the privacy capabilities of these sites to a strong setting, outside folks are not going to see it, but I can assure you that anything you put on a Social Media site will be visible to folks who want to see it. I’ll say it again, Facebook Page is Your New Reference !

What kind of silliness have I heard of causing folks to not get a job?

  • Having a Twitter account and “bad mouthing” former employers (or current employers), on the site. If I am going to hire you and I see that, my first thought is, “What are they going to say about our company?”.
  • Pictures of you at a party “having a good time”. As a future employer, do I start to wonder whether you are a reliable employee, or a party animal?
  • Other pictures : When did posting pictures of yourself in your underwear or less, become normal? An employer sees that and says (out loud), “Indiscrete employees, if they post this, why should I trust them to keep any company secrets”. Remember if you are “tagged” in a Facebook picture, even if it is not yours, you are in trouble.
Simple reputation explanation

These are just a couple of the interesting ways you can thwart your job applications.

What do I do ?

How do I find out what others can find out about me?

  • Google your name and see what others can see (without even looking very hard).
  • Comb through your social media sites and see what is there (and look with a future employers point of view)

If you have some bad stuff out there, get rid of it as best you can. If you are lucky they don’t know about Internet Archives and are lazy.

Remember, Social Media is Your New Reference.


The Worst Place to Lose Your Job?

I was reading an article in CNN which was saying the worst place in the U.S. to lose your job (currently) is the state of Florida, which I guess I can understand, but at the end of it all, is there a good place to lose your job?

There are scenarios that could arise (I suppose) where if you lost your job (due to lay off, I am assuming, not due to you quitting or some other reason) it would not be that painful, but if you are actually getting laid off in Canada, where you live may be the worst place to be.

When I got laid off, it was part of a huge high-tech wipe out, and in Ottawa, at the time the major employers were the High Tech companies (and the government). A sudden huge influx of laid off folks will usually flood most job markets, and make finding a job that much harder, so why would you try to measure where is the worst place to be laid off? It is going to be hard to find a job (if your lay off is due to a market down turn, for example).

This has been seen over and over in Canada, where smaller towns and cities have relied on a specific employer and when that employer down sizes (or worse pulls up stakes and goes, or simply goes under), that City is devastated by the job losses. I suppose in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, there is a large enough base of companies that one firm suddenly throwing workers into the job searching market may not be quite as bad, as say in Ottawa, but that may not be the case either. Lay offs rarely happen in a booming economy, or even a healthy economy, so if layoffs are happening it is happening on a large-scale (i.e. one company coughs and the entire industry gets a cold).

If you get laid off, you need to know where you might have to look for a job (geographically), but where you live may not be the only problem that you have. Is your area of expertise hiring (locally or elsewhere) that is much more important, because if you just got laid off and your area of expertise is no longer relevant, then you will have issues.

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