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The 1 Thing That Helped me Get a Job

The 1 Thing That Helped me Get a Job: Activating my Network. OK, I promise this will be the last job hunting related post for a while, but I am on a bit of a roll, so I figured I’d keep on going.

The one thing that I did learn was that most folks will find their eventual job via their network of contacts (as I pointed out in a post I did during my job hunting). I have not found more than a hand full of folks who have actually found a job by simply dropping their resume off, or putting it into a job database (not saying it won’t happen, just saying it is not bloody likely).

Job Hunting

Job Hunting in Classifieds? Not any More!
Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is your network made up of?

  • 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 Uber Insiders, treasure them and treat them well.
  • Former co-workers, again, if these folks are employed, they 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 OK (don’t buy them lunch or anything, but maybe buy them a beer or coffee).
  • Folks you meet on your job searches, this will include:
    • Other jobs seekers, these folks are useful 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 useful as the first two groups of folks.
    • Headhunters are of use because they might give you tips on what areas are hiring, and they might even find you a job (yeh, right).
    • Trainers and folks who teach job hunting courses. These folks will give you useful tips on how to make your resume more interesting, and have more tips for you.

This is a good list of useful folks, and remember you are trying to find out about the inside jobs that are not necessarily going to be advertised. A lot of times these jobs are simply unavailable to most folks, but if you have a good 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 know of what I speak), and nothing worth having is going to come easily now either.  Activate your network before you think you need them, it is just being prudent.


Job Hunting Hints: Dress for a Job Fair

Not a Day at The Beach! For a while I was thinking that I might actually start a blog about the job hunting tips I learned whilst I was unemployed, but it never really got off the ground, and I have a hard enough time making sure I have new(ish) content for this blog, so it died a quiet death, but I do feel I have a few useful hints (IMHO) for folks, so I will be sprinkling these tips in over the next little while.

This current post triggered from another blogger posting 6 Tips for Working a Career Fair, which is one of the places you should be frequenting, if you are looking for a job. These events are effectively cattle calls, and don’t expect to get a job when attending this kind of event, but you might make a contact or meet someone you know who may help you out later, so I think attending these are not a complete waste of time.

I have worked these events from both sides (candidate and hiring company), and I can assure you of a few things that will quickly get your resume and contact information, moved to file 13 very quickly (look this up, it’s an old Mainframe term):

  • Simply dumping your resume on the desk or table and walking away. I don’t care if you are not a “people person”, you need to at least introduce yourself, say hello and attempt to have at least a 1 minute talk with who(m)ever is working the booth. If they give you the brush off, that is fine, maybe don’t leave your resume, but YOU are looking for the job, not them.
  • Arrogance, that is not well founded, is a killer for me. If you are good at what you do, but act like you don’t want my job, and you pretty much tell me that, I’ll grant your wish (i.e. I will lose your resume). You can be confident, you can be sure of yourself, but it is a fine line between that and arrogance.
  • Simply show up and start taking the “swag” from the table before talking to anyone. Yes, it is supposed to be free stuff, but come on, you need a free pen that bad?
  • Dress like you are going to the beach.
Flip Flops

Great for Squashing Bugs, not so much for Job Fairs

That last one is my personal pet peeve. I have had other recruiters tell me that it doesn’t matter to them if potential candidates are dressed extremely casually, but it does to me. If you show up wearing “flip-flops” (or thongs to my Australian friends), jean shorts and an unbuttoned shirt, what am I to think? I am most likely standing their in a “business casual” outfit, and you are saying to me, “I am this good that I don’t need to dress up to get this job”, or worse “your job is so unimportant to me that I can’t find a descent outfit and some shoes to find out about it”.

I did have one young woman walk in dressed like this, and I asked her, “… were you off to the beach today?”, and when she gave me a blank stare back, I explained my point of view, to which she walked away without leaving her resume (oh well).

What Should You Do ?

Go to the Job Fairs, make connections, collect cards from folks, talk to other folks to find out how they are searching for jobs (but remember don’t spend too much time talking to other unemployed folks, they don’t have jobs, you should be talking to folks who DO have jobs). Please dress like you want a job (not want to go to the beach).


Still more Chutzpah

Given this week my fascination with the word Chutzpah (see for Joys of Yiddish full explanation), I figured I could do one more amusing post about more Chutzpah .

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 really know him personally, so when he called me so I could come in for an interview I was very happy to come in and chat.

The interview seemed a little stunted in the discussion (i.e. it was mostly this person pontificating about his views on how technology was going to go in the future), but having been to many interviews I didn’t think much of it, I just asked a few questions to keep my interviewer going (I find the more an interviewer talks, the better the interview seems to go), so I simply 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 throw in another open-ended question to my interviewer, so I asked, “What kind of person are you looking for to fill this job?”. This is an excellent time-wasting question for an interview, as most interviewers don’t really have a clear answer, and if they are very confident like this chap, then the answer can take up to 10 minutes, and 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 catch phrases being used (without laughing out loud), and was formulating my follow-up to this statement when the interviewer completely de-railed me with a statement.

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 either have been Hebrew or Yiddish (don’t think there is a “Jewish” language per se). I figured that as long as he didn’t say “Shmuck”, 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 (very bad form for a job interview)
  3. Figure out whether I really wanted this job.

There was a long pause at the end of the interviewers 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.


Jobs and Job Fairs (again) and Random Thoughts

When I was job hunting (many years ago), I dropped by a Job Fair in Ottawa, and was astounded to see the number of people at this small job fair and also by the fact that I knew so many of them. It drove home hard just how many folks are looking for jobs right now. The other fact that had me thinking was that very few (if any) of the exhibitors wanted resumes, they were simply talking about their company and wanted candidates to submit their resumes to the company website.

This means no one will read resumes after this show much (they may have a bunch sent to them electronically, but my guess is they will simply add them into their job database and forget about them).  HR rarely reads resumes sent to them directly, they wait for software to “screen” candidates for them.

The important point to remember that if you are job hunting, you need contacts to get jobs. The number I have heard quoted is 75% of jobs are never posted, they are filled by folks that the company knows about from internal contacts.

Another free piece of advice, talking to other Unemployed folk, is not networking. Talk to people with jobs, they will know of jobs where they are or who might be hiring, unemployed people rarely know that and can’t help you that way.

Random Thoughts: Financial Apocalypse Over? (April Fools!)

The financial blogging world this week had an eclectic cross-section of articles but some that I enjoyed were:

A final job hunting tip, if you are lucky enough to find a job, remember those who are still looking, and help them out as best you can as well!


Job Hunting Update

Part of the log I kept during my year of unemployment after being laid off from Nortel.

For those following on with my saga of looking for a new job, this week is my last pay cheque from my former employer. As of September 30th I will receive my severance and officially be unemployed, which is starting to cause a little bit of apprehension on my part, the entire looking for a new career thing is frustratingly slow at times, and it is very easy to get into a “funk” thinking things are just not going to happen, but I have learned a few important things.

Networking is Key

Very few people find and land new jobs simply by applying to jobs on job boards, or in newspapers. Unless you have a killer resume, which somehow slides through every screening program, you are going to find your next job through contacts, friends, former co-workers or people you meet through those contacts.  No, you should not be walking up and down your street with a sandwich sign saying, “Looking for work!”, however, you should be talking to people in your Network about jobs and where they think there might be jobs, and who they know.

From my network, I have already got an interview at one of the companies I have targeted as a good place to work, and others are going to follow. I have also been given other contacts from these friends, so my network is expanding with new people that are going to help me find that new job.

Don’t Panic

That is good advice for many reasons right now. The whole economic condition seems to be going into the toilet these days, with stocks and such, but just like in the stock market, in job hunting, you can’t panic either. It’s good to appear interested and a little nervous at an interview, but if you show up and can’t string two sentences together without sounding like a blithering idiot, that is not going to help much.

Fear is a good motivator, but it cannot take over your thinking processes. Selling all your stock right now may not be the best thing to do (unless you are holding some very dubious stocks), suddenly making a career change, simply because you haven’t had any interviews, is also maybe not the best thing in the job hunting world.

Big decisions like changing your career need to be thought out and not simply jumped at because you think your old skill set is unusable or is not going to get you a job.

Relax, take it easy and keep a positive attitude, is all I can advise, for both your finances and for job hunters.


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