On Job Searching

Over the past couple of years, I’ve changed jobs a bit more than I have in the past – all for normal reasons, nothing shady.  While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in looking for a new job, I’ve been hit up for advice lately.  So, here goes…

Before any of this job search stuff started, I had a couple of resources in reserve:

  1. Emergency Savings – While I had severance, it took MA Unemployment a while to process my first check.  Even though I didn’t tap into it, the savings helped everything feel less urgent.
  2. Examples of My Work – As I worked on projects, I would bcc myself on reports, decks, scope docs, anything.  If somebody wanted an example of my work, I had a whole library of items to bring with me to an interview.
  3. Part Time Job & Volunteer Gigs –  Those got me out of the house & engaged when the walls closed in.
In general, the biggest struggle I had with “being on the market” was the emotional piece.  From changing my daily routine to being asked inappropriate questions during interviews that lasted 6+ hours, it was exhausting.  While I couldn’t control the outside forces of apply/wait/return call/decide whether I wanted the job/think about whether they wanted me, I could contain it.  Every morning, I’d wake up at my usual time & spend the next 6-8 hours doing work “stuff”.  I’d update my resume, apply for jobs, schedule interviews, take online classes, etc..  Then, unless something extraordinary came up, I’d finish my “work day” around 3 or 4 and use the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted.
From a tactical standpoint, I availed myself of all free resources.  MA has some great career centers. I recommend using one located in the area where most of your jobs are located.  I live in an industrial city; therefore, my local career center specializes in things like mechanics, construction, etc.. So, I used Career Source in Cambridge as most of their training & listings were in the tech field.  If you want to learn something new or need some skills upgrades, libraries offer Lynda.com classes for free.  Each time I was looking, I took a class to learn a “hot” new software program, like SQL or Balsamiq.
To get your resume through the bots, I recommend including all the software programs you know as “tools” & list your successes/accomplishments as your experience vs. tasks performed.
For referrals, at one point, I could walk into HR and recommend somebody for a job but that’s not the case anymore. Unless a resume matches the programmed criteria, nobody will see the application.  I tell people to apply as directed & call me as soon as they hear something.
Ultimately, if you feel like you could use some extra help, there are plenty of recruiters out there who are willing to meet & review your resume for free.  They tend to be the best source of the latest trends in applying & interviewing.
Good luck!
Total P.S. to the story as somebody asked me about this yesterday.  Between both times on the market, I spent about 6 months total, around 3 months each time, looking for a new opportunity.  Since I had to keep track of all my actions…on average, I applied for 10 jobs a day, i.e. 70 jobs per week or 1800 jobs overall. On a normal week, I had about 10 contacts, follow ups, interviews, or unreasonable offers, i.e. 260 contacts.  Those resulted in 2 reasonable offers.  Basically, the success rate is 1 usable offer for every 900 applications, or 1 offer for every 130 contacts to score a highly technical, middle management, fully benefitted, market fair salary in the city.

Mini Thought Piece – Dying Industries?

Over the course of my career, I’ve been the butt of many jokes as my chosen occupations seem to make the list of dying jobs.  My only rebuttal has been: Don’t mistake technology disruption for complete industry obliteration. And, also, I’m not a travel agent.

For better or for worse, the Internet has been the great equalizer. “Experts” are just as likely to be average people as they are celebrities or highly educated specialists.  Consumers now have an active say in brand perception through reviews, blogging, social media, etc.. Now, before people commit, they often go online to find somebody like themselves talking about the item or service. People already have the facts – they just want to know if the experience will meet their expectations.

Aside from leveling the playing field, the Internet has blown open what were exclusive distribution channels. That airline ticket you had to go to travel agent to buy? Right on your phone. Want to listen to BBC news? No need to tune into your local NPR station (if they broadcast it) at a certain time. Go right to Tune In.  It’s all about what you want; when you want it; in exactly the way you want it.  For the creators with a little bit of business savvy, the internet can make you an entrepreneur.

Ultimately, though, people still want all the things they’ve always wanted: fun experiences, a sense of community/companionship, & fewer hassles.

So, for those who may be in disrupted industries – just my 2 cents – take a step back & get the vibe of how things are trending. How are people getting & using your end product? If you stay open minded, flexible, willing to learn, & objective around how your industry currently fits into people’s lives, you’ll find the viability…or a new way to apply your skills elsewhere.

And, also, I am still not a travel agent but I can help you find some good deals.

Mini Thought Piece – What’s In It For Me?

Disclaimer #1: These opinions are solely my own, based on my own lived experience.  I fully respect anybody who may have different thoughts or ideas.  No one perspective is correct for all people or experiences.
Disclaimer #2: I generate my money by providing experiences that make people happy.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Over the weekend, a podcast extolling analog as the best way to listen to music blew into my orbit.  As my last music purchase was a vinyl album, I was hoping for some hard data around analog formats making more of a physiological impression like digital text vs. actual books.   In the end, the podcast was really nostalgia piece thinly veiled under some unrelated stats.  I didn’t necessarily agree with the host’s point; however, I respect that this was his truth.  Emotions are powerful motivators.
After thinking about the podcast, my mind started to spin on one of my favorite topics: Fostering emotional connections under the guise of fast paced innovation.  
For better or for worse, our country is more capitalist than democratic.  On a personal level, that means you get to keep more of your money. It also means that you have use that money to pay for things that other countries offer like higher education, health care, comprehensive transportation systems, robust art councils, etc..  In general, people embrace, and often permanently adopt, things that are cheap & easy.  When people need to be picky about how they spend their hard earned dollars, time, and energy, technology can really help.  Whether it’s depositing a check without having to drive to the bank or listening to all the new music releases on a Friday to see what you should buy for the weekend.  It can all be done with a small device in almost no time at all.
In the end, the questions aren’t really around the format, the device, or the delivery means – everyone will have their preferences.  
The 2 big questions are:
1. From my consumers’ perspective, “What’s in it for me?”

2. From my perspective as the content generator, “Am I providing an emotionally captivating experience for people that they feel is worth an investment of time, money, & energy?”

If I can’t answer those, nobody’s going to care if it’s analog or digital.