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.

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