Archive for the ‘Job Search’ Category

Today has been declared Hire a Slob Day. Employers have agreed to give slobhiring preference to unwashed applicants with stains on their clothes, bedhead and hanging shirttails. The time it will take to get a job offer is inversely proportional to the time that has elapsed since you last took a shower.

The decision to implement this initiative to hire the slovenly has been reached after much debate and a near government shutdown.

Just kidding. Happy April Fool’s Day!

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Jimmy Stewart meltdown

This is actually re-posted from last year, with additions (I thought of 5 more reasons).

 1.   Employers ARE hiring, despite the common misconception that everyone’s in Bermuda.

2.   There’s less competition, since a lot of job seekers think everyone’s in Bermuda.

3.   It’ll keep your momentum going, and make it less likely you’ll hop into a bathtub full of water and plug in your electric toothbrush.

4.   All those holiday parties are great opportunities to network. And scarf down free food.

5.   You’ll soon get sick of staring at the TV and watching Jimmy Stewart have a meltdown.

6.   A lot of companies start their fiscal year in January,  so they want to get the newbies in there as soon as all the holiday crap is over.

7.   There’s always the chance a manager could be inspired to hire you while snockered on spiked eggnog.

8.   How many times can you listen to songs about homicidal reindeer?

9.   The hiring manager is more likely to bring you on-board out of holiday spirit despite the embezzlement charges.

10.   Job search can generally be more fun during the holidays, since a lot of people are jollier than usual. Not me, but a lot of people.

Seems like all we hear these days is branding this, branding that. We must brand ourselves, professionally speaking, if we want to be taken seriously. If you’re looking for a job, that goes double for you.

But what happens when we have more than one interest that we’re trying to pursue; different images – sometimes conflicting – that we want to project and promote? Are we splitting ourselves in two? And if so, which self will win??

Yes folks, I myself am suffering from Multiple Branding Disorder. I currently have 3 online selves, sort of: one as Employment Counselor, one as MarCom Writer, and my third alter-ego, Comedy Writer. Since I have a lot of years of experience as a career counselor, I’ve mostly branded myself blogwise as the Employment Counselor/Comedy Writer Combo Pack, with an occasional MarCom Writer snippet thrown in.

But now I’m focusing on a comedy thriller I’m working on (“Explode”), and want to brand myself as both my Comedy Writer self and my MarCom Writer self, since that’s my day- job- career path. I have to re-brand myself and hang out with my comedy-and-mystery-writer Twitter-peeps, rather than my job counselor ones. Plus, some of my comedy stuff is edgier than some job hunters looking for job search advice might think of as, uh, appropriate.  Which means I’ll likely lose the folks that are mostly interested in job search advice, and don’t give a crap about the comedy. But that’s the way the branding iron sizzles.

Nevertheless, here comes some branding advice for job seekers:

  • The self you most want to focus on at this point is how you should brand yourself.
  • If you have more than one self you want to project, it’s okay if there’s some overlap, unless you’re simultaneously trying to brand yourself as conservative religious Republican and porn star. In which case, good luck to you.
  • If some would-be employers are less than enthusiastic about the you that you’re projecting, then guess what? Those aren’t the right employers for you at this point in your life, anyway.
  • Here’s my shameless self-plug: though I’ll mostly be concentrating on my novel, this blog has a plethora of posts already on various job search topics, so feel free to peruse.

While lying on a job interview is a bad idea, that doesn’t mean the Job Interview Police will come after you with handcuffs and an electric prod if you don’t reveal every little snippet of info related to your work history. Contrary to popular belief, a job interview is not an interrogation. It’s more like a first date. If you were on a first date, you wouldn’t chatter about the time you spent in the psych hospital because of your breakdown after your stalker ex-boyfriend came after you with a serving fork, would you? Hope not.

By the same token, don’t talk about the stuff the employer doesn’t need (or necessarily want) to hear in an interview, either. Here are a few tidbits to keep to yourself:

  • Your termination from your last job as the result of your calling your boss a moron on your Facebook page. Yes, people still actually do that. Don’t be one of them. And if you were terminated for something stupid you did, or something stupid they did, your prospective employer doesn’t need to hear the details. Be as brief and positive as you can in your explanation as to why you left the job (not a good idea to say you were “fired,”  “terminated,” or “tossed out on my ass”), and don’t talk against your former employer, even if he was an evil toad who forced you out because your lunch was smelly.
  • Your plans to get pregnant. If you start a new job and actually get pregnant, you probably want to share that bit of news with your employer at some point before your water breaks all over her Manolos during a sales presentation. But you are not legally or morally obligated to share your personal goals with an employer you don’t even work for yet.
  • Your plans to take a 2-week trip to Alaska next month to try to catch a glimpse of Sarah Palin skinning a moose. The knowledge that you might have to take 2 weeks off right after starting a job might sit sour in the interviewer’s mouth, and you don’t want that to influence their decision whether or not to hire you. Besides, you don’t know what their timeline may turn out to be. When you have an offer and are discussing a start date is the time to bring that up.
  • Your recent divorce and subsequent career epiphany. The career epiphany part is fine, if it’s relevant to why you’re applying for that particular job, or how you’ve arrived at this point in your career. But leave the personal stuff for your shrink.
  • Your difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.  Not all of us are morning people, and some workplaces are more flexible than others about work hours, but you don’t want to share your tardiness issues on a job interview. ‘Nuff said.
  • How you became born-again last week. How nice for you, but the whole God thing – not an appropriate topic for an interview, unless you’re applying for a job in a monastery.
  • Your salary in your last job. Yes, the interviewer may ask, but you don’t have to give out that information, even though you think you gotta answer ‘cuz they asked. Don’t forget the “it’s not an interrogation” thing. And by the way, your previous employer isn’t supposed to share that info either. You can answer the question by saying that your desired salary range is blah blah blah, based on your level of experience and the position. Your desired salary range is what’s relevant – not what you made before. After all, you may have been absurdly underpaid, or you might be more interested in a lower-paying position at this point in your career for various reasons. So there.

I’m re-posting a piece I did awhile back on branding/marketing yourself in your job search. If you’ve already read it, just pretend you’re an Oceanic Flight 815 survivor experiencing a time flash….

In your job search quest, you’ve probably seen the word “branding” floating around in the job-o-sphere (here’s a personal branding blog with a lot of helpful tips) and heard your job search strategy compared to a marketing campaign, with you as the product.

While “self-branding” can sound vaguely scary (especially if you’ve ever worked on a horse farm), it’s not as masochistic as it sounds. Marketing yourself is, in fact, an effective way to conduct your job search, and branding is an essential component of that.

Here are some strategies to help you in your job search self-branding efforts:

  • Come up with what you want to be known for – your professional identity (known in marketingspeak as “positioning”). What are your unique talents that make you different from Joe Schmeckel Jobseeker? Are you TechGirl? GrammarGuy? Do you know where all the commas go before they die? Of course, branding yourself as GrammarGuy probably won’t help you much if you’re a forklift driver. It has to be relevant to the field you’re interested in.
  • Figure out what specific benefits your skills/experience can bring to an employer (otherwise known as your “value proposition.”) Fill in the blank: “When my co-workers (or future co-workers) need help with _____________, they come to me.” Hopefully you’ll be able to come up with something other than, “finishing all the leftovers from Adam’s birthday party,” or “remembering the name of Mr. Spock’s mother.”
  • Emphasize your talents on your resume and in your cover letters. Employers, like men in a relationship, hate having to try to read your mind. And when it comes to an employer, since there’s nothing in it for them, they probably won’t bother. If you want them to focus on particular skills that will benefit them, make it obvious which skills those are.
  • Focus your LinkedIn profile and Twitter tagline (excuse the alliteration) on those talents, in much the same way you focus your resume on them. And don’t tell me you don’t have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You’re job-hunting. It’s 2011. Shame on you.
  • Build a positive online rep. relevant to the type of job you’re interested in. Start a blog in your area of expertise, or at least comment on other people’s blogs, showing your knowledge and offering helpful info. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your talents, and get involved in the discussions. But I wouldn’t get involved in anything too potentially controversial when you’re job-hunting. That’s just me.
  • Establish your style. Yes, if your style is Lindsey-Lohan-meets-Charlie-Sheen, you probably need to rein it in a bit. And resumes and cover letters need to be more on the formal side in terms of tone. But you do want your online persona to pretty much reflect who you are and how you want to be perceived at work. After all, you’re unique. You want to be noticed (for the right reasons). Besides, if your persona is too scattered in different directions, a prospective employer might think you have multiple personality disorder.
  • Figure out what your target market is, and go for it. Who are the employers you want to work for, who are likely to need and value your talents? If you want to use your aerial basket-weaving skills in a free-flowing environment, don’t be looking at companies that specialize in a 3-piece suit dress code and actuarial statistical analysis.

1.   It’s a good way to network, which is a much more effective job search strategy than staring at the computer screen for eight hours a day and indiscriminately spewing your resume out into the Lost Dimension of Job Seeker Infinity.

2.   Oprah’s history anyway.

3.   You’ll actually get some valuable info about what’s going on in your field of interest, and won’t have to keep listening to your whiny frenemies who keep saying, “There’s nothing out there.”

4.   You can officially slap the aforementioned frenemies upside the head for being negative.

5.   You’ve been spending too much time on the couch in your bathrobe, and you’re starting to smell.

6.   You’ll get info on what skills you need to be competitive, so you can emphasize those skills in your resume and cover letters, and/or brush up on the ones you’re shaky on.

7.   It’ll keep you in the game. ‘Cuz once you’re out, that fence is hard to climb over, and you don’t want to get your doinker caught in those wires on top.

8.   You’ll be interacting with actual humans.

9.   It’ll keep your confidence up, and give all those “talents I have to offer” thoughts long-term storage space in your head.

10.   You can actually get real live smokin’ job leads that way.


In an interview
A sense of humor is good
Sex jokes, not so much

Be yourself,  sort of
But not your fetishist side
No staring at feet

If you swear a lot
Don’t “f*ck” in an interview
Three blocks down’s okay

If you’re cynical
Try to curb the sarcasm
The job’s not Snark Queen

Are you religious?
Don’t bless the interviewer
Unless she sneezes

Weirdness can be cool
Just stay out of Crazy Town
Until you get home

Here are a few tips on doing a killer job search. And no, I don’t mean visiting your former employer and running amok with a machete.

  • From your research (yeah, I know you know how to do that), find some interesting tidbit about each employer you’re targeting in your job search, and mention it in your cover letter.
  • Better yet, connect the tidbit to how you can benefit them. And I don’t mean, “I read in the Boston Business Journal that you’re being sued for sexual harassment. Since I’ve been sued for that several times myself (I like to sneak around corners and bump into my co-workers to cop a feel), I could help you make it go away.” That’s the idea, though. Just substitute a more positive factoid, or one that may be a problem that you can help them solve, but not one that the National Enquirer would pant over.
  • Send your contacts some helpful info. A job lead, a link to an article about something they want info on or a topic they’re interested in, a link to their favorite porn site (not really). But don’t immediately ask for them to reciprocate. “Here’s that info on when Charlie Sheen’s mother ship is coming to take him home. Have any job leads for me?” is SO not cool.
  • Ask more questions than you answer in your networking interactions. And not, “What’s my area of expertise? What do you want it to be, baby?” Just focus more on them than you, and you’ll be surprised at how much more likely they’ll remember you, want to help you, pledge their eternal devotion to you, and grovel at your feet. Really.
  • Dress the part. Even if it’s not an actual job interview. When you go anywhere that has anything remotely to do with job search/networking/strategic shmoozing, dress like a – dare I say it – winner. I’ve seen job seekers show up at networking events in flip flops and muscle shirts. I mean, come on.
  • Keep busy. If you know what time “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?” comes on, you’re in trouble. And if you’re not, in fact, smarter than a 5th-grader, you might be tempted to stick your wet finger in an electric socket. So set up informational interviews, volunteer, work part-time, take a class, teach a class at a community center. Do constructive stuff you can put on your resume, that’ll help you continue to develop your skills and regularly interact with other humans.
  • Keep a positive attitude. If you’re negative, you’ll be much less likely to find a job, for a slew of reasons. Mostly because the majority of people you come in contact with will think you’re a pain in the ass, and they won’t want to have anything to do with you. Unless they’re negative themselves, in which case you can whine together in your dark cloud of blehhhh.

Here is a sample cover letter. Note that it includes the two key elements of an effective cover letter: why you give a flying jockstrap about them, and concrete examples of how you can help them fulfill all their wildest fantasies. Or at least some of them….

Dear Okra-Man,Super Broccoli

I am very interested in joining your team at Vegan-Superheroes, Inc.  I recently read on veggieherochronicle.com about how your organization is looking to develop your green capabilities. As my particular superpower is emitting highly charged electromagnetic forces after consuming broccoli, I am confident I would be a valuable addition to your team.

As you can see from my resume, I initiated chlorophyll-induced power-trances at Niblets Corp., which directly resulted in raising our mega-power capabilities in the must-be-a-f*cking-miracle body healing sector by 300%.

Although I specialize in broccoli-related powers, I have also improved the quality of drinking water in multiple urban centers by regurgitating magic neurons into their water supplies after ingesting brussel sprouts and Swiss chard.

I would love to talk with you further about your needs at Vegan-Superheroes. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 or greenisgood@gmail.com.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Spew-Green-Magic Man


1.  It doesn’t work as well by yourself.

2.   It’s not all about you and your fantasies.

3.   If you send a generic form letter to the one you’re interested in, it’s worth crap.

4.   When romancing a prospect, if you look like a slob, you won’t get any.

5.   If you act like you’re just looking for anything, all bets are off.

6.   If you think it’s not a match, sleep on it.

7.   If you arrive empty-handed, you’re screwed. And not in a good way.

8.   If you forget you have something scheduled that day, it ain’t good.

9.   If you give a sh*t at all, you need to follow up the next day.

10.  If you try too hard, it’ll probably back up on you like a 2-day-old onion burger.