What I have learned as an amateur job seeker

This is my fifth week on the job search and I have learned and received some useful and not useful tips from friends and family alike. Ive been advised to find a job as a travel agent, healthcare interpreter, translator, and even considered teaching English in Israel because of an attractive 10 month fellowship. But, for now, I must stay focused on my own goals and narrow down the job search and yet still keep an open mind. Here are a few of the more helpful suggestions that I have received from friends and my own research.

1.) Develop a Career Action Plan. My friend Alex and I exchanged cover letters, resumes and he showed me his CAP or Career Action Plan. This was pretty  much a no-brainer that gives you a daily, weekly, and monthly agenda in order to stay on top of your goals. He subscribes, like me, to third-party job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and GlassDoor and receives daily and/or weekly alerts on relevant jobs he is qualified for. This is only a small part of his career action plan. The key is to follow up on several companies that you really dig or want to work for. I’ve made an Excel sheet of publications I like to read and would like to pitch articles to and in this spreadsheet, I try to keep it updated with the relevant and current editor’s name, email address, and then types of articles the magazine/newspaper/website specifically wants. Several career blogs have noted that these third party job boards have only a small percentage of jobs available and the real challenge is to penetrate the “hidden job market.”

2.) Learn about the Hidden Job Market Before you start networking and trying to use your various social media accounts in your job hunt, it is best to sit down and brainstorm what your expectations and goals are. Some job seekers who might be over a certain age might be at a disadvantage due to their lack of familiarity with social media, smartphone apps, and other useful tools that could be a great help in finding more job openings. There are ways that you can use Twitter  to find a job to downloading helpful apps.

3.) If you don’t have one, get aSmartphone and cultivate some serious skills.  If you do not have one already, get a functional smartphone with a big enough screen. When I lived in Krakow, the up and coming “Silicon Valley of Central Europe” my past lackluster knowledge of apps and the IT sector cost me dozens of jobs I could have gotten had I educated myself. I learned the hard way that if you want to work in the real world, you have to keep up with it. Thanks to my more knowledgeable friends, I can recommend two affordable alternative smartphones that are worth an investment. If you want a decent camera, abundant storage space, and a stellar Android operating system these two phones are worth every penny.

Option A) Motorola “Moto G” 3rd Generation (approximately $180.00 on Amazon, $196.00 with tax)

This phone is unlocked, is the #1 recommended phone under “new releases” and has an expandable storage space of up to 32 GB and a 13 MP camera. It is also one of the more user-friendly phones out there. If you want a less expensive alternative, an earlier model for just under $90.00.

Option B) OnePlus One with 64 GB of space and 13MP camera. This phone was previously only available by invite but the newer model, the OnePlus Two is invite-only. The battery life is normally alright, but my particular phone has a lemon of a battery. I can attest this does not compromise the overall quality of this model since my friend has one that works beautifully. Overall, this was not a disappointment. The 64 GB sells for $ 380.00 while the 16 GB sells for $320.00.

3.) Learn the The Alphabet of Social Media. I gave an older neighbor a crash course in social media and tips on job searching. She had just ordered a smartphone for herself and did not know how to download apps or optimize them to her advantage. In one day, we got her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other websites. Job applications nowadays ask for everything short of your blood type and food allergies. Some wanted to know if I knew about apps such as Periscope and Meerkat. The most asked-for relevant apps and or social media sites are: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, and sometimes Pinterest.

4.) Know how to detect b.s  To save time, I’ve learned to not open/apply to these kinds of ads:

  •   Ads that are in ALL CAPS
  • with the word “Internship” or “college credit…”
  • with the title/header/description of “social media assistant….”
  • the conjunction of “marketing,” “fundraising” and “telecommute.”
  • “Get paid to write reviews…”
  • Are you allergic/have migraine/___
  • “Loving couple seeking…”
  • “Assistant” and no mention of salary but marketed to college students.
  • Companies that want YOU to pay THEM for “training” or a “deposit” in “materials.”
  • Anything that describes itself as “MLM” or multi-level marketing.
  • Mary Kay/Avon/Greenpeace
  • I can go on….

5.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, social circle, colleagues, and so on. I posted something on LinkedIn and a former classmate from my undergrad whom I had not talked to in years responded saying she might have technical writing assignments for me. You never know who might surprise you! I’ve exchanged resumes with friends, know when to regularly check in with my friends who are my cheerleaders and biggest supporters, and there are people out there whose job it is to help you find a job. I’ve contacted temp agencies, vocational services centers, workforce centers, recruiters, and so forth. I know it’s my fifth week in finding the right job and know people who’ve had a much longer search of over six months so..my last tip is:

6.) Have a gratitude and appreciation diary. Part of the job search is knowing how to deal with hundreds of variations of: “You weren’t the right match,” “Someone was better suited,” “Thank you, but..” I was grateful when a gentleman took it upon himself to write me an actual personalized letter that suggested he actually looked at my resume, liked what I had to offer, and made actual suggestions on how I could better qualify for his company in the future by offering me a free course to further develop my skill set. If you want to have a gratitude diary on a smartphone, then this is for you.

7.) Channel it. Just know, it’s easier to sink into a depression, lose your motivation and morale along the way than it is to keep on going. The challenge is to keep yourself motivated, not lose hope or self-worth. and develop a thicker skin along the way. Many have different ways to channel this angst and tension. My aunt makes her living studying and lecturing on the benefits of meditation. I dabbled in standup comedy earlier this year when I was in a funk. The benefit of being unemployed is that you have more free time than you normally would otherwise, and there are so many cool free things to do. There are free museum days, half-off screenings, happy hour specials, and free yoga classes. It’s also a great time for you right now to further develop skills you have, discover new hobbies, and finish projects you’ve been meaning to get around to. The bottom line is to stay positive and not give up on yourself or your community.

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