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I've been reading the diaries from people looking for work, and thought this might be of some use. Over a decade ago, when my husband lost his job, he got sent to one of the "employment coaching" services, and I tagged along. It was gimmicky, and over-promised what it could do, but there were some useful lessons. When I started teaching professional writing, I tweaked some of the approaches and combined them with other techniques to make a "job search" lesson that differs from the usual approach. Usually this is what students say is the most useful part of the class. Maybe it can help someone here.

The first thing to understand is that even in times like these, people are hiring. Wherever anyone is conducting business, there are jobs and potential openings.

The second thing to understand is that although you might not feel like it, you are a potential asset to an employer. They need you as much as you need them.

The third thing is the one everybody knows, and the thing that initially seems like a huge hurdle to overcome: it's often not what you know, but who you know. When you're unemployed with no prospects, this is what you have to fix.

A few other miscellaneous things: In this climate, it's usually a waste of time to send out resumes. They go to people who can't actually hire you. You want to talk to people who can. So here is what you do:

Step 1:
Identify a few companies (start with about 3) who employ people who do what you do. Then identify people who supervise those people. **It does not matter in the slightest that those companies are not hiring.**

Step 2: Polish your resume and, if possible, put together a portfolio of your work. Include a copy of your educational transcripts if they are impressive.

Step 3: Carefully construct a letter to each person you identified in step 1, that says something like this:  

Dear Mr/Ms _____________

I'm preparing for a job search in the area of [your profession] and wonder if I might have a few moments of your time. Since you are a leader in [his/her industry], I want to ask your opinion on the most effective preparation for someone in [your field]. Please understand, I'm not asking you for a job. I'm just looking for advice on how best to prepare for employment during these challenging times. Your advice would be invaluable and the meeting would be very brief.

I will call your office next week in hopes of scheduling an appointment. I understand that you are very busy. The meeting will take no more than fifteen minutes of your time. I look forward to speaking with you.



Customize the letter if you can, mentioning anything relevant you might have in common with the recipient, like sharing an alma mater, etc, but don't make it much longer than what you see there. Use professional-looking paper and envelopes--plain is fine--and make sure you have spelled the addressee's name and the name of the companies correctly, and pop them in the mail.

Do not include a resume.

When your letter has had time to reach its destination, make the follow up phone call, and pleasantly request the meeting. Reiterate that you are preparing for a job search and are only seeking advice and feedback. Most people are willing to give 15 minutes. (My students average well over 50% of the meetings they ask for.) If they hesitate, offer to buy coffee at a nearby spot, and remind them how valuable their input would be.

When the appointed day arrives, keep the following in mind:

  1. Your goal is to begin assembling a network, not to ask for a job. You've told the person you're not going to do that, and for this to work, you really must not.
  1. Every supervisor is always on the lookout for talent. They never know when they will need someone, so you really are of interest to them.
  1. The feedback you can get from each person will move you closer to a job, even if it's just a little bit, so no matter what, the meeting will be beneficial.
  1. Ultimately, people are hired as much because someone likes them as because they are qualified.
  1. Each meeting has the potential to bring you one step closer to a job.

When the meeting starts, begin by thanking the person for his/her time. Then without wasting any time, show him/her your resume. Explain your qualifications, and the kind of job you're looking for (which should be the kind of job this person hires for) and ask for suggestions. Make sure that each question you ask directs their attention to your qualifications, like this:

I had this internship where I learned to make widgets, and then I ended up teaching a class about widget assembly. Do you think I should emphasize the class I taught or the time I spent on the job?

Listen carefully and attentively to all suggestions, and take notes. Write them on a tablet or notepad and try to leave your resume in the person's hands so that they can continue to browse it as much as possible. Make sure they get to look at the evidence of your good work in the portfolio. Ask questions that direct their attention to the most impressive work.

At the end the the time, make sure to thank them for their help, and finish with something like this.

Thank you. This has been incredibly helpful. I will definitely [do something they suggested.] Is there anyone else that you would recommend that I talk to?

Take down any contact information they give you, thank them, and be on your way. When you get home, immediately write (not email) a thank-you note, and in it, mention specifically one piece of advice that was particularly helpful. If at all possible (without awkwardness) leave the resume. Remember--it is very important that you do not ask for a job.

If you follow this plan and all goes well, at the end of the meeting, you've accomplished the following:

  1. You've made contact with someone who could, potentially, hire you.
  1. Your resume is on the desk of someone who could hire you.
  1. You've made them aware of your qualifications, and demonstrated that you are professional, motivated, and industrious.
  1. You've gotten another name of someone you can speak with.
  1. You've started, from scratch, a network of people who know you--who have seen your face and your qualifications--and who can advocate for you.

Often, however, you get more than this. Often the person you speak with will either

  1. say they don't have any openings, but they know someone who does, and put you in touch with that person.
  1. say they are hoping to hire again soon, and ask that you leave your materials
  1. ask if you'd be interested in some part-time work or contract work with the company.
  1. start a process by which you can be hired (by asking you to fill out an application, talk to HR, etc.)

(Sometimes, btw, this happens after they get your thank-you note, since that is such a rare occurrence in today's world.)

I want to be clear--this is not a magic potion that will land you a job immediately. But it is a significantly better use of your limited job-searching time than sending out resumes to people who have never met you. It is scary, especially the first time you do it, but it really does work. My students used to average about 1 job offer for every 5 - 7 meetings. Things are slowing down now, but they are not stopping.

Originally posted to Teddifish on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:15 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent suggestions. (145+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pontificator, Louise, Terri, northsylvania, hazey, Sean Robertson, ogre, Fran for Dean, TheGreatLeapForward, Hoya90, Sherri in TX, Midwest Meg, devtob, Bexley Lane, younggoodmanB, Carolina On My Mind, sobermom, object16, mataliandy, Creosote, bigforkgirl, megs, highacidity, PBnJ, michelle, oslo, L0kI, Glinda, Jesterfox, SneakySnu, webweaver, Teddifish, rcd, Oy the Billybumbler, snakelass, annetteboardman, barbwires, Oaktown Girl, mainefem, Noisy Democrat, las casas, TexMex, chumley, historys mysteries, freakofsociety, el dorado gal, m16eib, LarisaW, Dave from Oregon, dewtx, Cat Nerd, EJP in Maine, Jules Beaujolais, Pam from Calif, ladybug53, Marcus Junius Brutus, sundancekid11, The Raven, zinger99, empathy, begone, snewp, dhfsfc, BachFan, ruleoflaw, Albatross, Lashe, vickie feminist, imabluemerkin, JVolvo, NearlyNormal, PJHood, llbear, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, buckeye blue, means are the ends, crystal eyes, kurious, Temmoku, b3citizen, Cliss, One Pissed Off Liberal, J Royce, marykk, gwriter, ibonewits, Mom to Miss M, godislove, linkage, Nespolo, politicalget, lurks a lot, Seneca Doane, MI Sooner, st minutia, mcc777c2, mconvente, flowerfarmer, beltane, evora, bluesheep, codairem, kyril, DixieDishrag, greenpunx, ryangoesboom, satanicpanic, cameoanne, SciMathGuy, classico, output, banjolele, weltshmertz, langstonhughesfan, Angry Mouse, scotths, COwoman, synductive99, BlueMama, Losty, Laughter Shrapnel, missmishu, Emalene, ruscle, Lazar, BasketCase, oceanrain, Queenie68, eXtina, Yumn, dochp, Ronald Singleterry, Leolady, Arenosa, Urtica dioica gracilis, sapientgrape, Nada Lemming, AMfromATL, Colorado is the Shiznit, sethyeah, gfab, Kid G, Olon, Berkeley Moon, Alanna Trebond

    As someone who has hired people, I can say that the scariest thing about it is: you don't know them.

    You know what they say. You know what the resume says. But you don't really know.

    Like the person I hired because she was the best typist in the group and was sincere-seeming in the interview. Except she showed up on her first official day with purple hair and called in sick five days out of her first two weeks. I would up firing her before we got to the end of the probation period.

    So the more you make yourself a known quantity, the more reassured the hirer will feel.

    Tip to diarist:
    Post a tip jar. (A comment from you that people can recc.)

    Pootie fan? Me too! Check out my cat advice blog.
    The Way of Cats

    by WereBear on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:27:15 PM PST

  •  Thank you (20+ / 0-)

    This was very thought provoking.
    I am trying to put together a resume' in a different field after working for 10 years in the travel industry.

    The meaning of life is to live it.

    by COwoman on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:27:23 PM PST

  •  Good on you. (30+ / 0-)

    I'm neither looking for a job nor hiring, but from either side you've got good advice. Start out looking for information and contacts, and don't look desperate, even if you are. Good luck to all, and remember that Democratic Presidents are great for the U.S. job market.

  •  Tip Jar (338+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, maryb2004, sgere, Joe Bob, tmo, JillR, northsylvania, hazey, Sean Robertson, Chi, Peace JD, ogre, Hell Upside Down, Ivan, kiwing, PeterHug, DebtorsPrison, scrape, MikeHickerson, bread, Hoya90, cotterperson, SanJoseLady, rhubarb, akeitz, eeff, azale, kdub, Bexley Lane, sobermom, musicsleuth, mataliandy, Creosote, AOverington, roxtar, RubDMC, bigforkgirl, d2 at 43rdstateblues, erhan04, mentaldebris, parker parrot, mmacdDE, megs, sja, SoCalJayhawk, PBnJ, scamp, roses, michelle, etherapy, taonow, bobinson, sgilman, L0kI, nargel, sngmama, oceanview, josephk, fumie, KCBearcat, Jesterfox, lirtydies, aitchdee, Janet Strange, jdmorg, DustyMathom, SneakySnu, webweaver, psnyder, emmasnacker, mwk, weary hobo, milton333, Seattlite, alt hitman, desmoinesdem, Oy the Billybumbler, noveocanes, snakelass, BrooklynVoice, annetteboardman, ppluto, barbwires, Oaktown Girl, bwintx, mainefem, Noisy Democrat, calmer tiki, VerbalMedia, Lefty Mama, solesse413, The Gryffin, furi kuri, wolverinethad, Gowrie Gal, Sajun777, Julie Gulden, rapala, radarlady, greycat, el dorado gal, m16eib, LarisaW, zaraspooksthra, LostInTexas, Halcyon, one of 8, Simplify, MT Spaces, dewtx, Brooke In Seattle, TheMagicJew, EJP in Maine, lennysfo, Waterbug, dansk47, LNK, judy99, aktbar, Pam from Calif, pasadena beggar, Mr X, GreyHawk, ladybug53, lotlizard, Phil S 33, blue jersey mom, Marcus Junius Brutus, HiBob, sundancekid11, collapse, The Raven, moodyx, Shotput8, zinger99, LisainNYC, empathy, jct, psyched, grapes, RainyDay, begone, Denny in Seattle, dsteele2, BachFan, MissInformation, BalanceSeeker, Orinoco, BlueInARedState, dharmafarmer, Ellicatt, ruleoflaw, jeffman, Naniboujou, Albatross, jwhitmill, Hobbitfoot, Alexandra Lynch, goodasgold, Eloise, LokiMom, NBBooks, tecampbell, Lashe, nonnie9999, Bob Sackamento, akogun, SadieSue, imabluemerkin, NearlyNormal, Preston S, PJHood, trykindness, doinaheckuvanutjob, Unknown Quantity, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, buckeye blue, BB10, The Lighthouse Keeper, Dreaming of Better Days, kurt, crystal eyes, kurious, anabelle, coolsub, Temmoku, Nulwee, b3citizen, AntKat, Cliss, One Pissed Off Liberal, marykk, out of left field, ibonewits, bvljac, auntialias, Mom to Miss M, desertguy, FWIW, Kathie McCrimmon, godislove, Nature Maven, edsbrooklyn, Nespolo, kath25, some other george, terabytes, lurks a lot, DWG, Tenn Wisc Dem, Uncle Moji, Drowning Wave, Seneca Doane, klnb1019, second gen, st minutia, tuder, vbdietz, quadmom, cka, uciguy30, homerun, Neon Mama, cville townie, mistletoe, rogerdaddy, mconvente, hulagirl, NotGeorgeWill, MikePhoenix, ScottyUrb, Brinnon, bythesea, Cat Servant, beltane, Wek, DailyKingFish, bluesheep, codairem, kyril, DixieDishrag, George Gould, debheadley, HoosierDeb, shortgirl, statsone, ryangoesboom, satanicpanic, cameoanne, SciMathGuy, Pris from LA, beatpanda, hippie bitch, Zorge, cfg, WSComn, fearisthemindkiller, banjolele, Carol in San Antonio, eltee, ColoradoWantsWolves, XerTeacher, earicicle, WobegonGal, fhqwgads, Ab2kgj, virginwoolf, wallyslittlebro, Calfacon, Angry Mouse, jarnikles, mksutherland, obscuresportsquarterly, Shelley99, synductive99, BlueMama, XNeeOhCon, rubthorn, RoCali, EmmaKY, Laughter Shrapnel, Sleepwalkr, Bene Gesserit1, EAColeInEmporia, deviant24x, Emalene, AussieJo, Colorado Billy, josecheung, Lazar, coppercelt, oceanrain, rb137, Vacationland, the law of ducks, eXtina, dochp, jdw112, TheWesternSun, Obamacrat, Lost and Found, ATFILLINOIS, puffmeister, second alto, Arenosa, tellthestories, ItsSimpleSimon, Benintn, Mariken, juturna, bradams, aggregatescience, cai, pateTX, damned if you do, abrauer, jmadlc55, Urtica dioica gracilis, kissmygrits, sapientgrape, CA Physics Grad, dharmadyke, dmet, Sassinator, Colorado is the Shiznit, BlueState Michigan, jmh42, MemphisProfessor, Alanna Trebond, Scott in WI, barflyer, blueinmn, sweeneymcbean, zukesgirl64, Lorikeet, LUlion07, New Aeon For Change 93, IT Professional

    Thanks for reminding me. (I'm in education. It's hard to think "tips.")

    No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

    by Teddifish on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:31:17 PM PST

  •  Create your own job.... (25+ / 0-)

    Identify a need and then offer to fill it........

    Dig around the news and the grapevine.......did a company get bad press about something they did? Think of how they can fix it, and offer to do it for them.

    Something else that helps = if you are capable of doing the work of two people or more.......

    Also...Don't forget normal 'networking' a member of a group and be useful in, service organization, alumni association.....

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:43:56 PM PST

  •  Thank you for the suggestions! (10+ / 0-)

    I'll definitely look into doing this!

    "Stop the ride, we want to get off." The Republican Party: Divided, Depressed, Demoralized, and Desperate

    by LUlion07 on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:44:24 PM PST

  •  Read the job adverts and think.... (12+ / 0-)

    Often if there is an ad for one position......there are others that go with it. The key position needs people to support it.......

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:45:08 PM PST

  •  This is very helpful -- thanks! n/t (8+ / 0-)

    Please visit:

    by Noisy Democrat on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:51:03 PM PST

  •  Your diary reminds me of a book... (21+ / 0-)

    ...I read years ago called "How You Really Get Hired" (written by a college recruiter).  The advice in that book for getting (and executing) an "information interview" is very similar to what you write, and good advice in tough times like these.

  •  excellent advice n/t (7+ / 0-)

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    We inaugurate President Barack Obama in 46 days!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:57:03 PM PST

  •  This is useful. Thanks. Rec'd and tipped. nt (7+ / 0-)
  •  I'd like to add... (38+ / 0-)

    be proactive.  Even if you don't need a job now, there may be something out there that works out better for you and saves someone else.

    I was not in danger of losing my seniority, experience and friendship with my boss kept me quite safe, but....

    Someone below me was doomed though.  I happened to be trolling around on Craigs list one night  and found a job opening doing exactly what I do now, only a mile from home.  Pay was a little less but, I made the suggestion to my current boss that I should take this other job, stay on with him part time which I can easily do (and the two jobs together also keeps me in my former salary range)  

    I interviewed, got the job and have already been there almost a month now.  New boss has already told me to talk to him after the holidays about a raise...guess I'm doing a good job.

    The person under me is now safe from being let go, which makes me feel much better especially during the holiday season and if it all works out well and things pick up at my old employer, I may just stay part time but work more hours and stuff that extra cash into savings only.

  •  Fixed your tags (10+ / 0-)

    Good advice all around. The key, of course, is to keep going. And remember that many skills transfer into other professions.

    I've gone from god damn America to Gawd Damn, America---Bill Maher

    by Relevant Rhino on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:03:02 PM PST

  •  door to door (23+ / 0-)

    We recently had a young man knock on our office door and just asked if we had any jobs available.  We didn't have anything with his skill set, and he then asked if we knew anyone.  We said we didn't.  He said thank you, walked to the next door, and knocked.  I have to admit, you have to admire that.  He just walked into a business building, started at the top floor, and then knocked on every door asking if anyone needed help.

    The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

    by Mote Dai on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:03:09 PM PST

    •  That's how I used to find apartments. (5+ / 0-)

      Find a neighborhood I like, then start knocking on doors.  Tell whoever answers that I like the area and am looking for a place and do they know of any apartments nearby that are about to go vacant.

      The best apartments pass from hand to hand through the grapevine.  By the time they get to the paper, someone is way ahead of you.


  •  Woah! That is seriously good advice! (18+ / 0-)

    I too lost my job this week.

    I'll get around to writing a diary about it soon no doubt (once I've finished updating my portfolio - trying to focus on my priorities right now).

    I might just try your approach. I have something of a network already, but I think it would work on existing  contacts as well as new ones. Certainly it wouldn't hurt to have a reason for a short get-together with my outlying contacts and those who don't know me as well as I'd like them to.

    Thank you SO much!

    America: YOU DID IT!

    by webweaver on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:05:34 PM PST

  •  Awesome advice! Thank you! (10+ / 0-)

    Currently I am taking advantage of my college's Career Development Center services to improve my prospects. This means getting assessments, interview and resume help, and a transcript review.

    I am doing everything I can so that I won't be unemployed after I earn my B.A.

    One other thing I'm trying to do is earn different certification. I have a flagger certification and next year I am going to get a forklift certification. Blue-collar, white collar... I don't care what color the collar is, I just want a good paying job during this harsh economy.

    Likewise, I have back-up plans in case my first attempt at joining the Foreign Service doesn't pan out too well.

  •  This is excellent! (23+ / 0-)

    When I worked for others, I always sent a hand written thank you note after I was interviewed for a position.  It makes a difference.  I never had a problem getting hired, and often had my choice of several jobs.

    Now, I own a business, and have had several employees.  This would certainly make me feel that this person is willing to go the extra mile and work hard, and would instill more confidence in them.  

    As a person said earlier, it is hard to choose from just a bunch of faces and applications--I want someone who stands out to me.

    One thing that always bothered me when I interviewed people:  they didn't know anything about my business.  I even requested in my ads for employees that they take a look at our website (I have an online retail business), and no one bothered.  I felt they didn't really care about where they may work.

    If one person had taken the time and had some thoughtful things to say as a result, they would have gotten hired (barring any disqualifications for the job).

  •  Need to create your own company (11+ / 0-)

    I think one problem is that a lot of us don't have fabulous entrepreneurial skills or don't have the bookkeeping skills to start a business.

    But we basically have to go round up bookkeepers, boss/manager people, and people with useful skills, and figure out something that they can do that has immediate value even in an awful economy.

    Maybe: selling abandoned stuff; running barter exchanges; taking care of vacant houses; charging neighborhood people to tend to neighborhoods that are becoming ruins; somehow helping people with Food Stamps and other government programs; etc.

    Another way to look at this: If you were Mad Max and wanted to start a company that didn't involve looting, what field would you go into?

    •  Service Corps of Retired Executives (7+ / 0-)

      is an organization that provides advice and consulting services to entrepreneurs and small businesses.  You can get an "instant mentor" who can advise you on your business plan, start-up process, etc.  And I imagine your mentor would know some folks, just in case your question was "Should I start my own business, or would it be better to work in this field for someone else for a while?"

      They have offices all over, and their website is here.

      My investment plan - Beans, rice, firewood and ammo.

      by roxtar on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 01:39:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just a hopeful story for those of you looking... (44+ / 0-)

    I am over 50, overweight, and was laid off from my job of eight years in August.   I had been waiting for that shoe to drop for three years, so when it did drop, I had my resume updated and was ready to go right out of the gate.  One of my co-workers had a friend at a related company whom I was able to use as an "in" at another company when I applied for a job.  I wasn't hired for that one, but the hiring manager had a job in the same group that was a better fit -- and I got that job.  I was out of work exactly four weeks.

    It is hard to keep your confidence when this happens, especially if you have little to begin with. But focus on your strengths and even if you don't feel confident, act confident.  

    When you do your resumes, think about what you ACCOMPLISHED, not what you DID or what your responsibilities were.

    Tap every resource you can.  If you don't know a lot of people in business, join Facebook and LinkedIn and network with virtual people you know.  

    Structure your day.  Plan to spend half the day looking for a job, a quarter of the day catching up on projects around the house, a few hours doing yoga or taking a walk or something good for YOU.


    I never, ever thought anyone would ever hire me -- an old, fat, Web developer.  Well, no one did, at least not for Web development.  But I am in clinical research in a fantastic environment, I'm even making a bit more money, my boss is terrific, I work with great people, and I truly believe my layoff was a blessing in disguise.

    DO NOT GIVE UP.  IF IT HAPPENED FOR ME IT CAN HAPPEN FOR YOU TOO!! Stomping monsters since 2004

    by hackwriter on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:09:10 PM PST

  •  Interview on Tuesday (20+ / 0-)

    I'm working full time - actually about 50 hours a week - so this is not about me.

    A man from a firm that my company uses as a supplier has had his hours and wages cut - a double whammy!

    He called me because I have worked with him on several occasions over the past few years.

    He has skills that we need - at least on a temp worker basis - and I chatted with my manager - she was very receptive and this gentleman has an interview on Tuesday afternoon just because he called folks in his 'network' and one happened to have a few months work.

    Who knows, this may turn into a permanent position if he's really as good as we believe he is.

    So do exercise your contacts - and if you are employed now, reach out to folks in professional groups or associations in your area so that should the worst come to pass and you're escorted out the door - you've got some folks that you can call and ask about work.

    You're old when regrets replace dreams.

    by SAQuestor on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:16:50 PM PST

  •  Great diary. (10+ / 0-)

    I can confirm that thank you notes are extremely rare. When well written, they reflect very highly on the writer.

    Here in America, our destiny is not written for us - it's written by us. Barack Obama 9/28/08

    by quadmom on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:17:25 PM PST

  •  Be humble (29+ / 0-)

    and be willing to do anything. I've kept up my license to be a certified nursing assistant.

    It's a humbling experience to bath and feed and even clean up feces from those that can no longer care for themselves, but it is a job and one that won't go away, even in a Depression.

    I currently work with the developmentally disabled and while I do training and paperwork, there is that humbling aspect of my career.

    My co workers and I joke with each other that as long as a person can clean up BM, they'll always have a job.

  •  I hope this helps some people. (4+ / 0-)

    The next few years are going to be really tough all around.

  •  Perfect advice nt (4+ / 0-)

    My stripper name is Ammo Canal Palin

    by Weaselina on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:23:03 PM PST

  •  here's another thank you! (14+ / 0-)

    just what I needed to read tonight. The generosity of this community continues to amaze me. I have been sending out resumes for positions I don't want in a field I vowed to get out of. And I am surprised--smart person that I am--that I haven't gotten one interview. I will re-read the diary and the comments and put it to good use.

    Blessings to you and yours!

    "But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!" Ralph Ellison

    by jmadlc55 on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:26:45 PM PST

  •  One observation: "limited job-searching time" (12+ / 0-)

    job searching is a FULL- TIME job. Only a concerted effort on your part will make you successful in these times.  Go about it with due diligence; do not treat it as something casual---

    •  I agree, but there also needs to be balance. (17+ / 0-)

      to do this job well, one needs to be physically and mentally strong and very centered. Having your personal life in order allows this. I know this from my own experience, as I divorced my husband of 40 years and it took me some time to get my act together in terms of how to structure my life and take proper care of myself as well as re-learn how to savor and enjoy life. It's a many-faceted, complete package In this, your point about its not being casual is right on. Everything a person does, including making sense out of their life and functioning as a complete human being, is an asset.

      "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." ML King

      by TheWesternSun on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:32:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webweaver, mainefem, ladybug53, bmcphail

      I was once told to treat any job search as a full time job -- to set a number of hours a day I was going to work on it and daily / weekly goals of resumes and letters to send out and phone calls to make.

      Working 40  - 50 hours a week on job searching, it's rarely taken me longer than two weeks to start getting interviews.  But every time I feel like I have to re-learn how hard putting yourself out there really is.

      the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

      by mijita on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:51:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Set "office hours", (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Establish goals, make a to-do list (and stick to it), use a schedule, factor in time for planning, meetings, research, follow up, etc., just as you would on a job. Sometimes it's easy to get distracted (or depressed)at home, so I advise my students to use our university career center as their "office". If you have a state university or community college near by, you can probably use their office even if you aren't a student as they are usually open to the public. Other options might include the library, Starbucks, etc.

    •   You're absolutely right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webweaver, Phil S 33, Naniboujou

      Looking for work is a full-time job. I just meant that you only have so many hours of the day, so it's important that you use them in ways that will be most useful.

      Often people think that this way of going about things is very time-consuming--and it is. But the return on the investment of time is much better than if that same amount of time was used sending resumes out blindly to folks with advertised positions because there, you're likely to be competing with hundreds of other applicants. This way you have 15 minutes where it's just about you. :-)

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 02:41:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Make it a full-time job, yes, but also seek out (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, ladybug53

      ways that make it interesting.

      My last job search lasted four weeks and I was almost sad to see it end because I learned so many new things about my field (web app dev) doing all those interviews. It's very cool to learn what everyone else is doing out there...the technologies that are being used, the stuff that folks like and don't like. And the things you learn in one interview you can take into the next one...

  •  Terrific diary! While I don't need it now, (6+ / 0-)

    I sure might in the future. And it will be great to pass on to
    friends and family. Last night I bookmarked a diary on how
    college students can step-by-step keep receiving financial aid.
    Now bookmarking this one.

    It's wonderful how this community is rallying around by sharing
    ideas and resources.

    ...block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand...(President Elect Barack Obama, 11/4/8)

    by begone on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:32:26 PM PST

  •  Thanks, great advice. n/t (3+ / 0-)
  •  I once got a job (38+ / 0-)

    because I made a follow-up call to find out why I wasn't hired.

    I had had what I thought was a very positive interview in September. I heard a week or two later that I was a finalist for the position, and they would be making a decision soon.

    October passed and I never heard anything. I assumed they hired someone else.

    This was for a job in a different city, where I wanted to move. In January I went to that city, thinking I had a different promising lead. While I was in town, I decided to call the guy who had interviewed me in September, who was the director of the institute where I wanted to work. I was really nervous, but I had been advised that it was worth asking why I hadn't been hired.

    When he got on the phone, he said, "Boy, am I embarrassed to be talking to you." It turned out that they weren't 100 percent happy with any of the finalists, so the position was still open. (I was considered too inexperienced.) But as long as I was in town, he invited me to come down to their office.

    Then I got to meet with the man who was going to head the department I had applied for. That interview went very well. He liked me and felt that while I didn't have a lot of directly relevant experience, I had skills and background that suggested I would have a lot to contribute. He also knew of my thesis adviser, who was one of the references listed on my resume, and he respected him.

    Within an hour they offered me a job and I was talking to HR about moving, etc. It was surreal.

    I don't know if others recommend calling to find out why you weren't hired, but it sure worked out for me. That job changed my life.

    •  Good idea (6+ / 0-)

      Especially the way you handled it, professionally.
      A friend was recently the #2 choice for a position.  She learned that they chose someone else who presented a more impressive portfolio.
      About 4 weeks later, she saw the same position advertised, called to inquire and found that the #1 choice didn't work out at all.  Turns out they were wowed by "pretty pictures", it was a very small office and group chemistry turned out to be toxic.

      So, my friend is going back in - hopefully to get the job this time.

      What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

      by CParis on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:27:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You for this diary... (18+ / 0-)

    I will apply the thank you card process immediately.  I had an interview at the University in my town last week (where I'm desperate to get ANY job so that I'm on the inside), I was just beaten out for the job I interviewed for, but I made a fantastic impression on the HR guy.  He told me to continue to use him as a reference.  Any time I apply for a position at the University that I should contact him, use him to tweak my resume or cover letter to appeal to different positions.  So all in all, I was pretty happy even though I didn't get the job b/c a high up HR contact is pretty awesome (it was a panel interview with 5 people too,... which was challenging).

    I've already contacted the HR guy to thank him for all the help he has offered and to thank him for letting me interview for that position.  I also asked if there were things that he would suggest I change about the interview, things I may not have answered well.  I thought that would impress upon him that I am serious about this.  Anyway, I will get on with sending a thank you to the guy in HR guy tomorrow as well as to the head of the department the position was in (never know where you connections will come from right?).

    Anyway, I'm bookmarking this diary... I'm PAINFULLY non-confident, so the idea of setting up meetings and meeting face to face with people I don't know, who don't really need or want to see me is terrifying, but I will begin this process and try my best to go through it as suggested.

    Thanks again for the diary.  It's been rough around here lately with everyone losing jobs.

    -9.13, -7.79 When you pray, move your feet. - African Proverb

    by L0kI on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:41:06 PM PST

    •  If you aren't comfortable setting up face-to-face (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      L0kI, mainefem, BB10

      meetings, find less threatening ways to connect with people. As I mentioned above, as a university career counselor, I often advise folks to find alternatives to face-to-face meetings. If you want to work at the university, there are many ways to meet people. Consider attending special events, lectures, brown bag seminars, etc. or see if there are volunteer opportunities on campus. Visit the university's career center, too, as they are often open to the public. They can give you some ideas about who's hiring on campus and in your community. Good luck!

    •  Volunteering/subbing (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      samddobermann, L0kI, mainefem, kurt

      This has been mentioned in passing several times on this thread but I just wanted to highlight that in the education biz, getting in there and participating is a HUGE plus. It shows you care, demonstrates who you are, lets them see how you operate, helps you to understand what's going on there, helps you meet/network with people there, enhances your resume, and gives you something to talk about when you do interview for a job.

      For someone who isn't confident about the meeting format (it is kind of artificial, in my opinion), this is especially useful--you show them by doing. And having been on the inside a little bit as a volunteer you will feel more confident in a meeting anyway.

      My secret to interviews (in education) is to put myself in the mindset that I am interviewing them -- that is, there are a lot of unhappy situations in academics and I want to be sure that I would want to work with these people. So in addition to being prepared to talk about myself I have questions ready about their program.

      Oops! I'm gonna need a whole new sig!

      by sillia on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:42:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great approach (8+ / 0-)

    It's been a while since I've had to search for a job, but over the years the overall approach that you describe here is the one that was clearly the most effective for me.

    It's about taking initiative and meeting with people; basing the discussion on your interests, accomplishments, and contributions, as well as on seeking useful advice and feedback; and being genuine and honestly-intentioned as you do so.

    I'd also like to add a small idea to the diarists' strategy: when it's time to do the written personal follow-up to the meeting, I've used a simple, but carefully-selected, notecard as the medium. Since I live near Boston, I preferred original photograph notecards by Helen Eddy.

    I'm not promoting her stuff specifically, but am just telling you what I selected. Your cards could include simple illustrations, photos, reproduced art, or whatever feels right to you - not schmaltzy or frivolous, but definitely unique. It should add to the impression you want to convey, and to the personal nature of your contact. It'll help the person remember your encounter long after it's happened.

    Museum gift shops, craft stores, and booksellers are all good sources for the kinds of materials I'm talking about.

    In one instance, I sent my followup note on a vintage San Francisco postcard, since the person I spoke with was a San Francisco native. I ended up working with her, and she said that the card selection was a fine touch - well-chosen and personal.

    Anywhoozle, that's just one small simple piece in a process that's based on lots of small, simple pieces, all well-executed. It's the level of detail and attention that, along with persistence and a positive attitude, leads to results.

    Good luck to all who're in this hunt, or who will be. You're not alone, and I could very easily be turning back to you for support at some point ahead.

  •  Living in fear is no way to live (11+ / 0-)

    Although I realize that times really are tough, it bothers me the way the media is hyping the fear angle.  I sense a hidden agenda behind the stories: Be thankful for your jobs because we serve the corporations at their pleasure.  Don't ever complain because -- horrors, you are putting yourself at risk.

    Here in New York City, people are inundated by these stories and their legitimate fears are amplified and refracted by the media.  When did "the economy" become so important that it should color our national mood?  That we should let abstractions like "depression" and "recession" warp our perceptions of everyday existence, and suck all the joy out of life?

    Maybe this is just me.  Sure, I've lost clients because of this.  I don't make much money to begin with.  But the things that really affect me are my friends, family, and everyday life.  

    That's why I threw out my TV, & cut off cable.  I just watch movies now, when I feel like it.  Oh yeah, and read this site.

    "I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords..."

    by pawlr on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:44:15 PM PST

  •  Also important (13+ / 0-)

    if for some reason you don't want a job after you get an offer, be sure to let the firm in question know in a courteous timely fashion.  After all, you may be going back to them next year looking for work.  

    I say this because we just interviewed what seemed to be an outstanding candidate for a job, paid for him to fly down for a second interview and offered him a job.  Got no answer.  Finally had to withdraw the offer-then he indicated he had decided to keep his current position.  Fine-but he sure managed to burn his bridges in the event his current employer makes another round of job cuts.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 08:45:27 PM PST

  •  Best advice: get out & be seen. (19+ / 0-)

    I just got back from a Xmas party.  It was a networking event.  I thought it was going to be mostly my cronies, people who more less know each other in the business field.
    I was truly surprised to see how many people were out looking for work.  I had lots of people introducing themselves to me, they were an interesting group and you better believe they were out marketing themselves.

    Like the Diarist says, it's not what you know but who you know.  It's about connections and networking.

    So after the party, I've got about 10 lunch "invitations" I'll take them 1 by 1 and help them out.  

    Some suggestions for people who are looking for work through networking:

    1.  Be visible.  

    Check your local paper.  Look in the business section.  Check out business meetings, go to as many as you can.  For obvious reasons, pick the ones that are free or low-cost.  Show up at these events.  

    1.  Bring a business card.  

    If you don't have a job, at least have a card with your name & phone number so people can get in touch with you.  You just never know when something will come up.

    1.  Smile.  Smile a lot.

    As you hand out your card, smile.  Say something complimentary to the person you're talking to, without sounding insincere.  Like "it seems that you are really knowledgeable in this field, maybe we could have a cup of coffee later?"

    1.  Never, ever look desperate.  

    I had 1 job-seeker this evening who had the beginnings of a beard.  His shirt was slightly unbuttoned.  Worst mistake: he had been drinking a little too much. He came off as not being very professional.  Also, right after he had told me about his credentials (which were impressive, he asked me if there's "any work" at all" to do, like weekend work?  

    1.  Always dress your best.

    Even if you are just going to the mail box, look your best.  When I was unemployed, I put on my business clothes.  Even though I had NO WHERE TO GO, it still felt good to wear my good clothes.  It gave me a sense of purpose.  It made me feel professional I think if I had gone back to my sweat-pants I would have given up.  People treat you the way you're dressed.

    1.  Stay positive.  

    Do not let yourself think negative thoughts because they are self-reinforcing.  Even if you have to fake it, go out as much as you can, smile.  Act like you belong, and you will.

  •  Other Side (10+ / 0-)

    As someone coming from the other side of this -- I am a hiring manager at my company right now -- I have to say, this sounds dishonest.

    If you want me to consider you for a job, then ask me to consider you for a job.

    If you want career advice, then ask me for career advice.

    But don't ask to meet with me for general career advice and then spend the entire time trying to pepper me with subliminal signals that I should hire you.

    It reminds me of this recent xkcd strip. If you don't have the honesty to ask me for what you really want now, then how would I trust you to do so as an employee?

    For me, it would be more honest to say, "I'm looking for a job with you now, but if you don't have one, can I talk to you about tips as to how I might improve my chances when a job becomes available?"

    I would be more likely to be impressed by such a person, especially if, when they did apply for a job with me eventually, they had taken the advice I'd given them. That advice would probably not just be resume tips, but tips on what sort of experience to try to get outside the workplace to make their qualifications match better with what I would be looking for.

    My scenario really isn't that different than the original diary, but it's more upfront about what you want.

    •  This would be dishonest (7+ / 0-)

      If you used the meeting to try to ask for a job. That's why I tried to stress how important it is that you not do that. What you're doing is asking for advice, and putting yourself out there. It may be (and hopefully it will be) that the person offers even more, but that should happen only on their initiative. As long as you stay true to your purpose, I don't think there is anything dishonest about it at all.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:02:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "If you used the meeting to try to ask for a job" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chase, CParis

        The problem is that this is actually the point of the exercise, as telemachus pointed out. Stuff like this is not what you would do if your primary goal was seeking advice:

        Make sure that each question you ask directs their attention to your qualifications

        try to leave your resume in the person's hands so that they can continue to browse it as much as possible

        If at all possible (without awkwardness) leave the resume

        You're asking for a job implicitly, but you're still asking. It may be the kind of white-lie dishonesty that's considered a necessary evil in polite society, but I think it's still fair to say that it's dishonest to set up such a meeting under the explicit denial that you are asking for a job. Furthermore, the other party would be completely justified in feeling that you're insulting their intelligence.

        •  many people are very very busy at work (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I usually turn down face-to-face informational interviews with people.  don't have the time, too busy trying to keep my job.
          However, I am more than happy to take a 15-20 minute phone call, with someone and offer info, pass along resume etc.

          What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

          by CParis on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:35:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  OK, person on the other side . . . (4+ / 0-)

      . . . tell us what you're looking for. Because I've dealt with way too many HR offices whose job description seems to include sidelining applicants who don't already know someone inside the company, impeding awareness of job opportunities (going from "We don't know what our needs will be" to "All our open positions have been filled" overnight), preventing contact with anyone who can talk about what opportunities are available, and otherwise finding reasons to remove résumés from consideration.

      Forgive the bitterness. Each job search I've undergone so far has involved applying to more than 100 organizations and never getting more than a dozen responses, half of which have been rejections. I've been laid off twice, been RIF'd once and spent 39 straight weeks unemployed (in 2002). I went back to school, got myself a master's degree in another field, and ran into the same old shit again. I long ago stopped believing that success in job hunting had anything to do with what you know or who you know. Since it's neither of those things, what is it?

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 04:52:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some things that I found out (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mainefem, ladybug53

        I lost my job in March of 2006 and didn't return to a job in my field until February of 2007. I earned unemployment for six months and then temped from September to February. What I can say is that I went through several interviews, only to be rejected. I'd get my hopes, only to have them dashed.

        What I would often find, though, is that companies would often post the same jobs over and over again. They would post the same advertisement month after month. I later found out that these companies didn't really have an opening and were just collecting resumes for a time when they would be hiring or they were hiring someone internally and posting the ad just to comply with employment regulations.

    •  Well (0+ / 0-)

      I would ask in my email whether you had any openings and if you could consider for me; or, if you didn't, if you knew of any other individuals or organizations who did.

  •  This is an outstanding diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Someone who followed these steps would probably impress me more than any of the hundreds of resumes I've read over the years.

    I'm sure your advice will help some of our fellow Kossacks who are looking for work.  I'll recommend, but I also suggest reposting this diary in another few weeks.

    I'm sure it will still be very helpful.

    Highly recommended.

    Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:03:15 PM PST

  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Teddifish


    Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official... ~Theodore Roosevelt

    by Pam from Calif on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:05:31 PM PST

  •  This is an excellent diary, and so helpful for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, Teddifish

    so many-- fabulous suggestions.  Thank you for your generosity in sharing them.

  •  When I first moved to the city (9+ / 0-)

    where I currently reside, I did exactly as this diarist suggests.

    Sadly, for me it produced diddly-squat in terms of results.  I finally got a job through the want-ads after nearly a year of networking/informational interviews.

    My point being -- don't neglect one approach in favor of another.  You have to use every tool at your disposal.

  •  One suggestion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, CParis, WayneNight

    You can overdue it.  Sending a thank you note is nice, multiple unannounced visits and dozens of calls and emails is probably overdoing it;)  

    I was starting to think I was going to have to file a police report.

  •  forgot a key one...Networking!!! (6+ / 0-)

    Network like crazy...linkedin for professionals or even facebook is a good source... professional organizations in ones field have meetings.... check for local library and churches as well... need to go beyond friends or family... old colleagues, rivals etc... Never be afraid to ask a stranger for leads...

    Holiday parties are ideal for soft networking as well...also some kossacks have started a site as well....

    Leave the gun take the cannoli..

    by Wallst Democrat on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:20:01 PM PST

  •  #1, be young. m. (5+ / 0-)

    Good luck trying to find work if you are over 50.  

    What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart ` M Ward Chinese Translation

    by sylvien on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:22:29 PM PST

  •  The best way: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, writerkirk

    You need to be friends with/related to/sleeping with whoever runs the place.

  •  What Color Is Your Parachute (5+ / 0-)

    The informational interview is an idea that has worked forEVER.

    It's more fun, too, because instead of feeling like you're prostituting yourself for the job, what you're actually doing is pursuing your calling.

    Follow your passions, do the next right thing, and watch the money follow.

    It's cool when it works out.  And even if you shoot for the moon and miss, you're still up among the stars.

    Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

    by Benintn on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:23:48 PM PST

    •  I just wonder whether this would work... (4+ / 0-)

      for people over, say, 40. After a certain age, the "informational" approach could backfire and just make you look a bit behind the curve ridiculous? Or, am I being paranoid?

      I do know that in my case the handwritten thank you note is problematic at best. My penmanship is atrocious -- I don't even try actual handwriting and print everything and it's still unreadable and gives me the appearance of a slovenly ax-murderer.

      I'm certain this is probably a great approach for new job seekers in most fields, it's just the mid-career or late-career switching folks (like me) I wonder about.

      Forward to Yesterday -- Reactionary aesthetics and liberal politics (in that order)

      by LABobsterofAnaheim on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 02:52:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For mid- and late- career people (4+ / 0-)

        professional organizations, conferences and trade shows are a good way to connect. Every profession has it's organization and local chapters are always dying for new blood. Go to the meetings and get involved with their activities. Civic organizations are another good networking opportunity for people with more experience. You might also think about volunteering at a nonprofit to help with administrative or board support functions.

        As far as a thank you note is concerned, it really is okay if you type it. Like your mom always told's the thought that counts.

  •  Excellent advice (12+ / 0-)

    One of the most discouaging aspects of searching for employment is the lack of response to applications that "go through proper channels."

    For most large employers the web-based application process is like shooting your resume into a black hole.  When I was searching for talent at a large academic medical center I would place ads in the paper and conduct my own interviews.

    Once I identified the person I wanted to hire I would walk them over to HR and tell them to do the paperwork.  HR hated me with a passion--but I didn't care so much.

    The only reason I point all of this out is to mention that the frustration applicants feel is shared by managers that need new employees.  The strategy you outline helps to address the frustration of both the job seeker and the managers looking for new talent.

    In a perfect world the applications would get to the managers looking to hire--unfortunately we all must work and play in the real world.  For any of you looking for work please bookmark this diary and heed this excellent advice.

    Here's to HOPE in Honduras

    by wallyslittlebro on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:27:26 PM PST

    •  This is more or less the feeling that I get (8+ / 0-)

      Whenever I send an application and resume somewhere, I feel as though they normally end up on the bottom of a pile somewhere, or in a filing cabinet, and they never get looked at.

      I hate to say it, but it seems like the people I know with the best job matches actually got their jobs through people they know.

      •  What I ran into at Wake Forest... (4+ / 0-)

        ...was the HR department had a rule that anyone that had been laid off for whatever reason went to a priority list.  The list that circulated to managers was that list.  If it contained the person that you were looking for--great.  

        But managers never got to see anyone not on that list.  I had to work around the offical rules if the priority list didn't contain someone with the skill set I needed.

        I was always happy when I found the person I was looking for on the internal list but the point was the HR department was only about that list.

        Here's to HOPE in Honduras

        by wallyslittlebro on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:38:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  swap resumes with other people activly (23+ / 0-)


    seriously when i was inteviewing i made friends with a guy Ned,
    he was way smarter then me, and we were both waiting
    for a job interview we swapped 10 copies of resumes
    while we both decided the job interview we were waiting for sucked.

    i would drop his resume at interviews when his strengths were better
    he would do the same for me.

    he helped me get a job, and oddly enough, one of my drops got
    him his.

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:30:31 PM PST

  •  This sounds like a load of bunk (0+ / 0-)

    I seriously doubt it'll work.

    But it shows how desperate we're getting, if nothing else.

    "The military industrial complex not only controls our government, lock, stock and barrel, but they control our culture." - Mike Gravel

    by Wilberforce on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:34:13 PM PST

  •  if you interview for a job you really like (13+ / 0-)

    and it seems to go well, but you are not the one chosen - take a deep breath and write a thank you note saying how much you appreciated  being considered and that you genuinely wanted the position.

    Who knows - the one they hired might not work out and you have left a really positive impression to get a second chance.  It has happened to me.

    If only Americans had agonized over every detail of the candidate's history when deciding to vote for GWB as they did with Barack Obama.

    by lisastar on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:40:32 PM PST

  •  How would this work for anyone who isn't (10+ / 0-)

    a relatively new worker?

    If I tried to set up interviews like you suggest, after I've been working for 30 years in the same field, people would think I was crazy.

    I've been unemployed for almost two years now, and it's hard not to look desperate -- mostly because I am.

    But once you reach a certain age or level of experience, how would you make someone take you seriously if you take this type of avenue for a job search? If you've worked in a field for a long time, what pretense would you have for asking about this kind of networking? Shouldn't you already know enough about your industry to be aware of where the jobs are?

    "It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela

    by Brooke In Seattle on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:40:33 PM PST

    •  When you're not starting from scratch (13+ / 0-)

      there are some different challenges. You don't have to do the same kind of "cold calling" and can work from contacts you already have, but as you point out, you can't really ask people about how to prepare for a job you've already done. What you can do, however, is talk to people who know you, or know people you know. What you would ask them would depend on what you actually need to find out. So, for instance, if you lost your job because of downsizing in your company but you still had good relationships with your former bosses, you could ask them about where they see the industry going, and how one might anticipate and prepare for changes they see coming. You could also contact a supervisor at a competitor's company and ask what kinds of skills they are looking for and what kinds of experiences they like new employees to have. Whatever knowledge you need to be competitive in the job search--at whatever stage of a career you are in--that's what you ask. And (key point) you aren't bs-ing. You're making yourself more marketable (and establishing or adding to your network at the same time.)

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:51:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can you become a resource person? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, kurt

      I am wondering if your experience makes you able to provide help/advice to others in the field, and whether you can turn that into freelancing-type work or starting your own profession-related business.

      Then networking becomes a two-way street--yes, you are interested in what their needs are, but it's because you have something to offer them.

      I don't know if my experience is relevant, but when I left teaching in a field I was very experienced in (and dedicated to), I turned myself into a teacher resource person. Health problems had made it hard to continue in the classroom but I was still great behind the scenes. Now I publish my only provides a supplemental income but I am happy doing it. Somebody with more energy could make more of a business out of this--there's a great need for good materials, at least in my field.

      So maybe you can step outside the box, too?

      Oops! I'm gonna need a whole new sig!

      by sillia on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:27:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In your opinion (0+ / 0-)

    is submitting your resume to job banks helpful at all? I don't mean huge ones like but if they're relatively specialized, small ones - is it worth a shot?

    Thank you so much for your valuable advice!

    •  I don't get many reports (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, lirtydies, mainefem, Kewalo, BB10

      of this working, but it's relatively easy and fast, so I don't think it could hurt. I imagine it varies greatly depending on the nature of the jobs.

      The problem, though, is that so many other people are doing that already, and the people who sort through the applicants can't actually hire you--their only power is to put your resume in the "no" pile or to pass it along.

      So I'd say perhaps bank your resume, but also look through the job listings and see if you can find someone to talk to at the companies who are hiring. That way you become the one applicant out of the stack who is actually a "face" to them.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:55:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Job banks (6+ / 0-)

      I actually got my last job from posting my Resume on Career Builder.  I never thought it would work, had never heard of anyone getting a job that way but it was free so I thought "what the heck".

  •  Thanks so much for this post! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, Teddifish

    Lots of good advice for people like me.  Thank you!

    "I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them." Hillary on Dem. activists

    by spaceman on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:43:21 PM PST

  •  Paper (resume) can't compete with Person (phone). (11+ / 0-)

    For me, when I went through this long ago, it was the phone calling that did it.  In my case I did send a good selling resume, but my concentration was on the follow-up phone call, which I was comfortable with and enjoyed.

    I used a source called Contacts Influential that gave me the phone numbers for the decision makers, so I ignored the personnel departments.  Not sure if it's still around.  Seems like I heard it may have become Info USA, but I'm hazy on this.

    Often when I made the phone call they had not yet looked at the resume, but I got the job interview off the phone call, and ended up with multiple job offers that the employment agencies didn't know about.

    In my case the shotgun approach worked well.  I compiled a comprehensive list and got on the phone, and with the number of prospects I had I went straight for the job interview and skipped the information interview, but it's whatever works best for you.  I had an odd feeling when I was employed before I could even get a third of the way through my call list.  Would have like to have talked with all of them.

    In the course of things I had talked with two companies that I really liked that didn't have a current job opening, however in talking things through I realized they both needed a part time person and didn't know it, so I talked them into each employing me half time.  I eventually got full time offers from both and took my favorite, which became my career position until I went out on my own in the same business.

    I think there are a lot of jobs out there for Kossacks.  I mean look at the big picture.  When the country is in a mess that means there is more work that needs to be done than ever. If everyone just starts going around the messed up system, pretty soon the messed up system will be moot.

    Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. A Course in Miracles.

    by Steven wonders on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:54:59 PM PST

    •  Taking the initiative (7+ / 0-)

      I agree that phone calls can be a good approach, as long as you're not pushy or take up too much of a busy person's time. It's much easier to ignore a resume sitting in a pile on your desk than to say no to a person on the phone.

      I once got a job when I was really desperate b/c a friend knew someone who was hiring and asked, "Would you like me to give him your number?" and I said, "No! Give me his number." I called, got an interview, got the job.

      Also, if you're feeling intimidated or depressed about all of the competition for jobs - remember, the vast majority of job-seekers haven't clue about how to do anything more than send out resumes. And/or will reveal either with their poorly written resume or their off=putting interview that they will be terrible employees - poor skills, irresponsible, annoying to be around.

      So the number of people you're competing with is much smaller than might first appear. It's hard to find people who are competent, can be trusted to do a good job without constant supervision, are reliable, are pleasant and helpful with customers and coworkers. If you can show that you are that person, the person who can hire will be thrilled to see you walk in their door.

      I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. - Barbara Jordan

      by Janet Strange on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 12:02:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a really good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and also the reason why it's so important that you take the initiative to set up the meeting. It doesn't work at all to write a letter that asks for the meeting. You write the letter to let them know you'll be calling to set up the meeting, then you call and do it. Initiative is key!

        No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

        by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 02:11:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent Point! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        So the number of people you're competing with is much smaller than might first appear. It's hard to find people who are competent, can be trusted to do a good job without constant supervision, are reliable, are pleasant and helpful with customers and coworkers. If you can show that you are that person, the person who can hire will be thrilled to see you walk in their door.

    •  This is a great comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, Steven wonders

      and could lead to some really creative thinking:

      I think there are a lot of jobs out there for Kossacks.  I mean look at the big picture.  When the country is in a mess that means there is more work that needs to be done than ever.

      Oops! I'm gonna need a whole new sig!

      by sillia on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:31:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Along with idea of rerouting around the system (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mainefem, sillia

        It became clear years ago that our media system was messed up. Daily Kos has been effective in rerouting around that system, and is doing it's part to make less relevant a lousy system induced by relaxation of media consolidation laws.

        Hopefully we will be as effective in rerouting around all of our other messed systems as well (Congress?), and may continue to find that the informal structures that can be set up through the internet, when established by serious citizens, can trump those formal structures that have become dominated by those who are less aware, and in many cases, less sincere.

        For example, I look forward to the day when our Congressional representatives hold primarily an administrative position.  We decide outside Congress's otherwise ineffective system what we want and then inform our Congressperson and Senator how they are to vote, and if need be, provide them with the laws we want them to sponsor.

        Anyway the idea is about decentralization, which we have seen can trump centralization.  To the extent Capitalism has been an effective system, much success can be attributed to the natural decentralization that takes place, at least before that system becomes messed up as well, which is what we're dealing with now.

        We were frustrated with the media system so we went around it. Let's look at all of our other systems as well, and start helping to produce the jobs our monopoly dominated economic sytem can't or won't produce, just as we ourselves can produce job interviews for ourselves that the system structure doesn't provide.

        Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. A Course in Miracles.

        by Steven wonders on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 11:08:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is what I like -- no, love -- about DailyKos (6+ / 0-)

    Sure, we all like to read about politics, argue the finer points of philosophy and catch up on all the latest gossip, but Daily Kos offers diaries where we can give each other practical information that we can use now. Whether it's how to get involved, or job-hunting, or just suggestions on how to stretch a food dollar these days, the people in this community care about each other.

    I've heard the advice you give before. It's good advice. I've found my jobs through other routes, like having a recruiter present me to the client -- but I've been lucky in that I've got skills other people don't and live in a target-rich environment (the Seattle-area high-tech market).

    But the good news is, that applies to just about everyone else too. We all have unique skills, whether we know it or not, and we all can find places where those skills will be in demand. It's kind of like fishing. It could take you a while to find that special fishing hole where the fish bite all the time, but it's there somewhere, waiting for you to discover it.

    We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

    Now the real work begins.

    by Omir the Storyteller on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:59:38 PM PST

    •  But (0+ / 0-)

      the majority out here are little served by the dos and don'ts of professional job searches.

      It's a nice, sheltered world of DKos, for the most part.

      •  YOu misunderstand me (0+ / 0-)

        I am not saying everyone go sign up with professional recruiters, although that certainly is one way to find jobs assuming you have the appropriate skill set. I, like the diarist, am saying that the jobs are out there, and that they can be found if you persevere and find out what works for you.

        We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

        Now the real work begins.

        by Omir the Storyteller on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 11:02:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Follow your bliss.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, mellowwild

    If you follow your bliss,
    you will always have your bliss,
    money or not.

    If you follow the money,
    you may lose it,
    and you will have nothing. -Joseph Campbell

    If you put your whole self into following your life's passion  there's a great chance you will become so damned good at doing what you love... that you will  get well paid just to have fun.

    Our government is conducting a war on drugs, is it? Let them go after petroleum. Talk about a destructive high!- Kurt Vonnegut

    by crystal eyes on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:01:18 PM PST

  •  Back In The Days (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when every office used a Rolodex I'd include
    one with all my contact information on it.
    Sometimes I'd get job offers months later
    and once, a year later.

    The "development" biz is crashing in my area
    and I'll be lucky to be employed after January 1
    but I'm so close to retirement that a year off
    (or however long the recovery takes) that it
    may be a blessing in disguise.

    I fear no God or lack thereof, since neither is the case.

    by post rational on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:02:42 PM PST

  •  Another topic to consider (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Teddifish

    Assuming for a moment that we go into an economic "nuclear winter", are the cheapest, most nutritious and efficient foods around?

    "2012; that sounds like years away." - Sarah Palin

    by RandySF on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:03:23 PM PST

    •  Spam! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Rice and beans, eggs, tunafish

      What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

      by CParis on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:42:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  rice and beans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, snakelass

      and a few things to flavor them with; some good-tasting vegetables especially if you can grow them yourself (you can grow a lot of kale in a small space).

      Relatively cheap, easy to store for the long term if packaged properly, the basic components of delicious eating in many cultures, and nutritious.

      Oops! I'm gonna need a whole new sig!

      by sillia on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:35:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep the faith. And if all else falls, go work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the Obama administration there's a lot to be done.

    •  There's a lot of work to be done, but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, Kewalo

      ...there's lots and lots of people lined up to do it.

      As of 2 weeks ago or so, I heard that they had received over 200,000 applications for somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 positions.

      One of those applications was mine.  I don't expect for that to pan out into a job.

  •  I've done this by accident, it does work (5+ / 0-)

    its amazing what a silly charade this whole resume/interview process is.

    Especially since I've been on the hiring end. The resume's I got, were frankly tedious to go through and full of jargon and bullshit. The only thing I looked for was education and work experience and some technical skills. Mostly what made or broke an interview was personality. Anyone who was overly nerveous or "trying to hard", lost my confidence.

    Ironically, the two people I hired told me the same story, that when coming in for the interview they took a "who cares if they are impressed with me" approach. From my perspective, they came across as warm, friendly and easy to talk to.

  •  Excellent & timely diary, thanks for posting! nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Teddifish

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" Hamlet, 1:5

    by synductive99 on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:14:27 PM PST

  •  What Color is Your Parachute (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, Teddifish

    is also a good resource. You should get the most current edition. Ironically, the two times I bought the book I hadn't finished reading it nor applying the lessons in the book and got a job.

    If I hadn't found a new position, I was planning on doing volunteer work to keep my skills up. Fortunately, I have the luxury of doing that as my wife is the primary breadwinner.

    "Stalin Bread. First it represses you, then it gives you the gulags."

    by londubh on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:16:15 PM PST

  •  I'm a Retired Headhunter for Lawyers. (10+ / 0-)

    This diary should be bookmarked, printed out, re-read, memorized and tattooed on your arm well, you get the idea.

    Some more stuff to think about:

    Step 1: Identify a few companies (start with about 3) who employ people who do what you do.
    Fail to do that and you will fail to find a job. Guarenteed. Period.
    Then identify people who supervise those people. Folks: that is the most important tip in the whole diary.

    Step 2: Polish your resume and, if possible, put together a portfolio of your work. Include a copy of your educational transcripts if they are impressive. Let me add this: have the most obnoxiously critical friend you have read it. Speling is the #1 error. [bugged you, didn't it?] Have a couple more things ready to go, but they don't go into your diary.
     > Make up a list of all the stuff you do for which you aren't paid. What do you know how to do away from the job that doesn't show up at work?
     > Make a list of all the people you are going to use for references, then call them. Ask for their permission even if you have used them before, and ask them for any job leads.

    Step 3: Carefully construct a letter to each person you identified in step 1, that says something like this:
     > That letter contains very, very important items to which need you need to pay attention: the letter's length, the omission of a resume, the request for an opinion. [I handle the you're the best at what you do thing a bit differently. I usually say something like, "people say you really know what's going on in ya-da-ya-da".]

    Great tips
    Great diary

    Hire the competent: Draft Tammy Duckworth for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

    by llbear on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:16:51 PM PST

    •  Point 1a (6+ / 0-)

      Find the supervisor.

      Yep. I took a seminar* on job-hunting and this was the first thing we learned: HR may place the ad, handle the applications, etc, but they do not hire people. Find the person who will actually make the hiring decision and work on connecting with that person.

      *This seminar was offered through our state employment agency and was free. And incredibly helpful. A friend took a similar seminar offered by a private job search agency and paid several thousand dollars for it. I think the one I took was better. Anyone looking for a job might want to see if something like that is offered in their area. Not to mention that at the end of the week, we all had each others' phone numbers so we could share leads and useful info - more networking!

      I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. - Barbara Jordan

      by Janet Strange on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 12:18:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much for this diary.... (8+ / 0-)

    I have been out of work for a very long time, and I have been very discouraged.  It doesn't help that I need a good job so I can get a divorce....I feel added pressure because of that fact.  
    Anyway, I will definitely try to use your suggested techniques, please cross your fingers for me!  And thanks again!

    "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

    by angrybird on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:36:07 PM PST

    •  I'm so glad (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, mainefem, angrybird

      it's helpful! I'll absolutely cross fingers and send positive vibes your way. I think all of us are either feeling this personally already or knowing that we could be at any moment.

      At my job (and throughout state higher ed in South Carolina) we already have mandatory unpaid furloughs and more are expected. It actually feels great to get to provide something useful to this community that consistently gives me so much.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 02:23:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The second Kos article I have copied and pasted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, judy99, sillia

    the other was on canning.  

    This seems like an excellent strategy to use for me finding a job as a teacher in these lean times.  

  •  Thank-you notes (6+ / 0-)

    I once got hired for a job over all the other candidates because I was the only one who sent a thank-you note!

    I'd read about doing so in a book about job hunting, and I sent handwritten thank-yous to both people who interviewed me. Later, the big boss was talking to me and mentioned that the fact that I'd sent the note was a nice touch and really impressed them, and it was what put me over the top.

    •  I wholeheartedly agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, mainefem, Cat Nerd

      During my annual review, after I had signed everything, my boss was putting the paperwork into my employee file and I noticed the thank you note I sent her after my interview. I couldn't believe she still had it and she said that I had been the only candidate that sent one.

      She didn't out and out say that was the reason I was chosen, but I bet it helped a lot.

      You have nothing to lose by sending a thank you note. It might not make a difference to the hiring manager, but it will never be a negative!

      "George Bush f*cked up so bad, he made it hard for a white man to run for president!" - Chris Rock

      by aggie98 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:20:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Private Industry Council (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sja, Teddifish, snakelass, mainefem

    is the "employee coaching" service I enrolled in back in '92. It changed my life. Literally.

    The tactics described in this diary are very similar to what I learned in 1992.

    And they work.

    I went from being a laid off retail manager of over six years to designing homes - all within about eight months.  

    I contacted a former employee who was then working at a homebuilding company ( I regularly hired interior design students from UT ) which led to a position at a reputable architecture firm.

    Today I am self-employed designing homes in an industry that is tanking rapidly.

    But I can't imagine doing anything else. It's my passion.

    Through all your faults and all my complaints, I still love you.

    by jayden on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 11:35:17 PM PST

  •  I have been using basically this strategy (13+ / 0-)

    I am an experienced professional but recently returned from 20+ years overseas, and settled in NYC with my kids (so I have to stay here now).  After a few go-nowhere interviews, I started networking by calling one person I knew well, who sent me to 5 or 6 others, who each sent me to 5 or 6 or more others.  After 3 months of this, I now know just about everybody of any importance in my field in NY.  How am I so sure of that?  At all my most recent interviews I am getting repeat names and suggestions, so I know that I have pretty much saturated the market.

    So anyway, one of these network chains led me to a big organization, and  I have been trying to get in to see the VP who might hire me.  I have been assured for more than a month that he would call me any day, after at least 3 people contacted him about me.  Today I got tired of that and called him -- and not only was he in, but he answered the phone himself, we had a lovely chat, and I will be going to meet him on Thursday of next week.  

    Do I have a job yet? No I don't.  But I can testify to the accuracy of all these tips -- the utility of informational interviews, the importance of that phone call, and how important it is to put yourself out there and STAY out there, until you get that offer.

    And not only that -- I now know so many people in NY that otherwise would have taken years to get to know, that I can use these people in the normal course of doing business, whenever it is that I get that job.

    I've been unemployed for 2 years and underemployed for 10, and I finally feel hope.  I have a PhD from a first rate institution and never thought this would happen to me.

    So I'm hanging in there, and was so glad to see this diary, it helped me to refine my technique.

    And I ALWAYS send a thank you -- via email, that's how most of my meetings are set up.  

  •  Link this diary to dkos job network site n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann, Teddifish, bluesheep
  •  I tell my students: 'network, network, network.' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sja, mainefem

    and not to use those on line job sites which have a 1% success rate and a 99% 'no response' rate.

    •  I wouldn't rule out the job sites (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Teddifish, snakelass, mainefem, CParis

      On Craigslist for example, there are many online marketing companies which don't advertise anywhere besides Craigslist.  This is only one career I'm talking about but I've interviewed for positions in that field via CL by 1) posting my resume there or 2) applying for a CL job ad.  Not all the time do I get responses but hey, if I get an interview after applying to an ad, what have I got to loose?

      However, networking is never to be taken secondary to online job sites.  I've learned first hand after graduating college that online job sites made me think the job market was slimmer than it actually was.  I've heard from companies I interviewed for that they got hundreds of responses to their posting for the same position.  This statement isn't to be taken lightly.  Also, HotJobs, Monster and other job related sites of the like are hit and miss and no matter how they might seem effective initially, they are never strong resources.

      Networking has been and always will be an easier way to get in touch with the right people because you are able to establish relationships with them without having to be in the interview mode.  Whether there's an opportunity for you out there from the networking event (i.e. dinner party, industry conference, etc.) or not, the important point to know is that as long as a good impression has been made and a business card, e-mail or phone number has been given, that's a good sign.

    •  Network with other (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      DKos members here..KossacksNetworking

      We have jobs posted there too.

  •  Here's something I'd suggest... (5+ / 0-)

    I've been through the job search many times before and have gone through tough times myself as far as being rejected for positions I clearly wanted.

    I would say for anyone on Kos to search for a new position, here are my tips...

    1. Be confident and possess a can-do, optimistic spirit.  Confidence always helps an employer make a sound decision on a candidate and if one is selected, it isn't strictly because of qualifications.  It's also in a large part because of your character: how you conduct yourself, how you communicate to others (whether those at the executive level/supervisors or even people in the lower end of the ladder such as the administrative assistants and receptionists) and how clear and brief you can be about your experience and goals for working.
    1.  Register in as many temp agencies as you can.  Specific what position/career path you're looking for or are already working in.  If you're looking to temp while you interview for more stable, full-time positions, keep schedule as open as you can.  At the same time, don't shut off interviewing for promising positions.  Temp agencies understand that and will communicate to the company you're temping for, depending on the position you take.
    1.  Make a list of companies you want to work for.  Research them as much as you can.
    1.  Get in touch with your college alumni and career center.  They can possibly give you networking options and get you in touch with career fairs and all the goodies which can help maximize your options.
  •  Great! (4+ / 0-)

    Super! There are a few things I really like a lot about this diary (and comments), and a few suggestions I'd like to add.

    1. I like the idea. Networking really is key. It works.
    1. I like the motivating tone. Encouragement is so important because fear and frustration can give us tunnel vision that make us miss opportunities. And trying new things and meeting new people can also counteract the "problem tunnel vision".
    1. I like the focus on solutions and not problems.


    1. Make sure you look your best when you meet.
    1. Make sure somebody (better yet, more than one person) proofreads everything any of your new contacts will read.
    1. After any meeting, regardless of how it went, go through it in your head and take note of what went well, and what went not so well. If there were awkward situations, think about how you could react to a similar situation in the future. In short, learn as much as you can (about yourself and your networking/jobhunting prowess) from each encounter. If you take the time to reflect afterward a meeting and prepare before the next one (anticipating tricky situations and preparing responses, focussing on your own resources) you will make a better first impression with each passing encounter.
    1. Use this or a similar strategy within the network you already have (if you think you don't have a network, take time to  work on it)- even if you don't have a big network in the area you're looking to work in, someone you know might.

    Thanks for the diary!
    Good Luck to All!!!

  •  great diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, mainefem

    An informational interview and a thank you card can go a LONG way.  I have gotten most of my jobs this way. Networks are KEY.  Use facebook.  Use Linked In. Use your alumni network.  Talk to people about their jobs and who else they might know. Go out to Special Interest Group meetings.  Talk to people at the grocery store in never know who you reach out to may be a potential connection.

    And good luck to everyone here. I just started a new job in November, two days after working my butt off for Mr. Obama and I love me new job.  Granted any little retirement I had previously is now half of that little amount. Absolutely sucks, just saw the statements yesterday and nearly died. But I am only 39, and I can save still.

    Best wishes to everyone here who is looking. Thanks for this great diary, Teddifish!

    by LokiMom on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 12:25:58 AM PST

  •  Another idea... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure if this is still the case but another tactic one might try is working with Temporary services, like Kelly Services. (I'm not affiliated... not sure if Kelly's still around either)

    Many times these places do well when unemployment is up is because many employers need people as much as ever but don't have the budget revenue to hire full-time help... at the moment. Using a Temp service means they don't have to pay benefits, so it's attractive to them.

    Lots of times, if you can type, work a computer, word-processor or spreadsheet - and have a pulse - you'll have a steady stream of pretty low-pay work.

    But... you'll hopefully get sent out on assignments on a fairly regular basis to some companies you wouldn't mind working for at all and if so, here's where you have to impress them by working hard and standing out. Once a  prospective employer sees you know your ass from your elbow, that you're  punctual, get along with most everyone, have a great work ethic and a pitch-in attitude, they're going to be pretty darn receptive to hiring you as soon as they can.

    This can cause difficulties with the Temp service. Many have contracts prohibiting your working for a company unless the company pays the Temp service a finders fee. But where there's a will there's a way. You could always resign from the temp service and after a hopefully-short period of time go work full time for the company that wants to hire you.

    Temp services typically don't pay regular benefits but have some unique, non-traditional ones... Like calling you in the morning to ask if you want to work that day at "Company X" doing whatever it is they want. You can always say "No thanks" for whatever reason and while I wouldn't do that  too much (the idea is to shop around) it can come in handy on some days. Plus you'll be getting a paycheck while looking for a job.

    Just a thought - used to work for me! Great diary, btw!

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 01:41:49 AM PST

    •  Our non profit just hired two temps... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, mainefem, Snud

      We needed two people to cover vacations at our front desk.  We went to a temp service.  The two people worked hard and got along well with our full time staff.
      During their temp time, 2 full time positions came open and they were both hired.  

      There is some contractual procedures, they must work as a temp for 3 full months before they can be hired on as our employee and the hook is that if their job title changes then the three months starts all over again.  So we are working through this, but they are well worth it.

    •  Temping can be a foot in the door. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, mainefem, Cat Nerd, Snud

      I could move to a new city and be temping in just a few days. And many times, this led to being hired, because they knew me & knew my work.

      Some temping tips:

      *You're a temp. It can be discouraging to be treated as "not part of the office." But it's understandable; they don't know you, they don't know how long you will be there, and it would be cruel to treat you otherwise, wouldn't it?

      So be friendly, helpful, and keep your head down. If someone chats with you, great; but don't initiate or try too hard. This is the "getting to know you" process. Offices are much better places to work when the chemistry is right; you are being tested with these little encounters.

      Let them come to you.

      *Be steady, not spectacular. It's tempting to blaze through your work and come up with three new ways to do things that shows how efficient you are. But this will make the rest of the office look bad, won't it? Rotten move.

      Besides, you haven't been there long enough to know how this will impact others, or even the chain of work you are in. You can miss a step and look foolish.

      Look at your work as a long haul, even if you are only there for the day. People are more impressed with accurate, anyway. If you aren't sure, ask; this will show you are respectful of other's work. Take a little time to make your work good, not just fast.

      *As your time draws to a close... Maybe the task was time-limited from the beginning, or maybe you don't know if you just won't get the call the next day. In any case, the end of the assignment should be handled professionally.

      Say goodbye to your supervisor to let them know where the work stands as you leave it. Tell them this has been a good experience, and you appreciated working for them. Mention they can always ask for you by name: Flair Steadey (insert your name here.) This keeps your name in their head in the category of Good Worker. It might be a while down the road, or it might not.

      But you've just made a network contact.

      Pootie fan? Me too! Check out my cat advice blog.
      The Way of Cats

      by WereBear on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:22:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This was supposed to be my fall-back option. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nika7k, snakelass, mainefem, Snud

      But I've applied to a half-dozen temp agencies over the past couple of months and just yesterday finally got one of them to offer to have me come in for an "interview" (presumably skills testing).  The other 5 or so never got back in touch with me, including the one that specifically matches temps with non-profit organizations.

      Other NYC job searchers have also told me that they haven't been able to get temp agencies to call them back as well.

  •  Brilliant - this is all true and correct (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilverWings, Teddifish, mainefem

    In the field of publishing, this strategy would be stellar and result in a hire fairly quickly.

    Every word in this diary is true and correct.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 01:51:00 AM PST

  •  Thank you for this diary (4+ / 0-)

    I have a question - for someone who's hours or wages have been cut and they are looking for a better job, do you or does anyone have a suggestion about how to do this without word getting back to the employer they are working for now?  I can see this being very helpful to someone I know but she works in a field where everyone knows everybody else in her line of work and it might be disastrous to her if her current employer learned she was job hunting. In this climate, any job is better than no job, but she is worth far more than what she is getting now.

    •  Often (not always) (4+ / 0-)

      potential employers are sensitive to this if you let them know that is the case. She can say something like "I would appreciate your discretion. I haven't yet told my present employer that I'm exploring other options yet" or something like that. Of course it isn't a guarantee, but people do usually understand the potential for harm.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 02:06:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I got a new job yesterday (10+ / 0-)

    Given the current bad news, I feel particularly lucky.  I have been working on my own for the past 3 years.  The first two years were good, but this past year business has been slow.  So I started looking around a bit in my industry and it didn't take long to find the perfect job for me.  My advice, based on my own experience, is to be willing to take risks, be willing to swallow your pride and take a salary cut, and look at every challenge as an opportunity (corny, I know, but it works).

    The job I took pays less than the job I had before going solo with my consulting.  But rather than saying there was no way I could take a job paying less than what I was making before, I saw that the organization I'll be working for has a lot of potential for quick growth, and I have exactly the experience and skills the organization needs to help it grow.  So I plan to go in there and work like gangbusters to make myself invaluable to the organization and help it grow like crazy.  If I succeed, I'm sure the money will follow and my salary will soon be equal to, or ahead of, what I was making before.  

    The head of the organization recognized that she couldn't pay me what I was making before, but she's open to giving me bigger than usual salary increases should the organization grow in the way we think it will.  She also gave me so added benefits from the start to help make up for the lower salary, and she even gave be a better title than the one originally listed in the job announcement to reflect my past work experience.  

    Bottom line, don't be focused solely on salary.  Find work that you like to do and where you can make a difference, and the money will follow.  That's always been my experience.

  •  Oh man.....What a tease...... (0+ / 0-)

    Thought it was a suggestion for a successful career in politics. Oh Wait....this could work.

    Get to work slackers.....2016 is almost here.

    by geez53 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:15:52 AM PST

  •  Another bit of advice is weak ties (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sja, snakelass, CParis, DemiGoddess

    What do I mean?

    Well, when job hunting, many people try to find THE person who WILL hire them.  And they may think about their close relatives and friends.  That's far too limited.  Whenever anyone says "How are you?" say "I'm looking for work".  They may then say "What do you do?" and you can tell them.

    Tell EVERYONE.  You  never know.

    Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies

    by plf515 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:40:03 AM PST

    •  This is very hard on a person's self-esteem (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      michael1104, mainefem, saralee, plf515, WestDem

      Even today, people are judged negatively for being out of work.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 04:55:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps rephrasing... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snakelass, mainefem, Cat Nerd, plf515, WestDem

        When I was looking to adopt a child, the best advice I received was to let everyone you ever come in contact with know you are hoping to adopt.
        The agencies had a 3 - 5 year waiting list and I had 2 pregnant teens lined up by word of mouth in 2 months.  One of the options came from a friend thousands of miles away that I had not seen in 8 years, the other from a tenant in my rental who was also a pastor of a small congregation.

        So perhaps rewording the phrase to something like:

        How are you?
        I am great!  I am excitedly searching for new career opportunities and feeling inspired by my options.  Do you know of any openings I should pursue?

        That sounds very positive and encouraging to me???

        •  Reprashing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Although my situation was nowhere near as important as yours Goddess I used that same message in college. My school had a shortage of on-campus parking permits and it was next to impossible to land one. After building rapport and feeling comfortable with people I would ask if they knew anyone who was graduating and if I could take the responsibility of the permit off their hands. I thought I would have a better chance of landing one by saying that instead of "I barely know you but can I have your parking permit?" Of course 99% of the answers I recieved was a "wish I could help" yet tons of people knew that I was out there looking to get their permit. :)

      •  True .... but perhaps by sharing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snakelass, mainefem, DemiGoddess

        we can lessen that stigma?

        Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies

        by plf515 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 05:45:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I added the teaching tag (4+ / 0-)

    so that I will catch this for Daily Kos University, which goes up every Saturday at 9 AM Eastern but stays open all week

    No fees, no tests, no grades .... just learning!

    Stop on by

    Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies

    by plf515 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:41:14 AM PST

  •  bookmarked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Teddifish

    for excellant suggesstions

    Saxby Chambliss wants to privatize YOUR social security, in today's stock market.

    by gaspare on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:53:20 AM PST

  •  One more thing ... use your dog. Get out there. (8+ / 0-)

    Here's one that works great: if you have a dog, get thee to a dog park every day. Talk to everyone there. I run into incredible people there in every kind of field. (Al Franken was a regular at our dog park until his dog died. Now you know where I live.)

    If you don't have a job or a dog, borrow one from a neighbor or friend who works. Their dog will love it and so will you. It can provide an hour or more of social networking every day that may lead to something incredible. And you're not there to get a job. You're there with the dog. People open up in ways you'd just never imagine.

    I just love what you've written -- particularly because it reminds people that there are jobs and companies are hiring. But, if all you're doing is responding to jobs on, it's not gonna happen.

    Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it. - Harry S Truman

    by parker parrot on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 04:23:10 AM PST

  •  My husband just landed a job (6+ / 0-)

    because he didn't really need the job. I think that's often the way. He put his resume out on and got 3 replies immediately. The job he took is with Fuel Cell Energy, Inc, an up and coming technology.  He' s 62, didn't walk the dog in the park, and knew nobody at this company. Sometimes it's just plain dumb luck and good timing.

    Just as Teddi says there are, indeed, jobs out there. Sometimes they come when you're not really looking. Good luck and god speed.

    "Live right. Think left." Gregory Peck

    by bookwoman on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 05:13:29 AM PST

  •  any advice for out of college (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Teddifish, mainefem

    recent grads who don't exactly have the longest resumes or biggest pile of referenses to show off?

    I feel like sometimes I wouldn't be able to compete simply because my experience is so thin so it's a challenge to "get started" when the only job you would qualify for is the shittiest job around.

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

    by michael1104 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 05:20:17 AM PST

    •  Sure. (4+ / 0-)

      Compile a list of each job you've done, including the job of being a student.

      For each job, make a list of the tasks. Write down all the actual "work" that you did for your jobs.

      Once you have the tasks, identify the skills you have that will transfer to the job you used to have. For instance, if one of the things you did was work in the school library part time, and  you want a job as a travel agent, you might identify things like interfacing with customers, retrieving and compiling information, keeping records of transactions etc.

      This is important: No matter what anyone says, **do not** inflate what you've done. Don't call yourself a transportation engineer if you worked at a bike shop. Instead, pick things that you really did as part of your work, and highlight those as transferable skills. On your resume, it might work something like this:

      Library Clerk, University Library
      Helped students locate appropriate resources, compiled electronic and hard-copy reading lists, maintained usage database (using Access database software), and administered customer service satisfaction surveys.

      You'd also include, of course, the applicable dates and other information according to your resume's format. If you have even three entries like this, whether they are for paid or unpaid work, your "experience" section (which would probably work better than an "employment history" section, would be filled out nicely.

      And then in the meetings you arrange, one of your questions would be about how best to convey all your applicable experience, given that you hadn't had much "real" work. There might be other ways to do it that someone in your area would be able to suggest.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:35:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, internships. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My first "job" was as a part-time intern but because the company was understaffed I managed to work it into being an on-call temp job, that became a full-time temp job -- at one point I was actually the PR coordinator for a film studio (LOL) when the permanent person left and I'd done so much temping up and down the floor they just threw me in there.

      It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. - Charles Darwin

      by Freedoms Road on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:36:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  May Have Already Been Said (6+ / 0-)

    But if so, it's worth saying again...

    If you can find someone who actually KNOWS the person you want to have the informational interview with and have them refer you to that person you stand a much better chance of a) getting the informational interview and b) eventually getting hired.

    I have a staff of about 20, and I think employers overcomplicate hiring.  When we do it I want to see three things...

    1. does the person actually want to do the day-to-day work associated with the job we have available.  I mean really want to do it.  We had a woman straight out of college show up for an admin job with a tabbed, color-coded binder she'd done for a project in school to show us how much she liked organizing information.  Swoon.
    1. do they have enough basic skills and are they smart enough that we can teach them the job they'll be doing.  I don't care if they've done the work before or not - just that they can do it.  In some cases, like, say, graphic design, this doesn't apply - you have to have done the work and show a portfolio.  But in many jobs all I care about if you've got #1 and #3 is that you can learn.
    1. is this someone who can be part of a team.  This one is the one that you're hoping to prove in an informational interview, and having someone the employer already likes refer you not only helps get you in the door for the interview, but also suggests to the interviewee that you're the kind of person they might be able to work with.

    FWIW... if you want to dye your hair purple, you'd better be sure the place you're working is interested in hiring purple-haired workers.  It's called work for a reason.

  •  Great diary...and the comments are also (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, mainefem, DemiGoddess

    chock full of fantastic ideas!

  •  Diary Title (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, cerulean

    The title would better be "How to get a job when no one is advertising openings".

    And the method that is presented is exactly that used in professional business-to-business sales that are built on networks of relationships.

    The problem is that it works for one person at a time, is contingent on what skills are most at a disadvantage in the job market, and how effective it is in a situation of massive unemployment is unknown.

    The bad news is that abuse of relationships by over-eager jobseekers has made potential contacts wary of folks looking for jobs.  And for all the talk about people not willing to work, potential employers will write you of in an instant if your educational background dramatically exceeds those of the rest of the workers in the establishment.  Being "overeducated" is a source of distrust.

    •  *waves across state line* (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TarheelDem, mainefem, Kewalo, Cali Techie

      Tarheel is right about the suspicion. It's really important, I can't say this enough, that you don't use this method to get a meeting and then ask for a job. If they want to consider you as a potential employee and start that conversation, it is their choice, but you can't even broach the subject or this suspicion will be justified.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:41:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The "overeducated" concept is frustrating. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, Kewalo, Cat Nerd, Cali Techie

      I've been job-searching for over 8 months.  I finally was offered (and accepted) a position this week, for a job that will be challenging but isn't precisely in the discipline where I want to work.  In many of my interviews, potential employers expressed confusion as to why I wasn't applying at a higher level.  The employers posting for higher level jobs didn't call me in for an interview; these people did.

      I'm making a slight career transition at the tail end of my PhD studies and there simply aren't junior faculty positions leaping into place for me.  I've been trying to apply for some nice, solid, staff-level jobs to build my employment experience (which previously had been heavily tilted towards teaching).  It's a hard transition to navigate.

  •  For what it's worth, a job opportunity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilverWings, Teddifish, mainefem

    If your in Louisville, or can drive there everyday for work. I know of two potential job openings in the structural steel CAD design field.
    A steel fabrication company has an opening for an assistant project manager and will have an opening at the beginning of the year for a talented project manager. (They don't know about the second opening just yet).
    If you or someone you know may be interested in either position you can contact me at my screen name at gmail dot com
    I'll be posting the first position on craigslist Monday or Tuesday. The second will be posted once I turn in my two weeks on Jan. 4th if they post it at all.

    CAD skills a must.

    Hope this may help someone out.

  •  This is a great diary. I'd add one more thing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, Kewalo

    When you do get an interview, definitely ASK for the job.
    Don't forget that important step. It's important not only to want a paycheck but to want to do the work.

    President Barack Obama!

    by kate mckinnon on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:04:41 AM PST

  •  One very important lesson I learned (5+ / 0-)

    after college:

    If you go somewhere intending to drop off a resume in response to a job opening, you'd damn well better be dressed for an on-the-spot interview and/or hiring.

    Many moons ago, about two months after graduating from college (and one after getting married), I saw an advertisement on the local TV station for a broadcast engineer while taking a break from cutting my mom's and grandmom's grass.

    I figured I'd drop off a a copy of my resume when going through town on the way back home.  To make a long story short, I walked into the front office of the TV station wearing overalls, no shirt and covered head-to-toe with grass, dirt and dried sweat.  I told the receptionist I was responding to their ad and wanted to submit my resume for consideration.  

    You can only imagine my horror when she told me, "You're in luck.  Mr. "Bob" is still here and can probably come out to talk to you."  Despite my protestations, she buzzed Mr. "Bob", who proceeded to interview me right then and there.

    Needless to say, I didn't get the job but I learned a valuable lesson:  be prepared for ANYTHING on a job interview.

    I had come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data.

    by TheBigKahuna on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:16:56 AM PST

  •  this looks good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think I'll shed twenty five years (and twenty five pounds) and go give it a try.

  •  I got the layoff notice this week, you can help! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cerulean, Chacounne

    Hi dKos-ers,

    The axe fell this week in my group, and 8 of us have our last day this Wednesday.

    I'm ready to get back to the job of getting a job now, but what would really help me is for YOU to check out my side business and make a purchase for someone this holiday season.

    I have developed a multimedia album download site:

    and offer 20 original albums for your enjoyment.

    For young people you may know, I recommend the new release of Hank Hooper's "Playground Fortune Teller", an interactive eBook and 17 songs of original music.

    There is plenty of other cool tunes to sample as well.  If you email me, I will be glad to send you our sampler of MP3's.

    Lastly, if you know of an angel investor or two who would be interested in revolutionizing the music industry, please let me know!


  •  As someone who interviews candidates for... (6+ / 0-)

    positions and manages a small team, I like the idea here but find something too obvious about the intention of the individual who might be seeking my advice. Maybe it's the flashing of the resume that gets me. I can't quite articulate it. You don't have to literally "ask" for a job to strongly imply it. I'm not abrasive but it's as if someone was insulting my intelligence.

    I'll have to meditate on this in order to offer counter-suggestions. All and all a great idea. Thanks for the diary.

    Time lost is always a disadvantage that is bound in some way to weaken him who loses it. -Clausewitz

    by Malachite on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:35:36 AM PST

    •  someone else had the same response (above) (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, betson08, mainefem, Malachite

      so I'd be interested to hear your counter-suggestions.

      My feeling is that as long as you explain your intentions--to utilize the experience of the person you're meeting with so as to better position yourself for a job search--I don't think you're hiding anything. Of course your intention is obvious--you've stated it in both your letter and your phone call. Your obligation, then, is to follow through and ask for only the help that you've identified as your stated objective.

      It's not unlike the "it's just lunch" dating service in some ways. Everyone party to the process understands that the end objective isn't just lunch.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:51:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my suggestion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is that one focuses on the assistance and info you will get from the meeting - not on potential job prospects.

        Developing a network and gaining a context for the work environment that attracts you is going to be a great help.

        Potential employers don't want to feel gamed - so it will help if you are genuinely surprised if they ask for a resume.

        the future begins

        by zozie on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:46:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've thought about it some more... (0+ / 0-)

        and I think the "It's just lunch" analogy doesn't quite hold. In that case it's just the name of the event that is cute. It's not intended to mislead in any way. The name actually reflects the limited commitment involved, not the objective of the meeting.

        But back to potential employers. To make my point, I say this: why not just be up front with the manager that the jobless candidate will be meeting with? "I need help networking and strategizing my resume. I'm not here to pester you for a job but obviously I will obviously be highlighting my resume in the process."

        On to the meeting itself: the difference I'm driving at here is that there is no need for ensuring that the resume is in the manager's hands and that accomplishments are highlighted in a clever way so as to not seem to be bringing them to the manager's attention and so forth. It's too crafy and conniving. Let the manager show the interest and turn it into an interview.

        The bottom line is: Give the manager a bit of credit.

        Time lost is always a disadvantage that is bound in some way to weaken him who loses it. -Clausewitz

        by Malachite on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 06:34:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What if you don't know what you do? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem, Spekkio, bria

    This is my biggest challenge right now.  I have tons of computers and word processing skills, but no degree.  I got pushed out of being an Admin Assistant when the tech bubble bursts and guys with IT degrees started applying for my positions.  Apparently an Administrative Assistant with 10 years experience isn't as appealing as a guy with an IT degree and no experience.  After I got let go during a slow down I couldn't even get a call when I sent out my resume, and that was after paying $400 for a professional resume.  Now it is too late.  I haven't done that work in over 4 years.  I was doing warehouse and manufactoring jobs until I had to have two foot surgery.  Now I can't do that work either.

    I've felt completely lost for so long, I don't even know what to do.  I went back to school full-time last year.  I tutor math part-time now, but I need something else, and I need it to be flexible.  School absolutely has to be my number 1 priority because I never want to end up in a position like this again.

    Where the heck does someone like me even look?  I used to have no trouble at all getting at least some work through temp agencies, but none of the ones here ever call me for anything, and yes, I call them frequently.

    I'll have a general studies AS at the end of the spring semester.  Is there even anything you can do with that?  It's at least another 3 years before I finally get my engineering degree.

    I'm getting to a point where I don't know how to make it work anymore.  Where can I find a job with no degree and no recent relevant experience that is flexible enough (nights and weekends) to allow me to continue to go to school?

    I don't usually swear, but I think I'm fucked.

    •  Hang in there. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And good luck.

    •  Office skills. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, mainefem

      You have them. Can you offer them to people who don't need or can't afford a full time worker?

      There are places full of mechanics and construction workers who have bosses just good enough to keep track of appointments and answer the phone, but Excel is beyond them, and they can't make needed forms on Word to save their life.

      Maybe come up with a resume tailored to just these people? Come in on an as-needed basis, nights and weekends when the office computer is free for you to do your work, or work you can do on your own computer and bring in on a flash drive to put on their computer.

      They would love to have a spreadsheet or work forms set up for them, but until you show up with a solution, they will keep their work on scratch pads and forms that have all sorts of hand-written notations and have been copied so many times they look blurred.

      Make up a little brochure or flyer to explain what you can do for them.

      I would try popping in at such local businesses and seeing how they are working. If you see you can help, offer.

      Pootie fan? Me too! Check out my cat advice blog.
      The Way of Cats

      by WereBear on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:42:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't have an IT degree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, mainefem, ladybug53

      But then again I never took an Admin Assistant job. I was however a graphic designer and did desktop publishing before I fell into an IT career path.

      You have to do more than just call the temp agency. Show up there every day dressed and ready for work. You'll be showing them you're serious about working and you'll be standing there when the call comes in for someone with your skills. Most temp agencies have "training programs" which you can use for an excuse in hanging around the office.

      I did this when I was "on the bench" and I'd usually have an assignment before noon (and if I didn't I got taken to lunch a lot). Even if it was just for a day or two, I'd take it. Wash, rinse, repeat. After a few times you'll get the reputation around the agency office for being super available on short notice and you'll take the little jobs. After you've done a few of those they'll reward you with a better slot. It really doesn't take much and you have nothing to lose.

      So many impeachable offenses, so little time... -6.0 -5.33

      by Cali Techie on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:05:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've heard all your suggestions for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, sillia, Chacounne

    job-seekers before. But they bear repeating--thanks.

    The other thing job-seekers need to keep in mind for their sanity, which job-search seminars may not emphasize enough, is that it's a really difficult economy. The fact that their job-search has been so difficult, doesn't necessarily indicate a problem with them, their method, or their skills. Barbara Ehrenreich writes about this in her job-search memoir, "Bait and Switched."

  •  I remember graduating during the Reagan Recession (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem, Kewalo, ladybug53, sillia

    I got my Masters in hydrology and during the last 6 months of my school received exactly one interview, which did not lead to an offer.  However, because that interview required me to be in the SF Bay area, I contacted another firm who had turned me down previously in another location and essentially said,  "I'll be in the neighborhood - could I stop by and talk with you?"

    They said yes, and what I thought would be a 30 to 60 minute meeting turned into a 5-hour interview.  My wife was about to kill me when I got out.  In the end, that office didn't hire me, but they recommended me to their office in Seattle, where I was eventually hired two months later after another long interview there.

    Almost any larger business (a few hundred employees or more) has openings regardless of what they may say.   They may temporarily choose not to hire because of cash flow or conservatism during uncertain economic times, but choosing not to hire is a hardship and they will eventually hire for those roles.

    I've been with the same company that originally hired me in 1983 for 25 years, and have hired tens of people and interviewed hundreds in my group (thankfully, I no longer have to manage a group).

    While knowing names may get you in the door at my firm (provided you have basic qualifications) it won't get you hired.  And for those who think you have to be pals or sleeping with someone to get hired - that's a very cynical view.  If that's the only way to get into a company, then I'd suspect that's not a company you'd want to associate with.

    What does get you hired is having the basic technical credentials as a prerequisite.  Beyond that, I look for:

    1.  Problem solving orientation (Someone who looks at problems as opportunities or challenges rather than something to be avoided)
    1.  Intellectual curiosity (Are you inquisitive? During the interview, did you make the effort to understand our business?  Did you listen, understand, and respond animatedly?)
    1.  Tenacity (Can you overcome obstacles or do you just give up?)
    1.  Genuine interest in working with a team (Hugely important - teams are constantly forming and dissolving as projects are completed.  The ability to work effectively in a team and eventually lead one is a major plus.)
    1.  Responsible attitude (Someone who takes responsibility for their results rather than tries to blame others.)
    1.  Entrepreneurial attitude  (Someone who has an interest in growing a business is very valuable)
    1.  Effective written and spoken communication skills (No substitute for this)

    On top of all these, sadly (or happily, depending on your perspective) is luck. There is no substitute for being in the right place at the right time.  

  •  this is great advice. I have a questions (0+ / 0-)

    How do you determine the people to write to/call?

    and maybe the answer is in a comment above, but I haven't gotten that far.  and would this work if the person wants a telecommuting position? that would be me.  I absolutely need to have another telecommuting position.  I am one that has a dissatisfying job and would like to move on, hence my questions.


  •  Thanks for this.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm bookmarking this.  

    "Your silence will not protect you." --Audre Lorde

    by altruista on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:26:21 AM PST

  •  I did this by the book 12 years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And I ended up getting a job through a connection at my schoool´s placement office. I went through 20 people, made the lists, etc. It´s a good strategy, but not foolproof.

  •  Bookmarked... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  My suggestion to DKos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, Kewalo

    They should make a place for diaries like this that are really helpful on the front page and put stickies on them so that they stay up. In tough times like these, people need all the help they can get. Thank you for the diary Teddfish, you should work at an unemployment place.

  •  Did you post this on the kos networking site? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem, saralee, sadpanda

    Because if you didn't you should, here's the link:

  •  Widgets are my *life*! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    desmoinesdem, mainefem, bernardpliers

    Granted that times are tougher now, eventually many of us reach a point where we realize that if we go to an interview where a job actually exists, we will get the job.

    Provided it's in the field of widgeting.

    Because we love widgeting. Widgeting is our chosen field and we've never looked back. We read articles about widgeting, we read books about it, we may even have written books about it, and we have some strong feelings about how widgeting should and shouldn't be done, and we're willing to discuss them, politely of course.

    The point here is that your sincere enthusiasm is the best thing you can bring to a job interview, after your navy blazer, of course. It's true there aren't as many widgets being made as before. But your love of widgets definitely gives you a leg up.

    -9.0, -8.3. Sometimes, ya know, I consider myself too a feminist -- whatever that means! -sarah palin

    by SensibleShoes on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:07:36 AM PST

  •  So basically.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, WestDem

    ..Fool a high-roller into a meeting and then give him a sales pitch?  Good luck with that approach.  

    I'd suggest discovering a trade (such as masonry, concrete or carpentry).  There is a dire shortage of skilled laborers these days and the work is very rewarding.  

    I think that jobs not closely related to the production of real, tangible products are going to go by the wayside.  So say goodbye to marketing and communications.  

    Just my opinion.

    Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth. -Mike Tyson

    by jmgotham on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 08:20:43 AM PST

    •  :-( It's not about "fooling" anyone. (4+ / 0-)

      I can't stress this enough--your motives aren't hidden at all. You have told them you're seeking out their help in getting embarking on a job search. They know what you're after. And it is to their benefit to meet people with your skills. If done correctly, there is no trickery at all. It takes 15 minutes and has the potential to benefit everyone involved.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 09:51:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very Well (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, mainefem

        I give you kudos for a dignified response (it's becoming rare these days!).

        And I suppose that when you're in desperate need of a job, you should spare no approach in finding one.  And maybe I wasn't understanding what you were recommending.

        In any case, I'll continue to assert that manual labor trades are going to swing up (and now is the time to strike!).  There really is good money to be made as a skilled laborer.  

        Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth. -Mike Tyson

        by jmgotham on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 09:57:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Unlikely... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...I think manual trades will continue as the reliabile "utility players" of the job field.  But, with the housing market undergoing permanent contraction (housing construction will never be as high as it was recently), the laborers from residential will swing over to commercial and infrastructure work, so there won't be a massive upswing because there's going to be a large reallocation of labor.  

      Marketing needs to be done by companies to sell and, as long as the U.S. continues to be a large consumer market, there will be a large need for it here.  SImilar to accounting.  Communications has been on a downswing for a long time.

      "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

      by Mister Gloom on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:05:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the thing.. (0+ / 0-) order to continue to have a "consumer market", we need access to credit to buy all the crap that's out there.  

        I'm asserting that our previous ease in obtaining credit led to this "consumer market" and, in turn, led to the mess we find ourselves in.

        Maybe I'm pie in the sky here but I think this crisis will lead to an increase in civic pride and, thus, an increase in projects that beautify and modernize an area.  But, you know what.. you're probably right.  I mean, how can I expect the majority of American's to have civic pride?  We have the right to bubbling cauldrons of fry oil in our homes!  Who gives a crap about what's going on outside?

        Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth. -Mike Tyson

        by jmgotham on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:14:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a really excellent article (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, Kewalo

    I have recommended it to my kids, one of which has a boyfriend who is actively job-hunting (or, I should say, not actively hunting enough for my daughter's tastes).

  •  This is bloody brilliant! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem, Kewalo, cerulean

    I know it because I watched my son spend six months seeking employment all over the Chicagoland area before he finally was hired (at a job which is perfect for him, and at which he is succeeding spectacularly).  During his search he sent out reams of resumes and attended every job fair remotely related to his field (marketing).  He got quite a number of telephone interviews, even some second and third calls with people closer to the job, but only two -- two! -- face-to-face interviews.  One of them was with a company that is a "strategic partner" of the company where I work; my section is responsible for their software and I personally use it.  At one of their product demos I approached a rep I know well and told her about my son; she gave me a name and told this person that he would be calling.  The other one was with a company whose CFO was a friend-of-a-friend of his father-in-law's -- and this is the company that hired him.

    Firstborn pointed this out to me after he did get the job.  "Out of all the resumes I sent, and all the job fairs and phone interviews, I only got in the door at two places: the one where you know someone and the one where my father-in-law knows someone."  The network is crucial.

    I love the smell of failed conservatism in the morning.

    by snazzzybird on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 09:14:59 AM PST

    •  My husband sent out lots of resumes.. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, Kewalo, snazzzybird

      and finally called a woman who used to work for him. She sent his resume upstairs for him and that was the only interview he had and he got the job. He was out of work for only a month. I think contacts are the best method so I could see this working.

  •  Also... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, mainefem, Kewalo never know who you run into that might hire you.  I was hired at my last position because, on a visit to the company for a "half day job exposure" I had impressed the two people in the group (I was there for a similar position in another group).  THe people involved weren't even at my initial interview but I managed to make enough of an impression that when a position opened up they thought to bring me in for an interview.

    "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

    by Mister Gloom on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:01:37 AM PST

  •  Resume Sites (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Other than the obvious,, etc. are there any places one may peruse resumes?  Since I am not looking to hire, but seeking other people looking for a job in my area, the standard resume search sites seem not the right place.

    Basically, I want to look for a person with a particular background, and am too cheap to pay for the right to look for resumes.  So sue me.

  •  thanks for this (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your input!

  •  If you can move & do not mind the cold, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    North Dakota appears to be doing well
    and is looking for workers.

    "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization." Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

    by hester on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 10:19:55 AM PST

  •  Well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem

    I have often contacted people working in companies that I am interested in, but I've sent a resume. Generally my emails state how I found the person's names, what my goals are, and whether he or she know so of any openings or companies that do have positions.

    One other place to look is a college's career center. Most universities and colleges have databases of alumni and where they work. It lists contact information.

    I would also suggest that another way to find a job is to network at conferences. I would attend conferences and trade association meetings, where you would meet other people. That is also another way to make connections.  

  •  Another suggestion--temp agencies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem

    If you are out work I would suggest that you go to a temp agency immediately. Almost all large companies hire temp agencies to do boring administrative work. What I would do is find out what agencies those companies use. I would then call the temp agency and sign up. Yes most of the work is demeaning administrative work, but it has several advantages. It first gets you into the company directly. You get to find out what the working environment is like. You also get to see whether you would fit in there. It also allows you to make connections.

  •  Do What I Say, Not What I Do (Parachute Method) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, desmoinesdem, mainefem

     I recognize this method of job-hunting from Richard Nelson Bolles' book What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. I've bought it each of the two times I've been seriously unemployed.
     See also Bolles' website:
     I regret that I once misled an employer by telling him I'd just be gathering information, and then asking him for a job. He did not hire me.
     Make your information gathering just that.

    "Happiness is the possession of being perpetually well-deceived." Jonathan Swift

    by Yellow Dog Liberal on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 11:04:37 AM PST

  •  Conferences and Trade Organizations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Almost every industry that I know of has some sort of trade organization.... from photographers to chefs and techies... join them. Get on their mailing lists... GO TO THE SHOWS... and bring lots of resumes and business cards with you.

  •  Thank you for your advice! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, mainefem

    I'm actually job-hunting right now. I just got a little tired of, and craigslist, so I mosied my way on over to dailykos, and I actually got great advice on job searching! See? little breaks like this (call it slacking if you must) pays off about 1% of the time.

  •  Some other points of advice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, mainefem

    Don't take a job for the money. And if, during the interview, something doesn't seem right about the company, don't take the job. I learned this lesson the hard way.

    An HR recruiter found my job on Careerbuilder or one of the sites where my resume is posted a few years ago. I ended up going to the interview and had some nagging feelings about the place. Something about the company just didn't seem right.

    Anyway, though, they offered me the job. Because the salary represented a 50% increase over my previous job I took it. To make a long story short, six months, they laid me off because the client chose "not to renew the contract". Because there were no other projects suitable for my paycheck they said that it would be better "if I sought employment elsewhere". They gave me a month's worth of severance and I didn't find a job for another year.

    And when I was out of work I interviewed with this one guy but I didn't get a good vibe from him. He told me that the last person "left after two days crying because he had his own agenda". I was polite, thanked him, but withdrew from consideration. I didn't get a good vibe from the place and I didn't want to repeat my mistake again.

    So my advice is to not take a job for the money. If something about a prospective employer doesn't feel or sound right, or if you feel like you wouldn't fit in there, don't take the job. I know that sometimes economic circumstances leave you no other choice, but I would pay attention to your gut.

  •  Years ago, in a tight job market, my (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Teddifish, mainefem

    husband approached the head of an engineering group. My husband had been told by HR that there were no openings. He asked the director for an informational interview. The idea was to try to get some leads on jobs via this guy. Instead the director said, "Why don't you apply with my company?" When told the HR director had said there were no openings, the engineering director said, "HR doesn't know all that much about what's going on in my department."

    My husband had a job the next day.

    Good luck everyone! Keep up the faith. Things will get better. Things will get better. Things will get better.

  •  Job Fairs? (0+ / 0-)

    What happened with this suggestion?

  •  THX to teddifish, TexMex and m16eib (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Teddifish, mainefem, RainyDay

    Thanks much to teddifish for providing such a concise summary of the famed informational interview - I plan to get a copy of your thoughts to a lovely young lady I know who is struggling in this job market.

    AND thanks to TxMex for providing the kind of comment that I can also provide her as it is a reminder about keeping eccentricities private [i.e. ditch the piercings and wear long sleeves over the tatoos for a few months]

    and finally thanks to m16 for being so kind as to provide the link for a tip!

    This diarist's and these commenters' generosity is yet another reason why I love dkos!

    Shunpike's Theorem: "apparently, in Spanish, Cheney translates to `Pinochet'"; Puffmeister's Corollary: we - and our constitution - are the newly disappeared.

    by puffmeister on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 01:50:55 PM PST

  •  Great diary. I have another problem. My good (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Teddifish, mainefem

    friend was recently divorced and has spent the last 15 years as a stay at home mother. She has a Harvard MBA, but again, her time away from working seems very challenging. She really doesn't know where to begin. The divorce has her feeling rattled and insecure, but she needs to get a job ASAP. My problem is that while this is a great diary, what is the best way to offer these kinds of suggestions to friends out of work? I don't want to appear pushy or intrusive, but I LOVE these suggestions! She really needs them too, and they seem up her alley because she wouldn't be asking for a job. So again, how does one pass along this kind of thing in a nice way?

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

    by langstonhughesfan on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 02:39:05 PM PST

    •  I would just hand her a print-out of this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, langstonhughesfan

      and say something like, "I was reading this and thought of you.  I don't know if it will help but I figured it wouldn't hurt to show it to you."  Then talk about something else.  That way, it doesn't sound like you're telling her what to do but offering something if she wants it and giving her the choice whether to take it or not.

      Good luck to your friend!

    •  That's a tough question . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and it depends, largely, on things like your relationship with her, and even how she's doing when you have the conversation, but if it were me, I'd probably start by asking how she's doing, and then talk a bit about how many other people are in the same situation, and then tell her you know everyone's struggling because of the conversations you've been reading online . . . and then if the conversation is still going well, tell her more.

      The fact that you're struggling with the question tells me you're a caring, thoughtful person. I imagine you'll find a good way to broach the subject. :-)

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:24:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  HELP!I want 2 work 4 Obamas Public Works Program (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ok, so I have a long history of working for various jobs as a, blasting, landscape, framing and what not.  Right now I deliver mattresses and my hours have been cut from 40 hours to 14 hours a week.

    I want to be a part of this rebuilding of america, the massive public works projects PEOTUS Obama talks about.  What can people best suggest as a way to get in on the action.  Try applying for a job in certain industries now?  DOT, amtrak, construction companies?

    I'm both desperate and excited to have the opportunity to take part in this and I don't want to miss my chance.

    Better DEAD than red!

    by AfroPonix on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 03:58:31 PM PST

  •  need work? (0+ / 0-)
    sen mccain knows where you can get a job picking lettuce for 50 dollars an hour. contact him at

    President Wannabe John McCain, Meet Palling-Around-With-Terrorists President Elect That One

    by TL Eclipse on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 04:07:20 PM PST

  •  thanks! (0+ / 0-)

    I always read and save articles like yours because you just never know when you or someone you know may need just that very information.

    My personal take-away, though, is that it's challenging to make them useful for someone in my job category.  I'm an executive admin assistant and pretty much, in my experience, an admin is an admin is an admin.  Many of the recommendations on what to emphasize on a resume, questions to ask in an informational interview such as you've suggested, etc. don't really seem to have a lot of practical application in my type of possible job search.

    •  Each situation is different (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, scarlet slipper

      But in your case, I'd find something to ask questions about a particular area or situation. For instance, you could ask someone about a particular industry and what administrative challenges you should prepare for. If you're looking in different geographical areas, you could ask about what the career outlook is like in that area. You could even ask for their recommendations for what kind of education/training would make you stand out from the crowd in this terrible economic climate. My advice is to start by figuring out what you really want to know. Use the time to your best advantage.

      No, Georgie! No Iran until you've finished your Iraq!

      by Teddifish on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 06:20:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Red Cross training (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teddifish, mainefem

    Don't mean to hijack the thread but check with your local chapter of Red Cross. They offer several weekend courses that could lead to paid gigs. Most of such training -- wilderness first aid, AED/CPR, emergency response, babysitter's training, even pet first aid -- is free if you promise to volunteer for the Chapter at some point.

    Be thankful for the freedom to see other dreams - Ben Okri

    by travancore on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 09:58:52 PM PST

  •  Thanks... (0+ / 0-)

    interesting suggestion.

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