Operation Find A Job Pt.1–Focusing Your Search

It’s funny that I just put up an “about” page about how this blog is for me, because I’m about to present an entire series of posts that actually is for you. I have changed jobs, what, 50 million times since keeping this blog. And when I re-found my most recent job opportunity, it occurred to me that I should probably put up a post letting people know how I do it. But I’m just now finding the words to make decent post on this topic.

I definitely used to be one of those people who struggled to find a job. I was in the “degree but no experience” category, and our society was shifting towards work experience being the end-all be-all with degrees carrying less and less meaning or allure. Now, some 10 years later, you finally see articles, videos and stories on the news about the education debt crisis and the damage student loans are doing to young people’s lives, young people who are either not working or are “underemployed,” etc. But this problem, as I suggested, started well before the media really got hold of it. So…for someone like me back then, there were no articles or real advice out there to help me.

And if you have been in the position of struggling to find work for months, especially if you have had to rely on the help of others financially during this time frame, you know that people are not at all sympathetic or understanding. They throw advice at you, most of which is not helpful but with the tone of, “Come on, it’s easy; you’re just not trying hard enough.” Or they try to “help” find a job and show you job listings that, for one reason or another, don’t fit your background or interests. They give you generic advice without the understanding that each field is different and your field has its own set of rules–I have found this is true for law, and I have found this is true for IT, for example.

Well, let me introduce you to my motto, which has served me well:

You gotta do what you gotta do.

If you start to think like this and act with this in mind, you will find a job. I am not promising you the job of your dreams. Clearly, I have worked fairly steadily since conquering my problem of finding a job but have hated every job (except my current one). But still, you need the money. Get a job first, get the necessary work experience and then deal with finding a job you can at least tolerate. Best case scenario is the job of your dreams, but that’s something most of us never find/get.

There are six big things I see with people who stay unemployed for a long time:

1) You’re Not Focusing. Yeah, you sit at your computer every day and shoot off at least 20 applications. Or you drive around, stopping at every business you see and asking if they’re hiring, filling out apps, etc.

Yeah–this is not focusing. You need to figure out, first of all, what you’re most qualified to do. Then, among the list of what you’re qualified to do, figure out what you’re willing to do. Then you need to apply for those jobs only. See, you’re not getting results by applying any and everywhere because the hiring manager either throws your app/resume in the trash altogether or, when he/she looks at it, they’re trying to figure out why you even bothered because they see no connection whatsoever between your background and the positions they have available. Why are you interested? Why are you qualified? Never fill out an app and, on the blank by “what position interests you?” write in “any.” There has to be a match between your background and a known position if you want a realistic shot at getting a job out of the deal.

Focusing your search helps you get better results. It also wastes less of your time and causes you less frustration. There might be days when you only apply for one position. But if it’s a position that fits you perfectly and all signs point to there being a pretty good likelihood you’ll get a callback for an interview based on the listed requirements, job duties and what you’ve done, then that is far more productive than scouring every job board online and applying for 30 seemingly random positions.

For people who have the issue I had of not having much work experience, my observation/experience is you’re little qualified for much more than customer service types of positions. That’s the way it is–doesn’t matter how much your degree cost, and it damn-near doesn’t matter what your degree is in (there are, of course, exceptions). You’re looking at a low-paying job where you’re going to have to deal with assholes all day, more than likely. Retail, hospitality, front desk, call center, tech support/help desk, food/restaurant types of garbage. This is what you should largely be applying for. Sad but true. Stick it out for a year, do the best job you can so you can get good job references or be the first in line for a better position where you work, focus on getting promoted or gaining skills that will allow you to move on to bigger and better things.

For me, I got down to the point where I would do just about anything except fast food and cleaning. Somehow, I got the idea to apply to hotels/hospitality, which I had not been doing before. It just seemed like an easy job, and much of the time it was. It wasn’t long before I got my first full-time, post-graduate job working in the hospitality industry. Within a year, I was being offered management positions at my hotel. And if that had been something I wanted to do, I would likely be making more money than I currently do and working in hospitality. But the experience still helped me get other, higher-paying jobs than what I started with.

Next Time: Pt. 2–Why Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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