7 Things that were helpful to me in my job search/unemployment

I realize that my “How to get 9 interviews in 4 days” post may not have been the most helpful to job seekers, since I think it may have been a bit of a fluke and good timing. But I have some good news: I just accepted an offer!!!! But more on that in the next post.

Thanks to a link from Alison Green, a lot of job seekers are probably reading this now (at least, according to my stats page). So here are some of the other things that helped me stay sane, stay relevant, and find a job after 4 1/2 months of being unemployed.

1. Alison Green and her blog, Ask a Manager: Alison writes an amazing career/management advice blog, and I’ve been reading it for about three years. Any time I have a question/issue that’s career-related, the first thing I do is go to her blog and see if she’s written about it (and chances are, she has). She has taught me (and other job searchers) that it’s okay to have self-respect in your job search, and that we don’t have to just bow down to a potential employer’s every ridiculous demand just because we need a job. We need to have focus, write good cover letters, and avoid gimmicks. She gives valuable insight into what hiring managers are thinking and how they can interpret job seekers’ actions. She has written a great ebook (which is worth every penny. And no, she’s not compensating me in any way for this endorsement; I truly believe in her teachings), and I read certain parts of it on my kindle whenever I’m on the train on the way to a job interview.

2. Twitter: I have used it to find articles, job postings, and meet recruiters. It’s been a great way to be part of a conversation. I generally keep my Facebook closed to just people I’ve actually met (and like, and still talk to), and LinkedIn to close friends and professional contacts I’ve met or worked with, but Twitter’s been an interesting way to expand my network. I don’t just keep my Twitter account to strictly professional content, and I know that some people might advise against that. But I don’t care.

3. Hire Fridays (#HFCHAT): This kind of goes along with Twitter. HFChat is a weekly chat on Twitter on Fridays at Noon, where recruiters, HR people, and job seekers all get together and discuss certain questions about a topic. And everyone tries to re-tweet links to job seekers’ LinkedIn profiles. Through HFChat, I was able to follow up with an internal recruiter about a position (and get an interview!), meet another recruiter in person, and participate in some great online discussions.

To participate: On Fridays at noon, go to www.tweetchat.com and type in “HFchat” at the top. You’ll see a stream of tweets from other people. To join the conversation, just tweet using the hashtag #hfchat. Here’s more info about it.

3. Temp work: Because I like eating and being able to pay my bills. But temp work doesn’t have to be mindless filing/making copies (or whatever general temp jobs do). There are plenty of temp agencies that find placements for “creative” (marketing, writing, design, web, etc) jobs. And there are agencies that do placements for all kinds of industries. I stick with those, and have had several multiple-month-long jobs that have kept me afloat and kept me working in my field. I had one in Indiana that started as a temp job, but then I was hired on as a full-time employee.

Creative Agencies I’ve had good experiences with, or have at least talked to competent recruiters with (and most of the have locations in lots of different cities):
Creative Circle

4. Unemployment: My pride (and disbelief that a layoff had actually happened to me) made me wait a few weeks before I actually filed for unemployment, but I’m glad I did. In NY state, the max amount of unemployment available (which goes for most people with a reasonable previous salary) is $405 a week. After taxes, it’s about $364. It definitely didn’t come anywhere near covering all of our expenses (but luckily, Andy was able to get enough freelance work to keep us afloat, and we had a little help from family), but it saved me a LOT of stress.

5. My job search playlist: Because sometimes I needed musical motivation.

6. Getting out of the House: I know a lot of people say that you need to make job searching a full-time job. Sure, okay. Do that if you want. But don’t spend all day, every day, directly in front of your computer, cruising job boards and reading depressing articles about the unemployment rate. Actually go out for coffee or lunch with your professional contacts. Also, you’re not tied down to typical business hours. If you want to go to a yoga class at 10 am, guess what? You can! It’s kind of nice going shopping in the middle of the day during the week if you’re like me and feel claustrophobic when the Gap has more than 20 people in it. I was lucky to be laid off in mid-April, when the weather was absolutely gorgeous outside, and I took tons of 10 minute walks at any given hour of the day with my dog, just because I could. I don’t know how to break the news to my dog that we’re not going to be able to do that anymore. Anyway, my point is that you can still job search for 8 hours a day, but it doesn’t have to be from 8-5.

7. Do other things besides job search: Yes, you’re probably a little panicked about money. You need a job. But you have a valuable resource that people with jobs DON’T have: TIME. Make a list of projects you need/want to do, and do them when you need a break from hitting the refresh button on your email.

My list had things like: organizing my books and closet, finishing a scarf I’ve been knitting for a year, getting a NY driver’s license (still haven’t done that, and I now officially have one year before my IN one expires. Less if I want to vote in primaries next year, which I do). Your list doesn’t have to just be chores though. Maybe there’s a museum (or 20) that you want to visit, but it’s always too crowded on the weekends. Maybe you want to do a craft or cooking project that you wouldn’t have time to do if you had a full-time job. Anyway, my point is, being unemployed gives you a lot of free time, and seeing it as a blessing rather than a tragedy helps you stay positive, which helps you to be relaxed and cheerful during interviews. Having an actual list makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something, and it’s a great way to distract yourself while you’re waiting to hear back from someone.


A little note to friends/family of job searchers: Please, PLEASE don’t constantly ask your job seeking friend for job search updates. I know you care, and you’re just trying to be supportive. If there’s nothing to tell, it gets depressing and a little humiliating to talk about it with everyone in your life. I promise, you will be told when there is good news. You can be supportive by listening if your friend wants to talk, but also doing fun things and talking about other areas of his or her life. If you have leads on jobs that might be good for the person, by all means pass them along. But don’t push them to apply for anything you send along, because they may have other ideas about what they want to do. Job seekers- if someone sends you a job lead, thank them and let them know if you’re applying. If you’re not interested in it, thank them anyway, and let them know what you DO want. They may still know of something else.

Any job seekers out there reading this- what do you think? What has been helpful for you?

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14 Responses to 7 Things that were helpful to me in my job search/unemployment

  1. Karl Sakas says:

    Kristin, congrats on your new job! Two resources:
    – Penelope Trunk has a good article with advice for friends of people who’ve been laid off (e.g., don’t ask if they have a new job yet): http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/02/10/how-to-talk-to-a-friend-whos-been-laid-off/
    – I written several articles on finding a new job in marketing. It’s from my experience in N.C., but many of the lessons apply wherever you live: http://karlsakas.com/find-a-job-in-marketing/

    • Kristin says:

      Great links! I love Penelope Trunk’s blog, and that article was spot on.

      Your articles are awesome! I especially liked the one about timely rejection letters. They definitely make a HUGE difference, and I wish more employers understood that. I see that you’re also from the School of Alison Green. I think we need t-shirts or something. 🙂

      • I am ALL ABOUT you both wearing School of Alison Green t-shirts. Let’s make this happen!

      • Kristin says:

        What would the shirts look like? Maybe something with your cartoon girl logo? Or some kind of anti-gimmicks sign (like a no smoking sign?)…

        I’m sure you have some readers who are designers…. contest!?!? I’d buy a shirt…

  2. Hope Stern says:

    I am not sure how I missed this but I love it. AND I agree with everything. In fact a few things are new to me….One thing that I would like to add is follow up! On contacts, emails, etc…do not forget to get back to those recruiters that have offered help/advice. Follow up! Dont forget to send a thank you note, offer reciprocation etc. Follow up has been what is keeping me afloat these 5 months now unemployed. BUT most of all when you hear someone landed a job, be happy for them. It means jobs are there and someone you know finally landed one. It’s a good thing! Congrats. I love it!

    • Kristin says:

      Thanks Hope!

      Yes, follow-up is definitely important! SO many people don’t do it, and I think it’s hurting them. And you’re totally right about reciprocating when someone helps you (whenever possible)! I plan to do whatever I can to help the people who’ve helped me. I’ve already tried to pass one of the jobs I didn’t accept to a friend of mine.

      Good luck with your search! I know you’ll find something soon! Check out the articles that Karl posted above- they’re really helpful too.

  3. oxymoron1856 says:

    This list is great, thanks! I have a question about Twitter, besides the #HFCHAT, how did you find recruiters in your area of work (both in type and geographical area)?

    • Kristin says:

      You’re welcome! I like HFchat because so many recruiters participate in it, and they all seem to really want to help job seekers. You can do searches on Twitter for various things- types of jobs, cities, etc., and see who’s tweeting job postings and useful articles. Follow those people. A lot of companies do job postings and use hashtags “#jobs” or something similar/career specific (#marketingjobs #nyc).

      Also, target companies that you want to work at, and look on their websites and see if they have Twitter pages. I applied at Mcgraw-Hill, and was frustrated that I hadn’t heard anything back about my online app. I looked on their website and found out that one of their recruiters regularly tweets. I sent him a message asking about my application, and he looked it up and gave me a status! There had been a glitch in their system and it hadn’t notified me that it was a rejection. But when another posting I liked came along a few weeks later (which he had posted on Twitter), I replied to him that I was applying, and he forwarded my Linkedin profile to HR. I got an interview! I didn’t get that job, but it was nice to actually interact with a recruiter.

  4. I started going to the gym and am taking a yoga and Zumba class each week. As a matter of fact, my yoga class is at 11 am, so I do appreciate being unemployed in that respect! It’s amazing how many little household projects I had intended to do but never did. In a way, I’m glad I’m not working. I have the time to pay more attention to myself and my surroundings and get myself into better shape. Also having the gym and the classes really do help in the sense of forming a routine. It’s so easy to keep odd hours when you’re not working.

    • Kristin says:

      Definitely! And working out is such a great way to keep yourself in a better mood. (Or so I’ve heard. I only do ballet, because I’m scared of going to a gym..). It’s really important to have a routine too. I tried to get up at the same time every day and devote certain hours to job searching and certain hours to projects/blogging, and that made my life feel more normal.

  5. Thanks, Kristin! I’ve begun to feel like my job search method lacks some focus and my spurts of energy followed with time to recuperate. I definitely need some balance and new methods to follow so I will be implementing things from your list. I like the idea of having a class or something to do in the middle of the day that gets me out and enjoying like and not feeling like I have to be searching all the time. I think it will give me more motivation to keep going.

  6. Kristin says:

    Yeah, I know some career experts say that you should job search all day, during normal business hours, but I just couldn’t do it. It makes it feel like a punishment, and gets SO frustrating. When I had something fun to do during the day, it made me feel like I was lucky to not have to work. One time I went to lunch with my old boss, and then hung out in a park and ate ice cream afterwards while he went back to work. Definitely didn’t make me feel bad. 🙂

    I really love that you did all that traveling! (Because when would you EVER have that much vacation time?) Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you find something- I have friends from school in the city you’re moving to, and my new job has an office there.

  7. Pingback: How’s The Job Search? The Dreaded Question « die umlaut

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