Sunday, November 27, 2011

Job Search: A Challenging Job

I've been in my new position for six months now so I have enough distance to write this posting. This past year I experienced unemployment for the first time. The why is not so important for this post (there are many good reasons in today's economy), but I wanted to record some tips that helped me through the experience.

1. Take care of yourself. Exercise regularly. Routine and ritual help you keep your balance. I have a meditation practice that was helpful. Get medical help if you need it.

2. Don't go it alone. Stay in touch with your family, friends, and religious community.

3. Focus. Decide what you want although it may very well change as you experience the ups and mostly downs of job search. Have target companies. They'll change too, but the world is so large that without a focus you'll feel lost.

4. Take a break. You can search for jobs all the time if you don't force yourself to take a break. It takes 48 hours to unwind (see Cortisol) though truthfully I never put job search away for more than a day. Typically, most of us either have the time or the money. Since you probably won't have the money when you're unemployed, do something that you've always wanted to do since you'll have some flexibility with your time.

5. Live in the moment. Dale Carnegie's concept of day-tight compartments is helpful.

6. Unemployment insurance. Pretty obvious, but it definitely helps to have something coming in versus living entirely on your savings.

7. Take advantage of state programs. For my PMP training I was able to obtain a state grant for retraining.

8. Email. Personal contact is great, but I found the bulk of my networking was done with email. When you do in-person networking try to pack as much in as you can reasonably. And much of my personal networking was related to #2 "don't go it alone" above.

9. Planning and tracking. You will quickly lose track of which jobs you've applied for if you don't have a system for tracking your efforts. It's also important that you have a clue what a person (recruiter or otherwise) is calling about and having a system to quickly look up contacts is important. I used JibberJobber after outgrowing a spreadsheet on Google Docs.

10. LinkedIn. Essential tool. I use Facebook, but not for professional contacts though it might be right for some. I use Twitter for keeping up on news from sources like Google and not so much for personal networking. I found it too intrusive, but your mileage may vary.

11. You'll process a lot of email. I found it helpful to note potential target companies and review them later if I didn't have time when reading the email initially.

12. Return every email and phone call. Besides being courteous, you never know where the next lead on a job will come from.

13. Google Tech Talks and YouTube in general. For mini-breaks related to #4 above, I found YouTube to be an invaluable source for education and inspiration. While exercising on my stationary bike regularly I could watch a YouTube video on a topic of interest.

14. Start a blog. There are lots of resources on where / how / how often, etc., but the "why" is pretty simple. The blog has become an extension of your resume. When a potential employer does a Google search you want to have something that helps them know you better show up. I've also found it to be a useful outlet since I enjoy writing. I have started several different blogs to focus on different topics, but my primary blog is used for career related interests and writings.

There is more and I'll update this post, but I wanted to publish this relatively closer to my unemployment experience.

Useful article on how to apply Product Management discipline to job search:

Job Hunting is Product Management (Pierre-Marc Diennet)

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