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‘Job Hunting’ Category

  1. What I Learned About Unemployment During My Travels [A Guest Post]

    October 31, 2015 by Lady Unemployed

    To paraphrase Tolstoy, “All employed people are alike; each unemployed person is unemployed in its own way.” To expand on this rather clumsy piece of paraphrasing, employed people of all nations and cultures are the same – happy to be working and getting paid for their work. However, unemployed people differ greatly from one part of the world to another. Or at least that is what I found out during my years in the trade show industry.

    But, I wander. I hate it when people do that and expect their readers (or listeners) to understand what they are talking about without any useful info.

    So, let me start again.

    An Overlong Introduction

    My name is James (not that it really matters) and I have spent more than a decade in the trade show industry. However, the type of service that my colleagues and myself provided were somewhat different from those you normally see in this industry. Namely, we provided something of a liaison services for Australian-based companies that wished to exhibit in markets that are considered to be less-traditional such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    Why those parts of the world?

    Well, for one, these parts of the world provide certain challenges to “outsiders”, challenges that have to do with the history of these parts, the world views people in those areas often share and certain practices that are considered less-than-businesslike in Western cultures. For more on these, check here and here.

    The other reason was that I had been in a relationship with a woman from Eastern Europe (more precisely Serbia) since high school (she is now my wife) and that my colleagues hailed from Central Asia before moving to Australia.

    We were young, we were foolish and we were fearless in that stupid way only 20-something people can be. But this is not a story about the insane situations we found ourselves in regularly and the reasons why we stopped doing what we did.

    This is a story that is more in the line with the theme of the LadyUnemployed site, i.e. the unemployment. More precisely, this is a story about how different cultures we had been in contact with see unemployment and how people of those cultures approach not having employment.

    The Communism Heritage and Apathy

    There is one thing that most of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia have in common – communist past.

    In some places it was full-on communism, like in the better part of Central Asia which was once part of the Soviet Union and in others it was some sort of a “progressive but still quite nearsighted” socialism like in the countries which used to make up Yugoslavia.

    The reason I am mentioning this is that in the “good old days” the governments provided jobs. These jobs may not have been perfect and many people were unhappy, but they were jobs. They knew they will have jobs. Jobs which paid enough for a normal life.

    When the countries were awakened from their communist dreams, in many parts that certain security disappeared as well. In the Balkans, for instance, the replacement has been the most brutal, corrupt form of wild capitalism you can imagine. The jobs are still scarce and most countries yelp under the burden of unemployment.

    In such circumstances, a certain form of apathy can be observed. People with college education cannot hope to get employment in their fields without serious connections and they resort to two solutions – they go west or they try and find employment well below their qualifications.

    Younger generations are often trying to do something about it, improving their knowledge, expanding their skill set, but they are often disheartened by the lack of results. It does not take them long to become as apathetic as the older generations.

    In the end, they accept being officially unemployed, trying to make a living for themselves off the books and off the radar.

    How We Do It In Australia

    I haven’t lived anywhere but in Australia in what we like to call the developed world, so I can only compare this with the unemployment experience Down Under. Which I intend to do.

    For one, that feeling of apathy is virtually unknown in Australia, even among people who come from those parts of the world I have talked about. It has to do with the fact that the sense of meritocracy is much more pronounced and that corruption is not rampant here (at least not to the extent it is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia).

    People know that if they make an effort, they will actually increase their chances of finding employment.

    Moreover, the government itself does everything in its power to help people improve their chances through various government-funded opportunities and courses that are aimed at creating skilled employees. If you want, you can find out more.

    I am not saying that it is all milk and honey in Australia. I have seen plenty of people with incredible skills and more than respectable education fail to find work for a number of reasons. But the biggest difference is that there is always hope and something to strive for.

    Sometimes we need a bit of perspective here in the “west” and I only hope that I have provided at least an iota of insight to help find that perspective. Also, I hope my ramblings haven’t bored you to death.

    AUTHOR: James D. Burbank is a happily married Aussie who is currently on hiatus and blogging about what he’s learned about business on the ground. He is also a big Utah Jazz fan.


  2. The Job Applicant Hierarchy – Who Really Gets the Job? [by Marc Shaeffer]

    August 9, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    who really gets the job?

     

    Overall, the job market is getting better.   Slowly getting better, that is.  Personally, I’ve been having more job interviews in the last 6 months than anytime time period since I was let go from my full-time job in 2010.   Last Friday, there were signs that more discouraged workers that were once sitting on the sidelines were now re-entering the workforce.   The competition for jobs, however, is still a concern.   As of May, there is still an average of more than 2 unemployed people per 1 open position.   If you factor in people with jobs, career fields and regional markets, that number is actually higher.   With more people entering the workforce, that ratio may not fluctuate much in the coming months.

    Anyone who’s been out of his or her career field for a long time knows how competitive the job market has been.   When you apply for an open position at a company, there’s always a hierarchy of candidates that hiring mangers have to consider:

    1. Internal candidates with similar experience
    2. External candidates with similar experience who have a job.
    3. External candidates with similar experience who have been out of work less than 3 months.
    4. External candidates with similar experience who have been out of work less than 6 months.
    5. External candidates with similar experience who have been out of work more than 6 months.

    And then somewhere at the bottom near #1000:

    External candidates with no relevant experience who might just be trying to fill a job search quota for unemployment compensation.

    Technically, I’m at #5 in this pecking order.   I’m under-employed, but I have not found any (non-volunteer) work in my career field for over 6 months.   This is something I have come to realize shortly after the completion of even the most successful interviews.   Recently, I interviewed for a full-time position at a media company involved with theatrical program distribution.   I got my interview suit dry-cleaned.   Went to the barber for a trim (and to de-emphasize my gray hair).   Did all my research regarding the company.   Prepared all kinds of questions I might be asked.   Come time for the interview, I was ready.   Spoke with confidence with the hiring manager.   After it was over, I felt I had a very good shot at the next round of interviews.

    A week later, I got an email on a Friday afternoon from the hiring manager.   He thanked me personally for coming in to talk and that I had “great qualities and a professional attitude” but he added, however, that “we will be going in a different direction and will not need your services at this time.” When I asked a follow-up question regarding what key characteristic the other favored candidates had that I may have been lacking, his reply included this cryptic sentence:

    There are a set of individuals with similar attributes and experiences similar to yours that are currently more ingrained in our industry that make for a better fit.”

    In others words, I was being passed over because I wasn’t a #1 or #2 on the Job Applicant Hierarchy.   Even in this slow job recovery, being a #5 sometimes feels like being all the way down to number #1000.   The only way to improve your chances is stronger job growth or maybe finding a new career path altogether.   I’m at a point where I may have to choose the latter option.

    We’ll see.       

    What do you think of the job hierarchy? Who really gets the job you are interviewing for? 

    You can read more about Marc Shaeffer and is job searching journey by visiting his blog at http://laboringtowork.weebly.com.


  3. 5 Reasons Why Employers Repost the Same Job

    August 2, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    employers repost
    This past week my mom and older brother, who are both out of work, responded to job postings that later got reposted. In fact, after the second round of interviews, my mom found out that the job she was interviewing for was reposted!  How cruel is this?

    I find this baffling, rude, and pointless. Pointless, because I wonder who this employer thinks they will get with this new listing. The odds are that the majority of applicants from the first round might reapply to that same job again.

    Yet, aside from assuming employers are asshats and do this to be jerks, I decided to search online for an answer.

    I found 5 reasons employers repost that makes the most sense to me.

    1) There are multiple openings for the same position.

    I think this is reasonable. The company I work for regularly hires for this entry level position and over the last 6 months, they’ve had a lot of people leave, and so that means they’ve hired multiple people to replace the ones who left. The job gets reposted, because there are multiple positions (the fact that one person left inside of two months is an entirely different story).

    Source: http://www.askamanager.org/2010/08/what-does-it-mean-that-job-i.html

    2) They want to keep the candidate pool open and active until the job offer is accepted.

    I like the idea of this, although it does put a bit of a Pollyanna spin to the whole idea of job searching and applying. Somehow I wonder how picky do they think job seekers are these days that they worry one or several people may decline the position offered.

    Source: http://www.prepary.com/what-does-it-mean-if-a-job-is-reposted-while-im-interviewing/

    3) An overly obsessive perfectionist hiring manager who wants Mr. or Mrs. Perfect Job Applicant.

    I think this makes the most sense to me. Unless you fit the ideal image of what they are seeking, you may see the job you are interviewing for get reposted until they find just the right one. I think this is a sign of a bad boss and one that is never satisfied.

    Source: http://www.indeed.com/forum/gen/Job-Interviews/Employers-reposting-jobs-after-weeks-interviews/t444168

    4) The person they hired didn’t like the job.

    I remember I walked off a job that I had for just one week. When I ended my first week in tears, I knew it wasn’t the right fit. So, I am sure the job ad got reposted in no time flat. Which means someone out there saw that repost. Hopefully they re-applied and it worked out for them better than it did for me.

    So, if you have applied to something and a month later you see it posted again, you can probably assume that someone out there didn’t like the job.

    Source: http://www.cluewagon.com/2009/08/5-reasons-the-employer-re-posted-the-ad/

    5) The required number of candidates haven’t applied to the position.

    For companies that are a touch on the massive side or ones that have strict guidelines and rules about job postings, I could see this being a likely reason that a job gets reposted. If they don’t have enough people moving onto the next stage, they may repost to see if they can increase the pool of possible applicants to satisfy HR expectations.

    Source: http://www.askamanager.org/2010/08/what-does-it-mean-that-job-i.html

    6) Bonus Conspiracy Theory: The repost isn’t the employer at all, but a sneaky job candidate hoping to see what their competition is like.

    I spotted this horrible “tip” once when I was looking for job search tips. A site recommended you post a job online similar to the job you are looking to find and see who replies.

    For these reposts, especially when they are just one week within the post date (and most especially on sites like craigslist), I wonder if someone out there, just copies verbatim what the other job ad was (maybe that real one you applied to) and reposts to see what the competition is like (and even reduce the pool of applicants to the real ad).

    Obviously, this is why I described this as my conspiracy theory, but I think there may be a little truth to this.

    Bottom line is that as the job market gets worse, job searching will become more like the Hunger Games.


  4. The Perils of a Poorly Written Job Posting [A Guest Post by Marc Schaefer]

    June 14, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    poorly written job posting

     

    I find it infuriating when a job seeker, such as myself, spends a great deal of time and energy crafting a resume and cover letter to match a poorly written job posting that neglects to mention key skill requirements.   Back in March, I applied for a government position in the parks department in the city where I live.    It entailed overseeing events at park facilities, which was a line of work I had done for the last two seasons for a non-profit.   It was only a part-time position, but I thought it could be a good opportunity to land a full-time position down the road.   In addition to spending over 30 minutes filling out a new applicant profile on the job site, I uploaded a keyword-rich resume and a position-targeted T-letter.   I not only met, but exceeded all the listed experience requirements in the job posting.

    Just after Memorial Day, I got a call from the event coordinator at the parks department (not surprisingly, the government moves very slowly).   He said he’d like to have me come in for an interview.   We agreed on a time and a date.   Then, I prepped for the interview.   Wrote down any and all responses to possible questions:  “Tell me about yourself,”   “Describe a time when you had to deal with a stressful situation,” and “Was there ever a time you disagreed with a company policy?” (a trick question HR people bring up to probe complacency).   With a fresh haircut, I entered the interview full of confidence.   It was a two-headed interview, with the event coordinator/potential boss and HR manager firing away questions at close-range.   The preparation proved valuable and I handed the inquiry well.

    Then, the event coordinator asked if I had any experience using event-scheduling software in my previous job.   That was very odd.   Although the job posting required previous office administrative duties, which I had years of under my belt, there was no mention of any particular software skills.   In response, I mentioned I did have experience utilizing Microsoft Office applications for scheduling projects in the past and I am able to learn new skills in minimal time.    By the end of the interview, I thought I was in good shape.

    Last Tuesday, I got a call from the event coordinator.   He said he appreciated me coming in for the interview, but…. as soon as I heard the word “but”, I knew I didn’t get the job.   So as a follow-up, I asked what was the key skill or experience that the ideal candidate had that I did not.   He said the candidate had the event scheduling software experience that they were seeking.   In addition, the software background they wanted (which would avoid any prolonged on-the-job training) involved a closed-sourced, proprietary software that many municipalities use.   In my head, I having a WTF reactionary moment, but the words never surfaced.    He did say that there may be something “in the future” and that he’ll keep me in mind if something does comes up.

    It’s one thing to read a job posting and realize you don’t meet all the experience requirements.   Not getting a response if you’re underqualified is logical.    It’s entirely a different thing to find out you don’t meet the requirements after the interview is over.   It feels like you’ve wasted a good chunk of time, energy and emotion.

    So to all the hiring mangers, HR personnel and recruiters out there, please, check your job posting requirements.   Twice.   We don’t want to waste your time and you shouldn’t waste ours.


  5. Job Hunting is Expensive by Ed Tsyitee Jr. (Twitter @GreenChileAdict)

    May 21, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    I couldn’t wait to post this, because this expresses a tragic truth of the job search. It’s expensive and you are dug into a hole very difficult to get out of. Thank you to guest writer and fellow Twitter peep, Ed Tsyitee Jr. @GreenChileAdict.

    job hunting is expensive
    Here is the cold hard truth that career advisers and coaches will never tell you-job hunting is expensive.

    I’m tired of hearing of all the free services that’s available to you when you job hunt. Non-profits that offer resume writing, or free career counseling services at the local Workforce Solutions Center (the unemployment office). I know that.

    But, job hunting is expensive.

    While I sit here-unemployed-looking for a job, scouring the internet, reading my e-mail alerts, doing research on companies, my bills are piling up.

    Rent is past due. Hello eviction notice.

    Utilities are past due.

    Cable/internet is off. Not that big of a deal-there is the library with their open unsecured internet service.

    What about professional clothes for interviews? Have you ever shopped thrift stores for interview clothes that didn’t scream “Boogie Nights”?

    Here’s the worst of it. The phone is off. There is no way to contact me other than e-mail.

    Sure, I can apply for a survival job. Bring in money. But guess what? That takes at least 30 days from date of hire to first paycheck. Should I suspend the job search for 30 days? What if there is THE job I’ve been looking for?

    Yeah, job hunting is expensive.

    And when things get expensive, you stop doing them.

    No wonder so many people give up looking and take whatever is available.


  6. Frustrations of a Job Seeker by Ed Tsyitee Jr (Twitter @GreenChileAdict)

    May 17, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    Thank you to Ed Tsyitee Jr. who shared his story today about frustrations of a job seeker. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @GreenChileAdict

    frustrations of a job seeker

    Via Flickr User Pipstar

     

    After living in Virginia for 12 years, I moved back to Las Cruces, New Mexico in 2006.

    I ended up working for Wal-Mart that year. With a Bachelor’s Degree. How much above minimum wage did I get for that? 10 cents. Yup.

    You see, I live in a city where job opportunity means “Hey-at least McDonald’s offered you a job, so why are you complaining?”

    The service sector dominates this job market.

    You want to work in a call center? No problem! We have at least 6 to choose from!

    You want to work in retail? Hey! We got you covered! We have 3 Wal-Marts now! Ooo! And a Sam’s Club!

    Strange enough, New Mexico State University is here. You would think there would be a more diverse job market here for a city with a population of over 100k. But, there really isn’t.

    Just a lot of promise, like the Spaceport will bring jobs here. Or the Army base will bring in jobs (read: service sector jobs). Or the industrial park 45 minutes from here will bring in jobs.

    UGH.

    I just completed my Masters in Human Resource Management program this year. When people ask where I’m looking for work they seem surprised when I answer, “Oh, you know, Arizona Nevada, the Pacific Northwest.” You mean you aren’t looking here in New Mexico?

    Do I really have too?

    I just sent an application to the State of New Mexico for an HR job. It’s a longshot, but at least I’m trying to stay positive.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.

     


  7. Do Job Ad Physical Requirements Need to be This Specific?

    March 22, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    So I’ve been job hunting lately and I’m used to the usual “physical requirements” for job listings. Most of them say things like “must be able to sit or stand for lengthy periods of time” or “lift 20 lbs” or something along those lines.

    But today I found the most ridiculous list of job physical requirements that I’ve ever seen in my life. Although I know sight is necessary, I’ve never seen it described in such a way:

    Adjustment of lens of eye to bring an object into sharp focus. This item is especially important when doing near-point work at varying distances from eye.

    As a woman with horrid vision, let’s hope they are okay with glasses. Oh, and it doesn’t stop there.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, the fingers are an extension of the hand. See? They even clarify it for you.

    Seizing, holding, grasping, turning, or otherwise working with hands. Fingers are involved only to the extent that they are an extension of the hand.

    Picking, pinching, or otherwise working with fingers primarily (rather than with whole hand or arm as in handling).

    Pinching? Really? Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    And then here’s where it gets even weirder –

    Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word. Talking is important for those activities in which workers must impart oral information to clients or to the public, and in those activities in which they must convey detailed or important spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.

    Really, talking is important? If it were up to me, I’d never talk to my coworkers.  Or the public. Just me and my bubble.

    Perceiving the nature of sounds. Hearing is important for those activities which require ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and to make fine discriminations in sound, such as when making fine adjustments on running engines.

    I’ve never seen a job posting define what hearing is and isn’t this a lovely, roundabout, way of them asking for someone who doesn’t have any disabilities?

    And if they need to be this specific, who did they hire before? And who the hell wrote this ad?