If There Is Any Work For Me

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, James Baldwin, and Alan Warren

The popular New Year’s resolution we’re focusing on today is “Get a New Job.”  That can mean 3 different things depending on how we slice it.  It could mean you’re unemployed and need a job, it could be you’re employed but unhappy at your job or in your position and want a new job or new position, or it could mean you want a second or third job.   They all have something major in common:  convincing an employer that you are the person they want to pick for the job.  So before we delve any further, let’s start with a Guided Meditation for being confident and calm during an interview to get into the right mindset.

The reason we’re starting with that meditation before you even have the interview is because you also need to be confident and calm in your process to acquire a job.  Whatever level job you’re applying for, be prepared with a resume.  When I was in school I had taken a vocational class all about finding jobs and they taught us how to compose a resume including things like hobbies and objectives and all manner of things that at least at any level of employment or job I’ve ever had, no employer has cared about.  Following that format I kept wondering why I wasn’t getting any call backs.  Turns out employers don’t really care if you like to go horseback riding and your objective is to pay your rent and you have a gorgeous duck-face selfie attached.

When I started getting calls for interviews is when I threw out the traditional resume template and went with telling employers what they care about.  I started my resume with a centered header including my name, address, phone number, and email address.  Use an email address that is professional and work appropriate.  Don’t be SnuggleKitten4UPurr@email.host.  Be FirstNameLastName@reputableemailservice.com. I was FirstNameLastName@yahoo.com… I’m pretty sure all my former employers have probably been sent porn claiming to be from my email address over the past three years since Yahoo’s huge data breach that they only recently decided to tell us about despite the fact that if you were affected by it you’ve known for those entire 3 years. I am going to suggest not using yahoo and going with gmail (my preference) or a windows live email address.  If you’re applying for any job that requires you to be tech savvy I’m going to advise not using an aol email address, cause really, you’ll be laughed at.  Regardless, set up an email address that you use only for work or job finding communication.

Following my header I gave a bulleted list titled “Summary of Qualifications” where I listed my experience and skills that were relevant to the jobs I was applying for.  Following that I listed my work experience, in reverse chronological order, meaning that my newest jobs were at the top of the list.  Don’t list any jobs you were at less than a month (or I would say even 3 months), you can talk about those in the interview, but you don’t want to be tossed out before you’re in the door for looking flakey and unreliable.  Don’t go back more than ten years unless you have only had extremely long term jobs and don’t have much to list and the 10+ years ago job is really relevant to the position you’re applying for.  I listed dates for when I worked for a company, followed by the company’s name, address, and phone number, and then a bulleted list of my duties at that company.  Do feel free to include volunteer work if your resume is otherwise looking underwhelming.  After that I listed the details of my education. Dates, name of educational institution, what my study focuses were.  If you’ve been to college, don’t list your high school.  If High School is as far as you’ve made it so far but you have something to brag about like Student Body President or something go ahead and throw it on in there. Don’t attach a picture. Unless you’re looking for work as a model or actor there’s not any reason in the world for your employers to care what you look like before you show up in person.  Have personal references ready, but don’t put them on your resume.  I do not ever account for time spent unemployed on my resume, but every now and again you may have an employer who requires it. Be prepared with an honest but well worded answer.  March-June 2015 I was unemployed due to medical recovery.  April-September 2011 I was unemployed because I was traveling abroad.  August-June 2016 I was unemployed because I had a full course-load at university and needed to make it my priority.

Keep your resume within 2 pages or less.  Don’t make it excessively fancy.  It needs to be easy to read (no fancy fonts!), printable, and it needs to be readable if it’s opened electronically, because most job applications do take place online these days.  Use spell check on your resume.  Grammar check your resume. Proofread your resume and if writing isn’t your thing then ask someone else to proofread it to to make sure you’re using correct English and that there’s nothing spellcheck missed because it’s correctly spelled but isn’t the word you meant.  When you save your resume, don’t title it “MyResume.doc”, title it FirstNameLastNameResume and save it as file type .rtf (rich text format) to make sure your employer can open it.  There are a million MyResume’s for any job position.  If your name stands out as someone the employer wants to consider, make it easy for them to find you again.

According to Entrepreneur, hiring managers are also scanning your resume for specific keywords, including: problem solving, leadership, oral/written communication, team building, and performance & productivity improvement.  77% of job screeners are looking for relevant experience, 48% are looking for specific accomplishments, and 41% are looking for whether or not your resume was customized to their open position.  Employers don’t care that you’re applying to a million jobs and it’s time consuming. They care about the effort you put forth toward THEIR job. So, yes it’s obnoxiously inconvenient, but if you really want that job, revise your resume to match their needs when you’re sending it to them.  Also, strongly consider writing a cover letter to show your specific interest in this job and why you’re the best person for it.

If you do decide to write a cover letter, do not interpret letter as handwritten, it should still be typed.  It should not include a lot of personal information.  Don’t tell employers things they aren’t even allowed to ask about in an interview, if you do tell them things like your age, marital status, how many kids you have, etc. you will likely end up in the recycle bin because no potential employer wants to take a chance or landing themselves in court over allegations of bias.  Do not do what my vocational training class said and address cover letters “Dear Sir or Madame” or “To Whom It May Concern.”  Those phrases no longer indicate respect, they indicate lack of knowledge about the company, that you’re sending a generic form letter to everyone and not prioritizing them, or that you lack respect for them and their title.  If you know the first and last name of the hiring manager or HR manager that will be fielding your resume then absolutely use it.  If you know their preferred title then use that too.  Dear Dr. Smith, Dear Chairwoman Johnson, Dear Martha Washington, are all great starters.  If you don’t know that information and can’t find it, then address it to the name of the company:  Dear Stark Industries.  After deciding who and how you’re addressing then open your cover letter with something humble, to the point, and enthusiastic.  Don’t act like you already have the job.  Don’t go overboard on the enthusiasm, just use a word to indicate it “I would enjoy an opportunity to meet with you about your opening for a Professor of the Dark Arts.”  “I would like an opportunity to join The Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory as your new Oompa Loompa.”

The cover letter is now the appropriate place to discuss your goals and objectives as well as your background.  Be sure to tailor your cover letter to the position you’re applying for and what that employer has said they’re seeking, even if you didn’t tweak your resume much, or even if you tweaked your resume a lot. If you’re applying for a position as an expert whatever, then identify yourself as an expert whatever, using the exact term they used, because there are a lot of employers who search for keywords instead of taking the time to read all 100 individual letters and resumes they received for a job.  If you’re applying for a position that will be face to face with customer providing customer service, you want the tone of your letter to be very warm and friendly and can talk about how much you love to work with people.  If they’re seeking a professional, experienced, organized something, then be professional and organized and mention that you have that experience.  Whatever that employer listed in their post seeking applicants, focus on why you’re a good match for that and what skills you have that apply to it. You may have all the skills of headlining a successful reality show but they want someone who has political experience.  Drop the reality show skills out of the letter and only mention what skills qualify you to be their new top Political Social Media Correspondent.  Match your tone not only to the position, but to the company itself.  If you’re applying for a job with Google, they’re known for fun and creativity, while you still want to present all of your technical qualifications you still want to keep your tone very light.  If you’re applying for a job at a funeral home you want to be very cordial but down to earth and solemn.

This is the part where what you’re seeking may change up your next action a little: Actually sending out those resumes.  Depending on what your goal for a new job is you may be sending a lot of resumes, or you may be only sending  a handful.  Wherever you’re sending your resumes, if they *require* a degree and you haven’t got one, don’t send it. Finish that degree first and then see about finding an opening in that position or with that company.  If you send resumes or applications for jobs you don’t meet the requirements for you will either hear nothing, which is discouraging, or you’ll get back a very nice form letter telling you that they’ve decided to go with applicants who are better suited for the job, which is also a little disheartening.

If you’ll be applying to lots of jobs then break it down into categories and by day so you’re not having to respond to every invitation for an interview with “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve got another interview at the same time.” Employers want to feel like they’re your top priority.  Remember to account for weekends and holidays.  If you send your resume on Friday, there’s a good possibility it might not be read until Monday.  So, I recommend matching days you send resumes to regular business work days, and I recommend breaking down how you send them out.  Day 1 send them to all of the places you would most like to work, that are your ideal pie in the sky matches.  Day 2 send them out to every place you are most qualified to work, that you are their ideal pie in the sky match.  Day 3 send them to the places you’d be pretty okay working for a year or two even if you don’t see yourself there in 5 years.  Day 4 send them to places that may be a little bit of a longshot but you’d be really interested in. Day 5 send them to every place that’s hiring that you meet the minimum requirements for.

If you get an interview at any of these stages then that’s awesome and you go in with a printed resume (that matches the one you sent them) in hand and ready to discuss. Be well groomed and put together, dressed professionally, with a smile on your face and a friendly handshake and don’t be playing with your phone while you wait, focus on the job and what you’re there for.  Don’t yell at anyone if you have to wait. If you’re in enough demand that waiting is too much of a hassle and makes the job not worth your while, then leave.  If you yell at the receptionist who has informed your interviewer that you’re waiting and has no control over the fact that their employer is busy, that receptionist will be communicating that to your interviewer, and they’re not going to hire you.  No one wants to work with someone who’s rude before they’re even securely in place.  Waiting sucks and is no good for the nerves, but plan on it happening.  People get busy when they’re trying to both run a workplace and hire people to keep that workplace running.

Be prepared to sell yourself.  Don’t trash your previous employers, but sing your praises on what good things you did for them and the good reasons you decided it was time to move on.  If that wasn’t your decision, then what lessons did you learn from it and how are you ready to implement them.  How have you grown as a person.  Most interviews these days are behavioral interviews, where your interviewer (or interviewers) will ask you questions about your previous experience looking for specific situations and not hypothetical answers.  “Tell me about a time that you had a conflict with a coworker.”  “Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond to help ____.”  Google lists of behavioral interview questions and practice answering them as positively and accurately as possible.  It’s okay for employers to know you have flaws, but they also want to know that you acknowledge those flaws and are open and willing to bettering them.   Try to be prepared with a good question or two about the position or the company.  I’m not a very inquisitive person and that part is always hard for me, but employers like it. They want to know you took the time to learn about the job and about their company and that there are things about it that interest you.

Be prepared for any testing that you may have to take for the position.  Practice some typing tests online to get a respectable level of Accurate Words Per Minute.  I have been responsible for administering testing to applicants before.  We did not hire the woman who typed 3 words per minute because her nails were ridiculously long and she was doing hunting and pecking searching for keys.  If you need help learning how to type, because you will be using a computer in virtually any job environment, check out what resources your library offers.  Most do offer classes on both basic computer navigation and also on typing.  These are basic skills you should come prepared with for any job.  You may also answer a basic personality test. Don’t take too long thinking about it. Answer the questions honestly with your initial gut reaction.  These tests are designed to know that you’re a liar if you’re too perfect.

Be prepared to drug test, on the spot if necessary.  Recreational marijuana may have been legalized in your state, but it’s still federally illegal, and may be illegal in the state where your prospective company has their headquarters.  Chances are you will be screened for it, and even if you have a medicinal card it will probably still be a deal breaker.  I know all the various ways you can cheat a urine test, but don’t count on getting away with them if it’s a job you really care about, and don’t necessarily count on being given a urine test. I’ve had a job where we had on the spot saliva testing where you hold this little device in your mouth for half an hour and it tells them what you tested positive for.  Mine didn’t work and gave no results at all so I took a second one. Which still didn’t work and they finally just said “eh, if you were doing drugs you would’ve left and come back tomorrow when we offered instead of staying here to try to make it work.” and considered it a pass, but not all companies or all screeners would look at it that way.  Most companies will know directly after the interview if they want to offer you a job.  If they don’t they’ll thank you for your time and say they’ll be in touch and you’ll get something via mail or email saying they appreciate your interest but decided to go with better qualified candidates.  If they do they’re still going to need to run background checks and drug tests and employment verification and education verification and possibly check your references.  Expect to encounter all of that.  For some reason, my having an out of state GED has made it impossible for any background check company to verify my education, so I am prepared to email a scan of it to my new employer when they ask for it.  If you know that you’ll have any hiccups, don’t try to cheat your way through anything, just be honest and prepared.

If you just want a job, any job, as soon as you can get a job, you need income, then be prepared to register with your local workforce center, attend job fairs with a folder full of resumes in hand, and sign up with employment agencies who will place you as quickly as they can because they get a commission on getting people hired.  If you want a better job that doesn’t make you hate getting up every day but don’t know what that is yet, be prepared to put some work into that too.  Take some aptitude tests and interest tests and maybe also take a trip over to that workforce center to see if they have any kind of career guidance counseling available.  If you’re interested in staying with your current company but moving up or laterally, then talk to your HR representative and your direct supervisor about your goals so they can provide you direct feedback on if there’s anything they feel they would need to see change or growth in for that to happen, and so they know you’re interested when an opportunity becomes available.  Expect to be watched closely after you let that interest be known Still do your very best at your current job in your current position, and as they say, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.  That applies to behaviour as well.

If you do land yourself a brand new job, remember that you’re still not secure in that position until you’ve been well established in it as a reliable hard working employee.  Plan to show up your first day dressed similarly to how you would for the interview, and bring a professional folder with notepad and pen along so that you can show that you’re driven and ready to take note of everything important, even if you end up getting it all handed to you in print outs or links to websites.

Today’s list of tasks include:

Give yourself a facial. Men, this applies to you too, you have skin, you have pores, take care of them.
Start by cleansing your skin, with a good quality cleanser.  That doesn’t mean an expensive cleanser. There are quality cleansers at the drugstore, not just at the salon and spa.  I personally have the best results with Biore Charcoal Cleansing Products.  Follow the directions on your cleanser’s package, but be sure to massage it into your skin for at least a full minute and pay extra attention around your nose and chin, and don’t forget your neck.
Follow your cleanser with a gentle exfoliator.  You can use one of the homemade ones we’ve discussed previously, or a pre-made exfoliating scrub.  You can apply with your fingers in a circular motion, or you can use it with an exfoliating brush as they would at the spa.  Again, follow the directions on your exfoliating scrub of choice, but be sure to focus on any areas of your face that tend to get greasy like your forehead.  When you rinse make sure you use a soft washcloth and don’t scrub at your skin with it, be gentle.
You’ll then want to steam your face.  You can use a specially designed facial steamer, or you can pour some boiling water into a basin and then hold your face over it to get the steam, draping your head with a towel to trap the steam in for the best effect, forming a kind of a tent.  Close your eyes and hold your face in the steam for 10 minutes.
After steaming you’ll want to apply a face mask.  If you have oily skin you should choose a clay-based face mask; if you have dry skin you’ll want a hydrating mask.  If you use a make-at-home facial mask keep it on approximately 15-20 minutes. If you use one ready made, use as described on the packaging.
The lastly you’ll want to apply a soothing moisturizer to both your face and neck.  For a do it yourself moisturizer consider extra virgin coconut oil.

Clean your Living Room furniture.   What kind of shape your furniture is in is going to dictate how you might want to go about this.  Probably most of us can get away with windexing any glass, polishing any wood, vacuuming under any couch or seat cushions, and possibly using a pet hair remover and maybe some Febreeze.  If your pets have left more on the furniture than fur, then it may be time to call in a professional upholstery cleaner.  Often they’re the same people who clean carpets that have those big noisy vans with hoses coming out of them, but a google search or jaunt through the yellow pages will find them for you.  Even if you’ve had a family member who spent a lot of time on the couch with a sweaty fever or the flu it may be the right time to get some professional upholstery cleaning done.  My diabetic cat wasn’t always able to make it to the litterbox with the need to urinate called, as I’m sure any diabetic pet owners have encountered.  When I moved into a new house I decided it was time to do something about the stains beyond continuing to scrub at them with cleaners designed for cleaning pet stains that seemed to get things clean but not get rid of the odor. The upholstery cleaner I called did a fantastic job, got the stains out, left everything as clean as it’s been since it was brand new, and did it at a very reasonable rate.  And did it all without making me feel like I was being judged.

Do some Yoga focusing on Flexibility.  

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1st Month, 250 lbs, Fire Log Yoga Pose

Yoga serves lots of different purposes, and not least among them is flexibility.  You may never have a need to put your feet behind your ears or bend yourself in half backwards or do the splits, but flexibility is more than that, it’s mobility.  Depending on your starting level, if you’re not very mobile and very flexible already, or if you’re dedicated to learning yoga and increasing levels of difficulty, you may want to acquire some yoga props like a mat, blocks, a strap, or a bolster.  I linked to a DVD you can get that promises to help all levels with balance, flexibility, mobility, relaxation and stretching, but if you can’t run to a store to get it today and don’t want to miss out while waiting for the mail to come, then take a look at some YouTube videos that will guide you through various levels of yoga for flexibility as well.

Listen to a guided meditation or subliminal audio recording for achieving a healthy weight.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Get a Job
Album: American Graffiti

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7 Replies to “If There Is Any Work For Me”

  1. Comprehensive and inspirational! Thank you for sharing from your experience and research! The employment search does require some degree of calm and confidence – and that’s so hard when it means so much. Your tips and tools are great!

  2. Being an unemployed (2 years) HR person, I give you so much credit for writing such a detailed and on the money blog. I hope more people read this !!!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I wondered with your HR history of you were going to disagree with everything I said, lol. Glad I was on the money, I know it worked for me in my experience, but I don’t necessarily know a lot about higher level jobs, so I’m just trusting all those folks will know things from college and what not.

      1. No disagreement whatsoever. I wish others would follow this because I think it really would help them !!! Having all this info in one easy to read place is “da bomb” 😉

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