Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jobseeker, perpetual

When I tell people I have literally been looking for a job since 2003, I don't expect surprise. Our society has been taught (and this is very different from my parents' generation) to always keep looking for the next best thing: a job, a partner, a house, a car - satisfaction is a sacrilege. Depending on your prevailing philosophy, I have either enough high self-esteem or way too much self-delusion to proclaim I have the skills, talent and experience to make a great addition to any company (we won't go into freelancing/open-my-own business here, promise). Add to my plus column: online jobhunting. Been doing it for ten years, and despite only landing mediocrity, I now consider this experience marketable as well.

Note that I am a graphic/web designer. Everyone has their own niche and each is being overflowed by job marketers. Making this even more hell-on-earth: consider many job boards are aggregates of other job boards; positions that have been filled months ago have not been deleted from the long lists; and some companies insist on keeping their job postings running in perpetuity so they can continue hoarding a steady stream of resumes. Adding to that deep mire the employment agencies that each seem to copy from each other's job lists and you have a minefield of time-consuming drudgery to wade through. But when you are out of work, your new job is looking for work, so treat it as such.

This may not work well for everyone, but here's my twice weekly routine for jobhunting, whether I am currently employed or not:

I don't use LinkedIn for all that it promises, as I am not a social animal. Much like Facebook, it seems suspiciously like an exercise for an individual to have as many connections as possible, quality be damned. In fact, most of my LinkedIn connections are folks who work for employment agencies and you can see how well that's worked out. I do advise every professional to have a robust and well-updated LinkedIn profile. It is something others will search for and view. I also like the fact that I can post references ("recommendations", as if I am a Mac App) from former employers and clients.  As far as finding work, LinkedIn has a capable search engine that can be customized - it is no better or different than most. The plus here is all of your resume info is stored in LinkedIn, so applying can be a one-button affair.

Used to be great. Used to be the only kid on the block. These days: not so much. I can store my resume(s) here as well as search parameters, but I still feel I am getting incomplete results. Here's a good place to remind jobhunters that having more than one version of a resume is not a bad idea, especially if you have many avenues of experience. For instance, I have one resume that highlights my print design life, another that brings my web design to the forefront. It makes life much easier to be able to send out a resume with all the relevant "keywords".

Getting better all the time. Again, I can store resumes and search parameters. I have noticed that many companies still want jobseekers to apply on their own websites, especially if they are big enough to have their own human resources, so all the one-button apply fun for Careerbuilder often gets lost. I definitely like how this search engine "learns" from its bad results, saving the jobseeker time during repeated visits.

if you are used to going to your local newspaper's website to find work, save yourself a couple of steps. Most newspapers in the Florida area, for example, hook up to either or Careerbuilder. And why shouldn't they? Search engines are search engines, why reinvent the wheel for your own newspaper when you can buy someone else's.

4. (mixed with
I don't know if companies actually post here (or pay to post here, as is the case for and Careerbuilder). SimplyHired scours the internet for jobs posted on, in my opinion, minor, sometimes, insignificant job boards. Good news here is SimplyHired saves you from going to a thousand minor, insignificant job boards. Also a plus: you can search since the last time you've been on the website, saving you from seeing the same jobs every week. If you're going to visit only one aggregate, this is one of the best.

5. Craig's List
Yes, I shudder as well. But, logically, why would any company pay and Careerbuilder rates when they can post on Craig's list for free. I can say that I have responded to job ads for companies huge and companies tiny. If you are in desperate straits, replying to all is understandable; however, if you can afford to be picky, use some caution and commonsense. A lot of job posts sound rude, arrogant, can't spell or construct a decent sentence. What do they care - they own their own business and you need a job! But, really - show yourself some respect and read through job posts on Craig's list carefully and listen to that little alarm that goes off in your head. Best part about Craig's list ads: jobs are more likely to list how much they are paying (it should be mandatory on every ad, but it is not, so a jobseeker is often in the dark).

6. The rest is career-specific.
Oddly enough, I also visit at least 25 other job boards, and they are all specific to graphic and web design. Headhunters, tech boards, portfolio boards - there are many. I cannot imagine that each profession does not have their own group of specific job boards. It just makes sense to dial down search results to a precise audience. I encourage any jobseeker to spend time online searching for keywords that include each job title and position they have ever held (or want to find).

7. Don't forget local companies
A jobseeker may be convinced to mass mail their resumes (and I'm talking through your national post office) to local businesses. I've done it. Sometimes a company receiving one or two resumes by snailmail is better than the avalanche of emails they receive each day. But, in the long run, the web is the way to go. I have bookmark folders for each city in my area and links to any and every company that might hire a designer. The links are not to their homepage, but to their a) career page, if they have one, or b) contact page if they don't. Many big companies do not need to advertise a job opening on because they have their own websites that works just fine for them. Bookmark them and visit often - you will be amazed how many positions you will find that never show up anywhere else. Some, like Walt Disney World's employment website, will let you bookmark search results so you will always find the latest specific positions tailored for you when you visit.

And now you know what I do every Sunday morning (with a lot of coffee and latin jazz on Pandora) and Wednesday evening.

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