Thursday, March 24, 2005

the word of the day is J-O-B

i’ve held many different jobs. when i turned 15 ½ i was available to attain a working permit, and did so by instruction of my mother. i then acquired my first job. here’s a rundown of positions held, my writer's ‘platform’ if you will:

casa de las campanas - waiter
kenny rogers roasters – drive thru/front counter
poway animal hospital – kennel aid
togos – sandwich maker
uci library security – security monitor then promoted to supervisor
manpower – data entry temp
papa johns – deliver (that’s right pizza delivery)
happy carwash – vaccumer/detailer
ikon office solutions – csr (customer service representative)
cupertino community services – staff member
solar turbines (3 diff summer internships) – (engineering intern)
carlton forge works - quality engineer

each of these jobs had a process that i underwent in order to get hired. my best bud’s family owned the carwash –not a lot of job hunting there. introduced me to the quality engineering position… that felt like hunting an elephant with a bb gun.

a friend of mine (not really a friend, i stalk her blog) sent me a short message inquiring how the heck i got a job in la. i decided to write her an email, telling all the experiences and job hunting knowledge that i’ve collected.

after looking at about 2 paragraphs of my corny advice i realized two rather embarrassing facts. fact 1.) i’ve never met or spoken to this girl, and if i were her, i’d deem me (myself) a psycho. fact 2.) after 2 paragraphs i wasn’t near finished. i’m full of filler i suppose. so what to do? post the response to my blog and let anyone else see my $0.02 on the subject of job hunting. the following is what i’ve gathered and contained regarding the job (career) hunt.

the positions at casa de las campanas, kenny rogers roasters, poway animal medical hospital, togos, happy car wash, ikon office solutions, solar turbines, and cupertino community services were all found thru someone who worked at those companies. hooks ups, you’d call it if you were a child in the 90’s.

manpower, uci library security, papa johns, and carlton forge works were jobs that i got all by my big boy self. percentage wise that tells you that 66% of the jobs i’ve gotten were via networking (no new news here folks)

first thing you have to have is a resume. hundreds of web sites will tell you how to make resumes, some may even charge you for this vital information. basically a resume is what you’ve done… on one piece of paper. not a lot of room and quite a lot of information. when writing one from scratch you mind always goes blank, try to avoid this.

i keep every resume i’ve written. in a nerd/geek fashion (i’m thankful that it’s finally the new ‘in’ thing to be) i’ve got versions 1.0 up thru 9.8. that’s right, i’m on version 9.8 of the resume. keep them, it’s not a lot of disk space and a good reference for refreshing your brain what you did at previous jobs.

things to do on your resume:
write what you were responsible for, and how it affected the company positively. ie… discovered a new rubber compound that is now used in every running shoe produced gaining 5.6billion dollars/year for the company, as opposed to discovered new rubber compound. you get the jist of this right? the result. that is the gold touch, and most often left out of a resume.

don’t put the year you graduated college or the date for that matter. this way they may just think that you have a bit more ‘out of college’ time which means more world experience. it’s a small thing but hey, it all counts and adds up real quick.

use bullets. nobody likes to read, especially resumes. and don’t use terms that they won’t understand if you’re changing industries. it just becomes jibberish to them, break it down easy, like spoon feeding. acronyms have to be spelled out such as: d.s.q.r. (designated supplier quality representative).

always have your hobbies and interests somewhere. languages spoken, places traveled to. a lawyer friend of mine told me that she’s had more interviewers interested in the places she’s traveled to than the letters behind her name. if you have ever touched a golf ball say you’re a golfer. corporate america loves golf and they’ll love you too if you have it on the resume.

keep track of your applications. i keep an excel spreadsheet with a line for each job i apply to:
date, company, location, position, resume version, where i found the posting, contact info, contact name (if there is one), comments (usually something quick about the company, interesting job duties, etc…)

cover letters…
always always, always… hmmm yea, always have a cover letter. i’ve talked to many different booth attendants at numerous career fairs. each one i talk to, i ask them what they think about cover letters vs simply a resume sans coverletter. my outcome has been about 50/50. some say that the cover letter tells you everything, others just toss it and get to the nitty gritty resume bullets. i can’t say one industry prefers one way or the other. my undocumented research has led me to the conclusion that the importance of a cover letter is determined by the stars or changing ocean tides, but not by industry or position.

as for the actual cover letter, i’ve written tons of ‘tool’ cover letters. search the vast internet and you’ll see that everyone has some do’s and don’ts with cover letters. my advice, don’t listen to any of this.

a cover letter is the (hi, i’m ___ and this is who i am). if you follow a format for this, then you’re not following that. if you follow a format you are a ‘tool’, and will most likely be tossed aside. be creative. tell a story. give personal definitions of what you believe a –insert your dream job title- does. people who read the cover letter aren’t reading for content as much as they are reading for tone and personality. let your personality show thru this letter.

personalize the cover letter to the company you are applying to. write it generically with “i see myself fitting in at your company” and then wherever you see the words “your company” you replace it with the company you’re actually applying to. do this with the position as well. this may take a bit of time but it’s well worth it, do the math.

scan the cover letter. read the first sentence of each paragraph only. when combined this should give a very general feel of the entire cover letter. this is what someone may do when skimming your cover letter the first time.

your goal with the cover letters is to have the reader finish it and feel as though they just briefly met you.

applying to a big company:
big companies are different. they have enough money to be lazy. they have a website that posts all open jobs, they require a login id, password, and sometimes a profile. after you fill that in they have you upload a resume. sounds hunky dory doesn’t it? wrong. these suck.

once your resume is in the company’s database with a hundred billion other resumes, a resume scan is performed by the software.

example: if the job you’re looking for is “project engineer – electrical systems”, and a few of the requirements are “c++, java, visual basic”.

first you write up a nice little resume, modify your cover letter, make sure it’s perfect and precise. then you create a login, get a password, and search the jobs on this big company website. once you find the job you want, you hit submit. the illusion is that your resume goes to the hiring manager and he/she chooses to call you or not. no way jose.

their software actually scans the database of a billion resumes for key words that pertain to that specific job. if you don’t have the words ‘electrical systems, c++, java, visual basic’ in your resume, you’re resume will most likely be skipped over. a handful of resumes is chosen by the software, then sent to the hiring manager. he looks over the electronically chosen few a bit. all of a sudden his employee john comes over to his desk and tells our hiring manager that bob smith, john’s buddy from college, is looking for a job. john and places good ol’ bob’s resume on the hiring manager’s desk and guess who gets called into an interview along with the computer’s electronically plucked cream of the crop?

this brings me to networking. it’s not easy, it’s work (net-work, ha). i can’t count how many times i’ve completely forgot that i knew someone in the field of work that i was looking for. you have to be job minded 24/7, everyone you meet, everywhere you go. this isn’t so easy, but having gone 16-18 years thru school you’ve met quite a few people.

if you don’t network by word of mouth then write it down. i’ve written network trees and discovered that i knew people in almost every industry. start with your immediate family, write their names down and the friend of theirs that you know. these people are 2 degrees away from you, you can work with that. write their jobs/industries/hook ups next to their names. then write your close friends names down. next to each friend jot down the people who they know that you know. make sure you’re jotting down who has what job. before you know it, you’ve got a networking map. but what do you do with one of these?

start emailing people. tell them you’re looking for a job in their same industry and you want pointers/suggestions, send em a resume and ask them what they think of it since they’re experts in the field you’re pursuing. ask them where they’ve worked and what they do now. with luck they’ll come to the epiphany on their own that they could get you hired at their work, and submit a resume to their boss or a hiring manager. if not, they may give good advice. if all that fails, then hell… you gave it a good ol’ college try.

if you get an interview then you’re sitting pretty. my interview tips are easy:
smile a ton, breath deeply when you get a chance to (avoids making you nervous), make eye contact (almost stare them down), and think of questions you can ask them before hand.

the more questions the better… if an interviewer asks you “do you have any questions?” and you don’t have any, then you failed me. you’ve also failed yourself, your parents, your friends, your grade school teacher, your puppy dog, and your goldfish. never be without a question. questions during interviews are water in the desert, you’ll die quick if you don’t have some at all times.

there’s one last issue that i’ve thought about over and over and have just started understanding. “so what do you want to do?” is a question often asked by people you meet and talk about while job hunting.

the people who ask this question are usually in a nice cooshy job and haven’t job hunted for years. they expect you to have a pin point answer. “i want to be the strategy and marketing junior associate for either nokia or samsung” this is what they want to hear. but this is not what you are really thinking. you’re thinking “hell, i’ll try any job as of now, just get me a desk, a computer, and a salary”

job hunting to me is just like girlfriend hunting. dreaming up the ideal girlfriend and then pursuing that dreamed up woman is idiotic, she may not even exist. looking around at what’s available and where you could fit in is much more realistic. and yes, someday “it’ll just happen”, you’ll be at a job you love and enjoy, or at least can tolerate until you retire or die. see, just like boy-girl relationships.

people with stable relationships and people with stable jobs forget what it’s like to be a hunter. the problem is that people with steady jobs are the ones hiring. the trick here is to pretend that you have one ideal job, your life’s calling, and sell that to whoever has that exact same job opening.

that’s pretty much all i got. sure i’ve saved a few tricks up my sleeve for a rainy day, but this is 99% of what i’ve learned in the act of finding a job. “finding a job is a full time job” –my father says. the irony is that i myself, am unemployed.


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