Thursday, April 23, 2009


Wikipedia defines research as, "Research is defined as human activity based on intellectual application in the investigation of matter. The primary purpose for applied research is discovering, interpreting, and the development of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge on a wide variety of scientific matters of our world and the universe. Research can use the scientific method, but need not do so."

In other words, research is finding out stuff we don't currently know in a focused, disciplined way. For those of us looking for work, it's our life blood.

We all know that the job boards are less than rewarding route for getting interviews, at least in today's economy, so what's our alternative? That's what and why we research. A couple of tools that are important in this are and Google Alerts ( ).

Indeed allows you to search a ton of job boards without spending 12 hours a day. I know, I know, I just said that job boards aren't the answer, but they are due diligence, and they are a constant source of information. It is very possible to find something where you do have a connection, and that connection will help you get to the interview, and something more than 25% of the people being hired, do go through job boards, so they count. Indeed is a tool for this to be an efficient process.

So what do you have Indeed search for? A particular job title? maybe. How about a company? That might work as well. How about using a key word search? That’s my suggestion. For example: I’m looking for a job as the Director of IT for a moderately sized company, say 500+/- employees. What my search is set up for is “information systems” and “information technology” (with quotes) and within 25 miles of zip code 98117. The reason is that there are at least a dozen titles that translate to Director of IT, but pretty much all of them will have one of those two phrases written out in them. I was sent two emails this morning that in combination identified 63 new jobs posted that fit my criteria. Of those, at least 60 don’t matter to me, but a few do. Today there was a position titled: “Data Center Operations Lead”, a title I never would have thought of, but which I do want to investigate.

The question becomes what would you look up that will point you to relevant opportunities? What word or phrase will highlight potential opportunities for you?

Now for something that is even less direct, but has more potential. Google Alerts . There’s an earlier post on Google Alerts, Adam Green commented on it and added a URL to his Google Alerts tutorial.

Google Alerts searches the web for new posts that meet the criteria you set up. The key question you need to establish criteria for your search is having enough stuff to make it useful, but not so much that nothing is found. Think of it as a google search run every day for new stuff based on your criteria. For example, if I search for my name, “Steve Paul”, I get almost 100,000 hits. If I add Seattle, it’s down to 2600, add 98117 and it’s down to 19 hits, all of them about a local divorce attorney (not me). Using “Stephen Paul” Seattle 98117 – I get 117 and several are about me.

My point is that using google alerts is likely to be a bit of a trial and error process. It is very easy to be overwhelmed, so as too much info comes in be prepared to cut back and modify until there is a useful result.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Richard Bolles

Short interview with Richard Bolles, the author of What Color is your Parachute was in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Great stuff. He also has a website named The Job Hunters Bible, which is also a great resource.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Best Practices in job search

One of my goals in starting this blog is the documentation of "best practices" in job search as they are discovered by people looking for work. One of those just popped up.

As previously mentioned, we have a weekly group that meets every Wednesday (3:00 at the Green Bean coffee shop). One of the participants came in a week ago with report of a phone conversation with a potential employer who is considering opening a new office in the Seattle area. As you may well guess, we wanted to understand how that happened and so got him to describe his process. It went like this
· He started by setting up a Google Alert on his industry with results delivered to his email daily.
· While reading through this about a month ago, he discovered an article from a Kansas City Paper that documented a company from KC that was considering opening an office in Seattle.
· He followed up with an email to the company
· And added an Alert on the company to his Google Alerts

The email was followed up with first one and then a second extended phone conversation, then a product demo and this week he’s scheduled to have coffee with the individual responsible for opening the Seattle Office.

Our guy does not know for a fact that he is the only person talking about a Seattle office, but he is one of the very few, and there has not been any kind of advertisement yet about a potential position or asking people to apply. Instead, he is developing the kind of trust relationship that great jobs are built on.

I’ve set up my own Google Alert on job search and a couple of great sites were identified.

· Discover your Winning Ways – Handling your emotions
· Let’s Get Going – this is a group in North Carolina doing stuff similar to what we do. Been at it longer, so has some great learnings to share.

Take care

Friday, April 10, 2009

Training Post

Vanya sent a link to the SPEAR program that provides free training to IT folks that have been laid off. I just put it on the Links list. Could be a great resource.

Health Care

My last post was on finances and I didn’t include health care, which can be such a large part of financial stability. Today, some resources and thoughts on health care and health care insurance.

Start with a recognition of risks. Stress is one of the biggest challenges we face while we job search, in many ways it could be or become the biggest. The consequence of stress is the body breaking down. There’s an article on resilience that I posted in March on the blog, and it has several ideas about managing stress, but stress always take a toll. There is a “stress point scale”, designed in the 60’s and refined since that assigns points for various life events. The events vary from Death of a Spouse (100 points) to Christmas (10 points and now referred to as “Winter Holiday Season”). Add yours up and it gives at least some indication of how likely you are to get sick. 300 points apparently gives something like a 95% chance you’ll go to the hospital.

Another risk is “pre-existing conditions”. These are the things that are ongoing, and Insurance Companies really hate inheriting them. So if they can disqualify one of these they will. The law stipulates that if you have continuous coverage (“catastrophic insurance” doesn’t count as insurance here) then a new employers health coverage can’t exclude the condition. Maybe you have a bad kidney, it was diagnosed while working for Mega Computers Inc. You are laid off, then 2 months later get a job and Mega-Temps Inc. If you kept your Cobra or you were covered by a spouse/partner for the two months, then no problem; you will still be covered. If you went without for the two months, then Mega-Temps health carrier can exclude your kidney problems.

The point is that maintaining coverage is critical; it can also be ridiculously expensive.

Surprise, surprise, there is a major pot full of information on the net and everything is incredibly dynamic. COBRA is being subsidized by the feds right now, Washington State has its Basic Health Care plans (which will change with the state budget) and there are individual insurance plans.

Cobra is (as we all know) the continuation of insurance that our employers used to pay for. When we are laid off/fired/quit it is critical that we at least evaluate this option. The current bail-out legislation allows for as much as a 65% subsidy. I’m sure there are a ton of resources that will give you the 411, this one seems very clear and with a minimum of extraneous junk.

Washington Basic Health Plan info is here. We all know how to do a Google Search on “Individual Health Care Washington State”, which will give you something close to 4000 responses. Remove the quotes and the number balloons over 21 million. There are lots of choices, they just get expensive in a hurry.

One last choice to bring up is the Alliance for Affordable Services. This is focused on very small businesses, so if you are doing even a minimum of freelancing, it’s an option to check as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


A friend of mine was looking at the blog and asked if I had plans to include info about finances and surviving long term with significantly reduced income. The reality is that money is a very big deal for those of us who are out of work, so my friend is asking the right question. There is also no magic; spending less is what it’s all about. Doing so thoughtfully and effectively is the challenge. And let’s face it; nobody will hire us because we “need a job”, they hire us because we can provide value to their company, so if our finances are overwhelming us, it will be a lot harder to be effective in our job search.

A terrific resource is Consumer Credit Counseling Service. It’s a non-profit that’s been around for a while and has tools that are effective and time tested. There are a bunch of pretenders and even a bunch of scams talking about how they will “Fix your credit problems!!!” When you see these, quote Nancy Reagan and “Just say “No.”” Call Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

One of the pages on the CCCS site is a long list of ideas about the mechanics of reducing costs while keeping your life under control. Talks about budgeting, entertainment, travel… even has a section on throwing a wedding on a budget! All of the ideas start with being conscious about how you spend money and what you spend it on. Good luck to all of us.

CCCS web page is now added to my link list.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More resources

Amazing the amount of noise is being made about job search and loss etc. KPLU had an interesting report on this morning about “job clubs”, one in Tacoma in particular. It seems especially pertinent for this week as we start focusing on networking. You can find these on, just search for Job Club with your zip code.

Fortune Magazine has an interesting article as well on job search and how to find a job. They have a vested interest in saying things aren’t as bad as they seem, but, they also have a point: “Some people are getting hired”. We need to keep working on this till we find ours. J

Monday, April 6, 2009

I don’t know if you think of job search as a job, but that’s how I’m approaching it. Specifically as an entrepreneurship. The reason I bring this up is an organization I’m just becoming aware of that supports startups, named (wait for it): This is a very specific web site that really does focus on people starting their own businesses; talks about funding, accounting, etc. It also hosts classes and seminars and even business fairs. The classes and fairs are outstanding opportunities to learn, and to network. Remember that 75% of the job growth in the country, year in and year out is in small companies, and there simply isn’t a better opportunity to connect with the folks that will be building those businesses than seminars for new startups.

Looks like Craigslistwatch is at least temporarily non-functional so dropping from the link list. Unfortunately, that means this is one place that we still need review manually.

I didn’t include the link to the King 5 story on folks looking for work. Primary focus is kids looking for summer jobs, but Kevin got some airtime as did Keri Robinson of Ladies and Lords of Leisure.

Friday, April 3, 2009

networking and the LadiesandLordsofLeisure

Keri Robinson is starting a complementary group she's calling Ladies and Lords of Leisure (hence the name of her blog) and came to the Wednesday group. extended invite. I went to it (it's Thursday's) as did Kevin and Vanya. Seemed like it was successful. I am constantly surprised by the number and quality of people that are looking and the LOLL sure re-inforce that (as does our group on Wednesdays). There are some exceptional people looking for work right now.

Mostly it reinforces the focus on getting better at the hunt. We're smart people. We can figure this out. We're not going to change the statistics, but we will figure out how to get jobs.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Examples, updates

As you will undoubtedly see, I continue to fuss with the format of the blog. I've added a couple of blogs that I follow on the right side of the page, and links that I think can be especially useful. The links will probably change from time to time to stay fresh.

The group on Wednesday has been working elevator pitches for a couple of weeks now and we actually read examples to each other yesterday. My last post had our definition, I think there's more to it. A clear tight elevator pitch becomes the organizing subject for a resume. Everyone over the age of about 20 has more experience than can possibly be captured in writing, some of it relates to work, and some of it has nothing to do with it. The older we get, the more work experience we have making it even more difficult to choose and edit what we include on a resume.

For example, I've been in IT for more than 25 years. In that time, I've been a developer, analyst, resource manager, director, etc, etc. Just describing each role would take at least a couple pages, before I got to experience that is specific to me. All that will do is bore everyone who sees it and threaten an additional forest every time it's printed. Not a useful exercise.

My elevator pitch for jobs in IT is, "Every organization struggles with getting what they need from their IT department at a price they can afford. I've been building teams that deliver on this for more than eight years and would love to have the opportunity to continue." This tells me what events and roles and accomplishments to include. Time as a dev? it's a footnote. Time as an architect? it's abreviated, but bigger than the dev stuff. What I focus on is experience where I have built teams and the team has delivered.

The point here is not that mine is the only kind of pitch, but that by being clear with my pitch, I can write a cooherent resume that supports my goals and my pitch. If I have other parallel goals, then I can write other pitches and focus the experience in my resume around those goals and that pitch.