Thursday, May 28, 2009

Notes from the Job Search

What is Notes from the Job Search (NFJS)? Obviously, it's a blog, but mostly, it's peer support groups for professionals seeking work. Currently there is a group meeting in West Seattle and one in North Seattle. The qualifications for joining are: You are looking for work and you need a resume to get the job you want. That's the list. Well coming counts too. :)

We focus on what's working for us and our strengths as people, beyond that our agenda is:
> A high from the week and your elevator pitch
> A work item
> Goals for the week and feedback on the mtg

The work items are iterative:
> Elevator Pitch
> Strengths identification (based on Now Discover your Strengths)
> Resumes
> Online Tools
---- Job Boards (and programmable bots such as
---- Networking sites (focus is LinkedIn)
---- Research
> Interviewing
---- Interviewing for information
---- Screening interviews
---- Job interviews
All of the above get very specific and include questions to ask and ways to answer, how to figure out what clothes are appropriate, etc.
> Networking
- Job Fairs
- Job Socials
- Friends and neighbors

The premise is that collectively, we as job seekers know more about job search than pretty much anyone. Not to dismiss the many books and online tools etc, just to acknowledge it’s more important to us. We’re the ones that need to do it and as such the ones who know what’s working today. All of our work is collaborative, while NJS leads these discussions and frequently will provide resources to help people in the group bet started, we work as a group. We share leads, we share our networks and we share knowledge.

So that’s Notes from the Job Search.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Job Fairs and socials

The last job fair I went to had approximately 30 employers and 10,000 applicants. Not a good ratio. Last night I went to a “job social” and it had approximately the same number of employers. It was much better on the applicant side, but it felt a lot like those bullet trains in Japan that have people with the job of pushing people inside the doors so they can close. It was crowded!! As much as anything, it felt like an old fashioned “mixer” from high school.
I got there early, which seemed to be a pretty good strategy as it gave me an opportunity to identify the recruiters and chat with a couple in a non-pressured way. Find out what they were looking for and how their businesses were doing.

In the end, I went away thinking that expectations and goals were the critical element in getting value from the social. From the job fairs as well.

From a strategy point of view, finding a time when a conversation can be had with a recruiter has to be the goal. I’m going to guess that very few people were hired from the job fair I went to. Too many folks! The recruiters didn’t have a chance to even screen, let alone evaluate. The job social had ebbs and flows. Getting there early was useful. I didn’t stay late, but it might have had opportunities as well. Being fashionably late would eliminate the opportunity for value…. At least as far as the recruiters is concerned.

Which leads to another possible set of goals for the social and that’s networking. Just meeting others on the job search. Connecting with them and developing enough of a relationship to reduce our isolation. Maybe it’s getting their card at the social and following up. Maybe it’s migrating the conversation out of the social. Whatever it is, we all need to understand our own competence and a very important part of that is the reflection we see when we meet others going through this craziness called a job hunt. Increasing your network has so many benefits, it’s just amazing. My current understanding of the job market is that something like 3/4s of all hires come through networking. My guess is that when we talk about good fits, jobs we want to keep for a long time, then the number is much higher.

Back to the “mixer” metaphor, when I went to those, on a good night, I would make a few friends. Some of those might become more, but it sure didn’t happen at the mixer, it happened because of the follow up.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Links

I've added a couple of links. Seattle Job Search Social and C & P coffee.

The Job Search Social is a straight networking gig, that I've been hearing about. They schedule something every month. At a minimum it's a chance to connect with other professionals, increasing your network. Bring business cards.

C & P coffee is where the West Seattle Pink Slips meet, and is the 2nd group bing led by Notes from the Job Search. So it's an additional chance every week to work on job search skills as well as another chance to increase the size of your network. Besides they sell great coffee. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Internet risk

The new Consumer Reports is out and has several pages on the risks posed by the internet, including what can happen when your resume is posted on one of the job boards (Monster, Dice, Craigslist, etc). Some of the numbers are pretty scary: 13% of the Facebook users have been “abused”, 25% of job board users have been subject to phishing attacks, etc. When I read about this stuff, it seems so scary! My 84 year old Aunt is sure that someone is going to come through her computer and steal her credit cards. It’s also easy to think that we’re powerless to stop it.

Most of the fear is hype. We personally need to be prudent and we need to be skeptical, but we do not need to be especially frightened by this. We live in a capitalist country and world, and one of the first rules of capitalism is “Caveat emptor”…. Let the buyer beware. If it seems to be too good to be true, then it is. Many of the scams floating around the net are just about as old as the net. We have all been offered opportunities by “African Generals” to make lots of money if we just send them quite a bit of money now. I first saw this scam in the early 90’s and while it’s changed from country to country and I recall it as an Asian prince and a South American family, it’s always been the same offer, send X dollars now and it will allow us to withdraw our fortune from some bank and we will pay you 10X dollars back in 6 months. What I have never heard of is someone actually getting 10X dollars, or even X dollars returned. Then of course there are offers to refinance your mortgage and jobs that will pay you 6 figures for 3 hours a day at home and….

The key to all of these is that we need to respond. Don’t respond and you are not at risk. Phishing is a bit more subtle, but has the same defense: Your “bank” asks you to “confirm” your credit card number or social security number or something else, just so they can verify their records. Don’t respond. Companies you have a relationship with (your bank, your credit card company, etc ) already have the information they need. They do not now, never have and never will send you an email asking you to “confirm”.

Years ago, I was IT Director at a company and there was a virus being sent out in a picture of a popular tennis star. One of the Department heads in this company opened it and it took roughly 200 staff hours to un-infect all of the computers that it impacted. This “picture” came to him from an unknown email address, to his business email. If it wasn’t infected, it would have been inappropriate, and clearly unsafe. In fact he knew better. He was very publicly humiliated and he put his company and job at risk because his fingers moved faster than his brain. He wasn’t safe because he didn’t apply “let the buyer beware”. This is a man that would never buy a used car without having it checked out first, he just didn’t think it applied on the internet. It does.

Of course there are still risks, so keep your anti-virus software current, use the firewall(s) that you have. When you set up Facebook, set your privacy settings to only allow established “friends & family” to have full view, same thing with Linkedin. On Monster you can set it up similarly, although I’ve forgotten what they call these settings. Think of all of these services as parts of your house. We are all more than happy to allow others to see the outside of our house, we are very selective about who we invite in.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This is a quick update on COBRA. The Feds are now (depending on whether you qualify) subsidizing up to 65% of the cost. This has been published lots, but bears repeating. Something I missed previously is that “If you were laid off before Feb 17, 2009 and you did not initially choose COBRA continuation coverage or dropped it because it was unaffordable, you now have a second opportunity to enroll and receive the subsidy.”