On the Hunt: 10 Ways to Break Out of a Job Search Slump

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 9:00 am

In case you couldn’t tell by the voice of my last post, I am in a funk. For all my fellow dieters, I’ve reached my plateau. I was making progress in my job search, but now I don’t really know what my next step is going to be. So this week, I’m working on ways to get out of this slump! Here are my top 10 things I’m trying; some are personal and others came from the many career advice blogs I’ve been following.

1. Take a Break

Last week I was so worked up that the only way I knew how to come down from it was to not think about the job-hunt for an entire weekend. So, Friday through Sunday, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t visit job boards or look at my bank account. I simply enjoyed a nice weekend with my family putting up our Christmas decorations. Monday, I felt rejuvenated instead of defeated.

2. Change my vocabulary

“I feel like a failure” has been my motto for the past couple of weeks, and friends and family have been quick to correct me. From now on, failure will no longer be in my vocabulary. Along the same lines, I’m going to try to keep a positive attitude. I certainly don’t want future employers to be swayed by any negativity I may put off.

3. Change my routine

This article really spoke to me. I currently have a routine that is not only NOT working out for my job search, but not healthy for me personally. I wake up and go to bed later than I use to and some days don’t even get out of my pajamas. I need to set a routine so I’m not staring at the computer nine hours a day getting sidetrack because “I’ll have time to do that later.”

4. Stop worrying that I’m bothering people

I know how busy people are and how often they are probably contacted about a job, so I don’t like to be that pesky person that keeps emailing and calling until they don’t reply anymore. Usually I leave the ball in their court. If I send them an email and they don’t respond, I chalk it up to they are going in a different direction. I submitted an application last week and didn’t hear anything back. So, in an effort to get out of my funk, I emailed again asking the status of the job. This time, she replied back telling me she’ll pass my resume and writing samples on to her boss. This may seem like a no-brainer for some, but for me, it is a big deal!

5. Just start writing

I do love to write. I don’t do it very often, so to get out of my funk, I’m going to make it a goal to write something every day. Whether it’s a restaurant review on my blog, a chapter in the next great American novel I want to write or a Letter to the Editor of one of my favorite magazines.

6. Have daily goals

In the book A Piece of Cake, the author Cupcake Brown talks about her drug addiction. She said to get through it she had to take it one day at a time. I think if I start having small daily goals (say applying to five jobs in one day) my long-term goals will be easier to achieve.

7. Try to get in contact with people whose job I want

This could be a subheading of No. 4, but I’ve got to start talking to people I admire. I like to do things in person, but I shouldn’t be so shy. Advice is free, and most people love to give it!

8. Try bulk up my “Skills” section

This may seem like a gimme, but why not use this time to improve on my skills or learn something new. I took a class on HTML in college, but haven’t used it since. Now’s the perfect time to build back that knowledge.

9. Learn how to use social networking sites better

Yes, I’m on Linkedin.com, but I’m not sure how it is suppose to help me in my career. So, I’m vowing to learn to use these sites to help me.

10. Enjoy the holiday season

I may not be living in New York this season, but I cannot let that affect my spirits. This is such an important time to spend with family and I need to remember to be thankful that I get to spend it with mine. Plus, because I have more time, I’m now in charge of baking the Christmas cookies!

Samantha Hyde

Samantha Hyde graduated from the University of Texas in 2009. During her time spent in Austin, she interned and contributed to Austin Monthly, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Highways magazine. She served as president of the magazine club and editor-in-chief of a college magazine, burntORANGE. Her issue, “How to be a Longhorn,” won second place in general excellence at the 2009 AEJMC awards.

Cassandra’s Post: Staying in Shape over Christmas Break

Monday, December 6th, 2010 12:25 pm

Having just survived Thanksgiving break with minimal overeating, too much shopping, and plenty of sleep, I realized that I’ve fallen behind!  The holiday season is notorious for undermining if not destroying healthy workout regimens, which certainly contributes to the influx of New Year’s gym goers come January.  Despite keeping up my motivation in previous weeks and maintaining my 4 times a week gym goal, I have yet to go to the gym in the past five days.

Today, I know that when I hop on the treadmill and run my three miles that there is a good possibility that I’m going to be slower, winded, and tired.  The important part is if I’m to get back on track (and I am) and continue my gym schedule is to not get disappointed, lazy, or defeated.  During the course of those five days off I was bopping around enjoying the festivities and the sales deals, however this is no excuse for me not to make a half hour time slot to get to the gym for a run or practice my freebie leg routine.

With another holiday break coming up for Christmas, I can learn a few lessons from my Thanksgiving break to make sure my gym schedule doesn’t disintegrate yet again.  Looking back on my five day stretch of minimal responsibility, I realized how much more I slept in.  On top of that, I slept in not because I had been out excessively late or because I had overly exerted myself the previous day but instead because I just simply could.  There was no real reason for me to sleep in late and cutting into valuable morning time that I could have spent in the gym jump starting my energy for the day.  Even on Thanksgiving, my gym held earlier hours so that I could have made it in and had a decent workout even before I had to leave for my family’s home.  For my next break, I’ll set my alarm to get up as usual and use the time normally used to get ready for work to get into the gym.

As a native San Diegan, I’m a big baby about cold weather.  The moment it gets below 73 degrees I start to wear my big comfy socks walking around my house (you know the ones that have the rubber pads just like when you were seven).  On these days all I want is to cuddle up watch movies or like this past Thanksgiving break, finish watching my Mad Men season.  I can honestly say that normally I do not watch a lot of television or sit around so a little break wasn’t such a bad idea.  However, when hour two rolled around and I’m still sitting in the exact same spot, having not moving a single muscle and wondering why I am still cold, it wouldn’t have hurt if I had got up and did some squats or crunches while posted in front of Mr. Donald Draper.

Christmas Break Game Plan:

  • Set my alarm for my normal time; there is no reason to waste a perfectly good day off all day in bed when a quick workout at the gym can make the biggest difference in energy levels for the rest of the day.
  • If I do stay out late, make sure I don’t sleep more than 7-8 hours.  This will only make me groggy and less apt to getting myself up for the gym.
  • Lazy time shouldn’t go past couple of hours otherwise I need to get moving with at-home gym moves like squats, crunches, lunges, and triceps dips.
  • Don’t overeat; I don’t want to work out even harder on my day off!
  • When I’m out and about (e.g., running errands or meeting up with friends), try parking decently away from the location so that I have to walk.  Plan accordingly though because I don’t want to be late and make my friends wait!
  • Important:  I won’t get upset at myself if I slip up and indulge a little.

Cassandra Altmann

I got a feeling…that this job’s gonna be the right fit

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 5:48 pm

Name: Jennifer Padron

Current role: Account manager at a marketing agency

Job Search length: Seven months

When I graduated from college, at first, life indulged me. I had a paid position as a full-time intern for a global snack food brand. I spent eight months filling my head with vast amounts of knowledge in my field, and learning lessons great and small (great being how to interact with the media, small being how to un-jam the copier).  Ultimately, there was no full-time position available to be offered at the end of my internship.

The next six months were like playing a game. At first, the hunt for my first “real” job felt like a fun challenge. I’d find something that intrigued me during one of my many online searches, giddily reply, and await a response. After a lot of waiting, the game had gone on too long, and I was tired of feeling, well, tired. And broke. And defeated. Job-searching became my full-time job. I would wake up, eat breakfast, apply for jobs, take a lunch break and walk the dog, send resumes out, break for dinner and walk the dog, and apply for more jobs, all the while refreshing my e-mail continuously, just in case.

I applied for hundreds of jobs (no kidding), and interviewed for about ten positions. Some interviews went better than others. There was the position I applied for at a temp agency an hour and a half from my home. The position sounded fantastic, so I dressed in my nicest pant suit and memorized my resume, only to be told at the end of the interview that the job I had applied for was filled. Then there was the interview at a green engineering firm that I was positive I nailed. I met with the CEO, we talked business and shared a laugh, and he said I’d hear from him within two weeks. After the two weeks were up, I got in touch to say I was still very interested. Two more weeks after that, the empathetic human resources rep called to deliver the bad news.

However, with each meeting, I learned something new and improved my technique for the next time.  During one interview, I noticed that I kept saying “I love it!” after almost everything the employer said. I “loved” that the building had history, that they had an office cat, and that I would have a tiny office with an even tinier desk. I knew I should stop saying it, but I was nervous, so it escaped from my lips after every other sentence. Though I’m sure that my enthusiasm was evident, I took the rejection letter I received in the mail a week later as a hint: tone it down.

I also figured out how important it is to always, always ask questions. I learned this lesson the hard way, after missing out on a few great opportunities because I was speechless at the end of the interview. The employer wants to know that you’re interested, and that you have a stake in the company and in your own career.

Also, the more I interviewed, my vision of what I wanted became clearer. It’s easy to forget that while an employer is interviewing you, you’re also interviewing them. After several interviews at large, corporate firms, I decided that I could make more of an impact at a smaller company. I also realized that it was important for me to be a part of a team environment, and not to be isolated with my work.

Finally I interviewed at my—spoiler alert—current place of work, after applying for the position on a popular online job forum, as I had applied for hundreds of others. As cheesy as it sounds, I got “the feeling” as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. Maybe it was because I was so genuinely impressed by the company’s work, or maybe it’s because I truly felt confident in myself and what I wanted. I think it was a mixture of both. I went into the interview feeling self-assured and was able to hold great conversations with several of my interviewers. When the end of our meeting rolled around, I was prepared with several thoughtful questions.

I was called back for a second interview about a week later.  Though I hadn’t had direct experience with every aspect of the job I was applying for, I felt that the opportunity to learn and grow was strong. The interviewers emphasized the value of learning from “the bottom up”, which I appreciated. As cliché as it sounds, the position just felt like a good fit. They thought so, too; on my birthday, they called me and offered me a job.

Through this seven-months long process I found out that it’s important to keep an open mind, but also to listen to that gut instinct. And when the right opportunity did come along, the Go-Getter Girl inside of me was grateful… and ready to rock it!

Jennifer Padron

7 Steps for Facebook Rehab

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 8:27 am

Can everyone see those outrageous toga party photos that are on your Facebook? Do you have “mud wrestling” and “partying” as some of your favorite interests on your profile? Do you constantly update your status with complaints about your life (or worse, your job)?

If you answer YES to any of these questions and you’re on the hunt for that spectacular job then you should check into Facebook rehab…and fast.

In a 2009 survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 45 percent of employers admitted that they use Facebook to review their candidates (which about doubled from 22 percent in 2008) and 11 percent plan to use Facebook in the future to check on their interviewees.

Also from the survey, 35 percent found content on the candidates profile to cost them the possibility of landing the job. Here are the top examples, from the survey, of why candidates didn’t get hired:

  • Posted inappropriate photographs or information
  • Posted content about drinking or using drugs
  • Bad-mouthed their previous employer and co-workers
  • Expressed poor communication skills
  • Lied about qualifications

Go-Getter-Girls work too hard on creating flawless resumes and portfolios to have it all be flushed down the drain because of an inappropriate picture or comment on Facebook.

Before any interview, you polish your look and you double-check to make sure your resume and portfolio is perfect; so why isn’t that Facebook page getting the once-over when your profile is easily your online resume for anyone to see?

Here are a couple of suggestions on how to job-proof your profile:

  • Customize your own privacy settings. Go to Account, select privacy settings. Select Customize settings. Change the things you share to Friends Only or Only Me
  • Consider changing your name on your profile. Use your middle initial as your last name or use your middle name as your first name. How? Go to Account, select My Account. Under Settings, you will find “name” and select “change.”
  • Make the pictures in which you are tagged only available to yourself: You can also do this when you customize your privacy settings.
  • Delete any inappropriate photos: Think of it this way, if you don’t want your Grandma to see them then you don’t want a future employer to.
  • Info should be short and sweet.
  • Be smart about what you put on your Likes and Interests; no one really needs to know that you like “Your Mom” jokes.
  • Watch what you say on your status: Employers will not be impressed with someone who gushes their relationship problems every hour of everyday.

With these helpful tips you should be on our way out of Facebook rehab and on the right path to landing that dream job.

Erin Lucido

On the Hunt: Apartment Searching in NYC, Take One

Thursday, November 25th, 2010 10:59 pm

This past month, I’ve accomplished more in regards to a job search than in the entire previous year. I’ve networked with important people, quit my day job and most importantly, regained some of the confidence I lost after a year of rejection.

My family and I made a big commitment last month, and last week we took the first step…

The week started off with a bang. My stepmother and I arrived in New York City before noon and were off to view the first apartment. Not knowing the area well (and the maintenance schedule of the subway we were on), we ended up getting lost for an hour on the way to Brooklyn.  We looked at the apartment for about five minutes, rushed back to Manhattan for a job interview (a part-time retail job at Macy’s in Herald Square) then headed back to Brooklyn to see another room. Neither apartment worked out, but I got half of the mission accomplished—I had a job, a seasonal part-time job, but still a paying job. Besides, I still had four days to get an apartment.

The next day I had an informal meeting with the HR lady that helped me with a previous post. The interview went amazing. We talked about career opportunities with her magazine company and she critiqued my portfolio. Most importantly, she assured me I didn’t need to go to graduate school!

The next two days were spent in Brooklyn going to apartment after apartment. One apartment wanted $1600 in cash to move in and another had a drug dealer downstairs (“But they’re really friendly,” the tenant assured me.) Another day, a lady left me sitting in the cold for 20 minutes before telling me she already had a roommate and somebody else rejected me because I had a dog, even though her post said she was dog friendly. It felt like I should have been in a high school drama show!

By the last day, when our options where running thin (everybody was either out of town or at work so couldn’t show an apartment), I was heartbroken. I had been looking forward to this trip for a while. I told EVERYBODY I was moving to New York, but I was going home empty handed. Money became a huge topic of discussion. How much can I contribute on part-time wages? How can we afford two months rent plus a deposit? My family agreed to support me, but they didn’t agree to go broke for me. I really needed to rethink this whole plan.

So, here is my mental state now. Yes, I’m a little disappointed that it looks like New York isn’t going to work out for me. But, I’ve said it before, it’s not entirely about location. My goal is to find a job, not find a job in NYC. I’m starting to do research on other areas with larger journalism markets, like Houston and Atlanta, where the cost of living isn’t so high. I know I need to move, so I’m broadening my search.

I’m writing this blog on the plane ride home, and I think after a month of career ups and apartment downs, hours of tears, $13 to see the new Harry Potter movie in Manhattan and a much needed trip to Magnolia Bakery, I think I’m OK with the situation. I’m trying really hard to not think of it as a step back, but more of a step to the left.

Samantha Hyde

Samantha Hyde graduated from the University of Texas in 2009. During her time spent in Austin, she interned and contributed to Austin Monthly, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Highways magazine. She served as president of the magazine club and editor-in-chief of a college magazine, burntORANGE. Her issue, “How to be a Longhorn,” won second place in general excellence at the 2009 AEJMC awards.