Laid off in America

Monday, May 19, 2003

I didn't realize what a huge column I wrote last week. It's gorgeous out today, so this one will be short.

Where did my job interviews come from? I only had 6. Two came directly from networks (and I've gone on ad nauseum about networking in previous sites). Two came from search firms. Both of those search firms contacted me because they had received my name from networks. And two I got by applying through a website--a highly specialized website that specializes in I/O psychologists. And those same two were the ones I "almost got" an offer on and received an offer on.

I found search firms to be really difficult to work with. First, there aren't a whole lot of job openings in my area of expertise in the NYC metropolitan area. Most search professionals I knew were having a hard time surviving. Second, my background is not your typical background. It's an interesting,eclectic one, but when you are a search professional who wants, no, NEEDS to make a connection, there are a lot of candidates available who have a more low risk portfolio--they've worked in the business or done a similar job in another industry. But I tried to keep in touch with about 1/2 dozen head hunters anyway. I figured it couldn't hurt and it didn't take much time.

I have a mixed review of the use of the web. I found the larger, generalist websites to be useless for my purposes. I did apply to jobs off of them, but felt like I was sending my resume into a big black hole. I also applied directly to some company specific websites. Also a big black hole. I'm guessing several things are going on here. First, it's so easy to apply for jobs this way that everyone does it and companies are overwhelmed with the responses they get. I'm guessing that in many cases they aren't even able to look at all the resumes they get this way--but there are search engines coming out that are awesome and might be able to help with the sorting in the near future. Second, so many people are networking right now that it is easier to hire someone who is standing in front of you than to even look at the morass of resumes. Third, many of those jobs aren't real jobs. I had no idea companies did this, but they do. They may want to bring a specific someone in or up, but are required to do a full job search and this is how they do it. Alternatively, they may just want to keep tabs on who is out there--the stateof the market. Or worse, they may just be looking for information (I've had colleagues pour their time, heart, and soul into a lead only to find out later that the company/hirer was merely trolling for ideas. Fourth, the job doesn't come through--they requested to fill a position but don't get the budget. Fifth, it may be that positions and levels I was looking for just aren't on the web yet. I would still recommend looking for a job this way. But if you do find a job opening that was clearly written with you in mind, I would spend a lot of time finding out who the hiring manager is and contacting them directly.

Alternatively, I found the specialized websites to be great. My background was understood and appreciated by organizations and hiring managers who published jobs on these sites. And I think these are great sites to regularly check anyway just to get a pulse on what's going on in my field. If your field has specialized sites (usually as part of a professional group), I would recommend checking on this regularly regardless of your state of employment.

Where do most of you do your searching? What is your luck with them? posted by Valerie 11:34 AM

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The experience of the new rite of passage among today's professionals: Being Unemployed

Contact me
You can contact me by sending me email at

This blog's mention in the July 2003 issue of Fast Company
Web of Despair.

Other unemployment blogs I have found
Ask your ass.
All about Jen.
Homee's job search.
Get that job.

Some blogs I like but haven't been updated in a while
Where The Hell Did My Job Go.
Invisible Matrix.

Credit problems?

What's keeping me occupied while I'm unemployed?
My husband and my travel photography blog.


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