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Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

Photo Credit: julsatmidnight @Flickr

Photo Credit: julsatmidnight @Flickr

Choosing industry over a certain type of job

If your career is important to you – you won’t fence yourself in by rigidly sticking to industries (advertising, marketing, finance, etc.).

Pay attention to the the type of job (and the skills it demands) and worry less about what industry it is in.

You show more flexibility and value when you can maintain relevance – no matter what the professional discipline.

A good example is someone who takes their skills and can apply them equally across the board –  Desiree Rogers.

The woman went from the Illinois Lottery to the gas company and then to insurance – now she plans the social and events calendar for the First Lady. 

Food for thought: Specialize in skills – not industry 

Use the online job hunt against itself

Online job seeking is like a bad joke. Monster and Careerbuilder aim to have you mindlessly apply to the glut of “open” positions with seductive lures that employers  will actually get your resume. All you have to do is wait for a phone call.

Puh-leez.

Use your network to get your resume in the hands of people who are hiring at these places. Online job hunting at best is a referencing tool.  You’d be more productive hunting down companies that are not “actively” recruiting  (read: the hidden job market).

Pitchfork Mob Mantra: Monster must DIE! Monster must DIE!  note: flaming torch optional

You’re not doing a non-job thing – like temping… or working for free

It may not be ideal, but temping can lead to larger opportunities – like (temporarily) keeping you financially afloat. Or, if you have time (and you do have time) – create projects that will develop a shift in your resume.

For instance, I’ve become the project lead for a new exhibit focusing on the drug addiction and treatment of women and children in Afghanistan (side note: I’ve never done anything like this before).

I will have to dust off my rusty research skills, find funding and develop advocacy connections. But, I’ll be creating a project from start to finish. And, I’ll be doing something I’ve always wanted to do: using artistic methods to raise political awareness and ignite action

New motto: Your resume is not just a piece of paper

Go virtual

You don’t need to be in an office to get work done (and be paid for it). Places like Elance provide opportunities for would-be workers to hone (and maintain) their skills in cyberspace. Jobs range from web and graphic design to freelance writing.

Anything goes – you can be a ghost blogger or virtual assistant.

Nudge: Cyberspace is your friend…really

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When you know you’re gonna get canned

There’s all this talk that it’s common courtesy to give your employer 2 weeks notice when quitting your job. Yet, who is that really benefiting? Common opinion states that you burn bridges when you quit without notice.

I think burning bridges is a tad overrated.

Think about it, what if your employer said, “Hey Jane, we’re planning on terminating your employment next Monday, so I just thought I’d let you know as a courtesy.”

You’d probably freak out at first. Then, perhaps, you’d come to terms with your (eventual) job loss and prepare for the inevitable changes. Maybe, you’d even quit before your job’s expiration date. Yet, that’s not how it usually works. 

Employers don’t do that – there’s no common courtesy when you’re getting canned. You’re pulled into a quiet office on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday afternoon (when all your coworkers have left for a “late lunch” around 2 pm) and told by your manager that you no longer have a job.

Oh, and you have about 10 minutes to gather all your crap and get out.

Where’s the “common courtesy” in that?

So, no – all this common courtesy BS needs to go out the window. Perhaps, you’ve already received verbal warnings, been written up and are on probation. Unless you enjoy the indignity of being escorted from your (former) place of work with a shoddily assembled Trader Joe’s bag of personal items – you might as well quit.

No notice necessary. 

Giving 2 weeks notice is a death sentence

Some employers have a nasty habit of firing employees on the spot once the (very kind and courteous) employee gives a manager their obligatory 2-week notice.

If you’ve seen this happen – these managers get what they deserve. You’re actually playing it smart when you don’t give notice in these cases. What’s the point of 2 weeks of unpaid unemployment just so you can puff out your chest and say “I was courteous.”

Give me a break. You’re better off spending that time starting your job search sooner (or, if you are lucky – your new job).

What about burning bridges?

Frankly, depending on how bad the exit is – you can actually still leverage relationships from the charred remains of a burnt bridge. If you managed to alienate an entire department – or just your boss, you probably can still connect with former co-workers. This is not naive – its business. I’m not advocating that you make quitting your job without notice a habit – but there are certain situations that warrant it. 

People quit jobs for all sorts of reasons. Today’s workplace is less likely to punish you for jumping ship because job hopping is paramount for professional success. So, if you are worried about your reputation, you most likely don’t have one to worry about. Your reputation – just like your relationships – will speak for themselves.

It’s easier to blame the person doing the unexpected quitting as unprofessional and not practicing good business etiquette.

Yet, no one ever seems to question what drives people to quit jobs unexpectedly (and without notice) in the first place.

It’s never brought up that the company’s workers rather chew glass than come to work or that turnover is ridiculously high or that the CEO has a personality of a barracuda.

Also, how likely are you to refer to a former employer you hated for a reference? The relationship speaks for itself. If you’ve been dutifully practicing career multiplicity, hopefully by now you have other connections in your network to rely upon. Thus, if you are thinking about using your former manager for a recommendation for your next job – be a little realistic and move on to other potential contacts.

Furthermore, most company HR policy prevents managers from bad mouthing former employees. Some don’t even allow managers to provide recommendations or references. When looking for a new job, HR managers give title and dates worked.

And, with only your permission – salary earned.

Your staffing recruiter may ask questions like if you gave 2 weeks notice, what happened at your last job yadda yadda yadda – but if you’re smart, you can handles these questions with flair. You can say you left to pursue other opportunities.

Theoretically, you did. It’s not lying.

Other posts you may enjoy:

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Photo Credit: Mod as hell @Flickr

Photo Credit: Mod as hell @Flickr

While looking up research on dating and the unemployed, I ran across this article.

Might not be safe for work – take heed.

I began to wonder how sex and romance are affected for an unemployed woman when she’s in a relationship. And… when she’s not.

I’ve been unemployed and in love (sometimes, even at the same time). Usually, however, it seems that my love life is tanking at the exact same moment when my career is heading somewhere. Then, the polar opposite crops up as my professional life is heading towards a quasi-black hole – I find Mr. Right (For Now).  

In other instances, people have used their personal relationships as reasons behind bad job performance…most likely because they are looking for an external reason to hate a crappy job in the first place.

In truth, my love life has (in)directly caused a crappy job performance.  I know all that stuff advocating the separation of work and personal dramas, but that’s a real dream. It’s like trying to separate yourself from your own skin. Theoretically, you can ignore it and pretend it’s not there, not take care of it and tell everyone the pimples they see are actually stress bumps.

But eventually, you’ll have to do something about it if you aren’t interested in looking like a pimple-infested, pus oozing weirdo.

It’s the maintenance that keeps the breakouts from coming.  Relationships (and sex) are the same. You can pretend it’s not there because they are relatively easy to start yet, it’s the maintenance (or lack thereof) that can be the true killer.

OK – back to sex and the (sometimes single) unemployed woman.  This has been on my mind because there is lots of talk about dating on a budget, dating in a recession, dating when you are unemployed – blah blah blah.

But, in a meandering way – these articles aren’t getting to the nitty gritty of what I want to know.  Are women just as likely to sleep with a man when he is unemployed versus when he isn’t? Would men date a woman who is unemployed?  Are unemployed women equally stressed in their sex lives like men?

Women are connected to work differently than men – they are connected to sex differently than men. So, when they are canned and there’s no sweetie to warm the covers with – how likely (and how fast) are they going to become disconnected from sex before they become disconnected from their career motivations?

And stop – I don’t want to hear any crap about how people should “only look at the personality” or shouldn’t judge others on such “superficial” things. Wanting to date someone who has a job (and legal means of income) is not superficial.

Men are just as likely as women to judge your dating “merit” on your ability to get a job or hold one.

So, when there is no job – is there still just as much sex for a woman?

Penelope Trunk touched upon this when she blogged that more sex will be a coming trend in the recession. And, as condom sales go up – that must mean men (and women) are smacking more tail than they could when 8 hours of their day was devoted to working it for the man – no pun intended.

Or, maybe people are anticipating more sex because now they can spend part of their unemployment check (and job searching hours) at the bars? Or, opting to stay at home (assuming they are not at home alone)?

Besides the unavoidable see-sawing – one’s sex life is also in a constant roller coaster as well. Even when we’re in steady, great relationships – it doesn’t change the fact that your better half is not working.  Things have inevitably steered into a different course, particularly, if your partner is demanding more sex (or not demanding any).

What is the quality of a woman’s sex life when she is unemployed? Do women associate the same kinds of stress from being out of work like men (and have it manifest in their sex life)? Maybe it’s really about priorities. Women don’t prioritize (or categorize) sex the same way men do.

So, if the quality of their professional lives takes a hit – a woman’s sex life remains unaffected because women tend not to singularly indentify their personal worth with their jobs like men do.  

For someone like me – who will be gainfully unemployed for a year in a few weeks – there hasn’t been much change in my love life pre-unemployment. There have been moments when I began to wonder if something was wrong because I hadn’t found anything yet.

However, momentary crushing moments of self-doubt haven’t affected me to the point where I’ve morphed into something else entirely – like Paul Nawrocki.

I don’t know. Maybe I should get a job as a sexpert instead.

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Photo Credit: Brymo @Flickr

Photo Credit: Brymo @Flickr

Narrowing your scope – keeping your eyes on the (stupid) prize

Instead of broadening your vision for the future, you’re worrying (a bit too much) about finding your next job. Obviously, if you have bills to pay and mouths to feed – your sense of urgency is more immediate.

Yet, even with (or without) those things, the unemployed rigidly stick to making it next to the hurdle. Remember: it’s only during the breaks and stop gaps that we get to recoup, reinvent and restabilize where our career and life are heading.

In the end, a job is what you want – but that narrow focus can cause you to miss other opportunities that may not present themselves again. The problem is not finding a job – it is keeping yourself sane (and satisfied) while you look for one.

The trick: Remembering what you like to do when you actually had this much time on your hands

Expecting more of the same (over and over again)

In other words, your Plan A is also your Plan B, and C and so on. As a seasoned job hopper, I’ve always been able to bounce back. I’m not going to blame the economy or my (lack of) willpower (OK, maybe just a little).  Instead, the disease of my indifference to job hopping  can be a suitable scapegoat for this scenario.

Job hopping is not always hopping up – sometimes you need to slip a rung or two if you want to add to your skill arsenal. If you jump from one professional venture to the other without much forethought, you may doom yourself to unrealistic expectations of the job market (and your place in it).

This is tricky territory because job hopping has a mixed bag of positives and negatives. In this case, if you have been job hopping within an industry in a downturn –  reasonably tweak your expectations. If you are looking for a career change, be prepared to make broad exceptions.

Question to answer: Is it time for career change, industry change or a change altogether?

Embracing Agoraphobia – in a big way

Some of the (un)expected side effects of joblessness is the amount of freedom and time that is suddenly thrust upon you. Nonetheless, you haven’t left the house in days. Maybe, like most job seekers, you are patrolling Internet job sites, mass emailing potential employers, contacts and God-knows-who else.

You’re glued to your computer looking for opportunities that might not be there. Yet, a lot of this activity is solitary in nature and only compounds the reality that you are not in an office or surrounded by other people. 

Life becomes radically different when the usual 8 hours is not dictated by someone else. It feels liberating… at first. Yet, for some, the sheer velocity of trying to maintain and create a centered routine can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself the task of being active outside your home as well as within it.

If you go somewhere as prosaic as a coffee shop and read The Onion – that’s fine. Immerse yourself in an environment where there will be people, voices, noise and activity.

If you are introverted (like me) you’ll only leave as soon as you get there to relieve yourself of the stress of being in a crowded environment. Don’t. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with the world outside your home.

Don’t sequester yourself from it.

Today’s Task: Leave the house. Immediately.

You aren’t working for free

Unemployment doesn’t mean unproductive. When given 8 hours to do whatever we see fit – the monkeys start to escape from the cages.  Volunteering while you are out of work can be your saving grace. You already know that the best job development comes at the highest price: your time.

So, don’t waste hours in front of a Monster job board when you could be learning something you always wanted.

Or, if you find the right opportunity, you’re developing the “defining moments” of your career. Usually, this means giving yourself the incentive to move on to something else while working on something new.

Semantics vs. Perspective: Think of it as a job sabbatical

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Photo Credit: Guille @Flickr

Photo Credit: Guille @Flickr

I keep my tax information in a sweater drawer. Everything that should be important in my life is in a legal size manila folder next to a 10 year old Express sweater.

Half of my bills, mortgage documents and medical invoices are in an accordion file folder at my “home.”

I put home in quotes because, technically, I haven’t lived there in months.

I’ve unofficially re-located my life’s headquarters to my boyfriend’s condo. Oh sure, it’s a nice place to live – but I still have my “mortgage.”

My volunteer work and community journalism articles are stored on a flash drive. My boyfriend insists (nags) that I back up my data on the laptop or computer in the house. I assure him that I will, but I don’t. I’m a bit of a passive-aggressive procrastinator (sometimes).

I only do things in a hurry if I’m not told to do them.

Other than that, you’ll have to wait a month of Sundays for me to get it done. Maybe, that’s a trait I will need to fix. Not today. Perhaps, tomorrow.

I stupidly think out of some vain attempt to do it my way – “As long as I have the flash drive – why back up?”

That’s a very dangerous game, Ms. Moore,” my boyfriend would (inevitably) say.

Approximately 75% of my life is stored in bytes and drawers. My world is compartmentalized by electronic folders and Office Depot paper. I feel organizationally fragmented…bit…by…bit.

The old, sage advice is to leave your job at work and your personal life at home. I wonder how often those worlds whirl and mesh and blend within each other. What do you call work/life balance for those who don’t officially “work” but have way too much going on in their life?

I hate using such buzz words – work/life balance. I always thought, at some point, they always would be the same – the work/life part. Yet, in what case is your life never really work (and vice versa)?

In reality, one is probably only worrying about work/life balance until one part of the term is seriously missing from the equation.

And so, to make up for the missing pieces? My job hunt, my volunteer work, my finances and whatever else gets stored in various parts between the North and Southsides of Chicago. It would take a 1 hour and 25 minute trip to meld the spectrums of my dually fragmented, overly documented world.

I don’t itch to get another job, I just know I need to get another job. My only fear resides within the realms of money, not professional continuity. I am wondering if that makes me an unrealized outlier of the Gen Y group. Parts me wants to prove the other parts of me wrong.

Plainly, they are the bits and pieces that managed successful job hopping and a house renovation.

Yet, they simultaneously tango with the parts that cling to self-doubt and dissatisfaction.

I have trouble keeping track of those accomplishments and the goals I set for myself because they are physically (and mentally) hiding. They are in computer hard drives, flash drives, accordion file folders, home offices 2 El rides away and sweater drawers.

So, I am thinking I will have to learn to blend my life into another kind of balance.  I will have to (re)create that sweet spot of stableness and (re)discover my organizational center.

After all, the center is where the strength lies. Without it, we just become missing pieces that dwindle…bit by bit.

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Jaboney @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Jaboney @ Flickr

If it were up to you – would you really work for a living? That’s a funny phrase. Working for a living. What’s that mean nowadays when so many people are living to work to survive?

Right now, I’m marginally attached to the workforce. I work weird hours (when I want to) and participate in volunteer projects at my leisure. No, I’m not independently wealthy. But, I don’t consider myself to be unemployed. Instead, maybe I’m “semi-retired.” While most of my out of work colleagues won’t feel the same way about unemployment like I do, I feel that semi-retiredness is out of necessity, not out of choice.

Presently, I can spend a lot of my time looking for jobs I truly want.  I’m not beholden to my 45 minute “lunch hour.” I can be flexible with people I want to connect (and network) with. It’s not ideal. I won’t say that some days aren’t especially tough for me. And, when you spend months and years being productive (for someone else), it’s hard to have it come to an abrupt stop or (for you lucky few) have it become cut in half.

There are lots of questions behind how to fill your unemployed hours of the day. I think the simple stigma of unemployment is that you will run out of money. And, since you are not working, it feels you aren’t doing something meaningful, productive and responsible.

You, nonetheless, never run out responsibilities. You have rent, mortgage, kids, spouses, sicknesses, habits to supply and misdeeds to fund – anything, everything. But, even if you had a job, those responsibilities won’t disappear. You still have student debt to pay and groceries to buy. Money only makes handling that stuff easier.

It doesn’t necessarily make anything any better. Yet, people sometimes insist on narrowly placing meaning on the activities they do for 8 hours a day in an office. But, meaningfulness is not merely created in a cube or a vacuum or a job or a work title.

It’s more alive than that. It’s 3-dimensional and fluid. It requires 3 million bits of ideas and all of them breathe from the life you live. So, the time you spend being productive while not working demonstrates just as much (if not more) about meaningfulness than the time you spend being productive on the job (for someone else).

As a semi-retiree, I like to think that my professional “pauses” are my respites. Whether I needed them or not. Whether I wanted them or not. I can’t do much about the state of the economy and the job losses except complain. And, I don’t get paid to complain. But, I do get paid to be productive regardless of the financial value or if I’m employed.

Therefore, I’ll continue my volunteer work, my job searching and my networking.  I’ll continue being semi-retired. I’ll continue doing the things that get me in tune with others.  Being unemployed doesn’t mean you become disconnected from being productive. And, it doesn’t mean you are being irresponsible or losing meaning.

It means I can continue being thankful. I can continue to do all those other things that fill up the hours of my day. I can remain feeling meaningful and valuable. I can continue being connected and feeling worthwhile.

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unemployed-gift-giving1For foodies, health nuts and breakfast enthusiasts

Martha Stewart has a great recipe that’s pretty inexpensive to make and works as a tasty topping for oatmeal, yogurt, toast or ice cream. All you need is dried fruit, nuts and honey.

Don’t worry about getting a fancy jar to dress up your gift (unless you really want to), some pretty ribbon and a clear, disposable container is all you need.

For iTunes addicts

Burning music may seem passe, but there’s nothing like the effort one puts into creating a highly personalized music list for the audiophile in your life. You can theme it around a hobby, job or a memory you both share (like that vacation you took to…wherever). 

Or, if you have more time on your hands, you can download the series of  This American Life –  this is for the NPR enthusiasts (idea courtesy of Lifehacker).

For plant lovers and the ec0-chic

No. Not a chia pet. But, you can help incorporate some fresh, useful greenery for your favorite green thumb. Go to your local nursery or a Home Depot and pick up mini-pots and seeds (along with fresh, bagged dirt) to create your green gift.

Fragrant herbs are really nice to choose because they make pretty scenery on the window sill as well as tasty garnishes for cooking. Plus, they’re fairly easy to grow. If you’re really in the mood, a mini shovel adds that cuteness factor.

Techno geeks

If you really want to cough up the cash, a subscription to Make magazine should please your techie. Your techno-lover, however, may be more impressed with the items you create listed here or here.

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