Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two words: BACK DOOR

There are two reasons I haven't blogged in awhile:

1. I took an (unpaid) vacation to visit my fiance in Florida after working my butt off in retail during the holidays. I had not seen my fiance since October 2009 and I did not request any time off during the holidays. My vacation was well deserved!

2. There have been new developments on the job front for me! I now have two jobs---one during the day and one at night. Unfortunately, this will leave me very little spare time for blogging. I've come across a lot of blogging material recently so I'll try to post when possible.

Here is the point of this post:

You should constantly be looking for ways to get in with a good company or organization. **Newsflash**....Although it seems as if you should be accepted based on your academic qualifications and work experience I am here to tell you that it often doesn't work that way. It's all about who you know. I'm not in the city I dreamed of working in after graduating. But, I now work for two great companies that are growing and will likely provide me with opportunities to move up (and earn more). How did I get in? I knew people. My job application and resume were submitted after my job offer. A mere formality. Fascinating, isn't it?

So, go out and meet people. You have no choice.

I will leave you with one other piece of advice until I post again: Don't watch the movie Post Grad. It is the worst movie EVER and is not representative of what really happens to recent graduates without jobs. Instead, read this blog.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Genevieve is behind!

Contrary to popular belief I have not abandoned my blog. But, it is inventory time in the retail world and my vast experience has been put to use at the bakery. In retail, there's just as much work after Christmas as there is before Christmas. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

At any rate, I will be taking a much needed and deserved vacation this coming week. Jobless Genevieve to be continued...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year, etc.

I've been holding this article titled, "New Year, New Rules" from the Wall Street Journal for awhile because I've been busy. The content isn't news to me but at least we (the jobless graduates) haven't been forgotten. For those of you who are still searching for jobs here are the highlights with my two cents:

1. "The unemployment rate among recent college graduates hit 10.6% in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Don't forget that those college graduates who are employed may very well be underemployed and working for very little money.

2. "More employers are holding as many as nine or 10 interviews..." I do not know anyone who has experienced this. Personally, I'm accustomed to Round 1 Phone Interview and Round 2 In-Person Interview.

3. "Some applicants are being asked to prepare oral presentations..." I have been asked to give an oral presentation for an interview. It actually helped me A LOT. A presentation without an effective presenter is worthless.

4. "...a large portion of people hired recently have personal connections to a company..." I've been writing about this over and over again. So, you better get out there and talk with people---anywhere---churches, community centers, family friends, friends of friends, relatives, friends of relatives, recreational clubs (hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, sailing, basketball, etc.), your local bar and/or coffee shop, your favorite restaurant hang-out, etc.

5. "Connections you make could be more effective than sending out mass job applications online..." See #4

6. You should emphasize your skills, not your college major, particularly if your college major doesn't seem very useful these days.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Results from Parade Poll

In October I created a short post from a Parade article titled, "Should Unemployed People Work for Free?". The title of their article was terribly misleading.

The Parade pamphlet comes in my newspaper on Sunday but I don't read it every Sunday because the content doesn't interest me. However, I happened to catch the results from a poll that corresponded to their article. The question for the poll was "Should Unemployed People Work for Free?"; 42% replied 'yes' and 58% replied 'no.'

There are a few things that need to be cleared up here:

+Despite all of the comments left on the Parade website, working for free is not slavery. It is more like an unpaid internship. Recent graduates and college student do it ALL THE TIME.

+Unemployment benefits don't just pop out of the clear blue sky. Where do you think the money comes from? The state and the federal government leverage taxes on businesses for the money earned by employees.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bold Moves

Right now is NOT the time to be any old Joe Schmoe. If you want a job then you should do everything in your power to stand out and position yourself as the expert.

Recently, I came across 2 job-related success stories. One of them is from a reader and the other I found through one of my favorite blogs.

Story #1 from one of my readers

Abigail (fictitious name) is a fledgling clothing designer. She's had just as much trouble as everyone else in finding a job by the traditional online application methods.

In an effort to make more connections she used a site called meetup which connects people with different social interests. It is not a job search site---it is a social site. Before Christmas she came across a Christmas Party through meetup which she thought would provide an opportunity for her to meet "the right people."

Now, most people don't like to go to parties where they don't know anyone. So, she took a friend and she also put her portfolio of designs in the back of her car. While she was at the party a photographer happened to have his portfolio out for folks to look at. At this point she decided to go back to the car to bring out her portfolio.

By the end of the night so many important people had seen her work AND loved it! She made so many great connections that evening. She was asked to come to another party AND also invited to do a short news segment on television! Sweet story.

Story #2 from one of my favorite blogs

This is a story about a girl who happens to be a wedding junkie. Most importantly, though, it is a story about a recent graduate who made a bold move to get the job of her dreams. Go ahead, click on the link and read her story...

Here's a quote from her article, "I made a seemingly simple, but bold move and it paid off. Many of my classmates are suffereing because they are doing things someone else expected of them instead of living authentically and putting their heart into every move they make. The more we exert, the more reward we are able to feel as its equal and opposite reaction. Risk is just opportunity dressed up in scary clothes."

Here's how I would sum up her post:

You must have patience.

You must take risks.

You must dare to be BOLD.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post interivew: Send your thanks!

It is always important to write a note of thanks to your interviewers for providing you with the opportunity to interview and to reiterate HOW you are the best candidate for the job. Here are a few tips:

1. As far as I know, snail mail thank-you notes are still acceptable. Make sure you have the correct address. (Many times the address can be found on the website or at the bottom of an email correspondence. Otherwise, be prepared to ask for a business card at your interview.)

2. BOTH email and snail mail thank-you notes can be sent so that you can remain in the interviewer's mind during decision time.

3. If your interview is out of town then bring stationary and stamps with you so that you can drop the letters by a post office before you leave town. If you do this then the thank-you notes will get to the employer faster. If you're staying at a hotel it is very likely that the front desk can send out your mail. (From personal experience: My very kind Aunt had to drive me to the local Target to pick up stationary after one of my out of town interviews. She even provided my postage and dropped them off at the post office the next morning for me! What's the moral of the story? If you don't have an Aunt like mine then you better buy your stationary in advance.)

4. Write a draft of your thank-you note on a separate sheet of paper or on your computer before writing the message in a thank-you card. Read it aloud to catch mistakes.

5. Write LEGIBLY if you send out a snail mail thank-you card.

6. A generic thank-you (email and/or snail mail) will not help your chances. You should succinctly re-iterate HOW you would be an asset to the company. This will work even better for you if you can refer back to a specific comment made during your interview.

7. Write email and/or snail mail thank-you notes to each one of your interviewers.

8. If you're sending a snail mail card then purchase appropriate stationary. I'd like to define 'appropriate' but it really depends on the company and the type of job. Personally, I'm a fan of Crane & Co but you can also find business thank-you cards at an office supply store.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jobs and maintaining relationships

Here are 2 reasons why you should maintain good relationships with previous employers:

1. From a small, family business situation:
My brother came home from college about a week ago and visited an old manager to say, "Hey!" Guess what happened. His old manager asked him if he would like to work for a few days! My brother did not go by the store to get a job. It just happened that the manager needed some extra help for the holidays and was willing to pay him for it. Good deal, eh?

2. From a corporate, internationally operating business situation:
I was seasonally employed for nearly 4 years in retail. While I was in college I worked every summer, almost every spring and fall break, and every holiday season. It was pretty sweet to have a job waiting for me when I came home---exactly when I needed money. Imagine that...a job waiting for you.

Keep up with previous employers, co-workers and old friends. You never know where jobs might show up!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Crazy #5 and how it feels to be treated like an idiot

Shortly after I created a post about Christmas Crazy Customers I worked at my holiday store and encountered Christmas Crazy #5. If you've worked in retail before then you may have encountered #5 previously. In my 4 seasons of working in retail for the holidays with a previous employer I have never encountered #5. So, it rattled my insides when it happened to me at my new retail job...

The morning started out well. I was in such good spirits that I opened the store 10 minutes early for my customers who were waiting outside the doors. Since snow was predicted in my area there was a rush of customers before midday. Now, keep in mind that I live in the South right now. We cancel school before the first snowflakes appear and people purchase enough bread, milk, and beer to feed several armies. Evidently, they also feel the need to purchase cookies...quickly.

The phone started ringing. I was the only employee in the store. I had to answer the phone because it is on the same line as the credit card machine. You cannot run the customer's credit card and talk on the phone at the same time. It just doesn't work.

And the phone rang again. The line of customers got longer. I asked my first customer in line to please hold on for one second while I answered the phone. Then, all of a sudden a lady customer got out of line, stepped up to the register and SHOUTED, "WHY DON'T YOU WAIT ON THE CUSTOMERS WHO ARE HERE?" Right after that a man in line YELLED at me, "YOU NEED TO WAIT ON THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY HERE. I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU PEOPLE DO THIS. I NEVER UNDERSTAND THIS!"

I have never in all of my holiday retail experience had customers yell at me. I've had grumpy ones and crazy ones and even plenty of nice ones. But, I've
never had customers yell at me. It must have been the snow or the recession, or both.

I had nothing to say to the man and woman who yelled at me. My face probably turned red. My hands started shaking. It wasn't just the shouting incident though that hurt me. It was the fact that I never intended to work in retail again. I went to get my Master's degree so I wouldn't have to. Yet, it really doesn't matter. Through the eyes of those customers I was an idiot. I suppose some people just feel they can treat others like dirt. It's funny how those customers both purchased CHRISTmas gifts. Let us not forget the reason for the season. Being kind to the people behind all those holiday registers counts too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Unemployment and debt among young people

I found an interesting organization called The Project on Student Debt. According to them the unemployment rate in 2009 among recent graduates (ages 20-24) is about 10.6% right now.

Check out this clickable United States map to find out the average debt for recent graduates in your state. There's a good chance that at least 50% of the recent graduates in your state are in debt! Holy smokes! The 5 states with the highest proportion of student debt in 2008 are the District of Columbia, Iowa, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire. Utah is the state with the lowest debt level in 2008.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Take advantage of this...

Do you remember my post on interview attire (suits) for men? Well, I saw this commercial on my TV recently about a sale going on at Men's Wearhouse. Here's the skinny:

+With the purchase of a suit you can get a 2nd one for $100.

+Free ground shipping on a purchase of $99 or more. It won't be difficult to spend $99 even if you're just buying a nice belt, shirt, and tie.

+Evidently they also have free return shipping as well. This is definitely a good thing particularly if you don't have a Men's Wearhouse retail store near you.