Friday, May 8, 2009

What did you do last time?

If you are looking for work, sit down and think, right now, what you did that successfully got you your last job.

Why aren't you doing it this time?

Now you may be doing what you did last time, but I am guessing that you aren't, for the following reasons:
  1. Someone prescribed a fad to you. And it might have been me, since I put up the post on Twitter. And it's fine to experiment, especially when the fad intersects with your desired job. But if the library you want to work for isn't using Twitter, you could be waiting a long time for them to catch up with you.
    Fads can work if, as I said, the fad is hot in your field, or if you are transitioning into a new field, not the one you trained for, like you're a librarian now but you want to be a marketer/a museum educator/an administrator, and you found out about your career option via the fad.
    Fads can't work if your prospective employer doesn't adhere to the fad. In this case, you're wasting your time when you should be using the traditional methods that have landed you a job in the past. Use your spare time to learn about the fad, but don't become obsessed, and therefore deluded, about its efficacy.
  2. You're graduating and you now can look for work in the field that you trained for. First, I'm going to (virtually) dope slap for waiting until you graduated. And then I am going to remind you that any of the volunteer work and the internships that you had counted as real work, even if you didn't get paid. I hope you gave them chocolates before you left, because you are going to back and do information interviews with your supervisors. One of the questions you are going to ask is how did you find out about your job? You might not want to work for them, but they may give you encouragement about your current methods, a job lead or a referral, traditional networking stuff that does work. 
  3. As a new grad, use the traditional method of using the career center to find a job. Don't roll your eyes. This is actually my last method for finding work: my last three jobs came from my post-secondary career center. So there. My summer job that led to a part-time gig during second year came from the bulletin board in the library school's administration office. Listen, use the career office: the employers have tracked you back to your lair.
My point is this: traditional methods, at least your tradition, can work to find work. You've been able to practice. You can try the unconventional, just don't become consumed by the latest fad, so much so that it sucks up all of your time.

Use the application checklist to jog your memory, and keep track of what you're doing this time.

From the world of good news, one of my co-workers was just yelling from her office that "in April, employment gains occurred in information, culture and recreation (+17,000)" (yes, in my office we holler about labor force statistics). Now, we're still sitting at 8% unemployment, and some of these jobs may be temporary for the summer, coinciding with the museum/rec centre/library upswing in summer programming, but it is still good news.

As an aside, Fortune has put together some of their reporting about getting and keeping a job in this economy. It has some ideas about how to job search--most come out in favor of networking--and the resources would be an asset if you are building a portal/pathfinder on job seeking.

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