Archive for November, 2009

Investing in your job hunt

Sometimes the most lasting gift you can give is to yourself. Though that sounds selfish in this season of giving to others, during a job hunt one needs to focus on oneself more than at other times — you, in effect, are the “product” you are marketing. And while you’re obviously trying to pare expenses while unemployed, there are some investments in yourself you should consider making that could land you a good job sooner.

Experts say that just after a layoff or buyout — especially if you have a decent severance or separation package and if you have a good-sized emergency fund to get you through the next few months — you should set aside a portion for spending on job-hunting investments. These are things that can help you get organized, appear and be more confident and make sure you are maximizing your potential in your job search. They include: (more…)


November 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

Giving of your time while job hunting

It seems appropriate to focus on volunteering on this day before Thanksgiving. Career experts often recommend that job seekers — especially those who aren’t engaged in free-lance projects — volunteer with worthwhile organizations to help fill their time, provide a positive focus and help others who may be in much worse straits. Volunteering can be a positive, feel-good distraction from the often lonely, emotionally draining work of job hunting.

Yet experts caution that job seekers shouldn’t go into a volunteer experience expecting too much — especially that it could lead to a full-time job. Though the networking that occurs through volunteering can help you expand contacts and may indirectly lead to a job, don’t put too much pressure upon the experience or you could end up viewing it as just another burden in your already burdened job-searching life.

Some tips from career and volunteering experts on how to give of your time — and get something positive back — while job hunting: (more…)

November 25, 2009 at 4:29 pm 2 comments

Looking forward even when you don’t feel like it

Today’s lead item will be a short one but several hiring managers and others have mentioned this to me lately: Some job candidates in interviews recently have made the (often disastrous) mistake of focusing on the past rather than on the job in front of them.

Recently laid-off and bought-out journalists often experience anger, frustration and a sense of loss over leaving a job they cared about. Most job hunters, however, abide by the cardinal rule, which I’ll repeat here, of never bad-mouthing your former employer (even if they richly deserve it) to a prospective employer. Yet hiring managers are reporting that some job seekers keep bringing up their previous job rather than focusing on what’s right in front of them. Some tips and cautions in interview sessions (and for others, please see a recent blog post “When the interviewer becomes the interviewee”): (more…)

November 24, 2009 at 12:44 pm Leave a comment

Turning down a job without closing a door forever

Though some might say this falls into the “nice-problem-to-have category,” it can also be a vexing issue: How do you turn down a job or free-lance opportunity with an organization without killing your chances to ever work for that employer in the future? And even if you may not be interested in keeping the door open at that company, as we all know Washington is an incredibly small town (especially in journalism circles) so you at least want to keep the contact as a friendly one.

Hiring experts say that, even in a lousy economy and an ultra-competitive job market, there are sometimes reasons to turn down a job. Often these relate to pay. It’s awkward to discuss money early in the hiring process (though as noted in an earlier blog post, “Talking about money,” it’s important to state your salary expectations as soon as you can) and sometimes the salary is simply much lower than you can accept. Or you may have received a better offer. And sometimes further research shows you would likely be a lousy fit for the organization and you’re better off not taking the job and failing.

Whatever the reason, recruiters and experts say it’s important to be clear, honest and upfront with the organization about your decision not to take the offer. Here are some of their tips: (more…)

November 23, 2009 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

When to act as a reference

These days, referrals and references are the way to get a job. Most hiring managers are flooded by resumes every time they post a job so they are relying even more on recommendations from those they trust. Chances are, if you haven’t already been asked to do so, a friend or former colleague soon will ask you to act as a reference.

Should you do this? And what caveats should you give the person asking for the reference, and the potential employer? Obviously you want to help out someone but can providing a reference potentially hurt you — especially if you are conducting your own job hunt?

Hiring experts are split on this. Some say you should be quite cautious and provide a reference only for someone you’ve worked with closely and can vouch for absolutely. Others applaud the tendency to be generous and help someone out, but say in cases where you don’t know the person well to be careful in what you say about them.

Some tips for acting as a reference (and see recent blog post, “Getting the most out of your references,” for how to manage your own!): (more…)

November 20, 2009 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

Searching for a job while still employed

Though it’s tough out here looking for a job, it sounds like it’s getting even more brutal in there — newsrooms, that is. Many friends and former colleagues at newsrooms across the country — and in D.C. — in a post-layoff environment are reporting they have more work and stress, less freedom and flexibility, and often new responsibilities and new bosses they didn’t sign up for. Many say they want out but are wondering how they can look for a new position while still hanging on to the job they have so they can pay the bills in the meantime.

Job hunting while employed takes time, energy, creativity and networking, all of which you must muster while still doing the tasks of your day job. Yet hiring experts say the conventional wisdom holds that it’s better to start a search — especially if you fear the ax may fall on your job any time soon — and try to land a new job before you’re shown the door. This is especially true for those who expect they will get little severance if their job is cut.

Some tips on how to conduct a search while you’re still working: (more…)

November 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

The temptation of temp work

Job-hunting journalists are often given advice to take on free-lance and consulting projects while searching to bring in extra money, boost their skills, improve their network and distract themselves a bit from the hurry-up-and-wait nature of the hunt. Yet what about temporary work — a regular job in an office or a string of offices?

Experts say temp work can provide some real benefits for job hunters. In addition to bringing in money that is often better than that offered for piecemeal free-lance work, temp work allows job seekers to gain some experience in a new field that may help them transition to that area going forward. Yet experts warn that job seekers who give up their hunt for temp work may be starting a search from scratch again when the project — which, by definition, will end — is over. And who wants to do that?

*Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to accept a temporary position: (more…)

November 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

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