Is SEO Really that Difficult?

I’m always intrigued when I see people marketing SEO optimization strategies, or looking for SEO experts in job postings.  Is it really a huge scary specialty, like having a PhD in nuclear engineering?

I’m no expert, and this is my first blog.  But it seems that the basics aren’t really rocket science.  So it’s always refreshing to see someone put out no-nonsense information without the expert BS.  Here’s one example, from Patrick McFadden.  Yes, he’s trying to sell his consulting services, but he has some good, commonsense information available on his website, such as this article:   The Beginners Guide to SEO Strategy.

Paying It Forward

Once again, I have to comment on how helpful people have been in my job search.  It is restorative to my faith in humanity.  Even when there’s nothing in it for them, they still want to be nice.  My goal in return is to be as helpful as I can, not just to those who have aided me, but to others I have no vested interest in helping.  And not just related to job hunting.

So far, a total stranger and very lovely person met me to tell me about her job (which I covet).  Friends and friends of friends have been willing to share coffee, take calls, provide advice, and pass on job descriptions, and people I worked with many years ago have been willing to forward my resume on with a strong recommendation.  Thanks to all, and I hope I can repay the favor.  If not to you, then to someone else.

And maybe we should all link hands and sing a round of kumbaya, while we’re at it?

I don’t have anything resembling as much as an interview yet coming out of this process, let along a job offer, but I am optimistic that the networking process is working as it should, kumbaya, or no kumbaya.  And I really will try to be helpful.

Even odder, I’ve done absolutely nothing whatsoever to promote my blog (none of my friends and family are even aware I have one) but quite a few people have stumbled upon my posts.

Go figure.  Or is that evidence of how much time people really waste online?  Isn’t there more compelling content out there, such as videos of cats and the coming zombie apocalypse?

What I’m Learning About Job Hunting in the Digital Age

  • You can waste a lot of time looking at stuff online
  • Most of the people who post to job board discussions seem to spend a lot of time posting to job board discussions, without adding much value
  • There are some really good bits of advice out there, but you can spend a lot of time looking at stuff online
  • People are more likely to stumble across your blog if you mention zombies
  • There are still a lot of videos of cats playing the piano and talking babies on Youtube
  • No matter how hard I try, I’ll never have a resume as funny and effective as this one: 

·         HTTP://WWW.PHILDUB.COM/#

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Having hoarding tendencies does have its advantages.  No, I don’t live in a trailer filled with newspapers and 83 cats.  Although I’m quite fond of our one remaining elderly cat, and have been known to leave piles of magazines and books laying around…hmm, guess I better watch that…  

I’m happy to note that I’ve been fairly good at hoarding money.  I’ve always maxed out my 401k accounts, and required my husband to do the same as a condition of marriage, after he passed my inspection of his tax records and other finances.  (I did this after a friend found out her husband had a lot of debt after they got married, and would recommend that everyone do the same.)  We’ve been decent at socking away portions of bonuses and the like, too.

I’d strongly recommend to anyone just starting out that you max out your 401k, even if you have a low salary, or at least add to it whenever you get a raise.  Really, you don’t miss the money much if you never see it, and it makes a huge difference later on, with all that compounding.  Plus, you can’t assume you’ll be happily earning top dollar until you are 65.

In any case, since we made some hay while the sun was shining, we’re OK with one job, for the moment.  Although this doesn’t work long-term.  Not unless we want to retire to the double wide next to the woman with the cats.

A Warning to HR Professionals

Alert: At all costs, beware of people who have been out of the job market for some time.   There’s nothing good they could have been up to.  They  might have doing irrelevant things like learning new skills, volunteering in your community, raising children and perhaps even travelling.  If they did work during this time, it might have been part-time, at a less senior level, or even worse, in a different field.

As we all know, unrelated experience is a killer – you do not want to bring someone into your firm who might have a different perspective on life.  It’s disruptive to the status quo, and can make current employees uneasy to have to interact with someone who is not exactly like them.  Worse, it could lead to changes in business practices.

That’s why your resume screening software is SO important.  The only relevant skill in determining future on-the-job success is the ability to put the right key words from your past job or two in the right place in your resume.  The software captures that ability perfectly, and screens out all of the silly nonsense about judgement, motivation, and other irrelevant intangibles.  Keep up the good work!

UPDATE: There is reliable field data that suggests that people who have been out of the job market are blood-sucking zombies.  They will infect your current workforce if you let them in.  Skeptical?  How else can you explain current societal obsessions with zombies and vampires?  How about the rise of virtual reality shows?  Those zombies are at the gates of your corporate campuses, trying to get in by any means.  DO NOT let them in!

******

OK, I got that off my chest.  Now back to being relentlessly positive, and the coffee shops!  And yes, I know there are some HR professionals who do get it, and realize that you can lose some good candidates by relying too heavily on screening software.

Reflections on the Kindness of Strangers (and Friends)

At this relatively early stage in my job search journey, I’ve been following the conventional wisdom and focusing mostly on networking. Frankly, I’ve been flabbergasted by how helpful and generous people have been. I’ve found it very easy to get people to sit down and give me advice on where I should look, how I might better market myself, and other people I should talk to. The feedback has been very useful, and I now have a backlog of people I can contact.

A few of the useful tidbits I received: ways to improve my online presence and monitor some thought leaders, a few tweaks to make in my experience descriptions, and some suggestions on industry certifications to consider.
I’m even being considered for a potential short-term assignment in a completely new field. This assignment is way out of my area of expertise, and may not end up working out, but it just goes to show what can come out of interactions with others.

To me the most astonishing thing of all is that I got a complete stranger to agree to meet me. I found this person on LinkedIn. She works for an organization I’m interested in, has a fascinating background, and most amazingly, agreed to give up some of her free time to help a total stranger. I’m looking forward to meeting this marvelous person in a few days.
Another skill I’m updating in my quest: knowing where the nice independent cafes in the region are.

How it all began

“My name is Kelly, and I’m an unemployed job seeker.“   Is this what it feels like at your first AA meeting?   To finally put it out there?   I’ve lived in the dark underworld of part-time underemployment for some time, but am now forced by economic reality to face the rough seas of serious job-hunting in a very stormy market.  This blog will be my record of that journey.  (Sans the seasickness, I hope.)

I cannot whine too much, as my family is better off than many.  For many years my husband had a very good job.  He lost that job in a downsizing after 19 years of service, but has found a new one that brings him a great deal of personal satisfaction.  The downside: what he gained in satisfaction, he lost in compensation, since he has moved to the non-profit sector.  We have always been savers, so we are in no danger of losing our home or missing any bill payments any time soon.  However, if we want to be able to avoid drawing down our nest egg, and afford a decent retirement and college tuition, I need to find a real job.  Plus, I want to start taking real vacations again.

Here is how it began: I quit my last full-time job about six years ago.  It was an hour’s commute each way, and we were transitioning from the world of day care (available 7am to 6pm if you needed it) to the world of public education, which begins with that bane of the working parents’ existence called half-day kindergarten.  This meant that IF we could figure out the before-school time,  our older daughter would have ridden a bus from school to an afternoon program , then transitioned to a second program when the full-day elementary students arrived.   I just couldn’t do that to her, especially when I was an hour away, should anything happen.  Our previous daycare was at the husband’s place of employment, so he could help with the removal of sick and injured offspring when needed.

Yes, I’m aware that there are many others, including single parents, who never had that luxury of choice to quit a job.  I have to say in my defense that we are entirely lacking in that strategic resource called “extended family members in the vicinity.”

I plan to continue blogging with details on my job-seeking experience, observations along the way, and random musings about tangentially related topics.