Watchful Waiting

No, I’m not talking about what doctors sometimes recommend for a  slow-growing cancer, although there are days when the job search feels a lot like that.  I’m referring to the fact that it can take a long time for the right opportunity to appear (or reappear, like one of those slow growths).

Within the past few weeks, three positions have opened up at three different non-profit organizations that I’ve been interested in and at which I’ve applied in the past.   One is a large organization for which I’ve volunteered for a long time. The others were non-profits I became aware of through my job search.

First time around, I got no interviews at any of the three.  Since then, I’ve done some networking, which has resulted in one interview so far.  For the other two, I’m confident my resume will at least be reviewed, since I’ve gotten to know people inside the organization in similar roles and learned more about the skills and experience that are deemed most important.  And for good measure, one of those resumes will probably go through the CEO, since I know somebody who knows her.  Sometimes you have to pull out the big guns, but it’s important to keep your powder dry for when you really need it, too.

The interview I did get might also have had something to do with the fact that I’ve been volunteering with an organization with a similar mission, and recently completed a relevant certificate program, paid for by the organization I’ve been volunteering with.

A similar situation occurred with a for-profit role, too.  I had been phone screened, but was told I wasn’t a great match since I didn’t have enough experience in a certain area.  The interviewer was great –she said she was impressed with my experience in other areas, and gave me good, honest feedback.  She recently contacted me, asking if I was still looking, and noted there was another role I might be a good match for.    That trail has since gone cold, so perhaps her hiring colleague had other things in mind, but it is still nice to know that someone thinks I’m qualified for something!

The moral of the story is to identify organizations you are interested in, and make a point to get to know people there, even if they don’t have an immediate opening, or if you’ve been rejected.   Find out what skills they are looking for, and tailor your resume accordingly, or develop them if you don’t have them.  If they are a non-profit, consider volunteering for them or a similar organization.  And of course don’t burn any bridges. Ever. You never know who might be helpful in the future.

This can be a long and difficult process, but it can bear results.  I guess that’s why they call it networking.

A side note to non-profit HR departments:  it’s not good PR to diss your volunteers.  The organization where I’ve volunteered for many years rejected me last time with a form email that bordered on rude, telling me that I wasn’t qualified.  They should have incorporated questions about volunteer service with them into their employment application, so that volunteers can at least receive a kind rejection that acknowledges their volunteer service even if they are not a good fit for the job.  Last time around, I’m not sure a real person even read my resume, since their online app is long and convoluted.  That’s part of the reason I enlisted the big guns this time.

Enough with the military metaphors for now, although the husband is dragging us to Gettysburg soon, so I’m sure I’ll have an endless supply after that.

Still in Limbo Land

No, I haven’t fallen off the edge of the planet since the end of the A to Z Challenge.  I just decided to take a few days off from blogging to catch up on other things, which turned into a month.

On the job front, I’m sorry to report that things are much the same.  These include a couple of phone interviews, a number of calls from recruiters, an upcoming interview for a position I have mixed feelings about, but no job to report.   It’s still maddening to think that at the drop of a hat, I could be scrambling to reorganize all of our summer activities during a mad search for childcare, or I could still be looking for work in September.

Another challenging aspect about this phase of my job search is that I feel like I’ve tapped out many of my obvious networking opportunities.  Some people have been extremely helpful, but I don’t feel like I can keep asking them for assistance, especially if I can’t be helpful to them in any way.

Companies can be very cautious about hiring, and some seem to really drag the process out.  I got a random call a couple of weeks ago regarding a position I’d given up on long ago, asking if I was still available, and assuring me that they were still planning to fill the position and would be reconsidering candidates within a few weeks after a reorganization.  I have no idea how many candidates they are trying to string along, but I’m not particularly hopeful that they will actually fill this position, or that this would be a good place to work long-term if I am the candidate they end up choosing.

On the brighter side, I am volunteering part-time for two organizations where there’s a chance that my work could morph into a paid position, at least part-time, and I’m developing some new marketable skills.

I even had to get out the dyes again this week, to fill a large order for the small custom apparel business I used to run on the side.  I have people ask me to make them things from time to time, but have been telling them that I’m no longer in business, as it’s not worth the effort to make one or two items.  I enjoyed my venture but it was really more of a hobby that paid for itself rather than a major income producer.  Still, it was nice to make a bit of money while using up existing inventory.   It also reminded me that people (even total strangers) will actually pay money for something I have made.   This is an affirmation that I CAN be creative, even if it is not the main source of my income.  (Thank you for the thoughts, fellow bloggers Rebecca and Steven – I may even take the video challenge myself!)

The Hidden Job Market

Ok, I can now attest that the hidden job market I’ve read a lot about really does exist.  Last week, I got a phone call inviting me to a job interview this coming week for a job that has apparently not been posted, and for which they are reportedly considering just two people.  (I’m one of them.)  This came via a wonderful networking contact I’ve yet to have meet in person, and who works for someone I was introduced to by a friend.   The contact works with an organization that she thought was in the process of creating a new position.   Then, lo and behold, the phone call came asking if I’d like to interview for said position.

I have a lot of questions about the position, as it does not seem to be clearly defined, but it is gratifying to see things moving along!  I guess I’ll find out more at the interview.

I’m still planning to keep answering ads, though.  To me at least, there seems to be more employment activity than a few months ago, more job postings of interest, more stories of people I know getting jobs.  I hope this is a broader trend!

Cautiously Optimistic

Between about 10am and 2pm today, while I was out on one of my volunteer gigs, the following transpired:

  • Got a request for a phone interview with a company recruiter for a position I’ve been following and networking for a couple of weeks.
  • Confirmed the time for a second (phone) interview, with the actual hiring manager at another company
  • Had a detailed discussion with a staffing firm recruiter, regarding a contractor position for which my resume will likely be submitted today.
  • Got two form rejection e-mails (one from a black hole application, one for a position for which I’d had a phone interview).  Kudos to those companies for at least closing the loop.  It’s much better than never getting a response.
  • Set up a new networking interview for later this week.
  • Learned that one of my networking contacts lost his job.  Hoping I can provide him with some leads.

It seems that HR people are very busy on Mondays!  While there’s no guarantee any of these will result in a real live job, it is somewhat encouraging.

Sometimes I try to amuse myself by projecting the likelihood of a job, based on the current pipeline, like a sales forecast.   For example, I assume a resume to a black hole (and I only apply for positions for which I think I’m well qualified) is about a 1 in 200 chance of a job, but goes up to about 1 in 50 if I can connect with someone internally who can get my resume to a real person who will look at it, 1 in 20 if I can reach the hiring manager or get to the screening interview stage with an HR person.  Odds go to 1 in 5 if I get an in-person interview, 1 in 2 or better if I know them from a previous job.  

 None of these odds are based on any kind of scientific analysis.   (And frankly, I don’t want to be doing this long enough to have a statistically significant n.)  It does help keep me going, and encourages me to keep filling the pipeline. 

In the end, my job hunt IS a sales activity, and the product is ME, so I might as well try to have a sales forecast.

 Happy forecasting, fellow job-hunters!

A So-So Week

A couple of resumes went nowhere, a bit of potential contract work has been postponed indefinitely, and I’m assuming no news is bad news on an interview that had at least gotten to the phone screen stage. (Why can’t they at least send the “thanks but no thanks” form email if they won’t return a call?)  And obviously, nothing resembling a job yet.

Still, I’ve had several contacts send me job openings.  Even though none has been quite suitable for me, at least I know people are helping me.  Am trying to keep my own eyes open for fellow job-seekers. Had a couple of good networking interviews in an organization I’m quite interested in.  They have no openings at the moment, but one never knows what the future might hold.  Have another one with a different organization set up for next week. 

One great bit of news – a former colleague and thoroughly decent guy just landed a much anticipated job.  He’s been helpful in my job search, and quite handily will be starting with a large organization I’ve been trying to get inside of, in a similar area.  But most of all, I’m thrilled to see a well-deserving person land in a place that will make their life substantially better, in his case knocking a least 1 1/2 hours off of his daily commute.

I’ve been wrestling with what to have in my LinkedIn summary, and I think I’ve changed it about five times this week.  I had something I thought was kind of funny addressing the “elephant in the room” of having worked mostly part-time jobs for several years, but got a strong suggestion that I should change anything that could give a recruiter pause.  So I went plain and boring, which makes me look like the many other people competing for any given job.  I realize that I need a job more than a creative writing award, but I’m still not satisfied with what I have. 

I do think that I’ll vomit if I have to read another summary about a “results-driven professional” who “strives for excellence.”   As if most of us poor slobs are striving for mediocrity?  I’m secretly dying to create a fake profile for someone who “beleives in attenshun to detail” and has “excalant writing skills.”  However, I realize I should instead spend my time looking for gainful employment, and so I shall soldier on.

March on, fellow soldiers!

A Good Week

It’s been a pretty good week on the job search front.

Had a fabulous networking lunch with a very high-level executive I happen to have a personal connection with.  Not only is she a wonderful, generous person, but she has plenty of contacts in organizations I’d be interested in working for, having worked in both of my targeted fields of financial services and non-profits.

Got a lead on a potential short-term gig, although the position hasn’t been formulated yet.  I guess this is an example of the “hidden job market” I keep reading about. 

A job posting I liked was filled internally.  But, I got this feedback from an insider who gave me some good company intel, got my resume to the hiring manager, and followed up with me afterwards.  This is a person I’ve never even met, who I found via networking.  He’s definitely earned some positive karma.

Got my resume in front of another hiring manager via another networking contact.   Think this one sounds promising.   Had a great phone conversation, and suspect that this kind person is willing to help in part because she was in the same boat (re-entering the job market) a few years ago.

Had a HR screening phone interview for a position that sounds quite interesting.  Thought it went well, will find out if I’m right next week.

Even had an organization pick up on my blog, who might be interested in it for promotional purposes (after I get a job, of course). 

So far, so good!  I realize it’s a numbers game.  Most, if not all, of these opportunities will not turn into anything.  I am confident that one will, someday soon.  And each contact I make increases the odds of getting to the job I am going to find.