I’m employed again and I love it! More on that later… (yay!)

I’ve learned a lot of of things over the last 9 months. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

It is really hard to get noticed.

During my unemployed time, I discovered that there are many jobs in Portland that I was qualified for. On average, I applied for about 4 a week but I would only get called back about once for every 12 times I applied for work. I wasn’t applying for work that I wasn’t qualified for either. I usually met at least 90% of the requirements of the job posting that the company was looking for. I’m not interested in wasting a recruiter’s time anymore than I am in wasting mine but I wasn’t getting the callbacks that I was hoping for. Here’s what I did that helped me get hired.

The first thing I read about what the current job market was like stated that it was better to take a ‘less is more’ approach to your resume. Get it all onto one page and anything you did 10 years ago is now irrelevant.

My experience: I got more callbacks on the 2 page version of my resume than I did on the 1 page version.

There’s 2 reasons why this is true for me.

  1. The first company I worked for in my industry (IT) was Intel. My time at Intel ended about 15 years ago but I believe that listing this company’s name on my resume made me more attractive to employers and lead to more callbacks.
  2. I have historically stayed with companies for an average of 6 years. In other words, I’ve only worked at 3 companies as an adult. There are pros and cons of this work history but in my case, I needed to list as much of my work history as possible because there’s not a lot of line items.

Getting through a company’s resume firewall is very difficult.

You find a job that interests you and you begin to apply. You create an account, supply them with all your contact info, and then you upload a resume. Within a minute or two, you get an email that says something along the line of, “Thanks for your interest, we’ll call you if we feel like it, don’t call us.”

My experience: Do what they say and hope for the best but increase your chances of success by customizing your resume.

In the beginning of my search, I trusted that whomever my resume ended up in front of would know that if I listed LAN/WAN/WiFi experience on my resume that they would know that I could support network services. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Make a few different resumes with different words for the same thing and tweak them for each job you apply for. If the company lists TCP/IP as a skill that’s needed, list it on your resume and list it exactly as they did. Matching keywords appears to be the best way to beat these systems because the 24 year old that’s parsing these things isn’t the hiring manager and all they can do is guess if you’re a good fit based on what you’ve listed on your resume and how it reads.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

It was my father that said that the best way for me to get a job would be to extend my social network. Meet people, go to job fares, write letters to companies I wanted to work for, and make cold calls.

My experience: He was right.

I did a lot of this stuff, mostly in social environments and I was always quick to mention that I was between work and asked if they knew of any opportunities. The timing never quite lined up for me to attend any job fares though. I ended up meeting with 3 job recruiters in person and the first 2 were completely worthless. I left them feeling no better off than I did when I woke up that day. The third one I met with left me with a different impression. He seemed knowledgeable and not interested in wasting time. At the end of our meeting, he asked me what my experience had been like with the other recruiters. I said that there have been opportunities but nothing has been a great fit yet. He asked what I was interested in and I told him. At the end of the meeting, I told him that I got a good vibe from him and felt like he was the first recruiter that I had met with that was actually worth a damn. And as it turns out, my impression was correct.

Make the most of your time.

As an adult, I frequently feel like there’s not enough time to get everything done that I’d like to accomplish and I tried to look at my time off as a means to get things done. What did I accomplish?

  • I grouted the kitchen floor
  • Installed doors on all of the closets in the house
  • Tons of landscaping, including shoveling in two units of cedar bark chips
  • Built 2 new raised garden bed planters
  • Sold over $1000 of stuff on eBay
  • Started studying for the Comp TIA A+ certification
  • Traveled often
  • Implemented an exercise program I love
  • Made significant improvements to my golf game
  • Digitized tons of media

Staying busy is the key to sanity. If all you do is clean the house, mow the lawn, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and cook meals, you’ll eventually lose your mind. Study something, take up a hobby, volunteer your time; anything. Just stay busy or you will go crazy.

As a side note, I will do a few more posts about my job hunting experiences, including the job I found, and then I’ll take the blog in a new direction that will be mostly helpful tips on life.






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