Secrets of the Job Hunt


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Distressed job seeker seeks advice

Yesterday I received the following email from one of my readers which I wanted to comment on and also ask others to comment on as well. Lets see if we can give him some career guidance...he writes;

Hello C.M., I'm enjoying reading your website.

It is quite ironic that, even though I have a two-year computer degree,the idea of 'blogging' is such a new concept to me. I think libraries may want to take notice :-)

The reason I am writing you is that I am in a two-fold situation, and seemingly a bad one. One, is that I am33 years old and pretty much up until the last half-year, did not have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. Even though I went to school for a computer degree, I'm not a hundred percent sold on the idea of working in a computer-oriented profession. Sadly, I can not say that I started taking computer courses in the first place because I loved computers.Being involved with computers seemed to be a way outof socializing with others, something I have a difficult time doing.

Two, is that I am running out of time. My wife and Iare expecting our first child this May 2006, and I am unemployed. In the past two months I've had two jobs. The first one I was let go. In that 'mailroom' job,the supervisor verbally trashed me for making a minor mistake on a job that he didn't properly train me to do, and I stood up for myself. Result? Termination for insubordination. The second job I just quit yesterday. I couldn't physically do that job. It required manually snipping (with wire cutters) flash from plastic components as they come out of an injection molding machine. I literally cut excess flash from over 4,800 hundred parts. That's 9,600 snips in a single shift. That job required working 410-hour shifts per week. After I came back from each work-break, there would be a very large pile of parts on the floor for me to pick up. I've worked in the manufacturing sector for years, and it's hard for me to imagine that this employer hasn't heard of' floaters'. After working Monday, my hand is still cramping. Feels like one very large bruise.

The ONE thing I know is that I want to get out of the manufacturing (factory, warehouse) sector. I can't stand the people that work in those places. The bosses are often jerks and don't seem to enjoyintelligent talk with their slaves (I have a suspicionwhy that is, LOL), and the slaves don't seem capable of talking intelligently (therein lies another suspicion of mine). Some things that I enjoy doing are:

- gardening
- learning how to do things with computers, though I wish I was using my computer to *create* things
- helping others, offering advice, teaching others- rescuing animals
- planning our finances, moving money around on paper
- logically thinking things through, weighing options

Since I have always been an open-minded person it is difficult for me to say exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. There are some things that Iwould *really* enjoy doing (even if I didn't get paid to do it)

- financial counselor, shape the way others think about their money and how they interact with it- run an animal rescue service
- race in Formula One (off the track, but hey, LOL)
- coach basketball team for kids
- rebuild small struggling businesses from scratch into money-making, well-organized machines
- re-wire a house and build in wireless appliances, communications and entertainment devices

Over the past couple of years, some people have toldme things like:

"you should be a teacher"
"you should be a consultant"
"you're really good with remembering patterns"
"you seem to pick up technical tasks quickly"

My dying question to you, C.M., is what on earth should with myself career-wise? Last night my wife made the comment "I don't want to be harsh, but you're in a bad spot. You can't do the things you want todo, because you're not qualified. And, you don't want to work in factories, etc.". The field of finance offers lots of opportunity, but honestly it seems to go against some of my values. Its goal is to continously make money, and I don't find that to be important. Besides, I'm not even remotely qualified to work in that field, I don't think. Work with electricity would require that I become an Apprentice,but it can be tough to find an apprenticeship. My wife says that even though I'd love knowing how to wire up houses, etc., that she can't see me enjoying doing that long-term. To be a teacher I'd have tohave certification, and most of my two-year credits wouldn't transfer into a teaching degree program. Besides, my aunt says that she thinks I wouldn't make a good substitute teacher, so that makes me wonder how unsuccessful I would be as a teacher. Forget Formula One racing. The wife wouldn't let me :-) I should mention that I've always wanted to learn how to drive a tractor-trailer, but right now is definitely not a good time to be thinking about truck driving. Besides, I'm not really sure I'd want to be driving thousands and thousands of miles every week.

If you're asleep by now, I apologize. I just figured that since you're knowledgeable of how to find jobs, that maybe you've been down the path before of not knowing what to apply for in the first place. Right now I need income YESTERDAY, and I want to work somewhere where co-workers are civil and mature, and where the job doesn't require 4,000-5,000 pices of hot plastic on a nightly basis :-)




Dear Thomas, finding jobs is relatively easy but finding a career - particularly one that you will enjoy is a little harder to come by. I can only give you general advice since I dont know the details of your situation but here it is.

Since you do like computers, animals, financial services try and find a company such as an animal rescue org, or a financial services firm and seek work as a computer tech so you can get your foot in the door. Instead of job hunting, go 'company hunting'. Compile a list of firms that you might like to work for and and learn as much as you can about them. Find out what their needs are. If they dont have a website, see if they'll let you do one for them. If they need help installing new computers offer them a plan to upgrade. Create a proposal and see if they'll hire you on a temp basis so you can prove your worth. You may even want to do something like this.

These days it is up to you - the jobseeker - to PROVE to potential employers how you will add value and help them solve their problems. Finding your dream job is not for the meek. It takes a can-do attitude and persistence. It also requires networking, which you failed to mention you were doing.

The fact that you have a kid on the way only puts more pressure on you I'm sure. But it should also act as motivation to find a career you can stick with for the long-term. I was in a similar situation when I was about 28 yrs old (minus a kid on the way). Anyway, I graduated with a marketing dgree and was sure I wanted to be in marketing. I bounced around a few jobs until I came to a company called Gartner, Inc. I was there for 5 years and while I was there I held 3 very different jobs - 1 in research, 1 in tech support, 1 in web design. While I was there I also got my Masters degree which the company paid for. I used Gartner to better my skills by going back to school and by taking jobs in different departments. Once I moved to tech support I knew I wanted to work in computers. I then moved to their internet dept and my love affair with the web began.

My point in telling my story is that no one told me to do all this. I took it upon myself to better myself and learn as much as I could in the jobs that were available to me. I took charge of my career and the rest is history. Today I own my own internet business and work from home. I have found a career I love. Now go get yours!

Best of luck,


PS.. any of my readers have advice for Thomas? Feel free to share it...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for calling me out on that. Networking 'should' be a part-time job for any aspiring professional. Well, I say 'job' because it doesn't come naturally for me. I tend to be very blunt and "How can I help you?", probably even in situations where no help is wanted or needed. Networking is something that I have started to do, though. In fact, today I called back two temp agencies (and one of the temp clients that I worked at) to let them know that I am available, that I want to work (not just need a paycheck, sitting at home is DEPRESSING!), and that I really enjoyed working with them in the short period that I did. Really, I know everyone says "don't burn bridges", but I find it easier to just try and look for the positive in people and make THAT my focus when talking to others. Even though I do not trust temp agencies (they have burned ME so many times, LOL), at least they said they would keep me in mind and that my work being cut short with their clients had nothing to do with me, just circumstances. I do keep saying that I no longer want to work with computers (or, rather, search for computer work), but you can never hide that which you love. I love technology and just want to find my niche in working with it. Tom

James Baker said...

Hi Friend! I liked your blog!Excellent work here!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
best jobs
Best success to you! :-)

Anonymous said...

I see that 'all the best to you!' is spamming his blog -- er, headhunting business -- everywhere. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Hey thomas and C.M.,

Thomas first of all my heartfelt thanks to you for bringing out your feelings in such a beautiful way...I am going thru the same debate within myself although have no baby or a wife but am still in a job I dont like (the work environment if gr8...colleagues r encouraging...boss gives me free hand but somehow cannot relate to it..) and secondly want to do something much more creative that satisfies my passion (somehow never understood my friends when they say waht else we can do..feel like is there nothing I can do..Are we so helpless?)

and have diverse set of skills as you do..and compounded to these I have an immigration status that severely delimits me in many ways and just let me not be what I want to be..sometimes just feel like starngling myself...but..gotta live...

secondly thanks to C.M. for sharing how he got it done..I have been searching for these answers from friends, colleagues and relatives who were there earlier and their advise was disappointing more worst revealed the secret in just couple of lines...thats what I realized and started doing just 2 months agao and hopefully hope to get my destination..

good luck Tomas...hope u find something good soon...