Gopi Kallayil

26 07 2010

One of my favorites, Gopi Kallayil, on filling an empty cup.  Stay positive, Awesome and Unemployed!

Gopi’s words of wisdom for those of you who are unemployed.  This is how he thought about his “empty cup”.  I encourage you to do the same!


An update on Ralph

22 07 2010

Ralph just landed his dream job working with brilliant people… I’m trying to get the update.  I’ll keep you guys posted on his tips and tricks!  (In 1 month!!)

Guest Post: The Anal Person’s Guide to Job Hunting

30 06 2010
A great guest post from my friend, “Ralph”.  If you have direct questions for Ralph, add them here and I’ll pass it along!  -Stefanie

Hello, my name is Ralph. At least today it is. (Thanks Stef for the anonymity!) Like you, I am 20-something looking for awesome employment to fit awesome me. For months I’ve been itching to try something new and have finally worked up the resolve to switch to a new job to find it. I admit, it’s been a difficult journey so far with some very tough decisions, but I’m absolutely confident that I (and you too!) will find the right home in the end.

So how did I end up here on the Awesome & Unemployed blog? Well, the other day, Stef came across me meticulously filling out my job spreadsheet and updating my many versions of my resume and cover letter and checking off to-do’s and her first reaction was WTF?? I mean, really, is it necessary to take job hunting so seriously and approach it so methodically? And my answer is YES! It’s one thing to fire off a resume now and then or heck send it out to everyone regardless of the position, and another entirely to take active charge of your future and go after that beast of a job with focused determination.

After listening to me rant for some time about this, Stef asked me to write a guest post for her blog that takes you the reader step-by-step through the process of job hunting, from search to application. If you’re a lover of details, the advice below is just for you! Be sure to check out the Helpful Hints I’ve put in bold. Let’s get started!

Start the Search

Looking for the job of your dreams can be a long and tedious process. Take the time to do it right. I like to set aside an hour in the morning to browse job postings. Some of the more popular places to look are, and Craigslist. You can also make accounts on some of these sites and set up an automatic search agent that emails you job postings that match keywords. While this is helpful, I still have a preference for browsing the websites manually.

Helpful Hint:
Make a single spreadsheet to store all the potential jobs you find. Use it to record the following information:
– Company name
– Location
– Job Title
– Job Description (just a couple bullet points)
– URL to posting
– Applied? (put a check mark in this column when you apply)

This way you can keep track of jobs that you find across multiple sources without being confused about whether you had seen them before. It’s also a good way to compare positions so you know which are your top choices.

Prep Your Resume

I’m going to assume you already have a resume written and proofread (If you don’t, check out Stef’s post on The Perfect Resume). Now having ONE resume is all fine and good, but what people don’t tell you is that you probably need THREE resumes. The reason is that each job you apply to is slightly different, emphasizes different skills, and is targeted for a different kind of person. So why not give them what they want? Before you get all stressed out, don’t worry! You don’t need to actually write a separate resume for each job. Instead, break the positions down into 2-3 different categories (this is where that spreadsheet is helpful). I like to use Technical, Leadership, and Specialty X.

For technical positions, ones that emphasize skill and experience, I use a resume that highlights my previous experience doing this type of work. This is my default resume.

For leadership positions, ones that emphasize teamwork and complex projects, I use a resume that has for the first couple bullet points my leadership experience (I also include leadership projects from school at the end of the resume, titled “Leadership” just to get the point across).
And for specialty X positions, ones that are looking for a very specific skill, I use a resume that lists my experience with that specific type of project as the first bullet point.

All you have to do is rearrange the bullet points on your resume so that the first thing your future employer sees is exactly what she thinks she’s looking for!

Helpful Hint:
How do you keep track of all those versions of your resume?
I like to keep a folder on my computer called “resume” with multiple subfolders inside. Since my three types of resumes are Technical, Leadership, and Specialty X, I name my subfolders with these names and keep the corresponding resume document inside. This way I can name my resumes all the same (Firstname-Lastname-resume.docx or .pdf) and still be able to tell them apart.

Draft Your Cover Letter

Just like with the resume, I’m going to assume already know the basics of writing a cover letter (If not, here is a good starting point). Of course, you must have guessed it already, I’m going to tell you that yes you need to have a different cover letter for each job. But luckily, as with the resumes, you don’t really have to rewrite it each time. Use the same categories that you came up with for your resumes and write three generic cover letters, each emphasizing your skills for that particular category. For example, for technical positions, I like to include a short bullet pointed list of my technical qualifications so that the reader can see in a glance that I have the required skill set without even opening my resume (If you do this, be sure to tailor the list for each position. Just copy and paste from the job description). For leadership positions, I state my most important leadership/team experience and include my desire to grow as a leader/manager. And for specialty X positions, I call out their desire for an expert in X and how I have the specific experience they are looking for.

Helpful Hint:
Be specific! Always include the company name and job title in your cover letter, along with at least one sentence about their business and how you will contribute to and learn from it. You can copy the company/department mission statement almost verbatim from their website. Chances are, the guy reading your cover letter hasn’t read the corporate website recently. It’s easy to include these delectable details when you work from a generic draft like I’ve described above. Just leave a blank for you to fill in later. I use underlines and highlighting so that I don’t forget to change the text.

I am applying for the XYZ position at ABC company. blah blah blah blah blah blah blah… <Something about position XYZ at company ABC> blah blah blah. I look forward to speaking with you blah blah blah.

Go Apply Already!

Now that you have everything prepared, job spreadsheet, resumes and cover letters, it’s time to get down to actually applying. Pick out the positions you’re most excited about and apply to them first. Wash, rinse, repeat. Apply to every job on your list and then go out and look for some more. Don’t stop until you’ve actually gone through the whole process and accepted a position. (And in fact, you should keep looking even after you’ve accepted, if only to know that you have the best deal out there.)

Best of luck with your job search. Hopefully some of the tips above will help make this sometimes painful process easier for you. If anything, take away that job hunting is a skill like any other. Your actual qualifications are key, but HOW you apply is also important. Adios friends.


Congrats Class of 2010!

14 06 2010

Congratulations, Class of 2010! After years of midterms, all-nighters, and late night junk food, you’ve made it! You are officially released into the working world to leave your mark.

But as you embark on this new time in your life, you’re faced with some of the hardest challenges our world has ever faced: a 9.5% unemployment rate in the United States (13% in California!); national bankruptcy in Greece and Spain; and the constant fluctuation of the Asian stock markets. The world as you know it is changing before your eyes and the years you were in school kept you somewhat removed and safe from these realities. But now that you’re faced with the real challenge of finding your dream career (or any career for that matter), the pressure is on.

For those of you who have lined up your first job after college, congrats! You can stop reading now. For those of you who are still searching, I implore you to stay positive. While I won’t have a magic solution to solve your problems, I hope that I can remind you of the ways to keep you moving forward despite setbacks. So here’s my advice to you, Awesome and Unemployed class of 2010:

Stay positive. When you hit the bottom, there’s no where to go, but up.

I am a firm believer in the kinesis of attitude. Finding your strength and staying positive during uncertain times can bring you the energy you need to stay focused and find creative solutions to your situation. It can also draw others to you. People want to help others that have a good attitude despite all their circumstances. Don’t give up on yourself. You have worked too hard to let economic adversity change who you are and what you’ve achieved.

Make small, attainable goals that lead to bigger ones.

When I first sat down with my brother to talk about building a resume, I saw the color drain from his face. The thought of doing something he didn’t know how to do (building a resume) and doing something he didn’t like to do (talking about himself) made him lose his confidence. I knew that if he didn’t take tiny steps to try, he wouldn’t be able to start. He didn’t realize it, but I began laying out small milestones for him, starting with the frame of the resume. In our next conversation, we moved on to filling in the details he already knew about his experience. Finally, he thought about what else might be missing from the resume (I will ignore the fact that he lost his nerve again when I asked how it was coming along, because he forgot that he had even started the resume!). With a few final touch ups, he had a great resume. But had he kept thinking about the goal, he would have stayed overwhelmed and unsure of how to approach the situation. Setting tiny milestones help bring you to larger goals. Don’t forget to simplify your tasks, especially if you dislike them.

Creativity in scarcity.

There are numerous academic articles on how creativity comes out of scarcity. I like to call it being “scrappy”. I remember hitting the point in my life where the depression of being unemployed set in. It felt like there was nothing I could do to land the job I needed so badly for myself. I met with a mentor who suggested that I “walk in with more” than my resume. As I thought about this more, I really thought that I could do more than just talk about how I was a great fit, I would show them with real life examples. For my next interview, I decided to prepare a portfolio that showed off my different skill sets. I included examples of core skills and a snapshot of my schedule to show how I organize my life every day and how active I was. I did research for the company as if I was already working for them and added it to my portfolio. Then, I made sure that I used it as show and tell in my interview. Having visited many college campuses, I’ve seen many creative approaches to “walking in with more” than your resume. So what’s yours going to be?

Finally–Don’t waste a moment.

Being unemployed means that you have free time. Please don’t let your time go to waste. There are books to read, countries to visit, research to conduct, risks to take, people to help, and a life to live. Sitting and brooding over your situation doesn’t change it. It is toxic for your mental health. Enjoy life and do the things that make you the most passionate and alive. Find ways to incubate your skills and your sanity, so that when you finally do get the call from the employer, you’re mentally stimulated enough to have meaningful conversations with them and talk about all the amazing things you’ve been doing with your down time!

And with that, please, go out, and enjoy the summer. I wish you the best of luck!


3 05 2010

I love Jonathan’s advice.  It’s always resonated so well with me.  For those of you who need some good advice, JR’s you’r man.  He’s brutally honest and funny. He talks about hiring about 20 minutes in.  Enjoy!

Patience is a virtue

2 05 2010

I had a long talk with one of my mentors this weekend and some friends and I’m starting to notice a recurring theme in my life: too much emotion and impatience.  Feeling something is not a bad thing until it gets in the way of the things you want: the job, the promotion, the credibility, the relationship.

I’ve started noticing how stress at work is making me operate as a more “focused” person. By “focused” I mean that I am becoming increasingly impatient with others, especially when I think that my time can be better spent.  (Of course, the value of time and efforts is in the eye of the beholder, don’t forget that.)  Then I got to thinking… how about emotions in the job interview process?

When this comes to job searching, your graciousness and patience with a process, a person, or a company can really show positive character.  Getting pushy, short tempered and impatient does not get you far.

For example,there are almost always hold ups in the recruitment process: interviewer feedback takes longer than expected, they have more candidates that they want to meet before they decide, they need more information from you, or you’ve applied and haven’t heard a peep about whether you will get an interview.  It’s hard to wait.  It’s so hard to wait when you feel like your entire world relies on a response.

But your patience and graciousness in the process is very telling about your ability to handle ambiguity and to go with the flow when everything around you is chaotic.  Being rude, overly persistent, short-tempered with your contact won’t help move the process along faster (unless you’re the only person in the world that knows how to do what you’re being recruited for).

So hang tight!  Stay busy with side projects and other things to enrich your skills.  Job searching is just one part of getting yourself back on your feet.  Don’t forget to work on making yourself more knowledgeable about your industry, the work, and, most importantly IMO, yourself.

The really long resume….

29 04 2010

I’m reviewing resumes right now for a role I’m trying to fill and I’m just coming across so many long ones.  Please, please, please, please, please trim them down… I can’t find a thing I need on there!

My goodness, read this.  One page… 1.5 max (IMHO anyway….).  Others may disagree with this one page thing, but let me tell you, a well organized and structured resume just makes the others bite the dust.