Common Sense Tips for Surviving the Job Search

The numbers are daunting. 9.6% of Americans are unemployed. The economy may be on an upswing, but the rebound has been slow. While it may be difficult to land a position in your field, there are thousands of jobs available. Sometimes, one has to take on a role he or she may not like to make ends meet. That’s an unfortunate fact of life. Ask anyone who has been blindsided by a layoff. I know because I have faced two within five years. Yes, it was devastating.

Finding a job is a job within itself. I have had six-month stretches of sending out hundreds of resumes and not receiving one interview request. I know the pain of landing an interview and having it go well only to never hear from that company again. I also know the agony of accepting a position only to discover a month in that I was not suited for the role. Below, I have provided three tips that seem to be common sense but, in these tough economic times, can be forgotten in our need to provide for our families and ourselves.

1. Don’t apply for positions for which you are either under or over qualified. I cannot stress this enough. Just because you possess the training and experience for three of six requirements listed in the job description shouldn’t be enough for you to send the company your resume. Someone took a lot of time and effort to clearly state the objectives and business needs of the company and we, the job seekers, should take them seriously. The company may not have the time or manpower to train you on something the position requires advanced knowledge of. They need someone who can jump right in and get the job done. By the same token, if the position states “entry-level” and you have ten years business experience, don’t be shocked if you don’t get a callback. Sure, you can do the job, but your level of experience is not meeting with the needs of the company, i.e., it’s not in their budget to pay you what you are worth. With that much experience, you will not be content with entry-level pay and responsibilities. The company knows that and, deep down, so do you. Only apply for positions that you feel your experience and talents will be an asset to the organization.

2. If you land an interview, inquire about timeframes. Ask the interviewer how long the company plans to interview for the position. This will keep you from checking your voice mail every hour on the hour and also from running to answer the phone only to discover a telemarketer on the line (at least’s he’s working). Knowing that the company plans to interview for the next three weeks can lessen your anxiety because you now know when to expect a call for a second interview. Also, ask for a business card. This is important for follow-up. After the interview, send the interviewer a short email thanking him or her for the opportunity. This is a nice touch and it shows that you are sincere about the position. It can also open lines of communication between you and the company. I once had an interview with a major telecommunications company. After the interview, I sent the interviewer an email thanking her for her time and requesting a return call if she had additional questions. Long story short, I didn’t get the job, but I did receive an email from her advising the position had been filled. What’s so great about that, you ask? If you have ever left an interview on cloud nine thinking the position was all but yours only to never again hear from the interviewer, then you know it is kind for a busy hiring manager or HR generalist to personally advise you of your application status.

3. Don’t accept a job you hate. This may seem to contradict my earlier statements about having to take on positions you may not like until you can do better, but it doesn’t. A job you don’t like is a drag. You hate to get up in the morning and face mind-numbing, repetitive tasks that bore, but you realize it is better than nothing and go about the rest of the day dreaming about the weekend. With a job you hate, however, the feelings are much deeper. This is the job that causes you emotional and physical distress. You actually begin to have panic attacks on Sunday evening just thinking about going to work on Monday. For me, a job I hate is being a call center representative. I remember driving to work and the closer I got to the office building, the more nauseous I became. I remember spending my lunch hour in the parking garage, reclined in my car praying for my splitting headache to subside. I knew I hated logging in to phone systems, strapping on a headset and taking call after call after call. To me, that is the height of working despair. Every time I have accepted a call center representative position (twice now), I have had to resign within the first year. So why did I accept them in the first place? Money. My bank account was dwindling and I needed the money. Looking back, my salary did not pay all my bills so not only did I have the stress of working in an industry I despised, I also had the stress of STILL not having enough money to pay my debts. Take my advice, which is steeped in personal experience. Hold out a little longer if you can. I know how painful it is when bills begin to stack up, but you will not do yourself or your family any favors by taking on a job that leaves you physically sick and emotionally drained. If you feel you must take on such a position, please make it a very last resort. No job is worth destroying your physical and emotional well-being.

These tips were culled from years of exhilarating highs and disappointing lows in the job search. I am currently employed, but know from experience that I may again find myself searching job boards and trying to impress hiring managers. That’s the new reality of working in America. Hopefully, following the above tips will make an already stressful situation less hard to bear.

eReaders Are Great But…

I finally broke down and bought a wireless reading device. I won’t divulge the brand to keep this article from turning into a review or advertisement. I’ll just say it is one the most popular eReaders on the market. Okay, I bought a Kindle.

I was enticed by the convenience of not having to drive to my local bookstore to buy new releases. Now, all I have to do is point and click and within thirty seconds a bestseller is downloaded to my eReader. If I’m feeling too lazy to turn on my computer, I can download titles directly from the eReader as it has an Internet connection. Again, just a scroll and click then poof – the title is downloaded and listed on my Home page. I love the ability to purchase books, magazines and newspapers anytime I want. I love having my library in one place and not having to choose which book to take with me to read on lunch breaks and extended trips. The technological advantages alone make the somewhat steep price of the eReader well worth the money, especially if one averages around a book a week like I do. As much as I like the eReader, I do have one problem. I miss the traditional reading experience.

The eReader has a no-glare screen that mimics a book page but, to me, it is not the same. I miss holding a hardcover in my hands and the sound of the pages turning. I miss reading jacket blurbs and seeing the author’s picture. I even miss the smell from the pages of a recently purchased book. While I don’t regret buying my eReader, I can’t help but to hope that the device’s rise in popularity doesn’t render traditional books obsolete. For my part, I still plan to buy a hardcover every now and then just for nostalgic reasons. Perhaps I’m being too sentimental?

Don’t Let Bullies Ruin Your Life – Part 2

A while back, I posted an article titled, “ Don’t Let Bullies Ruin Your Life.”*  In it, I shared my past experiences with bullies and offered coping advice for those being bullied.  The recent spate of teen suicides contributed to relentless bullying has spurred me to continue this discussion with the hope that at least one child will find it helpful and beneficial.

For those who think of bullying as a childhood rite of passage, please change your way of thinking.  The type of behavior that is causing young adults to take their own lives goes beyond friendly joshing and teasing.  It is a deliberate social exclusion during a time in life when being accepted means everything.  It is devastating when that feeling of acceptance is taken away.  Add camera phones, viral streaming and social media and a bullied child could feel there is nowhere to turn or hide.  If you participate in bullying, stop right now.  It is not right to harass a person who seems different.  It takes more courage to get to know someone than it does to fall in line with others.  Break away from the crowd.  You just may find true friendship based upon you as a person and not your ability to follow the leader.

To kids and teens experiencing bullying:  I cannot stress enough that one’s junior high and high school years don’t last forever.  I know because I survived them both.  For me, high school and junior high were an emotional and sometimes physical torture.  I was too skinny, too ugly, too weird, or just too whatever. I know how horrible the loneliness is.  I know how it feels to be excluded from conversations and group activities.  I’ve sat alone in the lunchroom.  I’ve been denied a seat on the school bus, pushed off a seat on the school bus, completely ignored when speaking and laughed at simply for being myself.  Sometimes, the only way I slept at night was from sheer exhaustion after crying over some mean remark or cruel prank.  And, sadly, I, too, began to think the world would be better place without me in it.   I am glad I never gave in to those feelings and I pray, that you never do, either. Don’t rob the world of the brilliance and talent that only you possess.  Life gets better.  I know that has been tossed around so much that it’s becoming cliché. And I also know that it’s little comfort when you are in pain today.  But it’s true.  If you can’t find anything else to believe in, at least believe the words of someone who has experienced and survived the same situations you find yourself in.  Please seek help from your parents (they understand a lot more than you think) or another trusted adult.  Seek comfort and guidance from your faith.  Always remember that you are loved and valued and needed.  There are more people in your corner than out.  I am definitely in your corner.  God bless you.


As Seen On TV – Buyer Beware Edition

Works as advertised but too expensive.

I was recently involved in a car accident.  Nothing major but not a minor fender bender either.  In addition to being without my car for a month, I was left with persistent lower back pain that made it difficult to stay asleep.  While lying awake during the wee hours of one morning, I came across an infomercial for BackJoy – The Back Orthotic and bought it after watching thirty minutes of testimonials.  My main reason for purchasing the BackJoy was because sitting in my chair at work was becoming unbearable.  The BackJoy promises to ease lower back pain and improve posture.  I am happy to advise it worked as advertised.

So why am I including it on a blog with the title Buyer Beware?  Two reasons. One:  the price.  Although the product works as advertised, I feel it is overpriced for the quality of materials – $39.95 plus s11.95 shipping and handling.  Kind of steep for what appears to be a simple piece of molded plastic with a soft covering.  Two: to receive the full effectiveness of the BackJoy,  you have to condition yourself to sit in it properly.  Packing materials include a link to a YouTube clip showing the correct way to sit (with it under you) and position (“skootch” to the back of the chair).  Although the instructions are not difficult, it is cumbersome to remember this every time you sit down.  There are cheaper alternatives that provide the same level of comfort.

The second item I am reviewing is the Mister Steamy dryer ball and it will be short and sweet.  Buy this product only if you dry your clothes on high heat and don’t expect all wrinkles to be released. Unfortunately, I dry my clothes on low heat (I’m not trying to shrink my shirts and pants) and I did expect all wrinkles released and not just less noticeable.  For me, buying this product was a waste of money, time and energy.  After a couple of uses, I have resigned myself to promptly removing my clothes from the dryer and sweating over an ironing board.