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Getting to Work
January 12, 2009 12:48 PM   Subscribe

You might get lucky and find work from home but it won't be easy. You could try wading through the many sites offering advice and opinion on the dire job situation. The Wall Street Journal looks at short employment stints, employment test cheating and who's especially vulnerable to layoffs; Lindsey Pollak offers tips to students and others on tips landing a first job. There are lawyers to help older workers avert discriminatory layoffs and a job bank for people over 50. There are, of course, many job search sites, some better than others. Some are avoiding search engines and going directly to Facebook or Linked In to make connections with potential recruiters.

In addition to Monster, there's Craigslist and Indeed.com, as well as CareerBuilder. Then there's The Ladders, although some people rip the last site as a scam. And there's this article on the top job search engines.

Your best bet might be self employment.

Meanwhile, Dean Baker argues for a larger stimulus package to preserve jobs, while Henry Blodget says there's no quick fix and quotes another expert saying that the jobs situation is worse than you think.


If all else fails, perhaps you should think about jobs in Canada. But you may find yourself not welcome in Mexico.
posted by etaoin (27 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I take comfort in adding connections and recommendations to my Linked In profile. I doubt it would help very much if I get layed off, but it makes me feel better.
posted by diogenes at 12:57 PM on January 12, 2009


But you may find yourself not welcome in Mexico.


I knew this would happen. Thousands of Americans sneaking over the border to look for work in Mexico.
posted by terranova at 1:06 PM on January 12, 2009


From my perspective, online job searching has made looking for work more opaque and demoralizing.

It seems more common than not that applying for a job means submitting your resume (in the proper file format, of course) to an anonymous account. There's never contact information available for you to follow-up with...if just to make sure your resume even got to the intended party. No feedback. Nothing. You just apply and sit on your thumbs.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, automated resume submission really sucks. Half of those sites turn your carefully formatted, attractive resume into ASCII garbage, and most of the time no human will ever see it... it just goes into a database, where if you're lucky, some internal recruiter will key in the right set of keywords to bring it up. I especially hate the ones that make you select your 'skills' from a list, and then rank them. Skill not on the list? Tough to be you. Bitter jobsearcher here...
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:31 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I especially hate the ones that make you select your 'skills' from a list, and then rank them

The "skills" list that seems to be gleaned from a 10-years-out-of-date first semester college course textbook's appendix section.

Ugh, thanks for reminding me. I've given up on applying for any jobs that don't list an e-mail address; preferrably one that looks like a person's name, rather than that of a robot that feeds on the resumes. *Nom-nom-nom*
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:53 PM on January 12, 2009


I just want to say, my best bet is not self employment. Well, not in my current occupation. I'm hurting as a carpenter. That being said, I'm currently trying to get a job in public works at a local town for the benefits (and less likely to be laid off there). My best bet after getting a job though, is to go back to college and finish my degree.
posted by robtf3 at 3:58 PM on January 12, 2009


Are you searching work? Not just a job, but a career, something you can tell your grandkids about?? Are you tired of endlessly applying to jobs at companies who never call you back, or even acknowledge your application?

Why fight 'em when you can join 'em!

You could have a fabulous career in HR! Yes, you! Are you bad at follow up? Do you like hoarding power over people but can't make the cut with the local police? Is your happy place determined by titles and keywords and cells in excel spreadsheet? Do you like like describing the failings of of others in exasperating yet passive aggressive detail? And hey, do you enjoy cataloging salient details of a good sexual harassment scandal (and, come on, who doesn't)?

Then a career in HR might just be for you! HR requires no special education or skill set, just a willingness to obliquely belittle and threaten your fellow man. You can do it - you too can be a master of a tiny subset of a restricted universe!

(Offer void in companies with actual imagination, drive or basic intelligence.)

posted by digitalprimate at 4:58 PM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Friend of mine posted on Monster or similar once. Later, when he was employeed, he asked HR to find someone for him, someone like him. They produced his resume, circa three years earlier, with someone else's name. He searched some other online sites, and there "he" was.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:18 PM on January 12, 2009


It’s pretty bad out here. Lot of people I know getting laid off. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a house up for sale.
I see this and think - well, where’d the money go? I mean, it doesn’t just vanish, yeah? It’s somewhere, just not where it needs to be to keep people from the wolves.

I mean (from OP article): “overcapacity, rising unemployment, imploding leverage, lack of borrowing and/or lending, a serious retreat by consumers, and increased savings are all the conditions needed to bring about deflation.”

So that just, what, happened? I mean, it’s pretty obvious no one was minding the store. Billions of dollars in cash on pallets and storage containers just walked away in Iraq. That as a symptom, obviously, more generally speaking controls were loosed, oversight was occluded, etc. etc. I’m not a finance guy, but it sure seemed like someone took the locks off the doors.

That’s the difference between the recessions (1981 or Great Depression) and this, at least as far as I can see. Maybe I’m wrong and those were the result of big rip offs as well.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:34 PM on January 12, 2009


There's never contact information available for you to follow-up with.

That's by design. It's frustrating, but the alternative is for the recruiter to have their email/phone swamped with zero-content follow-ups, which takes a good chunk of time away from their real job-- which is hopefully finding you a job.
posted by phooky at 5:48 PM on January 12, 2009


The comments in here have been grumbly, but I've bookmarked it anyway -- I was laid off this afternoon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2009


Craigslist is definitely the way to go in my experience. CareerBuilder ain't bad. Monster just plain sucks balls.
posted by bardic at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The comments in here have been grumbly, but I've bookmarked it anyway -- I was laid off this afternoon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:37 PM on January 12


:( Check your mail.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:20 PM on January 12, 2009


Sorry to hear that EmpressC.

In the interest of fairness, here's how a day in the life of a recruiter goes.

Get to work at 7, coffee in hand. Phone is already blinking, 19 messages. You cleared it before you walked out the night before.
Fire up computer, cringing a little before hitting the Outlook icon. Make the first pot of coffee while Exchange downloads from several dozen to several hundred resumes and e-mails into your inbox. If you're smart you've set them up to download into individual job files, because at any given time you're filling at least ten to fifteen jobs at a time and sorting them manually is a useless time suck.
Stare at the mess for a minute, until you realize your phone is ringing. Avoid it by hitting the first e-mail.
Oh look! Someone who's completely unqualified for any job you have open. With no cover letter. Manually or automatically reply "no" and move to the next e-mail. Spend 20 seconds glancing over the top half of next resume, jump down to bottom to schools. Consider it, nah, the hiring manager always complains if people aren't a perfect match for her completely unrealistic job requirements and this applicant has only 3 yrs experience, job req said at least five. Manually or automatically reply, "no" and move to the next e-mail.
You can't stand it and finally answer the phone - it's applicant for job you closed a month ago, just wanting to get in touch. That's great, sure wish you had called back when the job was actually open and we called you three times.
Repeat for ten-twelve hours, with occasional breaks to get "so disappointed in our applicant pool, here let me tell you how to do your job" pep talks from hiring managers and "how much do you pay? That's all? K Thx Bye" return calls from applicants. Write ads and argue nicely with marketing about them, look at salary surveys to convince hiring managers that although you're sure they're Super Managers with a Great Team Culture, no one will take the job for 40% below market. Smile sweetly when someone interrupts you to ask if you can pick up coffee and bagels for an operations meeting you're not even invited to, since you don't have a "real job."
Lunch and evenings are all spent on applicant phone screens or face-to-face interviews.
Get home at 9 or 10 worried sick that you missed The One or that you won't be able to get that last reference before the hiring manager loses patience and hires early, and then blames you when the employee turns out to be a flake. Write note to check out better online recruiting resources and to try to get marketing to create a stronger web presence. Send last-minute text to Right Applicant, Wrong Job just to keep him on the hook a little and let him know you're still working on finding him the perfect place within your company.

And so on. Recruiting is like a very heavy-duty sales job, definitely not for sissies. You have to Always Be Closing and never let them see you sweat. You have to tell good people "No" 98% of the time and do it in a way that leaves them thinking good things about your company. Most people get burnt out within a few years, and move on to HR or something else. And of course, no matter how hard working and effective a recruiter is, they are always in the first or second wave of layoffs themselves.
posted by pomegranate at 7:24 PM on January 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


I spend five unemployed months crawling through Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, Linked In, Facebook, writing pristine cover letters, submitting tailored resumes, and never got a single phone call. Then, eventually, a friend of mine got me an interview by giving my graphic design resume to her boss and I got a job as an office assistant at a financial institution.

2008 was the year that taught me the internet is useless.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:06 AM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey pomegranate, I worked as a recruiter myself for 2 years, so I feel you -- and I hear business is pretty tough for headhunters these days too, with so few jobs to fill. But you've gotta admit "applicant tracking systems" suck, and companies should really think about the impression they're leaving on their potential employees.

What always amazed me was that the employer-side interface for workopolis, monster etc. was just as clunky and annoying as the jobseeker side. We must have spent thousands of dollars a month for access and it was just crappy -- like the UI of an open-source application but with none of the charm.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:31 AM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


None of these are too useful outside of the US (not a criticism OP :) - Monster isn't so popular here, and Craigslist never took off. The London equivalent of the latter, Gumtree, seems to have a lot of 'Women Wanted for Model Work' type ads. When I was unemployed I applied for a few things that might have been useful to me, but got no response. I'd recommend SecsInTheCity and Guardian Jobs - and my workplace is hiring if you are London-based, like critical thinking/media and can fill in a form by tomorrow (MeMail me).

The one recruitment agency I signed with was in the City. I was seen by three different people, and began to feel like a horse being inspected. They were amused by my saying that £20k sounded ok and I'd be happy to go slightly less for the right job, slightly more being better - they said that £18k sounded right for my experience (degree from decent uni, three years' live broadcast experience for BBC and elsewhere). Then they told me that for a temp job in the City, I'd be paid £8 per hour and be expected to wear a suit 'and heels'. Now, I accept one has to dress the part, but I didn't own a suit and couldn't buy one on those wages. I left feeling pretty depressed, applied for the job I have now the next day, and am typing this in jeans, a jumper patterned with strawberries and on a £25.5k salary with fruit and massage perks. Sure, things have got a bit worse int he past six months, but demoralizing isn't forever.
posted by mippy at 8:01 AM on January 13, 2009


Pomegranate - I worked in the HR dept. of a large UK bank, as a temp. We would get application forms with spelling mistakes, none of the qualifications that people at school would tell you you needed to be able to survive in the working world, and 'Marital Status: Very Single'. This was the contract processing department; in other words, these were the people who were being hired.
posted by mippy at 8:07 AM on January 13, 2009


There's never contact information available for you to follow-up with ... the alternative is for the recruiter to have their email/phone swamped ...

A friend was hiring, and he gave a fax number. He ended up having to hire a temp just to keep reloading the paper and toner in the fax machine.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:12 AM on January 13, 2009


First: thanks for the well wishes, folks -- it actually isn't quite as dire as that, I was just informed that the "open-ended" temp position I've been in for four finally has a closing date. That date is also three weeks away, and I have the internal temp rep here at the company AND an agent at my agency proper now looking for something I can move into. I'm also looking myself, on the online sites, even after hearing this:

I spend five unemployed months crawling through Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, Linked In, Facebook, writing pristine cover letters, submitting tailored resumes, and never got a single phone call. Then, eventually, a friend of mine got me an interview by giving my graphic design resume to her boss and I got a job as an office assistant at a financial institution.

I'm encouraged in that I AM looking for an office assistant job, which -- unfortunately -- may be a bit easier to find (admins are kind of like toothpaste: easy to overlook, but you REALLY realize how much you need one when you don't have one). I also know some weird programs and have some extra skill sets, so I'm hopeful.

....And if all else fails, I went to high school with someone who works for Monster.com. If I threaten to tell people what his junior year nickname was, it may get me an "in". :-)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:25 AM on January 13, 2009


I spend five unemployed months crawling through Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, Linked In, Facebook, writing pristine cover letters, submitting tailored resumes, and never got a single phone call. Then, eventually, a friend of mine got me an interview by giving my graphic design resume to her boss and I got a job as an office assistant at a financial institution.

2008 was the year that taught me the internet is useless.


I feel your pain. I spent 18 months bouncing from small freelance job to the next, and finally landed a full-time gig because a friend of mine is an art director and they had some extra work.

The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" rings true.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:51 AM on January 13, 2009


I spend five unemployed months crawling through Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, Linked In, Facebook, writing pristine cover letters, submitting tailored resumes, and never got a single phone call. Then, eventually, a friend of mine got me an interview by giving my graphic design resume to her boss and I got a job as an office assistant at a financial institution.

2008 was the year that taught me the internet is useless.


Been there and done that; I didn't even receive so much as a return email, much less a phone call.

Eventually my girlfriend said the right thing to the right person and I got an interview within a week. The internet is useless; networking is everything.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 8:52 AM on January 13, 2009


2008 was the year that taught me the internet is useless.

The Internet is useful for many things. What 2008 taught you is why people say "IRL" and "on the internet" about things like communities and friendships.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:56 AM on January 13, 2009


I've had decent luck with Idealist, if you're into that kind of thing.
posted by lunit at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2009


When I got layed off after the dotcom bust, my company paid for a three days of job search training. It was basically three days of the instructor saying NETWORK!
posted by diogenes at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2009


Here are some more tips from Robert Scoble, although the thought of basically making one's life a performance gives me the hives.
posted by zabuni at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


zabuni: Dear god. Scoble is basically saying, to use the internet for networking, you must live a completely public internet life, but it must be infinitely boring:

1. Your blog is your resume. You need one and it needs to have 100 posts on it about what you want to be known for.
2. Remove all LOLCats from your blog.
3. Remove all friends from your facebook and twitter accounts that will embarrass you. We do look. If we see photos of people getting drunk with you that is a bad sign. Get rid of them. They will NOT help you get a job.


Post a LOLcat? WE WILL NEVER HIRE YOU. Don't even TALK to us about rickrolls.

In short, be a drone in your personal life, and we'll let you be one in your professional life too?
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on January 13, 2009


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