Tag Archives: resume

The Nine Stages Of Job-Hunting and Soulmate Searching (part i)

The Nine Stages Of Job-Hunting and Soulmate Searching (part i)

Looking for a job is like looking for a girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Or transsexual friend, if that’s the way you swing. Knowing you, that’s totally the way you swing. But I digress.

Looking for a job is like looking for a girlfriend. There are stages which one goes through when job-hunting that are eerily similar to those experienced when searching soulmates. This is something of a recent discovery for me, as I went through the dizzying highs, terrifying lows, and creamy middles, of applying for a dream job.

First, a quick aside. When I say “dream job,” it should be pretty clear I’m not applying to become the first-line center for the Toronto Maple Leafs (hardly a dream job at this juncture in time), nor am I applying to become the fourth Beastie Boy. I’m talking more in the realm of realistic and obtainable jobs, marrying professional and personal interests in a complementary corporate culture at a successful and desirable organization. For some people, this entails working at a bank. For others, it entails working for a beer company. For me, at this particular time in my life, it was the chance to work for Google.

Stage 1: Single

Before stumbling upon the job posting for Google, I was “job-hunting,” to use a dreaded term. Hunting for potential jobs is much like hunting for potential mates. To try and better my chances of employment in my field, I attended conferences and seminars related to my industry. I met people whom I’d followed on Twitter and LinkedIn, and introduced myself to countless others, all in the hopes of meeting someone who would consider calling me in for an interview.

Searching for the perfect boy or girl is much the same. You attend interesting social events in the hopes of meeting a member of the opposite sex to whom you’re attracted. You’ve met people online through Twitter or Facebook, and now approach them nervously in real life, hoping they ask for your number (or Twitter handle) to hang out in the future.

Stage 2: Guarded Optimism

I actually don’t recall how I found out Google was hiring in Toronto, though I’m pretty sure someone tweeted about it. Nevertheless, as soon as I saw the posting, I jumped at the chance. Never thinking it would actually work out, I gathered my courage, updated my resume, and reached out to them. In the back of my head, I quietly expounded upon the possibilities of working for Google. “It’s like playing for the Yankees,” I thought to myself. I was excited, but reserved.

Excited but reserved – the feeling of meeting someone for the first time and sensing an instant attraction. You size her up and quickly determine whether you’d get along with that person and to what degree. Once you’ve decided that she potentially suits you as a mate (or a lover… ooh la la), you get that feeling. You know… that feeling. In the back of your head, you quietly expound upon the possibilities of being with this person: What would it be like to touch them, feel them, taste them…

Stage 3: The First Contact

Google emailed me on a Friday morning to say they’re interested in speaking with me over the phone. I was elated, until realizing I had only received the email that morning, though it had actually been sent one week earlier. I was devastated. A wave of stress crashed over me as I scrambled to reply, hoping that waiting a week didn’t ruin my chances. To make matters worse, I use Gmail… so it was as if Google had cost me a job with Google. After a few days with no response, I emailed them a second time explaining why I had waited a week to reply the first time. They replied within four minutes, letting me know they were still interested, and we set up a time.

Nervous. Elated. Devastated. Relived. That’s your cycle of emotions as you call the girl you really like for the first time. You’re nervous before calling, and elated when the call goes well. Then you go back and replay the conversation in your head, and realize you said something so ridiculous and so stupid, you wouldn’t be surprised if she never called back. Then… a call back. Your potential mate didn’t even realize you had said anything remotely odd, and looks forward to meeting you for a date. Score.

Stage 4: The First Date

My next contact with Google was a phone conversation with an HR recruiter based in Mountain View, CA, home to the Google compound. We spoke casually on the phone for 45 minutes or so, as I walked her through my resume and professional career to that point. I cracked a few jokes but remained slightly guarded. I felt it went well, and she let me know that if I met certain qualifications, I’d be contacted for a second interview. I was nervous but confident.

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You pick a girl up and go for a drink. You’re nervous, but confident. You crack a few jokes, but you don’t take it too far because you don’t want to mess up early on. You speak casually and watch the time, not wanting to drag on too long. You go through each of your lives, discussing past dating disasters. At the end of the night, she thanks you for a lovely time and lets you know she’ll call if she’s interested in seeing you again.

Stage 5: The Second Date

An email from Google… it must be good news. They liked me. They want me to have a phone chat with their Toronto manager. I’m thrilled. We get in touch and talk for an hour. I walk her through my resume; she walks me through her responsibilities. It’s easy-going and comfortable. At the end, she tells me Google will let me know if they’d like to proceed. She seems confident they will. This could be the start of something big.

A phone call from your date the other night… it must be good news. She liked you. She’d like to see you again. You’re thrilled. You get in touch and talk for hours. It’s easy-going and comfortable, much more so than your first phone call. You walk her through your day at work; she walks you through hers. At the end, she tells you she’d like to get together again soon. You seem confident this is the start of something big.

To Be Continued…

Five Professional Advantages To Being Unemployed

Three weeks before my wedding, my position in the PR department of a non-profit arts organization was eliminated. The good news was it meant more time for me to help plan a wedding for more people than I’ll ever know. The bad news, of course, was my unemployment.

I have a hard time believing claims that losing a job is “the best thing to happen to me.” However, there are certainly more advantages to being unemployed than one might consider. Here are five:

  • Re-Evaluate Your Resume
    When I lost my job, I realized my resume hadn’t been updated since I was hired. I spent weeks afterward recalling all my accomplishments at work, and putting them down on paper coherently. I wrote and re-wrote, edited and re-edited. But that wasn’t enough.

    The great thing about being unemployed is that you can freely pass your resume around for scrutiny. Sure, you can re-write a resume until the cows come home (farmers have resumes?) but why not share the wealth? Reach out to professionals in your industry or sector, and ask them to read your resume and offer suggestions. Talk to your colleagues and those in higher positions. And don’t be shy! After all, you won’t be hiring yourself.

    As it stands now, I have had my resume go through most of my friends in PR. I’ve sent my resume to former managers and directors, looking for their feedback. My parents have helped me by sending my resume to their friends, soliciting their feedback as well. I consider every suggestion made, and my resume is richer for having done so.

  • Interview, Informationally
    Ah yes, the wily, elusive, and intimidating informational interview. In reality, none of those three adjectives should apply. Informationals are pretty easy to come by and usually quite relaxed and informal. While I wasn’t completely sold on the concept when I first began making the rounds, I quickly warmed to the idea.

    Whenever an organization I contacted would come back to me saying no positions are available, I’d ask to meet with someone in their Communications department, regardless. It reflects a genuine interest and enthusiasm on my part, but it’s also a strategic way of learning about the inner-workings of a company. There’s only so much you can glean from websites and news releases.

    The informational interview is also a no-pressure chance to ask questions you might not ask in a formal job interview: Curious about the salary expectations for someone with your experience? Ask away. Ever wondered what qualifications are truly needed for the positions you seek? Ask away. Want to know how the VP of Communications for SomeCompany Ltd got the position? Where they went to school? What they suggest you learn to get ahead? ASK!

  • Network Network Network. And then Network some more.
    This goes hand-in-hand with the first two points. When I send out a resume for someone to have a look at, I know they’ll offer some useful suggestions. I also know that it’s one more person who will have read my resume, seen my qualifications, and learned about my professional career to that point. That’s one more person who may be able to throw my name out somewhere.

    The same idea applies to everyone I meet for informationals, even more so. Now there’s someone who is not only aware of who I am and what I’ve accomplished, but they have spent some time talking to me, getting to know me, and learning how I think and act. This is – in fact – even more useful as it’s safe to assume an informational interview takes place with someone within your desired industry. That’s another person who can throw your name out to potential employers, with the added bonus of being able to vouch for your character as well. Furthermore, should a position ever open in that person’s organization, a good impression will keep you at the top of their pile.

    Besides that, I follow fellow PR folk on Twitter and LinkedIn, so I know who is doing what. Attending conferences and talks is a great way to meet people in your industry. Go for drinks with a friend and their coworkers. You never know who or what will lead where.

  • Here, Take My Card.
    Simple and cheap. Make yourself a business card. I found out very quickly after having lost my job that networking is difficult without a business card.

    A business card is a classic reminder of who you are and what you do, and it fits in everyone’s front pocket. If you’re unemployed, all you need is your name and contact info, with a brief line about what you do. For example, on my card there is contact information broken up by a single line reading: Communications. Public Relations. Branding. Writing. Editing. Who I am, what I do, where to reach me.

  • Freelance Is Not A Four-Letter Word
    Stay sharp by offering your skills to others. This is not about the money, but about staying in the loop. Offer your services to a friend’s company, or a non-profit organization, or even your dad’s repair shop. Freelancing between jobs can be fun, keeps you on your toes and allows to dabble in a variety of areas.

While being unemployed is never fun, there are ways to use that time to your professional advantage. I’ve been doing my best to stay busy and stay relevant, and I’m pretty happy with the results so far. While not working full-time at the moment, I have a few things on the go and am always looking at new opportunities. Meanwhile, I’ve met with everyone from coordinators and managers, to VPs and Presidents. I’ve had my resume edited by people whom I’d only ever seen on the news. Now they know my first name, where I went to school and what I’m capable of on the job.

Being unemployed hasn’t been the greatest thing to happen to me, but it’s certainly far from the worst. Best of luck to all!

As of this writing, for #HAPPOTO, I remain unemployed but open to all opportunities.