Monday, November 7, 2011

How to Find a Job: Introduction

(This is part of an ongoing series on how to find a job. If you have a question or comment or something I think I should add, please hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment here (Links are to your right). I’ll be releasing the revised, expanded chapters as an ebook!)

When I became a part of the work force of the United States of America, it was 1991, and I was in high school. Over the course of my high school career, I worked as a dishwasher, a sandwich maker, and a delivery driver.
In college, I toiled at a computer help desk for my work-study job (mostly saving lost papers from damaged disks), and during the summers I was everything from a furniture assembler to a blackjack dealer. (Ah, temp work!)
Then in 1998, I graduated from college, and it was time to go from having a job to having a career.
It was a great time to enter the work force. At one point a friend informed me that Madison, Wisconsin was experiencing negative unemployment – there were more jobs than workers to fill them.
I got a job at a medium-sized company, and worked there for almost ten years. During that time, the economy started to crumble, and I went from engaged to married to married with a child.
When an opportunity arose to take a new position at another company that offered me more money and a shorter commute, I took it.
Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and I fell with it. I was Let Go.
(It’s funny, really. Two words, five letters, and yet they completely upend your life.)
I spent the next two years either unemployed or underemployed. And while that was distressing to me, what bothered me even more was watching good friends of mine also losing jobs as the economy continued to worsen.
As they got their world flipped upside-down, I started reaching out to them. I’d send them encouraging emails. I’d tell them what web sites to use to hunt for work. When they wanted to see what a resume looked like, I’d send them a copy of mine, as it had been vetted by a half-dozen experts and friends, and was getting me interviews.
And wonder of wonders, my friends got jobs. While, I should note, I remained unemployed. (I later realized there was a reason for that, which I’ll talk about later.)
Still, I got a lot of nice thank-yous from friends and family. One good friend referred to me as the Obi Wan Kenobi of the unemployed. I was the master, showing all the Jedi-in-training how to not just find a job, but handle the stresses of not having a job.
The thing is, I didn’t spend those two years doing nothing. I didn’t sit around and wait for a job to come to me. I went out looking for work, and took on part-time and freelance jobs in an effort to keep myself busy and explore new avenues of my abilities.
I also started putting my novels, which I had been unable to get an agent to look at, up on the Kindle, nook and on Smashwords. I started getting great reviews. And I started a new blog, Everybody Thinks They Can Write.
When I finally got a full-time job more than two years later, I immediately wrote an essay about how I found work. I originally wrote it as a letter to a really wonderful woman who runs a great networking group in my area.
Then I put a revised version of it up on my blog… and it kind of took off. I got emails about it. I got Facebook questions about it. And I got Tweets about it. A LOT of tweets about it, both people who sent it on to friends, and folks who worked in HR and loved my thoughts and attitude, and some folks who were looking for work and got the encouragement at the exact moment they needed it.
The thing of it is, I knew exactly how they felt. During the course of my unemployment, I had low periods. I suspect everyone does. When you lose your job, your first thought is not, “Oh good, I know how to handle this,” but, “What am I going to do?”
Even going to your local library often adds to the confusion, instead of taking away from it. There are probably thousands of books, dozens of networking opportunities, and a handful of headhunters and job gurus available, and trying to figure out what is going to work for you and what you have to spend on it can often make things worse instead of better.
Plus, right now, you’re trying to hold onto every single dollar you have, because you don’t know when you’ll be making more of them.
And that’s why wrote this book.
When I lost my job, I hit the library. I went to networking meetings. And my company generously offered me a free program that was designed to train me in the fine art of finding a job. I experienced the confusion of not really knowing what to do.
In the middle of all of it, my favorite networking lady (the one I sent the email in the next chapter) said this: “If there was a book that told you how to get a job, and it always worked, someone would have already written it, and everyone would have read it.”
That’s why I wrote this.
I wanted to put all the information I got into one book, and sell it, cheap. This book will not tell you, step-by-step, how to get a job.
What it does is it distills all the things I learned over the course of two years into short, easy-to-digest chapters. I wanted to write a book that was simple, fun to read, and would offer up hope and an idea of how to move forward from here.
I wanted to write a book for all my friends who had lost a job, or who will lose their job, that gives the exact same advice I’d give them if we got together over dinner.
I hope this book helps you find work. I hope it fills your head with ideas you haven’t thought of.
And I hope that it gives YOU some hope, when you need it the most.
Happy job hunting.
And by the way, if you read this and have questions, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter, Like me on Facebook, or visit my blog and ask questions. At some point, I’d like to revise and expand this book, and I will put your name in the Thank Yous.

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