• For those with wings fly to your dreams

    Things I've learned in my current job search

    After 3 years of job searching for a stable permanent position, you think I would have turned desperate.  However, I've found the times that I have gotten jobs it was more from a smart approach than the desperate approach. So this time around, I've observed the things that are and aren't working and the things I'm still figuring out.  The results? so far I've had a far higher application to interview ratio  (5:7 this year as oppose to   1:5 in 2010-11.)  so I thought I'd share what I've learned.

    Searching for jobs
    • Job fairs are mostly a waste of time - . Summer of last year I decided to stop going to job fairs.  When I was going to job fairs it seemed that 50%+ weren't actually hiring, 20% of the places there were schools, 5% were assistance programs/services for the people looking for work (childcare, health care etc).  only about a quarter of them were looking for work and mostly in health and hospitality. A friend of mine recently went to job fair in middle Georgia and notice the same thing. Insult to injury, as a volunteer coordinator I have received calls for people to come to their job fairs for volunteer opportunities for the job seekers. Volunteering is a great thing to do when you're un/undemployed but having it listed as a company at a job fair seems a bit much. That being said if you haven't gone to a job fair at all in you should check out a few to see if this is the case in your area. Also if someone in your network is going to be at a job fair or it's at your school, etc., you should go. 
    • Apply for online jobs with 'a grain of salt Most of us know this one but after having the opportunity to talk with recruiters and HR folk and my years of national service it is really who you know.  In some fields you're much better off hitting up the local networking event. It's about 10-20% success rate, it's mostly about who you know
    Resumes and Cover letters
    • Everybody prefers different resume types/cover letters As an engineer who's found herself in the non-profit world I can tell you that formatting is my constant battle. Under 25, Education first? Experience? Objective or summary? Formal letter or no letter at all? It really just depends who's going to be reading your application. HR at big companies oft skip reading the cover letters until they filtered out, some companies use software to filter so keywords are important, smaller companies HR or the dept you're applying to may read it. The more technical people seem to love list while my mother (a former ED with 20+ years nonprofit experience prefer traditional cover letters) So what does that mean? Research the company you're applying for.
    • The bullet list cover letter works! (for some)  I like writing for fun like this blog or technical writing for work but I admit it I hate writing cover letters. My first thoughts are "capital idea: let's post a technical position and have the candidates write a page on why they are a good fit. Can't I just solve a math problem, or draw some plans, or write a project schedule or something related to my field?"  (and yes I've probably said this outloud no few than 100x to during my job search).  These days you have got to write a individual cover letter for every position and for me that can take alot of time. I finally found a formula that works for me. 
      • Introductory paragraph
      • List of my qualifications related to position
      • closing paragraph with contact information
    I wasn't sure this would work but I've noticed that the only callbacks I have gotten is for this format not my attempt at traditional cover letters. It really is about knowing your strengths! 

    Next post I'll share what I've learned about interviews.  Any other tips are always welcomed



    About me

    I'm a 20-something Southern girl living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've been working in the wild and wacky world of non-profit green construction in one way or the other for over 3 years. I'm also the owner of Oakland's own Engineered Cupcake.