Tips for the Job Hunting Woman

Being a small town girl interviewing in the big city is intimidating, no if ands or buts, it sucks. Every job I’ve ever gotten has been a result of word of mouth. In a small town your family, friends and mechanic are your resume. Even my last job of sixteen years in Toronto was the result of my reputation from that same town.

**Cue John Cougar Melloncamp**

Over the past several months while looking for work my eyes have been opened to the stress of doing just that. It can get old real quick and before you know it you’re knee deep in a vat of self pity inhaling chocolate chip cookie dough.

Rejection is hard; actually getting an interview is harder. My search is finally over. Proof it does happen. It takes time, don’t let it get to you and remember:

  1. Don’t get discouraged –So much easier said than done, but take my word for it, buy some chocolate and relax. Try not to anticipate a timeline because as soon as you pass the magic date your self confidence takes a hit and you risk losing focus. Avoid compromising on positions of lesser quality. Don’t lose sight of your goals. Unless, you’re desperate then I’m afraid you’re going to have to buck up and take what’s available keeping in mind it’s only a stepping stone to what you really want.
  2. You will learn humility – When I left my last job I wasn’t thinking further ahead than a year. I wanted a break. I had the money for a break. I took a break and I don’t regret it. Besides I had a plan. I was going to be a blogger and earn just enough money to keep me in my PJ’s. Needless to say, it’s been a long road of self discovery with a side of humble pie. Sometimes we have to step back, refocus and live in the real world.
  3. You will have to send out A LOT of resumes. You will hear from almost none of them.
  4. Get help with your resume, even if you don’t think you need to. Don’t be so stubborn, you don’t know everything. There are tricks of the trade I never knew existed.  I have four resumes and up to ten different cover letters.
  5. Tweak your resume and cover letter with every application. It’s a pain in the ass, but necessary. Pick words out of the job description, pull out your thesaurus and switch some words around or Google similar job descriptions and find something that matches your talents. Use it. No one is going to enforce copyright laws over a resume.
  6. For God sake make sure you know what you put in your resume. If you look like a deer in headlights in an interview when they ask you about something you wrote, you might as well walk out.
  7. Practice your interview techniques with someone. I know it sounds cheesy and it is…but do it anyway. Look up typical interview questions on the internet and practice them until they are comfortable.
  8. If you’re a woman looking for work in a business dominated by men, consider getting a penis. Trust me. With my resume and a penis, the sky’s the limit in the world of industrial products. Of course I’m kidding; you obviously can’t afford the operation if you’re out of work, so you’re going to have to go in full vagina. Full badass vagina. My point is self confidence, even if it’s not real. There is a lot to be said for, “fake it until you make it.” If you’re feeling down about the process it’ll show in your body language. Give yourself a pep talk, throw your shoulders back and be proud. If they don’t want to hire your vagina then they’re the ones missing out.
  9. Personality goes a long way. So does honesty. Be yourself, if you don’t get the job there’s a reason, believe it. They did you a favour. You don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t get you. Remember you need to be comfortable there to…which leads me too…
  10.  Don’t discredit the importance of interviewing your potential employer as well. Have questions for them, they like that. Look interested in your future and they will be to.

It’s sometimes a long, frustrating process. There is truth to the saying, “Looking for work is a full time job.” I look at it the same as finding a husband; put yourself out there, try some on for size and in the end pick the one that feels right and appears to have some sustainability.

In the words of Jon Bon Jovi circa 1992, “Keep the Faith.”

6 Tips for the Networking Newbie

I’m a train wreck in social situations. People say I hide it well, but I think they’re filthy liars because inside I’m a jumbled mess. This weekend I catapulted myself out of my comfort zone and attended Blissdom (a blogging conference) in Toronto, a place where networking is a necessity. For the most part things went well, I’m super glad I went and came back inspired and ready to take on the world…and I will, after I clean the house.

Most people were quite approachable and willing to share a table or include you in conversation however I didn’t get out of it completely unscathed. I believe we can learn from those who went before us, so now that I’m no longer a conference virgin, I’m willing to share my embarrassing moments to further your networking capabilities, because I’m selfless like that. Here’s what not to do.

1. Throw your umbrella in the toilet at The Marilyn Denis Show.  I couldn’t believe it either. I briefly considered leaving it there, but someone came in just as I was about to bail so I had to make a quick decision; be forever known in the blogging world as the one that tried to drown her umbrella or the one who saved it? I saved it.

2. Tell someone about it. As mortified as I was, it was funny as hell and I had no friend with which to share my humiliation, so I blurted it out to the first person I saw in line. I don’t think she found it as amusing as me. Later in the slickest move possible, I inadvertently held the umbrella out to her and she took it. It was when our eyes met in mid hand off when we remembered where it had once been. I don’t think she’s going to follow me on Twitter as planned, but if she does I might point out that fresh toilet water has fewer germs than a kitchen sponge. Fact.

3. Blatantly disregard instructions. Apparantly awkwardly addressing yourself in the monitor during a live television broadcast is frowned upon. We were told cameras would be on us and to not under any circumstances look at ourselves. What they don’t tell you is how hard it’s going to be. When a camera is in your face, wanting to know how you look is a natural instinct, isn’t it? It takes great restraint, something I clearly don’t have based on the recorded version on my DVR.

4. Spill coffee down your side from waist to knee. Especially on the train into the city so there is no possibility of changing. The irony was I thought I was really being careful. But when I’m nervous I’m klutzy, like an I Love Lucy rerun and before I knew it I dumped it (all of it) on myself. The upside is if it happens, tired people will be attracted to you and you can pretend to be part of their group.

5. Wear a green sweater and get your picture taken with Chef Michael Smith in front of a green screen holding a jar of lentils. Results? My mid section is completely invisible. Michael is transposed into a field of lentils with my head floating beside him, which is just one more reason for me to hate lentils. I did manage to engage in some thought provoking conversation when I remarked, “Boy, you’re really tall,” and then quickly followed up with, “I bet that’s the first time you’ve heard that.”  See how I saved myself? Again, looking on the bright side, who on earth do you know who has a ghostly pick of themselves in a lentil field with a freakishly tall man?

6. Be introduced by Erica Ehm to a Random House professional and rather than engaging them in witty conversation…RUN AWAY. What is wrong with me? These are two very friendly, inspiring women who could potentially change the course of my career and all I could do was shift my weight awkwardly like I’d been holding my pee for a decade. In my defense, having just embarrassed myself in the lentil field my confidence level wasn’t exactly intact, so I bailed like a scardey (actual word) loser forgetting all about the two completed manuscripts saved on the USB in my purse.

Oh, there’s more but my heart can’t take it. Would I do it again? Absolutely, I made a few great connections and heard some really amazing women speak. It was inspiring to say the least. Besides, what could go wrong?

 

**Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tallentshow/433963255/in/pool-freeuse/