If you’re bold enough, you can make just as big a presence in real life with volunteer work or try to get speaking engagements on things you’re knowledgeable about. Right here at the library, you can sign up to use our meeting rooms and host any kind of meetings you want. All of this is good material for your resume, but the real goal is to make you more visible in the community – either online or real community – where employers might notice you. Getting interviews for jobs is nice, but the best situation you could possibly be in for a job is to be noticed by someone who’s hiring and asked to apply for the job.
If you’re really, really ambitious, you shouldn’t be unemployed between jobs at all, but starting your own business. To start up a small business does not take a lot of money. It does not have to be profitable, but it does have to keep you from looking unemployed. We have start-up business guides from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity here in the library.
Maybe the most important piece of self-assessment you’re going to do is your financial self-assessment. Work out how long you can afford to keep looking for work. Check your finances and do the math. How many months can you get by on what you have? Look for a job you would like and want to have for as long as you can before that time runs out -- and then take whatever you can get when the time you have budgeted for your job search is running out. But remember that I said the average job search now takes 6-13 months. So if you can hold out 6 months without a job, suppose you’re sitting on a nice severance package or you can move back in with your parents for a half-year, then at most you should spend the 1st 6 weeks looking for your dream job exclusively. After that, you’re going to have to gradually expand your search. You’re going to have to consider jobs that are kind of like your dream job for the next 6 weeks. And then you’ll have to consider jobs that aren’t like your dream job, but they’re okay for the 6 weeks after that. Then, finally, you’re going to have to take any job you can get your hands on. If you’re not that well off -- maybe your finances won’t hold out for even 6 months, then you should put off looking for that dream job until you have any new job. You don’t have to stop looking once you have that new job, just make sure you have a paycheck coming in again and then resume looking for your dream job.
Whichever of these steps you’re on, make sure you have as complete a list of job openings at this step as you can get. It’s going to be up to you to keep this list current for any jobs currently available within 10 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles, or however far you’re willing to travel. In addition to that, you’re going to be looking ahead two steps as well. If you’re looking for your dream job now, you should keep one eye on the next step ahead and see what jobs – not openings – but jobs are in that distance you’re willing to travel in the “not, but like, your dream job” category now too. And you should keep half an eye on the step past that, the “eh- they’re okay” jobs, and just start researching those careers now. There are some good resources out there for researching careers and we’ll be discussing them soon.
There are also a lot of websites out there promising they list current job openings. Some of them are actually spam sites and are wasting your time at best and asking you to pay money at worst. Some of these job sites or places like Craigslist are legitimate, but most of them are “stale” jobs, or offers that have been a long time out of the “hidden job market” and I’ll be coming back to the “hidden job market” again when we get to networking. Why are these job ads even still out there? They serve as advertisement and they sometimes are collecting applications for stores in the same chain, but more remote areas. How interested are you in long-distance commuting? There are still uses for these sites. Several of them, like Monster and Career Builder post advice columns that could still make useful reading, even if you skip checking the job ads. And the bigger sites do other things to stay relevant. Monster hosts job fairs. CareerBuilder is partnering with IDES to make sure it has less stale Illinois jobs on it, making it currently your best bet from the generic commercial job sites.
CareerOneStop.org is just one website you can go to research careers and see which careers are growing. This information is also available on various governmental sites, like the U.S. Dept. of Labor and IDES’ Career Information System. IDES has the local angle, but CareerOneStop looks prettier and has more search options. One thing special to CareerOneStop is its video library. If you’re unclear of what a specific job skill entails, you can watch a video about it that will show you. You can also watch day-in-a-life-type videos of various jobs to sample them and get a better feel for if that’s what you want to do.
A similar website to CareerOneStop.org is O*Net, www.onetcenter.org. O*Net may be the biggest job information database around, with over 900 job profiles. Job skills are ranked for each occupation by importance. You can type in a job skill and search for jobs that match it. It also has webinars and online courses to teach you how to use the site better. This source is somewhat similar to the Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, but it wouldn’t hurt you to know both sources when trying to find out about jobs to see if you want to work them.
There are still business magazines in print to do your research in, but for the local angle on checking to see what your company is doing, there are sites like Google RealTime and GlassDoor. RealTime lets you track Facebook and Twitter status messages related to a company. There are a lot of databases and reference sources here in the library that will tell you detailed information about the companies you’re looking at – so detailed that you’d need a business degree to understand them. But for the plain language version, you can read about the company at GlassDoor.
Make sure you’re qualified to work your dream job. If you’re seeing education requirements for your dream job that you’re lacking, or something you could get certification for, then get it. In many ways, your job hunting process may feel like going back to school again and, if need be, you should pursue that literally. If your dream job requires a degree you don’t have, then you’ve got a lot of work cut out for you. Hopefully, you can go back to school for just a license or a certificate. You can go back to CareerOneStop.org and use it to check which jobs require licensing or certification. A license is required by the state. A certificate is kind of this separate level above being self-taught and below having a license that basically just exists to impress hiring managers.