The Writer 3: Wild Job Hunt

Anyone else out there currently job-hunting? At the moment, I’m stuck in a perpetual state of sortofemployment and I’d really like to be actuallyemployed, so I’m jumping on that ol’ horse again. I have to say, the job hunt is not my favorite thing. If I had to put it somewhere on my list, I’d probably rank it slightly above having my wisdom teeth out or that one time I got beat up in the first grade.

And it’s probably as stressful as talking to girls. Which is pretty stressful — right, guys? …right?

Anyway, since I have learned so many things in the past few weeks, and undoubtedly am now a job hunt guru, I thought I’d share my newly acquired knowledge with you.

1. There are probably better places to look for jobs than Craigslist.

At least, if you actually want to know what you’re applying for. Something makes me wary about following up on a job listing that reads something akin to “Position available. At a place. Doing a thing. Send your resume to find out what it is!”

Speaking of resumes…

2. Don’t put off writing a resume until you’re 25.

Oops. Turns out resumes aren’t as terrifying as they sound. I’m not sure why nobody ever told me this, but a resume is not a massive, complex, many-paged ordeal. You’re supposed to keep it to one page and you can probably knock it out in an hour. Chalk that up to Things I Should Have Looked Into Earlier.

They’re also, shockingly, quite handy in the job hunt. And if you’re in college, I’m guessing your school probably has a career center where they’ll help you fine-tune it. Mine did, and it was quite handy and painless. We also have a career-findy service on the school website, which may turn out to be equally handy.

3. Don’t be well-rounded!

Okay, not exactly… but this is one thing that got addressed when I ran my resume by the folks at the career center. Apparently it had been sending some mixed signals, being split pretty evenly between writing experience and computer experience. Since I’d prefer some kind of writing or editing job, I revised the thing to emphasize my experience writing and left the computer stuff as background details. But it’s not a bad idea to have multiple versions, each geared toward a specific type of employment. That way, you have less of an excuse to be picky.

And honestly, I think I’d take just about anything I could get at this point. I ain’t picky, especially considering the alternative. Speaking of the alternative…

4. “Explain all gaps in employment.”

I don’t have a tip here; I just wanted to rant a little. How do you answer this question?! I dread encountering it. It taunts me in my sleep. Having a resume, unfortunately, doesn’t mean you won’t still have to fill out some applications, and this is the question I always fear I’ll find on them.

It’s always struck me as a horribly presumptuous question and something really callous to ask. There have been times I’ve just tossed a whole application away and never revisited it because I noticed that this question was on there. Yeah, there’s a pretty big gap in my employment history. And no, I don’t have a good answer. Sometimes I leave it blank, honestly. Other times I come up with some vague, nebulous answer. One time, the spirit of total honestly possessed me for a moment and I (somewhat sarcastically) wrote something along the lines of “Was too young and stupid to understand the consequences of my decisions.”

This question is basically the equivalent of asking, “Hey, I noticed some places here where you were unemployed and your life was completely in the toilet. EXPLAIN YOURSELF.” While you’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it? Thanks.

But seriously, how do you answer this tactfully?

5. Do I put that short story I wrote in the sixth grade down under my writing experience?

Here’s another question I ought to go back and ask the professionals, but I’ll ask it here for now. Where do you draw the line in terms of your experience? This may only be an issue for artsy things, but for instance, would I list my blog on a resume? Despite it being really informal and eccentric and dopey? How about some collaborative writing projects I’ve done over the internet? I’m not sure where the cutoff point is.

But back to the protips:

6. Ask around.

Like… if you have a blog, you could subtly ask your readers for tips on how to find a job. Which is definitely not what I’m doing at this very moment.

But also ask around among your friends. I’ve always been surprised who knows who and which friend of a friend is a hiring manager at such-and-such a place. Even in the age of computers and instant communication and online career-building services, sometimes the best way to get your foot in the door is still to just know somebody.

So what about you? Are you looking for job? How are you finding it — better or worse than having your wisdom teeth removed?

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4 thoughts on “The Writer 3: Wild Job Hunt

  1. I spent a year teaching people how to get jobs, and the best resource I found is Indeed.com. It’s a search engine for other job sites and hiring pages, and is how I found my current job. I also wouldn’t entirely count out Craigslist.org, because that’s how I found my previous job. There are a lot of scams, but there are also a lot of local businesses and non-profits that use it.
    Also, the Career Center was correct in telling you to have multiple resumes that fit a particular job. taking the time to change your resume and cover letter to match each job application is useful.
    As for gaps in employment, you can list yourself as “Self-employed” if you’ve been doing odd-jobs, or you can make a “Volunteer” section if you’ve been doing volunteer work.
    And yes, looking for a job is a painful process.

    • Hey, thanks. Indeed looks like it’ll be pretty helpful. I’ve been hopping between Craigslist and Monster for a while and not particularly happy with either.

      So, if I occasionally fixed a computer or something over a period of unemployment, does that count as being self-employed? Seems kind of disingenuous, but it’s more palatable than leaving it blank, I suppose.

      • Technically, you were self-employed as a consultant or repair person. It’s really about marketing yourself as someone who is actively doing things. Also, once again, I’d highly recommend Indeed over Monster. More of the leads are genuine and not scams.

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