Nope, still no job

At the time I wrote my last no-job post, I was feeling really down. Now I’ve moved into a much more distanced and objective state of mind, and I truly wonder how it is that I haven’t even gotten an in-person interview.* The unemployment rate in my metro area is about 1% lower than the national average, and both are declining steadily. We all know a college degree doesn’t count for much anymore, but that’s okay: I have a PhD, which you’d think would at least qualify me for an entry-level position. And for every job I apply for, I know I could do the work. And yet no one is responding to my application materials — or even to recommendations from others, which is the thing that’s definitely supposed to get you in the door. I applied to one job a few weeks ago and had two contacts write to the higher-ups in the organization to recommend me. You’d think that would at least get me a phone screen, but I haven’t heard a word. And this is no giant corporation; it’s a modestly-sized nonprofit.

As I mentioned in my last post, the person we hired at our nonprofit doesn’t know her way around an Excel document, but she has a full-time job. What is it about me, or my resume, or my cover letter, or any combination of factors, that I can’t even get an interview?

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Nope, no job yet

My job search is going horribly.

That first company I phone-interviewed with gave me the silent treatment. The person I spent an hour on the phone with never got back to me, ignoring the 2 or 3 emails I sent. Game over. Fine, I didn’t really want that job anyway, but at least have the courtesy to get back to me and say no thanks.

The company where I had the other phone interview may schedule me for an interview next week. This has dragged out for weeks now, with responses to my emails and voicemail coming very slowly. The hiring manager does seem genuinely interested in bringing me in for an in-person interview, and has been very nice to me, but the hiring process has been slowed down due to client needs and managers on vacation.

The week before last I felt bad/guilty about my very low number of job applications, so I really buckled down on that. I sent out 10 (targeted) applications in one week, which was an exponential improvement over what I had been doing. Then last Tuesday I went to a workshop at my local JVS and was told, not for the first time, that networking was really where it’s at, and job applications are basically useless. So this past week I sent out over a dozen cold-call emails to people, based on the strength of some common affiliation or both being PhDs, asking them if they’d meet with me and tell me about how they got started. I’ve gotten 3 responses so far, which seems pretty low to me.

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Networking my head off

I got on a big networking kick last week. I’d been discouraged after a few early attempts didn’t come to much, and had been worrying a lot about the logistics of it all. I knew I was supposed to be “leveraging” my LinkedIn network, but what exactly did that mean? And how do I tell friends and acquaintances that I’m looking for a job without sounding like I’m selling myself? I don’t have all the answers, but I feel like I’ve come a long way in about a week. Here are some examples:

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Headdesk

Just sent off an application via Jobvite in which I attached the wrong cover letter file. The one that included a previous draft of the real cover letter, the copied-and-pasted job description, plus a generous sprinkling of bits and pieces from other cover letters. I spent far too long agonizing over this job application in the first place, and then I send it off and make a stupid, magnificently ironic mistake like that. After touting my brilliant eye for detail, killer proofreading abilities, and unmatched communication skills, I miss this. I guess it was bound to happen at some point. But is it better or worse that this is a job for which I got a contact through my ever-improving networking skills? If I were a nobody, then I could just scratch this one off the list: oops! But since I have an in, this person who doesn’t really know me is probably going to think I’m an idiot and regret recommending me.

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Feeling better

I’m feeling a lot better now than I was the other day.

First, I found out that I’m eligible for unemployment benefits. I applied a couple of weeks ago just for the heck of it, figuring I never made enough at any part-time jobs to qualify for anything. But a couple of days ago I got a form in the mail including the details of my weekly and maximum benefit amounts. Just knowing this has made a big difference for me–it’s not tons of money, but it’s so much more than $0, and I won’t have to feel like a total drain on my partner’s income.

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I’ve got a new job!

By last Tuesday, I’d gotten to the point where I knew I couldn’t keep up my tutoring job past the end of this month. So I decided to get serious about applying to temp jobs. I selected one agency and noticed in their online application that they wanted to know what your salary requirements were. I was clueless about what to put down, so I headed over to Craigslist to check out job postings and see what hourly rates were being offered.

At the top of the list was an ad for a part-time receptionist at an office that sounded like exactly the kind of place I wanted to work at, with almost exactly the number of hours I wanted to work.  Hoping that this wasn’t actually too good to be true, I checked out the company’s website, then looked them up on LinkedIn. As I scrolled down the list of employees, I saw that I was only one connection removed from all of them. I searched a bit more and saw that I had one friend who knew everyone there, and another one who knew three or four.

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