Good News, Everyone!
I’ll be starting a new job in about a week. Sorry, no science-fiction review in today’s post, just sharing a little personal info and some tips that might be relevant if you’re job hunting or thinking about doing so.
My job search took a long time. It’s been about six months since I left my previous company, and I was actually doing some interviewing (and turning down some lower-paying offers) before I left. It’s been a very frustrating process involving lots of phone calls and traveling (at my own expense) to interviews, and many of the companies didn’t even bother to send me a rejection email. I even accepted an offer from a multi-billion-dollar real estate company (before you ask, no, not Trump) only to be told three days later that there wasn’t room in the budget for me.
There were many times I thought about giving up and applying for lower-paying, less-experience-required jobs, or about giving up the job hunt altogether and going into business for myself, but I kept going forward, and it worked out in the end. I’ll be running a department of a small company. I think the job suits me, and the company needs me as they have several types of problems that I’ve been known to solve.
I can’t tell you the geographic regions where I was job-hunting, because time-traveling robots tend to show up and try to kill me if I disclose a location. Here are some completely unrelated music videos:
Ultimately, I decided to work in an undisclosed state where I might someday become the sidekick of the world’s greatest living superhero, Florida Man.
The new job will require relocation, so I probably won’t get back to a regular posting schedule for a while. I’ll be spending my after-work hours house hunting. Once things finally settle down, I hope I’ll be able to get back to weekly blog posts and wrap up some of the blog projects I’ve started.
Now, back to the job-hunting experience. One of the strangest things I ran across is a near-medieval level of geographic preference. If you aren’t in the same town as the job you’re applying for, or in some cases, in the same part of the town, then you can generally forget about getting a call back. I got nowhere with my out-of-town applications until I started using local relatives’ addresses on my resume, and then the phone started ringing.
I’m not sure what is driving this. Maybe companies don’t want to pay relocation expenses, but in that case, they could just say so and let people apply. I’m wondering whether in many cases, the job listed in an advertisement doesn’t really exist, so they don’t want to make people travel for interviews. Some companies list jobs they know they are giving to internal candidates. Other companies, for no reason I can discern, list jobs and waste hours of upper management time in interviews, then never fill the position. I probably lost ten times as many jobs to “position canceled” as I did to another candidate.
Another thing that confused me was everyone talking about a “tight job market”, which to me, would mean employers were unable to find people. However, some job sites would show me how many others had applied for a job, and it would generally be about sixty people.
I was able to get some insight on a position where I was not chosen for an interview. It was at a law firm (for a support position — I’m not a lawyer) where a retired family friend was a partner. He had their manager call me so I could have a conversation about whether there was something wrong with my resume or something. It turned out that she had around eighty resumes on her desk, and eight of them were from people who had worked not just at law firms, but at law firms with the same sub-specialty. Yet, she mentioned the “tight job market” in our conversation. My best guess is that this language refers to an inability to hire people for the same salaries as twenty years ago. I can’t figure out anything else that makes sense.
Finally, I’ll mention that some of the job-listing sites have “skill tests”. My advice is, unless you are just out of school, don’t bother taking them. Just move on to the next job. You will waste time, and the employer will just skip over you because something is not exactly what they wanted to see on your resume. Or, given that HR screeners aren’t generally the sharpest knives in the drawer, maybe it is on your resume, and they just missed it or didn’t understand what they were reading.
I never got a call back from any job where I took a test. You might say that this is evidence that I’m bad at taking tests, but there are numerous pieces of evidence to the contrary. I did receive call-backs on a couple of jobs where I’d skipped a “mandatory” test. If you have experience, you’ve probably got something on your resume to differentiate you other than beating someone else on a test by a point or two. Your time is probably better spent moving on to another application or customizing a cover letter.
OK, maybe I’m not the person to listen to concerning cover letters. I skipped them 99% of the time, but did have a higher success rate landing interviews when using them. Of course, it may be that I chose to write a cover letter in cases where I could point to specific instances of my resume hitting their requirements, so maybe the resume would have been enough. I did not use a cover letter when applying to the job I ultimately landed.
I hope my going on about the job market will prove useful to someone. Let me know if you’ve had similar or contrary experiences. Now, I have to pack everything I own into boxes.