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Forge Your Wealth is meant for education and entertainment and should not be considered financial advice.
Hopefully, more people are returning to work right now. However, if you do not have a job right now, note that your state is not a reflection of your capabilities. To illustrate, I will tell you a story that is very personal and embarrassing. I worked a job at a large firm very shortly after I graduated from college. I had worked there for a while when I found a mistake that could have cost the company hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions. The company and workers praised me (no whistle blowing, just a corrective action). I cooked some steaks with my family to celebrate. I got fired.
This all happened in a 7 day span. The company did not tell me what I did wrong, in fact they ghosted me. The agency that managed my employment told me my services were no longer required. This was back in 2015, I do not recall doing anything noticeably wrong, much less something that would be enough to ignore a “once in a career achievement” one of the ex-fellow employees told me I accomplished. The fact that they asked me if I would do the same job a few months later suggests I did not do anything particularly wrong. Even the best get fired. It sucks. It happens. In the end you will probably be the only one who remembers or cares about being fired.
In this post I will share some tips for finding a good job during the worst of times.
Get Back On Your Feet, But Not Immediately
If you lost your job, the last thing you should do is immediately apply for jobs. That may sound like the strangest advice, most people say to look for jobs immediately. By all means apply for jobs, just not on the day you lost your current job, maybe not even the day after. Losing your job is considered the eighth most stressful moment of your life, just under marriage and a severe injury or illness. For those who never had either, there is a good reason the honeymoon and recovery for these respectively requires at least one day. I would say I hope my editor would forgive me for comparing a honeymoon to a recovery, but we both had the flu afterwards, she laughed a little bit while reading this.
You need to take at least one day to recover from the stress. Have a good meal, sleep, cry, light a camp fire with your pink slip (that’s one I would do) or whatever is necessary to grieve. At least do it for one night. When I was fired I went to see my girlfriend, now wife/editor. The next day I felt a little better to make applying for jobs my new full time job. You can ask my wife, after that I spent 2.5 almost completely straight days applying for jobs. Letting yourself grieve will make you more capable of finding your next job/step in your career making it one of the best tips for finding a good job.
Watch Out For Scams
Unfortunately, many, if not even most job postings are in one way or another, a scam. That is one of the reasons you must apply for so many jobs just to land one. That is one of the side effects of free access to the internet, the opposite is not desirable. But you must watch out for them.
One of the only signs I know that show if you are applying for a scam is that 99% of the companies that lack of digital content are a scam. Think of it this way, I could create digital content providing information for around a hundred dollars, you are reading it right now. Can a company really not spare that much money to buy a website? Even if the company has no people to make a website I’m sure FlexJobs could find them 1,000 people in a couple of hours who could give them a finished product by the end of the week.
Even then, there are some companies who just started up and want to find workers as soon as possible. A website takes time, a good one even more, to create. The job could be legit, you may just need to call for information. But I can give you advice that is likely to keep you from being scammed and will help you for finding a good job.
Social Security Number
You probably protect your social security number more than your credit card number. There’s a reason for that. Almost every form of fraud can be at least partially completed using your social security number and a little information that can probably be found on a public database (or often social media) such as your address, phone number, even pets and kids. Why do you think the fraud protection industry is almost $20 billion in 2018 and probably going to over $100 billion in this decade? I am friends with many people in IT, programming, and cyber-security, you would be surprised at how much of your information is floating in the black market.
Unfortunately, many feel a little too comfortable giving people their social security number online, especially during hard times. I rarely find online applications that require your social security number except for government applications. That does not mean they will not ask for your social security number, but usually they will for the interview application only. They do not need it until they think you may be a good fit.
No application will ever ask for your bank information! No exceptions! Your potential employers may be interested in your financial history and standing, that is what your credit score is for, and they can find that with only your standard personal information. They will never need to know how much you paid for rent, groceries, yacht, whatever. I do not care what you spend your money on, neither will your potential employer.
Use A Cover Letter
83% of hiring managers and recruits say that the cover letter is more important than your resume or CV. As far as I am concerned that means that for every job you apply to with a resume and cover letter is equivalent to applying for six jobs with only a resume. Which of those two do you think requires more effort? This is one of the best tips for finding a good job.
A cover letter is surprisingly simple. It is a one page summary of you, your experience, and how you can apply your experience to the company. Here is the site I used as a template recently. No one can tell you exactly what to write on your cover letter and no cover letter will be the exact same, especially for different jobs. You will need to tailor each depending on your job. I also find it better to address the hiring manager directly, but only for small operations including postdocs. As soon as you are applying to a company of more than 200 employees, it may be best to address the company instead.
There are some situations where cover letters are not necessary. In short, if the application does not ask for one, do not use a cover letter. If an application says do not use a cover letter, do not send one, especially. As strange as it sounds, the 17% may not find a cover letter very helpful. I have even heard that some recruiters believe when an applicant sends a cover letter when they do not ask for one as a sign of overdoing it or even a lack of subordination. Do you want either of those two to be your first impression?
Update Your Resume
Did you know that when employees take a look at their transferable skills, they find that at least 50% of their transferable skills are applicable to their new job. I did not know that, I thought it was at least 70%.
One of my professors told me that the idea of education is not necessarily to learn new skills, but to show that you can learn new skills. Maybe you do not have the knowledge to program in R, but does that matter so much when you know how to program in SAS or Python? Chances are your old job provided you with some skills that can apply to others. Even the most apparently menial skill could help.
To optimize your resume you should tailor it to fit with the job you are applying for. Check the skills on the application and remove those that do not fit and those that do. It’s not unlike tailoring your cover letter.
Reach Out To Your Network
One of the best tips for finding a good job is to reach out to your network. You definitely know some people from school or previous work. And more often than not, they can help you find some work, or at least let you know about somethings going on.
Unfortunately, one of the worst things I know that people do when they go to school and work is to not reach out to other people. If I did not put any effort into networking I would not have a network. Not many people talked to me in grad school. Do you think it had anything to do with the radiation and pathogens I worked with? (In all seriousness we had safe practices for both). You do not need to be best friends with anyone or to have too special of a relationship. In fact, you have probably networked without even knowing it. Trust me, even the smallest conversations could resonate with people for years. In a future post I will write about how to make and maintain your network. That is not something that can be summarized to easily.
Only Give Up When You Get What You Want
I have heard from someone that if you apply for any less than 25 jobs every month, you do not really want a job. Keep in mind, I had to apply for over 150 jobs before I obtained my current one. Chances are you will have to apply for many jobs.
Even if you found a job, you should consider if the job you have obtained is what you want. You should measure out whether the job would be a career fitting for your expertise. I’m not sure if this is more in the world of science than anything else, but I have heard that quitting a job and moving around too much will hurt your career more than it helps. If the career fits your expertise, I would stay at that job for at least a few years. If the job you found would not fit your expertise, you need to be sure that the job is either something you would be happy to work for a while or at least that they would understand if you want to leave.
Keep applying for jobs until you find one that could potentially be your career.
Finding a new job is very difficult. There are many tips for finding a good job, but admittedly, they tend to be very specific. The list of tips for finding a good job I mention should work among many jobs and there are many site that can provide advice for finding a good job in a specific field. Times are tough, you are tougher, try to get out there.