Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts on a New Year's Eve

I know I should be out partying on this New Year's Eve, but with a 4-year-old getting ready for bed and my wife at work, I'm home with the dog.

I had a job interview this morning, and it made me think of several aspects of the job hunt and the job I want to find. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but the interview left me thinking about resolutions for 2009 related to my job, whatever it turns out to be. One of the questions was about my management style, which I thought was a good question and one I'm happy to answer. And I think my answer tells a lot about what I want to do next in my career and what type of workplace I want to be in.

I last worked at a newspaper, so I described my management style in how I dealt with reporters, and encouraged the interview team to contact any of my former reporters for more information. My basic approach was to let them find the news, and to be proactive as their editor early in the reporting process so that together we answered any questions the typical reader might have well before the story got to me to edit. I was trying to prepare, and teach my staff to prepare, as early as possible for any roadblocks they might encounter in researching a story.

Another thing I tried to get my reporters to do was to have long-term stories, or goals, that they wanted to do each week. Being a reporter at a daily newspaper can be a grind, and writing short, news-of-the-day stories can numb the brain. I tried to have each reporter I was working with have at least one long-term project going that was thoughtful, analytical and would be a fun read. I wanted them to have a reason to come in to work every day with a sense that they would do some journalism that they set out to do early in their careers. I wanted them to see a long-term goal and reach it. I wanted this for their satisfaction much more than mine.

I could go on and on about how I managed my team of reporters, but the styles I used the most were to work with them early on in the work process so that problems wouldn't arise later, and to help them do some long-term stories they wanted to do. Part of both of those efforts required time. Time to get out and find what they really wanted to do, and time to report early and often. I tried to give them this time by having them either write fewer daily stories, or turn those stories into briefs so they could spend time on the big things.

Those management styles, if you want to call them styles, are what I'd like in my new workplace. To be able to spend time on quality, and have help dealing with the little things early enough so the job was done right. I realize that all work requires some mundane tasks that have to get done, and I'm willing to do those. But at the end of the day I want my work, and the work of others I'm spending eight hours a day with, to matter.

As we enter a new year, that's my small resolution: To find a job, a career, where I can make a difference. I know that's probably asking a lot, but that's what I have to offer -- the chance to make an impact. I know it will take a lot of work on my part to find that job, and I plan to find new and bolder methods.

Have a happy new year's eve and come back in 2009 to "Unemployed Dad" for more unemployment adventures. It's going to get interesting.

This tale was brought to you by

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Year in Review

My year in review:
June 26, 2008: Fully employed.
June 27, 2008: Unemployed.

Those are the highlights and lowlights of the year. There were birthdays, an anniversary, holidays, laughs, discoveries and many other things thrown in throughout, but those are the dates I'll remember most about 2008.

In an effort to remain optimistic, I bought an appointment book for 2009 that I plan to carry with me often and keep filled with things to do as I continue the job search in the new year. I'm not into making New Year resolutions, but the main one I have is to find full-time work and if not that, then continue doing everything I can and exploring every avenue in finding a new career. I hope you find what you want in 2009 and continue coming to Unemployed Dad for tips on finding the job you want.

Some of my posts will be moving to, such as this one on getting employers to call you back for an interview, which I've covered here before, but I'll always provide a link here to get to it easily. AOL is paying me for these, so that's where they're headed. Some will have the title "The Job Hunt" so they should be easy to find. Or just bookmark my entries, where I'll have plenty of job hunting posts. I'm looking forward to doing more work for them next year and getting more exposure for the blog and thus a job.

If you do nothing else on the final day of 2008, vow to make a change that will help you find a job, whether you're employed now or not. Join a network, acquire new job skills, update your resume, take a class, volunteer, buy a new suit, get organized. Do something.

This tale was brought to you by

Return calls, now on AOL

I've written about not getting calls returned from employers in your job search, and I've expanded on it in this post I wrote today for this personal finance web site run by AOL. It's about how to get a callback for a job interview.
Along with getting paid by AOL, I'm trying to increase and improve my workload for them by writing about some of the issues in this blog, mainly being unemployed and looking for work. That's what this blog led to, I'm happy to report, so it's time to start writing more about those issues for that audience.

This tale was brought to you by

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ad whore

OK, I've become an ad whore. I've been a capitalist from the start, and with Google's AdSense program running like mad on this blog, I thought it was time to add some more ads to see if they can help an unemployed man get some cash.

I've tried to make them a little interesting. I read books (or at least I want to when not with the kid or writing for someone else for a few dimes), so the banner ad on top features books. The ad on the bottom and the "cloud" ad on the right side feature products based on what's written on this page. I expect a book about whores to be on sale here sometime soon. Go ahead, buy.

This tale was brought to you by

Texas job hunt

I live in California, where we have a home that would be difficult to sell in today's economy, and where most of my family lives. Today I'm putting in the mail a job application to be an information specialist in the governor's office in the great state of Texas. It would be quite a move, culturally and geographically, from California.

Luckily, my father-in-law lives in Texas, and that's the main reason we'd consider moving there. As long-time readers know, we went to Texas a few months ago to visit, and I came away with an appreciation for Texas and its still living economy.

Still, it's a little difficult to be applying for a job that I doubt I'll get because if I were in their shoes, I'd want to hire someone from Texas who knows the political ins and outs of the state. It's a longshot, but a longshot may be what I need now. Dec. 27 marked six months of unemployment, and it's time to move on.

This tale was brought to you by

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another blog

This is one of the early photos I took of Emma, and one I'm most proud of. Not only is it adorable, which I'm bound by law to say as her father, but I like it as a black and white photo. I wish I had taken more black and white. This doesn't have much to do with my job search, but has a lot to do with the other aspect of this blog, which is how the job hunt affects my time with my daughter. Partly it has by allowing me more time with her, such as the time I took off over Christmas that I might not have had if fully employed.

A great gift I got for Christmas was the Flip Mino, a small camcorder that fits in your pocket and is about as big as a cellphone. After taking too many short videos of our excursions after Christmas, I decided to bore her relatives with them by putting them on the Internet. I've now created Digital Emma, a blog linked to this one where it is mostly videos, along with a few photos and even fewer words, of Emma. I don't plan to devote much time to it, less than 20 minutes a day, as a way for her grandparents and other relatives, to see how she's growing up.

Now, back to work. I wrote two blog posts for, one which I think is interesting to job applicants everywhere. It's about a short, two-page application for the federal bank bailout, and the five-page job application for a barista in Portland. Look for it online by 8 a.m. Monday at WalletPop, an AOL personal finance Web site I write for.

And with the help of a webmaster I met through this blog, I've added a tagline below to help readers get back to the blog if they only get to this post.

This was brought to you by

Friday, December 26, 2008

Princess time

A princess for the princess. Ha! Video done with a Flip Video, which I recommend as a fun gift. It was a fun Christmas and the joy of job hunting will continue in a few days.

Ice skating

The Christmas break continues with ice skating in downtown Walnut Creek.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I got a Flip Mino from my lovely wife for Christmas today. Here's the first video. More to come. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Closing the deal

Closing the deal is something I've tried to do after an interview. I've asked questions to see what they think of my qualifications and if any red flags go up in considering me for the job. At the very least, I try to find out what their next step is in hiring and when a decision will be made and when I can expect to be contacted next.

I rarely respond to reader comments, but the one for the post below "Is Santa hiring?" deserves a post because it is so well thought out and helpful. They're tips I plan to use in my next interview.

Here's an excerpt from the comment: "Once the interview is complete, ask them "trial close" questions like, "Based on this interview, do you think I am a good candidate for the role", or "What is the next step for us to move forward in the process", or "Do you see any strengths that would make me suited for the job, do you have any red flags" or even "Are you interested in hiring me". Never leave an interview without knowing exactly where you stand, the waiting and uncertainty will hurt more than a no. Whenever I interviewed, and I didn't prefer a candidate I would say "We are reviewing other candidates", but if they pushed me for a no I would provide one. Why waste anyone's time. People respect candor."

I've asked a few of these, or variations of them, and will continue with trying to close the deal. One of the last things you want an employer to do is forget you, so I also send out thank-you notes and either call or write a week or so later for an update on the hiring process. If you have tips for how you closed a job interview that was successful, please send add a comment below.

To get away from job hunting at Christmas, I promise that any posts on Thursday, Christmas Day, will only be about the joy of Christmas and may include some photos of my 4-year-old daughter opening presents. So it might be a little too sweet for anyone who isn't a relative. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is Santa hiring?

Santa Claus will be here soon. I hope he brings me a job. I hoped to hear back from a potential employer last week, and was told a hiring decision was expected by Christmas week. Everytime I wait and wait for a call, it means they've decided to hire someone else. I'm trying to keep my hopes up with the response that they're obviously busy with the holidays and that I'll get a call next week after Christmas.

I sent another potential employer a Christmas card today, reminding him that I'm still very interested in the job and hope we can meet soon for a second interview. I also have another job interview next week, so at least I'm talking with with people who can hire me.

One of my goals is to get multiple job offers, having employers competing for my services and allowing me to pick the best job. Although that doesn't mean I'd pick the best job based on pay. There are many other factors that rate higher.

So with this week of job hunting essentially lost to Christmas, and next week to New Year's, I don't expect too much to happen. I'm trying to enjoy the holiday and the time off, but as always, the voice nagging in the back of my mind to find full-time work soon is there.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Leave the driving to them

As far as commutes go, I've been spoiled my entire working life. Except for two years when I drove 20 miles to Antioch, from home to office I've driven five to 10 minutes each way since my first job out of college. I get home while many others are still driving or taking public transportation. I'm sure it has relieved a lot of stress in my life.

And I've said to myself many times while stuck in traffic for whatever reason, that I'd do everything I can to take public transportation if my job allowed it and was far from home.

Today, I made a decision I may come to regret as job prospects lessen, but for now I've decided to stick to my mantra of a short commute and turned down a job interview in Sacramento. Driving there, one-way, would take about 90 minutes for 75 miles, and about $5 in gas. The potential worksite isn't near public transportation, which would still be a haul, and three hours in a car each day is a lot of time.

I felt bad about declining the offer for a job interview. I think it would be a great job that would use all of my talents. I don't want to sound ungrateful for the chance, but lifestyle has to factor in, and losing three hours from my family each day is a lot to give up.

At some networking meetings I've been to, new members are asked how far they're willing to drive for work. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and most say 30 minutes or less. For me, that leaves out San Jose and San Francisco, although San Francisco is easily accessible by BART. I'm willing to battle other commuters for a BART seat, but to battle over a highway lane is something I'd like to avoid unless I absolutely have to. At least on BART I can read or listen the radio. Or get something done, like work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finding a meaningful career

One thing I was told again and again by friends and people I'd run into when discussing being laid off, at least in the early days of my layoff, was that things happen for a reason and that the best will come of this. I agree with fatalism to a certain point, but I also think we each make our own path based on the decisions we make. I was laid off almost six months ago (June 27, making the day after the day after Christmas a six-month anniversary I don't want to celebrate) and while I can partially agree to the premise that all things happen for a reason, I'm still searching for the good behind losing my job. Maybe when I find one the clouds will clear and I'll know where I stand in the universe.

But until then, I continue looking for full-time work. And one good thing I can pull from this search is that it gives me a chance to explore careers I probably wouldn't have if I was still working at a newspaper. For example, as a newspaper reporter and editor, I could never take a stand on an issue, for fear that it would look like I had a bias on a story. I tried to keep my opinions to myself on politics and the like, and I didn't appear at community events such as a fund-raiser for a local politician I supported, because I worked at a newspaper and was to remain objective. I didn't mind because I loved my job so much.
Now I'm free to choose a career where I can have an opinion and if not actively advocate for a position, at least support it openly. For example, I want to work somewhere where I can not only make a difference, but can do work that will benefit the local community, if not the world. I want my writing, speaking and any other work I do in the job I'll eventually find to help benefit that cause. One arena could be in the "green" field, such as solar power or other energy fields, as I strongly believe that America should be rid of its foreign oil habit and be a leader in ending global warming.
As in journalism, I'd like to work somewhere that benefits people and serves a greater good. I enjoy informing people and helping them learn things, and helping them solve their problems. It may sound like an oxymoron, but I'd like to work in government for those reasons. I think government can help people achieve their best and provide services to make their lives better.
That's partly why I volunteered in the November election to help re-elect U.S. Congressman Jerry McNerney. He was a good candidate and someone with views that I could get behind. The writing and other work I did on that campaign gave me a lot of experience that I hope will lead to a job. It was a great learning experience that showed me I'm on the right path.
A few months ago someone from a career center at a community college reviewed my resume and was so impressed she said she couldn't think of much to change or add to the resume, just a few tweaks. She was amazed by my experience and was confident I would find a good job soon. I was doing everything she could think of to find work, such as networking, getting informational interviews, adding to my job skills and polishing my resume. I was a bit down because I had sent out many resumes and had interviews without any success. She pointed out that everything I'm doing is like a gardener planting seeds, and that all of the contacts and other things I've done in the job search would lead to some flowers growing and that I would have my pick of jobs.
I've planted plenty of seeds, and plan to plant more. I just want to see some start growing.
(NOTE: I've added multiple paragraph marks between paragaphs, and they aren't working. Any blogger experts, please advise.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Even a hooker knows to collect first

What career did the telegraph writer go into when he got laid off? Did the horse and buggy driver take six months to find a job when his job was eliminated? Did typewriter repair shop owners polish their resumes on a typewriter when computers took over? Will the last auto worker in Detroit please close the door?

As an unemployed newspaper journalist, I can see how workers in dying professions, or at least massively changing professions, must have felt as their jobs ended. I expect newspapers will survive in some form, but as news content moves to the Internet, they're starting to learn how to get there before they die.

The Detroit newspapers recently made a smart decision, I think, that is at least an effort to keep from going under. They will publish three days a week and charge people to read their content on the Internet. Hooray! Finally, a newspaper is charging to read it online. I hope it's a success. At least a prostitute knows to get payment on top of the dresser before services are rendered. Instead of giving it away, the Detroit papers are asking for money upfront to read online. The Detroit Free Press online is $12 a month or free with a home subscription.

That move is too late to save my job at a California newspaper, but it gives me hope that newspapers will find a way to survive and be profitable.

I doubt if I'll work in newspapers again, although the news business is a career I love. I just now hope to either do it online or find another career equally exciting. Like autoworkers, who face a dying profession unless GM and Chrysler can get their act together, journalists are being laid off left and right to keep newspapers financially afloat. In the end, this may come back to haunt the newspapers, which rely on strong reporting and editing to produce a product readers will want. The cuts they've made may be so deep that readers will notice the little local news that makes it into the paper.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unsuitable for children

A warning: Some of this post may not be suitable for children.

Fuckyoupenguin is now one of my favorite blogs to read. Not so much for what it's about or the content, (The subhead is: "A blog where I tell cute animals what's what") but because of the way it's written. Very funny. It even has a tipline: "Do you know an animal that needs a good talking to?"

I bring this up here because it has 1,394 followers and could be a potential goldmine. Call me a sellout, but I'm looking to try to make a little cash from this blog if possible, and try to do that by providing insight into the world of an unemployed dad and attract readers and thus advertisers. I have seven followers, who I'm all thankful for, and get a fair amount of page hits. But if I had 1,394 followers, I think I'd be getting mass advertising to get some cash money.
As I've noted in a few recent posts, I'm looking to expand this blog with more useful content and possibly start another blog on a yet-to-be-named subject in an attempt at bringing people to it. I've just got to figure out what my passion is and go from there. I enjoy writing, so I'm trying to determine how to work that in. One idea is a site devoted to storytelling. We'll see what develops.
In the meantime, read and find out why anyone would cuss out a prarie dog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What to do if you get laid off

As I sit bundled up in my living room on a cold night, I warm myself by the computer and write this blog entry for Miss Orinda, who made a request in the comment section of the post below to give an update on the seminar tonight on journalists looking for jobs after working at newspapers.

Interested readers would probably be best served by going to the One Big Bang web site or contacting Luther Jackson or Sara Steffens of the Newspaper Guild for details, but here's my quick rundown and a test of my short-term memory:

A panel of former Contra Costa Times journalists gave their tips on how to find a job after newspapers. All but one left well before the layoffs in the past year, and left on their terms. They stressed that journalists' skills are well regarded in the corporate world and are in demand. And that when inteviewing for a job, getting along well with the interviewer and showing real enthusiasm for the job are necessary. Job areas that should be considered include public relations, government, public companies, universities and freelance work.

There was also a handout at the meeting from the California Media Workers Guild. Contact the guild at for more information, but here are the basics of what to do if you get laid off:

1. Contact the Guild immediately to get help at the bargaining table and for technical assistance.

2. Don't sign anything immediately. Take time to read the severance package and get your questions answered.

3. File for unemployment. File online at Benefits in California are capped at $450 a week for 26 weeks with extended benefits available.

4. Attend a Rapid Response workshop. The company or the Guild will often arrange a formal meeting with local government officials to explain services available to the unemployed.

5. Begin networking and informational interviews. Join LinkedIn.

6. Visit a One-Stop Career Center.

7. Find support, including family and friends to deal with grief, depression and feelings of failure.

8. Create a routine and don't waste time getting started.

9. Know thyself and create a first-class resume and cover letter.

My additions would be to joing CPC Job Connections in Danville, a huge networking group; volunteer if you have time, which can lead to job leads; learn new skills as soon as you can, such as Internet skills.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another unemployed dad

I've found my Internet equal, another unemployed dad with a 4-year-old at home: unemployeddad1. From reading his blog, it looks like he hasn't been laid off as long as I have, but deals with the same types of problems at home with his child underfoot. Best of all are the cartoons he draws and writes on the blog. Funny and full of meaning for other dads out of work, and anyone else too who wants a good laugh. His site doesn't have a bio or an e-mail address to contact him, although I did leave a comment on his latest cartoon and will see if he replies.

After a few reader comments on the issue, I'm going to start beefing up this blog a little more to help make it a resource for the unemployed and people who have been laid off recently. While I still plan to focus on unemployed dads and my place in that world, I want to try to give readers a little more help. While I haven't found a fulltime job yet, I hope that my endeavors and hard work are an encouragement to others to continue looking during this recession. So if you have ideas of what more you'd like to see me cover, please leave a comment or email me.

Wednesday looks to be a full day: A job interview in Sacramento, then back home and a career seminar for out-of-work journalists near my old place of work in Walnut Creek.

And speaking of my former employer, a daily newspaper, I'm now getting telephone calls from a collection agency, seeking $12 for a newspaper subscription that I never wanted to continue after I was laid off in June at the same newspaper. When I first started working there a daily subscription was free. Then they got cheap and decided against this employee benefit, forcing us to pay for something we could grab for free at work. The cost was half off, and I normally didn't come into work until late afternoon, so I ponied up the money so I could get the paper at home in the morning. Well, after I was laid off, I never really wanted to read the paper at home much anyway, so I didn't renew. But the papers keep coming, so now I'll call and cancel. Do they know that everything in the newspaper is free online? story on oil spill published

That's the place to go to read by San Francisco Bay oil spill story on Other Web sites or newspapers are welcome to pick up the free story, which was funded through "crowdfunding." The check to me is in the mail. Nice to have some freelance work published. Now on to my next story for, about the cost of installing solar power in your home.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Going global

I was thrilled to see a comment to the entry below, "Future of Newspapers" from a reader in the United Kingdom. He recommended this story about the fall of American newspapers. I have a story pitch on about the future of Bay Area newspapers, focusing on how they will deal with the Internet. Read the comment for yourself in the posting below. He advised blogging for a niche, which I'm doing here but plan to expand on in another blog somewhere down the road, hopefully soon.

At the newspaper guild meeting today in San Francisco where owner Tim White discussed how to make money from blogging. He had many great ideas, but the basic one was to find your niche and blog about it deeply. That's the issue I have to figure out over the next few weeks. I'd like to start another blog about something I feel passionate about, but my problem is that I don't think I'd want to blog about something I'm a fan of (such as Oakland A's) because it might take away from the fun of going to baseball games if I have to think of blogging about it all of the time. I'm interested in a lot of different things, and need to focus on one and blog on it in the hope that it will reach a large audience and thus get some ad clicks.

Sample topics I'm thinking about starting another blog include: chocolate, high thread count sheets, storytelling through journalism, Hawaii, favorite foods from around the country, and chocolate chip cookies. I must be hungry, I'm listing so much food.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Future of Newspapers

I'm doing another story pitch on, a community funded reporting web site. This story is on the future of newspapers in the Bay Area and how they will change their Internet presence in 2009 and how they plan to increase circulation and advertising.

My story on the Bay oil spill a year later should run next week, and I'm also working on a story about the costs of solar power.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting through Christmas

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and while I think I have the holiday spirit and truly enjoy Christmas, this year is obviously a bit of a downer. Not from the standpoint of having family and friends around, but from the "spend, spend, spend" mantra of Christmas in America.

I've done minimal shopping and I don't plan on doing much. Normally by this time I've bought many gifts online and have contributed to the economy. But without a job and with unemployment benefits to expire for me in less than two months, my mind isn't so much on the holiday as it is on finding a full-time job and being able to pay the bills. I'm still enjoying the Christmas season, but that nagging feeling is always in the back of my thoughts.

I can count on one hand the number of job interviews I've had since being laid off in June, and I'm optimistic that more will be coming. I hate looking at a calendar and seeing that with two weeks left in the year, it's unlikely I'll fulfill my goal of having a full-time job by then. I don't expect employers to be rushing to fill vacancies during Christmas week or soon thereafter.

For the first time since in a long time, I'll have the entire Christmas week, and the week after, off. My daughter will be off for all of that time too, and my wife will be off for a few days, so I'm looking to make the best of it and enjoy the time off.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Workshops approaching

The weekend is almost here (although I honestly sometimes forget what day of the week it is; part of the joy of not working) and I'm already looking forward to next week. I don't have any job interviews scheduled, but I'm attending a San Jose Newspaper Guild meeting on Monday in San Francisco where a speaker will show us how to make money from blogging.

I'm already making a little cash from it, but want much more money. Much more.

And on Wednesday, I'm going to a workshop by former newspaper workers called "Life After Newspapers" about how to get a job after working at a paper. It looks like it could be a precursor for layoffs at my former employer, but hopefully not. It will be good to hear more ideas, network and talk with former colleagues again. I'm doing all I can to find full-time work, and until then, these type of workshops keep me energized in my job hunt and thrilled to learn more on this unchartered course I'm in.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Employer gifts

Once again, I give thanks to United Reporting for being such a kind employer. One of the bosses there sent me a box of candy with a Christmas card, note and best of all, a $50 gas card at Arco. While that may not sound like a lot to Google employees or others, it's a lot to someone like me who has spent his entire career working at newspapers. I won't again go into the meager Christmas thanks I've received at newspapers for a year's labor, but it was rarely this good, and not even close in recent years.

Working for United Reporting was the first part-time job (now at 6) that I found after being laid off at the Contra Costa Times in June. I've said it here before and I expect to say it again, but UR has treated me well and gone above and beyond in letting me know they appreciate my work.

I wrote a blog for AOL's recently about gifts for the unemployed. Check it out if you want ideas for other things to give the jobless this holiday season. And take a look where yours truly ranks on WalletPop's bloggers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weekdays off

It's no fun looking for a fulltime job, and it's no fun having that job search in the back of your mind constantly, and it's certainly not fun without a steady income. But it is fun to be able to take a day, or at least part of a day in the middle of the week, to go do something fun and avoid the crowds.

Friday, Emma and I went to Martinez to check out the snow city workers created, and we did a little sledding. On Tuesday, the whole family jumped on BART and went to San Francisco to look at the Christmas sights. We took a trolley, a cable car and walked all around the city. Beyond the joy of visiting San Francisco, it was great to get out on a weekday afternoon and not have to fight the weekend crowds. It was a peek into what life must be like for the rich or retired, but not something I want to keep going for much longer without a regular job.

Updates on job interviews: I called an executive about a second interview, and await a callback. At another job I'm applying for, the interview for Friday was called off by the employer after a work emergency forced some delays, and they expect to call me in the next week or so to reschedule. Let's hope it happens before Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008

PowerPoint grad

Success at last! At least a little bit. As you can see from this beautiful Certificate of Completion, I have taken a PowerPoint 2007 class. I'm on my way to employment, I just know it.

All kidding aside, I took this class last week to improve my skills and help me in my job hunt. PowerPoint, I've come to learn from various job postings, is a skill very much in need in many of the jobs I'm applying for. And since I'm always seeking to better myself, either through volunteering, my part-time work or classes like this, I decided to make the $120 investment and take the PowerPoint class at a local adult school. It was a lot of fun and I hope to put a PowerPoint presentation together this week to e-mail to an agency I'm trying to win a contract from.

About half of the people taking the class with me were in it for the full 10 weeks, taking all of the Microsoft Suite classes that could lead to administrative assistant or similar jobs for them. Many of the people I met in the class were unemployed, like me, and said it was something they needed to either find a job or for the job they currently have.

Because of all of the classwork last week, looking for a job and doing my part-time jobs was difficult last week, but I think I'm back on track now and moving forward again. I plan to call the executive soon this week to see if an interview is forthcoming, and I have another job interview Friday. I'll post updates on those as they happen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Return calls

I realize that often in life you have to move on when things don't go your way. But in a job hunt, it's difficult to move on and forget the job you've applied for with all your heart when you don't know what's happening with it.

For example, in the past few weeks I've had an interview and have sent my resume and other info to a few jobs that I thought I was well qualified for. I don't want to seem like a pest or desperate, but part of me wants to call the employers to try to find out what they think of my application and if the interview process can continue so I can get the job. In this rough job market, I want to go above and beyond other job candidates and stand out from a crowd. If it takes writing a sample press release or whatever, I'm up for it. But again, I don't want to seem pushy. I just want a job -- a fulltime job that I'll enjoy.

I know some companies go slow in their hiring. I had an interview two weeks ago at a public agency and while I made the initial cut, I'm waiting for the executive director to hopefully call me back for another interview. I'll give him a call soon, and hope to prove to him that I can do the job and am eager to start working. I've also applied for a few jobs that I think I'd be perfect for -- writing jobs and such -- and I'm trying to contact them to appeal for them to look at my resume and get moving forward on hiring me.

But the question remains: How soon is too soon to call and at what point are you a pain in the neck for asking how to get yourself to the front of the line?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The power of working for AOL

It's amazing what having a job, although a small one, with Internet giant AOL can do. Not only am I getting paid to write about personal finance at AOL's Web site, but my personal blog about looking for work in these troubled economic times is seeing a huge increase in page hits, etc. since I started writing for WalletPop on Nov. 11. And thus my money from Google's AdSense program is turning from a few cents into a few dollars.

For example, the number of "page impressions" on Nov. 10, the day before I started the AOL job, was 30 for this blog. The next day it jumped to 121. The highest has been 262 on Nov. 19. But more important are the number of "clicks," which I'm still trying to figure out what they mean to AdSense. But they reached a daily high of 13 on Nov. 30, equating to $12.81 for me on that one day. People are reading my blog, and it's starting to pay.

But possibly better than that is the fact that more people, and hopefully employers, are taking a look at what I'm doing. I've received some positive feedback from some readers lately, wishing me luck on the job search and some have shared their job hunt tales with me.

If you don't want to miss my musings on personal finance, bookmark my postings at WalletPop and keep up. And if you have story ideas on how the economy is affecting your spending, e-mail them to me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ho, ho, ho

Another month arrives, probably the favorite month of the year for a lot of people, and I'm trying all I can to look forward to it without a full-time job in hand. As I've written here before, it's difficult to relax and enjoy things when at the back of my mind is the constant dread of having to either look for work or at least do something to improve my chances of landing a job.

For example, today I started taking a week-long PowerPoint class. It's a skill that is often called upon in the business world. I also spent some time today doing a mock interview for a second interview that I hope will come for a job I recently applied for. Then after Emma went to bed about an hour ago, I'm applying for a job someone kindly forwarded to me on LinkedIn. Other than taking care of the kid, most of the day, from 8 a.m. to now, has been spent preparing for a job, interview and applying for yet another job. I realize there are plenty of seeds to be planted before I find a job, but it's getting tiresome.

And I don't want to waste time in December because I expect that within two weeks companies will basically shut down for the year as far as hiring goes. I can't imagine they get much done from the week of Christmas through the first week of the new year.