The Quick-Start Job Search Guide

Even though this definitely is a candidate-driven market (and it should continue to be so at least through all of 2018) and employers are practically on bended knee “proposing” to talent, Los Angeles-area workers could see themselves suddenly without a job: layoffs STILL occur!

If this has happened to you, you may decide to take a few days or weeks off to mourn your loss and even recharge. (“It’s a sort-of vacation!”) This can be a good idea, but we urge you to take only two or three weeks – at most – “off” before starting your job search in earnest.

Why? Because the very fact that you are unemployed – even if it wasn’t your fault – makes you much less desirable than someone who is still employed, even if you have highly sought after skills. Why? Because being unemployed makes you an “active” candidate. If you were still employed, you would be a “passive” candidate and employers prefer passive candidates because “we don’t have to worry about the circumstances surrounding their departure from their last job.” That’s right: get laid off for no reason other than because your employer decided it needed to cut back on its employee roster and you’re automatically (probably subconsciously) lumped in with ne’er do wells, thieves, folks who weren’t up to the task, “problem” employees, etc.

Is this fair? Of course not! But it is reality. So if you find yourself out of work, don’t sit around watching Hulu videos or finally getting around to painting your Huntington Beach condo. Start looking for work. Pronto!

Take a look below for 11 steps to take to get your job search started quickly. As in half a day!

Orange County Jobs

  1. Get organized.

Put on some comfortable clothes, find a quiet space in your home, get your previous resume and a cover letter handy, open up the laptop, and start contacting friends to see if they’d be willing to proofread your revised resume. Get some tea and/or coffee and settle down for the afternoon.

  1. Start thinking about where you’d like to work.

Have you always wanted to work at some particular company or companies? List them. Go to each of their websites and do some research. Jot notes about the companies’ products/services, their goals/challenges (check their blogs or news media sites for insight into these things). Look at your LinkedIn profile to see if you have any first, second or even third connections who either work at the companies or who may have connections at the companies. Check the companies’ job openings to see if there’s anything that fits your bill.

  1. Check job boards.

Don’t spend a lot of time on this. And don’t apply to any openings. Not yet. This is recon: you want to see what job opportunities currently are to be had for your background and skill set. Make notes (bookmarks, too) if anything you see particularly strikes you or piques your interest.

  1. Pick five favorite openings and/or companies.

Head back to LinkedIn and see if you know anyone with any connection. Ask them to set up an informational interview with them. (Here’s a networking email template that says it will “get you a meeting with anyone you ask.” Let us know if it works!)

Work to set up a minimum of three meetings. Set those three meetings up today.

  1. Write a cover letter and tailor it to EACH different opportunity.

Seriously: each cover letter needs to be different. You cannot use the same cover letter for each opening. You need to show how your skills, background, accomplishments, and possibly education will help the employer solve the problems the position is supposed to solve and/or reach the goals the position is supposed to reach.

  1. Beef up your resume.

Tweak/edit it so that it highlights your specific accomplishments: those problems you solved and goals you reached for your previous employers. Don’t be afraid to also tweak your resume for each position.

  1. Send the resume/cover letter to one or more friends for proofing/feedback.

You want absolutely no grammar or spelling mistakes. None!

  1. Apply for the three or so openings online.

Upload your docs and hit send.

  1. If you’ve heard back from your potential informational interviews, set up meeting times.

Mention that you’ve applied for openings at their company (if applicable). Approach friends, family members and current and/or former colleagues for coffee meetings. Let them know what type of work you’re looking for, your skills/background and make sure to ask them if they know of anyone else with whom you could meet. (Tip: don’t wait for your friend to make the intro: people are busy and may forget. instead ask your friend for his contact’s email or phone info and ask your buddy if it’s OK if you contact the person directly, saying that your friend suggested that you contact the individual.)

  1. Repeat each day until you accept a job offer.

The way to find a job quickly is look for work each day. Yes, the old saw is true: view searching for a job as your job.

  1. Consider signing up with a staffing service such as ours.

Helpmates has new temporary, temp-to-hire and even direct-hire job opportunities appearing every day. You can work with us on temporary assignments while you job hunt on your own or allow us to send you on interviews for more permanent positions.

Take a look at our job openings and apply online. Or contact the office nearest you.

Making the Gig Economy Work for You

The Great Recession definitely “did a number” on many individuals’ careers. Mid- or late-career professionals were downsized and unable to find a similar position at a similar income. New college grads struggled mightly to even find their first post-college position. Many men were let go and unable to find work due to a lack of positions in “traditionally” male occupations such as construction, transportation, etc.

Southern California jobs

If you’ve struggled to find employment in the years since then, you may have found that you prefer to work as a free-lancer, subcontractor or even temporary associate due to the independence and flexibility such positions offer.

Yet the “gig economy” is attractive to many people today, not just those who fought to find regular work with an employer, because the siren call of freedom is hard to resist for many who have the skills to make it in this new, flexible economy:

“No one can ever fire me again!” is their mantra!

Additional reasons why more and more people are embracing a non-traditional work style (from Forbes.com):

  • Only 14 percent of companies offer pension plans to their employees (down from 60 percent in 1982), so what’s the point of working for an employer (some people may figure)?
  • LinkedIn reports that the average length of unemployment is almost six months (25 weeks). Many people may have decided not to look for work anymore and instead started a freelance enterprise.
  • Developments in technology make it easier than ever for people to start up new ventures and/or freelance from home.
  • Artificial intelligence probably will uproot the workplace in ways as yet unimagined, forcing/pushing more and more people to go solo. The Forbes article predicts that 47 percent of jobs are “at risk in the next 20 years,” with those who work in transportation, office and administration, logistics, and production probably at the most risk of employment upheaval

If you’d like to become a member of the gig economy, take a look below for some steps you may want to take in order to do so:

  • Ascertain your skills.

Many freelancers develop websites, work as business writers, write code, provide bookkeeping services, work as virtual assistants, consult for businesses, etc. What skills do you have that you could sell to others? Start researching how much money you may be able to make as a freelancer.

  • Save money! Lots of money.

It’s going to take time to start making money, so you’ll need some sort of income/cushion to tide yourself over as you start marketing your services. If you have a working spouse, congratulations! If you have debt, pay it down while you save.

The less outgo you need to worry about and the more savings you have as you start your new gig-economy career, the better. If at all possible, have at least three to six months’ savings handy and no debt.

  • Build a website and a social media presence.

Don’t spend too much time on your website in the beginning; it needn’t be fancy at all. Create social media channels and start posting/curating information of benefit to your target market.

  • Start trying different marketing tactics.

Whether you want to network at business functions in your local area, email or cold-call prospects, approach them on LinkedIn (or a strategy that uses all three), you’re going to have to start putting yourself out there.

If you consider yourself a shy person, work hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone: many introverts think they can simply email/reach out on social media to get clients. Of course you can, but it will take you far longer to land clients that way than if you were to pick up the phone and call and/or attend many networking events. At least in the beginning.

Instead, if you hustle up some courage and actually ask people for work, you’ll grow as an individual and grow your business much more quickly than you will hiding behind a computer.

  • Treat your freelancing as a business.

Sure, you can take an afternoon off to see the latest blockbuster, but if you do so and miss deadlines, you’ll have seen the movie but missed out on income. You can do both (see the movie when you want and get paid), but understand you may have to work on the weekends/late into the night in order to meet deadlines.

Remember: most clients want a reliable freelancer, not the best freelancer. Good enough is more than good enough if your clients know they can count on you to meet deadlines.

If you’ve decided to become a part of the gig economy and need some income to help you along as you build your business, consider working temporary assignments with Helpmates. You can work one-day assignments here and there, or work at a client for several weeks, which will help you keep your coffers full. Contact the Helpmates branch office nearest you today.

4 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work

It’s unfortunate but it happens to all of us at least once in our working lives: we really dislike our job. As in, we really, really, REALLY dislike it! Hate is not a too-forceful description of how we feel about our job.

In fact, if at least one of the following four scenarios apply to you, chances are good you may be seriously thinking of breaking up with your job.

Jobs in Irvine CA

  1. The commute is too long.

How long is too long? Studies show that anyone with a 30-minute or longer commute one way is pretty much miserable. Not only can such long commutes wreak havoc on your health, it also messes with your family life: taking a job that means you give up seeing your friends/family on a regular basis means you’d need to earn “$133,000 just to make up for the lack of happiness.” (Note that the linked post was written in 2004; how much more income would it take to make up for your long-commute misery today?)

Of course, in this scenario, it’s not your job you hate (necessarily), it’s the commute. Still, it’s time to find work with a shorter commute.

  1. Your co-workers/boss are idiots.

Granted, they probably aren’t idiots, but you’ve come to see them that way. They also probably didn’t “start out” as idiots either, but as nice people who, as time has gone on, moved from “nice new co-worker who invited me to lunch on my first day” to “annoying woman who always wants to eat with me and looks so hurt when I turn her down because she talks about her kids SO much.”

And your boss is a jerk.

Seriously. If you and your boss don’t get along (and we’re being nice when we call the boss the jerk; it could be you, after all), life is too short to be miserable. It’s time to move on (and look at why you and your boss don’t get along and try to figure out how to do better with the next boss).

  1. No one notices your good work and you’re not rewarded for it.

If you’re working hard, if you’re solving the problems you were hired to solve and you’re doing so well you should be recognized for it and rewarded. Yes. Definitely. Smart companies know this. If your company isn’t acknowledging and rewarding you, it’s not smart. You’re smart; move on.

  1. You’re not able to use your talent to the best of your ability/no chance for upward mobility/career development.

It’s something of a no-duh finding, but IBM recently found that 81 percent of workers are happier on the job when the work they do makes effective use of their abilities and skills. The reverse also applies: if you feel your job is a dead end, offering you no way to use your talent or grow in the position (opportunity for advancement), you tend to be….unhappy.

If the idea of going to work makes you cringe each and every morning, it may be time to make a change. Helpmates can help: take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities and, if something piques your interest, follow the instructions on the job description and apply and/or visit one of our locations.

Are You Really Overqualified or is it Age Discrimination?

You’re 43. You’ve been laid off or you’ve decided to look for another position. You start networking and even applying for opportunities you find interesting. You get a few interviews (but it feels as if they are fewer in number than they were when you last looked for work at age 37). But offers? They aren’t coming. And you get a feeling, one that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it sorta, kinda feels as if interviewers and hiring managers think you’re too old.

Job hunt over 50

At 43.

Of course, they don’t say you’re too old, because age discrimination is illegal. Instead they something such as “with your considerable experience, we wonder if you’d be bored in this position,” hinting – but not outright saying – that you may be “overqualified.” Which often does mean “too old.”

So while age discrimination supposedly is a no-no, why are you still hearing that you have too much experience? More importantly,  what can you do about it? For some answers, take a look below.

There’s always the chance that you are, indeed, overqualified. If you keep hearing this over and over again, take a look at the job descriptions for the openings to which you’re applying. If the tasks you’ll be performing and the skills you need to do those jobs really are something you can do with your eyes closed and while walking backwards, perhaps you should aim higher.

But what if the skills/tasks would be something of a do-able reach for you? What if they exactly match your skill set and background? Chances are it’s not because you’re overqualified: it could well be because they consider you “too old.”

We won’t go into the trouble people over the age of 40 and 50 have when it comes to finding work. And we won’t even touch the difficulty people over 60 have (these links speak plenty on their own). Instead, we’ll offer some tips to help you combat ageism in your job search.

  1. Don’t list ALL of your jobs on your resume.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what anyone did 15 or 20 years ago; it matters what you’ve done lately, so list only those positions from the past 10 or 15 years (maybe 20 if you’ve been at one employer that long, but highlight what you did for that employer for the last 10 years or so).

We know you don’t want to lie, so under “additional experience” mention different “special projects” you worked on.

  1. Reach directly out to hiring managers.

We’ve touched on this before, and the link above also recommends this tactic. Find the contact information of the position’s hiring manager and reach out. Many hiring managers will at least look over the resumes of those people who reach out to them.

  1. Show energy and enthusiasm in the job interview.

Many younger hiring managers believe older candidates have less energy and are waiting to just coast along in their next (“final?”) job so you want to exude vibrancy and energy.  You could try to hide your age, but that can be difficult and there’s always the chance you could try too hard), but you can show enthusiasm and dynamism. If you work out several days a week or hike frequently, etc., don’t be afraid to mention this when an opening appears in the job interview (such as if the interviewer asks you about your hobbies).

  1. You don’t need to highlight your Microsoft Office skills.

Knowing them is considered a given today and highlighting them could add a bit of the fuddy-duddy to you. Instead, if the position requires certain higher level technological skills, highlight them, especially if they are specific tech skills.

  1. Consider looking for work at smaller companies.

Larger companies tend to hire and promote from within. In addition, smaller companies tend to have fewer applicants. Always a good thing, no matter what your age.

  1. Think about working some temporary positions.

The longer you’ve worked, the higher the salary you’re seeking (typically) and higher salaried positions do tend to be longer to come by, no matter what your age. If you’re finding that your job search is taking longer than you anticipated, think about contacting one of our Helpmates offices and registering for temporary assignments with us. Remember, many temporary assignments do turn into regular, full-time positions.

Photo courtesy Thomas Hafeneth/Unsplash.com.

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