There’s two things I’ve noticed about the job search right now.
If you’re employed your more desired than if you’re single unemployed.
If you’re desperate, you’re less desirable than if your cool.
This may sound odd to you, but the job hunt is a lot like dating.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been steadily employed since college. Even though there have been two downturns in the economy while I’ve been working, I’ve always had recruiters contacting me on a regular basis. For some reason, those who remain employed seem to have something they want. That perceived extra demand for their talent really helps if you are constantly trying to better your career. But what if you’re not employed. Can you get around this disadvantage?
Absolutely! You can volunteer. Project Phoenix is specifically designed to help unemployed, or under-employed developers the chance to grow their skills, and showcase their abilities and help non-profits at the same time. Think about it, you help a charity in need, and you get experience you need on your resume. There’s also the added benefit you can network with some very influental people in the Microsoft world. Scan that list of supporting Microsoft MVPs.
If you are employed in an area you want to leave. Let’s say the only work you can find right now is sweeping up popcorn at your local theatre. Keep doing that. Pay your bills. But the extra effort you put out there to help others. Especially when that help requires technical expertise. That will get you noticed. Help out these charities, network with other volunteers. After you do a good job you can always ask for recommendations (either via linkedIn or typewritten). Trust me, this can only help.
I’ve helped a handful of charities, and small companies along the way. I did it to help them because I had the know-how. I totally subscribe to Uncle Ben’s philosophy, “With great power comes great responsibility.” That was my only reason. But those people I worked with knew people, and in turn they introduced me around. I was rewarded with connections. Those connections have helped me in my career. I was able to skip phone screenings, and go straight into interviews.
Now, let’s switch gears and talk about striking a balance between desperation to get a new job and being cool.
When I was in high school, I wasn’t in the cool crowd. Hard to believe, right?
I did learn a valuable lesson when it came to being accepted by that crowd. If you want to be accepted, you never will be. But the second you could care less, you somehow get the recognition you wanted before.
You have to strike a balance between desperation and being too cool for the job. You can’t call to followup on your interview every day. You have to space out your inquiries. When someone extends a low-ball offer, you can’t let your desperation for a job blind you to the fact they’ve asked you to work for below the 25th percentile for the role you’ll be working. You don’t have to go all Lando Griffin, but you have to be aware of how you’re acting.
Don’t come off as desperate…you won’t get the job.
Like I said, it may sound odd, but the job hunt and dating have a lot in common. If you’re taken you’re more desirable. You can overcome this if you’re social, and you go out with friends often. In the job scene that’s volunteering. If you’re cool, you are more desirable than if you’re desperate. Don’t call them repeatedly. Be there when they want you, but don’t pester them. It’s the man rule.
Feel free to share your thoughts below. I’m always interested to see how others are faring in their job hunts. If I can help in any way, let me know! That’s what I’m here for.