Tech & Work

Laid off and running out of options

TechRepublic member jdclyde talks about how difficult it is updating a 20-year-old resume and some of his considerations and concerns about finding employment in the current market.
This post was written by TechRepublic member jdclyde.

Just over three weeks ago, I found myself -- THE Network Admin -- out of work.

I struggled when deciding whether the best route was to seek additional training or jump right back into the job market. At first, I leaned heavily towards the training route, but that's no longer an option. I just found out that, because I have a BA in Networking, the only way the State will admit me into the re-training program is if I can show letters of rejection at attempts to get employment in the current field. To make things worse, there are very limited fields of study available. On the bright side, I could become a nurse, because there is plenty of funding for that.

So, it's time to sit back and re-evaluate where I'm sitting. The sitting back part is much easier than the re-evaluating part. What I'd really love is to take a nap right about now, as my energy levels and over all motivation is going down hill fast. I made a mental compromise -- work now and nap later.

The place to start is my resume. If I would have kept it up-to-date all along instead of not even thinking about it for over 20 years, this process would be much easier. To be honest, I forgot, because I was approached for my last two jobs in a row, and I didn't even have a resume. What a major blunder on my part. Time to fix that mistake, and it's a mistake I will never repeat again.

For some reason, I don't think the chronological style of resume suites my situation very well. I have to reconstruct my work history, but what do you do when a few of the companies you worked for are no longer in business? Since all but my most recent job were held over 10 years ago, I'm hoping that a potential employer wouldn't want to contact them anyways.

The next step of the reconstruction process is to come up with a list of accomplishments. How do I tell someone how great I am without handing them a book?

One of the services the State of Michigan has is helping people write resumes and go through mach interviews. It would be good not go into the first few job interviews "cold."

The final avenue to follow is getting job leads. The local paper is going to be a bust. I know that before even trying. How about job placement sites? Heck, why not, right?

The idea of making my own opportunity is very appealing, such as going to different companies and introducing myself, but what steps do I need to complete before walking through their front doors? What are some good ways to research companies, such as what do they do, how do they do it, and who's the person (or people) I need to talk to?

How did you go about searching for a job in this tight economy?

More posts from jdclyde:

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Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the several blogs.

142 comments
gas
gas

A company like Tachymatics provides a marketing front end for independent consultants while allowing the consultant to maintain their own brand. By removing the overhead of a traditional consulting company, the client has less cost while the intellectual porperty remains with you, the consultant.

melekali
melekali

...not keeping your resume current. I recommend no more than two pages (my 20+ year resume is one page). Just put the most important stuff you actually did relevant to the job you are looking for. Use the internet for research (job search & company) so you have some idea of what is expected by the job if the listing doesn't give you enough info. Good luck man...

sboverie
sboverie

I was laid off in 2002 and did temp work for long time before I found another job in 2004. This is advice to get through a long unemployment. Your motto should be "Everything works, Nothing Works" meaning that some job tactics work sometimes but not everytime. Creative tactics, like buying a bill board, work sometimes but sometimes back fire. You want to stand out in the crowd but not as a bad example. Sign up for Amway or other business. This is weird but, it doesn't stop your job search and should not be a factor in reporting to most state unemployment departments. The advantage is that you can write off expenses for the business on your taxes. It helps to be entreprenueral, it gives you information about thinking like a business. This is not the same as being self employed. Use every resource you can find. The want ads in the local paper used to span 10 pages in the Sunday edition now span just 2 pages. Job boards are helpful but be aware that you may be contacted for what sounds like a job but isn't. Networking with friends, family and ex coworkers will help. Resumes are tricky. With a rich past experience you should be able to identify at least 3 or more accomplishments that show how you made money for previous employers. Think about your resume as a living document and not as an obituary (Here lies JD Clyde.... I recommend customizing the resume and cover letter to the prospective employer. The only purpose of a resume is to get an interview. HR tends to be the filter that resumes go through, if you find an ad, use the same keywords in your resume so that it will be more likely to be in the top 5% of the interesting resumes. Remember, HR departments get hundreds and thousands of resumes and they tend to spend perhaps 10 to 20 seconds looking at your resume. Networking will help bypass the HR dept and get you in touch with the hiring manager. If you can find some who is one or two levels above the hiring manager, you will get more attention from hiring manager. Another word about resumes, appeal to the senses by using heavier paper, slightly colored paper and use a type font that is different from the usual NY Times fonts standard. Be absolutely perfect in spelling and keep the grammar simple. Bullet points help save on word count and can help the reader see important points quicker. If I were laid off, I would seriously consider a different career. IT has lost its luster so long ago I can't remember it being shiny. IT also was the place that other professionals had to retrain to do. You pointed out that you need some rejection letters before you can get assistance in retraining, I found it hard to get any response from employers during my last job search. If this happens, perhaps having a list of employers that received your resume may count as rejection. Good luck, unemployment is a nasty roller coaster ride of thrilling hopes and dark despair. Look to family and friends for support and understanding.

ramnet
ramnet

Welcome to the world of well qualified , high performing IT Professionals with an exceptional range of achievements yet are now unemployed. Its a bitter pill to swallow but may God help you if you also happen to be approaching 50 years of age because your chances of gaining meaningful employment again are just about zero. If you don't know it now the heady days of IT Pro's being valued and rewarded is long gone. You are just a commodity item there at the CEO's pleasure or displeasure , add to that the financial woes enveloping us all and things are not too bright. Personally I would not consider re-entering IT. There are a few niche markets left but not many , you would be better off being the Company Accountant or Lawyer or even Workplace Safety Officer than going back into IT. What a world we live in. Ken IT Director Melbourne

lccurtis1
lccurtis1

I have been laid off since October of 2007...Yeah that long. I have had stints in other jobs like since but nothing in IT. I had to keep myself up on new technologies and its very difficult to do when you have limited resources. I also live in Michigan and it seems that the only people they want to train is laid off plant workers without degrees, but always remember nothing stays the same and keep positive I still believe with the new administration that it will pick back up around mid-summer.

reisen55
reisen55

Incredible - started a new job a month ago and no warning, 3 month temp to perm and they just fire. I am in shock and depressed. I have some outside consulting and I took this position as a financial cushion for 2009, but I suppose once you do independent work, going back into CORPORATE again just never works out. Extremely depressed.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

This does vary depending on field of interest. In IT, especially as a sole netadmin, I assume your skills are broad and offer a good general knowledge of all IT tasks. I'd look for a smaller company, the great thing about IT, is almost everyone has some form of IT department, of course salary will be dependent on the demands of the company's IT department also. You'll probably find that really small mom and pop companies will have entry level admin staff, high school grads with some hands on knowledge but no degrees. They will pay less and you will have to lower your standards. A small business, established with say 10-20 employees is probably your best bet. You can get fair pay, a good general IT position that encompasses all tasks you are used to. I have a feeling that you wouldn't fit well into a larger company with a more defined IT department where your role would quickly become to narrow for you, you need to run the show. That aside, what small to medium sized business do you target? Well as everyone has some form of IT department, especially those with established websites or e-commerce set ups, the choices are limitless. First of all, you are big on music, seek out companies in the industry. Now your hobby and your work experience can combine into pure bliss for you. Look to studios, I am sure there are many in your area, they just don't advertise a lot so you have to go looking for them. I'd also look to music production companies, local performing arts studios etc. In other words, find out what industry you enjoy, then look for the companies in that industry that would have IT departments, they aren't all software companies as some people seem to limit themselves. Web research is usually enough, however you can always call and ask for company info or product information, when the secretary asks why, just explain your goals and interest in exploring the industry, most are flattered at the interest and would happily help you out. As for contacts, with these businesses don't ask for the HR department, ask who the manager or owner is. Just a name is all you need for now. If the secretary is helpful, ask if the person is available now, if not find the best time to call back. Have a pitch ready. I am a pro sales rep, have done it almost my whole life and don't even think about steps to sales, its fluent. now, that boasting aside, I would NEVER call someone unprepared/unscripted. On a cold call, ask for the person by name. If they are not available, ask when to call back and get a time/date. If it's hit or miss, you have to take what you can get. When you call back on that date, be prepared. "Hi, my name is jd and the reason I was calling is that I have been working as a network administrator for X years now and due to economic hardships have found myself seeking a new career. I noticed that your company provides widgets and I have always taken great personal interest in widgets, I am confident that I have some valuable skills that would benefit your company and would like to seek out an opportunity with you....are you the person I should be talking to about that or is there someone else I should speak with. (NOTE: If you are talking to the boss, it would be GREAT if he passed you DOWN to someone else, they will treat your resume and interest with full attention, after all the boss sent you there an may ask about it). Be assertive, closed ended questions, not too passive. Work your contacts, work your leads, an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM or 20 cold calls per day, NO LESS!!!!!!!!!!! It takes a hell of a lot of drive, especially when it isn't your normal business to cold call people but to work, it MUST be done. Once you get the right contact on the line, ASK FOR AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET. Don't just say, can I send you a resume. If they ask for one, just say "Yes I'd be happy to bring one by, when can I meet with you?" Don't say CAN I meet with you, don't drop one to a secretary unless a last ditch effort "WHEN CAN I MEET WITH YOU?". (then be silent and wait for the reply, do not talk). Do this over and over again. If they are not hiring, and you've properly pitched your desires, its a must to get referrals. "I can appreciate that you are not hiring right now, Mrs.Gillespie, seeing as I have 20+ years of Java development (just an example of a personal skill) and a great interest in getting into your field, do you know of anyone else I should be speaking with? the great thing about such referrals is that they give you name of people they know, people that allow you to side step normal hiring channels. You will be surprised at how many people actually think about it and give you leads if they have them. Nothing better than a company referring you to someone. Then start at A again and get in to the other door. I'm serious though in that this is a numbers game. When playing a numbers game it is usually a quick in and out, in this case it is a targeted and qualified numbers game, VERY effective, CALL PEOPLE ALL THE TIME. Make it a daily practice, getting in the door, pitching your achievements, desires and goals. Do it over and over again, every day. Ultimately this will result in interviews, after a week you should have enough interviews to keep you busy most of the day, however always set aside time for more cold calls or follow ups. Finding work is usually harder work than the job itself. so why does it work? well it is a numbers game, just as any job hunt is. A recruiter weeds out and throws a numbers of applicants at the employer and the employer decides. Usually they will add useless employees along with one over qualified but desperate employee. This makes him stand out amongst the rest and as he is desperate, he will offer greater skills for lower pay, don't get sucked in! The recruiter gets a percentage of your first years earnings, that could have been in YOUR pocket if you found the job yourself. He is not interested in you working there beyond that, he'd rather find them a new overqualified employee for low pay and take another years salary. The company doesn't mind, they keep getting qualified employees thrown at them, making the recruiter look great. Bets route I've found, even in these modern times? Yellow Pages!! yup the old phone book and phone method, dig deep it works very well!!! The key is to build a sales funnel, cold calls on top, turn into a few interviews below and result in a couple of interested parties or good leads. Without filling the top of the funnel all the time, you will run out of leads. KEEP CALLING PEOPLE. What I like to do at first is choose companies that would be on my B list for employers, that way you get the rust off where it is less important and can hit the pros when polished. believe me jd, I have learned this when young, taught it to others very successfully and still do it when I need to seek out new employment or am looking for contracts to work. I use it to market bands, I use it to market myself, I use it to market my company's products, it is tried tested and true for many decades by millions of sales people. It works flawlessly. TIPS: While cold calling, keep an eye on your script, its right in front of you, right? Don't sound canned but rehearse, a friend, your kids even a mirror if you are on the shy side is fantastic. IF you can, record your call or at least a few fake calls and play it back, you'll be shocked how you sound and will notice issues instantly. When you cold call, you will be rejected repeatedly, its only the phone. Be polite, ask for references and move on. When you do get cut off in mid sentence, note where in your script it was. If it occurs around the same time each call, revise your pitch until you can get through it effectively. It will take practice and attention, but relax and be natural about it, have fun and its easy as pie. Get appointments, get leads, get interviews and you will get into "the cycle". After a while you will find you get up, pop off 15-20 calls over morning coffee, then are off to meet people and be interviewed for the rest of the day, its a powerful and exciting feeling after a while, you will be on top of your game! Ultimately what happens is you get more than one offer on the table, you now have a choice, can meet with, haggle salary and deal with those who want you most and who YOU want to work for. The end result YOU found YOUR job, it is doing something YOU want and with a company YOU selected and at a better salary than the recruiter will find you. WIN WIN WIN WIN all the way. JD, you have proven you are astute, skilled, dedicated and a VERY fun person in these forums, get that across to your selected potential employers and they will eat you up and beg for you to work for them. Really, you will win, if you play the game with strict rules, discipline and tact. Your job today, write a pitch, practice it and look for B list companies in the yellow pages to call in the morning. Actually write a pitch and write down companies, then keep notes when calling them. Your job tomorrow, working for an employer you have chosen for yourself. It couldn't get any better than that! All the best of luck to you, go get hired! You live in America, dammit; the land of opportunity!

jdclyde
jdclyde

Ok everyone. It is time to play the keyword game. What are keywords to include? What are keywords to avoid? I do networking, sys admin (not AD or Novell), cabling, pc hard and soft support, users support, user training. If I had my masters, I would get back into teaching at a local college. They made that change a few years back that you needed a MASTER to teach. I would LOVE to get a position teaching *nix and/or Cisco. Hmm, wonder if I can get a grant to get started in a Masters program? Oh wait, I forgot. They base it on your PREVIOUS years pay, not your current. :( Drat.

jmantra
jmantra

Have you thought about volunteering? Volunteering is a great way to keep yourself in the field even though it's not paid. Even if you can't find a tech opportunity, volunteering is a great way to network. I am sure the local food bank is VERY busy and could use all the help they can get.

jkameleon
jkameleon

http://www.whistlestopper.com/forum/showpost.php?p=184428&postcount=2 Remember, boys and girls: Opportunity isn't in a chip of silicon. Not anymore. That times are long gone. _____________________________________________________ The article is interesting, but I have a little story of my own. A few years ago I was a phone tech for a company that provided technical support for Dell Computer. I was good at it and the experience allowed me to learn a lot about PCs. Then they sent my job to anther county, and I was unemployed...for a day. I got off my rear end and got a temp job as a forklift driver in a warehouse in Ft. Worth. My new job made me so happy; the warehouse was hot and dusty, the tedium was mind numbing and the pay was $1 an hour less than what I was making. To make matters worse, my 'trainer,' after spending an hour with me asked, "Are you a professor?" :( All I could do was work hard, try to maintain my optimistic view of life, and pray I could find a better job. Long story short: I stayed with the warehouse company, was hired, promoted three times, and am now a manager making far more money than I ever did in my 'wonderful' tech job. Oh, and they air conditioned the place in Aug 2001, which kind of changed my outlook a bit. Funny thing, is that my cousin experienced a similar fate with his tech job a few years back. He's still unemployed, still looking for that great paying tech job. He made it clear to me that warehouse work is demeaning for someone of his education. Maybe, but I'm the one building a new home and he's the one living in an apartment. As far as I am concerned, India can keep those tech jobs. Opportunity isn't in a chip of silicon; it's in work ethic and a willingness to put feeling sorry for yourself behind you. That's what Americans do best. My words may be a bit sappy for this board, but they are the truth. Dallas _________________________________________

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

JD: When facing the problems you have and unable to continue or just run out of anymore leads, Try Kelly Services and let them do the job shopping for you. With your marketable skills I'm sure you'll find another position somewhere.

super_cyberdragon
super_cyberdragon

Well, you can't go door to door anymore. Most companies will not only block you from seeing anyone but they get offended if you show up without an interview appointment. Trust me neither is pretty. It doesn't matter how good you look in a suit...

jdclyde
jdclyde

Hard to believe it has been over three weeks since I got laid off. Read the blog for the update. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tr-out-loud/?p=272 It took this long to find out that my options with government assistance programs is very limited at this time. Training? That is only for people that never got any before, not for someone with a BA in networking. :( Time to dive head first into the job search, but where to start? How do you start? I haven't had to look for a job in over 20 years as the last two called ME. B-) What methods do you use to track down leads?

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