How Do You Look for a Job While You Still Have One?

April 3, 2012

Looking for another job? Don't look like this at your current one.

This is a question that comes up periodically when I’m teaching my “Applying for a Job Online” class here at the library.  How you deal with your  current employer and co-workers as you look for a new position can be a tricky situation.  Brian Moore was  short, sweet, and to the point in yesterday’s New York Post (2 April 2012, page 33). In his title “Mum’s the Word“, he sums up the first of his seven rules —  Keep Quiet.  You don’t tell anyone where you work that you are looking, not your boss nor any of  your co-workers, unless you have someone you know you can completely trust.  It’s a good way to either get fired or get sabotaged. If your boss is as unhappy with you as you are with your job, it’s a nice excuse to replace you.  Also taking on an attitude like our friend in the picture telegraphs the “I am out of here as soon as possible” message just as much as telling your boss outright.  And it won’t win friends among your co-workers either.

I am very lucky and very unusual in that I love my job and the place I work and have been able to stay here for twenty six years and counting.  However, at one point in my past, I learned the hard way that I had to go around my boss.  I told him I was looking for another job and asked him for a recommendation.  He seemed fine with it.  Then I noticed a funny thing happening.  I had some great interviews.  The only thing left to clinch the deal  was checking my references. It was always at that point that I got my rejection notice.  I suspected what was going on and asked the head of another department, who knew my work well, for a recommendation and used him in place of my boss.  I got the second job I applied for after I switched up my references.  When I went to tell my boss I had another position, he did not look happy and  the first thing he said to me was “Nobody contacted me.”  Brian Moore is absolutely right.  Keep quiet. Your future boss will understand.

This leads me into another  major rule. Never at any point disparage your current employer or your fellow co-workers either as you are working on your exit strategy or after you land your new job.  Always put a positive spin on why you are looking for work elsewhere, both in your resume and interviews.  If you start bad mouthing your boss or co-workers, it will give the people checking you out second thoughts about hiring you.  It does not make you look good.  Also, unless you are a psychic, you do not know what the future holds.  Five years down the line one of your co-workers may be in a position to hire you for your dream job. If you left them on good terms or bad will make all the difference.

There is a lot of common sense advice in this article and I would strongly advise that you check out all of Mr. Moore’s rules.  They could actually help you get a job, now and in the future.  Just click on “Mum’s the Word.”  You also might want to make a practice of checking out the New York Post online on Mondays.  The material in their @Work section, whether it’s the cover story, their Q&A Career Coach (Gregory Giangrande) or other job search related material they add from time to time, has been of tremendous help to me from the point I took over this blog  two and a half years ago.  And I’m not even looking for a job.  Imagine what it could do for you.

Good luck.

vea/3 April 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
https://jobsearchchatter.wordpress.com
Applying for Job LibGuide

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Applying for a Job Online Class Now Available to Anyone Anywhere

December 16, 2011

I have recently done a thorough revamping of the “Applying for a Job Online” class at the Newton Free Library.  Class materials are available online to anyone who needs them from any Internet connected computer, both for teachers and for job hunters.  If you are looking for a job, I would encourage you to look at the Handouts, especially handouts 8 – 10 relating to plain text.  This is the single most commented upon part of my class by the patrons who attend.  In all my classes, I have had only two people who even knew what plain text is and it is critical if you have to cut and paste parts of your resume into the body of an email or into an online job application.  Check out handout 8 to find out why.  Take a look at the other handouts.  They are all in Microsoft Word 2003.  You can also take the class using the PowerPoints if you have the PowerPoint program on your computer.

If you are a teacher,  you can use the handouts in conjunction with the PowerPoint presentation or independent from it if you do not have this program.  Before I taught myself how to use PowerPoint, I was using the Word documents for my screen shots.  I just had them in a file on the computer and pulled them up from there.

Whether you are a teacher or a job seeker, I would encourage you to read below.  This is a detailed explanation how to use the class materials all together, or as separate entities, or as a springboard for ideas for your own classes.  The bottom line is helping people get jobs.  The only thing we ask is that you give the Newton Free Library credit when you use our work in any presentation.  It would also be deeply appreciated if, where possible,  you would provide a  link to us either at http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net and/or at http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/jobs.

How the Class Works: This class has become predominantly a demonstration class rather than interactive. For various reasons, including limited time and much to cover, this has been the most efficient way to proceed. The handouts listed below are critical to this process. Many are composed with screen shots to the left and text boxes with instructions to the right. It is the handouts that the students take home and use. There is a handout for everything that is covered in class (Handouts 4-10 below).  This allows the student to begin their introduction to a range of job search sites and operations in class, then to go home and begin using what they need.  It should go without saying that questions are always encouraged during class as well as any point thereafter.

Class structure: The PowerPoint presentations for this class are in eight parts. The first is a general introduction to looking for work. This includes basics you need to know plus tips to help you with your search online.  What follows that are seven presentations.  These include using key databases and a website, accessing job information on the Newton Free Library’s Job LibGuide, explaining and then creating plain text in Microsoft Word and/or Google Docs, and, lastly, a bit more about networking, online networking (Web 2.0), and blogs.

Having the PowerPoint presentation in sections gives a teacher more options. It makes it easier to change the order of the presentation.  A class can be done with some sections running “live” off the Internet and some from the PowerPoint.  If a class was needed just on plain text resume creation, those sections could be used as a stand alone.  Having the entire class available on PowerPoint also allows the class to be held even when the Internet connection is down. (How many of us have had to cancel classes because there was suddenly no Internet connection?)

The seventh PowerPoint, on the different types of networking is an expansion on two screens included in the general introduction. In this PowerPoint I have included three additional screens/slides outlining very basic steps for networking. This allows teachers to cover networking in a little more depth when the need arises. As with all the other PowerPoints, networking also has a handout.

There have been a number of questions in class about Social Networking (Web 2.0) and blogs.  I have created a separate PowerPoint for those who would like to go into this subject with a little more depth than allowed in the main presentation.  All the PowerPoints together would take more than an hour to show.  This, again, allows for more options within a particular class.  You get to pick and choose.

Changing the Presentation:  I have designed this class so that other teachers will have maximum flexibility using the material. This is the reason I have divided the PowerPoint presentations into sections rather than linking them into one unit.  If you are considering using them to teach, you can easily change the order to one that works best with your particular classes. If you want to spend more time on each section, this also allows the class to be split into multiple sessions. Changing the order or extending the number of sessions can work very well, depending on how you want to reinforce the material.  If you have developed your own online job search aids, you may want to use only a section or two of what I present here.  Time and class makeup are factors in deciding how much or how little material you wish to cover.

Most Popular Segment: The PowerPoints that explain and show how to create plain text get the largest positive feedback from my classes. In all the classes that I have taught, I have had only two people who knew what plain text was, let alone how to use it. I usually show this section last.  It is a complicated process that, once completed, makes the job seeker’s life much easier.

There are now two versions.  I have always had a step-by-step PowerPoint and handout for creating plain text in Microsoft Word.  However, not everyone has access to this program.  I have now added a second version (both in PowerPoint and in the handouts) for changing formatted text to plain text in Google Docs.  This word processor has the advantage of being free and, therefore, available to everyone.  Although I personally think Google already has too much of our information, I have to admit that they do most things well, usually keeping the end user in mind when developing programs.

Whether the instructor uses only one or both depends on the needs of the class and the time allotted.  I have also separated out the section that explains what plain text is and why people need it.  This allows the teacher to use this one PowerPoint and just give out the two versions of the handouts if time is extremely limited.

PowerPoint Setup, Handouts, and Permissions: Each PowerPoint presentation is set up with the screen shot on the left and the instructions on the right, as opposed to a full screen shot with instructor’s notes. I tried both versions in my classes and participants preferred a combination of both that they could see on the screen. Moving arrows/pointers are embedded in each screen leading from the instruction to the section of the screenshot I am referring to. Each arrow is triggered by a left mouse click. You can use this information to teach a class or as a jumping off point to plan your own class.  We just ask that you give credit to the Newton Free Library for what you use.  If you do not have access to PowerPoint, you can print out and use the handouts. They have the same information as the PowerPoint presentations. The class, the handouts, and the supplementary material were created using Microsoft Word 2003 and Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 on Windows XP.

Supplements: The supplementary material includes lists, websites, and other items that the class members should find useful, but does not necessarily have to be printed out.  Students can just be referred to the online web addresses. The one supplement I have included just for the teacher is a sample for a certificate of attendance.  Some attendees will need the teacher to fill this out if they are on unemployment and need proof that they were attending a class or lecture.

Note: All links below are to the same page, the LibGuide homepage.  You will find the PowerPoints, Handouts, and Supplementary Materials listed with links in the right frame.  I have linked each item for the convenience of those people who click on only one or several of the items listed below.

The Class

Goals of the Class

To show how to use computer resources in a job search by:

Pointing out some of the problems inherent in applying for a job online and explaining how to solve them.

Discussing some of the various types of job search information available both in print and online.

Showing some of the many resources where you can find job listings.

Demonstrating where to find and how to use information made available through the Newton Free Library in your job search.

Explaining what plain text is, why it is necessary in a job search, and how to create a plain text resume step-by-step.

I.    Looking for Work: PowerPoint

          Three Rules for a Successful Job Search

            Rule # 1  Do your homework!

            Rule # 2  Network online and in person

            Rule # 3  Have one formatted and one plain text resume prepared to  use online.

What you need to know:

The job search vocabulary

Where to find job information

            Newspapers

            Job Banks

            Networking

How to research a company or industry

The three ways to apply for a job online

        On site Job Kiosk

        Via Email

         Online Job Application

How to Stay Safe Online

II.  Using Key Databases and a Website: PowerPoint

          Hoovers

          RefUSA

          General Business File ASAP (InfoTrac)

          The Occupational Outlook Handbook

III.  Accessing Job Search Information Using the Library’s Job LibGuide: PowerPoint

IV. What is Plain Text and Why Do We Need It? PowerPoint

V.  Creating Plain Text Using Windows XP and Word 2003:  PowerPoint

VI. Using Google Docs to Change Formatted Text to Plain Text: PowerPoint

VII. Finding Work Through Networking: PowerPoint

VIII. Web 2.0 and Blogging: PowerPoint

IX. Handouts: Word Documents

Handout 1 – Current Library Job Programs and Lectures

Handout 2 – List of Handouts and Supplementary Material

Handout 3 – Evaluation Form [This is the only item returned to the Instructor.]

Handout 4 – Copy of PowerPoint Presentation – Looking for Work*                            

                              4a – Three Ways to Apply for a Job Online

                              4b – Basic Job Search Vocabulary Explained

Handout5 – How to Use Key Databases and a Website

Handout 6 – Accessing Job Search Information Using the Library’s Job LibGuide

Handout 7 – Networking

Handout 8 – What is Plain Text and Why Do We Need to Use It

Handout 9 – Using Microsoft Word to Create Plain Text from Formatted Text

Handout 10 – Creating Plain Text from Formatted Text Using Google Docs

Handout 11 – Sample of the Word and the Plain Text Resume Used in Class

Handout 12 – Schedule of Classes at the Newton Free Library                                   

X. Supplementary Materials

Supplement 1 – Books to Help With Your Job Search  Listed by Category

Supplement 2 – Website List: Annotated and Categorized

Supplement 3 – Key Class Websites

                  a. Employment and Training Resources —   Schedule of Workshops

                  b. Charles River Public Internet Center      

                  c. Mass Trial Court Law Libraries’ Web Page on Massachusetts  Employment Law

                  d. Staying Safe Online: The Dirty Dangerous Online Job Search Assumptions

                  e.  How to Copy and Paste Your Resume to Monster.com Safely  

Supplement 4 – Certificate of Attendance

vea/created 24 February 2011/updated 16 December 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
Website: http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Blog: https://jobsearchchatter.wordpress.com
Applying for a Job LibGuide: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/jobs


Taxes, Deductions, and Your Job Hunt

October 4, 2011

Have you discovered that the federal tax code appears not to allow many, if any, deductions for the expenses of a  job search?  Laura Saunders decided to share information on this topic in The Wall Street Journal.  The article explains the dos and do nots of deducting your job search expenses from your federal taxes.  Unless you are very familiar with the tax code, the author hands over some very useful, and probably unfamiliar, ideas about what you can do to legitimately save yourself some money.  Take a look at “Write Off Your Job Hunt” by  clicking on the picture (above left), the article’s title, or here.  The piece was originally published in the WSJ’s Weekend Investor Section on September 24, 2011.

One of the many joys about working in a library is that you get to work with other librarians.  We tend to be a generous lot who like to share what we find. The article I am citing here is a case in point.  Knowing I do this blog, a  librarian in the Reference Department discovered and shared the above with me for you.

Good luck with your job hunt.

vea/4 October 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
https://jobsearchchatter.wordpress.com
Applying for Job LibGuide


A Note on Posting Replies

August 27, 2010

Since blogs are a part of online social networking  (aka Web 2.0), they provide you, as a reader, the opportunity to answer back.   Any time you have an opinion  or a comment regarding a post you have read, you can type it out and let us know what you think or give additonal advice.

There are two ways to get to a reply box in WordPress, the blog provider I use.  You can scroll to the bottom of the blog post where you will see the option to “Leave a Comment”, usually in blue.  Clicking on it will bring you immediately to the box where you can type your reply.  You can also click on the title in black at the top of a post (not the picture or logo below it).  This will bring up the original posting by itself, without any of the other postings that follow when you first bring up the blog.  You will have to scroll down to the bottom (past both the posting and a WordPress ad or two) to get to the box where you can type your reply.

Note that your reply will not appear immediately since most blog administrators will look over a reply before allowing it to appear on the blog.  I am no exception. This may be done for many reasons, but the main two are  to check for inappropritate language or to make sure a writer is not using their reply for the sole purpose of leading the reader to another website or blog where they are selling a product or service.

When you first look at a blog, it is a good idea to look for a posted Comments Policy.  Granted, it’s not the most exciting reading, but it is useful to know what is going on and how the blog opperates. There will probably be a certain amout of legalese to get through as well, but it is there to protect everyone associated with the blog, including the reader.  The Newton Free Library’s blog policy is posted to the right of the most recent posting title at the top of this blog’s home page.

Good bloggers will take note of the comments of their readers and send them through for others to read.  The feedback is useful and we love the conversation.

vea/27 August 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
www.newtonfreelibrary.org


Job Search Class for September and Access to Handouts

August 5, 2010

The September class for “Applying for a Job Online” will be held at the Newton Free Library on Thursday, September 30,  from 2:30 t0 3:30.  There is a large amount of material to go over, so classes can sometimes run overtime.  You will be given handouts of everything covered in class. You should be able to  follow the handouts and  do at home what we do in class.  There are only ten computer stations so we ask you to call us and register to save your place.  The phone number is 1-617-796-1380.

Copies of the handouts have recently been added to the library website.    If you live too far away to come to class, you should still be able to put the handouts to good use.   Click  here to get to them directly. This brings you to the “Class Materials and Other Resources.” To get here from the Newton Free Library homepage, go to www.newtonfreelibrary.net and put your cursor on the “Services” option near the top right of the page. Then choose “Computer, IT & Classes.”  Near the bottom of the list that appears is “Class Materials and Other Resources.”   Handouts 3, 4, and 5 have been completely updated as of June 11th.  Handout 6, “Saving a Resume to Plain Text,” was updated on June 4th.  All contain instructions combined with screenshots. You may have to wait for a second or two for the screenshots to download.  Click on each handout to look at them online.  Feel free to print  out any of interest.  If you teach a job search class, you may use any of this material if you credit the source.  See the end of each handout.  If you have any difficulty downloading a handout in Internet Explorer, try it in the Mozilla Firefox browser.

vea/updated 16 August 2010


Career Coaches: What They Do and How to Find Them

July 28, 2010

I first started noticing the term career coaching about a year and a half ago. Since then I’ve found it coming up with increasing frequency, usually in terms of helping job seekers, career changers, and people dissatisfied with their current work situation.  I thought I would do a little digging to find out more about it and pass the information along to you.

Why career coach?  Why not job coach?  I’ve also seen the terms life coach and retirement coach, but it is career coach that I’ve seen used most often.  A statistic that is in my last posting explains why you may be seeing more people who are advertising specifically as career coaches.  “Today’s workers will run through at least 10 jobs, three careers, and two layoffs between college and retirement.”  These days, people who are currently employed may feel the need for professional help when thinking ahead to their next career moves.  Others, whose main concern at the moment is finding a job, may also need help in planning a long term strategy for controlling, as much as may be possible, the course of their work life.  If one of these options sounds like a good idea to you, you have some homework to do.  Your first assignment is to figure out what you want a career coach to do.  Do you want them to do the majority of their work figuring out why you are not finding a job?  What you don’t know, or are not doing, or are doing incorrectly?  Or do you also need help in short term and/or long term career strategy?  In what profession?

Once you figure out what you need, your next step is to find some career coaches. The first thing to remember is that career coaching is pretty much an unregulated profession. You have to figure out who is legitimately there to help you.  Richard N. Bolles has a very good section on career coaches in his 2010 edition of What Color is Your Parachute.  He points out that career coaches come in three basic categories.  The first includes those coaches that are good and know what they are doing.  The second are those that think they are good, but don’t really know what they are doing.  The third are those people who know precisely what they are doing and it has nothing to do with helping you.  Their goal is to get as much money out of you as possible on totally fraudulent promises and expertise.  Even among the very good coaches, some will be better equipped to help you with your specific needs than others.  Now you are starting to see why you, and only you, must do your homework.

You have a number of options when you start out on your hunt for names. You can check your local yellow pages.  You can ask friends and/or relatives.  You can check your contacts on your LinkedIn account.  (If you don’t have an account, check out the postings about LinkedIn and get one.)  You can check the organizations that certify career coaches.  There are a number of them.  They, like career coaches, will vary in their usefulness to you. You can find a list of them here. Remember, this is not an endorsement, just a list.  One Wall Street Journal article mentions The International Coach Federation and The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

When you have your list of coaches, you need to interview them, thoroughly and completely.  If the person you are interviewing becomes impatient with a set of thoroughly planned questions, it is probably a good indication that you will not work well together.  You will want to know how much experience a coach has had.  What is their success rate?  Is their experience limited to career coaching or have they actually been out in the work force before they became a coach?  Do they have experience in your field, either working in it themselves or successfully finding jobs or obtaining advancement for  clients in your field?  These are only a few questions. Check below for more sources. Don’t forget to think about additonal information that you need before signing onto a coach.

Now there is the subject of cost. Unless your company has laid you off and supplied job coaching for you, you are going to have to pay for the help. The good coaches are providing a valuable service that may affect the rest of your work life.  Asking about the cost should be right up there on your list questions.  The price can range anywhere from $50.00 per hour and up.  Some coaches will charge for your first interview.  Others will not.  It is not a good idea to decide that one coach is better than the other on the basis of whether or not they charge a fee for your first contact.

You may decide you want to investigate firms that employ a number of coaches. If you do this, you will have additonal homework. The good news it that it is unlikely these firms will charge you for the first visit.  The bad news, from what I’ve read, is that they often do not charge because they want to sell you the most expensive package that (your) traffic will bear.   You will need to find out about the firm as well as the coach you may be getting. You can use the same sources as with coaches above.  You may also want to use some of the business and periodical databases available through your public library, as well as contacting your local Better Business Bureau.

Be prepared in advance to deal with contracts.  Make sure you can get a copy to take home to read before you sign it.  If the person you are interviewing (an individual coach or the representative of a firm) insists that you sign it immediately, that would be a deal breaker, at least for me.  Being by nature skeptical, I always wonder what they don’t want me to notice.  Also like me, I think most people have to carefully read a legal document a number of times and think about implications to truly understand it. If someone is putting you under fabricated (by them) time pressure, I would proceed cautiously.  I definitely would not sign anything under those circumstances.

To continue your research on career coaches, you might want to check out two articles I found useful. You can find the first, a Wall Street Journal Online article, by clicking on the title “Career Q&A: Finding the Right Career Coach”.  You can also look at the second, “How to Find the Right Career Coach,”  the same way.  If you get your hands on the current edition of What Color is Your Parachute mentioned above, just look for the appendices on the green pages.  The first entry gets you started with “Finding Your Mission in Life.” Then make sure you spend time with Appendix B, “A Guide to Choosing a Career Coach or Counselor.”  Bolles ends with a list of coaches by state.  He points out that these are not recommendations, just a list. Look at other career books at your local library.  They may also have a section on career coaches.  If you want to know about what these coaches do, take a look at a book like Career Coaching: an Insiders Guide by Marcia Bench, pictured at the beginning of this article.

Wishing you a successful search.

vea/27 July 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
www.newtonfreelibrary.net


Networking Face-to-Face

June 22, 2010

The problem of networking has been on my mind for awhile.  Networking is supposed to be the most successful tool in an individual’s search for a job. It leads to a job offer more often then any other method. If you want to network online, there is no problem finding information on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.  But what about the “old fashioned” way, face-to-face?  I’ve been looking for a good article to share with you for awhile without much success.  As so often happens, I found it when I was looking for something else. 

About.com is a search engine that has developed subject specialists, people who write exclusively on specific topics.  I’ve been aware of Kimberly Powell for awhile now.  She does a great job with her articles on genealogy.  I’ve just discovered Alison Doyle and her Job Searching articles while looking for statistical information. Her article on “Successful Job Search Networking” is just what I have been looking for.  It is a short, but packed piece and it is all about meeting and talking to people.  She only touches on email at the end and does not mention online social networking here.  She deals with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in a number of other articles. If you want to learn more about networking in person, click here, on the article title, or on the About.com logo above.

Once you have looked at this, it would be a good use of your time to explore Ms. Doyle’s Job Searching site for other ideas. 

Good luck.