The post-interview follow-up phone call

“I know we don’t talk much but you’re such a good talker”

Outtasite (Outta Mind) — Wilco

I have read a few blog posts recently entitled “what the movie (insert movie title) taught me about my job search.”  While my blog weaves in my love of music, I am also a bit of a movie buff, so I figured it was time to jump in with my own take on this theme.

When is the right time to make the post-interview follow-up call?

Is there a right time?

It’s a fine line between calling too early, too often and waiting too long, which can result in outta site, outta mind.  But, what do you do when that company is not getting back to you?  The timelines of the job seeker and the prospective employer are rarely in sync, so how do you not become Mikey from the movie “Swingers”?

I struggle with this one, generally erring on the side of letting too much time pass.  Do you have a rule of thumb when following up?  What’s your approach?

Is the job market improving?

“For the times they are a-changin’.”

The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Bob Dylan

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have seen a significant uptick in new leads and opportunities in my search.  I won’t suggest that the city of Charlotte is a microcosm of the entire job market, but for this city ravaged by the banking meltdown of 2009, it must be a good sign.

What’s most gratifying is that some of these leads are materializing after months of networking and staying in touch with people at my target companies.  There has also been an increase in recruiters contacting me about contract opportunities.  So, the job market is still far from perfect, but maybe we have turned a corner?

What changes are you seeing in your job search?  Do you think 2010 will mark a turnaround in the job market?  Please leave your comments below.

Lane Kiffin: Is he really that different from you and me?

“Did you stand by me
No, not at all
Did you stand by me
No way”

Train in Vain — The Clash

There has been no shortage of celebrity job news over the last few weeks.  There has been quite the uproar, particularly in Tennessee, over the departure of University of Tennessee head football coach, Lane Kiffin.  With apologies to Conan O’Brien and Simon Cowell, Lane Kiffin’s jumping ship from the University of Tennessee to the University of Southern California after just one season, is the story in sports news and sports talk radio.

I recently read (in this great blog by Todd Bavol) that “job satisfaction is down to its lowest level in 20 years.”  If that is the case, then why begrudge Lane Kiffin for jumping at a better opportunity (only his perspective counts here, whether or not the USC job is truly better is an argument for a different blog)?  Contract or not, why would the athletic director, the players, or the fans want someone at the helm who has no interest in being there?

If you suddenly found yourself in the same position, do your loyalties run so deep that you wouldn’t leave your current employer?  Please leave your comments below.

Great people in Charlotte you should know

“As I am strolling down the garden path,
I saw a flower glowing in the dark.
It looked so pretty and it was unique;
I had to bend down just to have a peek.

Hello old friend,
It’s really good to see you once again.”

Hello Old Friend — Eric Clapton

Last evening, active members and alumni of the Job Seekers Suport Network of Charlotte got together for a well-deserved evening of good times and good food.  The meeting place was Cantina 1511, a fantastic spot in south Charlotte (web site; Twitter).

The roster/motley crew included these great folks:

Ken – a credit maven who has also become a trusted source on all things job search-related (you can visit his site here)

Roger – technical writer who I met early in my search at a bi-weekly networking breakfast

Tim – controller and financial whiz; fellow-commiserator

James – risk management guy and fellow native of the Garden State

Rebeca (who attended with her husband, a great guy) – she’s reached out to me a few times for help on her search and I always feel like I’ve failed her, but lucky enough to still be friend

Tom – an audit pro and all-around excellent chap

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the great people I have met networking over the last (has it really been) eight months.  Even though my time of occupational inconvenience was relatively short, I’ll always be thankful for the relationships forged during that time: we share an experience that maybe only our closest loved ones can understand.

While we live in a time when nearly every single one of us carries a camera phone, no pictures of the festivities were captured.  The picture below was the best I could find that captured the mood and good vibe:

Dinner

The scene at Cantina 1511 (minus the dog)

Networking (and why LinkedIn alone isn’t enough)

“Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand”
Scarlet Begonias — Grateful Dead

Week before last, I attended two very different, in-person networking events; emphasis on “in-person.”

Even though my time of unemployment is temporarily behind me, I still make it a point to be a regular attendee at the Charlotte Business Professionals monthly networking event.  At this particular event, I was able to hear John Lassiter, Republican candidate for mayor of Charlotte, speak (in fairness to his opponent, Anthony Foxx spoke at the previous month’s meeting).  Hearing Charlotte’s mayoral candidate speak, however, shares the spotlight with the networking.  Attendees meet and greet, exchange job leads and discuss business opportunities, all in a laid-back atmosphere.  I even met a tweep IRL (in real life!) who also happened to write this fantastic article.

The very next day, I had lunch with a network connection who, like me, had been unemployed but recently landed.  It was great to not only catch-up, but we discussed work-related issues and life back at work after a lengthy layoff.  We both agreed that continuing to network was essential and that we were grateful to have learned an invaluable skill as a result of being unemployed.  He even mentioned a potential lead for me and how he would be willing to help me out.

I love social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, the preferred professional networking site, LinkedIn.  I have forged some excellent relationships that exist either entirely or mostly in the digital world.  However, during my time of unemployment, I am most thankful for the in-person networking groups that provided everything from job search and resume tips to comraderie and support.  There should always be a place for in-person networking in your job search or career management strategy, even if (especially if) you are employed.  The occasional lunch, coffee, or professional networking happy hour will help you to build your network and, hopefully, shorten the duration of any unplanned occupational inconvenience.

Who’s next?

“Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss”

Won’t Get Fooled Again
— The Who

Apologies for such a lengthy delay between posts, but it has been a hectic few weeks.   The good news is that I have returned to Bank of America as a contractor on the digital marketing team.  I will be supporting the online marketing of web services for small business customers.  I am positioned nicely to learn some new skills, as this role will be on the other side of the eCommerce table from where I used to sit.

The quasi bad news is that my tenure on the marketing team, as a contractor, by its definition, is finite.  That can change.  My contract could be extended or the position could become permanent.  But, we’ll have to wait and see.  And, meanwhile, keep networking.

So, the posts won’t be as frequent, but I am going to keep ’em coming, because someone out there is about to become “occupationally inconvenienced.”

Using Google Reader with LinkedIn

“Connection, I just can’t make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.”

Connection — Rolling Stones

Have a lot of network connections on LinkedIn?  Find monitoring your network activity to be cumbersome?  This tip will help.

Whether or not you are looking for a job, you must be on LinkedIn. If you aren’t, go there now and register. LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool, a virtual rolodex without all of the cards. For the job seeker, it is especially helpful in establishing new connections with people at companies on your target list.

LinkedIn, like other social networking sites, updates you when your connections have new activity. For example, on your LinkedIn page, you might see:

Status Updates:

Eric is working on a new blog post for https://occupationalinconvenience.wordpress.com/

or Connection Updates:

Eric Bower is now connected to [insert name here]

or Questions & Answers, Group Updates, or Recommendations.

One aspect of LinkedIn that can be a pain is reviewing all of the activity of your connections, especially as the number of your connections grows (I’m sitting at 271 at the time of this post).  Here’s where this tip comes in.  Monitoring your network’s activity should be a key component of your job search strategy.  A contact may join a LinkedIn Group you weren’t aware of or a contact may connect to someone at one of your target companies.

Using Google Reader, you can quickly skim your network’s activity in just a few minutes.

Here is a quick tutorial (courtesy of a free little Firefox plugin called “Capture Fox” and YouTube):

I hope this tip is helpful.  For more information on Google Reader, click here.

Please post your comments or questions below.

Loose lips sink ships

“Together we stand, divided we fall.”
Hey You – Pink Floyd

I make no excuses for the fact that I have not adjusted well to unemployed life. Over the last several weeks, I have gained an even greater appreciation for how competitive the job market has become and how I have twice shot myself in the foot.

In late May, a former colleague emailed me about a not-yet posted position that matched my experience extremely well. In subsequent conversations with her, I mentioned that, while I was a very good fit, there were other opportunities higher on my wish list. Fast forward to a week after my interviews for the role and she let me know that she had later decided to put her name in the mix and she was offered the job. I obviously had no exclusivity rights and she was certainly within her right to apply for the role, but did I undermine myself by inadvertently blabbing to the competition?

As a dreadful job search week was wrapping up prior to the fourth of July, I got a bit of good news: an email inquiring when I would be available for an interview for a great position. Coincidentally, a networking contact emailed me shortly thereafter; I shared the good news and asked if she had any contacts at the company. She does and so I forwarded her the job description and it seems the job is a perfect match for her (and her significant IT experience).

I don’t want to live shrouded in secrecy, but is that what’s needed in this job market? I want to hear from you (especially fellow job seekers): how close to the vest do you play it in your job search? Please comment below.

Intro

“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste”

Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones

This blog has been three plus months in the making. In retrospect, I should have started it long before now.

I believe I have always done a very good job for my employers throughout my career. Today’s reality is that seems to be irrelevant. But, like the legions of fellow former bank employees in Charlotte (a number of whom I now consider friends), I find myself “occupationally inconvenienced” through no fault of my own. At least I am reasonably sure of this; there are times when the outlook isn’t so great that doubt creeps in. The far-from-perfect analogy I have used to help keep this self-doubt at bay has been: not every person who went down with the Titanic could possibly have been bad, right?

The past three months (and counting) have taught me a lot. People who I considered “friends” in the workplace have all but disappeared. Those I did not have the greatest workplace friendships with would gladly give me a kidney if I asked. I am an above average saver (or I just really cashed in when I sold my townhouse in the northeast in the good old days) and filing for unemployment is about as emasculating as it gets. When I’m down, I like to read some Stephen King and go to bed really early. I have a much greater appreciation for my family and friends.

I have experienced an entire range of emotions during this time of unemployment: relief, anger, anxiety, you name it. When I was laid off, I was originally relieved; no more wondering “was today going to be the day I learned my fate?” At least there was closure. Anger then set in, in a “why me?” sort of way. As each lead became a cover letter, as each cover letter garnered an interview, as each interview led to a dead end, the anxiety level picked up. Don’t let anyone fool you; it is brutal out there and the interviewers asking the “So, what happened?” question are drawing the ire of the laid off. Network connections that I consider to be very bright and talented (more so than me, not that I would ever dare utter those words to a recruiter or hiring manager) are still unemployed.

If you’re in the same boat as me, hopefully, you will find the posts in this blog to be of some small solace. If you’re not, hopefully, I can provide some small amount of insight that will help you relate to a friend or family member that is unemployed. Future posts will cover everything from the psyche of the recently laid off, networking, and interviewing, to name a few. And while I don’t plan on being unemployed forever, I hope that you’ll read my (weekly?) posts and comment and let me know what’s on your mind.