Tag Archives: Job search

Unemployment Enjoyment: Making the Most of Joblessness

When you’re unemployed, it’s easy to fall into a bad pattern of waking up late, staying in your pajamas, eating sugar cereal, and wasting time with television and Facebook. You wish that every day could be Saturday and that you could be eight-years-old again and what better time to recapture childhood joy than when you’re inundated with free time?

There’s something to be said about taking a breather for the first few days of unemployment. Whether you’ve lost your job, your contract ended, or you’re transitioning from student life to the working world, it’s important to take a little time to reflect, relax, and recharge.

Once you’ve had your break, it’s time to start acting like a functional adult again. There will be no more marathons of every show you’ve ever heard of and no more 2:00 p.m. sleep-ins (except for on the weekends, of course). The more time you spend idle, the less motivated you’ll be to take the next steps in your career so the following are a few tips for making the most of your jobless days.

The best thing to do to ensure productivity is to schedule your time. Figure out what it is that you want to accomplish each day and map it out. Are you focusing on job search? Are you writing a screenplay? Are you looking into further schooling? Whatever your priorities are at the moment, write them down and make time for them. It’s easy to let things slip off the radar but by making a schedule, you remind yourself to complete tasks.

If you’re the type of person who likes a timeline, outline your tasks and give yourself targets for when you want to have them finished by. If you’re better at prioritizing on the fly, make a list of things to accomplish each day and check them off as you go. You’ll find that knowing precisely what needs to get done will help you manage your time and energy more efficiently.

An essential part of scheduling yourself is waking up! Once you’ve figured out what you want to do the next day, determine how much time you’ll need to do it and set your alarm accordingly. By getting up early and seizing the day, you’ll get a great deal done and you’ll have extra time in the evening to relax and even play.

There’s nothing worse than waking up as it’s beginning to get dark again and realizing that everything you had wanted to do that day will have to be put off yet again. By waking yourself up early and having an idea of what you want to achieve, you will ensure that you waste as little time as possible.

When it comes to advancing in the workplace, there’s an old rule that actually goes a long way towards climbing the ladder of success: “dress not for the job you have but for the job you want.” You’ll never become the CEO if you look like a high school co-op student. The same rule applies when you’re unemployed. If you don’t take yourself seriously enough to get dressed in the morning, who will?

You don’t have to put on a suit if you’re looking for office jobs or a tutu if you’re an out-of-work dancer but you should wear something more respectable than your fuzzy wuzzy house coat while you’re going about your daily duties. After that alarm clock sounds, your first order of business should be to get yourself dressed and cleaned up – just as you would if you had to get to work. When you’re wearing something practical, you’re more likely to feel functional and ready to get things done. There’s just no changing the lazy day associations we have with pajamas.

Now that you’re up and at ‘em, you’re all set to get out of the house. Make it your goal to leave the confines of your home office at least once a day. Even in the dead of winter, a little fresh air and exercise goes a long way to reinvigorating your body and mind.

Go for a walk when your concentration begins to wane in the afternoon, go to the coffee shop with your laptop and continue working there, or take a stroll to the library and take advantage of its many free resources. Why not take time to enjoy a part of the day you might otherwise miss in a work environment?

Another great reason to get out of the house is to network. Even if you don’t have a job interview, talking to people who are successful in your field can be a great way to get ideas, find out about job openings, and expose yourself as an available candidate worth consideration. Most jobs are found through networking and you never know who will pass your CV on to the person who will offer you your dream job. So don’t hesitate to send meeting requests to your contacts or to people you are interested in learning from. Talking to someone face to face is always a good way to demonstrate all of the great qualities that render you a prime employee so put yourself out there.

It’s unpredictable how long unemployment can last. You may find a gig right away but it could take a while for the right position to come up. This is why it’s important to create your own opportunities. Invent projects for yourself that will add something to your roster of skills and experience.

Are you a web designer? Create your own website and take on freelance projects. Are you in construction? Accept odd jobs or document the work you put into your own home to show potential employers. Are you an artist of some sort? Teach classes or approach local venues about putting on performances/shows. You never know, your downtime project could just become your full time occupation. Don’t underestimate your ability to create your own destiny.

Following these tips alone probably won’t get you a job but they will certainly help you get into the mind frame necessary for all the resume updating, cover letter writing, portfolio organizing, time, and energy it takes to become gainfully employed.  Remember, being productive is not mutually synonymous with being employed. Make the most of the time you have to yourself and you will feel all the more fulfilled when you finally do find work.

Employment Plans? Employment Scams!

Job hunting is a daunting process for the brand new grad. I’m currently in this phase myself. I worked my tried and true summer job upon graduation and took off in the fall for several weeks of travel. The experience was exceptional and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That being said, I left my money in Europe and returned to the joys of unemployment.

As anyone who has had to look for work will agree, the task is time consuming. It is a full time job in itself. Unfortunately, only employment counsellors get paid to do it. So you can imagine how frustrating it can be to put hours of effort and thought into applications, only to be duped by phony job postings!

Allow me to elaborate. Near the beginning of my most recent stint of job searching, I was surprised to see that a head hunting firm called Fieldtech Recruiting was reaching out for Administrative Assistants. Head hunting firms typically recruit for the higher end positions. At that point I figured it would be worth a shot to try for administrative work. I wanted something to keep me afloat while I looked for jobs more related to my field of study so I shot out a resume. I should have done my research like a good journalist first. Had I done so, I would have found no website for this so-called head hunting firm and no information other than a bogus news article on Wire Service Canada – Canadian Free Press Release Service. The article boasted Fieldtech’s ability to “find jobs that pay like it’s 2006 again.”

In my frenzy of cover letter writing and resume tweaking I received an e-mail from a John Spencer. His response to my application came from a Gmail account and had no statement of what his position with Fieldtech was. What it did say was that I was well qualified for the position but that Fieldtech would not consider me further unless I fixed up my resume. I was referred to a resume writing expert who would charge me a low rate of $149 to fix mine up. Once I had done that I’d be free to re-submit my application for consideration. No thanks!

You know, there are free resume writing services available. There’s never a need to spend money on this. For example, Toronto Employment and Social Services has 15 Employment Resource Centres across the city. They are staffed with professionals who are equipped with the tools to help people develop resumes, cover letters, and other job-related materials to fit their individual needs.

I walked into another trap only a few days after the Fieldtech fiasco. I found a job posting for a marketing company that was looking for new team members. The posting said that it would be training new employees in a variety of areas such as Advertising and Public Relations and that it was an entry level position. It sounded okay to me. I figured it was somewhat related to my field of study and that the least I could do was check it out. The website (www.torontomarketinggroup.com) was fairly vague and set off a small red flag for me. It called itself Toronto Marketing Group but had no information about their clients or campaigns. I remained open to it because a friend of mine had just told me she felt a bit sceptical about her employer’s website when she first applied and it turned out to be a dream job for a fresh Business graduate.

The day after I submitted my application I received a call and was asked to go in for an interview. The interview experience was bizarre. The loft office space had no staff inside on a Wednesday afternoon, there was bad pop music blaring, and there was no information displayed about the company as far as I could tell. The woman who interviewed me flew through a rehearsed spiel that was vague at best. She told me that the company did advertising campaigns for such companies as BMO and United Way (you would think this information would be beneficial to have on the website). She hardly gave me any time to ask questions once she was through and she rushed me out the door. She told me it was a disadvantage for me to have been the first interview of the day and not to get my hopes up about a second interview. I suspect this was to build me up for the phone call I would get later that evening.

When I did get invited to a second interview, the little red flag that had nagged me originally seemed to become magnified. It’s as though the text size in my brain browser went from smallest to largest. I knew I couldn’t ignore it. I did a bit more research about Toronto Marketing Group and found an interesting post on a forum in a website called RedFlagDeals.com. The thread it was connected to was called “Is Toronto Marketing Group a Scam?” Basically the poster said that they found the same lack of transparency as me when they went through the interview process and when they went in for the full-day second interview they wound up selling water heaters door to door. What does that have to do with marketing?

Another poster called Rockthecasbah on the RedFlagDeals.com forum made this insightful comment, “sounds like a scam. The gratuitous use of the word ‘marketing’ in these sorts of ‘companies’ tends to lead one to that conclusion.” Though the job with Toronto Marketing Group wasn’t a scam per se, it was a matter of misrepresentation. If I’m looking for someplace that will train me in PR, I’m certainly not going to be too happy when I find myself selling water heaters door to door. These businesses ought to be more up front about what jobs they are offering so as not to waste applicants’ time.

The internet has really become an advantageous tool for applicants and employers alike. Thousands of job offers are available at the click of a mouse and job hunters can easily find opportunities that they never would have known about had they used traditional classifieds and resume distribution methods. Unfortunately, the internet makes your likelihood of applying to false ads much greater. I was searching on bestjobscanada.com and kijiji.ca when I took my missteps. Both are perfectly good places to job search but the key is to be careful. I’ve learned my lesson. I now make sure I research every company thoroughly before sending my application. If someone can post a false advertisement so that they can offer you services you don’t need, just imagine what else people could use your personal information for.

 When you enter the Craigslist employment classifieds section, you are now directed to a page which warns you about bogus ads that direct you to such things as background checking services, training services, credit checking sites, etc. before you can follow through with your application. It advises you not to waste your time on ads like these. Thank you Craigslist, that’s very responsible of you. Keep this advice in mind no matter which search engine you may be using and remember to keep your personal information on online job applications to a minimum. I certainly will. Good luck with your job hunting!