One Jerk Out Of Work

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The official unemployment rate in America is now over 10 percent — a factoid that surprises me. I don’t want to argue with the nums, but based on what I’m seeing, at least 50 percent of that 10 percent have already gotten themselves jobs. How else can you explain the explosion of employment counselors offering their services advising out of work job seekers on how to get a job?

I ran into seven of these know-it-alls on the CNNMoney website in an article entitled “How to get a job in 100 words or less.” The conceit behind the feature involved eliciting wise advice from seven of “’s trusted career coaches”

Sounds like a decent idea, but after going through all seven coaches like a starving man with a king size box of Milk Duds, I have to report that I was not all that thrilled with all the tips I received.

For example, for Ford Myers, president of Career Potential, LLC, the “single, most important thing people can do now to control their career destiny is to get crystal clear on the value they offer to prospective employers.” On the surface, this seems like pretty good advice, but let’s face facts — if you had any value to offer an employer you probably wouldn’t have lost your job in the first place.

But don’t sell yourself short. Myers also advises that once you identify this mysterious benefit you can offer to potential employers, you still have to “learn how to articulate this value.” I suggest you keep it fuzzy. Who knows how a hiring manager is going to react to a candidate who is “highly adept at keeping a chair from floating away,” and is “deeply experienced in sleeping through staff meetings.”

Another expert in the lucky seven, Barbara Safani of Career Solvers, advises you to “treat your job search like a full-time job. Work at it 35-40 hours a week for optimal results.”

Again, the advice is misplaced. If you ever worked more than 5 hours a week on your last job, you’d probably still have it. Why should it be any different when you’re spending your days at home in your pajamas? Replace gossip time and complaining time with Oprah time and Regis time, and you definitely won’t have 35 hours left in a week for a job search.

Gerry Crispin, a co-owner of Careerxroads, advises that you “Never, EVER apply for a job without first getting an employee in that firm you’ve targeted to ‘refer’ you.” Unfortunately, Mr. Crispin runs out of his hundred word limit before he tells you just how you are supposed to get chummy with a complete stranger, not to mention getting that stranger to refer you.

You could use technology, prowling through Facebook to learn the name of your new best friend’s pet gerbil, but I suggest you do it old school — stalking.  Wait outside in the company parking lot. Pick a friendly face as they walk to their car. It should be simple to follow them home and then, when the moment is right, to burst in the front door, suggesting that you join the family for dinner.

Chances are, your new best buddy will be delighted to refer you — anything to get you out of his house and out of his life.

Kathy Robinson of TurningPoint, a career consulting firm in Boston, advises you to put the pedal to the metal in your networking efforts. “Most people don’t network nearly as much as they should,” she suggests, “because they think networking means being pushy or sales-y.” This could explain why you spend your time at networking events hiding behind a fichus, or boozing it up with the wait staff. Robinson suggests you take an information-gathering approach, but I think the answer is to accept and embrace the pushy side of your personality, which usually only comes out when you’re faced with a rapidly vanishing plate of Buffalo wings at the $6.99 Schmorgy-Bob buffet.

“You don’t know me, but you’re going to hire me,” may be a sales-y way to approach a complete stranger at a networking event, but they’re likely to do it, just to get rid of you.

There’s a lot more advice from a lot more experts, but I think you can see the real message in this article. If you’re out of work and you can’t find a job, become a career counselor. Clearly, it’s the one job that any goofball can do, even you.


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