Job Search Advice

post by zntneo · 2011-06-04T06:37:45.779Z · score: 2 (9 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 15 comments

Some background about me. I currently live in seaside,ca. Have a bs in psychology and an A.A.S in information technology network administration. I currently am a cashier at a gas station but want to find a better job for many reasons. I want a job that will fulfill my high need for analytical thought(high in need for cognition if you know what that means) and problem solving and that hopefully maximizes the amount of time i can be with my wife (who is in the military and "works" 7-3. I am pretty new to the job search thing because i spent 6 years in college with the same job as basically a system admin. (note of worry about all jobs have already developed carpal tunnel and had surgery and my symptoms may be returning

also i'd like to add some interests of mine. During college I was active in my atheist group (after i became one) and have been a pretty big activist since starting college. I try to be as involved as i can think to be in the skeptical/atheist/lesswrong community. 

So my question is given this information what are the best methods/ resources to help me in my job search. What i have been doing is applying online using multiple job banks but have not even landed a interview for anything related to computers I tried looking my self but was overwhelmed by what seemed to be contradictory messages. Any help i can get will be appreciated.

Edit:Thanks to advice from nickernst i will break down the above to a more manageable set of questions

 

  1. what types of jobs will i enjoy that i would have a chance at given my background
  2. related to one is there anything i could add that would let me get a job that i will really love
  3. what jobs are avaiable to me
  4. what would you suggest for the "process" of job searching to increase the likelihood of interviews
  5. What are some common failure modes of people in the same situation?

 

15 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-06-04T08:48:07.165Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Disclaimer: advice based on what people in Finland tell people looking for a job. There may be some cultural differences, though I do think this applies relatively universally.)

A piece of advice I frequently hear: always make sure you call somebody in the company you're applying for. The recruiters will get too many resumes online to do much more than skim them through, and you have little chance of being noticed that way. You need to do something to make sure somebody actually takes notice of you. Actually talking on the phone with someone is a good way of achieving that.

It's not hard to come up with some reasonable-sounding excuse for making the call. Maybe the job ad was sparse on detail and you have some specific questions about it. Or maybe you're going to go by the honest route: "I saw your job ad and thought I would apply online. But I figured my resume would go unnoticed among all the others you get, and I know I'm the right person for the job, so I thought I'd call you and give you a heads-up that it's worth your time to take a closer look at mine." That's memorable, and shows that you have guts and confidence in yourself. Yes, it might also sound arrogant and turn some people off, but what do you have to lose? Unless your stand out somehow, you probably won't get the job anyway.

Don't just stick to job ads, either. Look for companies you'd like to work in and call people to ask if they'd happen to have use for someone like you. The rule of thumb I was given: for a company employing less than a hundred people, call the chief of the company. For the boss of a small company, somebody going to the effort of calling them and asking if they might have a job opportunity is like someone complimenting them on their children. If the company employs more than a hundred people, figure out someone who has something to do with personnel hires and call them. Say, "if I sent you my resume, would you have the time to take a look at it?". Not "may I send my resume", but "would you look at it if I did". Offer to call them back in a week when they've had the time to take a look, and then call them in a week as agreed. Make sure you call them exactly when agreed to, or if you for some reason can't make it and have to call them later, make sure to apologize.

Here's a story someone from a recruiting firm told me. A guy needed to get a new job, so he went around calling the bosses of various companies. One of the bosses said he didn't think their company would have a need for someone like that, but he'd take a look at the resume anyway. A week later, the job-seeker calls back as agreed. The boss says, "like I thought, we didn't have a need for a guy like you. But you know what? I was talking with my wife this morning, and it turns out that you are just what they need in the company she works for." He'd have gotten a job that way, but by calling various people he ended up getting an even better offer from somewhere else. I think the numbers went something like, he called a hundred companies, eighty of them agreed to take a look at his resume, twenty called him in for an interview, and maybe five offered him a job.

comment by mutterc · 2011-06-05T21:20:54.297Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When applying, model the probability of getting any specific job as zero. If you get through an in-person interview and it goes well, you can update that probability upwards a bit.

That is, don't serialize your applications (you won't hear back anything at all from most of them, anyway). Expect near-universal rejection, even for jobs for which you're the world's most ideal candidate.

Compensate by applying for hundreds of jobs.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2011-06-04T10:38:55.988Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reddit.com/r/sysadmin would probably be a good place to post this question again, but with detailed information on your experience and skills.

lsc@prgmr.com is probably still looking for sysadmins and has no problem with people working remotely. I don't know the guy, my knowledge comes solely from comment stalking on Hacker News. His hiring strategy seems to be getting people to do some short contract work (for which they get paid) and offering more and more of these contracts if they continue to work out.

I'm sure you've heard it all before but if you have RSI you should wear wrist splints whenever you're typing, get an ergonomic keyboard and switch to Dvorak, in that order of urgency.

  1. You can get a job as a sysadmin. If you have a high need for analytical thought and problem solving then you can get good and valuable as a sysadmin. Never spend an hour doing something you could automate in a day, and the programmer virtue of laziness, etc.

  2. Only you have good information on what you would love. What do you like doing now? How can you get a job doing it, or a job where it is part of your duties?

  3. Jobs in your local area, and remote working jobs are available to you.

  4. Network. Go to local meetups for people in the industries you're interested in. If there's a company you'd be interested in working for research them heavily and prepare properly before contacting them about a job. I have heard good things about What Color Is Your Parachute. If you can do a website it beats even a killer cover letter as an application. See this. Having a personal website or blog on which you make yourself look like someone who is capable, competent and reliable is pretty good too. For tips on becoming a self-publicity machine see Penelope Trunk's website or Giles Bowkett's.

  5. Not doing anything, interviewing badly, whether by poor presentation, excessive nervousness, or simply being badly prepared.

Consider contacting a recruitment agency as well.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-06-04T19:20:40.341Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only you have good information on what you would love

That is an empowering philosophy to have yet after giving some thought to the question it seems to me that others have plenty of good information too. Not just due to weakness for introspection - knowledge of jobs and of human psychology tells you a lot about whether someone is likely to love a job!

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-06-05T15:17:13.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

what would you suggest for the "process" of job searching to increase the likelihood of interviews

Thinking ahead to actually succeeding in interviews, I seriously suggest having a friend in the industry do a mock interview with you.

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-06T03:30:47.054Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have no one in the industry who is a friend.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-06-06T12:26:24.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A friendly acquaintance should work also, most people are happy to help. You can try to find people in some internet forum and do it over the phone (though in person is more beneficial)

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-06-04T10:24:35.648Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To get good sysadmin work, hang out with other sysadmins (online and off). Personal networking is where quite a lot of the decent jobs come from. IME, quality of co-workers is almost more important than what the business actually does.

This is of course not advice to hold off looking until then ;-) Six years' sysadmin experience, even at college, is very nice on the resume.

(I assume you're paying serious attention to that carpal tunnel - touchtyping properly, using a decent keyboard, trying mouse substitutes like trackballs or trackpads - the other-optimisations are endless ;-)

comment by wedrifid · 2011-06-04T19:26:07.925Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

IME, quality of co-workers is almost more important than what the business actually does.

Agree, but I'd even scrap that 'almost'. The boss is also more important than the peers up to a certain level of quality and then the immediate coworkers can potentially take it from ok to good.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-04T07:05:31.130Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm also job searching, and my first bit of advice is to break the mess of worry into more specific goals and questions. "What sort of jobs would I most like? What jobs are available to me? What are the constraints on my options [location, education, etc.]? What if I were to change this particular variable of my life? What are some common failure modes of people in the same situation?" And so on.

With this, you can seek out answers to much narrower questions, and the answers will not feel so overwhelming.

comment by mutterc · 2011-06-06T14:10:31.928Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The unemployment office recommended My Next Move for scouting out occupations. (I'm already established in something that can loosely be called a career so it wasn't of use to me).

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-06-07T01:49:13.889Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My previous comments on the topic.

comment by j_andrew_rogers · 2011-06-05T06:21:10.430Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A question that needs to be asked is where are you willing to go to find a job? San Jose? The best choices are somewhat context dependent.

Seaside's economy is based on a military post and agriculture, neither of which are conducive to an intellectually interesting job scene. There is a shortage of good computer people an hour north, so if you are looking up there and having trouble then there is probably a presentation gap. At the same time, I would not be surprised at all if you found the options in your area to be unsatisfactory.

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-06T04:23:00.608Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yea seaside is where i am looking mostly because my wife is at DLI right now.

comment by zntneo · 2011-06-06T04:06:03.421Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yea seaside is where i am looking mostly because my wife is at DLI right now.