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Thread: The Job Tips, Advice, Comiserations and Pitfalls Thread

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    The Job Tips, Advice, Comiserations and Pitfalls Thread

    Prompted by the unfortunate axing of Ripper from his spot. **** situation bloke, here's hoping the situation remedies itself very soon and you find paid employment post-haste.

    If there's one thing the job-seeking world is full of it's 5-item lists which don't ****ing work. Whether it be in finding a job, how to do interviews, keeping your job or going for higher spots, we're awash in people speaking much but saying little. I see people talking about jobs in various threads and I figure we have a huge variety of people from established professionals to students so I figure, let's keep the chat happening. Does Linkedin work? Are CV's and cover letters redundant? How can you protect yourself from people looking to **** you over? What are the best sites for finding jobs right now? etc.

    I say this from the perspective of someone who is a little concerned for future stability myself. I work in research for a not-for-profit which pays well but there's definitely some uncertainty ahead. The project I'm a part of is one with Cancer Australia and in a downturn, one of the first areas to feel the pinch from governments is research so I'm not even sure whether CA are going to re-fund the project. This despite a bunch of papers coming out of it, a few even published in journals already. It's looking okay but could easily change.

    Couple of quick things come immediately to mind I'll say but let's hear from everyone. I'm always on the lookout for good advice so if you have any thoughts to mull over or want to canvass for perspectives of others, let's hear them.

    - Linkedin has been an utter waste of time for me. I've got a decently-ish filled-out profile and get contacted regularly from recruiters who keep trying to add me to their network purely to bolster it (they ask everyone, believe me it's not because I'm just that brilliant they can't resist). Not been a single solid opportunity, people have asked me to send them an EOI or something similar then don't get back. I've personally found, in my field at least, informal contacts matter. Not networks (i.e. people you handed your card to at conferences) but people you know, who know you, and what you can do. Put the word out when you're scratching around for work to them first, cultivate them, be nice to them and reciprocate when they're asking you. Treat them like they are your friends because, really, they should be. Every job I've had for the last 8 years has been found this way; quick email to my friends has generally turned up a few things, even getting jobs I wasn't really the perfect fit skills-wise for.

    - I've been on contract for a while so have gotten used uncertainty. You just get better at treating a job for what it really is; it could potentially evaporate if the funding environment changes, if a manager comes on-board you don't get on with, if you get bored, etc. It's also engendered a better attitude toward my work. I know I have to put in or they can turf me. Plus, short-term contract work is generally far more interesting. When I was in gov, I did research but none of it was ever published or, to be brutally honestly, publishable. Working on a project with specific, interesting aims, even with a government agency, has meant to justify the existence of the project, we have to put out results of the research and make it appealing to journals.

    - Self-learn all the things, all the time, never stop. You never know. I can offer personal experience but it should be fairly obvious why that shouldn't be necessary. Don't get comfortable. After a while, much like eating my vege's, not only did I get used to it, I feel sorta weird if I'm not doing it. It has literally never been easier to self-learn, it's all out there on the interwebs. Ideally you'd tie it to an actual thing/product/publication you can point at and say 'I did that'.

    What should you self-learn? Depends on the industry. In my case, science/research, it's data-driven. So many people with biol degrees don't understand how to do proper analysis of their experimental results and it hampers you once you leave Uni research. One thing unites all the sciences and that's data analysis. Since realising this, I've bought several textbooks on the statistical techniques which different fields use and have a fairly hefty toolkit of techniques and knowledge I can call upon. And it's meant that I've been able to finally find a PhD thesis which ties together my psych and comp sci studies, the bridge between them being statistics. This is, by far, the more interesting work but knowing statistical analysis got me a statistician job in the past and has helped me get more general analysis jobs and some consultancy work. Having one of those meta fields as a string to your bow is massively helpful. Some industry-specific advice from people would be great here.

    - I've found the job market is awash with people with degrees but the dirty secret is that experience matters so goddamn much. Having an IT degree won't get you fat stacks, need time with a company before they'll pay you well. Or, get involved in similar work for free in your own time. Want a software dev job? Write something yourself (an Apple app) or get involved with a OSS project. Looks great on the CV and they actually do lead to paid work on occasion. Want a job in data analysis? Get your head around an open-source free bit of software like R and practice your analysis using all the freely available huge datasets that come with it then hit up a non-profit or community organisation of some sort which, say, publishes reports but maybe their analysis methods suck. With your newly-minted analysis skillz, you could make them look a million bucks. Do it for free or very little. Even if there's nothing else on offer, it's experience. And in this world, with all the Boomers leaving the workforce, experience matters more than ever and will matter more in time as they die off.

    Anyway, that should be enough to get started. Again, the above is really limited to my own field so I'm interested in other people's advice. No bull**** regurgitation from AskMen, etc. What has worked for you?
    Last edited by Top_Cat; 01-05-2013 at 12:10 AM.
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Flem274*'s Avatar
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    Great post TC.

    This one is cliche but it works: you never know if you don't give it a look. Asking never killed anyone and often benefits you etc etc
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    Hall of Fame Member Son Of Coco's Avatar
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flem274* View Post
    Great post TC.

    This one is cliche but it works: you never know if you don't give it a look. Asking never killed anyone and often benefits you etc etc
    Yeh and I have a personal story with this one too and it changed my whole perspective on work.

    I was stuck in a **** place in my police job, stuck getting the jobs no-one wanted (vehicle crime jobs, mainly) and just generally lacking in opportunity. Then I got lucky; my manager tore his achilles tendon. Now, being a sergeant, to keep his job, he still had to be able to get to work and do 'light duties' but couldn't drive. So take a guess who got the job picking him up every day? That'd be me.

    For the first couple of weeks, was just general chit-chat but as I got to know the prick, I started to complain about my lack of opportunities to do cool ****. He says;

    "Of course, you've got no credibility. I don't mean you're terrible at what you do, you're unknown. No-one gives good jobs to people who are unknown."

    "But.....how do I get known? You're my manager, aren't you supposed to, y'know, manage me?!"

    "It doesn't work that way. If you're interested in other work, get in the faces of the people doing it. You've got a chem degree so maybe the drugs desk could use you but they're not going to come looking for you. Sniff around, ask questions, say hi to the D's in the drugs/organised crime branch, put yourself up to do work for them. Make it well-known you want to work in that area."

    I was floored. In my previous jobs, you were given work by your manager and it was considered poor form to 'sniff around' the rest of the organisation. So, long story short, I gave it a crack and, initially it was all "Yeah man, we'll let you know if something comes up." and nothing but then one day, a big drug raid was going down and one of the D's running the job gave me a quick call asking me if I wanted to tag along. Not to do anything, just to have a look. That led to jobs where I was actually asked to do stuff or lead the intel response to and, because of the capital from doing all that, was eventually asked to put in app to be the first analyst in the new sexual crimes specialist branch where I stayed for 3 years. It was considered a done deal that I'd get it because I'd spent the previous 6 months putting myself in everyone's faces (in a very nice way, of course).

    Have lived my work life by doing that and it's never really failed to pay off. It's how you build relationships, taking a genuine interest in what other people are doing means your face will pop in their heads if they need help with something or think you'd be a good fit for a more substantial bit of work. Even if it doesn't lead anywhere in the first instance, amazing how many opportunities show up because you're putting yourself up for stuff. You're creating the impression of movement, agitating for work, being eager. Being unknown is, in my experience, worse than having a bad rep. And, I might add, sending off a quick email to try to do this doesn't work, I reckon. Because it's cheap; no effort required, took all of 5 seconds and does nothing to show the other person whether you even care if they give you stuff to do or not. Make it personal, I say.
    Last edited by Top_Cat; 01-05-2013 at 01:16 AM.


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    Cricket Web Staff Member Burgey's Avatar
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    No but that's a KILLER idea for a TV show.

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    Cricketer Of The Year Hurricane's Avatar
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    For experienced people:

    1) I think go to parties and just met people who aren't 18-22 years old. If you can run into people 25+ they might actually be starting a company and want some help.
    I ran into an Entrepreneur once I did some work for him and he paid me in stocks. I left the company when I decided he was a boob. But learned a lot about business for a start up. This connection happened at my uncles barbecue.

    2) Get your resume professionally edited you can do this for $100 online.

    3) Do volunteer work for charities to build your CV with new skills. Do something you actually believe in though or they will notice you are in it for the wrong reasons.

    4) Cover letters - read the job advert carefully and answer every point they are looking for.

    For people with no experience

    Volunteer for work experience during school/university

    Go to work in a call centre for a company with a history of promoting from within. If you have a university degree your resume will stand out when you apply for internally listed jobs.
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    International Vice-Captain Redbacks's Avatar
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    3 of the 4 jobs I've had in my career have been via my personal network and without a formal interview. Based on what I have seen in the construction industry, prior experience working with people is of great value. As the big jobs wind down it tends to be the management who get work at the next site and then bring in people they feel they can trust.

    I went through a whole an online application process to get my current job. Seek.com is the place I searched for jobs. In my CV I just tried to explain everything in terms of solving problems etc. which I think is the currency of a good project manager.

    My advice is apply for jobs whilst employed, HR operate at an extremely slow rate, 2 months at least. If a company needs people fast, they will usually get a contractor who can start soon and they can also flick at will.

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    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    Human Resources are the absolute dregs of commerce grads. Not good enough for middle management, crunching numbers, closing a deal, innovating new products or you know, basic goods and services. And who's going to fire them?

    In lieu of contributing more to the economy than a benefits recipient, you'd think they'd actually have time to respond to an application within a single financial quarter.

    The most I've gleaned from their practical skills is doublespeak explaining why a hot blonde got an entry-level role over you despite using her parents as references. But I'm told the standard of applicants was very high and they wish we could all work for them and etc.

    Conga line of suckholes.
    Last edited by LongHopCassidy; 01-05-2013 at 06:17 AM.
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    Cricketer Of The Year Agent Nationaux's Avatar
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    I was once told by HR after not getting the job that I failed my presentation because it did not have 'Drive'. They had asked me to read a few pages and evaluate them as a presentation. Don't know where drive fit into that, and when I asked, the lady gave some wishy washy answer about being enthusiastic.

    One particular point I would recommend is to always put yourself forward, whether it's a presentation or anything else because the best way to learn is jumping into the deep end. You might end up looking like a cock but it could be that you also impress.
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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Presentations for these things are all about enthusiasm. It might sound wishy washy, but I'm pretty sure if you were the one assessing interviewees, you'd be more inclined to give a job to the candidate who really seemed enthused by what they were doing, rather than one going through the motions and delivering everything in a monotone voice.

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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Im perhaps not the best to contribute in this thread as i have had few 'real jobs' but I'm very happy with my current career. The biggest thing I can credit for that is that I didn't start it until I was 33. I could do that as I didnt get myself into silly amounts of debt. I was able do the things I enjoyed until the right job came along. I'm not necessarily talking student debt but I didn't own a house and always drove a ****ty car. This meant that I didn't jump at a job for financial reasons and could continue to roll the dice on trying to get the things I really wanted to do. Nothing hampers taking chances more than having a steady job and responsibilities.

    The years in between being a quality and reliability engineer and what I do now were filled with sports coaching. I didnt think that it was networking but when you are meeting hundreds of people then that is what it was.

    People generally don't want to talk business but people do want to do business, work with and help people they like. TC is right regarding informal contacts as long as you are not transparently using them.

    I suppose just getting off your arse and meeting people, being nice and genuinely interested in them is the way to go. Also, keep sniffing around. People who show an interest, in the work and not the money, get opportunities. Also, don't be in a rush and be too specific. Have a few ideas and keep exploring these areas. There are far worse things but settling for a job just doesn't sound smart.

    I'm interested in the opinion's of others regarding charity work for experience. I'm not a fan. To me, when I read that, it smacks of not being able to find work and doing charity work for completely the wrong motives and comes across as a little ****ish. The "yes, I did charity work to bolster my CV" can appear a bit self absorbed and devious.

    Meh, prob not the most useful of posts but a few thoughts.
    Last edited by Goughy; 01-05-2013 at 10:32 AM.
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    This sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many people don't do it - tailor the resume for the job you're applying for...highlight different things based on what's important. When I used to work, I'd look at some resumes for software engineering positions and it was obvious they were applying every job, ranging from HR manager to accounting.... Ideally you'd tell a 'story' with your resume, if not of increasing responsibilities, then of increasing skillset, either in breadth or depth. I second T_C re: learning. If applicable, get a certificate or learn a new skill while unemployed. It makes the 'gap' look much more palatable on a resume even the new skill is not 100% related to the job (assuming its within the same field).


    If anyone is in the IT field, and looking, you can message me and I might be able to provide some suggestions (I used to be in the industry and I had influence with hiring a little bit).

    Best of luck to everyone looking. The times are tough - hang in there!
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goughy View Post
    Im perhaps not the best who can contribute in this thread as i have had few 'real jobs' but I'm very happy with my current career. The biggest thing I can credit for that is that I didn't start it until I was 33. I could do that as I hadn't gotten myself into silly amounts of debt. I was able do the things I enjoyed until the right thing job came along. I'm not necessarily talking student debt but I didn't own a house and always drove a ****ty car. This meant that I didn't jump at a job for financial reasons and could continue to roll the dice on trying to get the things I really wanted to do. Nothing hampers taking chances more than having a steady job and responsibilities.

    The years in between being a quality and reliability engineer and what I do now were filled with sports coaching. I didnt think that it was networking but when you are meeting hundreds of people then that is what it was.

    People generally don't want to talk business but people do want to do business, work with and help people they like. TC is right regarding informal contacts as long as you are not transparently using them.

    I suppose just getting off your arse and meeting people, being nice and genuinely interested in them is the way to go. Also, keep sniffing around. People who show an interest, in the work and not the money, get opportunities. Also, don't be in a rush and be too specific. Have a few ideas and keep exploring these areas. There are far worse things but settling for a job just doesn't sound smart.

    I'm interested in the opinion's of others regarding charity work for experience. I'm not a fan. To me, when I read that, it smacks of not being able to find work and doing charity work for completely the wrong motives and comes across as a little ****ish. The "yes, I did charity work to bolster my CV" can appear a bit self absorbed and devious.

    Meh, prob not the most useful of posts but a few thoughts.
    Yea, if you've been doing charity for ten years on the weekends and then did it full time after being laid off - I think that counts in your favor. But if you only found unpaid charity work after being laid off - I don't think I would hold it against anyone, but I don't think it would help much.**

    **Though in software engineering, often times you can ask for samples of work, which is by far the most important criteria...so if you created a kickass app for a charity - I don't really care if you were paid for it or not. As long as your skillset shows, the rest doesn't matter. But it'd be harder for professions where things like that are hard to show in an interview/resume setting.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    Huricane's point about getting a call centre job sticks out for me. Uni was just never right for me but it meant I'd wasted a bit of time getting no extra qualifications nor proper work experience aside from part time bar work. I got a job that was a temp position initially and it was a ****ty ****ing job but it was a massive new contract so they made it clear there would be immediate promotions.

    Three quarters of the people who started with me considered themselves above it but the key for me and a few others was to get noticed for the right reasons. I was promoted after six weeks and then again a year later and haven't really looked back since, landed a good job with a massive company a couple of years ago. Alas now I'm looking to make the next step, and that's where I'm struggling and I think the points TC made are ones I need to take note of
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