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?