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Happy New Year!

Lovely Galley readers, I missed you while I was away, but I can’t deny that I enjoyed not being plugged in constantly. I needed a break from searching and reading and though I feel guilty about it, I’m trying not to.

Many folks say they don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they don’t keep them. Well, I’m making some that I can keep. Don’t make resolutions so outlandish you could never reach them, but at the same time, there is nothing wrong with shooting for the moon. As the poster in my sixth grade classroom said, “even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”

New Year’s Resolutions for those looking for a job and freelancers (I’m doing these too!):

1) Be happy and stop feeling guilty. Be yourself, even if you were laid off. Smile, watch your favorite shows, make your favorite dinner; don’t think every waking moment needs to be devoted to your job search. All work and no play is no good, even if your work is not bringing a paycheck home every two weeks. Do not feel guilty about enjoying yourself, this will not only make you miserable, but it can hinder your job search as you become more and more resentful of your situation.

2) Stay motivated. The position you applied for has been cut, and three of your clients can’t afford you right now. It’s rough and it’s not pleasant, but you can’t let it keep you down. Wallowing and pitying yourself will get you no where. Fall and get back up as many times as it takes. Talk to those around you, visit message boards and vent in your journal when you need to get all that disappointment out. It is normal to be upset, but you still can’t let it get the best of you.

3) Do more for your search. Sending out a pitch letter every two weeks and occasionally leaving your house to go to a networking event is only putting in 50% effort. If you want to see real results, you need to get out there. Tweet 10 times a day on Twitter, attend every free webinar in your field, go to networking events and events that could be networking events (like a reading from a book that was just published about your field—the author and the participants are all potential connections).

4) Use social networks to their fullest. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can bring you new fans and friends, but they can also land you new assignments and score you full-time gigs. Take the time to learn what makes these platforms tick. Get started here:

8 Ways Twitter Can Build Your Freelance Business

10 Traits of Highly Effective Twitter Users

10 Ways to Use LinkedIn

This wont be the last time we talk about these resolutions. I’m going to keep you posted on how I am doing with them every few months, or if something comes up (like me falling off the wagon or reaching a new audience, whatever comes first). I want you to do the same. You don’t have to broadcast it to the world, but every month, revisit your resolutions and give yourself your own progress report.

Here’s to a fabulous 2009! (It can’t be worse than 2008, right??)

Till tomorrow,
C

online salesWhen trying to keep up a blog, the worst thing you can do is take  a few days off. Unfortunately, some craziness has been happening over here, and I’ve had to take care of a few things before I could come back to The Galley.

With the holidays here, we could all use some extra cash, especially those of us who are unemployed and starting to freelance. Here’s a post I wrote for Cheapiness.com on sites that sort through all kinds of online deals to bring you the best ways to save on the net:

There’s so much info on the web, it’s time consuming to search through it all to find what you are looking for— especially when your time is money, and you are trying to save some.

Geek Like Me has saved you the trouble of deal hunting, and found some sweet sites for bargain shopping.

  • Woot.com feature’s a different product everyday at prices you may never find anywhere else. Geek Like Me suggests getting on the site early in the morning, since there are only so many of the featured product available. Today’s is a Pentax 12 megapixel digital camera, for $119.99!
  • GottaDeal.com has deals on, well, pretty much everything. Score on tech goods (like Kingston 8GB Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card for less that $14 bucks) to cutting boards, and you can even get the great prices on the go with their mobile website.
  • SickDeals.net is a bargain hunter’s paradise due to it’s variety of deals. Get Candy Land for $4.99 and relive some childhood memories on new (and cheap) throws and rugs.

Since stores have been posting not so great sales numbers, the Wall Street Journal says many stores are going to have some “massive” discounts to try to lure us last minute shoppers in. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for after Christmas blow-out sales, too!

Happy Holidays!
-C

Thank you!Over the past few months, I’ve had to rely a bit on others. I emailed contacts for job leads, asked to have my resume sent out, asked for people’s time and understanding, and for recommendations. During all these favors, the majority of people have been beyond willing to help. Sure, you get a few here and there who can’t be bothered, but by and large, people want to help.

One of the jobs I am waiting to hear back from was never posted online. I only knew about it from person A, who put me in touch with an old co-worker, person B (the job). Person A has never met me and only knows me through a mutual connection. When I was first laid off, I contacted everyone I knew for help. A got back to me and said A’s ears would be open. Two weeks later, A had a job lead for me, and I had an interview and new prospect. Even people you’ve never met before can answer your questions and offer advice and connections.

You should never, ever be shy about asking for help, but you shouldn’t just keep taking it without paying it back, or forward. I might never be able to help person A (or maybe one day I will), but whenever you wonderful readers ask me questions or students get in touch with me for advice, I take the time to help them. It makes the world go round, it’s good karma and it really brightens that person’s day.

This holiday season, make sure you carve out time to help others and thank those who helped you. The holidays are a great excuse to network, too. Be sure to send cheerful notes to your contacts and wish them a happy and healthy New Year. A little note like that can go a long way.

Till tomorrow,
C

What to read 12/16

bookEveryone seemed to like my reading suggestions last week, so let’s keep this new feature going. When I search the web for content, I’m looking for writing advice, where to find gigs, increasing my network, career advice, ideas for this blog, media trends and news, ideas for freelancing and budgeting, and ideas for the clients I already work for. This explains the random range of articles that I’ll feature on “What to Read.” Keep sending me what you are curious about, and I’ll keep finding awesome and educational reads. Here is double the amount from last week’s “What to Read,” from giving gifts with meaning to networking tips and 100 places to find a job.

  1. Social Media Predictions 2009- Exactly what it sounds like and you can download a sweet .pdf. Hint: Web 2.0 is about passion and quality, not quantity (though that is important, too).
  2. How to Blog and Grow Rich- Makes it sound easier than it is, but some helpful tips.
  3. Are all Bloggers Journalists?- A very personal and interesting take on this endless debate.
  4. How to Give Gifts Unconditionally- A very sweet take on cheap and thoughtful gifts (and just in time for you holiday procrastinators).
  5. 8 Job Interview Tips- They are a bit obvious (like looking the interviewer in the eyes), but these gentle reminders are still key interview rules, and this article is nice crash course.
  6. How to Update Your Resume- Again, some are gentle reminders, but all are very important. These tips (like preparing a separate resume to tackle salary history questions), are a great place to start if you are beginning to revamp your resume.
  7. Personal Branding Lessons from an Advertising Exec- Great tips like, “Define and articulate your vision, mission, and message” and my personal favorite, “Learn and grow professionally.”
  8. Top 100 Blogs- If you are trying to get a new job, freelance write or blog, you NEED to be reading these. This is what the world is talking about.
  9. 100+ Places to Find a Job- Comprehensive list of sites to find gigs ranging form education to tech. Lists career building sites as well, and explains briefly what they all can do for you.
  10. Networking Tips- Been following @DailyCareerTips on Twitter. This is last week’s roundup. My fave: “When asking to network, don’t ask for appt convenient to you ask for a time that is “amenable to them across the next few weeks.” If you are on Twitter, I would follow them!

Till Tomorrow,
C

supermarketA big part of surviving a layoff (after acceptance) is seeing where you stand financially and cutting back accordingly. When you are trying to cut back on spending, money spent on food is the first to go. No more ordering in or going out to eat twice a week, no more skim lattes and those morning egg sandwiches are going to be home made from here on out. But what about at the supermarket? If you always end up spending more than you planned, check out these tips I wrote for Cheapines.com on avoiding food shopper’s remorse:

  1. Go on a full stomach. Rule number one of successful food shopping: Never go hungry. I don’t know the exact statistics behind it, but you are way more likely to grab items off the shelf that you don’t need, (read: Oreos) when your stomach is rumbling.
  2. Take a detailed list. Another way to stop grabbing things you don’t need is knowing what you actually do need. Don’t just write, “milk, eggs, cheese.” Knowing exactly what you are there to get—skim milk, Laughing Cow light spreadable cheese and a dozen large eggs—will also help prevent you from grabbing chocolate milk, two dozen eggs and Monterey Jack on top of what you really needed to get.
  3. Let go of brand names. I love Honey Nut Cheerios. But my local store’s brand of “honey Os” is just as yummy and a buck and a half less (sorry General Mills). I also get store brand bread, milk, eggs, cheese, turkey, jelly—basically everything I can. If you bought 15 items of store brand products and they were all $1 cheaper than the originally brand, that’s $15 in your pocket, no life change necessary.
  4. Don’t be too trusting. Always check the unit price to determine if you are really catching a sale, or if your supermarket is just making it look that way. Let’s say Welch’s Jelly is $3 per 16 oz and Smucker’s Jelly is $2 per 16 oz. If Welch’s is on sale 2 for $5, Smucker’s is still cheaper by $.50 per jar. Don’t just trust a sale sign, look into it for yourself.
  5. Watch the register. Good Housekeeping recommends staying on top of each item at the register. Since stores’ sales often change weekly, their scanners are constantly being updated. Just because Welch’s was advertised as 2 for $5, doesn’t guarantee the scanner isn’t going to ring it up at $3 per jar. Watch as items get scanned and don’t be shy to point out the mistakes.
  6. Make two trips. This one comes from Good Housekeeping, too. When you are food shopping, don’t head down the personal-care aisle or look for other non-grocery items. Get what you came for and avoid paying for convenience by stopping by a pharmacy on your way home for that mouthwash that would have cost you an extra buck at the supermarket.

Till tomorrow,
C

Keeping YOU in check

junk_food_junkieYou are sending out resumes, making contacts and taking on new freelance work, but what about your health? Often we find it hard to put all our concentration towards one thing and be successful at something else at the same time. The same is true of eating right and exercising during a transition period like losing your job.

Here’s a list of what I do to keep myself in check. None of these are amazing revelations, yet we still don’t do any of them and they all can help tremendously.

1- Write it down.
I spend my day writing—cover letters, blog posts, articles—so I write down what I eat, too. Did you have a bagel for breakfast? Don’t have a sandwich for lunch; try soup instead. If you had pizza last night for dinner, have some eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast instead of a toaster strudel. Being able to see what you’ve been eating (don’t forget to include the little things too—like that Hershey’s kiss every time you pass the candy jar), will help prevent you from binging or treating yourself a little too often.

2- Close your laptop and get your butt off that chair. Take 30 minutes to an hour at noon or so for a physical break. I understand that the computer has power over you and you can’t bare to tear yourself away from it, but you must. I have a treadmill and elliptical machine in my basement, so I utilize those during my physical break. But you don’t need that kind of equipment. And just because its somewhat cold out, doesn’t mean your legs can’t move. Take a brisk 20 minute walk around your neighborhood and maybe pick up your laundry while you’re at it—double the efficiency.

3- Sleep at least 7 hours. I’ve talked about this before, but keeping yourself on a good sleep schedule is super critical to successfully taking care of yourself. You can’t pass out to infomercials every night and wake up after 11 a.m. everyday, and expect yourself to get a bunch of productive work done. Try to get up at 8:30 (or 9 at  the latest) and hit the sack by midnight. You will have more energy, get more work done and be doing your body a big service, all at the same time.

Till tomorrow,
C

chart-downEveryday we here of more layoffs, but the last couple of days I’ve been hearing of them pretty close to home. I want to jump through the phone and console the crazy and unpredictable emotions on the other end of the line, but I know no matter what I say, everyone has to go through their own mourning time. You do actually mourn—you mourn the loss of your job and to some, your identity.

If someone you know is worried about getting laid off or does lose their job, don’t attack them with how you’re handling it. They came to you because they know you are going through it too, but instead of giving into the temptation to advise, I would just let them know you are there for them. It sounds corny, but just knowing you are not alone is a key part to managing the situation. You can hear about 30,000 jobs being cut or 100,000 here and there, but you still feel as if you are the only one going through it.

Helping your pals out the right way may not exactly land you in the corner office next week, but it will make you feel better—especially if you’ve been even the slightest bit discouraged lately.

I found this article on helping out a friend who lost their job: http://www.kensavage.com/ It touches on some good points, too.

Till tomorrow,
C

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