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Posts Tagged ‘looking for a job’

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

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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

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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

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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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lightbulbWhat I think separates this blog from others about jobs and freelancing is that I am learning with you. I can’t claim to be an expert, but I can talk about my experience and what works for me (oh what wonderful things the web is doing to journalism?).

As you know, I’m taking an online freelance writing class through Ed2010.com. During tonight’s lecture, several students asked the instructor where to look for ideas, and he anecdotally answered with tales of walking into places and having story ideas almost hit him on the head. While that’s great for him, I understood where these students were coming from.  Though I’ve come into a setting and seen story after story walk by, when I sit down and say “OK, I’m going to develop some freelance pitches now,” I clam up and my mind goes blank.

Although the simple answer to “Where do you get story ideas from?” is everywhere, what works for me is focusing on when the ideas come.

5 Tips for Finding Stories

1- Write ideas down when they come to you.
I don’t know if you carry a notebook, put everything in your Blackberry or keep an insane system of organized post-its—but whatever you do, document your ideas when you get them. A twenty minute subway ride and two smelly passengers later, and that idea is long gone.
2- Document the ones that don’t make sense. When an idea hits you, its not always in its finished form. As a matter of fact, it hardly ever is (for me at least). You won’t see the whole picture right away, so jot down these ideas and come back to them later to flesh them out during a brainstorm session. These are valuable and can often lead to my best ideas—don’t toss them in your brain trash!
3- Please read the news. I can’t tell you how many students in my college media classes wouldn’t be remotely knowledgeable on major news stories. What’s in the news is what people want to know about! Now Ex-NY Giant Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg. The more interesting angle? The possibility he was carrying a gun because these diesel football players are scared they could get robbed in the bars and streets of New York City. Everyone wanted to know about Burress, so the story was covered from all angles. From reading the news you won’t just learn the trends of what is being covered, but you’ll see what isn’t. You’ll learn to distinguish what is actually lacking coverage and what people just don’t give a damn about—all vital information when you are trying to come up with ideas to pitch to an editor.
4- Open your eyes and ears. Make sure you aren’t just going about your day without noticing everything that goes on around you. If you overhear people ordering at Applebees and discussing how the calories listed on the menu deter them from ordering salads, that’s a story not to be ignored. Jot it down and flesh it out later.
5- Learn from ALL your experiences. Things happen to you all the time that are potential story ideas. A few months ago, I was going to my best friend’s sister’s wedding. I wasn’t in the bridal party, didn’t want to wear a little black dress and was so confused as to what to wear as a result. During last week’s freelancing class, a student pitched a story on what to wear to a friend’s wedding if you’re not part of the bridal party— everything from clothes to shoes to hair and jewelry, and to all different types of weddings (beach, church, etc). That’s a killer idea and it was right in front of me just a few months ago.

Till tomorrow,
C

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scheduleIt’s hard to force yourself to get up at 8 a.m. when there is “no reason to.” You might be swamped with work, but you’re tired from writing till 3 a.m. last night (while watching George Lopez—this is my late night guilty pleasure). Should you move from your warm cocoon and start your day, or snooze till 10 a.m. and end up working until 3 again?

Some experts suggest working when you are at your best. For some that is the morning, for others that is the wee hours of the morning. Because I only worked for a few months, I think my body easily slipped back into college mode: Get up late, stay up late. And I do thrive at night. I bang out some kick-ass ideas and writing while laughing along to G-Lo (my nickname for the George Lopez show) at 1 a.m. But I’m beginning to doubt if this is a good way to keep working.

Tomorrow starts my foray into the real world of hours (again). Unlike in college, I can’t craft my schedule to rise at 10, start work at 11 and end the evening at 2 a.m. (with a cup of a cold tea and notebooks all over the floor for me to trip over in the morning). Though I find myself most inspired at night, I’m going to try this experiment and see if I can train my body to function more along the lines of the rest of the world. If you are having similar scheduling problems, see if this works for you, too:

I am going to wake up at 9 on the dot (no snoozing!!), start work by 10 and be in bed by 12, everyday for a week. I’ll report to you and see how this works out. If you try out my little experiment, let us know if it works for you. How do you keep to a schedule, or do you just go with the clock of your own body?

Till tomorrow,
C

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broken pencilWake up. Attack inbox, email contacts, make breakfast to WCBS 880. Read paper. Research, follow yesterday’s job leads. Check for and apply to newly listed positions. Go to gym, eat lunch while reading book on blogging. Head to library, steal their electricity, use free wi-fi for hours while doing freelance work, tons of writing, reading and more applying. Boy, can this job search routine get old real fast.

Getting out of a job search rut is like trying to find a cure for writer’s block—difficult, time consuming and frustrating. So to shake up my routine and get my creative juices flowing, I like to do some good ol’ writing exercises.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut, try these two creative workouts today:

1- The Visual Workout

A- Go through that pile of magazines you haven’t gotten to because you’ve been so busy doing freelance work and job searching.
B- Find an image/ad/picture that is really appealing to you.
C- Examine it and think about why it strikes you for one minute.
D- Write about it for at least 10 minutes. Write about all the details, the lighting, the design; give a story line to the people in it (if there are any) and make sure you get through the standard who, what, when where, why, how routine.
The Payoff: You got to go through your magazines and take a needed (but still useful) break. And if you can write about an image you had no prior knowledge of for at least ten minutes, your brain is ready and willing to take on other new subject matter (like crafting an eye-catching email subject line).

2-The Mind-Bender
A- Grab a pen and paper, we are going old school for this one.
B- Write a mini memoir—your life, in six words. It can be a sentence or just six individual words.
C- Do not jot down all the words that come to mind and just pick six.
D- Really take your time with this exercise. Make some tea, get inside your head and take a look around. What’s there?
The Payoff: You just traveled a mini journey of self-discovery. Maybe you learned a little something about yourself along the way. Analyze your sentence or words. Do any of them have to do with your career? (It’s absolutely fine if they don’t.) Because you were only able to use six words, your mind should really be amped up now and ready to tackle the rest of your day. This one is also great because life is always changing, therefore you can always revisit this exercise. Plus, it’s interesting to keep these around and take a look at them now and again and see what has changed in your life.

Till tomorrow,
C

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