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Posts Tagged ‘unemployed’

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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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

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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

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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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ear
(Ok, failed attempt on posting twice in one day. But I was so close…)

Yesterday, while blogging to you about what job articles you should check out, I was hanging in Montclair State University‘s Audiology Department with my ear-loving pal, Raia. She needed some extra observation hours, I’ve got some free time and before you know it, people were prodding my little ears with foreign tools (the good news is I actually woke up on time, so there was no need for Raia to throw pennies at my window).

According to trusty source Wikipedia, an audiologist is “a healthcare professional specializing in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular system portions of the ear.” That means (most simply speaking) that they deal with inner ear balances issues (think vertigo), deafness, hearing loss, aids and implants.

A second year audiology student was playing with my ears and testing my hearing for about 40 minutes while Raia observed the whole shebang. Since I’m as curious as a cat (a fine characteristic of a good journalist if I do say so myself), I asked a whole bunch of questions from “What is this in my ears? It really itches” to “Explain why you used this specific pattern of words for me to repeat—what do these particular sounds indicate?” My intense curiosity prompted the actual audiologist in the room to suggest to Raia that I apply to the program.

Although this was quite a nice compliment and I love the cochlea as much as the next guy, I can’t help but think such a drastic career change six short months after graduating college is not a good idea. Sure, I went to college thinking I was going to be an M.D., studied pre-med (and cried myself to sleep three weeks into Bio 101) and have dealt with medicine and science in my real life, my whole life (I have a parent with a chronic disease), but does that mean I’m to abandon my editorial dreams and give it all up for the ear? Yes, it would fulfill my desire to help others but what about media?

I shrugged off the audiologist’s and Raia’s compliments on my research abilities and intelligence. Then earlier tonight I was doing my nightly tweets, when I stumbled upon U.S. News & World Report’s Best Careers 2009. There it was—audiology—in slightly large, bold print. Was this a sign?

It’s scary to see the media world morphing and collapsing faster than any of us can comprehend, but as silly as it may sound to others, I know I’m not going anywhere. I’m riding this crazy storm out. People still need the news. People still want information. As long as there is that need, the media will stick around in some form or another, and I truly believe that.

No matter where you are in your career, have you been thinking/fantasizing about doing something else in this economy? How are you handling it?

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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