“Hurry up and wait”
I chose this title for my first blog because I am an international security policy professional who has been actively looking for a job since December 2008. Job-hunting, especially in this recession, is a mix of frantic activity and patient waiting, which usually just becomes subdued frustration.
I have applied to roughly 1-2 jobs a week, and networked with someone perhaps 2-3 times a week since then. I networked in New York, DC, Geneva, Palermo, Paris, and soon, Beijing. I’ve generally been a fan of the ‘cast a wide net’ philosophy of job hunting and have applied to numerous thinking-outside-of-the-box jobs. I’ve applied to part-time, full-time, short-term, contract, long-term, internships, fellowships, etc. I live in my parents’ basement with my employed boyfriend and we regularly refer to ourselves as trolls. (This is meant in humor, not to garner sympathy)
Subdued, frustrated waiting:
I really appreciate companies and organizations that tell you quickly if you’re not going to be considered. That greatly reduces my stress—the first few rejections are not as fun—but it becomes a relief to not be sitting and waiting and wondering. I applied to one job in Feb of 2009, they called me in August, interviewed me in September, and then they told me they’d talk to me in December. It’s December now. If they say ‘yes!’ then comes the security clearance process. So, maybe I could have a job by…July or August 2010? A full year and a half after I applied.
Advice to other job-seekers:
Network. Obviously you’ve heard this before, but I’ve found people to be endlessly helpful and generous with their time. Networking got me a great short-term job (read: weekend) that introduced me to dozens of people who actually can help me find a job. Always ask for referrals. Also, tell people you’re looking, and what you’re looking for. Yes, you’ll get some fairly repetitive advice, but sometimes you’ll get a gem. Also, have a plan for looking for both long-term and short-term jobs. What do you do until you get a ‘serious’ job? So, think of both, because in the best of economies, it still takes 2-3 months to get a job.
Also, network with HR professionals, not just people who have the job you want. The people who have the jobs that you want don’t necessarily know how they got them. HR people know what gets your resume taken off the pile and how to avoid it. They also have a constant source of short-term jobs and ideas.
Advice to those still in school:
Apply now. When you start your MA, start applications to government related jobs (if you have any interest) because it will take roughly a year and a half (if you’re lucky) to get through the time lag and paperwork. Find a way to get a security clearance for your summer internship. It will save you a lot of time and make you a lot more marketable.
Advice to friends of marginally/unemployed people:
Be nice. Don’t make jokes about how it must be nice to have so much free time. It is not. That said, encouraging friends by helping look at cover letters or introducing them to people who might help them gain insight and ideas is helpful.
And that concludes my first blog. Let me know if you have ideas for topics, things I should include in my blog, and things that relate more directly to humane security :)