Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I am really lucky: my last job search was five years ago. I basically stalked my boss until she gave me a job, and my second day she said, "Here's $1.6 million. Build your program."

I built my program. I improved schools. I changed children's lives, for the better. 

But, sadly, the money has run out.

So I am job searching, but everything about job searching has changed in the past five years. And I hope that y'all will have feedback: what I should be doing differently; whether I'm doing something right; when I can start working for you, your company, your cousin, or your cousin's company; etc.

1. LinkedIn

So, it's not just creating a profile for yourself. You add in companies you've worked for and BAM!, their logos just appear, like magic. You can add in descriptions of these jobs, which I copied and pasted from my resume, so it reads like a boring/showoffy/concise paragraph. I knew to use a professional photograph of myself (thank you, Julia Pretus). And then I let them access my email account to make initial connections (which are "friends" on Facebook and "followers" on Twitter). I was selective, since not everyone in my address book can speak to what I do professionally, but I got enough connections to feel like I was doing it right.

Then you add skills, so that anyone who cares will know what you believe your expertise to be in. Then people "endorse" you for these (or other) skills. I have been really surprised by what people think I do well.

Then, within two months, LinkedIn had found every person I've ever known in the history of my life... not through my email. A girl I interned with, and our boss, in 2006. People I interviewed but didn't hire, and people I interviewed with but who didn't hire me. People whose names (first and/or last) I'd forgotten: brief romantic entanglements, girls who have performed in burlesque shows I've been to, my cousin's ex-sister-in-law, my ex's ex-wife.

It's overwhelming.

2. Email

Of course email was a thing in 2008. But so were thank you notes. In my previous position, I hired at least 20 people, and only some of them knew to thank me for the interview. By the last round of hiring, all of the thank you notes I got were electronic.

So I asked some friends about this, and I was told to send a follow up email the day of my interview, thanking the interviewer(s) for his/her/their time and clarifying/repeating anything I thought needed saying. Like why I think I'm a great candidate.

3. Negotiation

Five years ago, I negotiated a start date. I was living in Austin and had to move to New Orleans, which meant moving my life after finding somewhere to live.

Now, I know that there is much more to a job than a salary. There are holidays in New Orleans that do not correspond with the federal holiday calendar. So it's important to know whether you'll be expected to use vacation time for Mardi Gras. Which is more than one day. 

Health insurance: are you eligible from your start date? is your family? how much does the company pay, and how much do you pay - and is this percentage or dollars?

Retirement accounts: are you eligible from your start date? what's the company willing to match - and is this percentage or dollars?

Travel: will you get a company credit card for your expenses, or will it be out of pocket? will they pay for your parking or for part of your insurance? are you expected to attend a certain number of trainings per year, and, if so, are those trainings offered where you live? does the company pay for them?

It's also important to understand a company's (or a particular manager's) policy on flex/comp time, working from home, doctor's appointments for yourself and your dependents. I once had to take two hours of sick time when I woke up with pinkeye, because I went to the doctor first thing in the morning and then went to the pharmacy so I wouldn't infect my coworkers. Other places would have made me report nothing. Other places would have required me to work from home, while taking a whole day. It's nice to know what kind of environment you're getting into so that everyone'e expectations of your time can be managed appropriately.

4. The Louisiana Workforce Commission

Don't get me started on how many hours I have wasted finding and inputting and saving information for my online account... hours that I could have spent reading job listings or figuring out how to live on $247/week.

I have to input three different employers/jobs each week in order to collect unemployment:
  • I have to list three persons' name and official business title. 
  • I have to list three companies' "record of address."
  • I have to choose the job title I talked to these people about via a drop down menu that basically doesn't include any titles belonging to anyone in the nonprofit sector. 
If I apply to a job online, I do not have a person's name and title. In some cases, I don't know whether to list the national organization's "record of address," or the local/state affiliate. I'm worried that I'll get in trouble for applying to jobs "outside" of Louisiana. 

Also, this is not the way to get a job. It is mostly about who you know. It is about having regular, consistent conversations with who you know. It is not about a specific job at a specific company. It's often a specific job or a specific company, but it is rarely both. The universe doesn't work that way, because life is unfair.

I will talk to at least three people about any given job I apply for. I want to make sure it's a legit org that can offer strong leadership and kind support and opportunity to make an impactful difference. I want to make sure the people who work there are happy, and I want to know why the people who left did. 

That's a much better way of tracking how many people I contact a week, State of Louisiana. 

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