Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear Michigan (How Do I Find A Job?)

I miss you so. I know it doesn’t really help, my saying that. It certainly doesn’t change anything. But it’s the feeling I have welling up inside me and I want, no I need to share that with you.

As much as this blog is a love letter to you, as much as it’s about expressing how I feel, letting you know all the things I love about you (the people, places, things to see and to do), and about Q, it’s also about my attempt to find a way to get to you, and so I need to address the job search too. I’m pretty sure that won’t be as fun to write about, nor will it seem in any way romantic, but it’s certainly something to which many people can relate. And it is the key, it seems, to my being in the one place on the planet I truly want to be. With you!

About a year ago, the Grand Rapids Press ran an article on the jobless state of Michigan and the statistics were/are staggering - “This is life in a state with the highest jobless rate in the nation, where 449,000 people are out of work.” I feel the need to mention that I’m not trying to take someone else’s job. I’m not someone who can’t find employment in New York so he’s looking elsewhere. I have a job and if I could continue it from home or if I could somehow bring it with me, I would. But I can’t. And as nice as the people I work with are, and as nice as the area here might be, they’re not you. Not in any way, shape, or form. Not even close!

According to another article published in The Detroit News last year, the trend for nearly a decade is that more people have moved out of Michigan than moved in (about 109,000 more in 2008 alone, which for comparison sake is more than the population of the US Virgin Islands and nearly the population of Ann Arbor). I want to be with you because I see what you have to offer, not just to me, but to everyone. And if I can somehow find a job that allows me to show people just how special you are, that’s what I want to do. But in order for that to happen, I have to go through the process and, let’s face it, the process leaves a lot to be desired. Most employers want you to apply online these days, which saves on paper and is better for the environment, so I applaud them for that as loudly as I can. Now, if we could just develop a more economical use of time that would be even better.

Applying for a job is a full-time job. First you have to do some research. There’s not much sense in just sending out your resume everywhere, especially since it takes about an hour to work your way through many of those online applications. You know the ones that ask for every detail of your education and job history, the same information that’s on your resume. There may just be more job search engines than there are jobs. Half of them list the same job, require you to fill out all the pertinent information that the employers are going to ask, only after you fill that out you’re shipped off to another location (hopefully not like in one of those big wooden cargo boxes you see in movies about museums and precious artifacts that end up stored in the back of a warehouse somewhere). Once you get to that location, you fill out that pertinent information all over again, in addition to having the option of providing a cover letter and resume. This doesn’t count the research you really should do in the first place to try to match yourself up with the best fit. Of course, usually even the best fit doesn’t fit exactly. It’s like trying on jeans at the Gap – they either fit in the waist, but are baggy in the backyard or they’re low-rise-just-below-the-hip-fall-down-every-other-step jeans or they fit everywhere except the thighs (and if your thighs don’t fit you won't be wearing jeans).

Some employers look for specific education, some for specific experience. And, out of curiosity, where do they come up with 7 years experience? I mean why not 6 or 8, why not 5-10? Did they do a study that shows people with 7 years experience know enough to be self-directed and yet are still somewhat malleable? I’m not complaining. Just relaying a truth (and being a bit more sarcastic than I should be, perhaps). I do think if you aren’t going to put in the time to research and to apply and to do all the requisite steps to find yourself the best job for you then what sort of job are you going to do for them? And I'm lucky. I have a computer. But what if you don’t have a computer? What if you have to go to the library to get online to apply and then spend a few hours searching, looking at each job’s responsibilities and requirements, at least one hour filling out the application, to apply for one job? But here’s the thing, Michigan, you’re worth it. Every second of it! No question! Because working with such a beautiful state, working for a state that has so much to offer (okay, and the fact that it allows me to be with her), that’s what I want more than anything.

Here are some Web sites that might be helpful if you’re looking for a job too (just note that some search engines charge while others are free and, since there are so many, picking the right one or using several might be best). Good luck!

* About.Com's Top 10 Job Search Engines
* PC Mag's Top 20 Job Search Engines
* 12 Tips from Huffington Post on landing a job.
It's as much about selling yourself to yourself as it is to a potential employer (when I say "selling yourself" I mean metaphorically speaking, of course).
* Interview Tips
* Tips on Getting the Job You Want
* Tips on Getting a Job "When No One Wants You"
* Job Application & Interview Questions

image above via Detroit Institute of Arts: painting titled "The Harvest" – oil on canvas by Leon Augustin Lhermitte , late 19th/early 20th Century

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