Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hat In Hand 

The job hunt today took a bit of a downturn today. I had a great interview last week, and this was after the last three or four interviews I did that were atrocious. So I was very disappointed to get the call with the Politically Correct rejection: "You weren't the right fit for the position."


To make up for it, I sent out a bunch of resumes. Okay, so doing that made me feel a little better. Sending out resumes to job postings on Monster is fine, but all the job search know-it-alls hit me with the same mantra: network, network, network.

Yeah great, network... Ugh.

I hate even giving the impression of begging. It's obvious where I get that attitude; my extended family gets into these obnoxious arguments about who is going to pay for something:

"I'll pay for it."
"No, I'll pay for it."
"No, I want to pay for it."

And I'm sitting there thinking "Well somebody pay for it."

That's the mentality I grew up with. Whenever I need to request something, I feel like a beggar in a Dickens novel, going hat in hand to passersby in order to get a few coins. Even if social networking is mostly just gathering information from people, I still feel like I'm wasting the other person's time and I have nothing to offer in return.

It feels like one "job" I had for about a week during a college summer. I was back from UCSB, at home in Fresno. I wanted to at least earn a little money to justify my existence. Since this was effectively pre-internet days for me (1997), my resource to find pay was the Fresno Bee classified ads.

I can't speak about newspapers in other cities, but at the time there were few things that would depress me more than looking for the work in the Bee classified. It seemed three-quarters of the listings were either 1.) Welders, 2.) Truck drivers, 3.)Restaurant jobs. There was that one position that was in the Bee for years: "Laborer, Daily Pay. Show up at Clinton and Highway 99, 6am, ready to work."

Okay, I guess I didn't want to earn money that badly.

But I digress; this is about one particular job: selling knives and kitchen products. I had been to plenty of those sales deals. You see the ad in the paper that says you can earn a good salary, show up at a certain time to learn more. You show up and the do their dog-and-pony show, describing the product you're going to sell to unsuspecting lucky customers.

I knew what was coming, and I decided to stick it out to see what the product was. It turned out to be Cutco knives. Shockingly, I was actually impressed by the product; I would still buy the knives and I would recommend them to anybody. This was enough to get me to stick out the training sessions and get my assignment. The business model was to make presentation of the product to close friends and relatives. They were supposed to buy the products, and then list the names of their friends which I was supposed to then subsequently make my pitch.

Perfectly fine in theory, but certainly not in practice for me. Not only am I supposed to eat up Aunt So-and-so's time with my presentation, but then she was going to inflict upon their friends a similar fate?

I set up a couple appointments, but couldn't go through with them. I was done.

So here I am, eight years later, looking yet again for a paycheck, and having to feel like I'm going to waste peoples' time. This time, however, I'm going to follow through. After all, everything I read says that 80-90% of jobs are found through networking. Plus someone in my family needs to learn the proper way to seek help from others.

And if anyone wants to know why a knife with a full tang is a superior product, just ask me.

Networking may feel like begging but it isn't. or at least, it isn't when you do it right.

I know a lot of people, some in my field, and many just outside of it. But I make a point of at least once a month, calling them up on the phone, having lunch or something, just to keep the contact going. Right now, I use it beg extra lenses off of friends, but it did help me go on several interviews when I was preparing to switch jobs a year ago.

The key is really just keeping in touch, with your direct contacts and with those you might know or of met. Just a call saying, "hey, I'm working on this, do you have any suggestions" goes a long way in the long run. And a few years later, you can use them as a reference when you apply for a new position.
oh, yeah, why is a knife with a full tang a superior product?

Where these made out of high speed steel, solid carbide or stainless? Can I get a titanium oxide coating? How about diamond on the edges for extra sharpness (but highly brittle!)

It's amazing that 1/4 of my week is spent with tooling manufacturers.... but hey, that's networking too!
I know what you mean about networking. I always feel incredibly awkward doing it. Oddly enough, I've never found a job that way. My last three positions have come from newspaper ads. (hey, somebody has to be in that percentage, no?)

Job hunting sucks, all the way around. I hope you get something soon.

Cutco rocks. I love, love, love their stuff. Way too rich for me right now, but I have a dream of owning some someday. My mother has had her set for about 35 years, and they're still fantastic.
Agreed, Cutco is awesome. I never understood why they chose to have salespeople hock their product versus selling in stores. Of course, I'm sure a big part of their sales now likely come from their website. I think if I ever get married, I would register with Cutco.

As for the whole networking think, logically I know what needs to be done. Emotionally I'm a bit behind the curve. Therefore I get past the discomfort by bitching about it. Blogging can be quite theraputic!
Oh yeah, I forgot. A full tang means the metal part of the blade extends all the way through the handle. This makes the blade much less likely to break.

You'll notice most knives only have partial tangs; the metal only extends partway into the handle to secure the knife. Cutco knives naturally have full tangs.
Try to call a few people in the company that you want to get a job from. I heard that this is an idea that just might work. The people that I took the ETS classes from when I was in the army suggested that tactic. You could give a false name if you wanted, you don't have to actually see anyone, and if they do not have anything, you could ask them if they know of any places out there that might be hiring... Who knows, that might just be the way to go.

OR, you could get an emergency teaching credential from the state, and attempt to get a job teaching biology in a Title I school that is currently doing poorly and has exhausted teachers leaving it like rats from a burning ship. There is probably at least one public school in the Oakland area that fits this description...You should always consider that option. I know that you care about children...

But anyway, do not freak out too much, and remember, as of the 3rd of June, I will be looking for a job too. We might be able to commiserate together.
Yo, This blog is pretty neat. You should check out mine sometime. It pretty much covers free classified ads uk related stuff.
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