Monday, September 26, 2011

Passion is so in fashion

"Do what you love and the money will follow," said by someone(s) successful.

When you're unemployed, it's hard to figure out which way to turn. I found myself going in several directions...job apps, book writing, social media consulting. It's the "I'll throw everything against the wall to see what sticks" approach. I know from speaking with my fellow ex-employed that I'm not alone. One friend (I'll call him "D") was applying to jobs, created a plan for a new business and pitched local businesses to get consultant gigs. We'd commiserate about our collective exhaustion but figured there wasn't any other way.

How about instead of putting a lot of effort into many areas you focus on one: what you love.

I've been reading Gary Vaynerchuk's book "Crush It!" where he stresses focusing on what you're most passionate about. If you love what you're doing, it will come through...people will be turned on, word will spread, business will grow. If you love bread, create a blog, do some podcasts, become an authority and the result could be opening your own eshop or writing books or having your own internet show. However it results, you've made yourself the bread guru. (And it doesn't have to be could be robots, shoes, funemployment or wine (like Gary)).

Following your passion means being yourself, not what everyone wants you to be. I think this is something that I've struggled with. "D" struggled with it too. If you're considered successful in one vein and then it's ripped away from you, do you say what everyone wants to hear? Do you dare to embrace your passion if it wasn't what you were doing before layoff? People wanted to hear that my life was over after my layoff. Well, I wrote an entire book challenging that notion. Some people weren't happy about either development (writing and funemployment). D faced criticism when speaking about his business idea. Eventually, neither of us could be inauthentic about our experiences (believe me, it took some time to get there!)

If you're applying to jobs and getting frustrated, think about what you love to do. Figure out a way to share it with your unique personality. Try blogging, podcasting, vlogging. The worst that can happen is no one follows you. The best thing that can happen is that it takes off and you end up with a whole new career.

Dedicated readers: Get 15% off my eBook "FUNemployed: Finding the Upside in the Downturn" with coupon code GC49Y at Smashwords through 9/30.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interview? Or Interrogation?

I like to think of interviewing as dating. Employers can sometimes think of it like their opportunity to interrogate candidates.

Take a FUNemployee named Matt. He had two interviews recently. Going into it, he was prepared, calm and armed with questions. Too bad that he never got a chance to ask even one.

He was grilled by his interviewers who were trying to determine if he was a good fit for the job and the company. While he felt like he successfully answered their questions, he had little clarity about what his role would really be.

When you're FUNemployed, a company looks at Matt and thinks that he has no leverage. He'd be lucky to have a job, from their perspective. While this is true for many, there is something to be said for both parties liking one another. There's nothing worse than an employee starting a job and realizing it's nothing like what they expected. No one wins in that scenario.

Here's my tip of the day: if you have questions and don't have time to ask them, ask if you can follow up with the interviewer via email or your HR contact to ask your questions. Showing engagement and interest can work in your favor. Having all of the information can only help everyone in the end!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Evolving Back Into A 9-5 Worker

Like a kindergartner heading off to their first day of school, I was worried about my first day at work. I didn't have the Sunday Night Blues/dread that I used to have before I was laid off. It was more of a worry about adapting to a conventional schedule again. Essentially, I've been my own boss for 2 years. If I wanted to work from 12-10pm with a nap in there, no problems from the boss. If I wanted to mess around all day, no problems from the boss.

My new company is very structured. In the past, I haven't thrived in that kind of place. But I also took on too much work and too much control. I'm not the chief here which could be liberating. It could also be confining. I must remember that I don't want work to be my life anymore. I learned how to appreciate life again. Adapting to my new schedule and work environment will take some time. Especially a 7:30am start time. I will likely be tired for awhile. Having the ability to exercise regularly, eat dinner at a normal hour, meet up with friends and go out on dates will feel a lot more balanced. When I get that first paycheck, I have a strong suspicion it will all fade away!

Friday, September 9, 2011

"How Did You Get Your Job?"

Since I've got my job offer, the most frequent question that I've been asked (other than "What is it?") is "How did you get it?" I wish there was a secret.

Actually, I take that back. I got a job at a company that is established, yet only recently embraced digital marketing. Their mantra is to forge full steam ahead--quickly and decisively. That's why I have a job today.

When you're unemployed, you have little to no leverage. Companies can choose to take their time with you because they feel like you'll be around if there aren't any better options. Some companies won't even consider you if you're unemployed. I think it's important to have freelance gigs or something that you're working on to help defray this discrimination. Technically, I'm still in the interview process at several companies. They chose not to pull the trigger because they didn't feel any pressure.

Another warning sign: beware the "newly created job." I interviewed for three of those. No one has been hired for any of them. While the position may be needed, if there isn't someone doing that job now no bean counter in the world is going to allocate funds in this up and down economy.

My best tip is to keep your ears to the ground. Read industry trades. If an ad agency wins news business, keep your eyes peeled. (This is generally a sign of change within a company so it applies even if you're not in the ad biz). If a company has better than expected earnings, check out their careers page. If an industry is hot (anything tech & digital would qualify) learn who is leading the pack.

I got a lot of interviews from applying to online job postings. I think I could've been smarter earlier by doing what I wrote in the paragraph above and set up job alerts at target companies (I did this for the job I got).

Recruiters, meh. I got nothing from them, other than some inside scoop. It's worthwhile to talk to them, but if they were to get you a job, the company has to pay them. The company already has enough resumes. Don't rely on the middleman to get you a job. BUT they may give you some ideas about companies that may be hiring. You know what to do...Go get 'em tiger!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Last Stand

Today was my last day as a FUNemployee. I start full-time employment tomorrow and I feel tranquil. I don't feel dread or anxiety. I feel ready to get back to work.

In reviewing at my FUNemployment list for any last ditch items to complete this past week, I can't find any that I felt compelled to do. I wanted to go horseback riding, but the universe is blocking it. I've been trying to do this one since February and every time it gets cancelled. I made one last ditch attempt and it failed.

I wanted to ride the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica pier but that doesn't need to happen now. Ideally, I'd do that with a boyfriend. I could do it alone or with a friend but that just doesn't feel right.

I could've tried to take a last minute getaway, but travel requires energy and I was better served in resting and relaxing here. I've done a lot of activities, accomplished writing a book, learning how to write a press release and do publicity, went to the ESPYs, was an eBay seller, landed freelance projects, was an extra in a movie, lost 20 lbs, became a vegan, quit drinking and smoking for good, got my debt under control, went to a movie premiere, reset my priorities, went on some insane dates, learned to surf, visited Santa Barbara, saw some great concerts (some even for free), took up photography and learned to enjoy life again.

There's nothing more to accomplish.

My road to employment has arrived at its destination. I will continue to post about FUNemployment. Less so about my own experiences, but those of others and tips for how to survive that I learned along the way. I will keep all of the lessons that I've learned in my heart and my head as I move into emPLAYment!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Take Me To The Rivers

As I'm wrapping up my freedom/FUNemployment, I decided to take in one last TV show taping. What started with a Chelsea Lately taping a few days after my layoff should fittingly end with another E! show: Fashion Police.

I went earlier in the summer and met Joan Rivers and chatted with one of the writers of the show. It was an intimate experience and I definitely felt like I was part of the show, instead of a trained monkey forced to clap. Joan is hilarious so there is no question about genuinely laughing.

This time the set was more raucous and lively. There were 2 guests: Zanna from Marie Claire and Amber Rose (she dated Kanye). Joan went to town on the Jersey Shore cast at the MTV Video Awards. Melissa's son was in the audience. I sat next to an eyelash mogul and a Medieval History professor at UCLA. I chatted with Kelly Osbourne whose outfit I loved. The show should be really funny. We ran late because Joan was on quite a few rolls.

For the Amber Rose fans, she is gorgeous in person, has two people in her entourage, did not talk about Kanye and revealed that she has guidettes in her family since they are all based in Jersey/Philly.

Joan was lovely and I got to take another picture with her. She loved my necklace, I told her that I loved her on Louie. She gave me a little squeeze when I said that and then went back to the show.

I thought it was a fitting end to my FUNemployment. We've all got to get back to our shows and I'm happy to have the opportunity.