Tools to get your career started again

by David Spark on March 22, 2009

Still looking for a job? Business a tad slow? The “looking for jobs” trend became universally obvious as searches for “craigslist” surpassed “myspace” according to metrics firm, Hitwise. Yes, not all searches on Craigslist are for jobs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why the classified board pulled into the lead.

Understanding everyone needs a shot in the arm to get going again, I thought I’d put together a mix of tools and advice that will help you get your job search, business, or freelance career going again.

Job searches – If you just got laid off, chances are you’re obsessing and constantly scanning the job search sites. Make sure you’re always scanning Craigslist, Indeed, SimplyHired, and Once you do a relevant search for what you’re looking for, sign up for the email alerts or subscribe to the RSS feed based on that search.

Get your resume on the short list – We all know our chances of getting an interview are increased dramatically if we get an inside referral. That’s where most of us take advantage of LinkedIn to see if any of our friends or our friends’ friends work at the company that’s got the job opening you want. LinkedIn makes its messaging tool available to forward your request. I say ignore it. I’ve had so many LinkedIn messages get blocked by email spam, and not everyone checks their LinkedIn account or has their LinkedIn messages forward to their mail account.

Instead, just use LinkedIn for supplying the knowledge, and then contact your friend via phone or email and ask if they can make an introduction. In this economic climate, everyone is willing to help everyone out.

How to meet the RIGHT people – In person networking can be really difficult, especially if you’re an introvert. Ever walk into a business mixer where you don’t know anyone? That can be really scary. Don’t let it happen to you again. If you’re going to an event where you know you might not know anybody, don’t chance it. Call the organization up first and say you’re interested in joining the organization and you’re planning on coming to their event that night (even if you have no plans ever joining, say you’re interested). Ask them who will be at the event that you should talk to. They’ll be happy to let you know what group reps will be there.

Now when you go to the event you’ll be armed with a name or many names. And those people will probably know the most people at the event, and more importantly they’ll know the most valuable and connected people at the event. Let them know what you’re looking for and they’ll be happy to make the introduction. For more tips like this, read “Break Out of Your Shell,” an eWEEK article about networking for jobs that I wrote seven years ago which is sadly relevant again now.

Get your portfolio together, today – How often have you talked with a designer who said, “Uggh, I just have to get my portfolio together.” No more excuses, do it. Coroflot has a presentation space for all kinds of designers to upload and present their portfolios online. It’s also a job search site for designers as is Krop.

Do what you do best, hire others for the grunt work – Don’t fall into the trap of thinking only you can do all the work. If there’s a ton of grunt work you have to do like inputting names or searching for information, put a list of those tasks together and hire someone to do it for you using a service like oDesk, which is a remote workforce marketplace. This is the basic philosophy of Tim Ferriss’ “Four Hour Work Week.”

How to launch your freelance career smartly – When I first started freelancing I made tons of rookie mistakes, taking forever to figure out how to do business right. I was constantly trying to get paid what I was worth, learning how to write contracts, and deal with all the other business issues that I knew absolutely nothing about. If you’re a freelancer, or are starting a freelance career, you must put Freelance Switch on your business reading list. This site offers tons of great advice for all types of freelancers. And if you’re looking to get hired, try Get A Freelancer and read Dan Fost’s recent NY Times article about turning to freelancing during hard times.

Are my skills in demand? – Another freelance marketplace,, has put together a list of the most demanded skills for 2009. Take a look at the list and price yourself accordingly.

Take advantage of LinkedIn – Honestly, I don’t use LinkedIn to its full capability. Last year Guy Kawasaki wrote a great post about LinkedIn power tips. Looks like he’s updated it. He offers some great advice for anyone, even seasoned LinkedIn users.

This news item is for the Spark Minute week of 3/23/09 which can be heard daily on Green 960 and 910 KNEW in San Francisco, CA.

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