Networking

Tea Pairing with Job Hunting

The idea for this entry was suggested by my mother, as great ideas often are. It never occurred to me to pair tea with job hunting until she posed the idea after reading my tea-fueled rant. This reflection has – in no way – any science to back it up, just anecdotal “evidence”. Trial and error, hypotheses, and conjectures also played a key role in the missive. Oh, and oolong. Lots and lots of oolong.

Let’s begin.

Getting Started

As an unemployed person, one of the most difficult tasks is literally getting out of bed. Let’s face it, joblessness is depressing. Why does someone want to get started when it feels like their world is ending? The key is a self-fueled kick in the pants.

I’ve personally found that having a morning routine helps to motivate one away from the comfort of a ‘lectric blanky. Getting your day going as if you already have a job puts you in the right frame of mind to look for one. Shaving helps, too (for either gender). And for the love of God, put pants on!

Possible Tea Pairing:

Caffeine is required – lots of it. You need something that’ll give you an extra oomph! My personal recommendation is Assam. Better yet? Assam with some Lapsang Souchong sprinkled in. Nothing says, “Wake the f**k up!” like a caffeinated kick o’ campfire.

Writing a Resume and Cover Letter

If you – fair reader – are anything like me, you hate writing about yourself in a clinical manner. The urge to self-deprecate is a strong one. Same with wanting to sell yourself short. Some have a magical grasp of inflating their accomplishments; I am not one of them. Plus, I’m not very good at summarizing my abilities and accolades (whatever they are) concisely.

The importance is to consult others that have some expertise in these areas – people who’ve either submitted several times, or have a surefire approach. I’ve learned that submitting a resume or cover letter blindly, without having someone looking it over, is like turning in an obituary.

However, you don’t want to be too wired while you’re doing it. I’ve found that these two exercises require a lot of patience, or rather “calm wakefulness”.

Possible Tea Pairing:

I’m taking a page right out of Lindsey Goodwin’s recommendations by saying the best tea for writing is oolong. Sure, it’s caffeinated. And – depending on the sourcing – it can be strong. Yet I feel it truly gives someone a time-released dose of wake-up-call. Enough to instill a sense of focus. I turn to a good oolong – gongfu-ishly-styled – when I’m in the middle of a writing project. And believe me…resumes are a project.

Pounding the Pavement

As much as I hate to admit it, networking is the lifeblood of the job search. Talking to people, keeping your ears open, going from shop-to-shop, doing informational interviews, and putting yourself out there are mandatory. Ever hear that phrase, “It’s who you know…”

I’ll be damned if it ain’t correct.

Possible Tea Pairing:

Anything aged. In my experienced, teas – whether they’re oolongs, pu-erhs, black teas, or whites – that have at least five years on ‘em are eerily soothing. Sometimes they might actually taste as old as they are, but one thing can’t be denied. They make your brain feel like it’s sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons. Even when you’re doing something as socially uncomfortable as talking to people.

Just resist the urge to yell, “Get off my lawn!”

Interview Hell

Congrats! You’ve made it to an actual interview. Someone has taken the time out of their busy schedule to interrogate you for thirty minutes to an hour. But you don’t want to come across as a complete tool. (Unless they’re looking for someone useful.)

There are tips and guides aplenty on how to prepare for an interview. I’ve personally found that dressing to the nines doesn’t hurt your prospects. Where I’ve tended to fail, though, is in the verbal delivery. You don’t want to talk too fast or sound too deliberate. That and you want to have answers to questions prepared – in your mind, anyway. (Note: Do not bring cue cards.)

Some unorthodox methods for confidence and relaxation I’ve heard are: (1) Doing push-ups before an interview. Sound – if odd – advice from my brother. (2) Giving yourself an affirmation speech in the mirror. I do this. (3) Talking to someone before you leave for the interview. I’ve found that parents help. (4) Having a theme song. Okay, I made that last one up. Still, that’d be pretty sweet.

Possible Tea Pairng:

Gotta go green or white here. I made the mistake of having a pint of Earl Grey before an interview. At a tearoom, no less. The result? I was a motormouth, talking a mile a minute. My posture was equally off-putting – hunched over, feet tamping nervously. In other words, the less caffeine, the better. If you want to split the difference – a heartily brewed Bai Mu Dan should do the trick.

Rinse and Repeat

Your day is done. You’ve talked to people, made the rounds, applied for new jobs, and now all you want to do is relax. A cup o’ something herbal will work wonders. Pat yourself on the back…because guess what?

You get to do the whole thing again tomorrow.

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank my mother for this idea. Do me a favor and like her career advice page on Facebook – Careers/College Not By Chance – HERE. She is an invaluable resource.

Much obliged.

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Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 Steep Stories No Comments

Doing the Job Hunt Jig

In case it hasn’t been obvious – from my increased output on this here site – I am going on Month #2 of unemployment. The joy of that? Plenty of time to write. The bad? Plenty of time to wallow in self-pity. But between the navel-gazing and Neanderthalic attempts at prose, I have made progress on the job front. As in, I have some opinions about the entire process.

This is going to be more of a reflection than a rant – going over what I’ve learned and/or observed in the last few weeks of hunting gainful employment.

#1: Everyone’s a Critic

The moment I informed the social media masses of my loss of job, the outpouring sentiment has been…mixed. I think some of that has to do with the fact that this was becoming a pattern. Replies ranged from the standard “I-have-a-sad”-s to the oft-shouted “Grow-the-f**k-up”-s. Both ends of the gamut have their validity. And between the outcries of sentiment and shame came the advice.

For the most part, the words of wisdom imparted by friends and family alike have been quite helpful. However, every once in awhile, I get something asinine. Someone feels like they have something gem-worthy, but it turns out more like…um…

“Why don’t you work at Taco Bell?”

Or…

“Sign of the times, man. Gotta pay your dues.”

Or some combination of the two.

These people need to be “duly” launched out of a taco-shaped cannon.

The rest? I thank you for thinking of me.

#2: Networking Is Hard

A common bit of advice I get when on the job hunt is to learn how to network. As in, solidify social and professional contacts that may have tips towards potential jobs. Problem is? No one has any solid advice on how to actually do it. To someone prone to social awkwardness, this is nerve-wracking.

I suppose the first step is to – guh! – talk to people, but it’s like pulling teeth…with a monofilament whip…attached to a crane…affixed to an AT-AT. A couple of years ago, I even attempted to attend regular job groups to solidify contacts. It was like going to an AA meeting – never again.

#3: Thinking Positive Works…Or Else

I used to be a big believer in the Law of Attraction (read: The Secret -type bullshit), but I since grew out of that phase. There is no way you can “will” a unicorn into existence just by thinking positively about the outcome of one. No actual science supports the claim to “happy vibrations” pulling and pushing the Universe at someone’s whim.

That said, there is something to thinking positively so as to welcome positive outcomes. Case in point (albeit completely anecdotal): For the better part of three weeks, I made it a point to be as upbeat as possible. Result? Increased traffic to my two blogs, and good times all around.

Problem is, when you’re a chemical depressive, that doesn’t necessarily last long. The pendulum will eventually sway in the other direction. And it always seems to happen when I’m idle enough to dwell on a certain topic. That being, how much I suck as a human being.

I start to ponder on my encroaching debt, mounting bills, bill collectors wanting to mount me, un-returned job prospect e-mails, etcetera ad nauseum. The moment those thoughts took reign of my brain, lo and behold my world became a tiny territorial bubble of shite.

My car almost broke down, my computer did break down (culprit: cat hair), debt collectors threatened me, and friends/family were mad at me. Luckily this only lasted for a weekend, but it certainly scared me into “happy-fun-times” submission. Lesson learned: Don’t worry, be happy, or Fate will teabag you!

#4: There Are Some Jobs I Simply Won’t Do

I’m not going to say what job this was from, but one time I had to help an old man. A poor 90-year-old gent who missed the toilet. For three hours I had to keep him company in a stinky bathroom while he attempt to clean himself – occasionally replenishing his supply of towels, cleaning solution, and sheets. Eventually, he was free and clear.

And after that, I thought to myself, No job could ever phase me again.

That was until I worked in an in-bound call center for only a day. I would sooner work fast food again. Apparently, I have some pride left. Just a smidge, though.

#5: “…With a Little Help from My Friends”

The last thing I’ve been able to reflect upon is how grateful I am to the disparate circle of people that still talk to be – both friends and family alike – during this ordeal. I will admit to being woefully imperfect, prone to horrible decision-making, and probably a downright barely mediocre employee. Yet some still see a bit of potential there. To those, I am beyond touched.

I’m not the easiest to deal with, but I am easily prone to loyalty. I mean, after all…

It is the sign of the times, and I must pay my dues.

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Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 Musings No Comments

I work for tea money.

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