Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Graduated Learning’s Guide to Finding and Getting a Job December 21, 2008

Filed under: Careers,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:34 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I don’t claim to be an expert on any topic, but since I finally read the Brazen Careerist book (which I recommend reading) and I have a few friends looking for new jobs asking for advice, I decided to gather up a bit of my words of wisdom and share them here.

As many of you may know, I got laid off back at the end of April.  There was plenty to figure out about my situation, even without thinking about finding a new job.  I had to figure out what I was going to do for health insurance, apply for unemployment, roll over my 401(k), and figure out what happened to my FSA (you’re allowed to use up to the amount that you originally enrolled for, but only for expenses on or before your last day of employment…according to the person I spoke with at my old company’s payroll service).  Looking at the trends of search terms leading people to my blog, as well as the financial news, I know that a lot of people out there are in that situation right now.  So, if you have any questions about all the steps you should take post-layoff, let me know, either with a comment or an email at graduatedlearning@gmail.com.

Anyway, most of this advice will sound pretty similar to many other guides.  But I’ll let you know what helped and what didn’t in my search for a new job.

I started out by casting a pretty wide net. I posted my resume and did some searches on sites like monster.com.  But I also made sure my profiles were updated and informative on monster as well as on LinkedIn, and even made sure my Facebook profile looked good (I don’t have any weird things posted, I just went ahead and updated my work and interests…but those of you with scandal on their profiles pages, I recommend removing it!)

I wouldn’t stop with job posting sites, though.  I mostly got emails from insurance companies trying to hire me through monster.com.  Though a few messages did come through about jobs in my field.  And I did apply to a bunch of jobs on there.  But I think most of the time the science job postings were for biotech jobs.  Lifehacker actual had a post about the top job search engines.  But I have to say that it’s pretty tricky to actually get a job through those sites.

I think it’s key to spread the word that you’re looking for a job.  Of course, if you’re still employed but looking for a new job, you’ll want to be a bit more discreet about who you tell.  But making it known via Facebook status (Stephanie is…looking for a new job!) or LinkedIn’s “what are you working on” (Stephanie is looking for new and exciting opportunities) is a simple way to start.  I believe that there is no need to be ashamed of your unemployment status.  I’ll admit, I was a bit embarrassed that I had lost my job at first.  But I think that the more people that know of your plight, the better your chances are that someone might be able to help you with advice, referrals, or even job offers!  Of course, you also don’t want to seem too desperate, or look like you’re complaining.  Just be clever with your online messages, and equally clever with your person to person interactions!

I also encourage you to get back in touch with people.  Contact old bosses or supervisors from past jobs or internships, or perhaps others that have given you job offers or contacted you regarding a job in the past.  That’s actually how I came across my job.  Right after I started my last job after college, I got an email from someone who had seen my resume (presumably since I applied to the company in general, and they must have been looking to fill some positions).  I respectfully responded that I had already started a job, and that I would contact him if my job situation changed.  Well, you can bet I looked up that email and sent him a message to catch up!

I also took advantage of my alumni network.  Granted, MIT does a pretty good job of keeping track of their alums (possibly so they can beg you for donations when you hit it big), so I might have had an easier time looking up alums compared to people at other schools (as I have no idea how well your Alma Maters keep track of alumni).  Some schools have a list of alumni who are interested in helping other alums with their careers.  Or they at least encourage others to get in touch with them.  I looked on there for people interested in talking about careers that interested me as well.  I usually emailed them, introducing myself and asking if they’d like to meet with me or chat over email.

Recent graduates should also consider contacting past professors, TAs, or colleagues.  I wrote to a few of my old professors asking for advice, or if they had any ideas for good companies to work for in my field.  One professor responded by asking for my resume and sending it to a few people he knew at other companies.  So that definitely helps as well.

Overall, don’t expect a job to fall in your lap.  That being said, don’t be discouraged if you don’t initially get invited for an interview or offered a job.  This will take time.  As many career books and articles say, “looking for a job is a full-time job”.  And, either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your view of things), it’s really about networking.  Even if you’re shy and you don’t really know people, just talk to the people you already do know.  Go to a local social event.  Meet new people.  Even if they never help you with your job search, you’ve practiced talking to people!   Think of interviews for jobs you don’t get to be practice as well.

I still encourage you to apply directly to companies or organizations you’re interested in working for, even if you don’t know anyone at the company.  Just make sure you construct a very clear cover letter!

A few other thoughts:

Update and review your resume.  Send it to friends so they can read it from a different perspective (they’re more likely to see the typos or notice if something doesn’t make sense).  Also, if you haven’t read over your own resume, you might forget what is on there.  That actually happened at one of the first interviews I went to this time around.  They asked me about one of my past internships, and I completely blanked on the name of a piece of equipment I had experience using.  So know your resume!

I know this isn’t a full set of everything you need to know about getting a job.  There’s plenty more to think about: resume and cover letter writing, efficient job searching, interview techniques, etc.  But this is just to get your started.  I encourage you all to comment with your favorite job hunting/searching/getting tip.  And perhaps I might follow up some other time with more advice/thoughts/insight.

Happy searching!

 

My financial plan for after I get a new job June 26, 2008

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 11:44 am
Tags: , ,

Don’t get too excited, I don’t have a new job quite yet.  But as usual, I’m thinking about finances.  Right now, of course, I’m in the hoarding mode when it comes to money.  Granted, before I lost my job, I was pretty good at saving money, but I also was more willing to pay down student loan debt or splurge on a few new outfits.  I’m looking forward to having a new job for plenty of reasons.  For starters, I’ll have a more structured, productive day doing something in my field of expertise (hopefully), as opposed to days home, scouring the internet for openings.  Secondly, it will be nice to have a little more money coming in.  I actually am not doing too badly right now, as I received a month’s severance, I’m collecting unemployment, and my Federal and State tax refunds and the stimulus package all came soon after I was laid off.  So, shoving most of that into savings helps me feel a little bit, well, safer.  I am also really looking forward to paying extra towards my student loans.  I know, that sounds so weird, but I’m thinking as soon as I’m making money on a regular basis, I’ll be able to either take a little bit out of savings, or I’ll use extra income beyond my budget to throw at my student loans.  I may have mentioned previously (or just commented on random other blogs) about how having a larger savings account right now feels better than paying off student loans, even though I’m earning less on interest in savings than I’m accruing in interest on my student loans.  So I’m not doing the “smart” thing when it comes to dealing with debts.  But I swear, as soon as I’m back on my feet, I’m going to go back to chopping down my student loan debt.

I’m looking forward to being challenged again.  I’m also looking forward to hopefully having a company health plan again, and maybe a 401(k)!  Yep, I think those are still things I’m looking for.  But I think I have to look at a job offer for what the job is actually going to be, not just salary or other benefits.  Because I’m pretty sure I’d rather get paid a little less to do what I love than to be paid a lot to be unhappy all the time…

We’ll see.  I’ll be sure to post when I get a job.  Who knows when that will be…two days, two weeks, two months?  As long as it’s not two years, I’m okay!

What are your priorities when looking for a job (or comparing offers)?  Location?  Benefits package?  Opportunities for growth?  Actual job description?  I’m just curious to see how different people prioritize when it comes to employment opportunities.  Are you thinking about your future, or just your present condition when you accept an offer?

Points to ponder, let me know what you think!

 

Rolling over my 401(k), and other transitions May 16, 2008

Well, I got the official paperwork today telling me about all the options I have for the money in my former employer’s 401(k) plan.  They’ve given me plenty of options, some of which I think are not so good (i.e. taking the money out for myself), and the two that I’m mostly considering:  roll over to an IRA or roll over to a new 401(k) plan.  The problem with the latter option is that I don’t have a new job yet, and I don’t know if I’d even be able to roll over the 401(k) with them (it differs for different companies).  So it seems that my best bet is to open a Traditional IRA and roll my 401(k) into that.

I’m going to open up an IRA with the same company that I have my Roth IRA with, and presumably buy a life-cycle/age-based/target-date fund with a target date of 2050 or so.  My one concern is, even though these funds are supposedly diversified, I am thinking of investing in both IRAs in that fund…that’s not very diversified!  However, there are minimums for purchasing a fund in many cases, so perhaps I’d just let my money grow using those funds (and continuing to invest in my Roth IRA), and slowly build until I have more money to spend on different funds.

At any rate, I’m thinking it’s still my plan to roll over to an IRA.  I’m a bit ticked off that my old company’s 401(k) company is going to charge me a $40 processing fee, but hey, not much I can do.  They charge it for pretty much every option that I would do.

As for my other transitions (since I got laid off), I’ve filed for unemployment and been informed of how much I’ll be earning each week, and of course, looking for a new job.  And as I look at different job postings, I’m starting to understand what I do and don’t want to be doing.  This is a pretty helpful development, since I was so overwhelmed initially thinking of all the different career paths I could follow.

I’ll keep you updated!

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 82 other followers