Videos Offer Advice for Job Seekers

Programs produced by an IEEE member focus on the job search

5 August 2011

The job of finding a job can be frustrating. And job seekers often have no one with whom to discuss their predicament or share their feelings. To depict the struggles that job hunters go through, IEEE Member Matt Genovese has helped produce eight videos that cover subjects such as remaining upbeat even when no one responds to your résumé, dealing with possible age discrimination, and making a good first impression.


“My goal is to humanize the job search by helping people learn from and connect with each other and give them a sense of ‘it’s not just me,’” says Genovese, the founder of Door64, a networking community of high-tech professionals in Texas. “Many feel they’re in a rut and alone in their search.” Genovese is also CEO of JobCannon.com, a free site where users from anywhere can search for jobs, keep track of the positions they’ve applied for, and set reminders to follow up on the status of the job application.


COMMON THEMES

More than 60 Door64 members registered to be interviewed for the videos, which run from two minutes to more than four.


In “600 Resumes,” Elio talks about his struggles to remain upbeat after applying for hundreds of jobs. An experienced program manager, he was laid off two years ago. The former Marine has been applying for any opening that meets his skills. “There was nothing, no call-backs, no ‘thank you for applying,’” he says. “It seemed like my résumés went into a big black hole. It was surreal.”


Elio’s dream job is to be a program manager in a technical field where he can oversee the whole process from start to finish. Being a program manager for a global company is probably the most exciting job Elio can think of, he says: “It is pretty awesome to be able to launch a technology into the world and figure out how to present something that nobody has seen before.”


What keeps him going is meeting people at job fairs like the one Genovese organizes for Door64 members. “Those are the folks who have come back to me with job leads,” he says. During the past few months, those contacts have led to interviews for senior project and program management positions.


“It’s exciting now because I feel I’m applying to employers who will look at me and say, ‘Yes, we need somebody like you, who can manage this entire project from start to finish to launch.’ ”


STAYING YOUNG AT 40-PLUS

In “A Question of Age,” Gene S., who is in his 40s, says prospective employers are more concerned about his birth date than his skills. He says he sent out more than 700 résumés during his 18-month job search. When he finally does get an interview, he says he faces surprised looks, subtle questions about his stamina, and worse.


“As soon as I walk in, suddenly they aren’t looking to hire people,” he says. Interviewers have told him: “We put a lot of time in during the week on the job. Can you keep up?”


He eventually decided to return to school, and he graduated in May.


“I’m figuring that as a new kid out of college, I have the latest skills and know the latest technology,” he says. “The reason I went back to school was to get those skills to move myself up to the 21st century.”


Included in the video is an interview with Kathy Lansford, a training and employment counselor, who provides tips for fighting age discrimination. She advised job seekers to update their skills and get training on the latest software. Also, they should analyze each company they’re applying to, understand where its challenges are, and address how their background and experience can help the employer, she says. Most important, they should speak enthusiastically about what they can do for the company, and not talk about the past.


“Get over that—it’s not helpful,” Lansford cautions. “Lose phrases such as ‘Well, back in my day,’ or ‘When I first started in the workplace, we did this.’”


Instead, talk about the present and future, she says, adding that you should bring up the past only if it offers a solution that’s applicable to a problem the employer is experiencing today.


Lansford’s advice was featured in another video, “First Impressions,” in which she discussed the benefits of getting certifications and other ways to polish a job hunter’s image.


“I don’t think you necessarily have to go back to college,” she says. “The problem with four-year schools is that technology changes so fast. You can get a three-month certification in Java and Oracle and be marketable right away, whereas to get a four-year degree in computer science…maybe not so much.”


Lansford stresses that candidates should focus on their physical appearance as well. That includes making sure clothing is up to date and appropriate for the position. Accessories such as eyeglasses should be professional and modern.


“If you’re overweight, get fit. If you smoke, quit,” she suggests. “Get more fit looking so employers don’t look at you and think you’re an insurance risk. You have to have an attitude of energy. Anything other than that is just not helpful in the workplace.”


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