How to curate your social media presence when job-hunting
Recently, I've been posting on job-related topics like networking strategies and job tenure. Because my current position entails working with college students, I've been asked on numerous occasions to talk to various undergraduate groups about getting into graduate school. In fact, I'm giving one such presentation next week.
Many of the things I cover in such presentations are also broadly applicable to any situation where you are competing against a number of other applicants for a position. This includes job-hunting. I've also taught entire units on job-hunting in upper division business writing courses at the university level. Much of the advice that I give is pretty standard:
Research the position and the company<
What does your job tenure say about you?
Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a "typical" career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For instance, are there certain features of someone's resume that might identify them as a baby boomer, Gen X, or millennial? Could that even pose an advantage or disadvantage for them?
Lifetime Careers and Pensions Have Gone the Way of the Dodo
People often fall prey to the "rosy retrospection" bias or fallacy, where they have a tendency to remember the past as being better than it actually was. So while your parents' or grandparents' generation would likely have said differently at the time, if you ask folks today about those past decades, they would tell you that it was a stable time when it wasn't too hard to stay with one employer for all or the majority of their careers and retire with a fat pension.
Whether or not that was actually people's lived experience, it is generally acknowledged that the retirement outlook for 20-somethings today is quite different. It is expected now that individuals will hold numerous jobs throughout their lifetimes. In fact, people may have not only different jobs, but different careers over the course of their working years.
Should cash be part of your emergency fund?
When I was in college, one of my co-workers at my part-time, on-campus job gave me a funny little gift that I use to this day. What was it? It's called a "wallet fairy." According to the note that came with my little talisman, you put it in your wallet and "you'll never be out of money when you need it."
I can't honestly say that the "magic" has been foolproof. I believe I've mentioned on a couple of occasions the time I didn't wash my hair for a month because I couldn't afford shampoo. And I distinctly remember crying after going to the grocery store on a couple of occasions because I didn't know how I was going to pay my bills after buying food. But I guess if the magic were foolproof, this fool wouldn't have learned her lesson and started digging her way out of debt, right?
Networking strategies can help you overcome the fear of trying to advance your career
I've written about the power of personal networks before. Unfortunately, lots of people find networking intimidating for a variety of reasons. Certainly, I used to! For me, breaking networking down into a system that I can follow helps me overcome nervousness and network effectively. Here are the two main networking strategies that I use.
Networking via "keeping it warm"
What it is: Keeping it warm is a pretty straightforward strategy. It means that you don't wait until you need something before getting in touch with your professional connections.<
Motivation and money
Especially for those of us like me who are in the midst of the long, hard slog of debt pay-down, staying motivated can be tough. How do you keep your excitement up and your determination high when financial independence is barely visible on the horizon? Here are some methods for staying the course when your goals will take months or years (heck, even decades) to achieve.
1. Keep Your Goal Visible.
This is one you tip with which you may be familiar. Let's say your goal is to move someplace tropical when you "retire" (sarcastic quote marks because there are so many definitions of retirement). However, even early retirement is years or decades away. How can you keep your goal at the forefront of your mind? Turns out there are plenty of ways!
You could make your computer's screen saver a picture of a hammock on the beach. You could pick a personalized design for your credit card that reminds you of what you really want when you're tempted to spend. I read a blog recently that suggested making passwords incorporating phrases that remind you of your goals, like RetireInBelize2045. Finding a way to make the far-off a part of your everyday life may help you keep your eyes on the prize.
Pick your hobbies strategically and save
For the most part, we think of hobbies as activities that we naturally gravitate toward. The idea of being strategic in our selection of hobbies may seem contradictory to their very nature! However, I think that being strategic in the selection and pursuit of hobbies isn't mutually exclusive with enjoying yourself. What's more, you have options in how to strategize.
The Hobby-as-Side-Gig Option
One obvious method of making your hobbies work for you is by getting others to pay you to do them! Maybe you enjoy making quilts but hate the outlay of money and Stuff. Plus, how many quilts do you (and the friends and family you make gifts for) really need? By selling what you make on sites like Ebay or Etsy, you can keep your house uncluttered and come out ahead financially.
This method may work best for hobbies that produce an end result that takes up space, especially if the process of making the item appeals to you as much or more than the item itself. You can always take a picture of the item you made before selling it. That way, you can look back and admire your handiwork without having to store and dust it.
Side gigs vs. day jobs
If you're in debt -- especially if you're in significant debt -- frugality will only get you so far. To really make a dent, you have to increase your income.
The option recommended most frequently on personal finance blogs I have read is freelancing or consulting on the side. Another option is a second job (usually hourly work of some kind).
However, side jobs aren't always the most effective way to increase your income. Freelance work is often sporadic and part-time/hourly work doesn't typically pay all that well. Time and mental energy are finite resources. Focusing too much on your side gig(s) may come at the cost of your career or interfere with your balance between time and money.
What IS financial responsibility?
"Be Responsible. Take responsibility for your actions." It sounds simple, right? But what responsibility means to me has changed over the course of my life.
In fact, there are so many definitions of responsibility that Wikipedia doesn't even have a definition listed on its main responsibility page! There are over fifteen types listed there with links to their respective pages (though to be fair, one is a song).
Since I have approximately $100,000 in student loan debt, I now find myself faced with the task of becoming financially responsible. But what does that mean? What type of responsibility do I face?
Student loan debt: How I got in deep
My mother was quadriplegic by the time I was in high school. My dad was a real estate agent who worked on commission, so he worked long hours to make ends meet. As a result, I took on a lot of responsibility at a young age.
I cooked and cleaned and did all the grocery shopping. I did the laundry and paid the bills (in the “balancing the checkbook and writing the checks” sense, not the earning money sense). I took my mother to the bathroom, fed her, and tracked her pill regimen. And most importantly, I believed that a college education was a good value.
I knew my parents couldn't afford to send me to college, and I wasn't allowed to have a job because of my responsibilities at home. So in lieu of saving for college, I threw myself into everything school had to offer.
Household budgets: When one partner won’t budget
In my last article at Get Rich Slowly, I gave the background on my income and expenses. My husband's income and expenses are a little more difficult to compile. For one, Jake left the life of a steady paycheck about a year ago in order to start his own business. This means that his income fluctuates, which of course we knew going in. It also means that the first few years he's going to make much less than we hope he will eventually. We also knew that going in.
However, another major factor is that Jake's idea of household budgeting is "make so much money it doesn't matter what you spend because you can afford it all." When he started working at The Big Firm right out of law school and was making $90,000 a year, this was something that was more or less possible, especially since he was working 80+ hours a week and didn't accumulate vacation or sick time. He didn't have time for anything really spend-y. However, even though he's now living the entrepreneur's life, he's resistant to budgeting. Earlier this week I sent him J.D.'s article about how to budget for an irregular income, and his response was: