The Mackay Daily Planner For The Unemployed

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So many people looking for jobs think something mystical will occur. The gods will either smile down upon them or not, and there really isn’t much we can do but wait for the phone to ring. They act like Melvin, who went to church every day for years and would kneel down and pray, “Please, God, let me win the lottery.” Same prayer, every day. He never asked for anything else. Suddenly, one day, as he knelt praying, there was a clap of thunder, a bolt of lightning, and Melvin leaped up and yelled, “god, God, is that you?” A voice came back, “Yes, Melvin. It’s me.” “Oh, thank you, God,” says Melvin, “I knew you would hear my prayers. I knew you were going to let me win the Powerball Lottery.” “Melvin, Melvin, do me a favor… Meet me halfway. Buy a ticket.”

Moral: You have to make things happen. You can’t just wait around all day and pray you’re going to get a job. A friend of mine, a New England recruiter, likes to ask this question, “Well, what did you do today?” She tells me she eliminates more prospects on the basis of their answer to this question than any other in her arsenal. Think of the ways you can answer. For example, there’s: “After I dragged myself out of the sack, I flipped on TiVo for the latest does of 30 Rock and CSI: Miami. I think Tina Fey has the best deadpan look in videoland, and I intend to use it when the employment manager says something thick at my next interview. Hey, and who can beat David Caruso for cool wearing a pair of shades? Sunglasses of justice! Wait till I use that super-dude pose when I stride into an office reception area. “then, I shuffled into the kitchen and wolfed down a couple of MoonPies. No calls on the answering machine. Boy, that’s a bummer.

I wonder if I have it turned on right. So I caught up on my research. The bush telegraph on the Gigwise site dished up one outrageous take on Amy Winehouse. Really a hoot. “I like to keep active, so I grouted some tile in the bathroom. After that I debated whether I should get my hair cut today or wait until the unemployment check comes on Thursday. Tinkered with my resume. A couple of more rewrites and it should be a winner. I think I saved the last draft right, or did I? My friend Waldo had a couple of swell licks in his curriculum vitae, so I pasted the same paragraphs into mine…just for style, of course. “My iPhone is so cool, and you’re going to freak out when you see the picture I took with it of my big toe painted up to look like Dumbledore. I just posted it on YouTube. Then I called around for an hour or so until I was able to bum a ride over to your place. Well, here I am.” Or, you could answer Ms. Nantucket this way: “Pretty routine day, I guess.

Between seven and nine o’clock I jogged, showered, read the Financial Times, and tracked the key business links on the Drudge Report aggregation, scrolled through Monster.com for the embedded software engineering openings, and added dome possibles to my list of prospects for my e-mail roster today. Between nine and eleven, I worked on my database and met my quota of making five renewed contacts a day. Between calls, I knocked off a couple of follow-up and thank-you e-mails on my notebook. “By then, it was getting near lunchtime, so I threw some yogurt into a brown bag, met Angie and Paul for a stroll through the park. We’re all on the job market.

The three of us role-play interview questions for forty-five minutes two days a week. Then it was back to the laptop for IT-programming trade journals and a great lecture on TED by the oceanographer Sylvia Earle. Next I took a read on Malcolm Gladwell’s latest piece in the New Yorker. I also reviewed the prospect company’s latest earnings release-stellar!-and was impressed as well with their new computer literacy initiative in Central America. And, Ms. Interviewer, her I am.” We al know which answer you’d never give and the one you’d like to. The question is, “Which way do you really spend your time?” And which lifestyle has the best chance of getting you back to work?

Mackay’s Moral: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”-Anne Dillard

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