Category Archives: Looking for work

Random documents, courtesy of the Government of Canada

This  is the kind of stuff good librarians know that the average joe doesn’t. If you need some research done by a professional, I recommend Kirsten, author of


Random documents, courtesy of the Government of Canada.


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Laid Off? 10 Tips For Suddenly Unemployed Journalists – Recovering Journalist

This is a good article — I’ve said most of these things at one time or another myself, and am patting myself on the back for my smarts — but the really interesting thing about this are the comments, especially the last one, from a journalist who was near retirement age when she was laid off. She became a security guard to supplement her severance/unemployment/pension and says it woke her up to what she should be doing, and all in all the lesson she learned is “you are not what you do.” That was a good one.


Laid Off? 10 Tips For Suddenly Unemployed Journalists – Recovering Journalist.

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Wondermark » Archive » #862; In which Jeremy has Standards

Wondermark » Archive » #862; In which Jeremy has Standards.

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The job seeker is a lonely hunter

Jobs are tricksy bastards —  hard-to-get at the best of times and seemingly even more adept at melding into the wallpaper the more desperate you are to find them.

I mean, think of the contradictory truisms that accompany talk of a job search: it’s easier to find a job if you already have one — but the job search should be your full-time job. I guess the takeaway from that is if you’re going to be laid off, use the time while you’re still employed to find a new job, while doing just enough work to ensure you still get a good reference.

And it all becomes even more true whe you start looking for a job outside your geographic area. Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk’s advice for the long-distance job search is: don’t do it. Or at least, only do it if you’ve got something really special to offer and a support network on the ground.

That said, a layoff is a good time to relocate, if that’s what you’ve been wanting to do, especially if you have a severance package to cover some of your inevitable startup costs. But if you’re like me, you won’t want to move and then start looking for work; you won’t commit to the move until an employer has committed to you. I’m not saying that’s the best way to go — if I’d had less of a security fetish I’d probably be somewhere in Montreal right now, living the boho, louche life of a francophone intellectual. Woulda coulda shoulda…

Site for a Montreal French conversation meet-up group called Le Bistrot.

The long-distance job search is a tough slog but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In the end, it’s not all that different, in its essentials, from the at-home search. You identify your preferred geographical location (in a perfect world), research the current job market, identify potential employers there, do your homework on the companies, find a contact and introduce yourself to them, via letter or email. And then follow up with a call.

Ideally, you’d have contacts in the place where you want to go, so tap your networks, because you never know — someone might know someone there. And again, ideally, you’d move somewhere that you already had contacts, that makes life in general, and not just the job search, a lot easier.

In a perfect world, a prospective employer will be blown away by your CV and cover letter, will want you on the spot and will pay for you to come out in order to give you the hard sell on the job. That’s unlikely to happen, just so’s you know. More likely, you’ll have to decide when to make the trip to your chosen city and pay for it yourself. One way to go about it is to send out your cold-call letters, follow up with a phone call and say you’re planning to be in town on such-and-such a date, could you come by for a chat? It shows a willingness on your part to make the move. And face-to-face is the best way to sell yourself.

Going on your own dime has its benefits too — you get an opportunity to explore the city your way, to see if it’s a place that you could live in or if maybe it’s best admired from a distance, or as a tourist. Some great tourist towns are less attractive to the locals.

As always, research, research, research, know what you want and then go get it.


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Should I stay or should I go now?

Do you like to move it, move it? I’m not a fan. My parents were near-radicals in their place and time in that they moved an hour’s drive away from their parents, but they stayed in the house where I grew up for 30 years, moving only after retirement. I haven’t managed that record, but it’s taken a major event — job change, layoff, job change, buying a house — to get me out of my comfort zone any time since.

I’m from what we Canadians call a “have-not” province, and because of that I’m more familiar than some (immigrants and emigrants not included) with the idea of leaving your home and family and everything you know in order to chase a dream — or at the very least a decent paychque — elsewhere. At one point in the recent past, my four brothers and I were spread from one end of the country to the other, and into the U.S. I used to feel bad for my parents — you’d think with five children they should have been able to guarantee at least one would be home for Christmas, but that wasn’t always the case.

So I have a little experience with moving away, and I’ll say honestly it has its pros and cons. The overwhelming pro is job opportunity. As a journalist, I had essentially four options for GOOD jobs in my home province. One of them laid me off, and I couldn’t get a look-in at the other three (because it has never been a good time to be a journalist since I entered the profession.) After the GOOD jobs, there were other places that hired journalists, to be sure, but none of them paid enough to live on and so weren’t an option for me. Once I was laid off, it was pretty much a given that I would have to move. So I did. But I’ll tell you right now that if I could find a job paying what my jobs in this province have paid, I’d move back in a minute to be with friends and family there. And I refuse to move farther away.  I’m no longer as homesick as I once was, but I miss the ocean and my favourite people on earth.

So increased job opportunities, money … personal growth is also a big one. If you never see anything but what you know, if the world-view you grew up with is constantly reinforced because your world never really changes, it doesn’t make you a bad person but it stunts you a little bit. Leaving your comfort zone exposes you to new people and experiences that may not change your life in any great way, but they all have a subtle impact.

The cons can be equally persuasive. I remember listening to one co-worker years ago question why all the recently unemployed fish-industry workers in Newfoundland didn’t just move to the then- and again-booming oilfields in Alberta instead of collecting pogey at home. It seemed perfectly obvious to him — he’d left his home province to go to school and was looking at his professional moves afterward as career-builders, no big deal. Reasons for not leaving, on the other hand, seemed perfectly obvious to me: in Newfoundland they may have owned their own homes, or had places to stay with friends and family; they had social safety nets; they had any number of things that could not be easily duplicated in a new place, certainly not without incurring a lot of start-up costs for which they might not have the funds. So there are two cons: leaving behind your people, your place and the environment you know how to operate in, and the money it takes to get started. Another con, depending on the field you’re in, is not having contacts to find work. That’s less important if you’ve got a ticket in skilled trade, the ticket is  your entree. You have to work harder to find work if you don’t have that kind of professional lubricant. If you have a job nailed down before you move, that’s a different kind of calculation.

I don’t know, I have had two careers and I chose both for their portability — I never intended to stay where I was. But moving because you HAVE to, and not because you WANT to, can be its own kind of hell.

I don’t have any answers. Sometimes you just have to do it — pick up sticks and move, make that leap of faith and/or desperation, hope for the best. Millions of people do it every day. Sometimes sticking to what you know is the best thing for you, sometimes it’s the worst. If you’re in a depressed job market, the choice can sometimes be between remaining unemployed, or underemployed, at home or finding professional success away. It’s essentially a deeply personal question of what you can bear.

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Playing 20 (or so) questions

Nobody tells you this, but there’s a quiz.

The questions ebb and flow depending on the circumstances of your layoff, and there’s no one with a master answer sheet saying whether you got it right or wrong. But the way you answer the questions will have a direct impact on your job search.

Here are some starter questions:

1. Did I like what I was doing?

2. Do I want to find a job in the same field?

3. Are there jobs locally in this field?

4. Do I have the qualifications for jobs in this field?

5. Do I have contacts to help me find jobs locally in this field?

Depending on the answers to this question, some of the next questions would be:

6. Are there good jobs in my field somewhere else?

7. Do I want to move?

8. Can I move if I have to?

9. Do I have the contacts/skills to find a job somewhere else?

10. Does it make sense to take a lesser job and stay because my spouse has a good job?

Seriously, this question of moving/not moving is an important one, especially if your spouse is employed, your children are in a good school program, or you own a house in a slow housing market. And even if you’re single and don’t own your home, leaving behind your social safety net — family, good friends, places you’re familiar with — can be traumatic and empowering in equal measure, depending on where and why and how you go. If you were holding on to a bad job because you were afraid to step outside your geographic or social comfort zone, you could be pleasantly surprised if you land in a friendly spot with good money and the opportunity for new experiences. Or you could be homesick and never really fit in, I’m not going to lie. I’ve done both and you never know what you’ve got until you get there.

If you decide you can move, and you start applying for jobs outside your area, here are some other questions:

11. Where would I go? (This website can give you an idea of what kind of jobs would be available in other parts of Canada, and here’s one for Ontario).

12. Do I want to look from here, or can I move there and look on-site?

13. Do I need to upgrade my skills before I start looking elsewhere?

14. Is there some place I’ve always wanted to live and are there jobs available there in my field?

15. Do I know anyone there?

There are some other questions the homeowner has to answer:

16. If I sold my house, would I lose money?

17. Is my house ready to sell? (Does it need paint/repairs?) — A married couple I used to work with bought paint almost immediately after hearing about our layoff, on the assumption they’d have to move. And it’s a good thing — they did move out of the province and were able to sell their house fairly quickly for a good price.

18. Do I know a realtor?

19. Am I prepared to pack and leave?

20. Can I afford to pay my mortgage and keep the house going if I stay here and take a pay cut?

You will not be graded on this quiz, but it will be counted against your final mark…

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Q&A: How do interviews work in a long-distance job search? : Job Hunt Resources

Q&A: How do interviews work in a long-distance job search? : Job Hunt Resources.

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