"Do or do not; there is no try"
   — Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

Tips, techniques and teachings on the job search from the facilitator of the Marketing Professionals Network.

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“And What Have You Been Doing Since You Left Your Last Job?”

Grrrrrr…there’s that old chestnut you get from clueless relatives and suspicious HR coordinators again. “Looking for a job, stupid” you’re tempted to reply. One of the silver linings of all the bad news about job losses from the ruins of the Bush economy is the fact that people will hopefully cut you a little slack now. But, hold on. If you can provide some concrete, constructive answers to this question to show how you have been developing your talent, learning new skills, and discovering new avenues and ventures, you have an opportunity to turn the question around and show just how good you are. Some of the things that MPNers have done in this regard include (1) going back to school to get another degree or certificate, for example, a course in HTML at Boston University or a certificate in Direct Marketing from the DMA; (2) immersing yourself in the literature/journals/blogs of your area of expertise and catching up on all those books, articles, studies, etc. that you always promised you’d read, but didn’t have the time; (3) writing an article or column for a trade publication, either printed or online; (4) publishing a blog, provided that you fulfill the four requirements of blog writing (see past post); (5) volunteering to help out an industry association — keeping in mind that whatever you do, you better do it well, because you will be judged by your peers, the very people who could help you find your next job — for example, writing their newsletter or recruiting speakers for panels and workshops or organizing a membership drive; (6) donating your time and skills to a non-profit, pro bono consulting group like Taproot which, provided it doesn’t take too much time for process/scheduling/project management requirements, can show potential employers that you can work in an advanced function or in a new media, for example, by writing the content for a website; (7) getting involved in a community project such as becoming a big brother for a young immigrant teen in a charter school or a big sister in a local school; pursuing a lifelong interest in a hobby, for instance, helping out at a local radio station devoted to jazz which in turn leads to a chance to try your hand at being a disc jokey; or (9) taking some time for a fast-disappearing experience in our culture, solitude, by going, as a couple of MPNers have done, to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires for three or four days to really do some long overdue soul searching. In short, there’s no end to the number of things you can do to prepare yourself not only for that obnoxious question…but for the next stage of your career.

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