Safe Harbor
By: Mike Morris


Not For Bill Gates
In this fast-changing world, Americans are either looking for a good safe job, or determined to stay anchored in one, unless, of course, they own a pot of money. If you're Bill Gates, you can skip the rest of this article, otherwise, you have to work at getting a job.

The Ax Falls
You're hard-working, able,and liked by your boss. Less talented workers were fired a few months ago when the job market was halfway decent, but you're on a long-term prestige project. It just got canceled and you're given three days notice. You enter the Twilight Zone. First you panic. You think about bills and creditors. You stare angrily at the wall, you surface guiltily at quitting time, and rush home, buying every newspaper and magazine you can think of. You circle agency adverts, obliterating the phone numbers, spend a fortune in phone calls and send your slightly out-of-date résumé to as many places as possible, making illegible notes in the margins of the jobs vacant section. Then you sit back with a sinking feeling and wait, and wait. This, of course is exaggeration, but I'm sure it applies, at least in part, to all of us. You just got lucky. You are reading this article. Another lucky break is that you and he have a whole 72 hours grace period. Take a breath, calm down, and plan. Think about what you can do, then do it, as soon as possible.

Monday - Hi Boss, Hi, Fellas
First, see your boss. Tell him you've enjoyed working with him (hopefully this is true). Ask him for a good reference. Chances are he's feeling a little guilty, if only because he has a job and you don't. Ask him if he knows of any openings elsewhere in the company, or if he can give you the names of team leaders for you to talk to. Look around the company website ­ almost every company has one nowadays. Ask your boss if you can start late tomorrow and make up the time. Then talk to your friends and colleagues. One of them may have received a hot call yesterday. Collect business cards. Talk to friends and colleagues from previous jobs.

Tuesday - How Desperate Am I?
Next, sit down and think about what you are prepared to do to secure a job. Are you prepared to take temp or contract work (some contract jobs are very well paid). Are you willing to travel/relocate? Will you consider a contract in Minnesota, Europe, Iraq, Mars? Will you take a cut in pay? Don't worry if the answer to all these questions is 'no'. These criteria may change and will have to be discussed with your family, but writing them down now will clear your mind. All this can be done in at most half-an-hour, in your lunchtime. Then, get back to your current job. You will feel better. You will be in control. You will not stare at the wall. You should always have your résumé as up-to-date as possible. Any new experience should be added. If you own a personal computer you can have a brand new résumé in minutes. If not, do whatever you must to get a well-written current document. Write down your contacts with phone and fax numbers, and email addresses, actions to be taken, follow up dates (very important), and comments. Do the same for potential job openings. Check the Internet. There are dozens of online job-search agencies. Pick a reputable one.

Wednesday - Not So Bad
After the first couple of days in the Twilight Zone you should have sorted out several possibilities. Now you can call as many numbers as possible, fax or mail as many résumé's as possible. Don't sell yourself short, If you have reasonable experience, and are willing to spend paid or unpaid time getting up to scratch, you are a better prospect than someone with nominally more knowledge, but less inclination to make an effort. You may want to tailor your resume to individual jobs.

In a short while
You will, over a period of days, send out what seems like an avalanche of résumés. You will, if you are organized, target them precisely at the best prospects. You may feel that you have done everything possible to attain your goal. You have the best résumé and the best attitude in the business. You may feel that you can relax. OK, take a day off, see if your kids recognize you in daylight, find out what's been happening in the neighborhood. When you get back to your list, check your follow-up dates. The best agencies have many job seekers. The best job-finders deal with dozens of applicants, and they can only juggle with a certain amount of talent. You need to remind them that there is one more expert ready to earn commission for them. You may be able to remind them of a usable skill that you possess. Don't harass them.

A New Day Dawns
If you have prepared yourself properly, you will get interviews. It is not within the scope of this article to discuss interview techniques, but there are two simple steps to take prior to a meeting. If you are working through an employment agency, ask your agent for as much detail as possible on the person(s) who will be talking to you, and on the company they work for. A good agent will give you tips on what to expect. Next, if you need to, study for a while. Now you are ready to go for a great job. You have done everything possible; you have reached the final hurdle. Give it your best shot. You will probably succeed. You will certainly succeed the next time or the time after that. After all, you're willing to work at it.

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