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Wow! That sounds too good to be true – because it IS too good to be true. There are so many traps like that out there that sometimes you get sucked into one because you just can’t resist finding out a little bit more.

The first time I came across an ad like that on one of the job boards I was using, I talked to my husband about it. He shut me down fast. I had the bright idea of Googling the offer to see what I could find that way. I found people who said it was true and people who said it was a scam. Not useful. So I tried BBB Online. Some of the offers do come up on BBB but not all. Well, if they don’t have a BBB listing, they are certainly off my list. But the fact is, the BBB listing only guarantees it’s a business that’s listed with the BBB, nothing else about whether their get rich from home scheme works. I have gone with my instinct that says it just can’t be true.

How about freelance work? I’m guessing that could work out on some things. I tried a writing gig. I’m not a bad writer and I do particularly well when I have a specific topic. However, after I accepted the assignment, I found I would have to find information myself. I was assigned the topic but I had to research and write. I think I made about .25/hr on that one. I tried another project where I didn’t have to do anything but write, but it was pretty time intensive. Apparently, $5.00 for 600-800 words is considered good pay for a freelancer. Maybe I’m not the freelancer type. I didn’t manage in either case to slack off on my own work standards. As a result, I didn’t churn through the material quickly enough, making it a bad proposition for me.

Then there’s the responses you get from seemingly legitimate job board ads. There’s a “business opportunity” that my resume seems perfect for, just click on this link for more information. (Hey, you, my non-audience, you do know better than to click on links in emails, right? Even if it seems to be from a friend, if said friend doesn’t explain in the email why they sent the link, don’t click on it.) I’ve got my resume posted on at least a dozen job boards. I’ve been to various company sites. I’m certainly out there for people to find with their offers. My favorite was for an accounts receivable position. The ad was very basic, but the ad itself didn’t raise any flags. I applied for the job. I got an email immediately accepting me for the position. ??? No interview, not even a phone call, and I’ve got the job? Boy, the fish smell got strong. The company is a car parts company and require pre-payment from their customers for shipping out of country. They will be opening an office in Memphis soon. Meanwhile, the customers will pre-pay for their parts, writing checks to me which I will cash, hold 10% for my salary, then send the rest to their consultants. The scariest thing is, there are people who probably do this.

Here’s another good one that I see a lot: Data Entry Positions – Work from Home – Earn up to $450 a Day! On the particular one I looked at just now, you “click here to start” which brings you to a blog. There’s a picture of a pretty lady with her little girl in her lap. She tells her story of dead end job, how she found this data entry job, and started working it a few hours a week. Her results were so amazing, she worked more hours, kept making more money and quit the original job. Now she’s making more money than her husband and they’ve paid off 80% of their debt. I scrolled through some enthusiastic comments, praising the work and earnings, and got to the Ferengi (that’s fine for the non-Star Trek fans among you) print at the bottom. It plainly says that the woman is fictional although representative of some users actual results. It says that this site gets money for every click. It warns the buyer to beware because each company is different and potentially has different policies. It warns that the trial period may be free but there may be charges incurred in the future. My question regarding ads like this has always been – if it’s so easy to make this much money at home, why are we in a depression?

There’s another class of ads that I think of as “come on” ads. Again, they appear to be ads for real jobs. You apply for them. To apply you may have to go through pages of ads declining various services (information on going back to school is one of the hottest). You finally slog through and apply for the job. But you notice that the ad either never disappears or it pops up over and over. Of course you never hear anything. Surprise!

I am moving the bulk of my energy over to well known, long established boards like Monster, using Yahoo Jobs because my local paper lists their ads online through Yahoo Jobs, and setting up search agents at every big business in town. That’s the kind of solid advice I wish I’d had a year ago. Half the time, the pop up ad boards send me to another board or a company website when I use them. I got locked into automatic pilot applying through the boards where I’d set up search agents a year ago. The process of writing this blog is helping me look at things again, and re-think my process. Writing it down does have a way of clarifying your thoughts on a subject. I have stayed busy with classes as well.

At the end of the day, I figure you have to develop your own nose for the stinkers. Or you could ride off into the sunset singing, “fairy tales can come true, it could happen to you, if you’re young at heart”…

Song lyrics from “Young at Heart”

Rewind about eighteen months…I’d been on the job for twenty years. I had no idea how to pull together a resume.  And I soon discovered I didn’t even know where to LOOK for a job. Well, sure, I’d heard of Monster and I’d always used ads from the local paper in the past. Job agencies didn’t cross my mind at this point. Networking was joining two or more computers together so they could talk to each other.

After about three weeks, I’d managed to cobble together a standard, old style resume. You know the kind I mean: I had an objective, I listed my job duties, I listed my education, I listed my skills. On my own behalf, there were no words misspelled. My formatting was consistent, my chosen font a standard, easily read font. With relatively small modifications, I used the same resume for over a year. My results were – no results. Obviously, something wasn’t working. I was still in networking denial, so I worked on the resume.

There are tons of places gladly offering to take your money to come up with the perfect resume. Unemployed people have to figure out things by working and searching harder for the no charge answers. I found tons of information on what constitutes a good resume these days. Use active voice words to describe what you did instead of just describe job duties. So change: Cost accounting – record machine sales, including accruals for costs of items not yet paid for to ­Recorded machine sales for company stores for 13 years, including accruals for uncharged costs, always getting information entered for month end close. See how that second iteration just rings with active voice and accomplishment?

Oh, and the objective? Very, very old school. Of course you should HAVE objectives. But it is just too, too passe to use an objective listed on the resume these days. Perhaps, in certain situations, you might list an objective that basically describes the job you are applying for. You can’t actually properly label it as “I really need this job objective” even though that’s what it is. But that’s how it’s used and the only proper use these days.

I think if you are old enough to have joined the work force in the 90’s, you’re probably like me in how you thought a resume should be. But once you had a resume, you had a resume. You didn’t do it and re-do it for every single job application. Ding, ding, ding – wrong answer. Not only should you be doing targeted resumes, but you should carefully read the job description and use as much of their verbiage, especially key words, as you can. This is even more strongly applicable on applying for Federal government jobs. That’s because the Feds do an initial screening of applicants with a computer; a person doesn’t look at your resume and realize how your experience might fill the job requirements perfectly. A computer looks for key words so you’d better have them in there. And I just learned that lots of people use that kind of screening process. Boys and girls, can you say “targeted resume”?

I’ve been mulling over this targeted resume stuff. Online job hunting may only show me 10-15% of the available jobs but I spend 50% of my time applying to them. I have learned a lot of this stuff about resumes fairly recently, and have done the targeted one once on regular jobs and created three resumes on USAJobs. I have a plan I’d like to share – maybe y’all can help me refine the concept. Open up my “everything” resume and immediately rename it. Now I want to go into each section of it and have several sets of bullet points under each section. For me, I’ve done bookkeeping, administrative, payroll/benefits, and IT work. So I’ll want each section to emphasize the 4 areas I’m most likely to look for in applying for jobs. Next, I go to apply for some job I think I’m qualified to do. I read the job requirements and start to copy/paste together a resume. Obviously, I’ve kept the letterhead portion as it would not need to change. So I post in the appropriate bullet list under each category. Then I go back and read the job requirements again, go back to my bullet points and substitute their key words for mine every single place I possibly can. Voila. Targeted resume completed.

Surely it’s okay to give credit to the folks who helped me FINALLY develop what I think is a stellar resume that showcases my can-do self. So I want to thank Jessica Mitchell, the Career Services Mentor at WGU and OptimalResume.com. It took both, but I think I finally got there. And since I debuted this baby, I’ve already had a couple of interviews. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Unemployed. Gaaack!

I saw the day coming months before it actually happened. I suppose ignoring it and hanging on for as long as I could was a pretty typical reaction, one made by many others besides me. After twenty years in one place, I had no clue how to even get started searching for a new job. I waited it out, but the business was clearly getting slower and slower, and I got the expected and dreaded “elimination of position” letter. Eighteen long months later, I am still searching for a job. I started back to school last year to get my Bachelor’s degree and acquire a new skill set that I thought would broaden my options. Now that I’ve started getting some certifications, I have been seriously working on the job search again. And I’ve had some adventures along the way that I’d like to share.

I’m starting at the end so I can explain why I’m suddenly a blogger. A diary always struck me as rather personal and I originally looked at blogging as an online diary. In fact, I think many people use it that way. But I’ve found blogging about many things. I have friends who blog who use it as a venue to let off steam about subjects they are passionate about. For instance, an artist friend blogs about people using his images without permission, figuring if they can copy it from anywhere on the web, it’s open season on the usage. (In case you wonder about that, copyright material is copyright material, whatever the media, whatever the content. The usage rights belong to the owner/creator, not the casual “pretty, I want, I take” user.) Anything people might talk about, debate about, learn from each other – I’ve found blogs on the subject. Okay, then, I can do that. I have opinions about things. I might even have a thing or two to say of interest to a few other people.

Tonight I learned that there are three places most highly recommended for job seekers in terms of online media networking: Linked-In, Twitter, and WordPress. I have been registered on Linked-In for a while, and I am beginning to learn more about using it. Twitter will be an adventure for another day. She told us that much of the online media doesn’t show you how people are connected so you need to be more involved and share stories if you are to get an advantage from networking. Today’s adventure: my first blog.

I saw immediately why the career counselor recommended WordPress. It was free, and took only minutes to set it up. Hmm, I wonder how long it’s going to take me to add enough links and “follow” enough other blogs to really pick up some traffic? That will be part of the adventure. I have a blog set up, ready to rock and roll. What kind of content can I put on here that won’t run off potential employers who Google me? (What is this woman, some kind of pinko, leftwing, rightwing, conservative, liberal, wrongheaded pea-brain?) Back in the old days, when I was a 20th century job seeker, the potential employer pretty much had to depend on your resume, your references and your interview. What a concept! Did you Tweet your BFF about faking out the boss to get a sick day? Maybe get on Facebook and post some risqué pictures from the wild party you threw last Christmas? Get a clue, dude. It isn’t Big Brother you have to worry about who’s watching you. It’s more like Big Boss or Potential Employer. What kind of online reputation do YOU have?

That’s when I realized that the adventures from the last eighteen months would make pretty good fodder for blogging. Not only can I find an outlet for all that pent up frustration, but I can share some of the information I’ve gleaned along the way. I hope I find some folks to drop in on the ride, maybe share some of their own adventures.