I don't know how to hunt a job.
November 30, 2012 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I have come to the realization that I don't know how to look for work. How do I find a job outside of searching craigslist (unuseful in this part of the country) or other local job boards (that are all overwhelmed with medical field or mental health jobs....or temp jobs)?

Right now I work for a small, new, and magnificently failing specialty grocer in a small town in Maine. The owners are going insane because the business is failing, and it is making my working here totally untenable. They're getting increasingly difficult to work for and with as the business degrades. I need to quit, but my family can't really afford it (even though I am not the primary breadwinner). So, I need to find a new job, and I just straight up don't know how. I landed this job through a random craigslist post.

I've always fallen into jobs, The first 10 years of my working life, I worked for small produce markets and specialty grocery stores (a path started by a family friend who gave me my first job when i was 15). I randomly (total right time-right-place-right-friends) fell into the coffee industry (roasting, wholesale side of things) and worked there for 5 years, which I excelled at and have an impressive resume for (at least in the industry). I've got a ton of admin experience, and general office experience, but zero medical experience, which seems to be where most of the jobs are in this area for full time office work.

All of the cold-calling/applications/resume's that i've dropped off at both the coffee industries and grocery fields have yielded no results. I've gotten phone calls back from a couple coffee roasteries in the area saying 'yeah no, we don't hire from outside.' I don't have a lot of personal contacts in the area, which is primarily how I've landed jobs in the past. My resume is rather nice, and I've been complimented on it before, I can also write a slamming cover letter. These factors have typically received remarks when I do interview with someone.

Temp agencies are not finding any placement for me in temp-to-hire or straight hire positions.

Complicating factors:
-Our budget is super tight, and it's not realistic for me to temp.
-My kid is in daycare 3 days a week; this can be flexible but it might take a few weeks or a month or two to get him into other days of the week.
-I can't work past 5pm or so, because I have to pick kid up from daycare.
-To make any money past our childcare costs, I need to be making approximately $11/hour or more. Anything less than this, I may as well be staying home with kid.
-On days I can jobhunt, I have the kid in tow. This makes it very difficult to drop into places.

I'm not really sure what to do, or how to go about finding new work, and I'm getting kind of desperate and helpless with the situation. I'm sort of freaking out that I've missed out on all the skills needed to actually find a job, and now that I need to do it in a terrible economy, I'm paralyzed on what to actually look for or how to go about landing a job.

*sigh* Any help mefi?
posted by furnace.heart to Work & Money (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Given the childcare situation it seems like staying home and generating any sort of income you can might be a short-term solution. I don't know a whole lot about the market for freelance writing work given the economy now, but you seem to have writing chops. Maybe others could weigh in on feasibility and options there? Given your background, maybe there are grocery or coffee industry trade journals, magazines, etc. you could try to find work with?

Is it touristy around you? Any chance you could muscle into the local coffee market as a small scale, artisanal provider to local B&B's, hotels, cafes, etc? Seems like a small to moderate scale, home-based roasting operation would be relatively low overhead.

Best of luck.
posted by jimmysmits at 10:14 AM on November 30, 2012

It depends on how wide you're willing to cast your net.

I like LinkedIn and Simply Hired for jobs. LinkedIn because it's all legit (you can't post without paying so posters are not likely to waste money for crap stuff) Simply Hired gathers information from all the other job boards in one place.

Do you have a resume? If not, put one together. You have skills and NOW is an excellent time to get a good Seasonal job. (Perhaps overlap a bit with the job you have now, and a second job, to build a buffer in case your current gig hits the skids.)

One thing to consider is working in a large institution. A hospital is an EXCELLENT place to work. They have lots of neat jobs, and some of them are shift, part-time and PRN (as needed). So department secretaries, intake folks, billing, etc. The good news is that these help build good, transferable skills. Also, hospitals tend to have good benefits, including on-site day care.

Have you thought about becoming a CNA? (Since you mention medical stuff). Maine Medical Center is actually providing CLASSES they're so desperate for CNAs. A CNA does the scut nursing work. My MIL was a CNA forever. She worked in the nursery, bathing babies, changing babies, etc. But the work can be stuff like, changing beds, emptying waste baskets, giving people meals, all kinds of stuff. It's not easy, but it's good work and much better pay than a lot of local shops and restaurants.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:26 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there any way you can develop your local network? Like a coffeeshop where you can go to that also roasts, and get to know folks there? In other words, can you network so that you're no longer "outside"?
posted by ldthomps at 10:27 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

You've been in the business world 10+ years. Surely you know people, and those people know people. The single best source of jobs is people that already know and respect you. Either they need help, or they know somebody that does.

Start working your network.
posted by COD at 10:39 AM on November 30, 2012

Surely you know people, and those people know people.

I forgot to mention in the post that we've just relocated to Maine about a year ago. I spent the entirety of my life in Portland, Oregon...so, unfortunately my entire network lives out there, with little or no ties out here.

My network here consists of a very small handful of people, who are actually quite un/underemployed at the moment.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:47 AM on November 30, 2012

Where in Maine?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2012

Have you tried Robert Half in Portland? Because they DO have positions. Most in the Portland/Saco/Biddeford area, but some in LA and Waterville. They send out email alerts plus they offer online training and have been rated one of the best companies to work for.

If you get in a pinch, T-Mobile in Waterville is on a hiring spree right now and while the hours are odd, especially at first, they have excellent benefits, pay well, and hey, phone bill is wicked cheap every month.

You also might want to call the guys at Hallowell Seafood and Produce, they have been around for ages and probably know people who know people. Very friendly folks.

There is also Ballard Meat and Seafood in Manchester, probably 10 minutes off 95 near Augusta.

And of course your Hannaford and Shaw's. Would help to know a specific region tho', yes.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2012

I'm living in Portland, but currently commute to brunswick. With traffic and daycare schedules, along with gas prices, I can only commute about 1/2 hour away.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2012

I found an AWESOME part-time Gig for you on LinkedIn. They're willing to train.

Media Assistant.

My sister is a media buyer and once you get the hang of it, it's awesome. She's been doing it for over 20 years. Good pay, nice environment, and an opportunity to do more and learn more as you gain experience.

Or, for something less awesome, demonstrating stuff.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:38 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about working in the local schools, libraries, or for city or county government? check each of their websites. Have you been to your local state career center?

And check out the local community college for programs that retrain people for local jobs. Their website currently has this job posted.

Another possibility would be to do day care in your home for another kid or two. This might be especially nice if you watch children of teachers as it would give school vacations off.
posted by mareli at 11:38 AM on November 30, 2012

Honestly sometimes I just find a Wikipedia page like "Companies in City" and go through the list one by one, then hit up their job pages.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:43 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I suppose you've tried Coffee by Design then.

Other places that come to mind are Rosemont Market and Big Sky Bread Company.

Something in the medical field that you could do right now would be patient registration. Try the big dr's offices (such as Martin's Point, which has locations in Portland and Brunswick) or Maine Med or Mercy.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:16 PM on November 30, 2012

If you have any interest in the suggestion of freelance writing, you can memail if you want a little feedback.

Also, I read this idea somewhere about "the strength of the loose tie", which is about asking people you barely know if they know about any job openings. For most people, this is the best way to get non-obvious leads. You want to ask acquaintances if they know of any job openings or if they can introduce/refer you to someone who might. IIRC, this was especially helpful for people in economically depressed areas or otherwise at a disadvantage in tracking down job leads because it connected them to people outside of their own employment-challenged social circle.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2012

Since you know the industry well, why not try consulting? A good way to start is to start writing a blog. Talk about what you know - best practices, trends etc.

Also, interview some of the places you have been trying to work at, and then write a story on your blog. It's a good way to build up a network, and demonstrate your value.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:38 AM on December 1, 2012

Are you a single parent? Is going to after-hours events possible for you?

If you can swing some after-hours, I'd start going to Portland Greendrinks and I'd check out the Propel event on December 4 at Flea for All. These are two great networking events and if you're prepared to go and network the hell out of yourself you could some up with some great leads. It looks like the December Portland Buy Local mixer is ALSO December 4th. Dunno if you could hit them both in the same day, but it might be a really productive day, if you can swing it. I presume you're also looking at JobsInme.com and indeed.com for whatever might be actually posted on-line.

Had you posted this two months ago, I would have strongly advised you to take a temp position at Bean and then quit your job (the Bean gig giving you a few months breathing room), but that cart has left the barn. If you're willing to look at temp/temp to hire I've had really good luck with Pro Search, which is a locally owned agency.

How about Food Safety with Hannaford? Director of dining in Yarmouth? Grocery Manager at Trader Joes? TD Bank has also posted about 70 positions in the last two weeks, you might want to check their website if you'd be willing to go that direction. Also, Auto Europe is almost always hiring in their call center, and its not a bad place to work, if you just need a job right now.

This is a list of the 100 largest companies in Maine. Have you directly checked the websites of all the ones in the Greater Portland area?

Honestly, Portland is such a foodie town that I'd be very surprised if you can't find something here in the city, rather than having a long commute like you have now.

Also, talk to your current childcare provider and see if they'll take your child even an extra half-day per week. Tell them the situation -- you really need the time to cover a job search, since you feel your current employment is unstable. I'll bet they'll be able to accommodate you, at least for a few weeks.

And, yeah, I'd actually get in contact directly with folks like Joe Appel at Rosemont and Alan Spear and Mary Allen Lindeman at CBD, and just ask to set up a meeting. Call it a request for an informational interview, if you want to be formal, but another way to approach it might be to say what you've said here "I recently moved here from Oregon, where I had X, Y, Z experience in the industry. I'm currently working at [Fail] but I'm having a tough time making professional connections in the area. Would you be willing to meet with me for a half hour just to discuss the coffee/grocery map here in Portland." Marika Kuzma at Aurora Provisions might be another person to take this approach with. (Note: I know none of these people. I got the names by Googling and made choices based on who the biggest/best exposed companies in the Portland grocery/coffee scene are.) One benefit of this being such a small community is that once you get a foot inside the door, it should be pretty easy to get the rest of the way in. You might also want to use Portland Food Map as a checklist to help search for other businesses that you might not have thought to approach.

Feel free to mail me if you just want to talk about being a parent in Portland.
posted by anastasiav at 9:32 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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