Long Term Job Search Strategy Needed
January 22, 2015 7:48 AM   Subscribe

My workplace was informed yesterday that we will be closing in November and we will all be laid off. I am trying to come up with a plan of attack for finding a new job over this longer than expected timespan for notice of layoff.

I have been with this company for 7 years and if I stay through November I will get a lump sum 7 weeks pay severance and will qualify for unemployment. I make 18.5/hr in Philadelphia (40 hours a week, sometimes overtime, have never broken 40k in a year). I work in a distribution center doing order tracking, customer service, freight scheduling, receiving, and put-away, auditing vendors for compliance with shipping regs, managing the productivity tracking software, and reviewing shortage credits for possible fraud, filing claims with delivery carriers, and oversee the saftey and process improvement programs and initiatives birthed from them, and occasionally process returned orders.

Looking at comparable distribution / office jobs, they appear to typically pay in the 15/hr range. I really don't want to take a paycut, and would be pretty squeezed financially by it, as I am a single female with a (small, cheaper than rent) mortgage and utilities to pay. I am sort of panicing about the possibility of not finding a comparable or better paying job and having a slow painful slide into Not Making It.

I do not need to stay in the same field. I also have experience in food service and retail, I'm an intermediate excel user (a little beyond "VLOOKUP" level), I have complete confidence that I can learn any task or subject matter that would be required of me. I am not opposed to physical work (though I am limited in that I'm 5'1" and about 110 lbs). I would be able to pass any sort of background checks, credit checks, drug screenings, etc to work with children or other populations where that is necessary. I cannot spend money on schooling, but can do free learning classes. I'm pretty smart, people here were telling me "this is the best thing that could happen to you! You're overqualified for this kind of work!" which is a nice sentiment to hear, but really my only qualifications outside of work experience are a BA in English and 2 years of welding at a county technical school. For what it's worth, my "dream job" would be somehow related to sustainable, healthy food wheater through some sort of community program for gardening or teaching nutrition/cooking, or working at a supplier or specialty grocer, but I know thats a pipedream with my monetary requirements.

So my question is multifacited:
1. Should I filter jobs I'm applying to now to focus of moves upward, such as supervisor positions or positions with posted higher pay? If so, fo how long should I do just that?

2. If that doesn't work out, how do I keep from getting even more freaked out while searching for a job, any job to try to rig together an existance?

3. At what point should I start researching/ applying for worst-case-scenario things such as food stamps and energy assistance if I am not finding re-employment?

4. I have casually looked for jobs on an off for about 3 years and got 2 interviews, but no bites. How do people find jobs now? I am on LinkedIn and have been beefing up my profile with accurate job descriptions, I'm looking on Indeed, and I have my mom, who works in trucking, talking to find distributors and logistics companies that are hiring. My dad works at teh same company laying me of and other than them I don't really have any local friends. How gauche is it to reach out to people you went to school with many years ago or other frayed barely acquaintances to "network"?
posted by WeekendJen to Work & Money (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to include - I have about a year's worth of living expenses saved up, but i drive a 20 year old car and need some house repairs, and just generally get nauseas thinking about the still abysmal job market so while I won't die tomorrow, I am far too risk adverse to go without work for any extended length of time.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:49 AM on January 22, 2015

Are you interested in developing your welding skills? I thought that skillset was generally considered one of those "good reliable ones are currently hard to find" specialities. A quick search of glassdoor and simplyhired show experienced ones match your desired payscale but that may misrep actual availablity, etc.
posted by beaning at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

A couple things that stand out, if this helps.

I know you are panicking (and I agree, form a plan), but it looks like you have an entire year (ie, job lasts until November + 7 weeks severance = Jan 2016?) to find a job with a comparative salary and/or get into something else, correct? So in some ways I think that it might be good because you can hold out for the job that you want if you put your nose to the pavement.

This is what leaps out to me the most, and I think that it would be neat if you explored this possibility (and you could try this out on weekends to see if you can establish/obtain clients): For what it's worth, my "dream job" would be somehow related to sustainable, healthy food wheater through some sort of community program for gardening or teaching nutrition/cooking, or working at a supplier or specialty grocer, but I know that's a pipe dream with my monetary requirements.

Assuming that with the interest comes a knowledge about gardening (and that this is a part of your passion/interest in that description), but what about bricoling together gardening work, such as becoming a gardening coach (seriously, a friend of mine pays someone to come to his home to teach him how to plant/garden, etc....in a city, this could be a need). You could also look into offering a gardening class at a community center (and think about it, you might land a client or two out of this). But via all these routes, I would imagine that you could get a similar income. You might have to be strategic about the dead of winter (if little gardening occurs then), though - or maybe earn/work a lot in the spring, summer, fall (whenever gardening time applies), don't work as much in the winter. But what seems favorable about having a year to find a job, in the late winter/spring, you could start to offer services as a gardening coach, and explore: Can you get clients? Several clients?

If it doesn't work (ie, you can't get a reasonable number of clients by the end of the summer), this you could try plan B, which is get a job in your industry.

I have mentioned this 100000 times in metafilter before, and I think that this definitely applies to your question, but I would not look for job postings for your industry. I would find a list of companies in PA and call and/or email them. I have gotten projects this way, and a friend of mine as always gotten jobs this way. LinkedIn is phenomenal for having headhunters, recruiters, etc., find you, but unless your industry uses it, I don't know (but still fill out the profile, it can payoff).
posted by Wolfster at 9:09 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're good with Excel, bone those skills up. People who are good with Excel are always prized. You can do this free with tutorials on-line and watching some You Tube videos (check out PowerPivot it's A-Maze-Ing!)

Think a bit about which of your skills are transferable. For example, you work in Logistics and Supply Chain. Are you using Supply Chain software? Ariba, Sispro, Epicore? Perhaps check them out and get a feel for them. If you know specialized software and Excel...man, it's so sweet!

Aim for a higher level job with more pay, don't think hourly, think salary. Here's a Pepperidge Farm/Campbells Customer Logistics Manager position in your area.

This job sounds high-faluten, but it also gives you vocabulary to put on your resume and frankly, I think you're perfectly qualified for it. It's not your dream job, but it could be a nice, stable job from which to do some kick-ass volunteer work in your area of passion.

Stop being so firmly defined by your own job description. If you want help with your resume, I'll be happy to review what you've got and to format it.

And yes, I found that job on LinkedIn, check out their Jobs, they tend to be EXCELLENT. I also like Glassdoor.com for jobs and for information on interviewing, salaries and company reviews.

Here's my suggestion for your introductory sentence under the Profile section of your resume:

Supply Chain and Logistics analyst with seven years of experience with national/international manufacturer.

- Bachelors Degree
- Advanced Excel
- Microsoft Office Suite of Products
- Compliance Auditing
- Reporting and Administration using SCM Software

You see? Look at you! $40k indeed. More like $75k!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2015 [20 favorites]

Ruthless Bunny is right. So why not spend the next 4-5 months only looking for jobs that you'd be willing to throw away the severance package for? Such as jobs that doubled your salary or thereabouts. If you got offered 70k you'd take it tomorrow, right?

I think your dream jobs sound really interesting - but as you say, low-paying. And as you're already worried even though you have a year of living expenses saved up, my guess is that low-paying jobs wouldn't offer you enough of a feeling of security. So maybe try to find volunteer work in those areas?
posted by hazyjane at 10:31 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

On item #4:
  • Have a pro review your resume and LinkedIn profile while you're still working. I'm in software testing so I had a software test manager who's very active online review mine.
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile has a Skills section with keywords like "Excel", "supply chain", etc. Recruiters often do keyword searches.
  • Connect with people you know on LinkedIn and exchange endorsements and recommendations. Don't be afraid to reach out to old acquaintances: the worst they can do is ignore your invite.
  • Get 200 or so business cards printed up as if you had your own business. Mine says "software testing and technical writing". Yep, business cards are still a thing.
  • Are there meetups in Philly on areas you'd like to explore for work? Go to them, try to talk to at least one new person, exchange business cards, and connect on LinkedIn. If you really click, ask them out for coffee.
  • Pick one meetup type and learn the skill in which it specializes. For example, right now I'm going to a lot of big data meetups.
  • Let new and old acquaintances know that you're looking for a new job, a/k/a "new opportunity." They don't have to be informed of the upcoming layoff.
  • Sign up for a SimplyHired account. Good job listings over there, too.

posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:53 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

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