Job search for dummies (or the chronically overlooked & underpaid)
June 2, 2015 2:13 PM   Subscribe

Due to cuts, I've lost income and am now running in the red each month. I can handle this for just a little bit before it gets dicey. I need a new full time job but I've never been very good at job hunting or getting interviews and I've also battled a lot of depression and anxiety. (Complication - I am in what might be an emotionally abusive relationship and have to get on my feet.)

I am in NYC. I need a job paying me, minimally 30-35k. I have been working for five years at a company where there seemed to be opportunity to learn and possibly to advance but the shifting market hasn't always been kind and the other career path I was hoping to be on never manifested. The company began a new venture and promised me a senior position in it but that also fell through as they promoted someone else, and the latest blow is a pay cut. After a previous pay cut. I'm a contract worker and have no benefits. I have only one day off a week so I can't just take any old temporary placements.

I got this one through my SO, who also works at the same place (need to get something entirely new before considering change). I keep reading all of these things about modern resumes and cover letters and social networks and I feel lost and anxious. My last interview was months ago. I hardly ever get responses to applications. I tried applying to a couple of agencies recently but I got the "thanks for submitting" email and never heard from again. I will be calling a few soon.

I have a BA and I'm a word person. One of the scary aspects is a lot of the fields I'm considering seem to have "entry level" ads with a ton of requirements or seem to want to hire younger than someone like me over 30. I'm okay with starting on the bottom of the ladder if I can survive on the salary. I don't care if my boss is younger than me if I like my job. I'm amiable, I'm a hard worker, I'm collaborative.

My friends and family are a bit scattered. We mostly communicate online. I will be applying for food assistance and insurance. I have a SO who seems to have lost respect for me and treats me with little empathy, makes insults, and has taken all the power in this relationship. Good days, bad days. My anxiety kicks in about asking people for things, etc. I don't quite have a 'network'.

So I'm kind of looking for

a) Advice on how I maximize my job search for quickest results without becoming utterly overwhelmed? I know it's a difficult, sometimes long, and demoralizing process. I'm trying to be as financially strict as possible right now. How do I help mitigate some of my weird history or things like age?
b) Where would a word nerd with a BA and a couple of years of experience fit in? I've looked at things like copywriting or proofreading, but "entry level" seems to require a couple of years of experience. Social media and community jobs are more in my wheelhouse but it seems like they want 23 year olds with 10000 followers on every network.

I have no budget for professional job counseling or resume writing or anything like that. More schooling is out due to already crushing debt.

Email for followup/addl details: or MeMail.
posted by Fire to Work & Money (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Honest to God, all three of the jobs I got - including the one I'm in now - I got through temping. I'm also crap at interviews, so my temp stints often became sort of extended interviews-by-example, where I was working somewhere for a while and they saw I was good and I gradually got more comfortable around them and so by the time they started talking to me about "so you wanna work here for real", I was actually way more comfortable during the perfunctory sort of "we have to give you an interview so we can say we did" kind of thing.

And even if the temp position just stayed a temp thing and went nowhere, I was making money. And I'm very confident that with a BA and decent communication and office skills, making $30K (via an hourly rate) is indeed doable.

The only downsides is that sometimes the health insurance is a little sucky, but it does exist; and sometimes the paid leave is very small (I only was able to get a week off each year from my last agency). But as a "way in the door" in places, it is definitely something to consider.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:20 PM on June 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

Where would a word nerd with a BA and a couple of years of experience fit in? I've looked at things like copywriting or proofreading, but "entry level" seems to require a couple of years of experience.

I have a friend who is a succesful work-from-home copy-editor in 'educational publishing' (K-12 Common Core textbooks). She says, "A foot in the door is to find someone like me who has *too much* on contract right now and needs to offload (sub out) some basics." fwiw

Maybe I can get some links later.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:31 PM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not going to threadsit, but to be perfectly clear. I have a job right now six days a week and I cannot leave it until I replace it with something else. I can't just give up the money that keeps a roof over my head for a temp assignment.
posted by Fire at 2:31 PM on June 2, 2015

Ah, it wasn't clear your existing job was full-time; when you said that there were "cuts" I thought you'd been cut to part-time or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:35 PM on June 2, 2015

With agencies, I have found that I often need to follow up with a phone call after submitting a resume and application. They are busy, so you need to be a squeaky wheel. However, unless you have a large drawback that you haven't mentioned, having a BA, skills, and work experience, you should be getting at least some interest from an agency once you've followed up.

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Recruiters often use LinkedIn these days, so you will want to keep that updated.

YMMV depending on your location and what kind of job you are looking for, but the more office software you know the better - some agencies test (even for permanent placements) and the better you place on the tests the more leads they have for you.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:56 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Liz Ryan has lots of good advice about how to stand out from the crowd with your resume. Here's one article, but check out her other work as well. She has great interviewing tips. It feels mostly geared toward management, but the theory behind it is solid.

If you don't already have your LinkedIn profile polished, take an afternoon to do that asap. And don't rule out your out-of-town friend network for remote contract jobs. Let them know you're looking and see if they can help you out.

You also might benefit from finding a career mentor on It's free to use, and the mentorship is all pro bono! I've used their service several times, and I've connected to some amazing people.

Also, try applying for some jobs you don't really want but are qualified for (low-hanging fruit). Get some interviews under your belt with these companies as practice: when you get to the real thing you'll be less nervous, you'll have brushed up on your interview skills, and things will go much more smoothly. Good luck!
posted by ananci at 3:10 PM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

I am not clear on what your current job entails. What are your job duties, if you can say? And how does that apply to your degree?

One thing that comes to mind is technical writing. Do you have a skill that would allow you to write in a technical aspect?

From what you are saying, you want to get away from your SO and the job at the same time? Is there a reason you can't keep on at your current job and split from him? Do you live together? Is he your superior? Could he get you fired if you break up with him? Are you afraid that you will get fired if you break up with him?

It sounds like one or the other, if you break off from him it would be fine and the job it would be fine. I would go with Option A. While continuing to seek other employment. If you got fired from breaking off with him, that would be a whole other thing. If he is tied to your employment I would seek out a lawyer, just for information.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:34 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Full disclosure: not remotely involved in your job market, but recently employed.

Having a polished resume and LinkedIn profile should be easy for you. You might also consider a personal website to host a portfolio of some sort. What might be harder is face to face networking. If there are any meet ups for professional organizations related to your field of interest those contacts can make or break a job search.

What with it being June, see if there are any job fairs you might crash, too. Make up some business cards and hand them out to everyone.

I know you're working 6 days a week and this may be the last thing you want to do at the end of the day, but sometimes volunteer experience can really juice up your work experience, too.
posted by estelahe at 7:43 PM on June 2, 2015

how I maximize my job search for quickest results without becoming utterly overwhelmed?

1) Get a good RSS reader. I like Inoreader, but I believe there are free alternatives out there, like Feedly.

2) Set up RSS feeds for: Craigslist (at the bottom righthand corner of every job category page), Simply Hired (left column), and any other site you can find that will allow it.

3) Sign up for email alerts from Indeed, Zip Recruiter, etc.

4) Set up a job searches folder in your email account.

5) Set up rules to automatically divert emails from Indeed, Zip Recruiter, etc. into said folder.

This way, you can spend less time searching, and more time applying, i.e., customizing and tailoring your resume to the specifics of each position.

Also, Indeed has a Netflix-like feature, where if you click on enough jobs, a Recommended Jobs link will pop up in the lefthand column. This can be very useful for identifying jobs to which your current skill set may be transferable.
posted by invisible ink at 8:54 PM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

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