My Job Search Update...Things are looking up.

Well today I am writing before my phone call with a particular company to accept a position as a Project Design Engineer. It is a little different from my last job working as a Project Engineer doing capital projects for a factory, but it definately falls into the realm of rounding out my experience. It is hard to believe as engineer that I haven't done much literal design, but I haven't. That makes this job a little exciting, but I also have some reservations about the position. Basically, I will be the guy I used to hire at my last job to design, build, and install specialized pieces of equipment. This includes my skills as contractor negotiator, project manager, and will now push my engineering design skills forward. It should be exciting.

What is unfortunate is that no other company moved with the speed as this company did. There are several really good Project Engineering positions available in the KC area, but none of them really showed any interest until late. This company has acted quickly, throwing me in a couple of interviews in a short period of time and making an offer a week later. I definately don't want to be unemployed for a long period of time in this economy either, so this is a good fit for now.

Long term who knows, I still love the idea of the corporate jet-setting Project Engineer, but we will work this angle for now. I need to start preparing now, I have a few things to negotiate with HR before I accept the position. More job search series coming...


Somebody please fix Sears!

Someone please fix Sears / Kmart's financial situation. I 100% don't want to see this company fold. Let me tell you why, support and service.

I recently had a 6-year-old Kenmore washing machine die on me and after speaking with a sales guy at Sears (the guy who should be selling me a new washer), I found that I needed to replace the motor coupler. After searching online through there http://www.managemyhome.com/ website, I found the part I needed, the diagram to pull the thing apart, and the location of the nearest Sears Parts Center. Which I might add was opened on Sunday, and to rest my mind, was told that they would be open for a little bit on Labor Day if I had any problems. Get it, they are supporting the common home owner, I can't believe it. Anyway my next delima was a 15-year-old Craftsman Garage Door Opener. The drive gear sheared off and I thought, hey it's probably time to by a new one. My GF's brother wouldn't have it, he saw what we did to the washer and said he would figure it out. A couple of computer clicks, a drive to the store, and $20 later we had the garage door all fixed.

Couple this with ever so easy to replace Craftsman hand tools, solid prices, and I am convinced this is still America's store. That is if America can remember to use it. I think it has an image problem and not necessarily a product thing. Make all Kmarts into Sears and then try to make the stores not feel so stuffy. So please someone fix Sears so it lasts and lasts as a store around the corner, because I don't know what I am going to need to fix next year around Labor Day.


Ticket to Crazytown: Market Thoughts...

Well I haven't updated on stocks recently, but should probably say that I went to all cash except for Baldor (BEZ) Wednesday morning and then picked up one of those two stocks that I have been eyeing Phillips Morris International (PM). I have been thinking a lot about the market and how to make safe money in this our current economy and have come up with a couple of thoughts.

The first being I am going to stay away from ETF's until there are real signs of market improvement. This may sound crazy, ETF's by nature are supposed bring some stabilization, but all the ones that I have held and were eyeballing have been slowly deteriorating in share price. I am negative 20% on my account because of it. When signs truly trend a little better I will buy VTI and PWV again, but for now I am going to wait.

The second being that there is some real values out there right now. If you are a contrarian investor you should be having a field day. I am trying to find some real hard and firm value stocks with good economy proof basics. Baldor is still one of those stocks for reasons that I have spoken about before. Philips Morris International is one that should be both economy proof to the US and also provide long term growth across the world, and because smokers smoke. The others that I have been looking at is Kroger (KR), Intel (INTC), and Ship Finance International Limited (SFL). I am searching for more, but I am looking for a solid long term companies.

I am interested to know what other people think of what has happened with the economy. I have mixed feelings for the government's bailout / takeover / whatever that has occurred this week. On the one hand I am glad that they are doing something, I think that the current financial market dictates that this needed to occur. I don't like that it is my money, but I think that saving us from a complete financial collapse is a good thing. On the other hand, I am pissed that we all didn't do something six months ago when we knew that this was a possibility and when it would cost us a lot less. Beware now of the hidden inflation that will now occur. I am unsure how it will affect the everyday person, but we can't keep throwing money at sinking ships and expect for the return to add value to the economy. I am nervous that is for sure.


Job Series #1: Back to Basics

When hitting the search circuit it's best to get yourself ready for the war. There are some basics that everyone needs to prepare for.
  1. Get your suit / interview-ware together. Check your shirts, belt, shoes, and suit. It is simple but if a interview happens tomorrow and you have a suit with a jacket that doesn't fit, brown shoes for a blue suit, a tie that doesn't match, and a wrinkled shirt, what the heck kind of impression are you really presenting? Get the basics covered. For kicks once a year, go to the nice part of Dillard's and get a few items like this and then you should always have something that fits. My GF's brother made me walk through there one day 4 months ago and convinced me to get a discounted Hugo Boss suit. If he wouldn't have done that then I wouldn't have had a perfect fitting suit for an interview I had last week. By the way it is the nicest and best suit I have ever owned.

  2. Brush up on your resume. I always tell my friends to update their resume every six months at the least (I probably do it every 3 months). It just keeps it fresh, but also think about how you want to have your resume laid out. Most people do the whole, this is where I worked and this is what I did resume but there are other styles like topical that can be even more effective dependent on your past. I will write more about this topic in the next series to cover resume writing more clearly.

  3. Contact your references and ask new people (privately) to become new ones. As you age through life, you will learn new skills, keep track of those that are impressed, those that become your friends, and those that you can count on. I have an odd background, and a wide swath of experiences but sometimes people just don't believe that I have seen and done all that I have seen and done. So I have a good friend that I can always count on for a recommendation, an old mentor that has never let me done, and now that plant manager that choked up when he was firing me, he is on my list. Through your life it is so important to know these types of people that you can count on for good recommendations, it can be a deal breaker in the negotiations, so don't use people that you cannot trust.

  4. Join and post your resume on the online job boards. I am amazed at the current work environment. I haven't seen as many postings with company positions as I have seen stuff posted by recruiters this time around. However, what I did notice that once I posted on on some of various job boards, they began talking to me. Granted, papers are still a decent place to look, but make sure to notice who they have partnered with. Mine has posted with Careerbuilder which is way better than Monster and Hotjobs in my area (KC, MO). But there are even better boards out there than that. In KC or Kansas you can use http://www.kansasworks.com/ and search everything, not just those big three, but the state boards, company boards that don't list openly, and all of the odd other boards that may be specific to your job speciality. I think it has to be do to the fact that Kansasworks is state run, and if you are applying for unemployment this is a way to show that the job search is occurring. Either way it is by far the best way to search around here. Again more on this when I talk about resumes.

  5. Evaluate your short comings. You want to leave your job, you got laid off, you got fired, something bad happened with your business group, frankly you have to get that behind you, but before you bury that hatchet evaluate yourself. There are things you suck at, things that you lack, or things you can do better. Put that to paper and work on improving that at your next job. I know that two jobs ago, I befriended the floor workers before I ever did the upper management. It cost me a lot there, I changed that at my last job. True I lost my job, but it wasn't because I didn't work well with the upper management, it was due to company consolidation and the plant manager and engineering manager have both said for me to use them as a reference, that was a distinct change. On my next job, I am going to work on pushing contractors harder, being a better estimator of project timing and pricing, and get better at AutoCAD.

  6. Treat finding a job as your job. Get up everyday like you were going to work: shower, get coffee, and for the next two to three hours prepare your resume, make some contacts, and search the boards. It will keep you fresh, then the rest of the day try to enjoy some of day to do something productive. Exercise, mow the lawn, that sort of thing.

  7. Interview everything. Good advice straight from my father. So what that the job is in Alaska milking penguins, act like that is what you have always wanted to do and interview your best for that job. Why, because when you really find a job that you actually want you will be well practiced and ready. Also, those who struggle with the interview process will need all the help that they can get to reach that comfort level talking about themselves around strangers.

  8. Know your spiel, practice your story. Work and work on your story. The more you talk it out the more comfortable you will be with it. If there are sketchy things about your past, be prepared to answer and explain away those problems.

  9. Never turn down a job not offered yet and never expect an offer that hasn't arrived. This is another of my dad's wisest advice. I try to never get my hopes up or down for a certain job. There have been times that I thought that I have nailed an interview only to never hear from the company again or likewise written a company off before I had completed the interview. Keep a cool head and keep searching until an offer is in front of you. No use worrying about the decision you don't have to make.

  10. Look for a better job! Chances are you have more experience now, that translates to being someone with something definite to offer. So when looking, look for something that is better it may just work out. Sure, if the economy is bad, or your field is competitive, it may be difficult and you may have to take a step down, but you won't move up unless you try.

Next up in the series: Modern Resume


Job Search Series

So to continue on the job search theme, I have always wanted to do a complete write up on how to get a (better) job. So over the next weeks I am going to write up blogs about each step of a employment search process. Being the son of a long time HR Director and constant guy that friends go to for resume write-ups, I feel that I may have some really good advice for anyone going through the process. A goal that I had for this blog was to make posts about finding a job and then eventually reworking it into a practical guide. It looks as if I have a little more motivation for the process now and maybe a little more time to develop it.

Hope you all will find it useful...


When it all falls down.

You work hard, spend an enormous amount of time working, thinking, designing, caring about the job you do. Then your boss comes in and tells you that the company is consolidating and your job has been eliminated. You like the guy, he likes you, and both of you can't help but feel sorry for each other. Simultaneously you are upset, confused, and finally relieved. Maybe you saw it coming, maybe you thought things would get better, but at least now you know. Out of respect you say, "It's okay, I understand, how long do I have?" He replies 2 weeks, you sit back and let it all settle in. The boss leaves the room, then almost immediately leaves the building. You swallow hard, not sure if you should yell or cry.

I called my GF next and said, "I didn't make it." She said, "It's there fucking loss." I realized it was true, took a deep breath, and headed home.

Jerry, my dad's best friend, used to say, "When you get kicked out of a good seat, you move up not back to a better one!" He was talking about sneaking into good seats at sport games, but it applies in the world of work as well. So my mantra will be that I am going to find a better job, get more money, and prove myself all over again.

Sometimes I think my life is all about proving people wrong, sometimes I get tired, but reality is I have big shoulders. I can carry that load.

Next job, bring it on...