Frustrating Systems = 2 Week Hiatus

Well, I have spent the last several days working out COBRA and unemployment and am thoroughly frustrated with "the system", so for the next two weeks I am going on hiatus from blogging or commenting or whatever. Even though I am not working I simply have too much crap to do.

That being said, I have had no interest from anything I have applied for, and no calls returned for any jobs out there. This truly is a scarce job market and I am going to have to figure something out, after going through my finances I should have enough money with unemployment to make it 8-12 months. My only worry is that it may not be enough, we'll see anyway.

So there you go, I will report back in two weeks how it is going and hopefully do some regular posts then.


Adventures in Craigslist

Well in this no margin world of the stock market right now, I have found a new (old) savior. A lot of economic websites talk about achieving 10% - 20% profits on stocks or ETF's. My old side business was buying stuff cheap and selling it on eBay. I typically made 70%-130% on the stuff I found. It worked out for years, but starting out about eight months ago two things happened that made me all but abandon eBay. First, people stopped buying on there. Second, I have gotten totally fed up with eBay. Fees are absolutely out of control, and have ruined what used to be a great product. I'm sorry but ever since eBay went public, the fees have gone up, the gimmicky sellers are in control, and crap just doesn't work right at all.

Now I sold things two ways, eBay and garage sales. With eBay out garage sales became more important. Well last year was fairly successful garage sale wise, but I miss that eBay side of the money. It was like a steady extra bonus that occurred throughout the year.

So recently I started posting things on Craigslist and it is going pretty well actually. I started off with some of my GF's old car stuff, which was pretty unsuccessful, but kept reading and trying. This last week I sold roughly $200 worth of stuff and am supposed to meet up with a few people next week already to trade some stuff for dollars. The best part, CASH (making better margins than eBay) and no fees and no shipping. It is enough to bring a tears to a guy trying to squeeze a dime from a nickel. It may seem somewhat idealistic, but Craigslist represents everything that I think makes the Internet great. I remember being in high school searching for information on UFO's, KU basketball, and *cough* the girls of SI. As things have progressed the Internet has developed, and websites have changed, but the relevance of Craigslist remains. Free listings of crap in your town, when has that ever been not a good idea. The fact that it for the most part remains free (I think they charge LA and NYC fees for a few things) is amazing and helpful.

A lot of thought goes into companies becoming global, but when times are tough the companies that will survive become local. So I encourage you, to dig around in that back closet or garage and post something on Craigslist. Trust me, it is the easiest thing out there to do to make money.


Job Search: Making Connections

I have been searching for a job for about two weeks now and I can officially say that my personal job skills in the manufacturing and project engineering arena is not so hot. Not really all that surprising considering that my two job focuses are on factories and capital projects, which for the most part have been halted for every company out there. So my options are thin, yet some things are starting to pop up.

I consider myself a super sleuth when it comes to finding jobs for myself and I thought, hey in this employment crisis I could give out a few tips to finding a job so:

1. Find good recruiters:

In my line of work I have been called a hundred times by recruiters of all types trying to make a buck off of my back. Most are absolute meat peddlers, but some really are looking out for you. How do you shake out the good from the bad? First most of the bad is obvious, you can hear the urgency in their voice and if you don't fit their exact search criterion, they try to get off of the phone faster than the falling Dow. Good ones will probably do a long phone interview and then a face to face if they work in your town. That is typically a good sign, but the ultimate way to tell if a recruiter is good is when they give you feedback from the potential employer after an interview. That is the surest sign that they care. Those you keep in touch with and they will take care of you, sometimes for a lifetime. It must be said that some recruiters are good at getting interviews even if they are not always representing your interests fairly. They are pushy, and I dislike them greatly but sometimes that is just the nature of the beast.

When I got laid off I spoke with three recruiters immediately, and they are all beating on doors seeing if anything is available. Two are local and one is national, and they all had some possibilities. Like I said, the good ones, who know you, will take of you.

2. Know your boards:

Kansasworks.com, Careerbuilder.com, EngineeringJobs.com, CoatingsJobs.com, Monster.com, KansasCityHelpWanted.com... There are a lot of boards out there and choosing which are the best for you can be difficult. I have two tips to find the best in your area. First, figure out which board partnered with your local paper (for the KC Star it is Careerbuilder.com), it will typically have most of the jobs in your area. Second, find the state sponsored job board (Kansasworks.com for me). This can be the most effective resource because it is typically tied with the unemployment office for your state, meaning it searches a wide swath of other job boards to find you an opening. The state really wants you to make your own money. Go through the motions of creating your resume and then just search and search and search.

3. Make connections and call them:

I have met a lot of people over the years and do my best to keep in touch with lots of them. Why, because you never know when you will need a favor. A favorite target of mine is contractors. They work with lots of companies and typically have a good ear to the ground on companies that are needing people like you. One that I have dealt with quite a bit may hire me as drafter for awhile, which may be what I have to do to pay the bills. I had a good interview at a place a few years back that I didn't just quite fit the position but the plant manager said to keep in touch, and who do you think I called when I noticed that they have some openings now? That is how it works sometimes.

4. Buy the paper every Sunday:

This is how I have found 2 of my last 4 jobs and continues to be maybe the best source for open jobs and direct contact with an employer. It is old fashioned but still really effective. Even though my paper does partner with Careerbuilder, I find that positions posted in the paper are not always online or maybe I didn't enter quite the right search criteria or whatever. The paper works.

That's it folks. Good luck and keep your job.


A Story...

After all the doom and gloom of the economy and my situation, and maybe whatever you guys are experiencing out there it reminded me of a story.

At one of the places I used to work we always had a morning production meeting to go over what was being produced that day. Well one such meeting we were going through our usual throws and when it got to me, the plant manager really put it to me. He asked where I was on this or that, what was the status of projects, and reminded me of everything I was behind on. Now you need to know he and I gave each other a hard time quite a bit, it was the nature of things. Earlier in the week I had gotten him and this was his way of returning the favor. Well after that big list, he had me pretty good and he asked, "So what do you have to say for yourself?" and to which I replied slowly, "A-l-w-a-y-s look on the bright side of life" To which all of the various other manager immediately chimed in with the whistle, it was one of the funnier moments in my life...

Enjoy your week!


What the Eff Do You Do Now?

So as I stated in my last post, I have been laid off. More specifically I have been laid for the second time in 4 months. I personnally couldn't believe it. Mostly because I had chosen this job over three other jobs that I was worried wouldn't be as safe in this economy. I was wrong, I had a target on me due to the fact I was well paid for what the latest company considered an entry level position. So out I went when the time to save the company money came. Another lesson learned by me. What is scary is now I see nothing out there in KC that my job skills really fall into.

But know I have to beg the question what in the heck do I do now? Well I do have a little bit of a plan and it involves the following.
  • Know that my old company is compensating me for four weeks. So I have one month's worth of extra pay, starting now.
  • Know that my girlfriend has a definate temporary job at one of her old places of work. My GF is one of the only people that knows the work for a position that someone is going to go on maternity leave. That will start in either March or April and should last three to five months. We are not married so that will allow for me to...
  • File for unemployment. I am going to have to. I have about three months worth (four to five if we stretch things) of emergency money, my GF some more, but I would like to save that for when unemployment runs out if we have to. I may still need some of the emergency money to makeup for time waiting for unemployment to kick in. The unemployment money should take care of the house payment, which is the most important asset to protect in my opinion. I feel that once this economy shakes out, it is going to be pretty difficult to purchase a home for awhile.
  • Look for cheaper insurance for the home and auto. Pretty straight forward, I think I can get a cheaper rates but I need to look first.
  • Try to get a better mortgage rate. Actually, I am not very hopeful on this one. I was attempting to do this a few weeks back but realized I had a special 10% down loan before with a special up front PMI that the home seller paid for. Changing the mortgage may jeopardize our current setup. Also, we already are decently low.
  • Cancel Luxuries. No more blockbuster by mail, redue our cable-internet package, etc.
  • Be thrifty. Pay attention to groceries, cease eating out, less driving, etc.

If you can't tell, I am looking at this for the long haul. I work for factories typically and until there is some real production going on, I am afraid I am not going to see employment opportunities for awhile. I am very much willing to step outside my box and just make money, but I have to make enough to pay the bills. Things could rapidly change, but I don't really see the economy changing for at least a year. Our consumers have to fundamentally change their habits, and real money needs to go to real things. I don't know I am pretty nervous about the whole thing.


How bad is this economy?

So bad that I was just laid off for a second time last week. Be careful out there, things are getting worse not better...