7 Tips To Get Off Unemployment ASAP From Someone Who’s Been There

Online article on job hunting for JobMob

If you’re out of work and hunting for a job, you’re not alone. At first, that may be kind of comforting, but it also means there’s plenty of competition.

Not too long ago I was in your shoes. The syndicated radio company I worked for as a producer shut its doors in January of 2009 – not a very good time to start a job search by any means. It took me about nine months to find a part-time job and more than a year to get back to full-time employment.

But I learned a few things along the way (many of them the hard way). I can’t guarantee you that following these seven suggestions will make your time unemployed completely pain-free, but I know they’ll help make it shorter.

1. Look Busy

You’ve probably heard it’s a good idea to do some volunteering, freelancing or consulting work while you look for a new career. That’s often easier said than done. Looking for job can be a full-time job in itself. Believe me – I understand!

However, it really is important to make it look like you aren’t sitting around in your underwear all day.

In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently held a hearing looking into cases where employers were screening out jobless applicants. Some businesses even come right out and say it in their want ads, but most will simply toss your resume in the trash.

That doesn’t make much sense – especially in today’s economy when plenty of good people are looking for work. But the harsh reality is that many potential employers are short-sighted enough to assume that if you got laid off, you’re lazy and worthless.

Don’t let them think that! Find some way to be productive.

When I lost my job a couple of years ago – I’d never written a blog post in my life. As I was applying for jobs, I found some companies asking for links to my work online. I didn’t have any. So I started a somewhat-goofy personal blog. That got me noticed by a newspaper, and led to the job that got me off unemployment.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer – you might be surprised at how easy it is – especially if you write about what you know. Check out sites and services where you can write How-To articles and explain things from your industry. You never know who’ll find that material and what it could lead to. At the very least, you’ll establish yourself as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

If you’re just not into writing, look for other ways to stay busy. Volunteering can lead to connections, and it lets potential employers see that you’re a good citizen who contributes to society. Visit networking events and job fairs in your community too. Shake some hands and meet some people. Opportunities like that can be even more valuable than an actual job interview.

2. Get Sharp on Social Media

You wouldn’t walk into a job interview without taking a shower and making yourself look presentable. The same goes for how you present yourself online. You might need to clean things up a little bit.

It’s a smart idea to look up information on the people who interview you, as well as other power players working for potential employers. Just remember – if you can Google them, they can Google you.

Only now am I realizing that my profile photo on LinkedIn probably wasn’t helping my job search. It’s a photo of me with a cheesy smile wearing my trademark baseball cap and giving a thumbs-up. I thought it had personality and maybe a little class (since it is in black and white).

After taking a second look at the pic – I understand just how ridiculous it might appear to someone else. Others have told me that it makes me look really young. I can just imagine potential employers looking at the picture and immediately labeling me an immature rookie.

Take some time to think about the kind of image you want to project online. Get the keg party photos off of Facebook, and stop dropping f-bombs in your status updates (at least until you’re gainfully employed).

3. Make Your Resume and Cover Letter Stand Out

Buying some parchment paper for your printer is no longer the best way to make a nice-looking resume. That’s about all I did when I first found myself looking for work.

Nearly seven months into the hunt, a friend helped me jazz it up a little bit. She added some color, borders and headers. Then we saved it as a PDF file that could easily be emailed to prospects. I was kicking myself for not doing that sooner because call-backs definitely became more frequent.

Cover letters are another area where I messed up. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to include my tragic unemployment sob story in the letter. Maybe I thought it would show off my writing skills or that they’d see me as some triumphant overcomer – but that was not the case.

When they say to keep your cover letters short and to the point – listen to them. I just had the opportunity to hire some graphic designers, and now I know it’s totally true. H.R. reps and interviewers will appreciate concise cover letters highlighting the positives of your career and education.

Save your life story for the interview.

That being said…it is wise to write unique cover letters for each job opportunity. To save some time, you may want to create a form letter with one or two short paragraphs you can adjust for different individuals and companies.

Just try to keep everything organized. I once sent the wrong employment application to someone because the file names were both Application.doc. Talk about awkward!

4. Lower Your Standards

During those first few months of unemployment, I was pretty picky about jobs for which I chose to apply. I soon found out just how tough the job market was including how competitive things were out there.

Sometimes you just need to get back in the saddle and start working again – even if you feel like the job is beneath you. I can understand that you don’t want to miss out on your dream job, but the longer you wait the harder it gets to explain that nasty gap in employment.

You should also realize that in many cases, you can still collect partial unemployment insurance benefits while you work a part-time job.

There are times when temporary gigs and part-time jobs can lead to something better. However, in this cost-cutting economy, keep in mind that some employers will do whatever they can to avoid paying benefits. For that reason – it’s always smart to keep looking for the next open door.

5. Expand Your Search

Don’t rely on just one source for job openings.

I can remember getting email alerts for job opportunities at businesses that had already rejected my application. That’s annoying. It may also be a sign that you need to stop looking at the same websites every day.

Think about places where you’d like to work. Go right to their company websites and look for openings posted there. Even if there’s nothing available, you can still make connections and send off your resume and/or portfolio to the powers that be.

Besides the normal job search engines, try checking out state employment websites, and don’t forget about Craigslist or sites specific to your industry.

One thing I’d say you should never do is pay for someone to give you job listings and opportunities. That includes job postings from many staffing agencies that only give vague descriptions of the opening. Make some calls, do a little detective work, and find out who’s hiring for yourself.

6. Expand Your Horizons

Maybe it’s time you stopped working for someone else and started your own business. Working for yourself is the true American dream, and if you ask me – it would be great there were more successful small businesses in this country.

Small businesses are the fuel that powers job creation. A study by the Kauffman Foundation (PDF) found that startups create around 3-million jobs a year in the U.S.

Now may be a great time to let your entrepreneurial spirit run wild. Just be aware of what you’re getting into. Running your own business is often time-consuming, especially at the beginning when it’s also tough to make a profit. This is not an option for the faint of heart.

However, you may also be interested in less stressful forms of self-employment. Look into things like affiliate marketing opportunities and other ways to earn passive income.

If you don’t have the ambition to be your own boss, you should still try to be open-minded about your career path. Think outside of the box about areas where your skills could be useful. You’ll stand out from the pack when employers see your resume because you have something different to offer.

Just don’t pigeonhole yourself into one type of career.

In my first couple of months on unemployment, I interviewed with a marketing agency for a job as a blogger for some of their big clients. At the time, I was really focused on being a media producer. I told them I thought “I’d be bored just writing all the time.” Needless to say – I did not get the job, and they made it clear my attitude toward was the main reason why.

I didn’t mean to have a bad attitude. My point was I thought I had even more to offer. But I learned you shouldn’t try to turn a job opportunity into something it’s not – at least not before you get hired.

7. Have Stories to Tell

We all know it’s important to prepare for those job interviews. We read up on the company history, review common interview questions and rehearse in front of the bathroom mirror. But all too often your plan goes right out the window.

The bottom line is every employer wants someone who can solve problems and overcome challenges. Think of a few different stories from your career, schooling and life in which you emerged victorious.

You’d be surprised how the same stories could be an answer to a variety of questions like “What’s your greatest weakness?” “Tell me about a time you struggled to meet a deadline” or “What kind of work environment is best for you?”

It may take some practice. But if you have five different stories to tell in the interview – you’ll be in good shape. The worst thing that can happen in a job interview is that you let the interviewee ask all the questions and do all the talking.

Keep Your Chin Up!

One of the toughest things about being unemployed in a time like this is dealing with the rejection and the stress. But guess what? “How do you deal with rejection” and “How do you handle stress” are also common interview questions!

It ain’t easy…but you can’t let yourself get depressed about your situation.

We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions for job hunters! What have you learned that helps shorten your time being unemployed?

View original article at JobMob.

Are We Losing Our Creative Edge?

creativity article - kasey steinbrinck

Is there a creativity crisis in America?

According to an online article from Newsweek, research shows that while we are becoming more intelligent with each generation, it seems that Americans are becoming less creative.

That’s not a good sign.

Creativity and intelligence may be correlated, but they are actually two very different traits. Long-term studies on creativity conducted by E. Paul Torrance show that a person’s level of creativity has a direct effect on their success in life – specifically as an entrepreneur or innovator.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners need to be creative. So if we are losing our creative edge – what does that say about the future of small businesses in this country?

Creativity is one of our passions here at The Folder Store. We love creating folders for businesses like yours, and we love hearing about the creative ways you use the custom folders even more!

Because creativity is such an important part of what we do – we wanted to take a close look at the issue and what can be done about it.

What Studies Show

Research conducted at the College of William & Mary just a few months ago found some surprising results concerning creativity. As part of the current research, 300,000 children and adults took test developed by Torrance in the late ’50s to measure creativity.

Results showed that creativity scores – like IQ scores – had been on the rise until around the year 1990. That’s when CQ scores started a downward trend and lead researchers call the decrease “very significant.”

Keeping your creative edge is vital to your career. An IBM poll of CEOs identified creativity as the top leadership quality of the future. So if we know creativity is crucial – why are we letting things slide?

Possible Problems

It’s unclear what’s really causing a lack of creativity in America. But other countries around the world are gaining ground while the U.S. is falling behind. The way we teach our children may be one of the causes.

Even in China – many schools are now veering away from a strict curriculum and leaning toward a style that lets students learn through their own experimentation.

Here in America – we seem to be going in the opposite direction. Many public schoolteachers have become frustrated with hard-core curriculum and standardized testing. They spend most of their time making sure students pass those tests so the school the work for can keep getting funding from the government.

As a result, children only memorize answers and aren’t really learning. They aren’t developing creative skills.

Other culprits often blamed for the lack of creativity are TV, video games and other forms of entertainment.

Media can often encourage creativity. But it’s like food. If you eat too much of anything you’re going to get fat. Perhaps our culture spends so much time consuming all the different forms of media – that many of us have no time left to create!

What is Creativity?

The accepted definition of creativity is the “ability to produce something new through imaginative skill.”

Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an artist, musician or actor. Having creativity means you can think outside the box to solve problems and come up with new ideas.

The Newsweek article explained that creativity requires both the right and left side of the brain. It involves divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking means coming up with a variety of new ideas and possible solutions. Convergent thinking is the process of working through those ideas, combining them, and coming up with the best way to solve the problem.

If you feel like an uncreative person – don’t worry. While some people may be born with creativity in their genes, it is also a skill that can be learned and developed. Think of your creativity like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets.

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Casting Brett Favre the Movie

(Written July 2009. Long before much more Favre drama would transpire)

casting brett favre the movie

Being unemployed can have its benefits. Since I was just sitting around at my computer job searching, listening to Pandora, watching viral videos and whatever…I found out very quickly that my once childhood-hero who I now loathe has decided to stay retired this time. Or at least we all hope so.

I could go on and on complaining about Favre and how this is a relief, and how maybe now we can all forget about it…but I won’t do that. Instead I realized that if this really is the end to Favre’s football career, I can finally start writing that screenplay. Favre: From the Bayou to the Bay of Green to the Jets and almost to the Vikings. Ok it’s a working title.

What’s even more fun is casting the actors I want to play in the movie about the greatest most indecisive QB of all time.

Another blogger joked about Ethan Hawke playing #4 and I think that’s a pretty good pick.

Not only is Ethan a great actor but he can still play young-favre as well as crotchety old-man-favre, and even strung out on Vicodine Favre.
For Favre’s wife Deanna we have to go with someone classy who can really show a lot of emotion. My pick…Jennifer Connelly. However, if Nancy Pelosi were a few years younger and into acting she’d also do well.
The most influential person in Brett’s life had to be his dad Irv. Irv was a tough one, I wanted to cast someone who could really connect to that hardened blue-collar angry type of character. So Irving Favre will be played by the incorrigible Tom Sizemore.
Two of Favre’s best-buds in his glory-years with the Packers were Tight-End Mark Chmura and Center Frank Winters. For Chmura Dean Cain was an obvious choice. Both Chmura and Cain have a Superman connection, both love to charm the ladies, young and old. Or is Dean Cain gay I forget?
I had to pick just the right guy for Frank Winters. He’s obviously going to be the comic-relief in this film. That’s why despite his youth, I chose up and coming comic actor Jonah Hill to play Frankie-Bag-o-Donuts. I can totally here Jonah making wisecracks as he bends over and Ethan Hawk puts the back of his hand up against his taint.
So what about the guys at the center of last year’s Favre Controversy. The head-coach and GM who took all the crap from fans. Well General Manager Ted Thompson wasn’t too hard. I called up my good friend and comedian Steve Martin who jumped at the chance to play the deadpan football businessman. Steve thinks it will be the role that gets him his first Oscar nomination. It’s about time Steve!
For Packers coach Mike McCarthy we may have to pull off a miracle. I really want Elvis Pressley, but I’m not completely certain he’s available. The verdict is still out, but if Bubba Ho-Tep is an accurate historical film then I should be able to find the King somewhere.
What about other influential coaches from Favre’s past. Steve “Mooch” Mariucci was Favre’s mentor in Green Bay. Mooch is a dead-ringer for Kurt Russel if you ask me.
Of course we can’t tell Brett Favre’s story without the head-coach who shaped him into the quarterback who took the Packers back to the Super Bowl. I was in talks with Wilferd Brimley, but he had a prior commitment, and is a little too old anyway. Instead I found a very talented WALRUS to play Holmgren.
Every great athlete needs a rival. For Brett Favre, one of his biggest on the field was Warren Sapp. Who can forget the confrontations those two had. But Warren also has a goofy side, that’s why I chose The Miller High Life Guy for his role.
I think this film will also need a sports journalist character to help tell the story and provide exposition by filling in gaps and stuff. The sports anchor I know best is Drew Smith from FOX 11. As luck would have it, Drew’s little brother Eric Artell is an accomplished actor. You remember the Pepsi can that fell in love with the hot-dog? (that’s Eric) I’m not really sure who changed his last name Drew or Eric, maybe both.
Drew’s co-host from Inside the Huddle and Favre’s favorite target for much of his career will play himself. Come on, Donald Driver was made for acting! Haven’t you seen those commercials? “The smile is everythang” –ding~!
That’s what I have so far. There’s still a lot of roles yet to be cast. So leave a comment and tell me who you think could play other people in Favre’s life. For instance…Agent Bus Cook is still up for grabs.

Favre Movie Casting Follow-Up

Due to the overwhelming response from my half-dozen readers, here’s a follow up to the Favre movie casting. Thanks to some of you for some great suggestions.
If there are any investors out there with Hollywood connections, please contact me. I truly believe in this project. I’m pitching it to ESPN next week and if I have some cash behind it, that would be sweeeeeet!

First I have to start off with a correction. I know I was just being stupid when I said a WALRUS should play Holmgren. Holly Krause had a much more realistic idea, and suggested the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.
I threw out some other names and got some pretty good responses. Justus Cleveland suggests comedy-great Tim Conway to play Favre’s agent, Bus Cook.
My buddy Zak Bruss must have been reading my mind when I asked who should play Majik-Man Don Majkowski. Matthew McConaughey was born to play #7.
Speaking of #7, how about Aaron Eckhart playing the QB who crushed the Packers repeat dreams at the Super Bowl? Eckhart’s got that John Elway chin for sure!
Of course the Minister of Defense will have to be in the movie. Maybe he’ll even have his own flick someday. I’m thinking Michael Clark Duncan for Reggie White, although I had to photo-shop some hair on him.
Finally, I’ll wrap this crap up with two choices for the future of the Green Bay Packers. And you can find both of them working at Dunder Mifflin. Ryan might be a little closer looks-wise. But last year when Aaron Rodgers had to answer questions about Brett, he usually looked at the camera with a Jim smirk and a shrug.
Then again, maybe I’m moving too fast here. Maybe it ain’t over yet. Who knows? Quarterbacks go down, or stink it up, and by mid-season teams are looking for someone who can throw. Maybe Brett will feel the itch yet again. I’ll have to keep that in mind for my fantasy team. Either way, the ending Favre left me with kind of sucks. Hopefully something else happens that gives the script some closure. And since it’s Brett, I know I can count on plenty of tears.

Beatlemania is back with BritBeat at Waverly Beach

beatles tribute blog post - kasey steinbrinck

Written for The Post-Crescent/Fox Cities Hub January 18, 2010

2010 marks 40 years since The Beatles announced their break-up to the world.

The milestone comes along with last year’s resurgence of Beatlemania. Thanks to The Beatles: RockBand video game and the release of digitally remastered albums, new generations are discovering the Fab Four while longtime fans can hear the band in a whole new way.

You can relive Beatlemania through a tribute show featuring Chicago-based band BritBeat this Saturday (Jan. 23) at Waverly Beach in Menasha.

The four members of BritBeat are definitely a dedicated tribute band. The show consists of three acts, each focusing on a different era of Beatles history. It begins with “The Ed Sullivan Show” era complete with mop-tops and black suits, moves to the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper era, and wraps up with the Abbey Road recording sessions. This will be the band’s third visit to Waverly Beach.

“We’re really excited to be at Waverly Beach again, the crowds there have been wonderful,” says 28 year-old Chris Getsla who started the band and portrays Paul McCartney in the show.

Getsla discovered the Beatles in junior high school when his parents suggested he use the tune “A Hard Day’s Night” for a school project. The song struck a chord with the young teenager, and he quickly became a die-hard Beatles fan.

In high school, Getsla teamed up with his friend Danny Leavitt, who plays George Harrison, to perform as The Beatles in a school variety show. The performance was a hit, and that was the start of BritBeat.

“We actually rode the bus together to school,” says Getsla of his partner and pal Leavitt. “That was the same way that the real Paul and George met.” Other current members of BritBeat include James Lynch as John Lennon, and Dave Robinson as Ringo Starr.

In 2002, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau chose BritBeat to play in a concert welcoming Paul McCartney to the city during McCartney’s Driving USA tour.

In 2005, BritBeat had the opportunity to play with original Beatle’s drummer Pete Best to mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s 1965 concert at Comiskey Park.

Getsla says all the recent attention to his favorite band comes as no surprise.

“In fact from year to year it’s been an increase in interest in The Beatles,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to be waning, it seems to be increasing.”

Getsla claims BritBeat’s show is one of the most authentic tributes you’ll find. If you’ve seen them perform in the past, he says new songs and new lighting effects have been added.

There is a $10 cover charge for this Saturday’s show at Waverly Beach. Tickets may also be purchased in advance. The concert starts at 8 p.m.

Check out the YouTube video of BritBeat below: You can also visit http://www.britbeat.com for more on the band including information about an upcoming Mexican cruise.