Lessons learned from unemployment
After a good long while of unemployment, I finally landed a decent full time job. Here are the lessons I learned while going through the process of getting work:
1: HR people will consider you a *LOT* more hirable if you are currently working as opposed to being unemployed. I've been even told directly that if another company hasn't hired you, they won't.
2: Companies are more interested in what you have done than degrees, in my experience. The degree is more of a filter than anything else. Instead, they want to know what servers you have run, how many people, what stuff implemented, etc. Recent, relevant work history on a resume is probably the biggest factor of determining who gets the badge and who gets the "sorry, position has been filled" notice.
3: UNIX jobs with old standbys pay well. If someone has AIX, HP-UX, or Solaris experience (and certifications), life is a lot easier. Linux follows, assuming one has experience with it in a production environment. And Windows, its random. There, it is a dog eat dog world, and even a load of certificates may not help.
4: Use a disable-able address for your jobsearching. I.e. an alias that you can have all the mail routed to a mailbox to check every few weeks once you have work. Otherwise, you will still get inundated with "We have a position in Bumdung, Alabama for doing this really cheesy project for 3 months, and we are paying $6.00 an hour with no benefits and no relocation compensation." and other crap E-mail. Having another phone number is good too, because you get recruiters with a thick Hindi accent cursing you out because you turned down their bottom-of-the-barrel contract 3 states away, after they called you at some obnoxious time.
5: Use a reliable E-mail address, and hopefully have a phone that can do E-mail, preferably real time Exchange pushes. This is how I managed to score my current position, because I was able to reply fast and get items back even while not near a computer.
6: Watch your Facebook. This goes without saying, but FB is rumored to grant employers friends access as invisible users if asked. This goes double for Twitter because there is no way to delete things one posted there.
7: Grab resumes from peers to see what others are doing. Two years ago, employers wanted 4-5 page resumes. These days, they want two pages max.
8: Drop irrelevant experience off the resume. If an employer sees you repaired Vend a Goat machines for a period of time between IT jobs, they think you might not be up to date.
9: Network, network, network. Get eyeballs and ears. I found my job because of a contact I made because I was part of the cast of a renfaire and was memorable. The jobs you find on dice.com, monster.com, and even indeed.com are usually well picked over before you see them, and are only published because the company has to. In reality, they already had someone for the job, and were just only publishing the opening to make sure all "i"s were dotted, and "t"s crossed.
10: Be prepared to change and change fast. In IT, don't just learn virtualization, grok it. It is likely similar for other fields.