The Trials and Tribulations of Job Hunting

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy looking for a job in this economy. And I am being selective, as I want to work at a place where I am a good fit…and where my new employer feels I am an equally good fit.

I must say that my yard has never looked so good. I completed the paver project on the side of the house, built a retaining wall and leveled out the slope on the other side of the house (using the dirt dug out for the pavers), mowed, edged, fertilized, trimmed, replaced plants, and powerwashed the patio, porch, driveway and sidewalks.

I have even completed a few art projects and painted the family room fireplace/entertainment center area. As you might guess, it is hard for me to sit still. If there is not a project at hand, I am doing laundry, prepping for dinner, grocery shopping, and running all kinds of errands.

Through all of that, I have been job searching. And that in itself is a full-time job. What I have found is that there are lots of businesses that make it their business to find jobs for others, but not all of the services are legit…nor are they very helpful. Yes, there is Craigslist (note that the link goes to the Portland site), which is self help, but tons of so-called businesses take advantage of the service to offer cold-call sales jobs, free (no pay!) blogging opportunities and daily “immediate sales openings for fun, fast-paced modern office” postings. No thanks.

Then there are the scammers (which some of the above could be labeled as). Companies — usually insurance sales, or some kind of “financial services” outfit — find your resume online and, what do you know, they call you as if you applied for a position to alert you that interview time slots are open as early as the next day. Again, no thanks. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…and some of them don’t even sound good.

So my search goes on. I thought I’d share a few of the services/sites that have been helpful in my search for employment. Craigslist is a good option. Just be careful and know that at least 25 percent of postings are bogus and offer get-rich-quick schemes that would likely make Bernie Madoff blush. Indeed.com is a great site, with lots of listings, but it takes a while to weed through them all, and a lot of the jobs under particular categories are duplicated many times over, so sorting them all out takes time. You can post your resume there, too, and be alerted to jobs that match your skills. Mac’s List from Prichard Communications is a great Portland-area service, and most of its postings give prominently placed salary ranges, which is helpful. There is nothing worse than getting sucked into a great-sounding job posting, only to get to the bottom to find it pays $10-$14 an hour. Um, unemployment pays better. Joblab.com is another good site, particularly if you are looking for work in the “creative” field. I will add more helpful links in later posts as I continue on this road of unemployment.

I’ve even tried a few head-hunting companies, but one notable placement agency admitted that for my field, things are tight, and so they were not taking on any more clients. Ugh. But I do have an interview with one such agency next week and look forward to talking with them to see what may come of it. I’ve also been networking through the PRSA Portland Metro Chapter and the Portland Chapter of the University of Oregon Alumni Association. I attended a May alumni lunch and plan to attend the June 11 Duck Biz Lunch at the White Stage Building (where the Portland Duck Store is located) as well. Check it out and sign up to rub elbows with fellow Duck alumni in the Portland area.

I also have gone through the frustration of finding a good build-your-own-online-portfolio site. After a couple of failed attempts with other sites, I settled on Coroflot. It’s an easy, do-it-yourself site, very intuitive, and I had a portfolio up in a couple of hours. And it is easy to add, erase and move items around, add and edit descriptions, and check stats. Here is my online portfolio to view. You can find some of my artwork there as well.

So my search goes on. I am being picky. Finding the right fit is important. And I know that is equally important to the employer, who would rather not have to go through the hiring process within months down the road. If any of you want advice on job hunting, based on my experience the past three months, I’d be happy to help. My email is csivesind@yahoo.com. And, hey, if you have tips for me — or a job for which you think I might be a good fit — please let me know.

Happy hunting, and good luck to all of us looking.

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Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

It is with great hope that you read the headline above in your best Mick Jagger voice, adding “…I’m a man of wealth and taste” to the end. It’s how MY brain works. I started typing the headline, and it just came out as the Rolling Stone’s Sympathy for the Devil, which is a great, great song – musically and lyrically.

I apologize for abusing my blog through complete lack of attention to it. I last wrote in this space at the start of the 2011 college football season (as you can see from the most recent post). Frankly, my creative juices were stymied, and while writing has always been a “happy place” for me, I just didn’t feel like putting fingers to keyboard beyond what was required of me at work.

Which brings me to the real reason for this new post: As of Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, I am no longer employed. I was not happy at my job, and perhaps it showed. But I worked hard and was trying to push innovation, via the website and social media channels. In the end, the announcement to me at 1:30 last Friday afternoon of “this is your last day of employment here,” while it stung slightly, rang with a calming sense of relief.

So here I am…on the job hunt. Unlike my dad who basically held the same job for most of his career as a tool and die maker, my path began in journalism at small newspapers and veered into the association world, having now worked at two “trade” associations. It’s all in my resume, if you care to look. So what am I looking for? A good fit. I want to be creative, I want to be involved, I want to be a contributor, I want to collaborate, and I want to be part of something great by being a KEY cog and not simply just A cog.

As you have gathered by now, I like to write. I enjoy seeing a project, particularly a publication or a print piece, come together. I enjoy wordsmithing. My wife would say I am a social media junkie (Twitter is just so fun and informative). I also understand the administrative functions that underly any successful project, venture or business. I know my way around budgets. I can create a mean PowerPoint presentation. I know enough of Photoshop to be dangerous, and I know that Excel can be your friend.

I still believe in the power of email, but we are in a world in which relying on a single communication tool is, well, shortsighted. It’s not just a generational issue. It’s common sense. I liken all of the social media channels to headlines in a newspaper. People scan for a section or headlines that grab their attention, and off they go. Some people tweet, others post on Facebook, and others find LinkedIn to be their Valhalla. Most people, like me, find a combination of these tools works for them. And I use each differently. And there is something about a phone call or a face-to-face meeting that just can’t be replaced by social media.

Not being a fan of long-winded blog posts, I am going to add three more sentences and be done. In a nutshell, I need a job. I think I have something to offer. If you agree and want to talk, please feel free to contact me at csivesind@yahoo.com or duckufan881991@yahoo.com (sorry for the long email…it’s a long story) or 503-516-7280.

And I promise to fill this space more regularly, and to hopefully do some good while having some fun. Feel free to subscribe and to follow me (@duckufan) on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/Duckufan.

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Here We Go!

It figures that it takes the pending kickoff to the Ducks football season to get my lazy butt back on here writing. No. 3 Oregon faces No. 4 LSU at 5 p.m. PDT on Saturday, Sept. 3, for the Cowboys Classic 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. I am as excited as a fat kid at a mall food court. For the second year in a row, I am forgoing season tickets (for budgetary reasons, and for my sanity’s sake…tailgating and drinking have become my former circle’s focus vs. the football viewing). I prefer my arse on the edge of my seat and my Duck lips whistle in my mouth, cheering on my alma mater. The picture on my blog header is the view from my old seats in Section 37, Row 42 (hence the old…and ugly…white stadium art around the bottom). Oh, the good ol’ days.

I have six SRO tickets for the WSU game, as our good buddy from Australia will be in town, and his one request (besides hanging with us) was to go to a Ducks game at Autzen Stadium. So we are obliging. For the rest of the season, I’ll be in front of my TV on game days.

My wife, Jen, and I at 2008 UW drubbing.

I have so tired of sports talk radio yacking about the game. Let’s just play already. “SEC guy” thinks their conference is the best thing since the seas parted, and overzealous Ducks fans think, for some reason, Chip can get his team over the hump and win a big game. Frankly, I hope so, but until it is proven on the field, the U of O will remain among the also-rans.

I don’t have a score prediction, because frankly I think being a fan of one team or the other precludes one from making an unbiased pick. I don’t even think home-state journalists can be unbiased. If a national media personality/writer makes a pick, and has some sound evidence behind it, then good for her or him.

I like blogs that give readers a bonus for reading to the bottom, so here is my bonus for getting here. As I’ve said in this blog space before, I think too many people take things such as sports way too seriously. This “Porcelain Unicorn” video is moving, and it makes me believe in the human spirit. Win, lose or draw Saturday, I will be proud of my Ducks, and I won’t hate on the opponent, even if I did tweet the image you see below earlier today. It’s just all in good fun.

Beat LSU

 

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No Complaints Here…and Here Comes Pro Soccer

In our crazy busy, fast-paced world, it’s easy to complain. But most of us have no real reason to whine, and if we have issues, we probably had some hand in why they exist. Most of our “complaints” revolve around small stuff. My dad always said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” He’s right. And when you feel like life has dealt you a bad hand, just add some perspective. You could be a resident of any number of the small coastal towns in Japan that were obliterated by the quake (since determined to be a 9.0), the subsequent tsunami, and now continuing explosions at nuclear plants. Entire towns are gone. Just gone. More than half of their populations wiped away. These before-and-after aerial images of the devastated areas are mind-boggling (and the technology to view them is amazing). Throw in radiation worries, and that pretty much is the recipe for a sucky week. So unhappiness at a job, car troubles, traffic, a cold, crappy Oregon weather…all small stuff. Not worth the worry, especially in comparison.

Locally, we have Major League Soccer coming to town as the Portland Timbers join the big boys of U.S. “football.” The season opens on the road at defending MLS Cup champions Colorado on Saturday. Full disclosure: I play soccer, and have since I was 8. I’m a fan, but I have to say in this day of growing demands on and competition for my dollar, I’ll probably only catch a game or two. And I was finally getting use to calling the old Civic Stadium “PGE Park.” As of yesterday, the soccer-only facility is now named “JELD-WEN Field.” Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? But hey, after pulling its sponsorship dollars away from Peter’s Party, the local Oregon door and window manufacturer (follow them on Twitter) obviously has had a deal with the Timbers in the works for some time. I wish I could come up with a better name, but what goes with JELD-WEN? Exactly. Nothing. I suppose the Timbers Army will come up with a clever nickname for the park (I mean field, sorry). The “Timbers Outpost?” “Portland’s Pitch?” Yep, not easy. Follow the Timbers on Facebook to stay up to date.

And should the Timbers lose their season opener Saturday, or their home opener vs. the Chicago Fire on Thursday, April 14, at JELD-WEN Field, just remember…it’s small stuff. Don’t sweat it.

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Return of the Blog…Once Again

For those of you who are Oregon Ducks fans, you know the headline above is a play on the “Return of the Quack” song, by Supwitchugirl. Check out the video for it. I am a proud Ducks fan after this year. Undefeated regular season, Pac-10 championship, close loss in the BCS title game, U of O musical groups such as SWUGirl (see their Facebook page) and On the Rocks gaining notoriety, the Ducks mascot being seen just about everywhere it seems (including the Lee Corso ESPN College Game Day commercial)… But enough about football and things related to the University of Oregon (OK, just a bit more below).

I want to thank Ashley Conklin for getting me back in the blog swing of things. He is about to start a blog, and he is having a hard time coming up with the name of his blog, so I chimed in with some ideas. I’ll post the winning name for his blog, along with a link to his first post, when it’s up. Ashley and I attended U of O together and wrote sports for the Oregon Daily Emerald in 1989-90. I remember a road trip to UW, where we sat in the crazy press box that hangs from the roof of the stadium. When the crowd jumped and roared, the press box bounced. I also recall the Ducks taking the opening kickoff for a big return, and me jumping and shouting loudly (and quickly sitting back down, as I was surrounded by other journalists). After then, I prefered being a fan in the stadium seats than a sports reporter covering Ducks football.

To top off our road trip to Seattle, on our return trip we hit a deer going 65 mph on I-5, just 7 miles outside of Eugene at Coburg. My 79 Celica was totalled. Neither of us was hurt, amazingly, as the animal landed perfectly between my headlights, crunched into my hood, and launched over the top of my car (and not through the windshield). The force of the impact was so hard, my stereo was ejected from the dash. I think Ashley needed a shorts check, and I know I was wide-eyed. A guy behind us hit another deer. A policeman stopped, kicked the carcus off to the side, and gave us a ride back to our apartments near campus. What a night (we got home near midnight), and what an end to a long weekend.

On a serious note, I did watch the State of the Union address last night. It was nice that it was shorter (about 40 minutes) than some from the past. I don’t really care for all of the pomp and circumstance, but I know it’s just how things are, and it’s tradition. My 13-year-old thought all the clapping was stupid, and she kept yelling “Oh my God! There they go again.” But, she is 13, and I had to get her to change channels from a show about battling cupcake bakers on the Food Network to watch the SOTU address. Politics is not my thing, so I’ll not comment anymore other than to say that we take care of the rich WAY too much (bailouts) and the poor too much (bailouts), while the middle class struggles (where’s my bailout?).

Glad to be back to blogging. I hope you are, too. Thanks.

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Smart, Funny, Educated People/Orgs to Follow

Here’s my list of smart people and helpful organizations to follow on Twitter. Some of them have blogs and websites, too. Check them out:

@petershankman - Saw him speak in Portland at a Public Relations Society of America conference. He never sees to amaze me, he usually makes me laugh, and he’s always promoting good causes. And he likes to jump out of airplanes – http://shankman.com/so-you-found-me-on-twitter/

@TheSquare – This is KGW Newschannel 8′s The Square Live @ 7 twitter account, usually run by the show’s producers. The show is a good one, and punchy way to broadcast the news (and not just the serious, depressing stuff we usually get bombarded with). I tried to get Producer Aaron to speak at a gathering of my peers in July, but it fell through. Anyway, check them out – http://kgw.com/thesquare

@JonathanAdams - Fellow Ducks fan who usually posts some funny stuff, and has some fun news to pass along about the Ducks through the folks he follows on Twitter. He’s an Arsenal fan (go Spurs!), but nobody’s perfect. Anyway, just a shout out to JA – http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.adams

@FakeAPStylebook - Always funny posts with humor for the journalism crowd. I RT the ones that make me laugh out loud (resisted putting LOL there). Give the related site a read: http://www.thebureauchiefs.com

@abolishcancer - How can you not be supportive of this campaign? Read the blog – http://abolishcancer.blogspot.com/

@conanobrien - He doesn’t need any more followers, and I don’t watch his show, but his daily posts are funny – http://teamcoco.com

@mashable - For all things Social Media, you must follow Pete Cashmore – http://mashable.com

I’ll post some other cool folks to follow in a future blog. Of course, you can follow me – @duckufan. I RT things I like, and toss out a few comments of my own here and there. Enjoy your weekend, even if for me it lacks a Ducks game to watch. Instead, friends and I will be placing wood laminate flooring in my home office.

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5 Things I Hate (OK, Dislike…Hate is a Bit Strong)

My list of five things I dislike:

1. Boise State’s Smurf Turf. As a Duck fan, I really hate it. The Beavers are REALLY going to hate it on Saturday, despite OSU paying $11,000 to paint their practice field blue to prepare. I hope the scout team was wearing blue uniforms, too. My wife went to Boise State, by the way, so I will root for the Broncos. Although I know the Beavers winning helps the Ducks more. But as I said in an earlier post, it’s only football. It’s not the end of the world either way.

2. Sunday Drivers, Especially When it is NOT Sunday. OK, I tend to drive too fast (hence my fourth ticket via Beaverton’s lovely photo radar last month), but there is nothing worse than being behind a slow poke at any time, especially when you are trying to get somewhere on time. And boy, that Beaverton Police van takes some nice photos.

3. Impatient Drivers. You might laugh at that one reading No. 2 on my list, but I think I get more annoyed at the guy in the Beemer swerving in and out of traffic during rush hour like he is the only one on the road. It’s dangerous, and if no one else is moving (and it’s not a Sunday driver causing the backup), then slow down, dude. Which is why I like the new site called BUMP, where you can use the license plate of drivers to send the “about-to-cause-an-accident” douche a text telling him just what you think of his driving. How’s my driving? “It sucks, a-hole!” Actually, the site seems kinda silly, but I am guessing (if courts allow it), people will use it.

4. Living to Work; Not Working to Live. I even said in my interview for my current job that I believe in working to live, not vice versa. I am a staff person short (well, one is working remotely, but that means myself and other staffers having to handle some events we normally only work on the periphery). Anyway, it has added some undue stress, and the thought of a few extra late nights away from family the next couple of weeks is not appealing to me. It’s why I like New Hampshire’s state motto, “Live Free or Die.”

5. Debt. This one I can truly say I hate. Way upside down in a mortgage (but haven’t and won’t miss a payment), thanks to the housing market collapse, and carrying plenty of other debt, we are resorting to a program that over the next three years will get us out from under this debt. If YOU need help, please consider Superior Debt Services Inc. They have been great to work with thus far. Tell them Cam and Jennifer Sivesind sent you, and we’ll split the referral prize with you. And here’s an idea to our government: Instead of bailing out the big banks and lenders that are screwing everyone over, how about helping out people who are paying their bills, but finally arrive at their wit’s end? We have asked for help (lower interest rates, forgive some debt, give us a break on payments for a few months), but to no avail. So we are defaulting, and using this service. Creditors and lenders only work with you once they are no longer getting any money. So take that, b!@ches.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. As I said before, writing is a stress reliever for me, and I feel better already. Go Ducks!

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