Should You Take The First Job You’re Offered?

Tara Weiss, 01.20.09, 06:00 PM EST

There are often many good reasons not to, even now.

When have you been out of work so long that you should take the first job you’re offered, even if it’s mediocre?

Probably never.

Still, it’s something many job seekers consider as their bank accounts dwindle and the rejection letters pile up.

What should you do? To begin with, try not to get yourself into this fix. Resist the urge to apply for just any job that’s even remotely related to your field. If you take one that doesn’t fit in with your career plans, you may find it hard to rejoin your intended specialty once the downturn passes.

So before blindly sending your résumé to a mass of employers, research each prospective firm, its products and its services. Talk to the human resources contact early on to find out what exactly the position entails. If it’s not something that meshes with your professional trajectory or it’s way beneath your skill level, don’t apply for it.

In Pictures: Deciding Whether To Take That Imperfect Job

“I advise clients to strongly consider whether they want to compromise everything they’ve learned, take a lower compensation package and work their way back up in a company,” says Sandy Gross, founder of Pinetum Partners LLC, an executive search firm that specializes in the financial services industry. “I encourage them to think of their next opportunity as a long-term career move, not something they’ll take for six months and then relaunch their job search.”

Take stock of your financial situation with a professional adviser, if you haven’t done so already. This will help you develop a realistic timetable for how long you can afford to be out of work.

You might learn, to your surprise, that you have time to enhance your skills by taking a class that will make you more marketable. You might even be able to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity for, like starting your own business. Or you might decide you have enough of a financial cushion to join one of the many start-ups being developed by laid-off Wall Streeters.

If your financial outlook isn’t that rosy and you need to take a job that’s not ideal for you, Gross offers a suggestion: Instead of signing on full-time, explain to the hiring manager that you respect the team and believe in the business but you’re not sure it’s the right move for you long term. Are they open to you signing on for six months or a year, to help with certain projects, and then re-evaluating your role?

This is risky, but it could appeal to employers who don’t necessarily want to pay health insurance or young firms that are willing to take guidance from senior level professionals on a short-term basis.

Annie Levy Sandin, a founder of the financial recruiting firm Emerging Globe Group, in Westport, Conn., has several clients in exactly this situation. She’s hesitant to tell them to hold out for something better, especially if they’ve been out of work for several months. But if they do take a job not really related to their field or at a lower than optimal level, they’d better have a good explanation for future hiring managers.

“Is there anything they can come up with that’s good about the job that they can take to the next situation?” Levy Sandin asks. “If you explain things correctly, you can get away with a lot. You’re never going to admit to a prospective boss, ‘I was desperate and had to feed my family.'”

If you’ve been offered a job that doesn’t excite you and also been interviewed for one that does, try to buy more time with the first firm. Contact your prospective manager at the more interesting opportunity and explain that you’re not trying to start a bidding war, but you’ve been offered another job and they’re putting pressure on you for an answer.

Make it clear that this opportunity seems much better to you. Ask if they can tell you what the time frame will be for making a hiring decision.

The ultimate goal is to find something that fulfills you professionally. The last thing you want is to start another job search in six months.

Sign of the times: an unemployed headhunter

Sign of the times: an unemployed headhunter

Geoff Williams
Jan 23rd 2009 at 5:00PM

I used to see John Kennedy on Twitter, posting about employment opportunities for other people. Now he’s looking for his own job.

As anyone who uses Twitter understands, you often follow people you don’t know, and they follow you. It’s like a group of strangers being on a site, and sometimes you get to know them, and sometimes you don’t.

In any case, Kennedy was, as is known in the job recruitment industry, a headhunter. Giant companies, some small and many Fortune 500 types, pay people like him to find competent people for job openings. Every day, I noticed, he would mention some of the types of job openings that were available to qualified folks in the IT industry.

And then one day, he sent out a message on his own behalf: I am currently looking for new job opportunities for myself…

Kennedy, who worked for a job recruiting company in Cincinnati, Ohio, is part of what seems to be an ongoing trend. Google, of course, made news recently when it laid-off most of its own job recruiters. With fewer jobs available, there seem to be fewer opportunities for headhunters. In any case, I dropped Kennedy an email and asked him about his situation, thinking it might be interesting to get his take on the economy, given that he has recently been on both sides of the employment fence. Kennedy, 40 years old, has been out of a job for a little over two weeks now and is now looking for something else, possibly as a headhunter and maybe in “computer support — but that market has been severely contracted, to say the least.”

So how did it happen?
The numbers had been down and were pretty bad for the two last two years, but there was something of an implication there, that I would have the chance to recruit for the engineering side of the business. The formal news came down when I was taken into a conference room by my immediate supervisor and told that it was my last day.

You work with unemployed people a lot — did that help you at all, in how you were able to react to being let go?
There’s really nothing that can brace you for the absolutely overwhelming shock that comes with the knowledge that the source of your ability to feed and house yourself has just been cut off. In this economic environment, it’s doubly frightening as the path forward isn’t clear at all.

Obviously, it’s bad out there, but have you seen the job market worse?
In my 13 years doing this, this is the worst that it has been, with the possible exception of the very first few weeks after 9/11.

So what should any newly unemployed people be mentally prepared for?
At the larger companies, the process is very computer-centric. Thirteen years ago, you would drop off resumes and stop into company lobbies to fill out applications, and you would sometimes even get to talk to HR and hiring managers on the spot, but above a certain size, pretty much everything is done online now.

Are there any good signs that you’ve been seeing?
That there is any activity at all is encouraging. There’s CareerBuilder, Monster and newspaper ads; people are returning some calls. Hopefully, the new administration will also be able to provide some help. I truly believe there will be good days again, but the question is whether or not they will come in time before many, many people suffer irreparable career harm.

And do you have any tips on getting a job? You, of all people, should.
Network, network, network. Even in more “normal” times, it seems the most rewarding and successful placements come through connections.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale). He can be found on Twitter at

14 things to do if you are laid off from a tech job

I saw a great piece of advice in a recent story on U.S. News & World Report called 10 things to do on the day after you’re laid off: “Write a thank-you note to your former boss.” I like that. It can’t hurt, and if your boss hears of openings elsewhere, you’re now that much more likely to get the referral.

Geeks and other tech employees are a little different from the vanilla workforce, though, so I wanted to put together a list of specific things that people in our part of the economy might want to consider if they’re let go. Here’s the rundown.

Quoted passages in this story are from other CNET employees, many of whom, like me, have spent time among the alternatively employed.

Whole article

The Real Way to Get a Job Using Social Media Revealed

The Real Way to Get a Job Using Social Media Revealed
December 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm | In Career Development, Networking, Personal Branding, Recruitment, Success Strategies, eBrand, social media |

The question everyone is asking right now, after hearing about the 1.9 million layoffs in the past year figure, is “how do I get a job”? This is the wrong question to ask yourself because it forces you to apply to positions that aren’t the best-fit for your personality, passions and possibly, expertise. You have to think more broadly!

Read the whole story

Ways Job Seekers Can Find Old Contacts

When Rick Featherstone, 49, was laid off from DHL in August after nearly five years with the company, he dived into his Rolodex to call old network of colleagues and business associates. He figured it would be easy to reconnect. But it turned out that many of his former coworkers had moved on and finding them was a challenge. Mr. Featherstone, who had worked at just three companies over the previous 22 years, quickly realized his contact list was sorely out of date.

Four months later, the former IT manager has found many former colleagues, but in retrospect he says he has learned a valuable lesson: “You have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, you aren’t going to work for the same company for 50 years.”

Many laid-off professionals who’ve worked at the same company — or just a few firms — over their careers may find that their networks have gone stale. Experts recommend networking be done consistently and be nurtured throughout a career, but that’s not always feasible in a world of 70-hour workweeks and family commitments. There are ways to jump start a network that’s out-of-date and to rebuild rapport with former friends and colleagues.
Dead Ends

First, you actually have to find these people. The email address you used a year ago may yield only a bounceback message now. Michael Duncan, 44, was laid off from a software-development firm in late October. While working for the same company for 11 years, Mr. Duncan hadn’t done much networking. “I just had this assumption that I didn’t need to worry about it,” he says.

To rebuild his network he emailed former colleagues, did Internet searches and asked ex-coworkers to reconnect him to people they have stayed in touch with. But Mr. Duncan has had trouble locating former managers for references, particularly a manager who moved overseas, whom he still hasn’t found.

Social- and business-networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo are good ways to find old connections. LinkedIn officials say the site has seen a 36% increase in membership over the past six months as executives scramble to rebuild their networks. You can search by name or company to find old acquaintances. Personalize your network invitation request with a memory the two of you shared or a reminder of who you are, says Cheryl Yung, a senior vice president of outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison. Once you’ve re-established your relationship, you can also view the friends of your connections, and request an introduction to people at companies that interest you.

If you already have a LinkedIn account, keep it current. An update on David Stevens’s LinkedIn status indicating that he was “up for grabs” spurred one of his contacts to alert him to a job opportunity. He interviewed for the job and within two weeks of being laid off, he was back at work.

Once you’ve located people in your old network, a simple holiday card to a former manager or colleague — or calling to wish them a happy New Year — can reopen dialogue, says Ms. Yung.

It can be daunting or uncomfortable contacting people you haven’t spoken to in years — especially when you’ve just been laid off. But, you can use the spirit of the season as a crutch; December and January are prime months to get reacquainted with old friends and colleagues. Also, try to attend as many holiday parties as you can; look for people you’ve lost touch with and speak to people you’ve never met, advises Bettina Seidman, a New York career-management counselor.

Once you’ve made contact, arrange a meeting. “Email and networking sites speed up the communication, but they don’t do the networking for you,” says Liz Lynch, author of “Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online.” Career coaches say it’s critical to set up in-person meetings and attend networking events. Be mindful of your contact’s time; you might not be the only one asking for help. Ask for 10 minutes to chat, or offer to catch up over coffee or lunch, says Ms. Lynch.
Professional Groups

If you’ve exhausted your efforts to find people or need to start from scratch, professional associations are a good place to begin. Associations give you access to other professionals who may work for or have contacts within companies you want to work with. Finding a local chapter is as easy as plugging your industry and the word “association” or “society” into a search engine, says Laura Hill, a career coach with The Five O’Clock Club in New York.

Once you find the association, join up and look for events the local chapters are holding. It’s an opportunity to network with people who will speak your industry language.

If you’ve been in a more senior executive position, consider volunteering to speak at industry and trade conferences or offer to serve on committees for professional associations, says Ms. Seidman. Volunteering to work at professional events like speaking occasions, luncheons and networking affairs are also great ways to meet people, says Ms. Hill.
Back to School

Alumni associations can also be helpful. In wake of the financial crisis, many colleges are ramping up their alumni services and even holding career fairs and networking events for alumni, says Ms. Lynch. Contact your alma mater’s alumni-relations office to get access to their online database. Once there, you can search for old friends by name or class, or search for alumni at different companies or industries you are interested in working in, says Ms. Hill.

Informal networking can also help. If you find yourself standing in line at the bank or grocery store, strike up a conversation with the person behind you, says Susan Guarneri, a career coach based in Three Lakes, Wis. “You should network with everyone you meet because you don’t know who they know,” says Ms. Guarneri, who once got a job after receiving a tip from her exterminator.

And remember, networking is a give-and-take experience. Figure out what you can offer — whether it be a contact, a lunch or a favor. “It gives the signal that you’re in it for the two of you,” says Ms. Lynch.

Write to Dana Mattioli at

Speeding Up the Process of Finding a New Position

If you find yourself suddenly unemployed or if you were laid off months ago, it’s probably no surprise to hear that it could be several months before you’re gainfully employed again. According to employment experts, these days it can take six months to find a job after a layoff. Here’s how to manage an extended job search:

Do a self assessment. Take a step back and decide if you’re working in the industry that’s right for you and using your strongest skills. Before beginning your job search — or if you’ve been at it a while without success — evaluate where your skills will be the best utilized. Deanna Leonard, executive vice president of Williams, Roberts, Young Inc., an executive coaching firm in Winston-Salem, N.C., advises her clients to take a Myers Brigg test or other psychological assessments to get a handle on strengths and weaknesses.

Have a financial plan in order. Take an inventory of your financial responsibilities, savings and debts and construct a financial plan to sustain you; if you did so early on, but the search is dragging out, reassess your plan. Register for health insurance or Cobra benefits immediately; laid-off employees generally have up to just 60 days to register for Cobra once they receive their eligibility notice, says Ms. Leonard. File for unemployment as soon as you’re eligible, as there may be a lag time in getting benefits.

Go beyond the usual suspects. “The hidden job market accounts for 70% of jobs out there, and the only way to reach [them] is by networking,” says Ali Chambers, vice president of ClearRock, an executive coaching and outplacement firm in Boston. Whether it’s by reconnecting with contacts over coffee, attending meetings of professional and trade groups or finding old colleagues on LinkedIn, networking is integral to landing a job today. “Don’t spend all day on the job boards when you should be out shaking hands and meeting people,” says Ms. Leonard.

Make yourself stand out. Hiring managers are flooded with résumés nowadays. Brett Good, president of recruiting firm Robert Half International’s Southern California and Arizona locations, says your résumé should have “return on investment statements” that show potential employers how you can generate revenue, save money, or otherwise make an impact on an organization.

Stay relevant. Stay on top of developments in your industry through newsletters or a professional group. If you’ve been out of work for several months, consider enrolling in a technology class or seminar related to your field at a community college to build on your skills. There are also free online seminars given by professional organizations, says Tony Santora, senior vice president for Right Management’s Transition Center of Excellence, which is responsible for the outplacement firm’s strategy for career-transition services globally.

Be patient. Job searches are taking longer because hiring managers are interviewing more people for open positions than in years past, says Mr. Good. Update interviewers with whom you’ve had a positive experience about your status. And temper your follow-ups with “enthusiasm and professionalism” without becoming a pest by calling too often, says Ms. Chambers.

Write to Dana Mattioli at