Bypassing Human Resources

Hello, Anita,

Hello, I am 56 years old and have been taking care of my mother who is 94 for the past six years. She has many doctors’ appointments, some only days apart. I haven’t been legally employed in this time, but I keep my skills up to par by doing “side jobs” now and then. By trade I’m an Industrial Spray Painter, working over the years for military contractors, sub-contractors, and factories.

Recently I’ve tried to reenter my field, trying to find a second or third shift position. This way I will still be able to help my mother out and work in the evening or overnight. Unfortunately, due to my time off I can’t get past the HR department. I believe that I’m being dismissed immediately due to the six year gap. If I could talk personally with the foreman or plant manager and take the spray and written test that is generally given to be considered for hire, I know I could win them over with my talent and knowledge of the field. But you have to deal with someone in HR that knows little to nothing about a person’s talent. They only look at the date of your last employer and write you off.

I’m always open to suggestions…

Bypass_Sign_iStock_000024740925Dear, Painted into a Corner,

You may do better with your “good ol’ boys” network than with HR managers. According to Jobvite, 4 in 10 job seekers have found their best job through personal connections. On the other side of the desk, 64% of recruiters say they find the highest quality candidates through referrals, so a savvy HR professional would be thankful to hear about you from a company employee.

Contact former supervisors and coworkers, even the clerks at the paint store to see if they’ve heard of any job openings that might be a fit for you. Ask if they know any plant managers or foremen at the companies for which you’d like to work.

After exhausting your personal contacts, log on to LinkedIn to see if you can connect to the right people. It’s like that 90s Kevin Bacon game, “six degrees of separation.” Check out my primer, Lessons on LinkedIn, to get started. Be sure to click on the “Jobs” tab and enter keywords related to your experience. Save the search and set up alerts to let you know when new jobs open up.

While scrutinizing LinkedIn profiles, pay attention to any industry associations to which your connections belong. Consider joining and attending meetings and turn your networking know-how into introductions, appointments, or key contact emails – and follow through.

Do some homework to research and identify the top 10 businesses in your area likely to hire someone in your field. Check each of their company websites see if they have a “Careers” page.  If not, even better! They may be a smaller company without a human resources department. Put them on your target list. A charming phone call to the receptionist could yield the hiring manager’s name – and more, depending on the chattiness of the gatekeeper.

Working with (not against) HR

There is a danger when trying to circumvent the system put in place to maximize an HR manager’s time and resources. While a creative, unconventional, or disruptive approach may work, there is a very real possibility it will backfire. You could be seen as someone who can’t or won’t follow directions or an obnoxious boor who doesn’t respect these professionals’ time (NOT great qualities in any employee).

businessman over stretchedWhen submitting a résumé online, be sure to take advantage of adding a cover letter if the option exists. Mention the elephant in the room – your six-year gap. Explain (without going into too much detail) that you have been caregiving for the past few years while keeping your skills current and are eager to reenter the workforce full-time. While references are often requested at the interview stage, preemptively include a glowing reference letter from a past employer or a testimonial letter from one of your freelance clients.

I saw this fitting description on a chat board: “HR screeners are rather like the wait staff in a restaurant. They’ve been given an order by the hiring manager and usually lack the flexibility to substitute one ingredient for another.” If a search term doesn’t match exactly, sometimes the screener (which may be a computer) will reject that application. Be sure to tailor your résumé using keywords found in the job listing.

Experiment with a functional format for your résumé, which may help focus the attention on your skills and away from your gap in employment.

Readers: Have you successfully done an end run around HR to secure a job? Tell us your story!


Lessons on LinkedIn
Gaps in Employment
Functional Format for Résumés

Hire for Culture

Dear, Anita,

I am interviewing for a replacement member of our team and have narrowed it down to the two top applicants. They are equally qualified in almost every way. How do I decide between two really stellar candidates?

Dear, (Eenie, Meanie, Miney,) Moe,

Square Peg in a Round HoleWhat a great problem to have! I often hear complaints that there are not enough qualified applicants for open positions.

It sounds like you have thoroughly analyzed their hard skills, but what about their soft skills and interpersonal rapport? These traits can be harder to quantify. You want to make sure the potential hire is a good fit with your company’s culture – the tacit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of your organization’s management and employees.

If you haven’t already, invite both to interview with your manager, HR supervisor, or even the company president. (If you are the head honcho, schedule another informal interview in a more relaxed setting, such as a coffee shop, to get a different take.) Here are some sample questions used to determine cultural fit:

  • Tree_iStock_000021275060Describe the work environment and management style with which you are most productive and happy.
  • How would your coworkers describe your work style and role within the team?
  • What is most important to you in making your next career move – money, recognition, stability, challenge, or environment?
  • What motivates you to come to work every day?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What is your super power?

Try to avoid nebulous questions like Barbara Walters’ infamous, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” or just plain odd questions like Stanford University’s “Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?” unless you work for Marvel or DC Comics.

After the interviews with other managers, confab to get their impressions of the two candidates. You don’t want to make a decision solely on the fact that one candidate likes the same football team as the rest of you, but the applicant who is sports-oriented may fit in to your company more readily than the equally-capable bookworm.

Arrange for each applicant to spend a few hours or a half day shadowing the employee they are replacing or attending a department meeting. While they’re bound to be a little nervous and may not be able participate fully, you’ll get valuable insight seeing them interact with your team. And they may self-select out once they see what it’s really like in the trenches! Cultural fit is a two-way street.

There is no clear-cut test for cultural congruence. When it comes down to it, you’ll need to make a gut decision between two awesome candidates. Chances are, either one will work out, but paying closer attention to the culture issue could make all the difference.

Readers: How does your company screen for a cultural fit?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Hiring and Retaining in Your Company Culture
Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend
Onboarding New Employees
Creating a Recognition Culture

The Poppy Seed Effect: Urban Legend?

Hello, Anita,

Is it true that eating a poppy seed bagel can cause you to fail a drug test? It’s my favorite breakfast!

Poppyseed_Bagel_iStock_000020753418Dear, Positively Negative,

Rumor-busting website Snopes says TRUE! Back in 1998, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that oversees federal workplace drug test regulations upped the threshhold for opiates (drugs produced from poppy plants) from 300ng/ml to 2000ng/ml. But not all drug testing companies that serve the private sector use this higher threshhold.

Employers use drug screening as a tool to maintain a safe workplace. I, for one, am glad drug testing is federally required in certain industries where safety is imperative. In addition to pre-employment drug screening, tests can be performed when there is reasonable suspicion of drug use by a supervisor, after an accident at work, before returning to work after substance abuse treatment, and when the company has a policy of random or periodic testing.

Most employers request the standard 5-panel urinalysis drug screen that detects street drugs such as cocaine, PCP, opiates (heroin, codeine, and morphine), amphetamines (including meth), and THC (found in marijuana, but also in lesser quantities in hemp foods and cosmetics). A 9- or 10-panel screen additionally tests for prescription drugs such as oxycodone, benzodiazepines (mood elevators like Valium, Librium, Xanax), barbiturates (downers), propoxyphene (Darvon), or methaqualone (quaaludes).

Many drugs stay in the system 2-4 days, though some drugs may linger longer. Chronic marijuana users may test positive up to 3-4 weeks after their last use. And for chronic bagel-eaters? MythBusters TV show hosts tested positive just half an hour after gorging on poppyseed pastries – all in the name of science.

What about that Medical Marijuana card? Even in states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes, the legal protection is generally construed to be from criminal prosecution, and is not considered a free pass for any positive employment drug test results. Recent court rulings seem to favor employers over employees, so you may want to switch to a cinnamon raisin bagel and avoid hemp milk for your morning meal.

Readers: Have you ever failed a drug test for non-drug use? Tell us about it.


Crimes and Misdemeanors
Disclosure of a DUI
Drug Testing – Necessity or Discrimination?

Workaholism: A Necessary Evil?

Hey Anita,

My wife is complaining that we haven’t taken a vacation in 6 years. But she doesn’t understand that I have to work non-stop to keep up with my job. Our kids are in sports and camps, and I can’t afford to be get lackadaisical. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I need to keep pace with the pack. But my long hours are causing a lot of friction in my marriage. Can you give me some arguments to help me prove to my wife that not taking time off is the price of success in our modern business world?

Workaholism_InfographicDear, Marty Martyr,

National Workaholics Day was this past Sunday, July 5. Admit it – you checked your work email.

You are not alone. A hefty 79% of respondents to a Select Family web poll consider themselves workaholics. Gallup reports that while half of Americans work 40 hours or less per week, the other half work 41-49 hours (11%), 50-59 hours (21%), even 60+ hours (18%). The last thing I want to do is help you argue with your significant other, and these stats don’t measure success – only time spent. A Huffington Post article observes, “Many feel, with some justification, that a 40-hour week would be career suicide.”

Working hard is one thing; being addicted to your job is another. Workaholism is a pattern of long hours, working beyond expectations, and a consuming obsession with your job. Workaholics Anonymous has 20 questions to ask yourself to see if you are taking your commitment to your profession too far. Beyond the obvious (Do you work more than 40 hours a week?), there’s one that seems to apply in your situation: Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else [like vacation]?

Americans leave 429 million vacation days unused yearly, according to Oxford Economics, which noted that a heavy workload and peer pressure prevented some from taking their earned PTO. Heck, even the CEO of the U.S. Travel Association had trouble getting his employees to take more than $350,000 in accrued vacation.

There’s always one more call to make, one more email to answer. And, God willing, there will be one more day. Instead of trying to “finish” everything each evening, learn to be okay with leaving some tasks for the morning – or next week – and try to relax. The world, your industry, and your company will manage to muddle on without you for a week or two while you embark on that much needed vacation.

The consequences of workaholism are stress-related health symptoms, sleep issues, decreased productivity (did you get that one?), and an increase in work-family conflicts. If you continue on this exhausting path, you may just find yourself married to your job, and nothing else. Research by Dr. Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., reveals that workaholics are 40% more likely to get a divorce. Or worse, you could make your wife a widow. Those who regularly work 11+ hours a day are 67 percent more likely to develop coronary disease, according to a UCL study.

My advice? Have a heart and address your family’s vacation deprivation. To quote Harold Kushner, “No one ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ ”

Readers: How many hours a week do you clock for your job? Do you feel pressure to work more than 40?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

The Importance of Vacations
What Faking an 80-Hour Week Tells Us about Work Culture
Stop Rewarding Overwork
Rules for Requesting R and R
Asking for Vacation Time

Texting on the Job

Dear Anita,

Lately I’ve noticed that one of my employees is texting all throughout the workday. I’m not unreasonable. I don’t mind a text here and there, but I feel like half of her time is spent on personal chit-chat. How can I address the situation?

Texting_on_the_Job_00001161700Dear, Vexed about Texts,

Americans send 208,333 text messages every second, totaling 18 billion texts daily, according to the CITA-The Wireless Association and Nielsen. We use texts more often than phone calls these days to keep in touch with family, friends, and coworkers. While the vast majority of those responding to our Select Family poll think that it is not okay to send personal texts at work, the Millennial generation may disagree. The numbers indicate that 18-24 year olds are especially addicted to texting.

Texting on the JobAs I mentioned in my blog post The Multi-Tasking Myth, productivity suffers when you are interrupted, whether by another work task or the buzz, chirp, or ding of an incoming text.  In a recent study in the Higher Education Journal, half of a class was requested to text the professor three times during a lecture and the other half was not allowed to text.  Who do you think retained less information and scored lower on the pop quiz afterwards? The texters, of course.  A University of Waterloo study in the workplace similarly found that cell phones created too many distractions for employees to complete their office tasks.

Customer service may suffer because of text distractions. It’s incredibly rude for a worker to engage in texting (personal or otherwise) while handling a customer face-to-face. Even when on a call on the business line, an incoming personal text can cause less than 100% attention to the conversation at hand.

Staffers who drive for their jobs should be especially careful not to text while at the wheel. And employees who have a company-provided cell phone should be aware that any texts or images sent and received are company property (think twice about “sexting” on your work cell).

Vexed, is this just one bad apple ruining texting privileges for the whole team? Depending on your company size and culture, you may wish to add a texting policy. Think carefully, though, because a strict policy could backfire by decreasing employee morale and thus productivity.

If you feel your company does needs a written policy, check out Quickbooks’ article Tips for Establishing an Employee Texting Policy. Here is one example of a texting/cell phone policy:

XYZ Company is committed to providing a work environment that is safe, customer focused, and free of unnecessary distractions related to personal cell phone usage. Cell phones must be set to vibrate or silent mode instead of sounding ring tones. The company encourages a reasonable standard of limiting personal calls and text messaging to breaks and meal periods. Employees are asked to make all personal calls and texts on non-work time and to ensure that friends and family members are aware of this policy. Flexibility will be provided in circumstances demanding immediate attention.

As a manager, you may want to make exceptions for special situations, such as when an employee’s family member is ill. In another for instance, parents of latch-key kids will be more distracted until they get that text message that their child made it home safe and sound.

But if you feel a formalized policy is overkill (or you’re afraid your workforce of younger employees will mutiny or jump ship), have a chat with your serial texter about the inappropriate amount of messaging during work hours.

BOL (Best of Luck).

Readers: Do you send personal text messages while on the job? What is your company’s policy on texting?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

The Multitasking Myth
TextSpeak Tip-Off
Run Better Meetings
Top 10 Interview Fails

6 Survival Strategies for a Job You Hate

Hi, Anita,

I work for a small private company where I am under-appreciated and basically black-balled by the owner and my co-workers to the point I am ostracized and alienated. Obviously there is no chance for promotion; in fact, I have had to train new hires who have been promoted over me which is a very humiliating experience. I realize that the only option I have is to resign.

Dear, Anita,

My supervisor is such a control freak, micromanaging my every move. He is very patronising and doesn’t give me any room to think for myself. I feel like I am suffocating all the time. He also tends to leave important things that require my presence til near the end of the day. When I am staying til 7:00 pm after being there since 9:30 am nearly every day of the week… I am exhausted! It’s taking a toll on my health, productivity and sanity!

 Ready to commit career suicideDear, Job Haters,

Before you take the drastic measures depicted in the movie Horrible Bosses, promise me you’ll try these first:

  1. Have a Heart-to-Heart with Your Boss.
    If you really feel that you are being treated unfairly, schedule a face-to-face meeting to outline your position. Keep the language neutral and non-accusatory, and rein in your emotions (“I feel under-appreciated” instead of “You don’t appreciate anything I do for this company!”). Offer solutions (“It would be helpful if you could let me know my important tasks before lunch so I can finish them by day’s end.”). Give the situation enough time to improve, and if nothing changes, involve the Human Resources department, if you have one. If there is still no satisfactory resolution, proceed to #2.
  2. Keep Calm and Carry On… with Your Job Search.
    I rarely recommend quitting your current job until securing a new position. Devise an exit strategy with a timeframe goal and the steps you’ll need to reach your target date of starting a job at another company (e.g., set up alerts on all of the job boards, send out 3 résumés a week, attend the monthly industry association meeting, and network with at least 5 people).
  3. Consider Self-Employment.
    Not for the faint of heart (or light in savings account), take stock of your life skills and see if you could turn one into a profitable business venture. Research, research, research before taking this giant leap.
  4. Learn New Skills.
    Explore the proficiencies you need for your dream job. It’s easier than ever to find training at local colleges or online courses, for fee or free. Take advantage of any training that your current company offers to increase your marketability. You may even be eligible to move up or laterally within your organization (and possibly away from the sources of antagonism).
  5. Set Personal Goals.
    Focus on your life outside of work. Sign up for a marathon (or just make it to 10 sit-ups tonight). Learn a new language and plan a trip to a country where you can practice your accent. Digitize your family photo albums – all 47 of them.
  6. Create Your Own Fun.
    You have the power to make your job better with humor. Play Business Buzzword Bingo while enduring an endless meeting (though yelling “Bingo” when you hear all of the overused phrases is not recommended). Treat yourself to a double macchiato with triple whip after finishing your report. Invite co-workers to lunch (make the office a taboo subject), and play the “whoever looks at their cell phone first pays the bill game.”
  7. Be a Duck.
    Ducks have waterproof feathers to let the storms of life roll off their backs. Don’t let the minor annoyances of your workday upset you. You don’t even need to read the classic book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff to adopt the title philosophy.
  8. Remind Yourself Why You Do What You Do.
    Print out your company’s mission statement and post it on your bulletin board. Gaze at the framed photo of the family you’re working to support with your paycheck and health insurance benefits. Clinton_Survival_Tips_0515

Readers: How do you cope when a bad day at work turns into a week, a month, or longer?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Keeping Employees Happy
Energy Vampires at Work
Stay or Quit
Being Thankful

Hiding the “Gray” on Your Résumé (and Beyond)

Dear, Anita,

I’m 61 and graying. I get job interviews because I have a great résumé, I do everything right, I am usually the most qualified with years of experience and training. However, I do not get hired. I believe it is my age. I try to emphasize my energy and work ethic. I make it a point to tell them I go to the gym regularly and I’m a triathlete. I still don’t get the job. What can I do? I’ve even tried coloring my hair!

Hiding_the_Gray_000012255136Dear, Motivated Methuselah,

Over the past three decades, long-term unemployment has been more common among older men and women, spiking after the Great Recession, according to AARP. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people 55 and older were far more likely to be unemployed long-term (44.6% compared to 22.1% of those under age 25). But the news isn’t all bad. A CareerBuilder survey indicates that 57% of private sector employers plan to hire mature workers (age 50+) in 2015, up from 48% two years ago.

Let this old dog see if she can teach you a few new tricks to get you on the road to employment.

You’re a prime candidate to take advantage of the “old boys’ club.” Networking is almost twice as effective as applying to internet job boards, so reach out to old contacts, via social media or tried and true phone calls and face-to-face business mixer events. While I applaud your foray into hair coloring, please be sure your LinkedIn profile picture resembles the current in-person you. (As an aside, I really don’t get the #grannyhair trend where young women intentionally go gray. I fought it for years – and lost!)

Explore jobs outside your given areas of expertise (you may need to have several customized résumés on hand). This may mean a pay cut. If your retirement account can afford it, lower your salary requirements to compete with younger workers. After all, it may be better to have some wages flowing in than none at all. In fact, you may need to postpone your retirement, as this TradePost article direly predicts.

You say you have a great CV, but other mature professionals may not have the best mid-life résumé. The functional résumé may be the best way to age-proof this first impression. In the accompanying cover letter, walk that fine line between touting your vast experience and coming across as a fossil. Be sure to pick up on any software requirements in the ad postings, and stress your up-to-date tech skills to combat this common misperception about older workers.

Interview_Men_PinterestInterview-Women_PinterestTo prepare for interviews, dress in stylish clothing – without trying to look like a hipster. Ladies, lose the banker suit (unless you are applying at a bank) and have a youngish depart­ment store sales­person help you select a modern yet professional outfit for the big day. Check out my Pinterest boards for visual ideas for interview wear for men and women. Follow Anita Clew while you’re there!

During the interview, don’t come across as a know-it-all, especially if you are interviewing with a youthful boss. You want to accurately portray your experience, but still seem like a team player who will work in harmony with people of all ages.

The silver lining is that graybeards are consistently more engaged, have admirable work ethics, and as a demographic waste less time than their younger counterparts. Before long, you’ll find an employer who doesn’t think you’re “overqualified” (frequently a euphemism for too old).

Boomers: How have you age-proofed your presentation when seeking a job?
Hiring Managers: What impresses you about “mature” job applicants?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Functional Format for Résumés
Getting Hired (or not) Based on Age
From Self-Employed to Employed
Still Working at 100? Not Going to Happen
Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Find a Reverse Mentor

Dear, Anita,

I’ve owned my business for 34 years now, and try as I might  to keep up with all the new technology and trends, I don’t know if Facebook is still cool, if Instagram is out, or if something else is the next big thing. I understand my business has to evolve and change with times to reach new and existing customers and even to create a company where people want to be employed. Do you have any resources for keeping in step with what’s trendy?

Reverse_Mentor_000011786220Dear, Wanna Be Relevant,

You have probably  mentored your share of employees in your tenure. To mentor means to advise, guide, or train someone, especially a younger colleague. But have you heard of a reverse mentor? One of those 20-somethings in a nearby cubicle could be more “digitally mature” than you! While you may struggle with new technology and social media, these skills are second nature to Generation Y who grew up interacting with devices since they were toddlers.

Don’t be offended by the thought of being “trained” by a young whippersnapper. Large companies such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Time Warner have formal reverse mentoring programs that help them broaden their brands’ reach and increase revenue.

Think of it more as an exchange of ideas, with both sides receiving benefits. Maybe “reciprocal mentoring” would be a better term. Tutoring sessions should be a two-way street. While your reverse mentor may help you create an account on LinkedIn or Twitter, you may explain why his idea to tweet some inside information would have a negative impact on the company long-term. You want to be pushed outside of your comfort zone, but temper the hip, creative ideas being offered with your experience, insight, and strategic thinking.

To keep up with trends, issues, and news headlines that affect today’s businesses, subscribe to The Select Family of Staffing Company’s blog TradePost. Both mentor and mentee will find food for thought for their next session.

Readers: Have you ever been in a reciprocal mentorship? What was the most eye-opening advice you ever received from your mentor?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Meet Your Mentor
Cracking the Millennial Consumer Code
Lessons on LinkedIn
Online Reputation Monitoring


Inviting Coworkers to Personal Events

Dear, Anita,

I’m having a BBQ and inviting some co-workers. Do I have to invite my boss? I’m worried that it’ll make some feel awkward. And how do I keep it a secret from the other people at work I’m not inviting, so they won’t feel slighted.

Dear, Miss Mannered,

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At HomeWith the summer wedding, cookout, and party season upon us, the guest list dilemma often crops up. A simplistic answer could be extrapolated from elementary school birthday party etiquette – either invite the whole class or no one from school. But depending on your company size (and the acreage of your yard!), it could be impossible to invite every coworker.

If you work with a small team, you may want to invite your entire department, boss included. Then it’s up to each of them to decide if they are comfortable attending or not. Many supervisors understand that employees may prefer to socialize without the boss, and will gracefully decline.

Managers hosting parties should include their entire team if they invite anyone from the office at all to avoid the appearance of favoritism. Be careful, however, not to give the impression that attendance is obligatory.

If you want to keep your barbecue guest list to a few close chums from the office, invite them personally (not via your work email) and mention, “We’re trying to keep it small.”

For weddings, most people understand the per-person dollars and cents connected to each guest (and their plus one) invited to a reception, so you don’t have to avoid all mention of your wedding plans in the break room. Still, you may wish to say something to those who just barely didn’t make the cut. “I’d love to invite the whole office, but our budget simply wouldn’t allow it.” Diane Forden, Bridal Guide editor-in-chief, thinks it’s wise to invite your supervisor to your nuptials.

Each workplace has a different culture based on the combination of personalities involved, so use your intuition and common sense when composing and implementing your party list.

Readers: Do you or don’t you invite your boss to personal events with other coworkers?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Celebrate the Smart Way
Holiday Parties, Payouts, and Perks

How Long to Find a Job?

With college commencement ceremonies approaching, I’m answering a question I received last summer to prepare this year’s graduates – and job seekers from any era! – for the realities of the employment market and to provide hope and encourage tenacity.

Dear Anita,

I am a recent college graduate and I am having the hardest time finding a job. Granted I have been out of college for just a little over a month and I was recently told that on average it takes about 6 months if not longer for a college grad to find employment. Is that true?

How Long to Get a Job InfographicDear, Month of Sundays,

I am often asked by discouraged job seekers of all ages some variation of the question, “How long does it take to get a new job?” Check out our infographic for some eye-opening statistics. Then, let’s see what we can do to skew your interval between jobs to the short end of the spectrum.

Recent college grads as well as the recently unemployed may start out their job search in a flurry of activity. Then, day after day of entering and reentering information into online applications, coupled with disappointing rejections or no response at all, takes its toll. Keep on keeping on, as they said in the ’70s.

Stay busy. Volunteer work will prevent self-pity… and can pad a skimpy resume. But be sure that job-seeking tasks don’t fall by the wayside because of your do-gooder endeavors. Calendar time for scouring job sites like or and applying to feasible postings. Find networking opportunities to cut weeks off your job search time. Practice mock interviews with friends. Create your personal brand.

If your résumé isn’t getting you offers for interviews, it may be time for a revamp. Download a copy of my e-book, Anita Clew’s Guide to Better Résumés.

Expand your opportunities by expanding the borders of your search. Are you willing to move?  This may be easier for a carefree college grad than for the family man with kids in school and deep roots in the community.  Look in less likely places for jobs. See my posts, “How to Find Jobs Not Advertised on the Top Job Boards,” Part 1 and Part 2.

Lower your standards. If bill collectors are calling and the welcome on your friend’s couch is wearing as thin as the fabric, I advise you to take something, even if it is not your dream job. You can continue the hunt for greener pastures while gainfully employed.  Consider temporary work with The Select Family of Staffing Companies to get those weekly paychecks rolling in. Those who have lost a job may have the added incentive of the looming expiration of their unemployment insurance benefits. Most states’ benefits last 26 weeks, but a few states have shorter or longer periods.

Finally, keep a positive outlook. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Readers: How long did it take you to land your last job?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Job Search is a Marathon, not a Sprint
Reasons for No Résumé Responses
Including Volunteer Work in Your Résumé
ATS 101: Demystifying Applicant Tracking Systems

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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