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Thread: Beginning to lose the faith in the job hunt

  1. #1
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    Beginning to lose the faith in the job hunt

    Well, I guess the title explains it all, sorry if it's kinda long winded. Here' kinda the low down.

    I've been out since getting my master's for almost a year. That's after working two years in the construction industry with a degree in architecture and construction. Although I am predominantly looking in the public realm in Texas (Dallas, Houston, Austin) area (mostly due to family/personal issues). I have had many wonderful opportunities (20+) to interview with and have made it to the final cut in all but two cities.

    Now here's where I'm beginning to have the problems. I lost an opportunity for my dream job (in terms of beginning a career). I really wanted to have this job and really did my best. However, I beginning to ask if my best is not good enough. I've had two interviews since my second round of interviews this past Monday and I have one this coming Monday. But I find myself more and more wondering WHY? now. WHY go to an interview and then expend so much more energy and money filling out other information and making more travel trips for secondary interviews just to be told that for a "entry level" position that the candidate chosen was a person who had two years of experience from another city. I've even reapplied for the same position to a couple of cities after the person didn't work out and haven't heard from either. So who ever said that cities like people who are interested by reapplying and such, well, I've had the reverse happen.

    Currently, I am waiting on at least three cities to make their decisions. Had I gotten this past opportunity, there would have been no question, but I know me. I know I am hard working, I am dependable, honest and responsible. I know that I would do the best job I can, isn't that all that anyone can ask?

    What concerns me is that I was talking to a planner that graduated one year before me, and he mentioned how many of his classmates weren't even doing planning. I must say, I'm looking towards that direction. It kills me. I love the idea of planning. I love working with people, working on development and transportation to find good solutions that actually work.

    I've been trudging along and keeping at it. I know some how, whether it be through religion or etc, that something was coming soon and I thought that information yesterday would have been it, but again, I'm going to be facing new graduates soon. Should I worry more? Please help, any stories, advice and/or antedotes to help get over this hump??

    I would be a great appreciation from a person attempting to start his planning career. I apologize if it sounds like a rant, but I am concerned.

    Urban P.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Due to medical issues and other garbage beyond my control, I got my certificate in GIS almost 3 years ago and haven't worked in my field yet. I sometimes wonder if folks will consider hiring me at all, now that so much time has passed. So I think I understand your "losing faith" comment.

    Personally, I am looking at changing my strategy. What can you do other than pick your butt back up off the floor and carry on? Reassess your situation and see if getting "any" job is more important or if getting "a planning job" is still more important to you. No one but you can make that decision.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    If you are a finalist for many jobs, it's just a matter of time. I have two suggestions that may put you over the edge.

    1. Follow up with the ones where you are a finalist and see just where they thought you were lacking. Doing this takes some guts, as rejection is hard enough as it is. If you do this a pattern may emerge.

    2. Consider taking an internship, if possible.

    Good luck and hang in there...
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    My first search and my most recent one were the same. Both took more than a year, and I did not care where I moved. You should definitely expect more of a wait if you plan to limit yourself geographically.

    There is an enormous tendancy for cities to hire people with experience, and at senior levels, with experience in the same state. Thes are hard obstacles to overcome. As I have mentioned to other people, you might consider casting a broader net to find a planning-related job where you can make contacts and shape the job to have a planning function. Community development organizations, downtown organizations, or environmental groups might be an example.

    Hang in there, and good luck!
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
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    Thank You for the assistance.

    One thing has brought to light something else, contacts. For a person one year out, I am suprised at the number of contacts that I have acquired after attending the local APA convention for the past few years, consecutively. It's becoming a common thing that when I am in an interview that the interviewer, at some point, had 1) gone to my college 2)and worked for one of the cities nearby 3)or we have some sort of mutal friend within the state. I consider that a good thing!

    The one thing that I guess I'm experiencing now and I have to learn myself is that I have the contacts and a fairly good base of them. I just need to learn and know how to use the networking.

    Thanks. Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Urban P.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
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    If you are really interested in transportation planning, it is the easiest type of planning job to get ONCE you have some experience. Pays the most too. Tran. planners are in demand. But to make the break into transportation planning, I suggest one of two approaches: 1) try to get a job with the state DOT as an entry level planner, stress your computer experience, etc and desire to learn tran. modeling, traffic analysis, techie stuff; (do not stay with a state DOT for over 3-4 years, unless you really like what you are doing, make the jump to the private sector, work harder but make twice as much money. 2) get an entry level job with a consultant and get them to teach you the basics of tran. planning. The private sector will make a slave out of you as an entry level planner but you will get great experience and you can decide after a couple of years where you want to go with it.
    Good luck.
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  7. #7
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    Don't get discouraged. I got out of school in 1993 - a pretty bad time for job hunting so I started before graduation. I didn't have many contacts. I was pretty naive. I sent off some introductory letters and got enough "thanks but we're not hiring letters" to wallpaper my bedroom. But one planner at a consulting firm had his secretary call me to say they didn't have any jobs but he'd be happy to meet with me to talk. I thought that was pretty cool - especially for a consulting planner who makes his living based on billable hours. At our meeting we talked planning talk ... qualities empoyers were looking for, where to focus my time and energy, where not to bother etc. Most importantly, he gave me the name of a couple of his friends in the field and told me to call them, mention his name and ask for a few minutes of their time. He also told me to see if they would be willing to give me a few other names. It was tough at first to make the calls - I'd worry about what they might think (...am I wasting their time) and it was hard sometimes when I knew I wasn't even interviewing for a job. But it did broaden my network and get me more comfortable talking with seasoned professionals.Eventually one of my new contacts needed to hire an assistant planner and I was on their mind from our earlier information meeting. I ended up getting a job with him. It wasn't a career job, but it was a spring board to the good job I have now. I suppose theres a few morals to the story ... 1) Most planners are good people and willing to talk (and if they're not you probably don't want to work for them anyway), 2) A job or a lead may come up from a contact when you least expect it, 3) it may take a while but if you keep at it you'll do it.

    I look back at it now and it was actually quite a learning experience. It was all under my control. Once you decide to make that call the next one got easier, and so on. But one thing I would suggest is to treat your contacts with respect ... be polite and punctual, don't try to make an informal meeting a job interview if it isn't, don't stay longer than 15 minutes and make sure you follow up with a thank you note.

    Also, in hindsight I wish the job hunt took a little longer. The free time was nice.

    Good luck. Stay at it.

  8. #8
         
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    I only have a Bachelors degree and when I started looking for a job I was very limited geographicaly speaking. It took about 8 months out of school to find an entry level position. I just kept sneding out resumes, trying to stay involved at any level andfinally something came open. I agree with many of the things that Cardinal said, such as broadening your search and looking ot Comunity Development groups, etc....good luck, something will eventually turn up, just don't give up.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Don't give up...................unless you want to drive a beer truck through a local AA meeting



    Seriously, it takes time. I almost went a year from graduation, even though I had been working at a place for almost 3 years. Don't limit your search. Sometimes you have to move in order to get started.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I agree with Cardinal and Rumpy Tunanator
    about not not limiting yourself and being open to moving.
    I am a good example, moving from Colorado to Indiana to get my first.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Keep at it! After leaving my last planning post, I thought I'd dump planning for a while, because the job had been that bad. But after a few months away, I wanted back into the field. It took over a year to get back in, even with a graduate degree and over 2 years experience.
    I had to move to get back into the planning fold. I'm just lucky that about the time my fiancee found out about a future transfer to Houston, a position opened up here. I've been here a year and a half now, and I'm glad that I came. In the year that I was looking, I had many interviews, both private and public sector, but wasn't getting anywhere in the Dallas area. I had one offer, from a county in AZ, but my fiancee couldn't go with me.
    Houston has served me very well. Keep your eyes peeled - I understand that they're going to post a couple of Planner 1 positions soon. They post on the website early in the morning on Wednesdays.
    Last edited by Salmissra; 26 Apr 2005 at 10:38 AM.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  12. #12
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    As many others have said, hang in there. In this area of Florida there are numerous vacancies (I've been contacted by several other jurisdictions and a few consultants, but am happy where I am). My County has 2 openings, another local city has 1, and there are so many more on the FAPA website. It seems to come in cycles in different areas, and hopefully some Texas positions will open up soon (it sounds like they will). When I was limited to one particular area, I pursued my "back-up" career and was about to start work when a planner position opened up. Although it was for less money, I'd rather work as a planner than anything else. Good luck!!!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA
    I am a good example, moving from Colorado to Indiana to get my first.
    Indianer. Huh. Reasonable people there. What' that like??
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Internship

    If you were still in school, getting an internship with a medium sized county or city would be a great start. A national search with applications to places that may not be your first choice of a place to live could help your chances. Try some rural areas that always have a difficult time finding educated and willing entry level applicant's. Play up your ties to the building industry and that you know how to deal with the dark side....that should help.....

    Local government can take eons to hire entry level people.....they often take so long that they loose people. Follow up with all places that you interviewed, since they may often loose their first choice....which can be good for you. The goal is to get a job then experience then focus on what you really want.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  15. #15
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Jobless Planner in Toronto

    I sympathize with you.

    http://plannerjobless.blogspot.com That website will give you some advice on looking for jobs. I mean I have used most of those ideas but still nothing. I didn't think it was that hard to get a job in the US as a planner. Well it seems like it. I have applied to large and small communities both in the US and Canada. Nothing has come up yet. I am starting to lose faith as well. It's been almost a year since I graduated with my 2nd degree, which was urban planning.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by andreplanner
    I sympathize with you.

    I have applied to large and small communities both in the US and Canada. Nothing has come up yet. I am starting to lose faith as well. It's been almost a year since I graduated with my 2nd degree, which was urban planning.
    Wow, I've found the job market in the GTA to be pretty good. Since accepting the job I am currently in, I have been offered interviews with 4 places that I had previously applied to. It did take me 2 years (28 interviews) to get out of the other province I was in though.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  17. #17
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Wow, I've found the job market in the GTA to be pretty good. Since accepting the job I am currently in, I have been offered interviews with 4 places that I had previously applied to. It did take me 2 years (28 interviews) to get out of the other province I was in though.
    But did you have experience? I have yet to gain any experience even though I am part of a non-profit housing board, transportation advocacy group, OPPI & APA. I don't know what industry your in. I don't have experience in planning/zoning. I have studied more with respect to policy.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by andreplanner
    But did you have experience? I have yet to gain any experience even though I am part of a non-profit housing board, transportation advocacy group, OPPI & APA. I don't know what industry your in. I don't have experience in planning/zoning. I have studied more with respect to policy.

    Yes I do have expereince, but have ended up taking a junior job as it provides me a greater opportunity to do what i want in my career. I am a generalist (ie have done a bit of everything related to development review and approval) and am now working in policy.

    My best advice is that don't expect to get a policy job without any expereince, employers expect you to understand how things work in the "real" world before they let you create the world you are going to work in. You might have to change your cover letter and focus for a while until you get a bit of expereince.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  19. #19
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I can relate. It was almost a year between school and my first full-time planning job. Crisscrossed the West and Midwest interviewing for jobs I did not get. Finally, I got hired by Ketchikan Gateway Borough (the old KGB), in Alaska.

    So don't lose faith. Keep at it. Your time will come.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  20. #20
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Yes I do have expereince, but have ended up taking a junior job as it provides me a greater opportunity to do what i want in my career. I am a generalist (ie have done a bit of everything related to development review and approval) and am now working in policy.

    My best advice is that don't expect to get a policy job without any expereince, employers expect you to understand how things work in the "real" world before they let you create the world you are going to work in. You might have to change your cover letter and focus for a while until you get a bit of expereince.

    Well I have tried applying with the private development side and with municipalities as a jr planner or even counter help. No one is willing to hire me w/o land use planning experience. I have 2 degrees in public admin and in planning so they kind of go hand in hand but most of my focus has been in policy, especially in transportation and housing. I have sent different cover letters for different positions no matter where they were located.

    Remember it's some of the planners who are lazy and aren't willing to train those who are looking to gain experience. It's a well known fact in the industry and if you looked at the recent edition of the OPPI journal, you would have seen people would agree.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by andreplanner

    Remember it's some of the planners who are lazy and aren't willing to train those who are looking to gain experience. It's a well known fact in the industry and if you looked at the recent edition of the OPPI journal, you would have seen people would agree.
    I do read the OPPI journa, as as the boards most interviewed person (over 30 interviews in 2 years) I felt your frustration. I think the issue in todays job market is that those of use with expereince are looking to move on and up to more interesting places. I served 1 long sentence in the middle of nowhere and a very short sentence in canada's most famous small town before ending up where I am now.

    As for difficulty finding that first job, I graduated from school when Mike Harris was first elected and fired a large percentage of the civil service and cut transfer payments, so I understand that pain.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  22. #22
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    I do read the OPPI journa, as as the boards most interviewed person (over 30 interviews in 2 years) I felt your frustration. I think the issue in todays job market is that those of use with expereince are looking to move on and up to more interesting places. I served 1 long sentence in the middle of nowhere and a very short sentence in canada's most famous small town before ending up where I am now.

    As for difficulty finding that first job, I graduated from school when Mike Harris was first elected and fired a large percentage of the civil service and cut transfer payments, so I understand that pain.
    Ya for me my story is kind of different. I graduated with public admin think I would get a government job. Of course I went through the Harris cutbacks too and didn't land anything. Next thing u know I was stuck in the doldrums of back office work in various investment firms. Got frustrated, went back to school and got my urban planning degree.

    Everyone tells me the only way to start is to go to places in the middle of nowhere, get your experience and then jump ship after 1 or 2 yrs. One of my friends just got a job with a small township near Barrie. Sure I am willing to sacrifice (as long as they help with travel expenses because being on a student loan and having to pay it back just doesn't cut it). That's why I would go to another country to work. I was supposed to go to the US on Fri for an interview but of course I couldn't because I don't have the money to spend.

    Anyway you catch my drift!

  23. #23
         
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA
    I agree with Cardinal and Rumpy Tunanator
    about not not limiting yourself and being open to moving.
    I am a good example, moving from Colorado to Indiana to get my first.
    That brings up an intresting question.. Moving, especially across country, would require a large chunk of money. Not justthe costof moving, but finding a place and rent and deposit (if it is an apartment) or making several trips to find a home. I know when I graduated there was no way I could have a couple of hundres saved up, much less anything over 4 digits. My question is how does someone have money to move for that forst job? especially if they don't have ANY job to begin with?

  24. #24
         
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    Quote Originally posted by blakrain
    That brings up an intresting question.. Moving, especially across country, would require a large chunk of money. Not justthe costof moving, but finding a place and rent and deposit (if it is an apartment) or making several trips to find a home. I know when I graduated there was no way I could have a couple of hundres saved up, much less anything over 4 digits. My question is how does someone have money to move for that forst job? especially if they don't have ANY job to begin with?
    I know in the UK that some Local authorities offer resettlement expenses to people they hire. Is that not possible in the US? No idea otherwise, perhapse they borrow money from their parents or have relatives that they can stay with for a little while until they get set up.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by blakrain
    My question is how does someone have money to move for that forst job? especially if they don't have ANY job to begin with?
    I had some cash saved from my previous job, but had to borrow some money from my brother once I got to my undisclosed location. I looked for apts. before I left, but didn't get anything until I was down here. I had the job, so if I couldn't find a place to live, I had a tent and could always sleep at the office. Sometimes you just have to dive into the unknown...........


    Or you could take out some more student loans...............
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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