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Thread: 20+ interviews, 8 months, no job. What do I do?

  1. #51
    Cyburbian Iron Ring's avatar
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    How's your first 12 Minutes?

    This may or may not help, but it is definitely something to think about for jobseekers. A survey of of senior executives found that while interviews typically last 1-1.5 hours, the interviewer has formed their opinion of the candidate in the first 12 minutes.

    Qualifications are table stakes... communication/people skills is what separates you from the pack.

    http://www.reportonbusiness.com/serv...robAtWork/home

  2. #52
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    My advice is to ask any of those that interviewed you why you weren't selected and if they had any suggestions to improve your future chances of securing a job? Ask what qualities the person has that they are hiring have over you. You need to determine why it is you had 20 interviews and aren't getting an offer. Is it is an experience thing, or an interviewing thing, or something else?

    I know the City of Jackson is hiring a senior planner, but they want experience. It sounds that you are willing to move. MML, MAP, and pzcenter all have job postings in MI. Unfortunately, most of the postings are higher level planning positions.

    Good luck!

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally posted by cch View post
    Crazyblue and AU06grad, I don't know how many jobs you've been applying for.
    I have applied for well over 250 positions. ALL entry level. It's depressing....

  4. #54
    Cyburbian
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    wow, that's a lot. You sending out a general resume? Are these all planning positions? Have you hired a service to do provide you with a mailing list (mass e-mail list?). You need to tailor your (1) resume (2) coverletter (3) portfolio/writing samples to the specific position your are applying for.

  5. #55
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crazyblue View post
    I have applied for well over 250 positions. ALL entry level. It's depressing....
    Have you sculpted your resume to highlight your educational acumen for each position? Try having multiple versions of your resume and tweaking them for each job you apply for.

    Have you performed research on each jurisdiction before you went and talked to them.

    Have you put together a portfolio of maps, writing, etc., that you did while in school?

    Have you sent out thank you letters to each person you interviewed to let them know how much you appreciate the opportunity?

    Do you have thoughtful questions prepared for the interviewer that show you have the capacity to think and not just some standard question you get out of a, "How to interview" book?

    Have you interacted with the interviewer as if it is a conversation or are you sitting there and answering questions without being engaged in a conversation?

    Just some things to think about.
    Satellite City Enabler

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    Have you sculpted your resume to highlight your educational acumen for each position? Try having multiple versions of your resume and tweaking them for each job you apply for.

    Have you performed research on each jurisdiction before you went and talked to them.

    Have you put together a portfolio of maps, writing, etc., that you did while in school?

    Have you sent out thank you letters to each person you interviewed to let them know how much you appreciate the opportunity?

    Do you have thoughtful questions prepared for the interviewer that show you have the capacity to think and not just some standard question you get out of a, "How to interview" book?

    Have you interacted with the interviewer as if it is a conversation or are you sitting there and answering questions without being engaged in a conversation?

    Just some things to think about.
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    wow, that's a lot. You sending out a general resume? Are these all planning positions? Have you hired a service to do provide you with a mailing list (mass e-mail list?). You need to tailor your (1) resume (2) coverletter (3) portfolio/writing samples to the specific position your are applying for.
    My resume and cover letter are fine. My trouble is in the interview process.

  7. #57
    Cyburbian
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    Are you playing up your resume and coverletter, only to find trouble backing it up in the interview?

    What are you doing to research the job before the interview? What are you doing to prep for the interview itself? Give us a detailed list.

  8. #58
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
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    Booming populations?

    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    Concentrate your job search in areas with booming populations. The job market for planners in places like, Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, etc is GREAT! There are entry-level jobs all over the place. Phone interviews are a tough sell for the interviewee, especially if there is a qualified candidate that you can meet in person. Good luck!
    No offense to Plan-it but I have been applying in the Charlotte (within 2 hours driving) region for 4 months. I've sent out 75 resumes and not a single phone call, I did get one email response saying they narrowed the field to people full time planning background. This is a long and frustrating process. I'm working on my "Would you like fries with that?" line.

  9. #59
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    There are gobs of opportunities in GA. We have had a few openings where I work in the past year. We had an entry level planning tech opening for a few months. I don't think we got applications from people who had a degree in planning or any experience. We ended up hiring a local guy with a degree in geography. It has been a learning experience for him! The person that held that position before him had a degree in planning and some experience. He moved up to a higher level position with us in a little less than a year.

    That position has historically been a springboard for people wanting to get their foot in the door of the planning profession. It is expected to have a pretty high turnover rate.

    We have an arborist/planner position open right now. It is a Planner II position so some experience is required. I believe that internships or anything close to planning experience can work if worded appropriately in the application. You don't have to be an arborist, but you have to be willing to take the courses and the test to become one.

  10. #60
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    Well, this gets kind of personal, but I hope you take it constructively. What are you wearing to the interviews? Are you well-groomed, clean, wearing a nice suit? Avoiding slang and swearing? Avoiding complaining, whining, negativity?

    Pay attention during the interview process and see how they are reacting. Are they taking lots of notes when you talk (usually good), nodding, smiling. Perhaps making a joke? If you notice them looking at the clock, not really paying attention, not taking a whole lot of notes, things probably aren't going well.
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

  11. #61
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Same with Arizona

    Quote Originally posted by graciela View post
    There are gobs of opportunities in GA. We have had a few openings where I work in the past year. We had an entry level planning tech opening for a few months. I don't think we got applications from people who had a degree in planning or any experience. We ended up hiring a local guy with a degree in geography. It has been a learning experience for him! The person that held that position before him had a degree in planning and some experience. He moved up to a higher level position with us in a little less than a year.

    That position has historically been a springboard for people wanting to get their foot in the door of the planning profession. It is expected to have a pretty high turnover rate.

    We have an arborist/planner position open right now. It is a Planner II position so some experience is required. I believe that internships or anything close to planning experience can work if worded appropriately in the application. You don't have to be an arborist, but you have to be willing to take the courses and the test to become one.
    There must be a bakers dozen entry level jobs in Arizona right now.....and those are just the one's advertised at the Arizona APA website.....I'll bet there are another dozen open that aren't on that website...... If it were me.....after all the time you spent looking for a job, I would target only the most desperate jurisdictions, just to get your foot in the door someplace.....
    Last edited by The One; 02 May 2007 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Go look someplace else for your cheap entertainment!
    Skilled Adoxographer

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally posted by crazyblue View post
    My resume and cover letter are fine. My trouble is in the interview process.
    If you recognize where your trouble is, then you probably also have some idea as to what your trouble is. Is there anything in particular that you think might be holding you back?

    The interview was a problem for me, too. I learned a lot from mistakes during my first few interviews and worked hard to make sure I improved each time. The hard work paid off, because before long I began getting compliments on my interviews, and now I finally have an offer!

    Another thing that you might want to look into is your references. I recently learned from one of my references that potential employers were all calling with the same concern. Ask your references if there are any issues that potential employers seem particularly concerned about. If there are, find out where they're getting these concerns from and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent them from being issues in the future (your reference may have some helpful tips).

    Keep trying, stay positive, and be confident! You'll find something soon. Good luck!

  13. #63
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crazyblue View post
    My resume and cover letter are fine. My trouble is in the interview process.
    If you are fresh out of school go and have a chat with the school's career centre staff. They may have seminars for doing interviews or be able to provide better advice.

    If may also be worth finding a reputable career coach and getting some one on one interviewing advice and experience.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  14. #64
    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
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    My resume and cover letter are fine. My trouble is in the interview process.

    Hey CrazyBlue! I'm in grad school for Planning now, but have done job/internship hunting for every summer of undergrad and now grad school. This spring was especially unique because I've been out of the country and therefore needed to do phone interviews in many cities where I haven't lived.

    I find that phone interviews can sometimes be as uncomfortable for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee. A lot of time they don't have much experience doing phone interviews (IMO) and they also are trying to envision you in flesh & blood since they have no idea how your body language is, etc... My first few phone interviews were quite rocky - I think I get a bit nervous on them and it would lead me to mumble, I have no landline and sometimes cell phone reception is rocky, and the worst is that there's a loud lycee fraincais next door to me and sometimes the interviews happened during their recess (100 french kids screaming!)

    After a while, you get the hang (i'm sure you know that already), but here are some ways I better prepared. As a result I felt more confident and wound up getting jobs.

    1. Do as much research as possible about the firm/city department... don't just read it online, but also take down notes to better internalize the work. Read reports, if available, and continue thinking about how the work that the place does relates to your education. For example, if you are proficient with GIS, and they have a lot of GIS analysis in their reports, highlight this during your interview. They'll appreciate you taking the time to find out more about their place, and you will ensure them that you know about the work that they do and can identify ways that you can contribute.

    2. Think about questions you might be asked ahead of time, though DO NOT script out your answers (b/c they can tell). Anticipate questions about why you'd want to work for them, past experience, etc. Sometimes they may ask you about your values, group work, where you see yourself in 5 years... if they throw you a question that you've never thought about - don't get nervous. Take a deep breath, wait a minute to collect your thoughts, and answer honestly.

    3. Be prepared with questions to ask them. Think about questions you may have when you're having the interview... like if they bring up some specific projects they've worked on, etc. Feel free to ask them about the rest of the hiring process, but don't have all your questions be about that. Make it clear that you are interested in the work that they do.

    4. Get their contact info! Follow up! And don't forget to send a thank you message!

    5. If it's out of town, look into housing/transit options ahead of time - they may be wary of hiring you because they don't want you to tell them after being offered a position "guess what, I can't rent a place." If you have family/friends in the area, let them know. Say that you can go to location X and meet with a realtor (or set up an apointment, if you can). Make them feel confident that you will work out the whole transition if it's out of town. Don't let them think for a second that you'd be more of a liability than a local.

    Good luck! Keep on working at it and don't give up!

  15. #65
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    it is now month 13....4 more interviews.....no job. my resume and cover letter work fine. the interview process is what kills me. i've done everything that i can think of to prepare (i.e. reading zoning ordinances, master plan, planning commission minutes, and newspaper articles information that i can utilize to incorporate into my interviews), lowered my standards (yes, i have been rejected from planning internships), rehearsed for hours, and no results.

    this experience has left me defeated and emotionally unstable. i've learned that hard work doesn't pay off, and that following my passions leads nowhere. i want to be an urban planner more than anything else. i want to keep trying, but it's no longer realistic. i need to move on somehow. i've been accepted to grad school, but going there won't help me with the interview process. grad school will just buy me time and rack up more debt. further, i can't stay in the Midwest because that'll cause more mental instability in my life. taking that into account, my only other viable option besides grad school is to move to another part of the country and hope that i land on my feet.

    i really want to thank everyone on here for helping me with suggestions, even though my pursuits have been fruitless. hopefully my next move in life will show some results.

  16. #66
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
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    I feel your pain

    It's been six months since I started the job hunt. I've had one phone interview and no follow ups. With a BS we are over qualified for Planning Tech positions, but underqualified for Planner positions. I'm thinking of calling the whole thing off and settling down as an Admin Assistant for life! Good Luck

  17. #67
    Cyburbian
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    You are overqualified with a BS for a planner technician? what is this???? i just got a job as a operations clerk with a municipality with an BA in urban geography, and was passed over for a planning technician because i didnt have any professional work experience.

  18. #68
         
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    hang in there crazyblue!!!!!! I know how you feel. I have been looking for work since Jan. and I have a masters degree. I have had four interviews and three phone interviews and still it hasn't worked out. the fit wasn't right for a few of the positions. hang in there! it's easier said than done. believe me. just keep applying and maybe look at some more places off the beaten track in medium sized cities. there's tons of stuff out there but its hard getting in! i'm discouraged these days too but I what can I do..just have to keep trying..and we need to all support each other because we know how it is to get discouraged. we understand each others pain. I know I'm definitely feeling some pain! *sigh*

  19. #69

    JOB solution

    This is what I have done when in the same predicament- (this has gotten me into 2 new careers)

    1) Don't lower your standards,as it won't help. If you do not think that you are worth top dollar, you will get crap. Who wants someone that does not even think they are worth good pay??? Make sure you know the average pay for what you want to do.

    2) Research the type of job you WANT, and at least 5-10 places you could do this.
    Check to see what associations and such they are members of and attend those meetings and events!!!

    3) Review their business to learn their focus, what type of people they hire, what is the founder like. *** figure out what you can do for them that'll make them money/ increase prestige/ simplify their life- etc. BE SPECIFIC- Choose best 3. places***

    4) Next, find out who to contact- preferably the person likely to be your direct supervisor- tough but worth it- HR = enemy (for now) Learn as much about them, and those around them, as possible. (keep to yourself- don't mention personal stuff as that screams "stalker"- professional talk ONLY)

    5) Make an appointment to meet with said person- Do not take "no"- even if its just a "drop by"- do not get sidetracked into HR!!! If you find that you cant get close enough, do your best to find the closest person to them to meet with.

    6) Meet with them fully prepared- resume highlighting the skills you're "selling"/ data about what you can do for them- not just fluff- make it concrete by using actual examples/ Confident NOT cocky/ Know what you want beforehand/ Dress one step up from their office-wear/ Bring a NOTE for yourself covering all the most relevant details that you got from your research so you don't forget!

    Next step is ONLY FOR THOSE THAT CAN'T GET A JOB IN THEIR FIELD- BEST for recent grads, or new to industry types-
    *****7) Depending on what you are trying to do, offer to either: Train on your own time for a short period, and start the job on a temporary basis once you are up to speed, leading to a FT permanent position when you show your worth. OR:
    Offer to intern for him/her 2 days a week (depending on your schedule) so you can get the experience needed, and so you don't look unemployed to other employers. If you do this, make sure to pick a very well known person, and make sure to learn something- not fetch coffee- it sucks but can get you in when nothing else will!

    REMEMBER- you are NOT desperate, you ARE willing to do whatever it takes to succeed/ to get that job. DESPERATION puts people off. Interning is not desperate, it is a career builder. (even when you ARE desperate, hide it)

    ALSO TRY
    - Find an industry that is complementary, figure out who else needs your knowledge/ skills??? If you find a related- industry, it may not lead to a FT position but you may be able to contract for several at once or in a row (You can offer this in your industry but it is unlikely that anyone will go for it.) *Just put a web-site up and go for it- at least you will have that (entreprenur VS unemployed!)*
    - You can find others with complementary skills and team up with them to offer a broader range of services.
    - MAKE SURE you are going to industry related events/ associations/ conferences/ Group - Network!!! Choose wisely so you don't waste time (see # 2).

    And the advise about what NOT to say was REALLY good!!! I am sure you know much of the above already, but I hope it helps a little.

    GOOD LUCK
    SJW

  20. #70
    Cyburbian
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    False pretences method worked for me, too. That was how I got my first job offer after college, working for a large suburb of 100,000. I even beat out people with masters degrees, because I knew more about the employer than the employer knew about himself, and I didn't just talk about meaningless fluff. It requires a lot of "researching", networking, and of course, luck.

    I think there is a lot of second guessing, when you try to assess the REAL problems at hand (these really arent advertised, you just have to "play" the community/firm and hope you and are nailing the right questions). Confidence is key.

    I eventually turned down the offer to work for a smaller consulting firm (that offer was based more on who I knew). I used the same process for the consulting firm, and I got most of the 411 of that firm from my old co-worker.

  21. #71
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Relentless

    I once called a planning department director (it took about a month and a half to get a hold of her) and told her that I was really impressed with her City. I then gave her a brief summary of my resume and told her that there was a copy in her e-mail for her review. Finally, I offered to intern for her and her staff for free. I did not get a job. However, the City posted a job about one year later and I applied. Not only did I get an interview, the Director remembered me, apologized for not getting back to me, and offered me the job shortly after the interview (I declined). The point is, try anything and you never know what will happen.

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally posted by Valentino View post
    hang in there crazyblue!!!!!! I know how you feel. I have been looking for work since Jan. and I have a masters degree. I have had four interviews and three phone interviews and still it hasn't worked out. the fit wasn't right for a few of the positions. hang in there! it's easier said than done. believe me. just keep applying and maybe look at some more places off the beaten track in medium sized cities. there's tons of stuff out there but its hard getting in! i'm discouraged these days too but I what can I do..just have to keep trying..and we need to all support each other because we know how it is to get discouraged. we understand each others pain. I know I'm definitely feeling some pain! *sigh*
    i've been doing this for 7 months longer than you. i understand your own frustration too, but nothing compares to the frustration that i'm feeling now compared to the frustration that i was feeling 6 months ago.

  23. #73
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Awww, crazyblue, I feel so bad for you, but I want to cheer you on. Please don't give up, and please don't start graduate school just to buy time (my husband did this, and really regrets it, and the debt it has saddled us with). We just had an opening here in my office, for a planner to help with our comp plan, and we only got 2 applicants who are even remotely qualified. The problem here, which we tried to explain to HR, was that they only advertised in the local paper and on our county website . Sometimes you really have to weed the positions out.

  24. #74
    Cyburbian
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    join the peace corps! okay, i recommend that to everyone and i know it usually isn't practical. but, if you have the luxury of having free room and board (i.e., parents), why not do a lot of volunteer work (20-30hrs/week) with local community groups or habitat. it will be somewhat helpful in the job search and, more importantly, will give you something meaningful to focus on other than your career frustrations

  25. #75
    I've been following your plight now for a few weeks on these forums and wanted to second the above posters suggestion to join the peace corps or volunteer your time to get some experience. Alternatively, I would also suggest researching some Americorps programs. I served in 2 different Americorps programs before returning to graduate school for planning. My 2nd year was with a small non-profit that worked within the inner city on political/development issues. While this was not planning experience per se, it gave me fantastic things to talk about when being interviewed for my current entry level planning position (experience dealing with city council, holding community meetings, etc.) Americorps pay is not great (AT ALL), but some programs do provide housing and you get an education award you can use for more school or to pay back student loans and you can defer said loans while serving your year. And if you are really thinking of moving across the country, they sometimes pay relocation expenses.

    I graduated with an undergraduate liberal arts degree and little job experience or skills (and was also a little unfocused). Both of my Americorps experiences were sometimes stressfull and not always what I thought I was getting myself into, but I think they were invaluable because I am able to show on a resume that I was doing something productive for those years and have some relevant experiences to talk about in the job interview process. Just my thoughts...

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