Dear J.T. & Dale: I haven’t had to look for a job in 30 years. I realize I’m lucky in that each time, my next job just sorta fell in my lap. I just got laid off for the first time, and I’m in a complete panic. I know I have no job searching skills, and I am prone to depression. What can I do to keep myself from falling into a funk? I’m already feeling completely overwhelmed. — Tara
J.T.: In this situation, my advice is to block off just 10 to 15 minutes a day to focus on your job search. When you’re faced with something as daunting as learning an entirely new skillset, baby steps are the way to go. It’s actually why I named my company Work It Daily. I know that if you can just spend a few minutes each day starting to learn about job search, you will build on that experience and before you know it, you’ll be engaged and will feel like you have an idea of what to do. You may also want to find an accountability partner. Somebody who is also looking for work that you can check in with every day so that you can stay positive and support one another. Most importantly, don’t give up — the good news is that you have no bad habits! Since you’ve never really looked for work before, you can’t mess it up. You can only learn and grow!
DALE: One reason that searching for a job can be depressing is that you have that one giant goal, and every day without a new job is a day you failed ... unless you redefine your goals. If you want to say, run a marathon, you don’t consider every day without running a marathon a failure; no, you learn, you work and you get better. Same with a job search. Set goals like reconnect with at least one former colleague every day, or identify two target employers each week. As you study job searching, you can readily identify such targets, and as you set sub-goals and reach them, you’re succeeding and thriving while moving toward that new, best-ever job.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I graduated with my college degree in the middle of COVID, and I can’t get a job now because there are no entry-level jobs. Why is it that every company expects you to have at least two years of experience? How am I supposed to get that experience if there are no entry-level jobs? — Garth
DALE: We used to hear about that Catch-22 experience a lot, but now, not so much. That’s because the economy has evolved to what we could call the American apprenticeship; that is, internships. That’s how college students get experience and how companies hold tryouts for prospective employees. This is one reason you don’t see companies posting entry-level positions. So, you’ll need to do more than search for posted job openings.
J.T.: When it comes to your first job out of college, what you lack in experience you need to make up for in enthusiasm. My advice is to put together a bucket list of companies that you admire. This will require a lot of research, but once you’ve got this list together, you can start to look at the jobs that they have available. For the ones that require two years of experience, I would suggest reaching out to the recruiter and asking if they’d be willing to consider a recent grad who is very passionate about their company. And then provide some details about why you believe in what they do. This proactive effort by a recent grad shows professionalism and character. The more you can do this, the better your chances of getting an opportunity to interview. And in some cases, the company might even have entry-level positions that they haven’t posted because they didn’t want to get inundated with applications. This is called the hidden job market, and it’s one of the best ways for recent grads to find their first position!
Jeanine "J.T." O'Donnell is a career coach and founder of the leading career site WorkItDaily.com. Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators' Lab and author of "The Weary Optimist." Send questions to Talk Jobs c/o King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or visit JTandDale.com.