Thursday, December 28, 2006

See Ya Later, 2006

Had my last interview of 2006 today; got through it despite a bad headache caused by a stiff neck. Still waiting on a couple of job-related e-mails, but it's looking likely that I won't be back in work by January 2nd.

Tomorrow is another day though, so unless I post something, wishing you all a great 2007!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Party Break

Christmas is over, turkey for the next 15 lunches, New Year's Eve on the way. Let's have a break to find a job!

Just completed a telephone interview, went well, downtown tomorrow for a face-to-face chat.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

It was a jungle out there today as I made my way to Mississauga through the rain and craaazzyy Canadian drivers for the morning interview. Got back and made a telephone interview appointment for next Wednesday with another company.

There's other stuff going on behind the scenes though.

So, nothing left to say this week except Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day Out In The Sun

I'm in a good position at the moment, personally, so decided to leave the computer den behind and venture downtown on a beautiful sunny official first day of winter.

First port of call was lunch with a freelancer who used to write for me at Silicon Valley NORTH, now a good friend. Very skilled and dedicated, so if anyone needs a good tech writer give me a shout and I'll pass it on. (We said 10% commission, right Pat?)

Then onwards for a job agency meet. Very interesting; I met all the top people there -- some I'd met before, some only by e-mail -- and we discussed some possibilities. I know for sure that I took myself out of a few vacancies they had, but they didn't suit my skills and personality. Others could be coming along soon though, so might lead to a nice opportunity.

Then a quick stroll in the sun took me a few blocks where I had a Guinness with someone who used to be in the SAS (Special Air Service) and a tour of the members' club where they meet. Very interesting indeed. Amazing to hear some of the stuff that goes on.

Got home, did a quick tour of duty of my own around the job boards, pretty sparse today... all the recruiters are off Christmas shopping I expect.

Interview tomorrow morning, last one before the holidays -- time to research the company.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Johnny C's Juicy Jobs Of The Week

[Weird title, huh? Not if you've listened to any of the podcasts it's not, but this is a family-friendly blog.]

First order of busines today was to fax my invoice for a freelance article I wrote recently. That will be featured on a website to be launched very soon. I accepted a lower freelance rate than normal for two reasons: (1) It's a new launch, so will have the heck promoted out of it and my name gets a nice boost, and (2) The subject matter pertains to a situation that could help me big time, so by losing a small bit of cash with the lower rate it could reap much larger dividends in the future. Time will tell...

Also found out that a few ex-colleagues are reading my blog. Thanks chaps, much appreciated! Still feels like I'm there with you playing Xbox games in the kitchen instead of making the company money. Good memories. Oops, too much? [Insert ironic smiley icon here, not sure what intricate combination of commas and semicolons to use for that wry facial expression.]

So, here's a few tips for anyone else out there looking for a new job. In no particular order. You're welcome.

Be Patient
Unless you're the only person in the whole world who can do your job, you won't get a response to your application the next day. Sometimes not even for a week. Be patient, send it and forget it. They will call you for an interview if they're interested. Move onto the next application and remember that you haven't got a new job till you sign that contract. All the talk and negotiation is just part of the game.

Salary Is Not Taboo
I always ask the salary range in the first interview, or even on the phone when I get called if possible. It's better not to waste people's time if it's not in the range you're looking for. I got strung along years back through three interviews before finding out it was a salary that was much too low for my experience. Only made that mistake once.

Pack, Not Pad, Your Resume
There's two camps on this. The "one-page bullet point resume" or the "three-page detailed resume." I have tried both ways in the past, and have found that the latter gets more response. Put your profile, relevant experience and accomplishments at the top for the "HR scanners" who want that quick hit of info. But include the rest further down. Don't leave them guessing, or force them to make an extra phone call to fill in the blanks. Make their job easy and lay it all on the line when you apply. Takes a while to put a full resume together, but it's worth it in the long run. My opinion only, and I know people will disagree... but it's my blog.

We Want God To Work For Us
No they don't. Most job descriptions list all the qualifications that the ideal candidate will have, for example, God. Don't be put off applying just because you don't have skill #29 out of 40. The ideal candidate doesn't exist. If you have 75% of the skills the company is looking for, it's worth going for it. They will train you or outsource the rest. But be realistic. If it stresses "Must speak Spanish" and you don't, then you're going to look a right tool when they ask you to phone the sales office in Madrid and translate for the CEO.

Negotiating the final offer is a game of tennis. They lob an offer at you... you take a step back, think about the return... and lob the ball back with a spin on it. Unless you're extremely lucky -- or the person in the first tip that is the only one who can do that job -- then you won't get all you ask for. You have to compromise and look at the big picture. Make sure the offer is a fair one, and feel good about it, otherwise you will resent the company as having put one over on you when actually start the job. It's only downhill from there. You gotta work for a living, so at least enjoy it and feel like you're being aptly rewarded. You'll do a better job too.

Send Two Applications
When you apply, if it's just an or e-mail then use that, but also research someone at the company who heads the department you are aiming at, and cc them the e-mail too. [Risky if the person you cc doesn't realise it's their job you're applying for. Oh well, that's business life, and means HR aren't being discreet enough if that happens.] All the "hr" and "info" applications will go into one slush pile, but hopefully yours will be rerouted through the company and get noticed. This tip worked for me recently actually... but I aimed for the boss of the company as a long shot.

Get A Life!
Don't spend all day in front of the computer looking for a job and panicking. You'll be running around the Internet like a headless chicken. Have a system and stick to it. Get out, grab a tea, hit the gym -- don't feel guilty that you're missing opportunities, they will be there tomorrow.

[Disclaimer: By having read all the above confirms you agree that a new job is not guaranteed. You can't not agree because you've already read this sentence, thus agreeing. So you can't sue me. Good luck!]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sometimes 2nd Is Good

2nd interview today, also got a late e-mail last night for an interview on Friday.

How come the week before Christmas has been the busiest yet? Yeah, I been a good boy Santa, bring me a job.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Britney Spears Is Not Person Of The Year

I just wanted you to know that. I also wanted you to know that it's also a blatant linkbait title, as "Britney Spears" and "Person Of The Year" are the top two searched terms on Technorati today, so will bring me some extra traffic on a quiet Monday.

So, plans for this week. Got the 2nd interview call I was waiting for, so that's tomorrow, followed by another interview somewhere else. Busy afternoon downtown.

The business profile article I recently wrote for a new website that's launching soon has been accepted, just negotiating a fee for that. Was under the assumption it might have led to something more permanent, but that's to be discussed too once the site launches.

Waiting on a follow-up call from Friday's interview, hopefully will lead to a 2nd.

Back downtown Thursday to see a job agency. All the events this week will probably be the last shake of the dice before the holiday period.

Checked my stats today again, getting quite a few referrals from Meaghan -- thanks! (Charlie Parker looks cool.)

On another note, my travel website is being featured in a book that's coming out in the UK soon. They e-mailed to check some details... apparently it was in the last edition too and I never even knew.

Today's dreadmill album was The Charlatans. [Little-known Make Johnny Cash factoid #26: We had a friend in the UK -- Dave Collins -- and his brother Mark was in the band. Never got free tickets though.]

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Snip

Too busy to post yesterday, just chilling tonight and spotted who Time has chosen as its Person of the Year: You.

As I mentioned a few days ago, it's now Web Who.0.

Full article.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Digg You, Man

I always write the blog entry in my head during my daily hour on the treadmill. Or "dreadmill" as I call it because I hate exercise. (Thanks, Miss Kittin, for the awesome mix to get me through.)

Today I was thinking about how tiny the Web really is. My stats have been excellent since the Metro article yesterday -- I now know that other people apart from my mum and Greg Hughes are reading it -- and I have a job interview tomorrow as a result of it.

The irony? In the article I talk about readers in Australia knowing someone in Canada... but somone who used to run a pub just down the road from my condo spotted me, and sent me a lead. Talk about a small world!

My job agency meeting was postponed today, so I had time to analyze some of the blog's stats. It's quite surprising some of the companies that are checking it, totally unrelated to my field. But that's great too, they might know someone. As for Australia, there is a reader there too so if you DO happen to have a cousin who works in media HR in Canada, then give me a shout.

I also noticed some referrals from Digg, which is useful too. [If you don't know what Digg is, then I have two possible responses: (1) Move along, there's nothing to see here; or (2) I can help you with that.]

An e-mail arrived today asking which PR company I worked for, and what product I was stealth marketing?

Sorry man, I'm real. I am not a Lonelygirl15 looking to make a quick buck. Forget the "Make Johnny Cash" moniker; that's just a catchy URL, easy to remember. Ignore the Google Adwords on the left; that's just code I already had from my other website... and I made a whopping $3.50 from it today which I splurged on a sausage and egg lunch at a terrific greasy spoon.

People who know the real me know that I am not an in-your-face personality. In fact, I'm more a behind-the-scenes shirtsleeves-rolled-up person. But when circumstances change, like... umm... UNEMPLOYMENT... you have to do what makes you feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes and lay it on the line.

In fact, the Metro article yesterday was only the 2nd time I've ever been in front of thousands of people. The other time was when I appeared on (don't laugh) Jonovision in 2001 to talk about cheap travel in Israel. Scariest experience of my life actually. No crowd tougher than a teenage audience.

And while writing this someone else just called with an opportunity, but it was a night shift. Appreciate the call, and thanks, but I like my work/life balance too much for those hours.

So, all in all, a cool day. Looking for more traffic once the article is posted on the Metro website and has a clickable link.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Good Morning, Metro Readers

As a former editor, I know what makes their job easier. You contact them, offer a unique story with a nice angle that's tailored to their publication and target market, supply a source, even a photo too.

So that's what I did the day after being laid off. I got in touch with the Canadian media and offered them 800 words to fill part of the careers section in their respective publications. Told them about my blog, job search efforts and would they be interested?

Metro stepped up to the plate, and today's article is the result. Much appreciated guys! Free ink for you, and free PR for me.

So, if anyone out there likes my initiative, attitude and determination to get back into Commuter Land with my own copy of Metro to read on the TTC then please contact me at the e-mail on the left. Thanks.

Download article as PDF.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Web Who.0

October 9, 2006 was the day that "Web 2.0" became "Web Who.0."

That was when TechCrunch confirmed that Google had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. No small change, especially as the video-sharing site had no apparent revenue stream.

So what do I mean by Web Who.0?

Things had moved on since cool new sites sprang up -- normally ending in "r" like Flickr, for example -- with blue and green logos reflected in a shiny white background with nice rounded corners. Internet group hug.

Anything could be done on the Web. Applications were shared, people logged in and corrected information using Wiki software and the Web was once again one big community, run by the users and not the corporations. They had to scramble to keep up and adapt. Rupert Murdoch saw the light a while back and snapped up MySpace for a -- with hindsight -- bargain price of $580 million, now valued at around $6 billion [his words]. Even though millions of people use it every day, it still looks shit.

But that's not the point. The point is that people don't care how something looks or works, they just want to see themselves on it: "Hey, Grandma Scratchett, this is Timmy. I just uploaded a funny video of me falling in a puddle of water on YouTube, come and check it out! 234,754 other people have!" Web Who.0.

Or: "We're a new band called Satan's Sweaty Socks, totally cool and the NEXT BIG THING! Come and hear some of our music on MySpace. Even Lindsay Lohan and some dude called Tom are our friends, they linked to us!" Web Who.0.

There was an article I spotted yesterday about Metacafe shopping themselves around for a buyer. They value themselves at around $300-$500 million. Just a figure thrown out there. The question is who will buy them, not for how much. Web Who.0.

I joined Web Who.0 by setting up this blog. It's about me. Using Blogger, no big deal, there's lots of free blogging applications out there. Who is this guy? Why should we read his blog? What is he doing? What has he done? Who links to him? Who subscribes to his RSS feed?

And the all-important one... who will he be working for next?

"RECRUITERS are stealing your IDENTITY"

Interesting post on Craigslist, seems a very all-encompassing statement. There is a police e-mail, but take that with a pinch of salt. Sure if a genuine employee they would have given a bit more guidance.

"beware if you send your resume to these so called recruiters. they post jobs that don't exist, it's called phishing. your info is then sold on the black market to the highest bidder. do not reply to any 3rd party ads, only directly to the company you are applying too. email:"


Monday, December 11, 2006

2nd Interview

Been invited back for a 2nd interview, excellent. Trying to arrange it for Thursday afternoon as I'm downtown for an agency meeting in the morning so can just head there after a Subway or Tim's.

Friday's brainstorm was great. Think I bonded well with the techie as it's the first time I met her, and that's half the battle before starting a new project. We actually mulled over the idea of a 2nd site too, so will probably get started on those this coming Friday as side projects.

Have been playing phone tennis with another job agent for a while. Finally got to speak to her today, but unfortunately the opportunity involved dealing with a lot of advertisers, so it wasn't for me. I can build it, but you gotta sell it!

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Million Dollar Kid Is Back!

No, not me. I wish. The guy I mean is Alex Tew, he of the Million Dollar Homepage that caused one of the biggest viral buzzes on the Internet since it started. "Buy a pixel advert? Are you crazy?!" He made a cool million bucks.

I mention him because he just launched Pixelotto a few days ago, and has already sold $127,000 worth of ad space. The hook is that people who don't buy ads also have the chance to make a cool million. You'll have to check the site to sign up. I have.

"So, John... why are you mentioning this in your job search blog?"

Thanks for asking. I interviewed Tew for an article at and was very impressed with his attitude. He was on the verge of making a million, doing -- let's be honest -- nothing. All he started with was a unique crazy idea that people initially laughed at, then jumped straight on once they saw how fast it exploded. There have been many impersonators since, but the original is still the best.

On the phone he was very relaxed about the whole thing, had no ego even though his site was No. 1 on the Web for a while. He was a Brit too and we all know they're a cool tribe, right? ;-)

[If you ever see this Alex, how about donating a few spare pixels to my blog, old mate? Old pal. Old buddy.]

I hate to use that phrase "think out of the box" but that's what he did. I say why put yourself in a box in the first place? Too confining. That's one of the reasons why this blog exists -- to try a new approach to getting a great job. I haven't seen a blog like it, and if there is one out there, by all means let me know so I can mention it.

I'm not an Alex Tew. I won't make a million with this blog. Would be nice, but that's not the point. But I admire him for trying something new to achieve the desired result, and I am too.

Good luck, Limey!

So, other matters...

The good news is I have another interview lined up at a cool company. Bad news is it's not till the 19th. Ah well, wish it was sooner but other people's schedules are not as, well, free as mine at the moment. Good job I have Messenger open to feel connected to the workforce, otherwise I'd go stir crazy.

A guy called JT contacted me to add my blog to a new feed that's launched. I appreciate the personal touch, so here's a plug for that: Outpost Earth.

And now I'm off downtown to meet a former colleague and his coding guru for a few beers and a brainstorm on our new website to be launched soon. Very unique, and there won't be a pixel ad in site.

See you Monday, have a great one.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A Monster Amount Of Spam

Just searched Monster, and got the following results:

It's very frustrating to see the same job repeated a few times, day after day. Monster... please! Check your code to stop this, or hire me to come and sort it out for you. Also it doesn't look good for C4 Marketing Solutions who may not be aware that it looks like they're spamming the job boards. But if they are? Hmmm. Not a good form of marketing, if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Two Agency Calls

Got two agency calls while out running some errands. Made a meeting time with one for next Thursday, waiting to hear back from the other (a great online opportunity).

Short blog today... gotta head downtown now for the first Christmas party of the season. Lot of media people will be there so I can relax and network at the same time.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Planning Ahead

Busy one today. Had to answer a slew of questions for some "John PR" that I'm working on. To that end, had to get in touch with a former contributor that used to write a column for me, get them involved, then take some photos.

Also set a meeting for Friday with a friend and his former work colleague. Been mulling a new website idea for a while -- it's very unique, nothing out there like it -- so need to sit down with them and get a plan of action going. Very excited about it! Won't be my full-time day job, but something to do on the side. Who knows? It might explode and be my full-time job, we'll see.

Turned down a "can't pay you but please get involved" offer. Loved the site and subject matter, but need to put my energy into finding something to pay the bills at the moment. Left it on good terms though, so might still contribute in the future once I'm back on my feet.

[After all that was sorted out, planned some Friday night research into drinking a Guinness or two.]

Monday, December 4, 2006

Let's Just Back Up A Bit

Got my most important task of the day out of the way early... posted Christmas cards to my family and friends in the UK so as not to miss the deadline -- they'd kill me!

I chased up a media lead that I thought might have been history, but the contact is interested in talking to me about something, so that looks exciting. More on that if it happens.

Sent an article I'd written to a freelance journalist that used to write for me at Silicon Valley NORTH. He might be able to use it fully for another publication, or as the starting point/background research for his own article. Would be great PR for the person profiled, and good for me too if things progress as I hope they do.

Final task was to visit and download all the work I did there, and convert to PDF format so that they're easy to e-mail as writing samples. I've already done that for all my older work. Then I converted all my references too, and sent copies to a spare e-mail address as a free off-computer server. Realised that if my PC got fried I would lose all that hard work and history, so took the time to archive it.

I decided not to link directly to any of that stuff from this blog -- but they're all available for any serious potential employers that want to see some of my editorial work, and references.

A Shout Out To Fred Langa

I'm mentioning Fred Langa for one reason: traffic.

He has a tech e-newsletter called The Langalist that has over 150,000 subscribers. If you link to him, he adds you to a forthcoming issue and there's an explosion in your stats. I have linked to him for a few of my other websites in the past and the results were excellent -- so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Most of the readers are in the US, but one thing leads to another sometimes. Plus, it gives me a great boost in the Google rankings.

[So, welcome Langalist readers! Pass my blog details onto your HR person, thanks.]

Friday, December 1, 2006

Reading Between The Lines

There's a lot of stuff you can say in a resume, whether it's one page of bullet points or a 10-page masterpiece (that won't all get read by the way), but that doesn't tell the whole story.

The personality of the person applying for the job is important too. Will they be a good fit for the role? Will they get on well with the team already in place? Do they say one thing to you and mean another?

A work ethic is something that you can't write down... it's something that you should already have built in. My work ethic is very high -- but you expect me to say that right? This is a job search blog after all. ("Nah, we thought you'd say 'I'm bloody lazy and only want a job because daytime TV is crap.'")

Here's some extra info that you won't see on my resume, just to fill out the profile...

Contrary to popular opinion, in England our parents don't send us up to clean chimneys at the age of five, and we don't live in a cardboard box "bah tha side of t' road." (Thanks Monty Python.) But I did "start work" when I was around nine. I used to get up at 6 a.m. for a newspaper delivery round. It was only about 30 houses I delivered to, but when you're a kid it seems like a real job.

Come rain, shine and snow, I did that for about two years and earned the grand sum of three pounds a week. Saved up for comics, toys and a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer which -- in those days was like the Xbox 360 or PS3 -- and had the 48k of memory I thought would last forever. Christmas was good because there'd be an envelope stuck to most of the doors containing a few extra pounds from the customers... all apart from Mrs. Brown at no. 32, cheap old biddy. (She had a hair sticking out of a mole on her cheek too, funny what you remember.)

Anyway, started our version of high school at 11, and outgrew the newspaper round, but was really into earning extra cash apart from the pocket money my parents gave me. So I started a part-time job two days a week after school and Saturdays. That was in a greengrocers (grocery store) just stacking shelves, making sure the fruit and veg was fresh, that sort of thing. Stuck at that for a couple of years too.

So, high school finished at 16 and I was thrust out into the real world. Through my dad's friend (already networking!) I started as a messenger boy working in a London stockbroking firm. I had to carry stock certificates and other documents across the city, menial back office duties and -- my all-time favourite job -- clean out the coffee machine. Cool!

After the fifth time of spilling coffee dregs down my 1986-style light grey suit and yellow tie, I decided enough was enough and asked the company to pay for me to attend a class after work once a week to become a "real" stock dealer. They were the whizzkids of Thatcher's Britain at the time, gelled-back Gordon Gecko hair and Porsches, and I wanted in.

So, took the class for two months, failed the exam the first time, passed the second -- and I became a junior dealer on the desk. Of course I was everyone's whipping boy, always are in that high-octane, big-pressure monied environment, but it was cool, fun and exciting. I was very naive though, and didn't understand the way the world worked...

One day a partner upstairs in the hallowed halls had a bit too much gin and tonic at lunchtime, and screwed up a big order that put the company in a lot of financial trouble. Of course, being the new kid on the desk, I had to phone around the markets and clean up the mess. I was pissed off that I had to work double hard to clear up that guy's mistake who had been in the biz for years, and made some comment to a colleague about "the old fart being drunk again" or something. Of course, that comment wasn't taken well -- even though it was true -- and I was told not to repeat stuff like that. [Blogs are great, aren't they?]

From that moment I realized it was them and us. One set of rules for certain people, and if your face doesn't fit or you don't play the game, then you're screwed.

I was out of there at 19, strapped a backpack on and saw the world -- well -- Australia, Asia, The Middle East and a lot of Europe anyway. Best education is life education, and it changed me as a person. I wrote a book about two years in Israel too.

Went back to college at 24 to get my journalism career underway, which is what I'd always wanted to do anyway, and the rest is all on my resume.

I now bring a wider outlook to my career and always look at the big picture in situations. I take a deep breath before making major decisions, I'm not quick to judge people, I speak my mind (which offends some, but at least we both know where we stand), I always rely on my instincts and make sure that anything that has my name on it is the best it can be before it goes out the door.

So, that's all the extra stuff that doesn't include words like "synergy," "process management" and the classic "let's run it up the flagpole and see how it flies."

But, I can still say more in an interview situation. Hint hint.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday back in the job search trenches.