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Few things rock a sense of self more than getting laid off.

I should know, I’ve had 4 employers in the past 18 months.  You may immediately think, “What is she doing wrong?”  Sometimes I think that myself.

But I work in the garment industry.  Unfortunately, like publishing, the music industry, and analog media, my industry is shrinking.  And paradigms of these businesses are changing.  There is now a permanent freelance and intern class of workers.  In shrinking industries such as these, creative job searching is key.

Inevitably, after losing a job, there is a period of grieving.  I’ve found the best cure to the bruised ego is to get back into the saddle as soon as possible.  Here are my 6 tips for bouncing back, and landing a new position.

I know the word “branding” is overused, but this is the digital age, so we all must package ourselves like a Godiva ballotin. Here are some personal branding tips:

  1. Polish your resume: There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping you write a great resume. Explore and use them.  Here’s one on my faves:   http://resume-help.org/resume_writing_tips.htm
    • Don’t forget the cover letter: Even with e-mail or online applications, a killer cover letter helps get you noticed.
    • Update your LinkedIn profile: Those resume tips above work great here too.  Consider investing in a professional profile photo.  Repost interesting articles to get your profile noticed, or better yet, write an article showing your writing skills and creativity.
    • Scrub your social media presence: Hide all those pics with the red plastic cups.
  2. Assess your skill setBe humble enough to admit there is always more to learn.  Stay relevant and take classes where needed.  Some excellent free choices are: Coursera, MIT Open CourseWare, and even Lynda, LinkedIn’s online learning arm, which offers 10 day free trails.
  3. Write your elevator pitch: That 30-60 second narrative that tells who you are and why you are perfect for the job.  Practice it in front of a mirror till you have it down.

Lisa Sheridan, Communications and Media

  1. Network:  You never know where a job lead can come, it could be from a friend of a friend.  So tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job.  Do not be ashamed!
  2. Practice mock-interviews Enlist the help of a good friend and role play some interviews.  Become comfortable with talking about your accomplishments.  Gather quantifiable data about why you are the right choice for the job.  “At my previous position, I was able to grow sales by 10% by improving our social media presence.”  Our own Career Services here at SPS can provide valuable insights on this step as well as the entire job hunting process.
  3. Remember to follow up: Don’t forget the thank you notes, the follow-up phone calls, and keep recrafting your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn Profile.

Finding a new job is a full-time job.  But with diligence, creativity, and a spirit of adventure, you will land a new post in no time.

Designer, single mom, and ongoing student, Lisa Sheridan is busy juggling life, work, and academics as an undergraduate in the Communication and Media department.

I came back to school in 2014 because I knew I was smart, talented, and worthy of that piece of paper. I came back because I wanted more opportunities. I wanted the ability to apply for a job knowing I was exactly who that company desired.

Well, I’m in the midst of a job search that’s beating me down a bit, in which I’ve incurred many rejections. For the longest time I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. On a certain level, I still don’t. As a Communications and Media major, there are many avenues open. I have a great deal of interest in digital fields. I love films, and TV, so working for a studio, or a network, or a production company appeals to me. There’s also something very alluring about an interactive company, one that’s advancing media, or an idea into the future.

Back to those rejections. I’m sure many of the students at SPS are here for similar reasons. Maybe you’re tired of your current job; it doesn’t pay enough, the hours are bad, you’re stuck in a position with limited upward mobility. Believe me, I feel you.

I’m finding it difficult to get past a certain stage in the interview process. I’ve had several phone interviews, made it through the assignment stage, and in some cases to in-person appointments. They’ve all ended the same:

“We’ve decided to go in a different direction.”

“We’re looking for someone with a little bit more experience.”

*Bachelor’s degree required*

After many months of applying for jobs that I knew I wasn’t qualified for (on paper), I decided to apply for jobs in which my transferable skills would pop. Sometimes that means making what you might consider a lateral move, which I’m accepting of. I’ve worked for the last year with the terrific advisors in the Career Services department on refining my resume, learning what to expect in an interview (questions, answers, how to ask questions), and was taught the importance of networking. In my case, the informational interview has been an important part of my growth not because its gotten me a job, but because down the road, those contacts may be helpful in providing a new opportunity.

****I urge everyone to give Shannon Gallo or Kelsey Richardson in Career Services a call. If you’re like me—someone who’s been at the same company for a long time, and never had a lot of experience in looking for a job before—they have a wealth of great information and advice.****

I plan on coming back to the blog with quick updates about my progress, and to share some experiences during the process. Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to report positive progress in the way of a new job! Until then, I’ll keep sending out resumes, and writing cover letters. I said earlier, the negativity that comes with applying to jobs has beaten me down a bit, but it hasn’t defeated me. Coming back to school reinvigorated me. It’s a lot for all of us to deal with, especially taking into account the amount of hours we work on top of going to school. I’m more motivated now to succeed than at any point in my life, and I look forward to the challenges to come.

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

It would be difficult to characterize 2015 as a banner year in film. Take a look at the top 10 box-office hits of the year and we find sequels, reboots, and superheroes. A box-office list doesn’t necessarily show us the good in film. Most often, it’s quite the opposite. These are major-studio-produced projects that have big budgets, and major dollars in advertising campaigns behind them, most of which are released in the summer months. We’re past that now. October brings in the season of more serious fare. Indie, art-house, supposedly award-worthy films.

Let’s break down some of the early hopefuls already in theaters. Perhaps this post helps some of you who aren’t sure what films are worth your time and money this season.

SICARIO – 3.5/4

My favorite of the early awards hopefuls, Sicario is a tense thriller that takes a look at the frightening drug wars on the border of the United States and Mexico. Director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners) has established himself as a man so adept at tension in even the simplest of scenes. Shot beautifully by Roger Deakins (DP – The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Skyfall), and led by a quiet, but powerful Emily Blunt, and Benicio Del Toro in his most chilling performance in years, Sicario is an ambitious, and compelling thriller that at times will leave you breathless.

THE MARTIAN – 2.5/4

I couldn’t help but feel disappointed walking out of this one, feeling as marooned as Matt Damon’s character on Mars. While critical praise is almost universal, The Martian left me cold. Damon gives a fine performance, but the rest of the cast—that for whatever reason needed to be someone recognizable in each role—was distracting at best, and annoying at worst. At times, the science is fascinating, and the imagery wonderful, but it was too Hollywood-by-the-books. A neatly wrapped up film where the end is never in doubt.

BRIDGE OF SPIES – 3/4

Steven Spielberg is no stranger to war-time film-making with movies such as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and Lincoln under his belt. While Bridge Of Spies may not be a major Spielberg work, and at times feels like it’s a film more settled than ambitious, it’s well done. With a tight, at times humorous script by the Coen Brothers (of course!), and one of America’s most beloved actors (Tom Hanks) leading the way, it’s a drama about morals. About doing what’s right instead of doing what’s asked or expected. Mark Rylance as Abel, the Russian spy, is scene-stealing.

STEVE JOBS – 2.5/4

It’s another slam-you-over-the-head with quick, witty dialogue Sorkin-fest. Think The Social Network, but not as good (and I didn’t love that, either). There isn’t a lot of revelatory information here. Jobs was a difficult person to work with and be around, but this is known, and there are better sources for that information. The film, and script are more concerned with showing you how bad a guy this was, rather than the visionary who inspired it. This gets the extra half a star for Michael Fassbender’s immersive title performance as Jobs. He’s so good, you forget they look nothing alike.

A bonus pick for those of you who enjoy documentaries:

JUNUN – 3/4

For my money, Paul Thomas Anderson is the greatest working filmmaker today, and of the last 18 or so years. Writing and directing the fabulous Boogie Nights at 26 years old, and creating what I consider to be the only masterpiece of the past decade (There Will Be Blood), PTA is known for his flair behind the camera, his close-ups, and getting the best damn performances of actors a director could dream of. He sets most of that aside here to film his friend, and regular collaborator Jonny Greenwood (lead guitarist of Radiohead) creating an album in India with a group of Indian musicians. There is almost no dialogue, and very few interview moments we’ve become accustomed to seeing in documentaries, but the connection of these musicians, and the feeling conveyed by each shot left an impression on me. It might not be for the average viewer, and maybe you need to be a fan of PTA to get it, but for the wonderful music alone, and that it’s less than an hour, it’s certainly worth the look.

Tweet me @BobbyJDaniels!

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

CUNY Big Apple Job and Internship Fair Save the Date

Whenever I’m in Chelsea, I feel compelled to casually walk by the Alexander McQueen store and glance in the window. There’s always something in the window that catches my eye. It’s usually a fantastic design, bold colors, and unusual silhouette, or an extreme use of ruffles, rosettes or ruching.

And I’ve gotta have it. Just gotta have it.

Something about the designer’s work attracts me. It draws me to it, and every time I walk by that store, I feel drawn inside. My wallet however, usually drags me back out as quickly.

I know why I’m drawn towards this designer. But for a lot of other things that attract my attention, I usually don’t know why. Sometimes it’s the colors, sometimes it’s the display. Sometimes it’s the product itself. It’s the branding that attracted me like a lonely moth towards a street lamp.

I just gotta have it.

Not too long ago, I woke up with a crazy thought that just popped into my head. I finally figured out the best asset I had to work with. It was staring right back at me from the mirror. Myself.

I don’t know why I’ve never thought about it before. I know myself inside and out. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. It’s other people that don’t. If I am my best asset, why don’t I brand myself that way?

I am a brand.

Whoa.

I am a brand.

With unemployment at uncomfortable levels, people occupying Wall Street, Oakland, San Francisco and everywhere else, people are unfortunately all starting to look the same. People are starting to blend together like running ink from a wet newspaper. We’re all old news, fading away and moving quickly towards the drain.

There is nothing to attract employers to you, unless you do it yourself. You have to make yourself a brand that the company just has to have. What sets you apart from your peers? Your competitors? What makes you an individual? What makes you the brand that you are? Why do they need you rather than someone else? No one else can build that value of yourself or that sense of urgency that you are a once in a lifetime opportunity. You don’t want to miss out on this exclusive limited time offer that is ME!

As I pondered this thought, I tried to think of a way to describe myself. What would make me seem different?

I started with: “They are standard, and I am deluxe.” Yeah, like that would work. I’d come with pickles and onions with a side of fries.

“They are vanilla, but I am rocky road.” I’ve never even had rocky road, so I’m not sure where that one came from.

I finally hit on it.

“These people are one dimensional, while I am prismatic.”

I am colorful, unusual, sparkly, and multi-faceted. Why didn’t I think of this before?

I am prismatic.

How will you brand yourself? What word or phrase best describes you?
Ebonye Gussine is a recent graduate in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She loves writing, reading, and is an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s works. In her spare time she sings off-key and travels to new places.

“It’s a bad economy.”

“We’re in a recession.”

“You gotta take what you can get.”

“Nobody is hiring anymore.”

“Those old jobs are not coming back.”

We are hearing a lot of negativity about the job market these days. The fact that the unemployment rate is hovering around 9% nationwide is not helping our general lack of optimism. While a 2010 map of unemployment shows a more reasonable unemployment rate of 2.8% for Billings Country, North Dakota, it shows a much more chilling realization for Imperial County, California where the unemployment rate was 27.6%. As anyone will tell you, this is an animal we’ve never seen before, and most of us are not quite sure how to deal with it.

In May, an article was published about the new rules for the job interview. I found these rules such as “research, research, research” and “ask questions” to be somewhat refreshing. Many of the online articles that give advice such as “always write a thank you note”, is somewhat dated and doesn’t work in every case. I’ve also discovered that these articles have gotten so many hits, that it seems everyone is taking this advice. If everyone is using the same advice, you can no longer fully distinguish yourself. If the employer can’t remember you, then why hire you?

I am not pretending to be an expert on the job interview process, but I do have some insights that I picked up during my own search. Hopefully, these “rules” will be useful to some of you.

There Are No “Rules” For Every Job Search

This one is pretty hard to swallow. Most people just want to know what to do and how to do it. There are no hard and fast rules. Every industry is different and every company is different. Sometimes the hiring managers have the final say, and sometimes it is human resources. The person reviewing your work may not necessarily know the exact qualifications needed for the job and how to screen them. Some hiring managers appreciate thank you notes and some have no time to read them. Some allow follow-up phone calls and some prefer email. Your best bet is do to as much research as you can, and use networking sites such as LinkedIn to learn more about the company as well as the kinds of people that they normally hire. Are you similar to the typically hired employee? Does the company value diversity in interests and education? It is your job to find out these small details and make them work for you. It could give you an advantage over someone else who does not know these little bits of information.

Grammar and Tone Speak Volumes

Everyone knows that a well written cover letter and resume will help you not get disqualified as easily as poorly-written ones. Hiring managers get hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications for a single position. Having documents that are not perfect will work against you. However, many people forget about the tone that they use when write cover letters. Your voice and personality can really shine through when you use the correct words. Syntax and semantics can also reveal a lot about you. Do you write as if you are confident or entitled? Are you apologetic for circumstances in your work history or ready to prove yourself? These are subtle differences that can make all the difference in how you are perceived by a hiring manager. Be careful with your written language.

Don’t Fool Yourself Into Thinking Interviews Are A Simple Process

So you landed an interview. Fantastic! Your work is not done. Depending on the industry and the amount of applications you may be subject to multiple interviews. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. It could indicate that they really want you or it could mean that they have several close candidates and they are unsure of who to pick. I was recently subjected to four interviews with nine different people over the course of several weeks. No one can tell you whether you should keep granting a company interviews or give up and move onto another company. It really is up to you. Use your discretion or your gut before turning down multiple interviews. It may not necessarily be a bad sign.

Know What You Can Offer The Company

Unfortunately, it is an employer’s market. It’s a potential employee buffet, and the employer can interview as many people as they want, and decide not to fill a position if they don’t find the right person. It’s up to you to let the company know what you can offer them. Are you good at driving up sales? Let them know that. Are you especially frugal and can save the company lots of money? They need to know that. Do you have some innovative ideas that can help them open up to a new market? They want to hear that from you. Don’t offer up too many of your valuable ideas, so that they get free brainpower from you and you receive nothing in return. It is a give and take atmosphere, but at the end of the day, it’s still business. They have something to offer you, and you have something to offer them.

Know What is Important to You About Compensation

Do you need to make a lot of money to pay off bills? Do you need health insurance to take care of yourself or your family? Do you need time off? Will flexible hours allow you to take care of a special needs child or an ailing family member? You need to know what your priorities are, and if a company can meet them for you. You should aim to be flexible, but it still is a business transaction. If work/life balance is important to you, do not be so quick to settle on a job if it will take away from that. While we cannot always have everything we want from an employer, it is important to maintain your health and sanity, not to sacrifice everything.

Just Be Yourself

This can’t be stressed enough. These days, an employer can easily find out if you are lying about your qualifications. These things are so easily checked that you should not waste their time nor yours. You should always be on your best behavior when on an interview, but don’t fake it. Employers want the most for their money, and if you have the qualifications it will help. But if your personality does not match up with theirs or their company culture, then they will be hesitant to hire you. Giving the most accurate yet best presentation of yourself will do you more favors than not. Always remember, just because an employer can’t hire you for a position, doesn’t mean that their other hiring manager friends at other firms can’t.

Ebonye Gussine is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She loves writing, reading, and is an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s works. In her spare time she sings off-key and travels to new places.

Workers want out!  Such is the collective sentiment felt in unison by the American workforce.  They show up to work, fulfill their job requirements, and act like good soldiers, all the while surreptitiously knowing they already have one shoe out the door with the other closely behind.

In December 2010, CNNMoney ran a story depicting the current state of employee discontent: New Year’s Resolution: I Quit! In summation, “[a]ccording to a recent survey by job-placement firm Manpower, 84% of employees plan to look for a new position in 2011. That’s up from just 60% last year.” It is a truly staggering figure.  If you’re an employee at a company, then take a moment and scan the office.  For every ten workers you see almost nine of them want to quit.  That’s remarkable.  It is no secret that hiring abated dramatically during this recession which is why many unhappy workers toiled away quietly while anxiously waiting for the bell to ring.  The economic upswing is now accelerating and hiring is ramping up again.  There’s the bell.

Albeit problematic for management, losing employees is more accurately a symptom of a more systemic undercurrent of discontentment enhancers.  Underlying issues often prompt workers to run for the exits.  The top three motivations behind why employees quit are as follows: (1) better opportunity, (2) more money, and (3) clashes with management.  People move on, that is just the natural order of things in the corporate world whatever the geneses of discontentment may be.  But although quitting may be a net positive for the employee, it often is a transaction that has a negative effect on the company, particularly on management.  Quitting disrupts organizational continuity, and costs countless dollars to train new hires.  Retention is vital but remains an enormous challenge for companies.  Elements that deserve consideration are: increasing compensation and vacation time, allowing employees to participate in a four-day workweek, retraining or eliminating bad managers, allow for employee feedback, and making a genuine attempt to determine what employees want!

So who is to blame?  Are employees asking for too much in return for their services?  After all, isn’t a job merely one compartment of a person’s life?  Sure, most workers would privately exclaim they are more deserving of greater compensation and perhaps some of them are justified in that claim.  But one has to wonder, is the grass necessarily greener or is this simply a delusional, unending search for the Holy Grail that inevitably succumbs to exhaustion with the epiphany that no perfect job scenario really ever existed in the first place?  Perhaps there is room for blame on both sides of the equation.  But companies must realize that the job market is just that, a market.  They are competing to purchase worker productivity through compensation and benefits.  It is a zero sum game; one company’s loss is another company’s gain.   And although there may be numerous skilled, educated, and dedicated workers in the current applicant pool, this almost certainly will not always remain the case.  One thing is for certain, if companies do not reexamine and revamp their current approaches to employee retention, then they just might as well install revolving doors at their entrances.

John Brigantino is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  He enjoys writing, non-fiction books, traveling and the many cultural and leisure experiences Manhattan has to offer.