Friday, April 5, 2013

Avoiding Dead-end Trails &Traps on the Job Hunt

One thing about being autistic is that we can often be rather naive and gullible
Fortunately, my critical thinking skills have helped me avoid some of the traps set up for people desperate to find a job.

Resume-Writing services- this is a waste of money, there are loads of books, free workshops and such available. Writing a good resume is not that hard, you do not need to hire someone else to do it.

Multi-Level Marketing- A.K.A. Pyramid Schemes that are Legal for Some Reason. Guess what? You can make lots of money if you recruit all your friends to sell this gadget!   I have come across these at job fairs, and gone to a couple of presentations that turned out to be MLMs- I even had a friend tried to sell me on one.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There are a lot of "front groups" for Amway in particular (like Quixtar). Put a note on your profiles on job websites saying that you are not interested in them.

Commission-Only (or mostly) Sales Rep jobs- Often these are products most people don't want anyway- like kitchen knives.  As with the MLMs it will also likely result in annoying & alienating many or your friends/family.  I think high-pressure sales in general is a bad bet for folks on the spectrum, it involves a tricky kind of social interaction & sometimes...presenting things in ways that aren't entirely honest. Not saying dishonest exactly- just not full-blown Aspie honesty.

Self-Help Workshops that charge lots of money- (and some that don't) Some of these claim to help you learn to be a better, more confident job candidate or help you find deep, dark suppressed emotional problems that you don't actually have.
Get a real therapist if you need one.

Lousy Job Fairs- First off, job fairs are likely to be noisy, crowded and thus not autistic friendly.  I've gone to a few good job fairs but most were mediocre at best. Some were more like Education Fairs- usually mostly for-profit colleges. Maybe you do need more education/training, but get guidance on this at a career center of some sort, not those who are trying to sell it.  No matter what they say, you probably don't need an MBA.  Others are mostly temp agencies. Temp agencies are OK to make some money while looking for something permanent or to gain transferable skills, but why bother going to a job fair to meet with them? Go to a job fair to meet with actual employers.  A well-organized job fair will list at least some of them on their website or brochure.
Networking & comparing "war stories" with the other job-seekers you meet might actually be more useful.

In general, research companies, ask around in your social network. Keep in mind, however that there are always more current or former employees complaining about their workplaces so adjust your perceptions accordingly.

Job Websites/Organizations

Since graduating from college, I've held a smattering of different volunteer & internship positions and temporary jobs. It's fun giving tours for Erik's Ranch, but of course I still need a Real Job (tm) preferably one suitable for a 31-year-old with learning disabilities & a college degree. Pretty tricky. Well, here are some resources I have found for job-hunting and their pros & cons.

LinkedIn - this is the Facebook of the professional world- but don't use it like FB, Connect with human beings you've actually worked, networked & interviewed with. There is a paid version that allows you who has looked at your profile and other features but I haven't tried it. If anyone else reading this has, let me know how useful you've found its features to be.

MyJobmatcher British-based website, but it has jobs around the world. You post your resume, it will search the Net for job descriptions that seem to match it & e-mail them to you. Employers may as well.
Another nice thing is that it excludes multi-level marketing and commission only sales positions.
Possibly the biggest job website out there. You can search based on a bunch of different criteria, and there are various tools and advice articles. Since there are so many, I suggest picking several so you don't get too many results.
You can also post more than one resume, though only one is viewable by others at a time. Not very much for non-profits, but of course there are fewer jobs in that sector. Also, they have great job fairs.

Indeed- search engine, good for looking for very specific positions. So more useful to someone further along in their career.

NAACPjobfinder- There is a Diversity Job Fair on MLK day every year in St. Paul, sponsored by the NAACP, so that's how I found this.

Craigslist- May be of use for finding odd jobs (baby/house/pet care, housework) as well as more regular work, as well as advertising your own services. If it's being offered by an individual, rather than a company, treat it like online dating- go meet with the person in a public building and check them out. Bring another person with you to be extra safe.

Will post more reviews/descriptions as I come across them.