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Ask Dave

Get Going For That Job!

Rebecca's husband has been unemployed for 16 months. He hasn't been able to find a new position. They have $60,000 in investments. Should they use that to pay off debt or buy a home for the rental income?

QUESTION: Rebecca in New York says her husband has been unemployed for 16 months. He has two months left on his unemployment benefits, and he hasn’t been able to find a new position. They do have $60,000 in investments, and Rebecca wants to know if they should use that to pay off debt or buy a two-family home for the rental income.

ANSWER: The plan you presented sounds like you want to lower your lifestyle to the point where your husband doesn’t have to work. You have a career crisis, you don’t have a debt crisis. You do have debt that you need to get rid of, but you have a career crisis. You say he’s applied for hundreds of jobs over the last 16 months, so he’s horrible at it. His system isn’t working, and it’s not getting him results. He sits in his pajamas and fills out applications online and calls that job hunting. Nobody gets hired that way.

Let me walk you around to the other side of the desk for a second. We hired around 60 people last year, and we have an online application that we request people to fill out also. We had 6,000 online applications for 60 jobs. The guy who fills out an online application on our website, and that’s all he does, never gets hired. It’s not because he might not be the best guy; we just don’t know he exists in all that clutter. You have to do something to pull yourself aside from that.

All the studies and all the career people tell us, and we’ve experienced it here as well, is that you have to do something to brand-differentiate yourself. You’ve got to write some letters, you’ve got to make some physical, personal contacts with the people inside the company. The best of all is if you can figure out someone you know who works there that can walk your resume in and lay it on the HR manager’s desk and say that they know there are 20 people looking at this position, but would you give this guy a look? All of a sudden, you went from 3,000 people to 20.

As far as that kind of thing, he needs to be coached on how to look for a job. The economy is not strong enough for you to just sit and fill out stuff on the Internet and get jobs. As a matter of fact, it’s never been that strong. We’ve never had an economy where people do that. Can you imagine if an employer just looked at online applications and hired someone? They would at least have to come in for an interview.

We’ve got to do something to create some connectivity, and it’s not some good ol’ boy club or it’s all fixed against you if you don’t know somebody. It’s not a victim mentality. It’s more of realizing that networking is how doors are opened.

If you owned a corner market and someone you know had a kid graduating from college who needs a summer job, you’d look at that kid over some stranger. If he comes in and doesn’t interview well, then that’s a different story. But at least that point of connectivity in the network indicates some similarity of value system, of character or something.

He’s really got to read about five books on careers and getting a job in the next five days because he doesn’t have anything else to do. That fixes you up.

You guys have a career crisis. I would sit on that $60,000 and not spend a dime of it. And I wouldn’t move, either; he’s got to get to work. By the way, until he gets to work, he needs to be up at 6 a.m. exercising every morning, he needs to spend time in his Bible every morning, and he doesn’t need to watch any television news while he’s unemployed. There is nothing on the planet that will make you feel as negative and guilty about life and more of a victim than that.

Start putting positive stuff in your brain, activating your body with endorphins and proteins because you’re exercising and changing your view of life. But get up and get dressed, take a shower every morning as soon as you exercise, first thing. Then get out there on the street and start pounding the pavement.

The problem is you get in a rut of watching Oprah reruns and filling out online job apps, and it doesn’t work.