Notes // To Read

I have a number of titles I am looking to read once I finish my latest book. Below is a list of books (in no particular order) that I currently own and wish to read before the end of the year:

  • Absolute Power, David Baldacci
  • 12 Years A Slave, Solomon Northup
  • The Smoke at Dawn, Jeff Shaara
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder
  • The Universe in a Single Atom, Dalai Lama
  • Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Crown and the Cardinal, G. Tom Ward and Chad Green 
  • 1776, David McCullough

Look for my reviews in the coming months.

Series // Being Unemployed // Job Hunt

Now that you have taken care of the essentials it’s time to start looking for a new job. Here are just 10 things to consider as you go about your search for a new job.

  1. Start Early. It’s hard to fathom but it is very easy to put off the start of your job search. Whether you are recovering from the idea of being unemployed or if you feel that you just need a vacation, it is amazing how much time can pass before we start looking for a new job. In such a competitive market the sooner you can get your name out there the better.
  2. Consider What You Want. Most folks will skip this step as they are worried about finding a new job, but take the time and consider what it is that you want from a job. Treating your unemployment as an opportunity to find the best possible fit for you will do wonders throughout the process of obtaining a new position. 
  3. Conduct a Broad Geographic Search. Unless you are tied to location look everywhere. Your ideal job may be somewhere you have never even thought to look. Most job searches ask for a location, if you leave it blank it will search the entire archive. 
  4. Be Adventurous. Now is not the time to worry about where you will end up. What is important is that you are happy so never rule out a location because of self doubt; any place can be great if you make it so. The unknown can be very scary, but if we challenge ourselves with that risk we can grow tremendously. Although I knew nothing of Texas before I moved there, I cannot imagine my life without the memories and friends that I made while I lived there.   
  5. Keep a Record. Whether a spreadsheet or a simple list, keep track of all the jobs you have applied. This is especially important if you are receiving unemployment wages as it will serve as an active record that will help prove your eligibility each week. 
  6. Explore Government Positions. Jobs in the US government are often overlooked by most people, unemployed or not, but they offer top notch benefits and excellent opportunities to advance. Be sure to note the position title that appears when you conduct your search as a civilian position may adopt a more casual title. For example, Graphic Designers are often referred to as Visual Information Specialists. Visit USAJobs.gov to start your search.
  7. Explore Positions in Higher Education. Colleges and universities are full-functioning businesses with many roles beyond that of educator. There is ample room for advancement and the benefits are often second to none. Look at HigherEdJobs.com for opportunities all across the globe.
  8. Don’t Search Everyday. While it may seem like something you need to do, searching for jobs everyday can mentally wear you out. The biggest challenge while unemployed is to remain positive. Scheduling your job search twice a week will help to guarantee that there are new positions for you to consider. 
  9. Communicate. Unemployment, as we will discuss, has an affect on others in your life, so it is important to clearly communicate to those who may be affected by your new job. This does not mean that you need permission from your friends or family, but if you have a significant other, they need to be involved in your decision making process. 
  10. Stay Positive. Having a positive attitude becomes more difficult as your job search continues, however keep your head up and continue to push forward. I believe that there is an opportunity out there for everyone, we just may not know what it is right away. 

Series // Being Unemployed // Saving Money

Now that you don’t have a steady income saving money should be your top priority. Here are nine ideas that should help you reduce your expenses.

  1. Apply for Unemployment: Contact your state to see if you are eligible for unemployment wages. The process and requirements are different from state to state, but it is a relatively easy way to expedite your job search while receiving a small stipend of money each week.
  2. Manage your Student Loans: Before filing for forbearance or deferment on your student loans, apply for an Income Based Repayment plan (if you already have a IBR plan, refile). IBRs determine your monthly payments by your annual income and while unemployed your monthly statements can be reduced to as low as $0/month.
  3. Drop your Cable: This is the easiest way to instantly save money. Disconnecting your cable service and land lines can save you hundreds of dollars a month. While I personally keep internet service, you can also have it disconnected and complete necessary tasks at the numerous businesses that offer free wifi services.
  4. Pass on the Haircuts: $30 a month (or more) can add up quickly and can be used for much more important expenses. Allowing your hair to grow while out of a job is again another easy way to save money. But keep your looks up, a haircut before an interview is definitely a good investment.
  5. Lower your Mileage: Most car insurance companies base your premium by the number of miles you drive each year. When we are not working, we are not driving as much. Lower your miles driven to 5,000. This will allow you to travel for interviews and around town while reducing your monthly insurance expenses. 
  6. Stay Active: Staying active and taking vitamins will help boost your health. Now that you don’t have health insurance it is important to minimize your trips to the doctor. Plus getting outside is an excellent way to take your mind off everything that is going on.
  7. Consolidate your Debt: If you have credit card debt spanning multiple cards, look for an option to transfer everything onto one card, closing accounts in the process. At the end of the day your initial savings may be minimal, but in the long run you will save tremendously by only paying interest on one card. 
  8. Fast Food No More: If there was ever a time to learn to cook, it would be now. Shopping at a grocery store and cooking your own meals is not only healthier, but will save you quite a bit on your monthly food bill. If you are in an area with multiple options be sure to shop around to find the best deals. 
  9. Live at Home: Don’t be ashamed about having to ask mom and dad to stay at home while you look for another job. If this is not an option turn to your friends. A couch may not be very comfortable, but it is cheap. Offer to take care of the cooking, housework, yard work, or other tasks to help “pay” your share of the rent until you get back on your feet.

Series // Being Unemployed // The First Week

5 things to do during the first week

  1. Relax: Whether you have been laid off or fired, losing your job can be a traumatic experience, but don’t worry, it is not the end of world. You will find that you will be able to explore opportunities that you would never have considered while employed.
  2. Refresh your CV: We don’t keep our CVs up-to-date when we are employed, so within the first week be sure to update your CV to include your most recent employment and descriptions of your responsibilities.
  3. Solidify your brand: Your name is your brand. In addition to updating your resume, make sure that your messaging across all professional networks is up-to-date. This includes making sure that your previous employer is no longer using your name in any marketing material. When you make the request to have your name removed, ask politely as you don't want to burn any bridges. Finally, google your name to find any networks you may have forgotten and update that information as well. 
  4. Stay off of Social Media: Don't cause unnecessary trouble for yourself by complaining about your previous employer. As you apply for new jobs you may need them to write you a positive recommendation. 
  5. Get a haircut: Go ahead and get a conservative haircut, one that can grow out nicely during your unemployment. As will be discussed in my next post, this will be your last haircut for a while.

Series // Being Unemployed

Being unemployed sucks. At first glance it will seems as if there is nothing positive that can come from it, but if you take a measured approach and work your way through each day, a difficult experience will become much easier and may result in an opportunity that was better than the job you left.  

Over the next several posts I will share things that have helped me survive bouts of unemployment. From surviving the first week to saving money to considering a move to another region, I hope my experiences will help others in similar situations.

Review // Ready Player One

Imagine a world where the living conditions are so poor that the only way one could escape was to spend every waking hour in a virtual landscape. A virtual landscape created by tech giant based on their own personal interests. A world that holds a key to a fortune available to anyone if the can find it. Dive into Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and you enter in such a world. Escape into the OASIS and marvel at each of the 1980s references as you journey with Parzival on a quest for the creator’s hidden treasure.  

A fantastic book, Ready Player One, is a easy and exciting read that is sure to capture the imagination of any reader. 

Look for Ready Player One on Amazon.

Shop at smile.amazon.com and instantly donate to a charity of your choice just by shopping.

Thoughts // Growth

There is much more to contemplate today than design. Beyond understanding different topics to better our work, designers, like all other professionals, must find things that interest them outside the workplace to stay at peace with their chosen industry. I have spent far too much of my life trying to dedicate every waking moment to the world of design. It was not until I filled my free time with other topics of interest that I saw my work and my life improve. Learning about new and different things helps us to grow and by escaping the world of design to enjoy the rest of my life, my interest in my creative work has grown. It is fun again and that is why many creatives entered into the industry in the first place. 

Thoughts // On Twitter

Last week it was announced that the number of Snapchat users surpassed that of Twitter. Snapchat is a relatively new social network that allows users to share “snaps” of their lives at 15 second intervals. After 24 hours, these shared experiences disappear. I believe Snapchat’s appeal to the current generation is that those shared experiences are temporary. We live in a day and age where news and information that is not delivered in 15 seconds is forever lost. Unfortunately, the instantaneous gratification offered by Spachat cannot be matched by Twitter or its users. 

Although Twitter only asks its users to read and write, it is an experience that takes too much time to maintain. Some may argue that the way we process media has changed since digital media has overtaken our lives, but I don’t think so. Anything that you have ever bought or read first garnered your attention with a visual or written headline. Whether a designer or writer, professionals have studied what types of information grab our attention and make us desire to learn more. That is the beauty of content that is successfully delivered online. It is succinct and informative in its purpose. We can learn what we need to know from a short burst of words or video and if we want to learn more we can investigate deeper into the topic.

Oddly, with its 140 character limit, Twitter fails at being succinct enough for the throngs of today’s social media users. It simply allows for the millions of users to present too much information to the casual reader. I believe that Twitter is losing because these users cannot visit Twitter and quickly gather information. Twitter is a conversation based social network and while that form is not bad—honestly I think social media needs more conversation based platforms—it is not a form that will be successful moving into the future.

Review // Wild

Unlike Bryson’s descriptive adventure in A Walk in the Woods, Cheryl Stray’s Wild explores the efforts we go in order to help ourselves find direction in our lives. It should not be assumed, however, that Stray does not allow her reader to get lost on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) with her. We share in her triumphs and agonies, but moreover learn about why she has journeyed by herself on an epic adventure that is the PCT. Stray allows to understand that sometimes the only way to find our own path is to escape the known world and and follow a path travelled by a dedicated few on their own silent mission. Discover how one person overcomes her darkest demons while traversing the PCT and grow a little bit yourself in the process.   

Look for Wild on Amazon.

Shop at smile.amazon.com and instantly donate to a charity of your choice just by shopping.

Review // The Rosie Project

A wonderful story about looking beyond one's comfort zone and exploring the unknown, The Rosie Project tells the story of a socially awkward genetics professor and his search for the perfect partner.

It is a story which I can relate as I was lucky enough to have such a person enter into my life recently and teach me to live for today and to always challenge what you think is correct. Simsion's story is relatable and therefore makes for a quick one or two day read. At the end of the story the reader will have grown to love the complexity of the main characters and the way the author has effortlessly involved you in their lives. 

Look for The Rosie Project on Amazon.

Shop at smile.amazon.com and instantly donate to a charity of your choice just by shopping.