Whether you are back to the drawing board, a rookie, or a veteran to
the job search, it doesn't matter. We all have to find a position
at some point or another and by sharing our experiences with the
infamous job-hunt, maybe we can all learn a thing or two from each
other. We asked our job-seeker of the month, Art Johnson, to describe
his job-seeking process.
Job Seeker: Art Johnson
Q: What is your background/expertise?
My background and expertise is in teaching and training; business development, working with multiple technologies, and now advanced telecommunications applications over the Internet.
Q: What kind of job/job titles that you are looking for?
The career opportunity that I am pursuing is as a Director of Global Communications and Resource Development. This fits my
"big view" personality and my Internet conferencing and on-line learning skill sets
...and what I have real passion for.
Q: What is your job searching strategy?
Currently my job search strategy is an ambitious one, and one not just limited to just caring about myself. It involves doing educational outreach across
four counties focusing on addressing complex and pressing social, economic, and environmental issues and using 21st century communications to address and hopefully solve them. I recently produced my own web-based New World
"virtual trip" video about advanced applications that I have developed that demonstrates what I uniquely have to offer, and recently have been actively
"networking" both in the "physical world" as well as on-line.
Q: Why should a company hire you?
A company should hire me because I can help them create entire new blue oceans of opportunity in multiple ways.
Q: What are your strengths in terms of job searching
(finding jobs, writing job searching materials, interviewing, etc.)?
The stronger side of what I do to search for jobs involves using
a special customer relationship management (CRM) software on my computer to stay organized and on-task. I also use on-line employment resources. It's really great to be a part of ColorsNW new career services direction. I attended their special City-wide Diversity Job Fair and really
"connected" with a lot of people, both employers as well as with other job seekers.
Q: What are your weaknesses in terms of job searching? How
will you overcome these difficulties?
My weakness in terms of job searching has to do with not "networking" enough with others more frequently and more consistently. Job fairs take a lot of time and events could be more frequent and coming all the way into Seattle can be a hassle and privately sponsored networking events at $55 a pop where you only get 3 minutes to pitch yourself doesn't do much for me personally. What I am working
on now is a new project where people will be able to just logon and
"network" on-line without having to drive anywhere!
Q: What challenges have you come across?
Challenges that I have come across have to do with my breadth of experience, and eclectic perspective that I have developed over the years working in really different markets.
Sometimes this gives me a hard time with HR recruiters whose job it is to put folks into
smaller "boxes" e.g. job descriptions that typically are more
one-dimensional, calling for qualifications and work experiences
not as dynamic or as multi-disciplinary as mine.
Q: Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 25 years?
In 5 years, I would like to be in season 3 of my prime time
Internet television show. In 10 years, I just want to do
foundation work like Bill and Melinda Gates, and in 25 years, I
would like to look down from my first trip up the space elevator at 85 years old, and look back and down on the Earth, having my heart fill up with joy about how we finally turned some things around with Earth to make things better for all humankind.
Q: What do you look for in an employer?
Q: What companies would you like to work for?
What I look for is an employer that values innovation and who shares in my concern for humanity especially challenged communities of people locally, regionally, nationally and international.
I still hope to work for Starbucks in the social responsibility area, utilizing all my 21st century communications skill sets to serve local, regional, national and international communities well and of course develop new business and open up lucrative new markets via the process. Years ago, and fresh out of college I taught in Ethnic Studies and Political Science and even taught a course called
"Social Change in the Third World" and this would come full circle for me if I could facilitate social change in a global communications
and trade context now. If not Starbucks, then with financing I would like to work on behalf of my own New World Learning Institute & Conference Center and IP television broadband channel and new media/virtual real estate empire. If Howard Schultz can do it...why not me?
Q: How many resumes do you currently have?
I have about three different resumes depending on what door to me that they come through customizing them for the particular job
Q: What elements do you think make a resume standout?
Brief paragraphs and action-statements that reflect what you are capable of can make your resume stand out. Trying to keep it all on one page helps if you can manage this. That gets tougher when you've done as many things and have held a lot of jobs as I have.
Q: What elements do you think make a cover letter
If cover letter is in response to a particular job description with bulleted qualifications, respond to each point in a personal, and thoughtful, but brief way. If your cover letter is a letter of interest proposing to do things that they don't even have job description for, but that solves problems in an innovative way that they may not have even thought of, then be more creative and innovate in your approach. I am even linking people to
a video on my web site, to communicate what I can uniquely do.
Q: Do you customize your resume for every job that you
apply for? If not, why not?
Yes I customize my resume for every job, but within reason. Actually I have several resumes focusing on different skill sets: 1) teacher/trainer/instructional designer and on-line learning guru, 2) new business developer; and 3) global communicator
Q: Have you ever gone on an informational interview? If
so, did you find it useful?
Yes I have but sometimes informal conversations with people at strategic events where you’ve just demonstrated what you uniquely provide works even better. I got hired that way.
Q: What do you think is the key to succeed during an interview?
The key is to listen and to assume nothing about real their priorities may be. I really missed the mark recently with an important job interview, thinking that the client's concerns were global, culturally-conscious, and pedagogically astute. They weren't and the interview ended up being a disaster and a hard-earned lesson.
Q: What was the most difficult question that you have been
asked during an interview?
I was asked if I knew how to work with a specific brand of learning management system technology and my answer was affirmative and
that I have worked with multiple learning management system capabilities even though I humbly admitted that I had never yet had to opportunity to work on this particular one. It really confused the heck out of them when I tried to explain that what counts is learning about learning management system principles that you see when you've worked with as
many LMS applications as I have, but they wouldn't buy that. I guess you win some and lose some.
Q: What was the most unusual question that you have ever
been asked during an interview?
I can't remember.
Q: What has been your worst job experience?
Answering this question is a difficult one for me because of the way my mind now works. I guess one of my more rougher moments was when Apple pulled back its regional business development dollars and I lost my nice paying job as a high-visibility business developer doing cool things with a
whole stable full of Apple-certified consultants …like I had previously been. Retrospectively though, even the worst job experience has ended up being an opportunity in disguise. Even now, though job hunting is still tough and I still haven't landed yet, having this wisdom within me now that I've acquired over the years makes this more enjoyable especially when it comes time to negotiate
Q: What has been your greatest career success?
I had a great time being flown into Pacific Gas & Electrics Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant working on a remote video surveillance application after the Three Mile Island melt-down incident. I had just seen the movie Smallwood and I was actually living the movie trying to actively problem-solve in order to save people's lives nice.
Q: What was the funniest thing that has ever happen to you
on the job?
When I first started out as a young video systems sales man I had to schlep a lot of huge gear. I had just put a huge monitor and VCR on a collapsible mobile cart and walked a few yards away only to see them rolling down the slightly inclined parking lot trying to make a dash for it. I didn't make it and it all came crashing to the ground!
Q: What was the most roundabout way you have found a job?
When I was a young salesman, I sold a video camera at list price to a school district and the word got out in the industry about my salesmanship when I
bemoaned it. I had forgotten to bring the cable to the monitor but still managed to close the sale
anyway. I was hired the next week by a bigger, better, and more prestigious company which ended up teaching me much about doing broadcast/industrial television system installations. I even designed and sold some public access television studios.
Q: Have you ever considered starting your own business?
Yes, I have my own consulting firm now. Things can get tough however if you don't diversify your business and keep multiple sources of revenue coming in. When the Internet e-commerce bubble burst and the economy took a nosedive it hurt us big time. Also the transition into Internet collaboration and phase two of on-line learning has been
a bit challenging, but the new things that we are now doing practical problem-solving and value innovation is now really helping me turn a corner either via multiple and more diversified long-term contracts or via excellent full-time employment offer with great perks and benefit. As an older baby boomer, I am open
am open and flexible to alternative approaches, still intending to do important social and environmental work either way.
Q: Have you ever faced discrimination on the job or during
the job searching process?
Yes I have faced discrimination on the job, in so-called
"glass ceiling" where the people who supervised me were less educated and less innovative than I was. Retrospectively I think that much of the discrimination that diverse job candidates like myself have felt has been more complex and with more nuance than mere
"racial" discrimination. The discrimination rather has been more of a
"mental" discrimination of a more cultural nature having to do with the inability of some to innovatively manage, and leverage complex diverse ideas all at the same time, something that some persons of color, out of practical necessity have culturally had to master and I say just some, and by no means all.
Q: What advice do you have for your fellow job seekers?
There are many sources of knowledge some that we understand and some that we still don't understand much about at all. Just try to remember that if sometimes you think that you are in this all alone somehow please try to understand that you really are not.