By: Revanche

Help a reader: Looking for work in SoCal

October 22, 2008

A reader emailed me asking about the job market in the LA area. Now, LA is awfully big, and my personal experience is pretty limited, but I know I’ve got fellow bloggers and perhaps some readers in the LA area as well.

I’m including some excerpts of our correspondence below, lightly edited to preserve the reader’s anonymity:

I’ve been looking for a job in the LA market for an embarrassingly long amount of time at this point (close to a year) and am at my wit’s end as to what to do. I’ve submitted numerous copies of resumes, cover letters, networked, randomly dropped in . . . and nothing. What is your personal assessment of the market?

Part of the problem is that I’m currently in Arizona and have been doing long-distance looking and applying (using a friend’s CA address).

I had a few follow-up questions:

1. What kind of job are you looking for?
2. What experience do you have in your field?
3. Are you looking to go for the traditional full time position, or a part-time, or a freelance/contractor situation?
4. Why are you looking at the LA job market in particular?

1. I graduated from college in 2006 (with a degree in psychology, and a minor in music performance – talk about marketable!) and have experience in the social services (but ultimately knew I needed to make more money) and the financial services (which, being in this industry, I count myself lucky to still have a job at this point). Unfortunately, I’m feeling highly underutilized in my current position and after further thought, have determined several industries/capacities that I could see myself working in. Obviously the financial world would be the easiest transition, but in a smaller organization would be ideal to be able to take on more responsibilities. Additionally, there is the field of higher education (which flies in the face of my need for more pay, however! the pay is still better than the social services and the environment is unparalleled in what I’ve heard regarding an appreciation of intelligence and the ability to maintain constant stimulus). Additionally, there’s also human resources (which would be a natural extension of my education in psychology), market research (again, natural extension), or working in either capacity (HR or research analysis) within an entertainment organization. As I said, a truly wide swath!

2. I spent approximately a year within the social services, and have been with my current employer now for 1 year and 4 months.

3. Right now, there are some additional health concerns (again, possibly another manifestation of the paranoia) that ultimately leads me to want a traditional full time position. I’d be open to several part time positions if need be, but it’s not ideal.

4. I’m looking in the LA job market for the need for change and sense of adventure, which sounds truly cliche I know, but here me out! I’ve lived in the state of Arizona for 10 years now, and while it’s treated me nicely (a full ride to a state university and graduating Cum Laude aren’t anything to necessarily talk down on I think), I just don’t get the feeling that there’s anything more here. I’m growing stagnant. And having visited LA on numerous, numerous occasions – several of them being recently – I’ve slowly fallen in like with the area. I hesitate to say love, but my comfort level as increased 100-fold and every time I get back on I-10 at this point, I feel like I’m driving the wrong way. Also, I’ve always had a passion and interest in the entertainment industry and, given the interests, would love to possibly have the opportunity to work in a leading entertainment organization in some capacity, cliche as that may sound as well. If not that, then still, who can argue with the number of world-class universities in the area regardless?

It’s been about four years since I last stalked the job market in this area, so I’m pretty out of touch with the feel of the market. It seems to me, though, that the jobs being offered are not in plenty, and with many people running scared from the softening economy, it’s going to get even tighter than it’s already been.

I wonder if you’ve tried finding a job with a company that has branches in the LA area with an eye to transferring at a later date? If you haven’t had any bites thus far, perhaps you should try closer to home as another way in.

Alternatively, could more training or education be in order to move to a different level of employment?

Readers, can any of you offer any suggestions or advice?

6 Responses to “Help a reader: Looking for work in SoCal”

  1. SP says:

    The suggestion to pick a company with L.A. branches is a good idea.

    I searched for jobs about a year ago. I didn’t have much trouble, but I have a specific degree that leads to specific jobs. And that was a year ago, before the craziness.

    I think the market is really tough right now. I wish I had something useful to say… :/

  2. wellheeled says:

    I suggest the reader also expanding her search to San Diego, San Francisco, Irvine, Orange County, etc, if she does not have a compelling personal reason to stay in LA. SF in particular seems to have more jobs than LA, and even though the tech sector has pulled back there are still opportunities, and at first glace, I get the feel that SF has more jobs than LA does.

    In the mean time, she can try temp agencies (might be able to get a full-time job this way), and also make sure to look on Craigslist (lots of small to medium companies advertise there). SimplyHired, Yahoo Jobs, and Monster are the big job search sites, but many times it feel as if your resume is just going into a deep dark hole. I also suggest the reader talk to alumni from her school who is in the LA area, or doing work she is interested in. She might be able to get leads or at least good advice this way. Also, the down economy might be a great time to go back to school to get a graduate degree. If she wants to do HR, she can get a certificate in HR (I think UC Irvine has a 1-year program).

    I think unemployment in CA is 7.7% at last count (wouldn’t be surprised to see it go up into the 8’s), so it’s a tougher market than the nation in general. Good luck to her though!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just want to thank you both for jumping in so quickly with some advice – as said reader in this instance, I’m always happy to hear what anyone has to say

    @ SP – I too agree that picking a company with LA branches is a good idea, and certainly something to consider. My only real hang-up about that is that I’m looking for a specific time frame to be in the area, and I simply don’t know that that time frame allows for me to establish myself at a local office and then transfer. That seems like a process that, in order to be done correctly, would take at least another year. I guess that’s the reality I’m looking at however and is something to consider. Needless to say, this whole thing is making me wish I’d chosen a bit more “specific” degree in college as you made reference to, I can’t help but feel like that would make this process much easier.

    @wellheeled – as you made reference to it, I will throw it out there now, there is a compelling reason to stay near the LA-OC area. I’ve expanded my job search to include both of these areas as a result and find the OC job market (I’m including Irvine in this assessment) a bit smaller. Regardless, simplyhired, craigslist, indeed.com, yahoojobs, among others have been used in the hunt and it truly does feel like a huge black hole (with the occasional “thank you sir, but we’ve decided to move forward with other candidates – good luck out there!” email thrown in for good measure). I’ve also considered work with a temp agency, and if that’s what it comes down to, then so be it. I will certainly turn to the alumni from the school to see if they’d have any pointers as I’ve not done that as of yet. My biggest issue right now with going back to school is that I don’t want to necessarily blindly commit myself to something without having some experience in that field. I could certainly go back to school for HR and get a certificate to heighten my hiring prospects, but with no experience in HR, I don’t want to commit only to find that once I get there, I find it to be not what I want.

    A part of me is wishing, at this point, that I had taken the chance and moved many months ago when this desire first came up, rather than waiting. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I feel as though it would have been a bit easier to find something then than it is now. But I’m going to keep trying, keep chugging away. I know unemployment is high, and only bound to go higher at this point, and that’s disheartening. But at this point, there has to be something out there, and so I wait.

    A question to both – while I know current conditions are much different than what you were job-hunting in the area under, we you both able to find jobs prior to relocating? I believe if I remember correctly from SP, you found a job prior to moving, which made the process easier. Wellheeled – what was your experience? Or were you local and simply returning back to your homebase?

    Sorry about the novel! Turns out something taking as long as this has gives a person a lot to say 🙂

  4. Unfortunately, the job market is really soft right now. I’m in LA, and my company has been laying people off at my branch, as well as at other locations through SoCal.

    As someone who moved to California for adventure (I grew up in small towns on the East Coast & never traveled anywhere), don’t buy into that. I think LA is a lovely place to visit, but as a place to live it’s just not that exciting. The traffic takes its toll, and a lot of my friends & I suffer from rarely leaving a “bubble” of a 20-mile radius from our homes.

    My only advice is to keep plugging away at applying. Eventually you’ll get something. Don’t move out here without a job, this is an extremely expensive city!

  5. Anonymous says:

    When I say I want to do it for a sense of adventure, I don’t so much mean that living in Los Angeles will be the adventure as I do that, not living in Phoenix will be. There are personal and professional reasons drawing me to Los Angeles, one of the professional being that I would love to give working in the entertainment industry (another option I’ve floated) a try. The adventure just comes in the sense that I will not be located in a city that I feel like I grew up. Which is a feeling I long to leave behind.

  6. Revanche says:

    SP, wellheeled, paranoidasteroid: Thanks for all your input!
    (PA, I notice the same phenomenon of staying close to home as well. In recent years I’ve had to admit that as a SoCal native, I still know next to nothing about LA landmarks and such.)

    Anon: I hope that the suggestions here were helpful!

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