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The Laidoff Ninja

May 3rd, 2010 05:06 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

walmass writes “My first reaction on seeing the book was, ‘Oh no, another book with “Ninja” in the title.’ But in this case, the authors have established a case for that: they explained that the first Ninjas were peasants who could not take the abuse from the Samurai anymore and how they used everyday objects as weapons.” Keep reading to see what walmass has to say.

The Laidoff Ninja
author Craig Brown and Javed Ikbal
pages 278
publisher CreateSpace
rating 9/10
reviewer walmass
ISBN 1451558848
summary learn techniques that helped hundreds of people survive unexpected unemployment
The authors are co-founders of The Layoff Support Network, which seems to be a collective knowledge-sharing site for people looking for jobs, and the authors say that the book distills the knowledge from the website collected over the past 2 years. The authors also started off by stating that this is not just a book about finding a job; this is also a book about surviving until finding a job. I think The Laidoff Ninja (henceforth, “LON”) fares well on these claims.

The pre-ramble is listed as section zero (0) — perhaps not surprising considering the two authors are techies: information security is their day job. Keep that in mind when we look at what they manage to extract out of LinkedIn.

One thing I liked about this book right out of the gate is what the authors (or their editor?) decided to call “Quick-shot” guides. Instead of traditional table of contents, they have provided a listing of topics they thought might be interesting to the following types of readers:
- Job seekers with work experience.
- Recent graduates with limited work experience.
- People who are feeling “cash strapped.”
- People who are feeling overwhelmed and emotionally distraught.

Considering the last bullet, I was not really surprised to see a section titled “Ninja Psychiatry.” The authors made it clear that they do not have any formal training in Psychiatry and are not licensed to practice psychology, psychiatry or any mental health related profession. They then proceeded to dispense advice on feelings of Loss, Depression, Anxiety, Financial Worries and how to deal with rejection after interviews. The section ends with an admonition to say no to drugs, and encouragement to say yes to humor.

There are lots of “Guerrilla this” or “Ninja that” related to layoffs and job hunting, but I don’t think I have come across any other book that addresses the mental aspects of being unemployed.

The next section, “Survival” contains a chapter titled “Pull money out of your butt.” Crude but effective, and while whole books have been written about making money on eBay, LON addresses this in a practical way.

Frankly, I was a bit surprised to see LON come out and suggest people should not commit crimes when they are desperate for money. I think this would be obvious to any rational person.

There are some tips about maximizing your available financial resources by delaying payment on some utility bills. While legally OK, I question the morality of providing such advice to readers.

Part 4, “Getting a Job” is where the book begins to read like a traditional book, but there are some surprises and hidden gems there. The sections begin with a job-applications toolkit that recommends free email services, OpenOffice and other technological free-bees that would be required for a job-searcher. These are items that the typical Slashdot reader find amusingly basic, but would certainly be useful for seekers who have been out of the hunt for a while.

Part 5, “Finding opportunities” focuses heavily on LinkedIn. It contains a useful exercise where a job-seekers “needs and wants” are sorted in a “value sort” to determine what type of job would be suitable. But in the next breath, the authors suggest folding away the values-list and taking a job (any job) that will pay the bills. I fail to understand this contradictory advice, and wish they would make up their mind.

The LinkedIn content is useful, but only to a new user of LinkedIn. Experienced LinkedIn users may miss the nuggets buried among these basic facts.

Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are also covered. The well-known but often ignored warnings about being careful with what one posts on one’s social networking profiles are posted here.

There is a scathing chapter on recruiters. While certain good qualities of recruiters are mentioned, it seems the authors generally believe that recruiters are uncaring commission-hounds that just want to place a candidate and don’t care about individuals. The brutal honesty was refreshing, and I’d be curious whether a majority of Slashdot readers would agree or disagree with the authors.

If you consider that stress and anxiety for a jobless person comes from being, well, jobless, then Part 6, “Preparing for the battle” is the most important section in the book. It covers the basics like resumes, cover letters and elevator pitches, etc.

The next chapter is “Reconnaissance” and this is where the hacker background of the authors finally shows up. They show, with examples, how to find the name and email address of recruiters and HR people at practically any company. The theory being, if you can directly contact the HR people at a company, your resume will not be lost in the 1000 other resumes that people send in. There is just one problem with this theory being put into practice. The book assumes, and does not make abundantly clear, that without building up your network first to some reasonable degree this isn’t easy to do. But after I have spent a few hours inviting people and joining groups as the book suggested, I was indeed able to pull up the names of some recruiters at Apple and Google. That accomplished, based on the techniques suggested in the LON, I was able to figure out their email addresses and email them. I hope spammers and marketing droids will not read this book and find out these techniques.

For example, I did not know that one could search Facebook by email and zero in on any individual. It is also a violation of my social norms to approach strangers on Facebook about jobs, but the authors provided guidance and specific examples on how to do that, and also when to step back and look for alternatives.

But some of the techniques, such as querying “whois” records to find out the email address format used by a particular company may not be for the average non-technical Joe, and also seem to skirt ethical boundaries without exactly stepping over the line.

This chapter alone is probably worth the price of the book

The book is a good value at 278 pages and the authors have not done any “white space tricks” to make it seem bigger. A laid-off person would probably appreciate the price/performance of this book.

Overall, “The Laidoff Ninja” is an extremely valuable resource on dealing with the mental stress and anguish that may come from being laid off. It presents creative and novel ways of finding jobs by leveraging social media. The book is a tool in itself that can help the reader survive and prepare for the battle that is a job-search, and do it in a highly effective way.

This book is an excellent value if you need help dealing with the stress of unemployment, or want an edge in reaching hiring managers or recruiters at potential employers. This book is not meant to teach you how to write your resume or cover letter. It will work for novice and experienced candidates alike, although the LinkedIn tricks would definitely favor a more technical reader. I highly recommend it.

You can purchase The Laidoff Ninja from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers’ book reviews — to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

Source: The Laidoff Ninja

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