Another way to economize in the Job Search ...

Another way to economize in the Job Search ...

Wow … we're back to a Wednesday and Gordon Dymowski taking the reins of The Job Stalker … I missed two “regular slots”, and even had stuff ready to roll both Friday and Monday, but had no time to get the posts done. This was, however, thanks to a freelance/consulting project that kept me solidly busy during that time period, helping out with a client's efforts at the TechWeek conference down at the Merchandise Mart.

This week Gordon looks at one of my favorite thing, open-source software, which I use quite a bit. As I've mentioned, I've been on shaky financial ground for a long time and shelling out hundreds of bucks for software has not been either practical or prudent, so having quality free alternatives has been a great boon … and most of what I use is covered below (although I'd also like to recommend Paint.Net, my favorite graphics program!).

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        One of the hardest things to do in these tough economic times - especially when we’re trying to find work - is save money and live cheaply without sacrificing quality.

        It’s especially true when it comes to technology - after all, we live at a time when being familiar with technology is as much a job requirement as, say, typing skill or filing or higher end business math. So it’s times like that that I am grateful that I am an advocate of open source software, and today, I hope to share some (but not every) open source equivalents to several more expensive software packages that may be used as part of the job search.

        Now, what do I mean by open source? According to Wikipedia, “Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is available in source code form: the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software.” Unlike most commercial packages, open source software is always free to use and modify; has a dedicated community of people working to support it (meaning that tech assistance may be no more than a Google search away); and may contain features that make it equivalent to its more higher-priced cousins. There will be a little more time spent configuring software, but it’s time well spent, and will not only save you money, but more importantly, really help you become much more efficient and effective in your job search.

        For example, purchasing Microsoft Office for working on resumes would be a little cost-prohibitive, as the software license may cost up to several hundred dollars. Thankfully, LibreOffice is a great, feature rich package that performs many of the same functions you would get in Microsoft Office. (Thankfully, you can even configure it so that it automatically opens - and saves - in Office format). An offshoot of Open Office, LibreOffice has several advantages over its predecessor, including less reliance on Java (meaning it doesn’t take forever to load); greater variety of foreign language packs, and some improved functionality.  It may take awhile to download (unless you’re daring and use a bit torrent client), but is well worth the time and installation.

        The only component that LibreOffice does not have is an e-mail/calendaring client...but luckily, there’s a great open source e-mail client that will do the job. I’m talking, of course, about Mozilla Thunderbird. One of the great things I like about Thunderbird is that it not only handles various kinds of e-mail protocol (including POP and IMAP), and is also customizable through various extensions and themes. One great extension which I use is Lightning, which allows me to access my calendar on Thunderbird much like I can on Outlook. Since I also use Google’s calendar and e-mail, after configuring both, performing e-mail triage and updating my schedule becomes much easier. (Thunderbird does wonders with Google’s e-mail service on IMAP, allowing me to file and do refined searches much more easily than Gmail’s “web” interface).

        Of course, there are open source equivalents for online chat/IM, photo manipulation, editing sound, and playing audio and video (including volunteer-read audiobooks),  but those of us who are trying to keep our older machines running longer often face the challenge of purchasing a new Windows and/or other upgrades. Thankfully, there is a great open source operating system called Ubuntu that is very user friendly, contains many of the software packages I previously mentioned, and will also work in older machines that may not be the shiniest of new toys. On my personal blog, I have discussed how I converted a Panasonic Toughbook into a working machine, and Ubuntu’s main strength is that you can not only load it from a CD, you can load it from a USB Drive, or run it off a CD, or even run it with Windows. (I recommend using Unetbootin if you want to load from a USB Drive). In fact, this Job Stalker entry is being written on the computer that I have named “Harvey”, which runs on Ubuntu, and I have had no problems. (Well, other than the cat attempting to use my leg as a scratching post).

        Granted, today’s post may not have been directly related to job seeking...but for many of us, trying to maintain a competitive edge can be tough when we have to decide between business and survival needs. What I hoped to do with today’s entry is provide some insight and some resources to provide some relief. If you would like more information about open source computing and software, I strongly suggest contacting Free Geek Chicago (who I know through my activities with Chicago Net Tuesday). Free Geek Chicago does a lot of great work with open source computing, and they are a great resource if you wish to dive even further.
        But enough of that - if you would like to touch base with me, please feel free to contact me through any one of my social media platforms via If you’re looking to build your Linked In profile, I would also be more than happy to connect with you. (Just be sure to note that you were referred through Job Stalker). As always, thanks for reading!

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