She was there, A Tribute to Mom

She was there. My Mother. For us.


For all of the birthdays that my three siblings and I had as children, she was there. For all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that she cooked.


She was there.


For the year that she served as the Den Mother of our Cub Scout Den when I was in fifth grade.


She was there.


For the three years that my two older siblings and I were taking piano lessons, she was there, getting after us to practice, practice, and practice some more, and putting up with all of the wrong notes I hit on that piano.


She was there.


The lesson she taught me here, which can be applied to any of my job-seeking experiences was to “be persistent”.


One time when I really needed her, she was there.


This particular time occurred when I was in grade school. I had an assignment for my sixth grade Social Studies class that was due one Monday. It involved drawing pictures on a special type of construction paper. The pictures were to have something to do with life on the plantations of the southern states in the early 19th century, before the Civil War. The problem was that I forgot to bring home that special construction paper with me on Friday afternoon. Of course, I compounded the problem by not realizing that I did not have that special paper until Sunday night. The one thing I did right that Sunday night was that I told Mom of my problem. She thought about it for a few minutes, then came up with a solution.


Her solution was to draw the pictures out on ordinary paper with a pencil, which I think she did. (She was much better at drawing things than I was.) Then, she went and got a roll of wax paper. She had me place the wax paper over the pictures she had just drawn. She then took a pencil and traced the pictures onto the wax paper. The objective here was for me to take that wax paper to school with me the next morning, then re-trace those pictures on to the special construction paper, then actually re-draw those pictures, which I did, despite the comments and snickers that I heard from some of my classmates while doing this during my first classes that morning. I was able to complete that assignment, on time, because she was there for me when I needed her.


From this experience, I learned to not hesitate to ask for help.


Another time, also during that same school year, I had a writing assignment for my English class. I don’t remember the specific requirements of this assignment. All I can remember is that it was to be about someone in our everyday life. In my draft of this assignment, I had some negative things to say about one of our next-door neighbors, who, at that time, I was not getting along with. When she looked at it, she told me to change the tone of what I was writing from a negative tone to a positive one, and suggested that I start out by writing about a little girl with a “sunshiny smile” (my younger sister), which I did. I got an “A” on that assignment, because she was there to correct me.


The lesson for any of my job-seeking experiences here was to try to look at things in a positive way.


She was also there in the months immediately following my graduation from college, encouraging me to get my first post-college jobs by going through the “Help Wanted” ads, a job-searching tactic I held on to way too long.


For all of those other memories, both remembered and forgotten, for all of the happier times as well as the sad times.


She was there.


She passed away this past January.


She is in a better place now, and I’d like to think that heaven is just a little bit better now, because, she is there.




Dave Vandermey is a web developer.




Eight Positive Aspects of Being in Job Search

Although you may need to remind yourself of them, there are some positive aspects to being in job search.  Have you experienced these yet?

1. Everything you learn in this phase will remain helpful to you(after you land your next role).

Any credentials you earn, any new contacts that you meet, anyone that you’ve spent time with and shared “what you are looking for,” remain valid and useful for as long as you keep them active.  If you (unfortunately) find yourself unemployed again soon, your new job search will start from a much stronger position than your prior search.

2. You have more time to develop yourself by either fine-tuning old skills, or learning new ones.

In addition to bringing your skills up-to-date, any classes, or certifications you complete demonstrate how you have kept busy while unemployed.

3. You recognize that every day’s effort is important to your progress.

Although this is true every day of your life, in job search you need to be strengthening your network, skills, and/or visibility each day to prevent inertia from setting in.  “The status quo” is not welcome in job search: consistent activity is needed to influence the change in your employment status.

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Public Domain Image.

4. It is easier to spend more time with family and friends. 

I was able to spend several days helping a friend package up and move  boxes and home items as he prepared to move to another state.  We had many laughs as we worked on this, and I would not have spent as much time there had I been working.

5. You learn more about you really are. 

I heard so many folks say “I’ve learned so much about myself” after being unemployed for awhile.  Being presented with a challenge which affects so many areas of your life, for a duration you cannot predict, will force you to determine how you approach each day.  (For me, this point separates you from your resume, skills, and work experience, and identifies the qualities that make you unique. )

6. Any preventative steps that you’ve taken will pay off. 

If you’ve taken steps to set aside some funds for “a rainy day,”  kept your medical/dental/vision health strong, you’ll be able to rest a little easier during your job search.

7. You will be exposed to new sources of inspiration.

For me, the book “Escape from the Box: The Wonder of Human Potential” by Col. Edward L. Hubbard was especially inspiring.  The way he (eventually) approached his multi-year situation resonated with me.  I probably wouldn’t have come across this book, if not for attending a job search forum (and now I have an autographed copy)!

8. You can wait a little longer in the morning to shovel the snow from your driveway.

Although only a seasonal benefit, I did see a positive side on those cold, snowy mornings, to not having to get up extra early just to shovel snow, in order to drive into work as soon as possible.  (Seriously though, in job search, it is easier to opt-out of driving through rush hour traffic on dangerously bad-weather days, and it is fine to appreciate those moments when they happen.)

Were there positive aspects to your job search that I haven’t called out above? Feel free to list some in the comments.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

How can others help you in job search

In job search, always be prepared to answer the question “How can I help you?”

When so many parts of your life seemingly falling behind because getting a weekly, stable income tends to take priority, you may feel tongue-tied the first few times you hear this.  It took a while for me to accept that most help will be found from people that you do not know well.

Many helping hands are in front of you.  Public Domain Image

More helping hands are in front of you than you can see.
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Part of the difficulty may be in carving out only one specific request to the offering party.  Acknowledging that you would appreciate some help, is not acknowledging that you are helpless, or that no one else is helping you.  Knowing how that person could best assist your search, is very handy.

For all of your contacts: 

Since no one can help you unless they are aware that you could use it, you need to tell them.  The best way to do so is to send an email out to them, letting them know that you are now (or are soon to be) unemployed, and are seeking roles in your industry, within such-and-such a geographic area, and some company names that you are interested in pursuing.  List some titles of your desired roles, and say that you’d appreciate being put in contact with anyone who may be looking to fill such a role.  Finally, let them know how they can contact you.  From my JSWT experience, you get approximately a 10% response rate from doing this.

For folks you don’t know too well (or have just met):

Get to know them better.  Ask them about any industry knowledge they may have.  (Provide your elevator speech, and then see what they have to share.)  Ask for general feedback upon your resume.  What jumps out to them?  Learn about the industry that they were in, for that knowledge may come in handy later.  Always, ask how you can help them.

For folks you have gotten to know:

You can ask for a bit more of their time.  Ask for feedback upon your resume, elevator speech, or even to ‘spot interview’ you to see how you answer questions.  Practice interviews are great to do with three people, as the third person can observe the interviewer and the interviewee objectively.  Always, ask how you can help them.

The most dedicated support will be from...the people in your job search work team.

Upon joining a team, you essentially agree to spend a few hours each week helping other members of the team.  Over time, you’ll be surprised at the amount of support (and experiences, and contacts, and feedback) provided within the team.


In my project management experience, I’ve always found that the most organized teams were the best at identifying areas that could be improved with some external help.  The question ‘How can I help you?’ is certainly one that you want to be able to answer well.

Were there other ways that you’ve answered this question while in job search?  Have folks given you a great response when you’ve asked them this question?  I’d love to hear about it.


Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Helping Others in Job Search

“Helping others become more effective” is a result claimed by many mentors and coaches.  To be perceived as someone who is effective and influential in job search networks, spend time trying to improve your contacts’ job search.

On job-search mornings, when I wasn’t networking or exercising, I’d find myself sitting in front of a monitor, coffee in hand, needing a few minutes to warm up before getting into heavy research.  For my brain’s warm-up, I’d often spend 10 or 15 minutes checking my best contacts’ LinkedIn profiles, and provide endorsements for any newly listed skills.  I recall almost falling off my chair laughing when I saw that one friend had added “Dangerously Handsome” as a skill.

Do you know what your contacts are looking for in their job search?   If not, then you’re unable to effectively refer people to them.  Discussions over coffee, or networking, provide you a forum to share your background, and current goals, with each other.  These talks are not meant to make you feel bad if you do not have an immediate contact or reference to offer the other person.  If you understand each other better after the discussion, then it was worth the time.

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Over time, you’ll build a knowledge bank of people with skills in different industries, etc.  With this, you’ll have a larger set of names available when a recruiter contacts you with opportunity that isn’t a match for you, but could be a match for one of your contacts.  You’ll know this is the case, because you’ve already spent time talking with that person, and you know the types of roles she is looking for.

This was precisely how my first job search ended.  One of my job search work team members mentioned my name to a recruiter, and eventually, this resulted in a phone screening, then interview, then a job offer.  How great did it make my day, to get the offer.. .and how great did it make her day, knowing that it began from a referral she’d provided?  It was an awesome day for each of us.

Helping others, in a tangible way, shows that you continue to make a positive impact on those around you, even while unemployed.   By connecting a person with a certain skill, with someone who has a corresponding need, you are helping them (both) be more effective.  As this continues, the circle of people helped by your efforts will become larger, and they will be able to refer YOU to someone who is looking for your skills.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

What Most Surprised Me in Job Search

For over ten years, the cycle of workforce reductions continued until my position was eliminated.  Although no two job searches are the same, I believe no one goes through their job search without experiencing a few surprises along the way.   As I was unable to rank one item as ‘the most surprising’ here are five items that caught me by surprise during my ten month job search.  Do any of these surprises resonate with you?

What surprises will be in your job search? Public Domain Image

What Surprises Will be in Your Job Search?
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1/ Being informed, through an HR panel, that having been with one company for over 20 years was generally considered a detriment.  The first concern in a reviewer’s mind would be “Can this person work somewhere else?”

I thought that having made it through the many rounds of reductions, would have demonstrated that I was able to provide a lot of value (as I was kept on for so long).   I was wrong.

2/  The level of support, shared experience, advice, and honest feedback that I’d receive (and provide) through my job search work team was beyond my expectations.

3/ Realizing my (helpful and expensive) outplacement agency was not trying to get me an interview.  They offered help in many other aspects of job search, but although I heard that “Often, companies contact us for candidates,” I never heard of anyone in our outplacement program having been referred for a phone screening.

4/ People that you don’t know very well will end up being the most helpful to you.   I observed this many times.  For whatever reason, your good friends, and long-time colleagues tend to not be where the contacts and job leads come from.  (Perhaps because the contacts would have been extended prior to you being unemployed?)  The contact which led to my first hired position was made through a fellow job search work team member.

5/ Fully believing (embracing the fact) that the unemployed person is 100% just as successful as the employed person.  This took me some time, experience in talking with a lot of unemployed folks.  Although prior to job search, I “kinda-sorta-could” agree with that statement, it was clearly not a position that I fully owned.

What surprises did you experience in your job search?

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The D’s of Job Search

I know my vocabulary changed while I was in job search.  Certain words became more prominent in my networking, as well as my self-discussions.  As I approach a full year since my last job search, I realize that many of these terms remain in my daily speech.  For some reason, many of them start with the letter ‘D.’

Here is the list of these terms, with an explanation of how the word inspired me.  If this list reminds you of terms which have helped you, please consider sharing those terms in the comment section.

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Dare to hear others’ honest opinions of I present myself.   The most valuable opinions are from those who’ve decided to take a pass on me: I may disagree with each one, but if a common theme evolves from unconnected sources, I need to understand and embrace how they arrived at that perspective.

Demonstrate my skills and abilities to people I haven’t met yet, and to those I have.  What matters is that these skills provide value to others, regardless of who, or how it is provided.  This will support my self-confidence, and shows others what I am capable of doing well.

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Discuss my efforts, progress, and obstacles with others, and learn what they have found useful (or not so useful) in their job search.  Do this on a scheduled, weekly basis, preferably within a job search work team.

Distance myself from negative influences as much as possible.  Anything can be shown in a negative light, and being unemployed tends to lower the lights anyway, so try to stay away from those who focus upon a pessimistic view.  Be especially aware of folks who are negative not just about their own situation, but also about mine.

Do remain active during this job search.  (In a Yogi Berra-ish way, “The one thing to do, is to always do more than one thing.”)  Be outside the home; exercise, network, meet, talk to people, and help others in their endeavors.

Donate my time to others in job search, and to endeavors that I support.  This will help keep my mind fresh.  Don’t worry if this doesn’t clearly establish a path to a hiring manager.  This provides a place for me to contribute value, and I can reference this in future phone screenings and interviews.

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Depend upon my own abilities, and remember that I can provide value to an organization.  My abilities and efforts had brought me success before I was unemployed, and I need to trust that these are still within me.  (Do not underestimate the importance of this point.)

Delight in my job search efforts, and of those around me.  With many contacts trying to make inroads into the unknown to generate their next paying role, there is a lot at stake every day.  At the very least, it is an exciting time.
Dive in to get the results that I seek.  I’ll never get hired for a job that I do not apply for.  I am fully engaged during my job search activities, for I am a person of action and results.  (I help to introduce my contacts with people, or forums, that can be helpful to them.  To do this, I first need to know what they seek.  Learning this is necessary.)
I’m interested in hearing the terms that became more meaningful for you in your job search, or as you pursued a major, risky achievement.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

You learn from being with others who pursue similar goals

If you are focussed and committed to achieve a goal, you generally try to surround yourself with people pursuing the same, or a similar, goal.

In martial arts, you work out together, to achieve the next belt color (level).

In training for a marathon, you establish a routine to follow (with others). (How many miles to run?  Which days?  Which route to follow?  What diet to follow?  What time to meet in the morning to run?)

In SCUBA diving, it is always recommended to stay with a companion while underwater.

Yet, many unemployed folks don’t embrace this approach regarding their job search.

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For job search, the most effective ways to decrease the duration of your job search, is to routinely meet with others in job search, as a group, to discuss their progress and activity toward finding their next job.  (Reference R. Bolles, ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’, 2012.)

I often heard folks, who’d been in job search for a long time, say “The people that I talk with are all unemployed: I REALLY need to be talking to employed folks!”

Friends of mine have trained for marathons as part of a group, and it took months of preparation.  Over that time, some group members encountered situations which kept them from training one day, or forced them to run a shorter distance than scheduled.  For others in the group, uphills were more of a challenge, while downhills were more problematic for a few.  No two people had the same set of challenges throughout their training, and this is expected.  It was how each person approached, and then worked through each challenge, that determined if she was successful or not in reaching (first the starting, then) the finish line, of the marathon.

Similarly, no two people in job search should expect to see similar progress from their efforts.  If someone’s LinkedIn profile is not generating as many hits as desired, it is a temporary situation that can be tweaked: it should not be seen as a personal judgement or failure.  It is important to seek out help from those in your group, for those areas that you want to improve.  Most importantly, keep being active within your job search network!

I found that being amongst people interested in my success helps helps me to be my best.  The value of being within a group of people who actively share your goals, remains just as important in job search as it is in any other undertaking.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

When Being Overwhelmed is a Good Sign

During your job search, you may feel overwhelmed.   This is a good sign, for it means you are trying to do the following 20+ activities:

1/ Create, or update your resume,

2/ Create/update a LinkedIn Profile,

3/ Apply to posted jobs,

4/ Visit libraries to create lists of target industries, so that you can create lists of target companies,

5/ Network to build your contact list

6/ Touch base with your existing contact list,

7/ Draft your stories to be used in phone screenings and interviews – strengths, weaknesses, and experiences,

8/ Network with currently, and recently unemployed people, to learn from their experiences,

9/ Join a job search work team, and become an active member,

10/ Map (plan) out your immediate, short-term, and longer term finances,

10.5/ Hit the ‘Find Job’ button to locate and sign up for your next gig. (If only….)

We all know that this key does not exist.  Public Domain Image

We all know that this key does not exist.
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11/ Apply for COBRA (track progress, and follow up if/when coverage doesn’t appear on time),

12/ Apply for new health insurance,

13/ Apply for unemployment (and begin tracking activities in job search in case you are audited),

14/ Discuss unemployment situation with people you have known for a long time,

15/ Discuss your unemployment situation with people you do not know (such as folks within your doctor’s office, financial advisors, your children’s teachers, etc.),

16/ Read up on how to conduct an effective job search (and then contemplate the contradictory advice),

17/ Create a handbill,

18/ Create and order business cards,

19/ Assess “what you could have done better, or differently” to avoid being unemployed,

20/ Assess ‘what you could have done better, or differently” to have generated more call-backs,

21/ Exercise and/or increase involvement in other activities to help keep your mind “fresh” and your self-confidence solid, and

22/ Take confidence in yourself and your ability to make a positive impact for those you interact with. 

If you have been in transition, the length of this list did not surprise you. (And it is by no means an exhaustive list.)

I didn’t even list out topics that deal with your day-to-day activities such as cooking meals, paying bills, maintaining your home/car/laundry/relationships, picking up/dropping off kids, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow, etc.

If you had a similar sized list for your “paid work” job, there’d be no question that you had a lot of work to do, and that some assistance and guidance would be very beneficial.   Being unemployed does not make this list any easier to accomplish.  Asking for, and accepting, help shouldn’t be seen as a ‘weakness’ nor a ‘sign of helplessness.’  It shows that you are actually engaged in trying to achieve something, and so you are involving the people you feel may be able to help you to that goal.

I often told folks who were newly unemployed, “If you are feeling overwhelmed by your transition, that is a really good sign!

So,… if you are in job search and feel overwhelmed?  Good for you for feeling overwhelmed!

You are in job search and are letting folks know how they can help you (when they ask)?  Great!!

You are in job search and are letting people know that you’d appreciate some help finding your next role?  AWESOME!!!    

Feeling overwhelmed is reasonable in job search.  It demonstrates that you have sized up the “job” in front of you, and are working through all those aspects as best you can.


Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Christmas will still come, so relax

Welcome to the Christmas rush, that time of the year when we have to deal with all of those distractions associated with Christmas. I will list some of them; putting up the tree, decorating the tree, putting up the outside Christmas lights, shopping for Christmas presents, baking Christmas cookies, cleaning the house, decorating the house, putting up with rude shoppers, dealing with family members who nag you to give them your Christmas wish list, sending out Christmas cards to friends you haven’t seen in years, and hearing phrases such as “Black Friday” and “companies are hiring” too many times.

Ok, that last phrase is one that only us job-seekers will hear, or at least pay attention to. While I might want to challenge those who say that companies are hiring by asking them to start naming those companies, I understand their reason for saying that. They are trying to tell job-seekers to not let up in their efforts to find their next job.

Something that is hard to do for those job-seekers who have to endure any, or all, of those distractions I listed earlier. In fact, trying to keep up the job-searching efforts while dealing with everything else is enough to drive a job-seeker insane, or make him feel drawn-and-quartered.

I will start with this one-word suggestion that a professional football quarterback told his teammates when the team was about to play its fourth game this season, with only 1 win to its credit; “Relax”.


I will add to this advice. Christmas will come. Think of the peace that comes with that day, or the day after, when you realize that you do not have to perform those “extra activities” we do during the Christmas season. At least, not until next year.

I will also suggest that we job-seekers start thinking about each of those “extra activities”, and ask ourselves “Will this Christmas be less merry if this activity is not on our “to-do” list. (Do not delete buying presents, unless you have a spouse who is willing to do it for you; but then, you still have to buy presents for that spouse. And, if your family is not hosting Christmas dinner, that’s already one thing you don’t have to do.)

I have 2 suggestions for items which can be deleted; putting up the outside Christmas lights, and baking four, five, or six batches of cookies, or however many batches you bake.

First, the outside lights. Last year, I was unable to put up the outside Christmas lights, due to an early snowfall.

But Christmas still came, and was a merry one for us.

This brought back memories of those Christmases my family had when I was in grade school. Back in those days, people who lived in our neighborhood did not put up outside Christmas lights. I do not know why they did not do this.

But Christmas still came.

Second, I believe that we can get by with 1 or 2 less batches of cookies than we normally do.

Again, back in my grade school days, my Mom would bake cookies at Christmas time. I don’t remember how many batches of cookies she baked each year. Because she was a stay-at-home Mom, and not looking for a job, she could bake several batches of cookies without worrying about the amount of time she had left for all of the other activities. She knew that I liked to eat cookies, so she gave me a recipe for spritz cookies when I moved out of my parent’s house. I have baked these cookies at Christmas time ever since. However, I do not know if I will be baking those cookies this year.

But Christmas will still come, and it will be merry.

Maybe you have some other ideas of those “extra activities” that you can drop from your list of things to do. If so, good for you.

And remember, Christmas will still come, and it will still be merry.

Merry Christmas!
Dave Vandermey is a web developer.