Monthly Archives: October, 2013

Nail the Pre-Interview

By Tim Klepaczyk


Why is networking so much more effective in your job search than any other approach?  I’m sure many articles have been written reflecting on this question.  Here is one of my theories.

In a sense, when you’re having a conversation with a new networking contact, you’re interviewing before the interview.  This is why personal contacts still trump connections you’ve made over the internet.  Nothing beats old-fashioned “face time”.  One of the things I’ve observed throughout my career is that in spite of many harsh realities in the workplace, most people when they first meet you want to like you.  (Incidentally, this is particularly true when you are a new hire – hey, I hired the guy who solved that perplexing problem that’s been an obstacle for so long!)

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Reinforcing the value of meeting someone in person is the fact that some venues engender mutual support.  For example, job networking meetings are collaborations of job seekers – generally, everyone is there to help everyone else.  Such a climate is conducive to a successful “pre-interview”.

Keep that in mind whenever you meet someone new.  We’re told to look for opportunities to give our “elevator speech” and hand out our business card.  Speak with sincere enjoyment about the things you liked most in your past work assignments.  Take interest in your new contact’s situation, making clear you would be helpful to them, too, if they need it.  Be friendly and smile a lot.  Look for a shared interest, if possible.  Introverts may have to work at this, because it’s a lot of small talk.  Are you an oenophile, and you notice the new acquaintance you met at a social mixer got a glass of wine?  Use that to make a personal connection.

Nail the pre-interview, and more interviews will follow.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Crocodile Hunter Returns (Well, maybe)

By Deb Bryan

Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin

Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin

A couple of well known dads have been in the news lately; Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter and Brett Favre of Green Bay Packers Football fame.  Their stories were about how dad’s careers impacted their kids.  In Steve Irwin’s case, his son, all of 9 years old and a bit of a chip off the old block, is to start co-hosting a show called, “Wild But True” on Discovery Kids Asia in 2014.  (Now, how cool is that!)  Brett Favre’s daughter isn’t faring as well due to her dad’s multiple head trauma issues; perhaps from the 525 sacks he experienced on the playing field. 

Steve Irwin died in 2006 from a sting ray injury.  Prior to his death, he regularly had his family on his television show but the thing they remembered most about their dad was his passion.  They remembered his job because they have an opportunity to follow in his footsteps but it was his passion they hold as a valuable memory.  Certainly, we all witnessed Brett Favres’ passion for the game of football during the 20+ years he played.  Whatever you think about these men’s professions both had passion on display that affected viewers, co-workers, and their families.  I would dare to venture to say passion even affected their talent and skill to do their job. 

An old Indian fable, Tale of Two Wolves

            One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.  One is evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

             The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”  The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Which of the two wolves do you think would create passion for you?  It may surprise you but I believe both will.  Gangster passion?  Missionary passion?  They are the stuff of legendary story but the first wolf will eat you alive. 

So how’s the job search coming?  Leaving any memories of passion even in this part of the job? 

Deb Bryan has 20 years of experience in office management in the pharmaceutical industry.  She has a passion for writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job.  All rights reserved

The Small Stuff

By Cynthia Sutherland

When you’re searching for a job, input from others, i.e., “You didn’t get the job,” seems like a big deal.  This feedback can be viewed as a “no” vote.  But it’s really a nit in your life. You can see it that way in hindsight, too.

Floral Heart, from Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Floral Heart, from Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Oh, yes.  If you’ve been on a job quest for some time, and you’re invested in time deadlines or a job target for attaining a job, a rejection can be a shock to your system, your self-confidence, and a postponement of your financial goals.  But that’s true only if you can’t see that one particular job – or even this period of your life – is small stuff.

There are at least two situations within many that come to mind to help put this into perspective.  One involves Olympic hopefuls.  The other involves Dick Cheney and his heart.

Olympic hopefuls participate in ongoing performances and competitions, all geared toward their ultimate goal:  getting into the Olympics, and then winning a gold (or silver, or bronze) medal.  Olympic athletes practice and commit to their quest in their earliest years, and often end their careers (with or without a medal) long before you and I would even think of retiring.

I’m currently watching ice skaters on TV competing for a spot on the next U.S. Winter Olympic team.   There are a lot of losses and flubs in the short-term, even injuries, before their skills are perfected and a peak performance is reached.  Success, and even winning, involves their attitude and confidence as much as their ability.  And luck is part of that, I suppose, which I view as honing one’s positive attitude so that a win is the next logical step (so, not really luck).

The other situation that impressed me recently is Dick Cheney’s discussion of his heart transplant.  In his new book, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, covered in several recent interviews, Cheney said that since his surgery, he “doesn’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”  He consciously appreciates each day, thinking about what actions he needs to take to live life to the fullest. Cheney says he enjoys each day as if it’s his last.

Dick Cheney’s attitude affected me powerfully. I admit that I’m not a Dick Cheney fan.  But you don’t need to share his views to be inspired by the impact that reclaiming his health and a normal life had on his outlook.

If you let yourself be inspired by such situations and consciously adopt a positive attitude, it would save a lot of emotional tension.  And the demeanor you portray to others and to potential employers would be so much brighter.  Your attitude is always apparent, anyway, even if you think you can hide it with professionalism and bravado.

When placed into perspective, this period is only a blink of your eye.  That’s what all my friends who have landed say in hindsight.  Really.

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.

© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Seeking Joy, Finding Comfort: A Lexicon for Job Searchers

By Cynthia Simmons

This blog post is a bit obscure and esoteric; some people may not find this post valuable, but here is another take on the Job Search Process.

Joy is a special word. It’s used on holiday cards and in sacred writings. Bliss, I think, is similar to joy. They both have to do with completion and a bright sense of rightness about something greater than ourselves.

Comfort is not heavenly, and can be here everyday.  Comfort can be planned for.  Joy perhaps arrives from somewhere else, from wherever it is found or it originates. Joy can be sought, but comfort can be arranged.

Comfort can be the soft ground that you prepare for the hard landings of rejections after hope’s soaring flight. It can be the safety net of family, friends, and familiar daily habits that you have adopted for self-nourishment.

While you’re job searching there are many tasks to do each day. I won’t say “complete each day” because many of the tasks continue indefinitely: a resume is sent but a response is awaited, and so on. A letter is sent, a contact is made, a conversation is started… Tasks continue until one of them is finally the answer, the new job.

Each task is an expression of hope, of your intent to go where you want to go. Hope and intent are more words in the job searcher’s lexicon. (Lexicon: the language used in a particular field or effort.)

Job searching can be spiritual. You may be reaching out, blindly, to find something. Or, perhaps you are more fortunate, and you know exactly where you want to go. But still, I would argue, Job Searching is spiritual because you must allow chance, uncertainty, or fate to determine the outcome. You may need to accept a new lesson to be learned. In the trying, you will find out what that lesson is.

And you will finally succeed. Carpe diem.


Cynthia Simmons is a writer and editor, with certificates in editing from UChicago and UCSD.

© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The ‘You Shoulds’ and ‘You Oughttas’

Back during ‘normal’ life, as in those working days, it was a regular occurrence to have someone tell us that we should this or we oughtta that.  (Especially when it comes to things like insurance and eating habits)  These interruptions merited a ‘mm-hmm, thanks’ and we went on with our day.  We knew what we were doing.

Fast forward into these job search days and how do we react to all of the you shoulds and you oughttas that are thrown in our paths nearly daily?  They stop us up short, freeze us in place – oh, dear and oh, my should I really; ought I do this?  How did we suddenly become people so easily swayed, made nervous by a mere suggestion?


Job search makes us question so much that we thought was already decided – our career path, our financial options – that we question our ability to filter suggestions from others as well.  Do I still know how to make a sound decision; we seem to ask ourselves over and over in an echo.

Being thrown into job search naturally rattled our sense of the world, our certainty – our understanding of how things are supposed to work.  But all it took away from us was our previous money earning opportunity – not a single ability.  Not the methods that we use to determine a good idea from a bad or so-so one.  Not all of our experience – the depth and richness of all the big and little things that we know.

Yes, we should listen for glimmers of truth, for information that will be helpful to our specific situation.  And thank the person offering these tidbits of their own hard-won knowledge.  (Or their sister-in-law’s friend’s second cousin’s…)  But just as we know to keep the question ‘what’s in it for me’ in mind with a slick sales pitch, we should keep a similar question in mind when bombarded by the you shoulds and you oughttas that come at us in this job search territory.

We here at Blog to Work are not trafficking in the shoulds and oughttas – that isn’t our intent.  We are finding our way, each in our own way, through this job search territory and hoping to cross back into employed territory.  And, of course, hoping that our writings will prompt solutions for the bloggers and readers.

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Job Search Tip from Johnny Carson: “I’ll be right back”

By Deb Bryan

Here's Johnny!

Here’s Johnny!

Sunday’s Tribune had a story about one of America’s best known funnymen, Johnny Carson (Rick Kogan, Oct. 20).  Johnny Carson had an on-stage personality, a side-kick in Ed McMahon, great jazz music (thank you Doc Severinsen), and Johnny was very, very rich.  Prompted to do a little research, I found an interview by newsman, Mike Wallace*, that made me roar with laughter and want to gather clues as to Johnny’s success.

Johnny had talent but he approached his talent like work he had to make happen.  Most of his mornings, he was immersed in the Tonight Shows’ atmosphere he had transported to his home office; jazz music in the background, numerous mementos and awards, and his beloved drums.  From that office he would read newspapers, lots of newspapers, write material for the evening show, and study his performance from old show tapes.  In the afternoon, he would drive to the studio and for hours, talk to the shows’ producer about that night’s guests.  Later in the evening, his support staff of Ed McMahon, the band, NBC technical people, and guests arrived.  Johnny tirelessly worked his craft because it was important to him, it meant his success, and he was in competition with other comedians just like himself.  And Johnny was very competitive!  But I believe the single most powerful point for Johnny’s staying power and career was his repeated, “I’ll be right back” because he meant it.

Johnny did not do life alone.  Fred De Cordova, the show’s producer, was a good friend.  Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen were talented and skilled co-workers.  NBC was well known in the television industry so it could draw the best of the best but still Johnny’s’ mantra of, “I’ll be right back” drove home his focus, not just for today, but for the future until he said “no more.”

As in everyone’s life, there were failures along way.  Just to highlight one performance review: the producer from the 1950 Johnny Carson Show, Ben Brady, said of Johnny, “Carson was trying to be a major comedian in prime time, and he didn’t have the power.  He is generically not a strong standup comedian like Hope, Skelton, or Benny.  He isn’t now and he never can be.”  We know the rest of the story but imagine having that broadcasted through the media?  It’s the stuff my nightmares are made of!  Quickly, breathe and say the mantra, “I’ll be right back!”

The governments’ foibles, any government, were the grist for the Tonight Show’s comedy mill.  We got a good laugh at the wild and wooly world of leadership.  And why not, they are still funny and they kept Johnny in business until HE decided to retire.

Johnny Carson was a man of paradoxes.  Perhaps his own foibles are what made him a national treasure.  He was known for being shy and defensive, a gentle man by his guests, a man who liked to be in control by fellow workers, and extremely quick witted by his public.   He admitted to all but he stood on stage, 5 nights a week, and exposed himself to our opinion of the career he daily hammered away at with intensity.  During his work day he said, “I’ll be right back” over and over again but he said it to himself as much as he said it to us.

At a news conference, Johnny was asked what he’d like his epitaph to be.  “I’d prefer not to have one at all if-where it never got to that point,” he said laughing, “I don’t know.  I think something like, ‘I’ll be right back.’”  Now that’s a funny line!  Or, is it?  Maybe it is a message to us to keep the faith, baby.

Network for Life

By Tim Klepaczyk


Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

I sometimes think about what advice I’d give my younger self.  Perhaps that’s because I don’t have any children, although there have been a few times I’ve been able to give advice to my nieces and nephew.  I don’t live life with regrets, but I think most of us can’t help but consider when we could have benefited from counsel we did not get at key points in our lives.

I would tell my younger self to network for life.  An admonition I hear repeated most times I go to my Saturday morning job networking meeting is that your next job search starts when your current one ends.   Lately I’ve taken that more and more to heart, and networking is of course the best way to turn up new opportunities.

My sister’s husband runs a small hospital.  He has preached the importance of networking throughout his career, even though he hasn’t had to endure the disruptions that have impacted mine.  Certainly, networking is about more than just finding another job; it’s also about improving your career success.  However, my point is that it is essential for your “lifelong” job search.

I’ve been out of work more than once during tough hiring climates.  I think in recent times I’ve been too passive, too reliant on what has worked before (i.e., mostly recruiters), too dependent on letting the economy turn around, and not active enough networking and thinking about what comes next.  The active networkers are at the head of the line when the job market perks back up.  Passivity in networking has delayed me getting to the head of the line.

What are the three most important things in your job search and career at all times?  Network, network, network.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Your Job Search Team

By Cynthia Sutherland

Job search is an independent and even a solitary venture.  After all, you are the one who needs to do the work to find a new job.  But…you’re definitely not alone on this journey.

Others – even strangers – can offer kindness and insights at an opportune moment; this can occur in unexpected ways, and even lead to a different career outcome.

Discussion in the Park, Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Discussion in the Park, Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Job search is a time to be more resilient, creative and resourceful by stepping out of your comfort zone. You can use this period to connect in new ways with your family, religious practices or spiritual beliefs, long-time friends, professional groups, volunteering, etc.

And since you’re in a dynamic and changing life period, it is inspiring to tap into people or situations that challenge your old assumptions. Most surprisingly, there are individuals you don’t know at all who may reach out to you (or you reach out to them) – even in a fleeting way.  They may motivate you to leap forward after you’ve been going in circles.

I’ve had several people connect with me out of the blue with information that generated a string of connections that led to a potential job, interviews, and even discussions that re-shaped my job focus.

And the people that I’ve found to be the most valuable resources are those that I’ve interacted with in areas initially unrelated to a job search conversation.  For example, I was discussing how a picture could be framed, someone walked into the shop, became part of the discussion, and it led to a job referral. That happened in my veterinarian’s office as well.

Another discussion occurred with an employee (former schoolteacher) at a bookstore that led me to re-think whether using other job skills would lead me to a different type of career.

These friendly encounters gave me a boost in my singular quest.  And they made me realize that building real connections, not just “me-focused” job contacts, are the most important part of my life journey.  It showed me that there is an interesting community that can broaden my thinking if I’m ready to listen.

Yes, there are people I’ve known for years who faded as friends and colleagues during my job search. But for any closed doors, I’ve been disarmed by kindnesses and conversations and help from extraordinary people I didn’t know before, and built some new friendships. I feel better for it.

If you’re open to guidance, the job search process can be a revelation, not just the solitary task of finding a job. And that’s what this journey is really about.

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.

© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Job Fair Today! Resumes Will Be Collected

By Susan J. Anderson, CC

I used to go to job fairs. Filled with hope and armed with plenty of resumes, I was a person, behind the paper, with many skills to offer a prospective employer. This was my day to shine and be noticed. However, after disappointments at large metropolitan job fairs, I now realize my time would be better spent elsewhere. People I know have received leads at job fairs, but, I know of no one who has gotten a job.

The high rate of unemployment in northern Illinois has been a major concern on many levels. A member of congress hosted a job fair at a local community college to demonstrate a proactive position on getting the unemployed back to work. There had been a great deal of publicity leading up to the event. The parking lot was very full and it was apparent there would be a large turnout.

I arrived early, before the doors opened. About 150 other attendees had the same idea and were ahead of me. When the doors opened, everyone was asked to sign in and identify their congressional district. Hmm, was this event meant to benefit job seekers or a politician? Organizers had each of us write out a name tag to wear and we were handed a bottle of water. Maps showed where each agency or company had a table. Time to outline a strategy!

The doors finally opened and people passed from the lobby into the hallways like sand through an hourglass. Monitors at the entrances limited the number of people who could enter a room when the capacity had been reached. What a cattle call! Very quickly the rooms were hot and noisy.

Popular employers had enormous lines gathering to talk with representatives. This would become a lesson in patience and perseverance. The company at the top of my list only had a banner hung over a vacant table. This was discouraging! I asked an organizer if this booth would be manned later in the day. She didn’t know of any changes and said, “Check back later.”

Another employer on my list had four reps at their stall. Approximately 40 people were in line at each station. Lines moved slowly. The individuals at the booth looked like the youngest, least experienced staffers from the HR department. Or, they drew the short straws.

With such a long wait ahead of me, I started conversations with others around me. The man in front of me had been out of work over a year. He went to as many job fairs as his schedule would permit. For him, freebies with corporate logos were great “perks”. Over time, he had accumulated quite a collection of T-shirts, tote bags, water bottles, pens and similar advertising items. He stated with pride, “Even if I don’t get a job, I haven’t walked away empty-handed.” I found this sad and rather depressing.

I took in my surroundings. This room was crowded with talented job seekers eager to work. Were there job openings? There was so much wrong with this system.

After 40 minutes had passed, I was nearing the front of the line. A staffer behind the table needed to step away for a few minutes. When she failed to return after 10 minutes, a near riot ensued.

Hurray! Nearly an hour later, I was shaking hands with an HR person. He made some small talk, glanced at my resume and turned it upside down on a pile behind him. He wasn’t aware of any openings in my field and referred me to the corporate website. This long wait was unsatisfactory as well as unproductive.

Other interactions weren’t much better. I was frequently directed to the corporate website no matter which booth I visited. Were the participating companies actually hiring? I had my doubts. Was this merely a way to see who was in job search and build their files? Likely these companies felt pressured to be visible in the community. They could check the box that they were present at the job fair.

A federal agency participated. They had openings – in Virginia! This wasn’t a good fit if you lived in Illinois…

The “prime” employer on my list never appeared. The staffers at the tables where I had waited an hour earlier in the day looked hassled. They had the appearance of cornered, caged animals with nowhere to run. They were sentenced to a very long day.

Time to go! On my way out, an organizer asked me to complete a short survey about my experience at the job fair. In summary, I stated I was happy to have given my resume to target companies, but, it seemed doubtful I would land employment as a result of coming to the job fair.

The choice is yours. I would only recommend going to smaller job fairs where you may be noticed.

Have you, or anyone you know, landed a job after going to a job fair?

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

An American Halloween Tale

by Deb Bryan

August 11, 1892 Lizzie Andrew Borden was put on trial for the killing of her parents in Fall River, Massachusetts.  (Now, you knew you could not get away without hearing a Halloween story.)  She was acquitted by a jury but the people of the town never, never, ever forgave her for the murder they believed she committed.

Lizzie Borden was kept from formal employment mostly due to the times she lived in, but she also didn’t have a Want To either.  Her father provided all her necessities along with a comfortable monthly allowance, though Lizzie was 32 years old when he was murdered.  For her thirtieth birthday, she was given a 35 day trip to Europe with several friends and family, along with a fur coat.  Her prominent, wealthy immediate and extended family was well thought of by the people of the town.  Lizzie had money, power, and position.  Money flowed, she ruled the school, and she seriously partied hearty.  So what caldron of unhappiness led to the day of destruction?

In fact, it was an accumulation of things over many years, but in the end it was probably greed. Being nothing new under the sun, it’s just an old, old story played out even today.   So what’s the take away?

“Today’s economic times” gives cause to want of an oh-so-comfy place to be.  Not just for Junior but even for more mature adults.  The federal government has given the Sirens call to everyone who will listen, “Come to Uncle Sam, we’ll take care of you.”  Who doesn’t like free money?  It isn’t even called welfare (for sensitive minds who want to know).  We can stay home, do some gaming, eat often and go to bed late with guilt free living.  CHILL!, for you who are freaking out about banks, school or house payments, health insurance and what the political types are doing.   But Wait! Quiet for a moment; I hear the sound of hacking.  Is anyone asking what the price tag on free is?

Two things I have personally found are Americans don’t play servant well and “he who has the gold, makes the rules” (Tyler Perry).  A hatchet struck Lizzie Borden’s parents heads an accumulation of 29 times; their problems were over, Lizzie’s just begun.  Her problems continued for 35 years.  That is a year for every blow struck with extra for measure.  What did she get away with?  Do we think we are getting away with something?  Whose hand is rocking the cradle; who owns the crib?  Is there a game of greed afoot?  Hey, who is the predator and who is the prey?!

I have another Halloween story for you.  It’s a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Tale of the Tell-Tale Heart.”  The murderer insists he is sane but still, the heart beats under the floorboards.  For seven nights he opened the door quietly to find the man with the vulture eye, the all-seeing-eye, only to find the eye closed.  He could not kill while it slept in innocence.  But on the eighth night the eye was opened and the murderer sprang to kill, all the while hearing the beat, beat, beat of a heart in terror.

We are approaching a seventh year of America’s all-seeing-eye, the power of America, watching, watching, watching.  There’s hesitancy, there’s  uncertainty, there is a lack of details about vision for our future yet to be told.    Who will be there to hear our confession, our guilt, of the murder we might commit IN COLD BLOOD”?

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.