Monthly Archives: November, 2013

Managing the Information Age

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

I remember a conversation I had with my boss several years ago.  I was working as an application and sales engineer, and he lamented the hundreds of e-mails he needed to wade through frequently.  I didn’t receive as much e-mail as him, but I received enough that I could relate to his concerns.

I’m reminded of the conversation when I work on my job search.  I belong to over 50 LinkedIn groups and subscribe to many of their weekly updates.  I get other e-mail alerts, such as from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  If you also receive a lot of e-mails dealing with it is of course only one of one’s job search tasks.

public domain image

public domain image

However, I never felt overwhelmed then or now.  It’s a matter of prioritization.  Make a mental note of which e-mails require prompt attention, which can be put on the backburner, and which can be ignored.  Are you consistently ignoring e-mails from a common source?  Unsubscribe to that one.

Additionally, my job search coach provided a document to me that I use to track my efforts.  It has separate rows for many metrics, such as job applications submitted, networking e-mails and phone calls, networking lunches and events, phone and on-site interviews, and work on my LinkedIn and Repio profiles.  I also have a spreadsheet where I track the details of job leads I’m pursuing, with separate pages for active and inactive leads.  Such records are not only useful today;  they are also useful in the future.  I have job search records dating back more years than I’m willing to admit, although that is perhaps a sign more than anything else of some overdue Spring cleaning.

Technologies are tools; always control them, do not let them control you.

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

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The Bay of Pigs: A Job Search Inspiration?

By Deb Bryan

A few hours ago, I returned from a discussion on the assignation of John F. Kennedy. The lecture was fascinating in its detail and also a little horrifying to watch. But what I didn’t expect was to hear a description of Kennedy’s crisis when he was newly elected and the near start of a war right off our shores. Worse yet, this former junior senator from Massachusetts learned about the crisis, The Bay of Pigs plan, after he was elected as President from a seasoned WWII general (Eisenhower) and an expert in foreign affairs (Nixon). Holy set-up Batman!

Kennedy held true to the plan he was handed and it was a slaughter. The Cuban troops and the American air power were decimated. Shortly following the US failed takeover, Nikita Khrushchev used Fidel Castro’s victory to prepare sites for installing Russian medium range nuclear missiles in Cuba, 110 miles from the Florida shores!

John Kennedy

John Kennedy

Kennedy went to the American people via television and made them aware of the danger. Khrushchev also watched the President’s speech and commanded the Cuban military to begin preparing for war and arm for an attack. Kennedy called for a naval blockade of Cuba, to prevent missiles from being delivered. A staring contest between the Americans and the Russians began while the world held its collective breath. Would there be a first nuclear war?

My guess, very few of us knew the downsizing was coming or knew the fallout we would be required to contend with. We were handed someone’s plan and told there were no options. Family and friends stared at us when reality became obvious. Sure, there are a lot of opinions but the responsibility for the fix is ours. You know what Kennedy did in his hour of crisis? He called his brother, Robert, and together they designed a plan and held fast. In the end, JFK’s crisis showcased his willpower and improved his credibility.

Do you have a brother? Perhaps not a blood relative, but someone with whom you can weather this storm. You have been through storms before and they blew over; this one will too. Just how much wreckage could be averted if you have a brother for such a time as this? Take this trial to a trust brother and brainstorm a plan. Together, stare back at that job search crisis and make it blink.

Deb Bryan has 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. She has a passion for writing and Toastmasters International.

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

Try a Little Appreciation

By Cynthia Sutherland

Deliberately adopt an attitude of appreciation.  When you intentionally appreciate aspects of your life, it starts you on your way to feeling good. 

And when you feel good, you will be inspired to positive action.  Others will notice.

From Wikimedia Commons, Scroll, in the public domain

From Wikimedia Commons, Scroll, in the public domain

This time of year, many of us are automatically led by the holiday season to focus on our blessings.  We’re told to identify positive circumstances, family members and friends, and what they mean to us.  We may or may not “feel” those blessings. It can be just an exercise, but what if you take it seriously?

As a catalyst, there are always stories about someone worse off than we are who has a positive attitude and achieves against great odds, or someone better off who shares their blessings with others less fortunate.

Yet here you are: still unemployed as you move into this season of Thanksgiving.  So it may make it a little harder to imagine the light at the end of that tunnel.  Or to appreciate the job search, or other aspects of your life right now.

But I say that not feeling appreciation promotes a very conditional view of life. “If I get this job, I’ll be happy.”  “If I achieve that success, I’ll be happier.”  “If I have that relationship, then I can love life.”  If…if…if.

It often is that way, though, a learned behavior from the time we were very young.  We cried our eyes out for the truck or doll that we wanted at that moment.  And when we got that toy, it made us happy for a minute.  Then we moved on to the next item we had to have to be happy.

Have you tried recently, just for kicks, to act happy, or to appreciate certain aspects of your life, just to see what would happen?  I have.  It really starts some positive juices flowing, you begin to feel better, and your outlook on life shifts – even if it’s just in the moment.  And your outlook about your job search will shift to a more positive view as well.

Make a list.  List the things, situations, people, foods, anything that you like.  Then think about why you feel good about the items on your list.  When you do, more reasons, and more things will come to mind. And you will start to feel some real appreciation.

You could do the same thing about all those things you don’t like, but that will make you feel bad. Our normal analytical selves assist us in doing this every day.  But we’re not looking for a pity party, or pros and cons, just a way to uplift your spirits.

A feeling of appreciation builds on itself if you let it.  Return to the list the next day and add to it, or start a new list each day.

After a time, you will move more automatically to think about how great your life is, how blessed you really are.  And you will realize that you are gaining more knowledge about yourself and others as a result of what you experienced in your job search.

Next year, your list can be a retrospective about what you learned in your job search process, and how wonderful people were in helping.  And you will be ready to help the next person who may just be starting their search process.

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

Testing, Testing: Illinois O’Net Self-Assessments

By Cynthia Simmons

Sometimes it’s good to go back and double check thoughts you have about yourself and what you want to do with your life as far as a job is concerned. But, then again, other times life is so busy, and you are already committed to so many things, that going back and double-checking isn’t an option.

Last week, I was granted a chance to look backwards at my past career decisions when I attended a free Illinois Workforce Development workshop. Our class of six people was lead through four self-assessment and interest inventories that were accessed through the website https://ilcis.intocareers.org.

As we worked our ways through the self-assessments, we each developed our own  multidimensional personal profile that included our likes and work values. This was called our “portfolio.”

Other tools on the website that we were shown included a “reality check” regarding the median income for a particular job in a particular geographic area/region, and a budget builder, to use to draw up a real-life budget of what we need to earn monthly and annually.

I was relieved when the results of the interest inventory were the same as they had been years ago, when I took similar tests when I was 25 years old, and then when I was 30 years old. I still want the same things. I am still who I thought I was, even with all of the changes time and new technologies have brought.

This suite of tests is part of the Illinois Career Information System. One of the interesting and beneficial things that I experienced when doing these assessments was that it’s very important to take a look at careers you don’t want. When you look at profiles for people who like careers that you don’t want to pursue, you learn why those other careers don’t make sense for you. The discomfort and perhaps repulsion may make sense. For myself, I found closure when I asked questions such as, “Why does the thought of doing such and such make me anxious or annoyed?” The answers to these questions were–those jobs don’t include things I like to do or things that I’m good at doing.

Sometimes we feel that we can do anything and be anyone. And maybe, if we are desperate enough, we can try to make ourselves do that. But I think that the better course is to follow our individual preferences, if we understand ourselves deeply enough. And, failing a deep self-knowledge, taking chances and trying something new, may also be a good route.

Advice Now, Reflect Later, Thankfully

We are going to be gathering with family in just under a week, some of us will be seeing far flung, extended family.  The question of what we have been up to is bound to come up.  Just like the other clichéd questions of when are you going to settle down for the preternaturally single family member; when are you going to have kids to the young married family members; and so on.

 

The next step, once you have answered that you are in job transition at the moment, is bound to be the advice.  So and so did this and landed a great job, x worked for me – I don’t have to go on, you get advice from all sides practically every day.  Job search is one of those parts of life that everyone has formulated an opinion about.   Even if they have never experienced it.

 

Don’t let your dread and trepidation for this conversation ruin this chance to gather with family and give thanks.  No one knows what the coming year will bring and family is also a blessing.

 

Be prepared to thank the person for the suggestion, smile and change the subject to find out what they have been up to since you saw them last.  If you are pressed, you can say that you have a policy to give yourself time to think about these sorts of suggestions after the fact, when you can really reflect.  If you say it in a way that makes it clear to them that what they have said deserves some thought on your part, then they should be pleased and let the subject drop for now.

 

Most likely their motive is to be helpful to you, and argument means rejection and hurt feelings all around.   But listening and then responding that their idea requires reflection later gives both of you an opportunity.  With that later reflection, you may actually be able to come to the conclusion that all or some of their idea has merit in your own search and they will feel pleased at being able to help you.

 

You need to have the opportunity, later on your own, to sift through what has been presented and look for the parts that have meaning to you.  This cannot be done in the moment, in front of the snack table or while watching the game.

 

A little forethought now can lead to a better family gathering.  Something to be thankful for in this month of gratitude.

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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

The Ultimate Measure of Success

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

How do you measure success?  Perhaps the most commonly cited yardsticks are corporate advancement and financial wealth.  This is reinforced by the economic indicators most often mentioned on the nightly news, including GDP growth.

I’ve never been persuaded that these are the best measures of personal or national success.  We’ve all known people who’ve toiled long hours in jobs that they do not enjoy.  Besides, even the most fun job is less than ideal if its demands prevent you from going to junior’s recital that was so important to him.

I read a book I really liked many years ago called “Your Money or Your Life”, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.  They talked about how there is a trade-off between “fulfillment” and “money spent”.  The money you spend depends on your salary and work hours.  Another way to look at this is life energy – where a job you really like requires less life energy per hour, but even the most rewarding work if it also has excessive hours requires a lot of life energy.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

They go on further to say that our survival needs require relatively little “life energy”, comforts a bit more, and true luxuries even more.  To a point, fulfillment increases with more life energy invested.  However, the less introspective among us – for example, those too easily influenced to “keep up with the Joneses” – start sliding back down the fulfillment scale as the blind pursuit of additional luxuries compromises other things that are important in life.

The leaders of the small Asian country Bhutan have an alternative to GDP called GDH – Gross Domestic Happiness.  I think they’re really on to something, and I hope we find a way to incorporate their insight into our own national measures.

The Ultimate Measure of Personal Success is happiness, and more particularly happiness with emotional health.  Don’t lose sight of this when seeking work at any point in your life.

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

Lighthouses: Network Icon

By Deb Bryan

The first “lighthouses” were actually nothing more than strategically placed bonfires on the tops of hills to guide mariners into a harbor. The fires served to show sailors where the port was located, but they did little to help them avert crashing into rocks. This was especially problematic in the ancient city of Alexandria, which had a thriving port but also a rocky island off the coast named Pharos. To solve the problem, the residents built a 400-foot lighthouse on the island, which for centuries was among the tallest man-made structures on earth. The fires built on the top of this massive structure could be seen for miles out to sea, and it served to not only protect ships and save lives but also promoted trade. Sound vaguely like the job search?

Network Icon

Network Icon

This lighthouse picture has a romantic touch, don’t you think? It almost looks like scrimshaw with its grey/brown background, dark emotional clouds and tall ship fighting the waves. Now, imagine you are the captain responsible for a crew; fighting your way from the rocks and through the waves threatening to dash everyone and their dreams for the future. In the job search, this is reality.

The job search contains not only experienced sailors looking for safe harbors to land but also the novice, just starting to explore their new horizons. The seasoned navigators have charted points of light which help to keep their ships seaworthy and away from the rocks. Newly launched captains still-wet-behind-the-ears, have been known to wreck their vessels through taking too much on-board or listening to scuttlebutt, thus steering themselves into dangerous waters.

In my years of job search I have had lighthouses: counselors, coaches, friends and family, and linked-in advisors. I have learned much through their messages steering me through rough water. Always, I have been reminded to pass on the light I have received. Gratefully, those messages have been passed by networking which has taken the forms of discussion over coffee, meetings, volunteering, and now by writing.

How about you? Surely, you haven’t done it alone. Who has spread some light on your situation and kept you afloat? Pay the gratitude forward by networking. Someone out there really needs you to shine.

Deb Bryan has worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry for over 20 years. She is passionate about writing and Toastmasters International.
© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved

Basic Beliefs in Job Search

By Cynthia Sutherland

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

-Bruce Lee   (From www.brainyquotes.com)

Peace, love and happiness From Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Peace, love and happiness
From Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

The first thing I learned about job search is not job search techniques (I learned those, too), but that job search involves solidifying – or shifting – beliefs about yourself.

I learned the following ten basic beliefs for a successful job search from the Job Search Circle. This group is the primary collective that I participate in to enhance my job search skills, and to remind myself how important it is to stay grounded during the search.

Most importantly, the networking and teamwork gained from participating in a job support group builds understanding about the intangible aspects of job search – about yourself.  I would never try to go it alone.

This list comes directly from the Job Search Circle:

  • Believe in yourself.  You are not your job search. (That’s a constant necessary reminder.)
  • Believe in your uniqueness.  You define the job; the job doesn’t define you.
  • Believe that you are a winner.  Convey this by your positive attitude, energy and enthusiasm.
  • Believe that you add value.  Know how your accomplishments and experience have positively impacted the organizations you have worked for.
  • Believe you are successful.  Success is all about what you can contribute.
  • Believe in your ability to make a difference. Cultivate a mindset of helpfulness and help others regardless if they help you in return.
  • Believe in your ability to learn.  Improve yourself; update your skills. (Now is the time to focus here.)
  • Believe in the gift of transition.  You have been given a gift of time – don’t waste it. (You may not see this right away, but this time allows self-reflection and re-connection.)
  • Believe in the abundance around you.  Be grateful for what you have.  (An attitude of gratitude is what will create resilience and positiveness.)
  • Believe you will land the right job.  Trust the process.  Embrace ambiguity and learn from it.  Stay positive. (Landing the right job is a by-product of your positive beliefs.)

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

How Did You Pick?

Sometimes we know early in life, sometimes we try one thing and then another to finally land on the thing that fits best, or sometimes we just fall into something and make it work.  The choice of our profession, that is.  What we become when we grow up, the answer to that question that adults like to ask children when they don’t know what else to say.

 

There are tests that are given in school to measure aptitude like math, science, reasoning, or reading skills.  These are meant to help us to narrow our options.  Or perhaps your family gives the world doctors, teachers, farmers, or lawyers.

Capture

Now that you find yourself in job search are you sticking with your originally chosen professional path, or has this change in circumstance made you reevaluate?  Many of the people that I have met in the past year have decided this is a good time to revisit the question of what to be – professionally that is.  It seems like a valid response.

 

Sometimes it makes great sense, particularly if you were downsized because the business segment that you were in is in decline.  Picking something new, possibly similar in a growth area will help your chances.  Or maybe the job that you know is no longer the job that sparks your interest.  Again, it makes sense to rethink your other options.

 

Me, I picked my path based on the broadest opportunity to support myself and my boys after my divorce.  And it turned out to be a very interesting and varied job which suited me.   I can do lots of different versions of this type of job for plenty of time to come.

 

Your turn, how did you pick?  Do you pick it again?

 

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

A Fun Side to Job Search

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

There are some aspects of the job search that I’ve actually found fun.  Two have been completing and reviewing the results of Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strengths Finder surveys.  There was even a third one I remember from years back called Me2, but a quick internet search failed to turn anything up for it.  If Me2 is still around, it would appear to lack the cache of MBTI and Strengths Finder.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

I think the insights provided by these famous surveys are really interesting, and both were pretty accurate assessments of me.  There are many good books on Meyers-Briggs.  I first took the Meyers-Briggs survey about 20 years ago, but its roots go back much further.  Meyers and Briggs developed their research on foundations established by Carl Jung, one of the giants of psychology in the early- and mid-1900s.  Of further interest, if you read more about MBTI, are the four “temperaments”.  That’s where it really nailed me as an NT (iNtuitive-Thinker), also known as the “intellectual temperament”.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Strengths Finder is similarly fun.  My strengths are Input, Intellection, Learning, Ideation, and Analysis.  I’ve long described myself as an “information hound”; the first four certainly confirm that.  Unlike MBTI, which has a much smaller subset of core concepts, there are actually over 30 strengths.  Since my “economy version” Strengths Finder survey identified only my top five strengths, it was interesting to speculate what other strengths are near the top for me (I think Strategy and Communication).  I also think additional insight can be gained by understanding one’s weaknesses, but I’ve yet to read any evaluation of that information.

If you’re not familiar with these surveys material for both are available on-line.  While nothing can ever magically provide your most ideal calling, they are very insightful toward identifying work that is more rewarding and satisfying.

Have some fun learning about your personality type and strengths!

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