Monthly Archives: December, 2013

Bad Cursive & the Job Search

By Tim Klepaczyk

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

A couple of weeks ago I was preparing my Christmas cards.  I sign each with a holiday greeting.  Every year I’m reminded that I don’t think my cursive is very legible.  It’s especially true when I write similar things repeatedly; I seem to get careless.  Even if my perception about my cursive is correct, I think there are lessons for one’s job search.

Sometimes I come out of an interview second-guessing the answers I gave to some of the questions.  Most of the time, in retrospect, it turns out to be a waste of mental energy.  We are naturally anxious to make a good impression, and interview questions are generally open-ended.  There are countless ways one can answer open-ended questions; the important thing is communicating that you know how to do the job.  I am confident of that most of the time.  It’s a bit like a short Christmas message in bad cursive; most of your friends can figure out what you’re trying to say.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Also, don’t get hung up on things that are losing their value.  So you once were a master of some obscure computer application no one seems to use anymore.  The important thing is you demonstrated your ability to master a skill and can repeat it for applications that matter today.  Perhaps a better analogy is fretting over something that has been all the rage but you haven’t used very much.  For example, I never use Twitter.  If I found a value in it, I certainly would use it.  I do understand it has a value to others that I may not fully appreciate, but I also remember when MySpace was all the rage.  It’s a bit like fretting over bad cursive – many school districts don’t even teach cursive anymore!

Stay focused on the things that really matter.

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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Job Search Advice: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

By Deb Bryan

It’s the Christmas Season; dawn is at my back and fourteen hours to go.  As I drove through the Allegheny Mountain Range the warning sign blinked down at me through NJ and PA, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”.  Driving through twists and turns, huge rock formations and long mountain valleys, I thought how much this terrain is like a job hunt object lesson: job seekers get serious about the education or get pulled over by a set of unforgiving consequences.

Allegheny Mountains, Bing

Allegheny Mountains, Bing

The Rocks – Towering rock walls of layered rock are menacing to drive through.  Near the Poconos, the walls of rock had nets over them to prevent them launching onto the pavement.  Nets were only meant to redirect the fall because rocks that size don’t ask permission.  So what to do?  Focus on the well-traveled road, trust the safety nets will do their job, and remember the destination.  “Yea, though I walk through the darkest valleys I will fear no evil.”

The media loud announcements of ending government unemployment, Obamacare, 2014 stock market, ageism are like looming, intimidating rocks; they will fall down or they will not.  They cannot be the focus during job search.  Besides, fear talk, hype, and direr predictions are how they keep their jobs.

The Trees – Hung over the tops of rock cliffs leafless and brown.  At first the barren trees reminded me of the daily grind, draining the life-blood out.  It was spooky until I thought again and realized, it is Winter time.   The green will return and brown doesn’t mean dead.  Brown at this time of year means hibernation, waiting for Spring to come as it always does.  Similarly, successful people under difficulty grow strong by simplifying, enduring, and remembering this is but a season of life.

The Road – Dixie Overland Highway, US80, is no accident.  Hugh machinery, thousands of man hours, and planned engineering made the road I was on.  Picturing myself playing cowboy; drive off the road through deep valleys and across the rivers would make a great TV ad.  In real life, US80 at 70 mph was the fastest, most effective way to reach my destination.  This course you and I are on?  It isn’t an accident either.  Stay the course; focus on the goal.

Fellow Travelers – Huge trucks were on the road; sometimes in tandem, one pulling three trailers.  Cars came from all over the country, all shapes and sizes.  But when vehicles were parked at rest stops, the drivers who got out were people just like me, even the guy with the marine emblem in the back of his SUV.   They threw their McDonald’s bag in the trash, they refueled, and they purchased coffee.  Just like me, they got back in their vehicle and hit the road again.  Got any fellow travelers on your job search road?  Appreciate their company.

Two decisions lay be for us; soberly trust the journey and keep moving or pulled over out of defeated and bitterness.  Isn’t it good to know we have a choice as we hit the road again?

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

Job Search Year in Review

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

This is the time of year that media likes to shower us with lists – the best of this and that, the worst of these other, what to do to finish your financial year in good shape, how to start your new year diet on the right foot.  On and on and on.  Some of this is actually quite helpful.  And we do seem to gravitate toward lists.

 

This natural break between old and new is a good time for assessment.  Something that job seekers are advised to do in many ways, and frequently.  Not an easy thing, but necessary and beneficial.  Find some means to make this activity palatable for yourself and you will gain something to help you plan your next steps.  I do various things to convince myself I can do it – set a time limit, plan a reward for getting a portion done…

 

The broadest and simplest place to start planning job search in the New Year is to think about what worked and what didn’t in this year’s search.  Job search is so personal and subjective that this should be about your own perspective of what works and what doesn’t and why.  Every person that you talk to will have a completely different idea of how this question should be answered.  A person could stay in this review stage forever just by gathering ideas from others.  But we need to move to the next stage of the review which is planning.

 

What will it take to do more of the stuff that worked?  Would some of the things that didn’t work go better with a slight change or two?  What has been suggested that you haven’t attempted?  Maybe it’s time to stick a toe in that pool.

 

Do you conduct a review?  How do you go about it?

 

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

Practice, Practice, Practice

By Cynthia Simmons

For a while now I have not had an employer or a full-time job. But I have been working as a freelancer. And even when I’m not being paid to practice my craft, I spend significant time practicing it anyway.  I want to remain a professional — by continually learning and updating my skills, by keeping myself disciplined and focused.

You hear over and over again that, “You are not your job.” And, “You are still the person you were when you had a job.”

I want to add to this conversation the question I was asked years ago by my old boss at DePaul University’s Office of Career Planning and Placement, “Do you want a job or a career?”

Because, I am continuing my career “outside of the box.”

How do I make that happen for me?  I’ve used a bunch of methods: getting more professional training by taking classes (through universities, both in-person and online, and through a subscription to an online tutorial website), volunteering my skills to non-profits,  doing freelance work, and even offering my skills to friends for free.

I am fortunate because I really like to learn. And solving puzzles, seeing new ways of doing things make me happy. Especially, I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I look at a project and I see what I have done – the change, the improvement that I brought about. And what I learned.

By doing, I learn.

My questions to you are: Are you and I that different? Do you love the work that you were formerly paid to do? Or was there some part of that work you cared passionately about?

Practice your craft. Sharpen your skills.

Practice, practice, practice.

 

Cynthia Simmons is a writer and an editor.

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

All I want for Christmas is a ‘Good’ Job

The unemployment numbers are coming down and a collective sigh of relief can be heard across the nation.  We can easily forget that these numbers represent people, lives, families in our pre-Christmas hustle and bustle.  Each individual number represents a very personal story.  Once a person has been counted in those numbers the sound bite offering up the latest iteration of this number will forever have a different ring to it.

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The overall size of the number, the volume of people behind it mean nothing if you are on the wrong side of the figure.  One is too many if you are that one.  And being on the other side of the figure means a job, but is it just any job to pay down your bills or is it The job for you, a ‘good’ job?

 

People like to use the phrase ‘good jobs’ – particularly during election season.  It sounds good, don’t you think?  But what does it really mean when you get right down to it?  Some parts of the meaning can probably be generally agreed upon, but other details most likely vary widely based on the person answering the question.

 

Decent pay is a part of the definition that all would include.  But dig deeper and what is decent pay?  What one person thinks is an embarrassment of riches would mean subsistence to another.  Perhaps it is based on your skill set, the region where you live, the scarcity or abundance of people who can fill the necessary position?

 

Feeling valued – providing value to your team and employer is part of the definition of a good job, too.  Each worker should have some sense of accomplishment, that their effort meant something in the overall scheme.  I’ve written on my personal blog about the dignity of having a vocation, regardless of the tasks which are performed within the scope of your particular job.  This has nothing to do with cache or the latest ‘it’ professions.  It has everything to do with pride in a job well done.

 

Knowing what your personal definition of a ‘good’ job entails will hopefully help you to fulfill the wish in the title.  This is my hope for every person who represents a tick inside that unemployment percentage mentioned so briefly but regularly in the news.

 

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

Working with Recruiters

By Tim Klepaczyk

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

Up to now I’ve talked a lot about networking.  Networking should be the top priority of your job search effort, requiring a majority of your time in one form or another – in-person networking being most important, but time spent on LinkedIn also factoring in to the equation.  However, tried-and-true old methods such as submitting applications directly or working with recruiters should also always be part of your effort.  It’s worthwhile to consider how to take advantage of services provided by recruiters.

First, recognize that recruiters work for the companies and not for you.  Most recruiters are friendly and certainly like to see job seekers do well – it’s a sign of a good job market upon which their livelihood depends – but ultimately their efforts on your behalf depend on how well you match the requirements of the position they are trying to fill.  They receive compensation from the company, so if you find a recruiter impatient because your qualifications aren’t a really great match with the job description, don’t take it personally.

Be respectful - call them Recruiters! Public Domain Image

Be respectful – call them Recruiters!
Public Domain Image

Recruiters are usually well aware of the salary you can demand for a position.  You still need to do your own homework regarding this, but in my experience recruiters are generally on your side in such negotiations.  This makes sense since if most recruiters only filled open positions without regard to just compensation people would stop using them.

Finally, most people are aware that the common vernacular for recruiters is to call them “headhunters”.  Most recruiters don’t mind this, but I still recommend using the more respectful term “recruiter” in direct correspondence with them.  Such consideration may make a good impression.  They may be working more for the company than for you, but they’re more likely to work harder in a mutually respectful environment.

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

Are We Only Significant When We Have Employment?

By Deb Bryan

Where’s the respect coming from?

I received an email from my Dad the other day.  His email talked about what he considered his trivial day’s tasks and his lack of relevance compared to us, his children and grandchildren.  My Dad is considered elderly by probably everyone but by someone older than he is.  In my mind, he will never be irrelevant nor will I consider his life trivial.  My Dad is a retired Lt Colonel, a 29 Army veteran, and writes emails because he loves me.  How did he come to this conclusion?  The email made me wonder, do I think I only have value when I have paid employment?

In my family of origin I was required to take on a leadership role and do more than those younger than I was.  I started work outside the family when I was a freshman in high school.  I enjoyed the challenge of both.  Much later I began employment to support my own family.  I chafed at times under a lack of respect from my bosses and children.  After all, they expected me to just do my job and bring home a paycheck.  I glowed with excitement when I was given awards and pay raises and when I paid for one of my children to become an exchange student in Japan and then college.  After all, talent, sacrifice, and hard work pays off.  That was before and now I am in the “season of unemployment”.

Gandalf the Gray Wikia

Gandalf the Gray
Wikia

In this season survival is not enough, I need respect and kindness.  There are no employers who will stroke my pride for previous accomplishments.    So I must employ myself in learning to find value; value in what I have to give not what I have to take and the pay-off is respect.  The self-respect that bubbles up from within when doing the next right thing.  Heeding the warning of Gandalf the Gray, “Stay on the path!!” (The Destruction of the Smaug, 2013.), I must stay on the path of respect and kindness to protect against the tyranny of the irrelevant and trivial.  This is a lesson worth remembering, no matter where we find ourselves in the future.

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

Digression: Some Things Are Worth The Wait

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By Cynthia Simmons

I spent some time on Twitter this week, following 150 people. I could have added another 400 from a really good professional group, but I stopped myself. Then I sat and read tweets to find out what other people wanted to share. Some tweets linked to articles or photos; others were self-contained, pithy remarks. There was so much that was sooo interesting that I wanted to follow and learn more about. But too much of anything is tiring.

What did I want to share? A short video of picking cherries last June. Just me and one other person, on (what is so rare as) a day in June. A day of light and color, of sweetness and abundance. Filled with a tree full of ripe cherries.

What did that day mean to me?  It was a point of clarity and converging intentions. It was my own unique experience, when I was fully present because I had been waiting for weeks for the best day to pick cherries. To make cherry jam.  I had been giving that tree my particular attention,  watching the weather, visiting the tree, picking the cherries to test their sweetness. Asking myself whether they had reached full ripeness.

I think that the internet may have become like our overly abundant supermarkets, offering any fruit and flavor you wish for, in season and out… Everything is always in season. That’s the dark side of the internet, there is no waiting. Nothing is out of season. So nothing may have its own season to be “in.”

Remember, some things are worth the wait.

Cynthia Simmons is a writer and an editor.

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

These Dastardly Deadlines

I haven’t posted to this blog in a couple of weeks, my apologies.  The Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful, but created a very full week for me.  And filled my head with thoughts of food and family, not job search writings.  Then I intended to write this post last week but had some serious technical difficulties with Microsoft.  (I prefer to compose in MS Word.)  Which makes my topic so much more apropos since I have a personally (and group) imposed deadline to write one post per week.

 

How do you feel about deadlines?  When they are someone else’s and you will benefit, I imagine that you like them just fine.  Think of release dates for new gadgets or gaming systems like what recently passed – I believe that it was Xbox and PlayStation that brought out new systems.  Or how about when that deadline involves money that is owed to you?  That party better meet that date on the dot, darn tootin’.

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Now what if the deadline is yours to complete?  Remember that deadlines are a daily occurrence in the working world.  It is funny how quickly this can be casually left behind.  And deadlines are one of the aspects of work which will be hardest to re-acclimate to, I must remind us all.  (Along with office politics.)

 

Oh, there are deadlines in job search, but many are self-imposed and wiggle room gets created.  Dangerous, that wiggle room.

 

Yes, there are dependencies and unforeseen circumstances can crop up.  But won’t many of these sound like excuses to a boss?  Shouldn’t a person consider potential pitfalls when setting the deadline, or agreeing to it?  How did you handle deadlines in your last position?  I would imagine that negotiations for an appropriate deadline went better when done at the outset, not as the deadline nears.  Or has passed.  The same holds true now, when accountable mainly to one’s self.

 

Back to my first question, how do you feel about deadlines?

 

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 Most Wonderful Time of the Year – for Networking

By Tim Klepaczyk

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

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Holly, carols, cookies, Santa Claus & elves, mistletoe, Bethlehem stable figurines, fruitcakes, decorations, lights, presents, and…  job search networking?

Obviously, networking is not among the traditional reminders of the holiday season.  However, most of us attend one, two, or more holiday parties and meet new people this time of year.  So don’t overlook the great opportunity to advance your job search.  In light of this, it’s worthwhile to review some networking “dos and don’ts”, especially in the holiday context.

1)      This is not the time to imbibe excessively or overeat.  If you hope to make new job search connections, remember to act professionally.

2)      Have some business cards with you as usual, and handing them out should be your standard MO.  However, keep a few resumes in your briefcase or car in case you meet someone who requests it.

3)      Remember what Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to them the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  Don’t tell yourself you’re no good at remembering names – you can get better at it, as I have.  Tips:  repeat the person’s name back to them when you are introduced, and try to use their name once (as naturally as possible) when the introduction leads to a conversation.

4)      Remember, effective networking is not about getting a job.  It’s about creating new connections, and is as much about giving as it is about taking.  What do you have to offer your new colleagues?

5)      Follow up with those who’ve given you their business card or other contact info.  Probably the best time to do so is after the holidays are completely over, they’re getting back to their regular routine, and have more time to respond.

Have fun, but stay professional and give your job search another boost!

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