Monthly Archives: February, 2014

That Little Job Search Push

(Writer’s note: I decided to try something a bit different this week and this is an alternate version to a post on my own blog – which can be read here:  http://bareedwriting.com – That Little Push)

 

The sun rises, and even on a cloudy day, the world around us starts to wake up – circadian rhythm kicks in.  External and internal prompts work together to give us a little push to start our day.  Routine, or the schedule for that particular day take over to encourage our next moves.  Is the pull of that day’s activities enough for me to push myself forward into it?

dsc03753 (1)

Probably very few of us found our internal drive worked consistently in our growing years.  Little and big pushes to do this or that had to come from external sources – mom, dad, teacher, coach.  The object was to teach us to develop our own internal drive, to push ourselves to do the things we needed to do so that we could achieve the things that we wanted to achieve.  Oh, we needed no push on certain days, for something exciting – up, fed, dressed and maybe even got a few things ready for mom and dad.

 

Once we launch into our ‘real’ lives, our adult post-school experiences, that’s when we find out how well we internalized the push – our ability to create and implement a daily schedule.  Some people manage to find an internal/external push balance that works quite well.  Job expectations become a strong external push; until suddenly the job isn’t there to provide this push.

 

Now the push is all internal to get set up with a new job to provide that needed external push.  Do we have it in us to apply the push regularly?  Oh, friends and family think that they are helping when they ask those questions, that they are providing a bit of a motivational push.  And truly, sometimes the wish to stop their version of a push is enough to galvanize us to create the internal drive and get that next job.

 

There are two main methods for pushing – the carrot or the stick.  Do you offer yourself some small treat to get things moving along, or do you find that fear of the consequences for not pushing are more of a motivation?  So many variations abound, it is possible to find a method that best works for you.

 

Imagine what we can each do today, with a little push.

 

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

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

Cover Letter Tips

By Tim Klepaczyk

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

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

What do you say in a cover letter?  I’ve typically identified where I found out about the open position.  Then I’d talk about how my experience matches what the company says they are seeking in the job description – some people even go so far as to list the requirements and matching experience in two columns.  Finally I conclude by asserting my confidence that I would make immediate contributions and that I will contact them soon about an interview.  This type of cover letter is probably familiar to many of you.

This approach has been adequate in the past, but cover letters can be more effective.  The key is to remember that you’re trying to communicate what’s in it for them.  If you’ve done your homework, you know the important tasks in the role you are seeking.  Find at least three SSAR story examples that reinforce your track record of success in these tasks – Situation you were in, Strengths you used to address it, Actions you took, and Results delivered.  Conclude by advising that you have additional stories when you meet.

For this position you are seeking someone who can get these things done.

  I have a record of success in such tasks.  In this situation from my work history I used this strength to take this action and achieve this result.  In a second situation I used this different strength to take this action and achieve this result.  In a third situation I used a third strength to take this action and achieve this result.

  When we meet I can discuss these examples and more in greater detail.  I will contact you soon to arrange an interview.

How much more powerful this is – I know how to do the job well, and will deliver immediate results for your company.  That is a more effective message for a cover letter.

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

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

Cockeyed Optimist?

Shirley Temple BlackInternet

Shirley Temple BlackInternet

John Baldoni recently wrote a Forbes article* on leadership.  He used Shirley Temple Blacks quote, “I don’t like to do negatives. There are always pluses to things” as the spring board for his musings.  Optimism is not some kind of soft skill; optimism takes determination and draws followers so it makes a viable leadership tool.

Shirley Temple had more than optimism; she had talent, worked hard, and had a charming personality.  She was noted for many things and one of them is she worked as a child during one of the most difficult times in America’s history, the Great Depression. 

Politicians and people alike looked to her perky films to encourage them during their own sad times.  Perhaps it was during the Great Depression where she first understood the power of optimism and then went on to use it as an Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia.    

There have been other leaders who have sought to use optimism as a leadership tool.  Prime Minister Winston Churchill was once asked how a person could be successful.  In what looked like a simple reply he said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”  He told his listeners that everyone will have a choice between pessimism and optimism.  The optimist is the one who sees difficulties and chooses to move forward with the opportunities that the darkness of difficulties only exposes.   Churchill watched as London was being bombed around him in WWII, yet he kept the people of England moving forward by reminding them it was fear they had to be afraid of not the German war machine.  Pessimism over their ability to persevere would have had them knuckle under to the cruel dictator, Hitler. 

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”  The time of history Lincoln lead the United States was exceedingly dark.  Families fought against family and the country threatened to break apart under the issues of slavery and greed.  Lincoln surrounded himself with cabinet members that would argue both sides of issues of war but he alone retained the power to make the decision.  Yes, he was intelligent, strong willed, and a hard worker but he his ability to cast a vision for the country kept him in times where he personally was receiving death threats and it would have been easy to quit.  Future opportunities might have been impossible to fore see if he bowed under pressure and fear and became pessimistic during his time of leadership.   

These are but a few examples from history. Now is the time of our leadership and we lead others by our example.  We must not lose heart but train our brain to move out with an optimistic vision of our future.  Optimism breeds optimism so, build into the people surrounding you by using that tool of optimism.  Be enthusiastic and live confident that as we put our efforts to work and do what is right, good will emerge.  Peer into difficulties that come as if they are but the dark backdrop in which rich opportunities will stand out the brightest.  And never, ever give up. 

* http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2014/02/18/shirley-temple-black-a-life-lesson-in-optimism/

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

One Month Until Spring

By Cynthia Simmons

I hear the wind blowing tonight. The weather is in turmoil, with a thaw following weeks of extreme cold and too much snow to think about. Tomorrow, the thaw will freeze and then we’ll have more cold weather. Tonight was even stranger: at 5 p.m. rush hour there was fog blinding drivers and some flooding on roads. But now, at nearly 9 p.m. a sharp wind has sheared away the fog. The air is very clear and heartless.

We are one month away from spring, after a long, difficult Illinois winter. Some of us had forgotten true winter, with the last three years of a more gentle season than usual.

I’d like to stay inside and wait this winter out. But, no, that’s not for me. I need to be gainfully employed. How is that going to happen?
IciclesToday, during the thaw, I drove over to another town to attend a workshop entitled, “Improve Your Interaction Skills.” The job coach was very competent; he explained different types of listening, how to start conversations and find common ground. He made much sound simple. I appreciated that. Job search is scary in a bad economy. Job search is scary generally, unless you have nothing to lose.

We role played and examined attitudes and communication styles. We held up mental mirrors for ourselves, to see where we need improvement. We were taught “failure is your friend” — that failure is the point in the process where things stop working. If we find the failure point, we can fix the process. We were told to seek and accept feedback, to be ready for our responses of surprise, annoyance, resistance, and then afterward, acceptance—the tools to hold these difficult stones in our hands and to gently turn them over and over, considering, accepting, integrating and changing ourselves.

I am grateful for today’s gifts.

Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

What are You Doing Right?

Because our ancestors won the right to continue the human race by being anxious and pessimistic, we have these traits in spades.  I’m not going to go so far as to say that we don’t ever need to believe these negative leanings, but everything has a place.  Job search is an anxious time, there is no doubt, but we should not forego feelings on the positive side of the spectrum.

 

Today let’s conjure up some of these positive vibes, shall we?  Let’s each make a list of the things that we are doing right as we go about our day.  First, if you got out of bed, pulled yourself together and started your day that is a basic plus right there.  Some days we need to remind ourselves that the basic good stuff is still good stuff.  (The sun is shining, the dog is glad to see us, our favorite show is on…)

DSC03751

Getting a little harder, if you set yourself a goal – no matter how small – and you met it (or you will after reading this post) then that is in the right column.  Help a friend, proofread your resume or cover letter, set up a new search on Indeed, research a class that you’ve been thinking about taking; any of these could be considered a good thing that you could do for yourself.

 

If you recently got the dreaded thanks no thanks letter and you didn’t focus immediately upon what you think that you did wrong in the process, but instead started to work through what went right and how you can replicate it – you have the idea that I’m promoting here.  Things go right and things go wrong throughout each day.  Sometimes we can do them better the next time, and sometimes we have little control over the event.  We can choose to focus on the parts that we can affect, or fixate on the parts that we cannot.

 

Thanks for joining me in my personal pep talk.

 

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

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

Lessons from the Olympics

By Tim Klepaczyk

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

I have been enjoying the winter Olympics.  Yesterday evening it was great to see U.S. skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White persevere in ice-dancing.  They have a great rivalry with Canadian skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  Tessa and Scott won gold four years ago in Vancouver, with Meryl and Charlie taking silver.  They traded podium positions in Sochi.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

I’m struck at every Olympics about the consistent narrative.  There’s always an impressive champion, predicted to dominate, who follows through.  There’s always another strong competitor who falls short of promise, and must “settle” for silver or bronze.  There are stories of people whose perseverance is just in being there, who have no realistic chance of medaling.  And of course there’s always an underdog story, the outsider who transcends previous performances and wins to surprise even the experts.

To me, the inspiring common element among most of the athletes is their dedication and perseverance.  A young child is transfixed watching Kristi Yamaguchi, or Eric Heiden, or Shawn White, or one of many other Olympic champions.  15 years later it is that same child now representing the United States!  The innocence of a dream is something to be treasured and remembered.

Certainly it can be tough to deal with a lay-off, and a struggle to get back to work.  Remember what inspired you when you were young, and be confident that while real life is often different than a dream it’s still worth more dedication and perseverance, and many people are still fighting for 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.

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

No One Was Betting on Them

Yulia Lipnitskaya - Internet

Yulia Lipnitskaya – Internet

Just who are Yulia Lipnitskaya and Jimmy Fallon?  They are both contenders for the prize in the ring of their professions.  They perform before the world and have the guts to say, I am the best and I will prove it. 

Yulia, 15, and Jimmy, 39, are also both comeback kids from life’s difficulties.  You say, what can anyone that young know about difficulties?  At what age is adversity not possible and painful?  Yulia was out of the competition last season with a brain injury.  Her body may be what we see gliding across the ice so effortlessly but it is her mind that drives those body signals.  Jimmy started out on well-known Saturday Night Live and shortly after, worked on two films that went nowhere and his career began to collapse.  Bounce back to the heights of the Olympics and The Tonight Show?  How? What? Who can do that?

First they were not trying to do it alone.  They had someone else in their lives saying, ‘you’re not done yet’.  Then they said it, started the learning process it takes to recover, and then they believed it could be done.  Part of that process is learning to work through fear and frustration as you have to learn new things and shake lose the pain of past hurts.  There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity. (Douglas MacArthur, WWII General)  Then there is the just doing it; practice, practice, practice until it becomes your skill.  You see, no one escapes the pain of hurt, failure, and disappointment and no one is an overnight success.  And in our determination to obtain the new position we must not contemplate anything but success. 

No one was betting on Yulia and Jimmy yet there they are in the forefront, with the world waiting breathlessly to see them win.  You have work to do, retooling that must be done, and a stage that has a spot just for you to stand on.  Never, never quit. 

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

Getting It Wrong, and Then Getting It Right.

By Cynthia Simmons

We all hear the tips, tricks, networking secrets, expert advice from executive recruiters and job coaches. And, yes, from our friends, former co-workers, relatives (mothers, parents, older siblings, younger ones), and any authority figures in our vicinities – be they geographically proximate, or daily electronic companions communicating from afar. We are getting a superabundance of help and advice. A superfluity of advice.

Having only one pair of eyes, we can look in only one direction at a time. And we can walk in only one direction at a time. But if we are constantly turning and defying our physical limitations, are we turning in circles? Maybe even standing still? Perhaps even, stuck?

So, today, I am addressing some ways in which the job search can fail. How you can fail your job search.

Here’s how to fail:

  • Not apply for jobs.
  • See a job and sit and think about it until you feel inspired enough to write a convincing pitch letter to send as your cover letter. Wait several days… a week, a month?
  • Not send a cover letter at all with your resume.
  • Write your resume, cover letter, and application, bless them, and send them out into the world, alone, and then never follow up.
  • Never call to find out the hiring cycle. Never even take the time to hunt for someone who knows someone who knows… the hiring manager, or at least some person at the company you are courting.

Speaking of courting—job search is a courtship.

Know that.

And know that, like the reasons that fellow never called you or that girl wouldn’t give you her number, you may never know why you weren’t hired or even called for an interview.

dancing-shoes-v8 crop

St. Valentine’s Date Night Shoes

Your best choices are to gather up your confidence, put on your dancing shoes, and be ready to dance with someone else.

Maybe you feel like a wallflower. That no one will ever ask you to dance. Are you dressed to dance? Is your head up and are you smiling? Do you look like you’d like to dance?

It’s Valentine’s Day. Don’t let some stupid old job break your heart.

Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

A Targeted Resume Strategy

By Tim Klepaczyk

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

Technology is often a double-edged sword.  The Internet enables job-seekers to find more opportunities, but one then often faces much more competition.  Given the constant pressure for all to do more in the workplace, HR professionals can be overwhelmed by huge numbers of resumes.

To ease this workload companies often review resumes with another technology, electronic scanners.  Fortunately, automated processes are often predictable, and there are methods you can apply to improve your chances of getting through this screen.  Here’s one approach.

Get familiar with the website http://www.wordle.net/.  Wordle creates “word clouds” – visual depictions of groups of words dependent on the number of times they appear or some other parameter.  Select the “Create” link from the top-level page of Wordle.  A text-entry box appears.  When applying for a job, copy-and-paste the relevant job description into this text entry box.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Wordle will create a word cloud you can use to customize your resume.  The most frequent words in the job description will be the largest words in the word cloud.  Carefully consider how to modify your resume appropriately to incorporate these words, remembering that the resume must eventually also read sensibly for human eyes.  As a first step though the more these words are incorporated in your resume, the more likely you can get your resume past the electronic screen.

If you don’t want to customize your resume for every job description, try this instead.  Find a half-dozen or more job descriptions for similar opportunities.  Create a word cloud for each one.  Record the top ten words from each word cloud in a consolidated text document, then create a word cloud from *that* group of words.  This will yield the most useful words for customizing your resume more generally to the types of positions you’re seeking.

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

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

Being Productive

When my boys were growing I started to say ‘Make it a good day’ to them on their way out the door to school every day.  I wanted them to be aware of the choice that they make every day; how to respond to the things that happen to you as the day progresses.  They understood what I was saying, but feeling that you have to power to affect the quality of your day is not easily done.

 

I’ve progressed from this idea to make a good day, (while still often falling short of following my own admonition) and now like to ask how the day was productive when talking to either one of them.  When we are working, our productivity is measured by whatever means our employer chooses – output, meeting deadlines, sales dollar goals met, etc.  How does a person measure productivity in job search?

 

photo credit: National Archives

photo credit: National Archives

I found that there are several ways, some to do with learning and many to do with creating a daily structure.  So much of the advice and information to be found by the job seeker is quite subjective in nature so learning is not just in getting more information but also in creating one’s own method to evaluate the information’s value to a personal search.

 

So have you defined productivity for yourself?  How much time should you spend on networking, updating your resume, researching potential target companies, or keeping your skills sharp?

 

Part of the definition of productivity revolves around results.  Results are often hard to gauge in job search because they could be indirect or show up in days, weeks or months after the activity.  The result might not be concrete, but no less important such as giving you a stronger sense of confidence.

 

My time on this post was productive if it got you to think about your own definition of productivity.

 

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

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