Monthly Archives: October, 2014

Effort, Dedication, Achievement: which to recognize, which to celebrate?

If your primary goal in job search is to ‘get hired,’ then every day until you are hired, you will have failed.  (So, how about adjusting your goal?)

This point was first presented to me in a speech by Orville Pierson, author of ‘The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search.’  He emphasized how each day in job search is repeated failure until you are instantly out of job search.   Regardless of how close you may be to receiving an offer, until you accept an offer, you are fully in job search.  After accepting an offer, you are instantly, fully out of job search.

I recall a North American Olympic ice skater who, after receiving a score much lower than what seemed reasonable, was quoted as saying” “That is how it is: If I wanted purely objective scoring, I would have been a speed-skater.”  The fact that success levels would be assigned through a subjective means was a given, and she kept this awareness in her mind.   Similar subjectivity exists in job search, and this is an important fact to keep in mind.

 

Public Domain Image

There are many ways to interpret things. (Public Domain Image)

 

Your effort, dedication, and approach toward finding your next role tells a tale about you.  You may earn certifications, formally volunteer your time, or informally help others, while in job search.  It is your choice whether you recognize these efforts as valid endeavors while you seek your next role.  I’ve had many discussions with people in transition who struggle to accept the value of their efforts.  Although these efforts may not directly get you in front of a hiring manager, they do make you a stronger candidate when you are engaged in an interview.

Having a primary goal such as ‘Making myself better equipped, more valuable, and visible to prospective employers,’ can keep you focussed during your pursuit, and ensures personal recognition of your actions along the way.  Remember that job search completion is reliant, at some level, upon someone else’s judgement.  This is not a clear-cut, objectively scored competition, it is subjective.

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

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Make your choice

Finally, the month of October is here. I realize that the month is almost over. But I must say that it is my favorite month in my favorite season of the year. One of the things that I like about this month is that the leaves on the trees are turning those beautiful colors of yellow, orange, brown, or bright red. I don’t like having to rake them before I mow our lawn, but I do like that this means that the end of the lawn-mowing season is near.

October brings with it, of course, Halloween. It also brings with it, at least in even-numbered years, this thing we call an “election”. It is true; elections for political office actually take place during the first week in November. But since the month is October, it means we are in the midst of an election campaign season. What this really means is that on or about November 10 we will not be receiving any more of those campaign ads (or, as we might call them “handbills”) in the mail. It also gives us hope that we might not be receiving, on our answering machines, those robocalls telling us to vote for this candidate, or against that one, by Thanksgiving.

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“Vote, and the choice is yours; don’t vote, and the choice is theirs”, is what I remember hearing on the radio during one of our country’s presidential election campaigns years ago. That is the point of this week’s posting. That message, years ago, was simple. You have a choice. You can choose to vote for this candidate or that candidate. You can even vote early. Or you can choose to not vote at all.

For us job-seekers, this is a kind of role-reversal. This is the one time we get to pass judgment on a candidate for a job, just like Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and Human Resource professionals pass judgment on us job-seekers when we apply to one of their jobs.

One similarity is this. They receive résumés and cover letters from us, just like we receive campaign ads in the mail. The difference here is; we don’t have to read the campaign ads before we deposit them in the wastebasket. What those who receive our cover letters and résumés do with them is anyone’s guess.

One thing we don’t do is this; we never put any negative comments about ourselves in our handbills, résumés and cover letters. And candidates for public office never say anything bad about themselves. Their competition will gladly do that.

I would like to ask this question. What if we “campaigned” for our next job in the same way that politicians campaign for their “jobs”?

Think of it. Our handbills would look like those paper campaign ads that we receive in the mail. Not only could we give reasons why a company should hire us, we could also try to give reasons why that same company should NOT hire any of our competition. Of course, since we do not know the name(s) of our competition, we would have to refer to our competition simply as “our competition”.

Or, to switch things around, what if politicians campaigned for public office the same way we “campaign” for our jobs? The content of each of their handbills (oops, I meant “campaign ads”) would be cut in half, because they would not be bashing their competition. This would also decrease the frequency of their mailings. It is something to think about.

So, are you voting, or, are you not voting? Make your choice.

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Idea Well Run Dry

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, I felt bad about it but my idea well was dry and feeling bad just dried it up further.  Until I decided to look at the problem from a different angle – there are plenty of times in job search when the well runs dry or threatens to do so.  (Ah-ha I could write about that, although there was a scary moment when I sat down and tried to retrieve this whole thought string and it wasn’t coming back to me.)

 

When job seekers gather they often fall into business buzz speak, so the question of what is in their pipeline is bound to come up.  What prospects are you working on, what might be close, what new things are going in to your pipeline?  All of the activity seems to run in cycles, and sometimes the previous cycle seems to be closing down without anything new coming along.  The well (or pipeline) is getting awfully dry.

thinking

What to do to fill it up again?

 

Just like my idea problem, worrying about the problem just makes it worse.  I have no ideas, why don’t I have any ideas, when am I going to have another idea, I really need to have another idea…  Not exactly productive thinking.  I pushed all of this to the back of my brain, enjoyed the splashes of fall color for a few days and a thought wandered in that dry spells occurred all too frequently when I was in job search and did I remember how I handled them?

 

Obviously nature helps me to reframe my thinking.  A brisk walk is good for a lot of what ails us.  Increased blood flow and a little green therapy create new brain flow.  There might have been leads that come back to mind that you might have intended to follow a bit further, say.

 

Trying something new might get you through the dry spell.  A seminar, networking meeting, informational interview that someone suggested that didn’t spark your interest at first.

 

Setting a challenge for yourself is a good one, I find.  I pick something that is just outside my comfort zone – this is how I went to my first networking event.  Or I have reviewed the way that my most recent prospects came in and pick a method that I haven’t used to find a new prospect.

 

How do you get through a dry spell?

 

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

Diving in, without expecting a ‘Thank you’

It is interesting where lessons are learned.  At a Wisconsin water park, I rapidly learned two lessons which emphasized the benefit of quick action, and recognizing the value of your own work (regardless of others’ perspectives).

 

While walking in the pool, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a 7-ish year old boy come down the slide with a big scream of “WAHOO!” as he propelled feet-first into the water.  After a few seconds, I realized that I hadn’t seen him come up, so I turned around, questioningly, to face the area of water he’d just entered.  “People float… kids come up” I told myself as I scanned that area as the next second or two passed.  Just in case… I took a step in that direction, still anticipating that his head would imminently bob up above the water surface.  After yet another second, I took another step… and then received a splash from the lifeguard’s dive into the water to rescue him.  I was close enough that I could hear her say “You are OK, you’ll be OK” as she transported him onto the edge of the pool.

Public Domain Photo

Public Domain Photo

This was Lesson 1:  You’ve gotta dive in.  Especially while in job search, it is not enough to have “good intentions” or “anticipate that things will go well” without your active, deliberate, participation.   The longer you ‘look around’ to consider, and prepare for what is occurring, the less likely you’ll be involved in meaningful activities (and results).  The more prepared you are to dive in when you see a need or opportunity, the more tangible will be your influence on that situation.

 

After the boy was settled, I watched the lifeguard walk the boy to his (I assume) father, who was sitting at a table close to the pool’s edge.  I remember seeing him reading a newspaper, and looking up while the lifeguard presented the boy, along with an explanation of what had occurred.  I was amazed when I saw him respond by raising his hands in the air with a “Kids will be kids, what can ya do?” look, before motioning for the boy to get back into the pool (by himself).

 

Shortly after this, I walked up to this life guard and told her that, I wanted to extend her a “Thank you” for having saved the boy, as it seemed that one had not been provided by the dad.   After thanking me for my comment, she added that she’d been a life-guard for a few years, and had gotten used to that type (lack of) of a response from the parent/guardian.

 

This was Lesson 2:  Recognize that you can present, or offer, someone an extremely valuable item or proposal, and they just may not be very receptive to it.  Their response is not within your control.  Regardless, you need to keep providing the value that you provide.  You cannot be dismayed by anyone – be it companies, hiring managers, phone screeners – who may not express much interest, at that moment, in what you offer.

 

Have you ever had a sudden, unexpected lesson present itself to you?

 

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

Shame and Shadows in Job Search

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Cynthia Simmons

Twenty years ago, loosing your job felt much worse than it does today, because it happened much less frequently. It may have been caused by personality clashes, politics, bad luck, or not measuring up with job skills. Instead of outsourcing or company restructuring.

Fast forward to five years ago, and lots of good people started loosing their jobs for lots of reasons, including a major recession. So people who found themselves “in transition” were in excellent company. Even now, the recession lingers, and I think that wonderful, seasoned, and talented professionals are still not getting jobs, not rejoining the employed sector of our economy.

Many people are feeling “less than” they actually are. When self-confidence disappears, shame may insinuate itself into that empty space.

Noticing feelings of shame in job search and facing them are tremendously important. Shame can cause your steps to drag, and your head to hang low. It can also stop you from acting at all. It can exist as separate metaphysical place, separate from the land of the “living.”

When I consider “shame” further, I think of more destruction it causes: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I will never forget how I felt when I saw a woman sitting on a bench in total abject shame, in a French city where I was on vacation two years ago. What I saw was self-exhibited, public shame. Her shame was a visible weight, holding her down, keeping her totally still, as if she weren’t breathing.

I saw a woman not so young, maybe a little plump, wearing a pastel dress. She sat on a bench with a sign in her lap asking for money. Her legs were carefully arranged before her, not crossed, her knees close together. Modest and decent. Not a loose woman.

I couldn’t see her face, because she was looking down at the ground. It appeared that asking for help, publicly on the street, had cost her honor.

Another connection I see is to something I read in Ursula LeGuin’s book The Language of the Night.1 In her essay “The Child and the Shadow,” LeGuin analyzed a Hans Christian Anderson story about a man and his shadow. The man allowed his shadow to leave him—that is, he gave his shadow permission to seek out a beautiful young woman he was too shy to court. By giving power to his shadow that he would not own for himself, he became his shadow’s shadow. And then he lost his own life.

Negative emotions can have terrible costs. Challenge yourself, and confront your own shadows.

1. Ursula LeGuin. The Language of the Night. Essay “The Child and the Shadow,” Susan Wood ed. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1979), 61.

Photos credited to the morgueFile.com

Cynthia Simmons is a publishing and communications professional.
© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

Knowing your network…

How you spend your time while in transition greatly influences the options available for you in the future.

One positive dynamic of being in transition is that you have some extra time to network with people you may not have met without having been unemployed.  I especially appreciated discussions with the self-employed (and entrepreneur) contacts I met who shared their time talking with me.  It was purely a discussion to better understand each other, and to convey what each person was working toward.   (Note:  There was no potential that the discussion might lead to an interview or job offer, and they were not selling anything to me.)

Two years later, I still retain awareness and knowledge with most of the people I talked with on a one-on-one basis.  What most impressed me was that these self-employed networkers were running their own business, so their time was their money.  Time spent with me was time that they weren’t specifically spending upon their business.  However, it made clear the value they saw in talking with new people, learning what the other person was about, and seeing if/how each person could help each other.  This value is large enough that they actively pursue such discussions.  Today, I still refer potential clients to those people, because I know what their business is and the type of clients they seek.  Also, they are aware of what I am doing, so when they reach out to me with a question or perspective, it is a direct result of the positive discussions that we shared.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

 

While in transition, you spend time with many other folks who are also in transition.  At times, you may feel that you are spending too much time with unemployed folks.  Whether the person you’re networking with is employed or not, spending time with folks that you highly respect can be an uplift to your morale (and… while unemployed, morale uplifts can be in short supply).  These discussions also expand your knowledge of how different businesses work, which is always a valuable insight to carry.

Whether you are in a job transition or not, is there someone you’d like to chat with over the next two weeks?  (If you’re reading this on your phone, you can reach out right now…).

 

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

Presenting the same words, but providing a different experience

This summer, I read through the first six Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels on my aging Kindle e-reader. I read the seventh episode, ’Goldfinger’ in a paperback format from my local library.

With the e-reader, the first six novels were presented in a very consistent manner – the font was always the same, page clarity was the same, and being digital, they all weighed the same and shared the same physical dimensions of the e-reader.

The paperback book, I noticed, provided much more character.  I could tell by the seasoned cover that this specific book had been called upon many times, and had come through with all of its pages intact.  Its pages were yellowed, and my sense of smell got involved as I sensed its accumulated dust.  As I came across a folded page, I knew someone had paused there, with the intent of returning at a later time.  These dynamics are not provided through the e-reader.

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I am not making a ‘new tech vs. old tech’ comparison.  Had I bought a brand-new paperback, I’d be aware that no one else had previously walked through its pristine, crisp, pages, and I’d hear the binding’s stretching sound when first opened (which could easily turn into a crackling sound if opened too wide).  A brand-new edition needs to be read many times before it can display the features of my loaned library paperback.  Each paper book represents itself in a different way, although each contains the same text. That same text is, again, represented differently through the e-reader.  Neither of these three formats is necessarily better, and at different times, I’ll prefer one of these three formats over the other two.

Although your resume lists your achievements, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ you embarked on them are generally left out due to space constraints.  However, these points explain your motivation, who you are, and how you may fit into the hiring company’s culture. Other applicants may have similar text regarding their accomplishments, but no one has your specific history or motivations.

The better you can convey a sense of who you are, within your resume or on-line profile, the more you will stand out, because that is what will set you apart from other applicants. Before focussing upon this point, I heard (more than once) the following during a phone screening: “Although I liked your resume, now that I am talking to you, I see there is so much more to you than came across there.”

Do you believe the words on your resume, or online profile, do a good job of reflecting WHO you are, along with your accomplishments?

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

Are You Selling What They Want?

Are you selling a product that an employer will want to buy, and do you have enough of what that employer wants?

Allow me to switch gears here.

Have you ever been to a major-league baseball game? If you have, did you ever notice those people inside the ballpark who carry those trays in front of them with all sorts of food and snacks to sell? (We often refer to them as ballpark vendors.)

I’ll bet you’re wondering why I would be writing about ballpark vendors in a blog that is to be read by job-seekers, especially when it’s October and the regular major-league baseball season is over.

Here is my analogy. You, the job-seeker, are a ballpark vendor, and your target employers are the fans at the major-league baseball game.

Vendor_02

There are some differences here. First, ballpark vendors usually will have only one or two different items in their tray, while a job-seeker can have many skills that he is trying to “sell” to a potential employer. Second, on any given day, a vendor’s “target market”, can number well into the hundreds, or even the thousands. I doubt that most job-seekers have a list of “specific” target companies that is more than one or two hundred. Third, we job-seekers research companies before putting them on our list of target companies. The ballpark vendor does not have to do this; to him, you become part of his potential target market just by showing up at the ballpark. Fourth, when researching potential target companies, we job-seekers attend various networking meetings and use our networks to find out information about those companies. Ballpark vendors simply yell out what it is that they’re selling, and leave it up to you, the prospective buyer, to decide if you want to buy that item.

Finally, when a vendor runs out of an item, that person simply goes and gets more of that item. On the other hand, we job-seekers have to learn new skills that potential employers may be looking for.

Let’s go back to the items being sold. The ballpark vendor is simply trying to sell something which can be consumed. You, the job-seeker, are trying to sell your “skills”. If the potential employer does not need someone with your skills, you are not going to be able to sell anything to that employer, just like the vendor will not be able to sell a customer anything to drink if that customer is not thirsty.

If that same employer is looking for someone with a skill that you have, but wants someone who is “more experienced” with that skill than you are, or who has other skills that you don’t have, you also will not be able to “sell” to that employer. A ballpark vendor will not be able to sell one-half of a hotdog to someone who wants a whole hotdog.

So, if your skills stack up very well to those jobs that you are trying to get, then you have something to sell to your target companies. Go out and network to try to get into those companies. If not, you have two options. Add to your skill set, or change your career direction.

Now, do you have enough of the skills that your target employers want?

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

I am successful, proactive, knowledgable, energetic, and…

…Unemployed.   There was a time I believed that placing the word ‘unemployed’ at the end of that sentence would negate the rest of it.

During my transition, I met several unemployed people who greatly impressed me with their energy level, focus, and expertise.  After a while, I discovered some had been unemployed for much longer than I’d imagined.  “How can they be so upbeat and confident after being unemployed for so long?” was the first thought in my mind.  Eventually… over time… I did away with my stereotyped belief that the word ‘unemployed’ was inconsistent with any positive or flattering adjective, for all of the 5 characteristics I’ve listed -Proactive, Knowledgable, Energetic, Successful, and Unemployed- were consistently exhibited by these folks.  The act that truly wrangled my mind was embracing the consistency of ‘Successful’ and ‘Unemployed.’

 

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Public Domain Image

The New Oxford American Dictionary provides the following definitions for the words ‘successful’ and ‘unemployed:’

successful |səkˈsesfəl|  adjective

  • accomplishing an aim or purpose: a successful attack on the town.
  • having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction: a successful actor.

unemployed |ˌənimˈploid|  adjective

  • (of a person) without a paid job but available to work: I was unemployed for three years | (as plural noun the unemployed) : a training program for the long-term unemployed.
  • (of a thing) not in use.

Neither term identifies the other as an antonym.   Interesting…

An employed person receives less scrutiny from people and groups that they meet, regarding their level of success, than an unemployed person.  (Regardless of your credit rating, try applying for a credit card while unemployed.)

The longer you are unemployed, the more important it becomes for you to possess and display ownership toward your personal (and professional) value.  While in transition, find a way to continue demonstrating your skills.  It is even better if you can exercise your skills to achieve a previously-stated commitment, or deadline.  If your skills are difficult to conduct while unemployed, show that you continue to participate in some larger program or endeavor.   If you do this, you will (as I did) look forward to the ‘What have you been doing while you’ve been unemployed?” question that inevitably comes up in phone screenings and interviews.

This is the space that you want to be in, regardless of your employment status: demonstrating to yourself that you have been, and remain, successful.

 

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

Rise and Shine

Someone I know just told me that she lost her job and is now in job search mode.  We are making plans to meet so that I can show her the ropes and offer encouragement.  Her announcement got me to thinking about whether there is one thing that is universally helpful to all job seekers.

 

Everyone needs a resume, but how to put it together becomes much more complicated.  No, I am thinking much simpler.  Working provides a set structure to our days, our weeks.  We have to be at work at a set time on certain days.  Even if you work from home, you still most likely have to follow a schedule of some sort.

 

I decided early on during my time in transition that I would set my alarm every day at 7am.  This seemed like the perfect time – not as late as I would like to sleep because I am not a morning person, but not too terribly early.  I left my alarm on every day of the week even though when I am working, I turn it off on the weekends.  I wanted to keep myself on a standard schedule.

 

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public domain image

This decision gave me focus, it kept me from staying up late on a whim to read a book or watch a movie.  It got my days started and I settled into a routine that gave me purpose.  I had a mission to be productive every day in some way.

 

Now my friend has school age children, which automatically gives her days structure, and requires her to rise and shine to get them up and out the door for school.  But she will need to be careful to refocus her days on pursuits that will help her to achieve her goals once the school bell has rung.

 

That alarm is a call to action every day – rise and shine and meet the day.  Get ready for work, for school, or for activities that will get a person back in the workforce.  One of the best things about getting back to work was that first weekend when I could again turn off my alarm and sleep in Saturday morning.

 

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