Monthly Archives: December, 2014

When Being Overwhelmed is a Good Sign

During your job search, you may feel overwhelmed.   This is a good sign, for it means you are trying to do the following 20+ activities:

1/ Create, or update your resume,

2/ Create/update a LinkedIn Profile,

3/ Apply to posted jobs,

4/ Visit libraries to create lists of target industries, so that you can create lists of target companies,

5/ Network to build your contact list

6/ Touch base with your existing contact list,

7/ Draft your stories to be used in phone screenings and interviews – strengths, weaknesses, and experiences,

8/ Network with currently, and recently unemployed people, to learn from their experiences,

9/ Join a job search work team, and become an active member,

10/ Map (plan) out your immediate, short-term, and longer term finances,

10.5/ Hit the ‘Find Job’ button to locate and sign up for your next gig. (If only….)

We all know that this key does not exist.  Public Domain Image

We all know that this key does not exist.
Public Domain Image

11/ Apply for COBRA (track progress, and follow up if/when coverage doesn’t appear on time),

12/ Apply for new health insurance,

13/ Apply for unemployment (and begin tracking activities in job search in case you are audited),

14/ Discuss unemployment situation with people you have known for a long time,

15/ Discuss your unemployment situation with people you do not know (such as folks within your doctor’s office, financial advisors, your children’s teachers, etc.),

16/ Read up on how to conduct an effective job search (and then contemplate the contradictory advice),

17/ Create a handbill,

18/ Create and order business cards,

19/ Assess “what you could have done better, or differently” to avoid being unemployed,

20/ Assess ‘what you could have done better, or differently” to have generated more call-backs,

21/ Exercise and/or increase involvement in other activities to help keep your mind “fresh” and your self-confidence solid, and

22/ Take confidence in yourself and your ability to make a positive impact for those you interact with. 

If you have been in transition, the length of this list did not surprise you. (And it is by no means an exhaustive list.)

I didn’t even list out topics that deal with your day-to-day activities such as cooking meals, paying bills, maintaining your home/car/laundry/relationships, picking up/dropping off kids, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow, etc.

If you had a similar sized list for your “paid work” job, there’d be no question that you had a lot of work to do, and that some assistance and guidance would be very beneficial.   Being unemployed does not make this list any easier to accomplish.  Asking for, and accepting, help shouldn’t be seen as a ‘weakness’ nor a ‘sign of helplessness.’  It shows that you are actually engaged in trying to achieve something, and so you are involving the people you feel may be able to help you to that goal.

I often told folks who were newly unemployed, “If you are feeling overwhelmed by your transition, that is a really good sign!

So,… if you are in job search and feel overwhelmed?  Good for you for feeling overwhelmed!

You are in job search and are letting folks know how they can help you (when they ask)?  Great!!

You are in job search and are letting people know that you’d appreciate some help finding your next role?  AWESOME!!!    

Feeling overwhelmed is reasonable in job search.  It demonstrates that you have sized up the “job” in front of you, and are working through all those aspects as best you can.

 

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.

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

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Christmas will still come, so relax

Welcome to the Christmas rush, that time of the year when we have to deal with all of those distractions associated with Christmas. I will list some of them; putting up the tree, decorating the tree, putting up the outside Christmas lights, shopping for Christmas presents, baking Christmas cookies, cleaning the house, decorating the house, putting up with rude shoppers, dealing with family members who nag you to give them your Christmas wish list, sending out Christmas cards to friends you haven’t seen in years, and hearing phrases such as “Black Friday” and “companies are hiring” too many times.

Ok, that last phrase is one that only us job-seekers will hear, or at least pay attention to. While I might want to challenge those who say that companies are hiring by asking them to start naming those companies, I understand their reason for saying that. They are trying to tell job-seekers to not let up in their efforts to find their next job.

Something that is hard to do for those job-seekers who have to endure any, or all, of those distractions I listed earlier. In fact, trying to keep up the job-searching efforts while dealing with everything else is enough to drive a job-seeker insane, or make him feel drawn-and-quartered.

I will start with this one-word suggestion that a professional football quarterback told his teammates when the team was about to play its fourth game this season, with only 1 win to its credit; “Relax”.

MerryChristmasCandle

I will add to this advice. Christmas will come. Think of the peace that comes with that day, or the day after, when you realize that you do not have to perform those “extra activities” we do during the Christmas season. At least, not until next year.

I will also suggest that we job-seekers start thinking about each of those “extra activities”, and ask ourselves “Will this Christmas be less merry if this activity is not on our “to-do” list. (Do not delete buying presents, unless you have a spouse who is willing to do it for you; but then, you still have to buy presents for that spouse. And, if your family is not hosting Christmas dinner, that’s already one thing you don’t have to do.)

I have 2 suggestions for items which can be deleted; putting up the outside Christmas lights, and baking four, five, or six batches of cookies, or however many batches you bake.

First, the outside lights. Last year, I was unable to put up the outside Christmas lights, due to an early snowfall.

But Christmas still came, and was a merry one for us.

This brought back memories of those Christmases my family had when I was in grade school. Back in those days, people who lived in our neighborhood did not put up outside Christmas lights. I do not know why they did not do this.

But Christmas still came.

Second, I believe that we can get by with 1 or 2 less batches of cookies than we normally do.

Again, back in my grade school days, my Mom would bake cookies at Christmas time. I don’t remember how many batches of cookies she baked each year. Because she was a stay-at-home Mom, and not looking for a job, she could bake several batches of cookies without worrying about the amount of time she had left for all of the other activities. She knew that I liked to eat cookies, so she gave me a recipe for spritz cookies when I moved out of my parent’s house. I have baked these cookies at Christmas time ever since. However, I do not know if I will be baking those cookies this year.

But Christmas will still come, and it will be merry.

Maybe you have some other ideas of those “extra activities” that you can drop from your list of things to do. If so, good for you.

And remember, Christmas will still come, and it will still be merry.

Merry Christmas!
Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Is your job search agile?

There are valid, non-linear approaches to projects that are used every day in many businesses. Could such a structure assist you in your job search?

In an Agile methodology, people are valued over process, change to the initial plan is treated as a ‘given,’ and iterating back (and back again) to update and improve a deliverable (such as a resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.) is expected.  You aren’t expected to know how useful something will be, until you first make use of it.   If you’d like to bring more of these dynamics into your job search, please read further.

Agile’s first tenet is that “People are valued over process.” This means that people should not be put under too much stress, as that will make them less productive.  Although you won’t get away from all stress in job search, the emphasis is that YOU (and your sanity,  well-being, etc.) are valued over, say, staying up extra late just to update your resume for the 10th time because it may not be perfect.

Also, a team-based approach, and being physically co-located with people on your team, are highly valued Agile aspects. These types of work environments enable the high amount of communication and information-sharing necessary for a successful Agile approach.  You may have heard that staying in touch with other members of your Job Search Work Team, and “networking”  with others to share information, is critical to helping your transition.  Those points are very consistent with Agile.

Many ways to climb the mountain

Many ways to climb the mountain

Building something that is ‘good enough’ for now, realizing that you can return to improve it later, is another dynamic of Agile.  To me, editing an existing document is always easier than trying to make the first draft perfect. For your (Agile) job search, you first have to complete an iteration of something before you can go back and improve upon it.  Trying to “hold something back until it is error-free” tends to hide errors that you aren’t seeing yet (because you aren’t using the deliverable).  Only by completing an iteration can you learn what works, and what isn’t working, so complete an iteration, no matter how small it may seem.

The more traditional form of project management is called ‘waterfall,’ and is much more linear in approach.  Here, a full project plan is created for the project, and  the emphasis is upon executing to the initial project schedule, and large changes to that plan are discouraged.  Waterfall works best for projects that have been done previously, such as building a house, or planning a banquet. Although you may led a job search previously, the dynamics can be significantly different each time.

Agile is recommended for projects whose details are not sufficiently clarified at the beginning of the project or journey.  We know that job search, and uncertainty are very good friends.

I witnessed many folks in transition beat themselves up for not having the ‘perfect’ resume format, credentials, or interviewing techniques.  Agile methodology may provide a good structure to build your job search efforts and progress, as it seems more aligned with handling the dynamics of job search.  You can find out more on Agile with an easy online search.

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

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