Category Archives: Job Search Lessons

She was there, A Tribute to Mom

She was there. My Mother. For us.

 

For all of the birthdays that my three siblings and I had as children, she was there. For all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that she cooked.

 

She was there.

 

For the year that she served as the Den Mother of our Cub Scout Den when I was in fifth grade.

 

She was there.

 

For the three years that my two older siblings and I were taking piano lessons, she was there, getting after us to practice, practice, and practice some more, and putting up with all of the wrong notes I hit on that piano.

 

She was there.

 

The lesson she taught me here, which can be applied to any of my job-seeking experiences was to “be persistent”.

Mother&Child

One time when I really needed her, she was there.

 

This particular time occurred when I was in grade school. I had an assignment for my sixth grade Social Studies class that was due one Monday. It involved drawing pictures on a special type of construction paper. The pictures were to have something to do with life on the plantations of the southern states in the early 19th century, before the Civil War. The problem was that I forgot to bring home that special construction paper with me on Friday afternoon. Of course, I compounded the problem by not realizing that I did not have that special paper until Sunday night. The one thing I did right that Sunday night was that I told Mom of my problem. She thought about it for a few minutes, then came up with a solution.

 

Her solution was to draw the pictures out on ordinary paper with a pencil, which I think she did. (She was much better at drawing things than I was.) Then, she went and got a roll of wax paper. She had me place the wax paper over the pictures she had just drawn. She then took a pencil and traced the pictures onto the wax paper. The objective here was for me to take that wax paper to school with me the next morning, then re-trace those pictures on to the special construction paper, then actually re-draw those pictures, which I did, despite the comments and snickers that I heard from some of my classmates while doing this during my first classes that morning. I was able to complete that assignment, on time, because she was there for me when I needed her.

 

From this experience, I learned to not hesitate to ask for help.

 

Another time, also during that same school year, I had a writing assignment for my English class. I don’t remember the specific requirements of this assignment. All I can remember is that it was to be about someone in our everyday life. In my draft of this assignment, I had some negative things to say about one of our next-door neighbors, who, at that time, I was not getting along with. When she looked at it, she told me to change the tone of what I was writing from a negative tone to a positive one, and suggested that I start out by writing about a little girl with a “sunshiny smile” (my younger sister), which I did. I got an “A” on that assignment, because she was there to correct me.

 

The lesson for any of my job-seeking experiences here was to try to look at things in a positive way.

 

She was also there in the months immediately following my graduation from college, encouraging me to get my first post-college jobs by going through the “Help Wanted” ads, a job-searching tactic I held on to way too long.

 

For all of those other memories, both remembered and forgotten, for all of the happier times as well as the sad times.

 

She was there.

 

She passed away this past January.

 

She is in a better place now, and I’d like to think that heaven is just a little bit better now, because, she is there.

 

 

 

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

 

 

Eight Positive Aspects of Being in Job Search

Although you may need to remind yourself of them, there are some positive aspects to being in job search.  Have you experienced these yet?

1. Everything you learn in this phase will remain helpful to you(after you land your next role).

Any credentials you earn, any new contacts that you meet, anyone that you’ve spent time with and shared “what you are looking for,” remain valid and useful for as long as you keep them active.  If you (unfortunately) find yourself unemployed again soon, your new job search will start from a much stronger position than your prior search.

2. You have more time to develop yourself by either fine-tuning old skills, or learning new ones.

In addition to bringing your skills up-to-date, any classes, or certifications you complete demonstrate how you have kept busy while unemployed.

3. You recognize that every day’s effort is important to your progress.

Although this is true every day of your life, in job search you need to be strengthening your network, skills, and/or visibility each day to prevent inertia from setting in.  “The status quo” is not welcome in job search: consistent activity is needed to influence the change in your employment status.

Public Domain Image.

Public Domain Image.

4. It is easier to spend more time with family and friends. 

I was able to spend several days helping a friend package up and move  boxes and home items as he prepared to move to another state.  We had many laughs as we worked on this, and I would not have spent as much time there had I been working.

5. You learn more about you really are. 

I heard so many folks say “I’ve learned so much about myself” after being unemployed for awhile.  Being presented with a challenge which affects so many areas of your life, for a duration you cannot predict, will force you to determine how you approach each day.  (For me, this point separates you from your resume, skills, and work experience, and identifies the qualities that make you unique. )

6. Any preventative steps that you’ve taken will pay off. 

If you’ve taken steps to set aside some funds for “a rainy day,”  kept your medical/dental/vision health strong, you’ll be able to rest a little easier during your job search.

7. You will be exposed to new sources of inspiration.

For me, the book “Escape from the Box: The Wonder of Human Potential” by Col. Edward L. Hubbard was especially inspiring.  The way he (eventually) approached his multi-year situation resonated with me.  I probably wouldn’t have come across this book, if not for attending a job search forum (and now I have an autographed copy)!

8. You can wait a little longer in the morning to shovel the snow from your driveway.

Although only a seasonal benefit, I did see a positive side on those cold, snowy mornings, to not having to get up extra early just to shovel snow, in order to drive into work as soon as possible.  (Seriously though, in job search, it is easier to opt-out of driving through rush hour traffic on dangerously bad-weather days, and it is fine to appreciate those moments when they happen.)

Were there positive aspects to your job search that I haven’t called out above? Feel free to list some in the comments.

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.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Helping Others in Job Search

“Helping others become more effective” is a result claimed by many mentors and coaches.  To be perceived as someone who is effective and influential in job search networks, spend time trying to improve your contacts’ job search.

On job-search mornings, when I wasn’t networking or exercising, I’d find myself sitting in front of a monitor, coffee in hand, needing a few minutes to warm up before getting into heavy research.  For my brain’s warm-up, I’d often spend 10 or 15 minutes checking my best contacts’ LinkedIn profiles, and provide endorsements for any newly listed skills.  I recall almost falling off my chair laughing when I saw that one friend had added “Dangerously Handsome” as a skill.

Do you know what your contacts are looking for in their job search?   If not, then you’re unable to effectively refer people to them.  Discussions over coffee, or networking, provide you a forum to share your background, and current goals, with each other.  These talks are not meant to make you feel bad if you do not have an immediate contact or reference to offer the other person.  If you understand each other better after the discussion, then it was worth the time.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Over time, you’ll build a knowledge bank of people with skills in different industries, etc.  With this, you’ll have a larger set of names available when a recruiter contacts you with opportunity that isn’t a match for you, but could be a match for one of your contacts.  You’ll know this is the case, because you’ve already spent time talking with that person, and you know the types of roles she is looking for.

This was precisely how my first job search ended.  One of my job search work team members mentioned my name to a recruiter, and eventually, this resulted in a phone screening, then interview, then a job offer.  How great did it make my day, to get the offer.. .and how great did it make her day, knowing that it began from a referral she’d provided?  It was an awesome day for each of us.

Helping others, in a tangible way, shows that you continue to make a positive impact on those around you, even while unemployed.   By connecting a person with a certain skill, with someone who has a corresponding need, you are helping them (both) be more effective.  As this continues, the circle of people helped by your efforts will become larger, and they will be able to refer YOU to someone who is looking for your skills.

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.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

What Most Surprised Me in Job Search

For over ten years, the cycle of workforce reductions continued until my position was eliminated.  Although no two job searches are the same, I believe no one goes through their job search without experiencing a few surprises along the way.   As I was unable to rank one item as ‘the most surprising’ here are five items that caught me by surprise during my ten month job search.  Do any of these surprises resonate with you?

What surprises will be in your job search? Public Domain Image

What Surprises Will be in Your Job Search?
Public Domain Image

1/ Being informed, through an HR panel, that having been with one company for over 20 years was generally considered a detriment.  The first concern in a reviewer’s mind would be “Can this person work somewhere else?”

I thought that having made it through the many rounds of reductions, would have demonstrated that I was able to provide a lot of value (as I was kept on for so long).   I was wrong.

2/  The level of support, shared experience, advice, and honest feedback that I’d receive (and provide) through my job search work team was beyond my expectations.

3/ Realizing my (helpful and expensive) outplacement agency was not trying to get me an interview.  They offered help in many other aspects of job search, but although I heard that “Often, companies contact us for candidates,” I never heard of anyone in our outplacement program having been referred for a phone screening.

4/ People that you don’t know very well will end up being the most helpful to you.   I observed this many times.  For whatever reason, your good friends, and long-time colleagues tend to not be where the contacts and job leads come from.  (Perhaps because the contacts would have been extended prior to you being unemployed?)  The contact which led to my first hired position was made through a fellow job search work team member.

5/ Fully believing (embracing the fact) that the unemployed person is 100% just as successful as the employed person.  This took me some time, experience in talking with a lot of unemployed folks.  Although prior to job search, I “kinda-sorta-could” agree with that statement, it was clearly not a position that I fully owned.

What surprises did you experience in your job search?

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.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The D’s of Job Search

I know my vocabulary changed while I was in job search.  Certain words became more prominent in my networking, as well as my self-discussions.  As I approach a full year since my last job search, I realize that many of these terms remain in my daily speech.  For some reason, many of them start with the letter ‘D.’

Here is the list of these terms, with an explanation of how the word inspired me.  If this list reminds you of terms which have helped you, please consider sharing those terms in the comment section.

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Public Domain Image

Dare to hear others’ honest opinions of I present myself.   The most valuable opinions are from those who’ve decided to take a pass on me: I may disagree with each one, but if a common theme evolves from unconnected sources, I need to understand and embrace how they arrived at that perspective.

Demonstrate my skills and abilities to people I haven’t met yet, and to those I have.  What matters is that these skills provide value to others, regardless of who, or how it is provided.  This will support my self-confidence, and shows others what I am capable of doing well.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Discuss my efforts, progress, and obstacles with others, and learn what they have found useful (or not so useful) in their job search.  Do this on a scheduled, weekly basis, preferably within a job search work team.

Distance myself from negative influences as much as possible.  Anything can be shown in a negative light, and being unemployed tends to lower the lights anyway, so try to stay away from those who focus upon a pessimistic view.  Be especially aware of folks who are negative not just about their own situation, but also about mine.

Do remain active during this job search.  (In a Yogi Berra-ish way, “The one thing to do, is to always do more than one thing.”)  Be outside the home; exercise, network, meet, talk to people, and help others in their endeavors.

Donate my time to others in job search, and to endeavors that I support.  This will help keep my mind fresh.  Don’t worry if this doesn’t clearly establish a path to a hiring manager.  This provides a place for me to contribute value, and I can reference this in future phone screenings and interviews.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Depend upon my own abilities, and remember that I can provide value to an organization.  My abilities and efforts had brought me success before I was unemployed, and I need to trust that these are still within me.  (Do not underestimate the importance of this point.)

Delight in my job search efforts, and of those around me.  With many contacts trying to make inroads into the unknown to generate their next paying role, there is a lot at stake every day.  At the very least, it is an exciting time.
Dive in to get the results that I seek.  I’ll never get hired for a job that I do not apply for.  I am fully engaged during my job search activities, for I am a person of action and results.  (I help to introduce my contacts with people, or forums, that can be helpful to them.  To do this, I first need to know what they seek.  Learning this is necessary.)
I’m interested in hearing the terms that became more meaningful for you in your job search, or as you pursued a major, risky achievement.

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.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

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.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

I finally had enough of passing by the messy pile of job search stuff gathering dust on a shelf in the living room.  Ten months’ worth of people’s handbills, flyers, presentation print outs, notes, book summaries (and a couple of self-published books hawked by authors that I met), and seminar ephemera.  Thankfully I had already done a first culling at the time of collection and anything deemed unhelpful had been put on the recycle pile.  If I hadn’t made this initial determination, one shelf would not have been enough.  There is a lot of information out there about job search.

 

I didn’t get rid of much this time around.  Some of it could be useful to me to generate a post or two here.  Or I can pass on other bits to people I know.

 

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public domain image

When there is so much information to be found on a topic, how does a person decide what is useful (wheat) versus what is unhelpful (chaff)?  When it comes to information, it isn’t as simple as threshing wheat.  All a person needs for wheat is an understanding of what parts are edible.  Information culling or threshing requires effort in advance.

 

What is wheat for me might be chaff for others and vice versa.  I have to know what I am looking for, at least a bit.  I have to know at least how to recognize something useful.  To do that, I have to have an idea of where I am going.  But I can’t narrow things down too much or I might realize that I got rid of something potentially useful if I change course.  Hence the pile of stuff.

 

How do you decide what might be useful in your quest?

 

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

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.

 

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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.

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

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.

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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.