Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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Doing It Right

My niece got married this week-end and after a year of planning it was a lovely event for our family. If you’ve been involved with weddings, as a bride, a family member, a guest or just an interested observer, you know that they are complex endeavors with lots of moving parts. The people involved are emotional, lots of money is being spent and something or other is almost certain to not go as planned.

Our primary “glitch” happened at the boutique where the bride bought her gown. She ordered her dress last September and had a couple of fittings in the last few weeks. At the last fitting there was one small detail that needed to be fixed and the agreement was that she could pick up the finished dress the week before the wedding. She called the salon Thursday at lunchtime, expecting to be told that yes, the gown was ready to be picked up. Instead, the woman on the phone, who I’m going to call Jane, advised the bride, two days before her wedding, that “your gown isn’t here” and the owner would call her later that day. Really? To recap, the dress had been received at the salon and the bride had had two fittings. Unless one of the employees took the dress home and wore it out dancing, it had to be in the salon. Where else could it be? To say this was upsetting to my niece is a massive understatement.

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So why on earth would Jane tell the bride the dress wasn’t there? Was she unkind? Mean? Stupid? Lazy? Initially, when I was volcanically pissed off, I would have said “all of the above.” When I calmed down, I might have said, to paraphrase Sam Seaborn, that she was just a “nice woman having a bad day.” Regardless of which is the actual truth, Jane was dealing with a customer who had a problem and she made no effort to solve it. When my sister called the salon Friday morning and spoke to someone else, she learned that the dress was indeed at the shop and ready to go, it just wasn’t hanging in the usual place for dresses that are ready to be picked up. There’s no question in my mind that if Jane had made a sincere effort to look around and find the dress, she would have found it.

Ultimately all was well, the wedding was lovely and my niece looked beautiful in her gown. Even so, I’m still annoyed at the way this incident was handled. It’s an example of a little thing that can have a big impact. It’s about making choices about how we treat people. It’s about keeping commitments and living up to promises made. It’s about doing it right.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

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

Watching The Words

A few years ago I wrote a freelance article for a magazine and I included a sentence about a woman who put her wedding ring on a necklace and “wore it discreetly around her neck.” The magazine’s editor changed discreetly to discretely and after all this time I’m still annoyed.

Words matter. When you’re in job search, make sure that everything you produce, from your resumé to your cover letters to your business cards to your LinkedIn profile, is error-free. Mistakes like typos, bad punctuation or incorrect usage can create a negative perception that could mean the difference between getting a job offer and getting a rejection. In particular it’s important to be ruthlessly vigilant about proofreading everything. It’s a two-part process. First you need to make sure you’re using the right words in the right way. Discreet/discrete, affect/effect, they’re/their/there, whose/who’s are all examples of words that are easy to mix up or use incorrectly.

Then make sure all the words are spelled, and punctuated, perfectly. In other words, no “typos”.  One little letter can make all the difference.

Example 1: A LinkedIn profile with a typo that changed Public Relations to Pubic Relations. Not good.
Example 2: A resumé with a typo that changed “sourcing” to “souring”. Also not good.

These are both real examples that I’ve seen recently and they demonstrate why it’s not enough to rely on spell-check, because both of the “wrong” words are actual words that the computer won’t catch as errors. I have a couple of tricks I use when I’m proofing my own material. First, I read it out loud, which can help catch usage or syntax errors. Then I use a ruler and read the whole document backwards, starting at the bottom and working my way up. Reading the words “out of context” can help me to pinpoint typos or punctuation errors. Finally, ask a friend to proofread your work, ideally someone who’s never seen it before. A fresh “eye” may catch something that you’ve overlooked.

This kind of meticulous review can be tedious but it’s worth it. You don’t want to be remembered as the candidate with the embarrassing typo in your resumé!

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

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas, with extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

Thanks, But No Thanks: When You Don’t Get The Job

I’ve had several interviews lately and on a recent day, which I now think of as “Black Thursday,” I got not one, but two rejections. The first one, from Company A, wasn’t a complete surprise. Although I was a good fit for the posted job description, during the interview it became clear they were looking for specific skills and experience that I just don’t have. The second rejection, from Company B, was painful. I had been called back for a second interview, I had made nice connections with everyone I met, I had good answers to their questions, etc. How could they not hire me?

So what should you do when you don’t get the job? Here are my suggestions:

Recharge: Do something nice for yourself, because this kind of rejection really hurts. Allow yourself to do something that will make you feel better. I called a friend for some sympathetic conversation then went for a walk outside in the sunshine. If a cozy afternoon nap, a therapeutic bowl of ice cream or a nice long bike ride will lift your spirits, I say go for it.

Review: Take a few minutes to do an interview “autopsy.” Did they ask a question you weren’t prepared for? Did one of your “success stories” come out wrong? Did you say something you wish you hadn’t said? Identifying what you could have done better is good preparation for next time.

Remember: Sometimes, no matter how brilliant you are in the interview and how perfect you are for the job, you just don’t get the job offer, and most of the time you’ll never know the real reason. I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask for feedback because there’s almost no chance you’ll be told the real reason you weren’t hired. It’s also possible that there’s no specific reason; you just weren’t perceived as the best “fit” by the hiring manager.

Finally, get back out there and continue looking for your next great job. Even though rejection hurts, every interview helps you get better at the process of interviewing, and every “thanks, but no thanks” rejection gets you one step closer to your great new job.

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

Never, Never, Never Give Up

During World War II, Winston Churchill was asked how a person can be successful.  He replied, “The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity; whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem.”

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Optimists are great to be around because they create energy just from the good news of opportunity.  The pessimist sees problems from every possible attempt to make things happen.  Should you consider the possibility of putting both on your team of advisors?  That was the strategy used by Abe Lincoln during his presidency to fight a difficult war.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Major decisions are made most difficult when they are made in isolation, but isn’t it just as difficult a process to see all the possibilities by yourself ?  There is bias that creeps in and skews results.    Trust yourself to pick a team of people.  The Marine Corp calls out “Semper Fidelis” to remind their team to stay true to the mission and to each other.  In time of battle, their lives depend on it.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out–

BuildingAdventureGalley, Internet

BuildingAdventureGalley, Internet

A benefit from creating a team for job search purposes is the shared responsibility of supporting you in locating your next job.  The team may not understand you but they share in their desire for your goal.  Doubt and fear of the future events do not have the same effect on a group as it does on an isolated individual.  Though there may be doubt there will also be great excitement that comes with new possibilities; a new job, more money, better business opportunities, or personal growth.  America was founded by people coming from all over the world seeking for these very same things; and they are stilling coming.

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.  (Poem “Don’t Quit”)

Get up my friend.  Stress remains when you give up, there is negative self-talk that comes with running from difficulty, there is unhappiness in letting yourself down, but there is pride from the satisfaction that comes with accomplishment when you overcome great difficulty.  Don’t 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

Planning, planning, planning …

In a class that I took about a decade ago, I heard our teacher say that “you have to plan the work, and then you have to work the plan”. So, first plan the work.

As a child, some of the best learning experiences I had happened because I was involved in sports. I also had a few ‘not-so-favorable’ experiences in sports as well. As long as we do not forget those ‘not-so-favorable’ experiences, they can still be learning experiences.

Back then, baseball was my favorite sport. During that time, I tried out for Little League Baseball, and was good enough to be put on one of our local teams.

BallBatGlove

One important thing that the manager of our Little League team told us was that we have to know ahead of time what we are going to do with the ball when it is hit to us while we are out in the playing field. In the lingo of those of us who are looking for a job today, it means we have to ‘plan ahead’.

As was the case for any child in the 9 to 12 age group, I probably was not the greatest at planning ahead. One occasion (a ‘not-so-favorable’ experience) comes to my mind often, and it occurred when I was in my last year on the Little League team. I played first base then, and a ground ball was hit to a point somewhere between the first base foul line and the pitcher’s mound. Because of the way the ball was hit (it was a slow ground ball), I had to run toward the ball to field it, which I did. However, because I did not plan what I would do with the ball (either take 2 steps and tag the batter out, or turn and throw the ball to our second baseman, who was covering first base), I hesitated. It was only for a short time, one or two seconds, but it was too late and the batter was safe. I can still remember seeing the batter as he ran by me toward first base.

Because of that experience, I would like to think that I have done a better job in planning my work activities since then.

There are really 2 lessons here. First, as I said earlier, you have to plan. And the second one is this — when you see an opportunity, go for it quickly, like the other baseball player did.

 

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

George Clooney, Rules to Living

By Deb Bryan

The December’s Esquire Magazine (2013) had an insightful interview of George Clooney by writer Tom Junod entitled, Rules to Living.  George Clooney is a very successful actor who’s latest filmed with Sandra Bullock just grossed $251.5 million.  This film has got to be some kind of an anomaly for it has two actors, over 50, with lots of history in an industry known for chewing younger people up and spitting them back out like tobacco chaw.  I read Esquire article thoroughly looking for the secret to George Clooney’s enduring success.

You’ve Got to Love Him: George works at making people not just like him but love him.  Of course he has fame, good looks, and has probably been through a myriad of charm schools but still, he really wants you to love him.  If he cannot get it from reputation he will win you over with the extensive preparation he goes to in order to make you happy.  George is very competitive.  He approaches his career like an athlete; he is going for the gold.  Translation?   He does not give up easily.

Do the Right Thing: George works at doing the right thing.  His father, Nick Clooney, taught George the lesson and made sure his son learned it well.  The lesson taught him it isn’t all about him, for people will be blessed or cursed by what he does.  So the fight to do right is not only for himself but for the other guy as well.

Consider the Consequences:  Before he takes an action he thinks about the outcome.  He has kept one person who will speak truth into his life; his father.  What is another piece of sage advice Nick Clooney gave his son?  Speak your mind but be prepared for others to disagree, misunderstand, and loudly find fault.  Adults know that is just how life works.

Success May not be Forever:  George takes success as gift he has only for today.  He has worked long and hard but it could easily be taken away in a nod.  He is grateful today for what he has and he surrounds himself with people who are hardworking AND appreciative as well.

Communicate:  George stays in touch.  He communicates through email but when he wants to be personal, he writes notes and has them delivered to the person.   He takes the time to mull over what he wants to say.  After all, a couple of wrong thoughts and relationships, along with a career, could be over.

George Clooney  from the Internet

George Clooney from the Internet

Take Risks:  George does not just imitate others success he makes it his own.  He works hard at his craft, takes care of those around him, admires others accomplishments but his risks are tailored made and he is all on his own.

Shouldn’t these rules be applied to the job search as well?  Just imagine the benefits of these rules for life.

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

Crocodile Hunter Returns (Well, maybe)

By Deb Bryan

Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin

Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin

A couple of well known dads have been in the news lately; Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter and Brett Favre of Green Bay Packers Football fame.  Their stories were about how dad’s careers impacted their kids.  In Steve Irwin’s case, his son, all of 9 years old and a bit of a chip off the old block, is to start co-hosting a show called, “Wild But True” on Discovery Kids Asia in 2014.  (Now, how cool is that!)  Brett Favre’s daughter isn’t faring as well due to her dad’s multiple head trauma issues; perhaps from the 525 sacks he experienced on the playing field. 

Steve Irwin died in 2006 from a sting ray injury.  Prior to his death, he regularly had his family on his television show but the thing they remembered most about their dad was his passion.  They remembered his job because they have an opportunity to follow in his footsteps but it was his passion they hold as a valuable memory.  Certainly, we all witnessed Brett Favres’ passion for the game of football during the 20+ years he played.  Whatever you think about these men’s professions both had passion on display that affected viewers, co-workers, and their families.  I would dare to venture to say passion even affected their talent and skill to do their job. 

An old Indian fable, Tale of Two Wolves

            One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.  One is evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

             The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”  The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Which of the two wolves do you think would create passion for you?  It may surprise you but I believe both will.  Gangster passion?  Missionary passion?  They are the stuff of legendary story but the first wolf will eat you alive. 

So how’s the job search coming?  Leaving any memories of passion even in this part of the job? 

Deb Bryan has 20 years of experience in office management in the pharmaceutical industry.  She has a passion for writing.

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