Tag Archives: Adaptability

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.

 

public domain image

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

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Have we really simplified some things during the last few decades?

I believe there are some instances, in job-searching as well as in other things, where the following statement applies. “The more we try to simplify some things, the more difficult they become”.

Allow me to explain.

Below is a picture of 2 television sets. One television set is new, and the other one isn’t. It shouldn’t be too difficult to determine which one is the older of the two. (Here’s a hint; it is the one with the 2 circular dials, and the 2 small knobs on the front of it.)

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The purpose of this week’s blog post is to comment on the changes in the way we do certain things today; as compared to the way we did those same things about the time that the television set on the left was bought.

The television set on the left does not have a stand attached to it, (and never needed it) while the television set on the right cannot stand on its own without one. This leads to the fact that anyone purchasing a TV set today is at the mercy of whoever writes the instructions on how to assemble a TV stand, and then, to connect it to the actual television set. While I can claim to be at least a little bit mechanically inclined, and to have studied a few foreign languages between high school and college, I haven’t quite been able to translate those small pictures and symbols that appear in an instruction manual. A few more words in the illustrations that are in manuals would help.

The television set on the left was simple. After you bought it and brought it home, you simply hooked it up to your antenna, plugged it in, and started watching it. Cable TV came a few years later, and sometime after that, we began using a “remote” control.

Now, with the new television set, I have to use another “remote” control in addition to the one I used for the old TV.

Just as things have changed in the way we set up our TV’s, so have things changed in the way we search for jobs.

I was “in transition” for one month during the year before I bought that old TV, and because I still have a good memory, I also have a pretty good idea about what a job-seeker had to go through back then.

The most prominent difference between then and now is the way a person looked for a job that actually existed. Back then, a job-seekers’ primary source for job leads was in the classified section of the local newspapers. When you found a job that you liked and felt you were qualified for, you looked at the contact information in the ad, and either called the phone number that they listed, or you mailed them your cover letter and resume.

In today’s world, the equivalent operation for a job-seeker going after positions that exist goes something like this. You now have to look for those jobs on the internet, and then submit your resume electronically. If you have an account with a job board, you might even have an electronic “agent” which can send you an alert when jobs are posted which ask for those same skills you listed with your “agent”. And if you are lucky while responding to one of these job postings, the company receiving your information might not swamp you with a whole bunch of behavioral questions.

Maybe my opening statement should have been, “The more someone tries to simplify some things, the more difficult those things become for everyone else”.

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Does the “Glove” fit?

I’ll start with this question. Do your winter gloves have to fit perfectly? I’m sure you are wondering why I am asking about gloves, and winter gloves at that, during September, when it is still summer. I’ll use a job-searching experience to explain.

At one point during a job interview in a previous job search, my interviewer made an unsolicited statement that went something like this: “what I am trying to do is to see if the ‘glove’ fits”. In my opinion, what he was saying might have been something like this: “what I am trying to do is to see if you would be a perfect fit with our department”. I don’t remember if his comment was the prelude to the “skill” or to the “behavioral” questions part of the interview. Incidentally, that interview occurred in either September or October.

I will answer the one question which I think you might be asking now. I did not get that job.

Sometime after that interview, I thought up this hypothetical situation. Imagine that you are about to go outdoors in the middle of winter, and you know that it is freezing cold outside. You know you will need to put on a pair of gloves. But because you do not have a pair of gloves that fits perfectly, you have to choose between two pairs of gloves. One of the pairs of gloves is too small for your hands, and the other pair is too large. Now, which pair would you choose?

Gloves

The survival instinct within me would tell me to put on the pair that is too large, and never mind waiting for a pair of gloves which fits perfectly to suddenly materialize from somewhere. Or, just stay indoors, unless I want to have frost-bitten fingers and hands.

In our job searches, we often have to settle for a job which does not have us using all of the skills that we would like to use. In addition, we often find ourselves working for an employer that does not quite have 100% of the characteristics that we would like our ideal employer to have. And for those jobs that we do not get, we have to graciously assume that we did not have enough of the skills that the prospective employer had on its wish list. Therefore, occasionally we have to make some adjustments.

This is normal, because, after all, we are human beings. In our job-searches, we sometimes have to pretend that we are like most species of chameleons, and change the color of our parachutes (a.k.a. our objectives and our tactics). This is especially true if our financial situation dictates that we do so.

On the other side of the coin, or rather, the interview table, what are the employer’s options when they cannot find that perfectly-fitting “glove” for their department? Since I neither worked in Human Resources, nor made their hiring policies, and am not a mind-reader, I can only speculate about what those options might be. I’m sure their options dwindle when they get desperate, as does the likelihood that they’ll use the “do nothing” option. But then again, that is only speculation.

Maybe that “larger glove”, in the form of an “over-qualified” person, just might be a better fit for a company after all.

Again, the question, “Do your winter gloves have to fit perfectly”?

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Temporary Shelters – Part I

By Cynthia Simmons

Sometimes life places you in unexpected situations. Like sudden unemployment. Or perhaps the change is a long-anticipated loss of work while your job is sent to another state or out of the country.

You may feel truly shipwrecked. Tossed up upon a foreign shore. (Or rather, your former job is on one shore and you are on another. My story.)

UMC_AfricaTrip_00810

My advice in those situations is to build a temporary shelter. To create a support structure and a schedule that will get you through the weeks and months while you re-group, re-consider, and re-launch yourself back out into the working world. You will need a “base camp” from which you can venture out. Your first goal in unemployment is to create that base camp, so that you can begin to operate from a place of strength.

For the foundation, you need to recognize that life has provided yet another rather significant challenge. To be angry and upset, and all the rest of the tempestuous emotions that survival instincts send streaming through our bodies to deal with adversity.

After the surges of adrenaline, shock, horror, grief, and loss, come sadness and perhaps regret. Why? How?Imagem0317

OK, when the grieving is less awful, you can begin to build that temporary shelter. The strength in that shelter may be dreams revisited. The possible imaginings of who you once wanted to be. What you wanted to accomplish. What you had felt was your life’s work.

Perhaps now motives and goals are simpler? More to the point? Less adorned?

More easily achieved?

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

Different problems, different people, different solutions

This past weekend, two of our appliances broke down. They were our lawn mower, and our gas grill. Two different people, myself, and my wife, had to make “spur of the moment” decisions on how to proceed with our different tasks. No, my wife was not attempting to mow our lawn; that is my job. Needless to say, her task was to cook two steaks, which she had hoped to use our grill for.

 

She had opened the valve to the propane gas tank, and was attempting to ignite the burner when she noticed a flame coming up along the outside of the front of the grill. She quickly closed the valve to the propane tank, which extinguished the flame, but not before it melted one of the two ignition knobs.

 

The immediate solution to her problem, that is, cooking two steaks, was simple; turn off the gas, take the steaks inside, cook them on our stove, and then tell me what had just happened.

 

The immediate solution to my problem was more complicated.

 

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The problem with the lawn mower was that the lower handle broke while I was actually mowing the lawn. The handle broke where it is connected to the upper handle, making it necessary to try to apply a quick fix so that I could complete the job. My first attempt, “plan A” if you will, was to cut the neck off of an empty plastic bottle, slip it onto the two parts of the broken handle, and clamp that assembly to the end of the upper handle. It fell off after about 3 feet of mowing. For my “plan B”, I used duck tape (remember the MacGyver television series?) instead of the clamp. That tape held up for most of the rest of the job, so my “plan C” was to put a thick, heavy glove on my hand, and physically hold those parts together while I mowed the last 20 feet of the lawn.

 

There were two different appliances, two different problems, and two different people, each with their own unique way to solve an immediate problem in order to complete a job.

 

In a way, both job-searching and networking are similar to the situations I just described. The tactic that works for those job-seekers who are in one line of work, say healthcare, might not work for those who are looking for a job in construction. This can also apply to those looking for jobs within the same line of work, because some may have more current skills than others.

 

Even though the long-range solution of a job search is to get employed, there is no “magic tactic” that will get you your next job. If there was, every job-seeker would be using it, and eventually, it would get overused, and job-seekers would have to start looking for another “magic tactic.”

 

Just like in a job-search, the long-range solutions for my two appliances both involve one thing: replacement. But that is the only similarity. The gas grill will be replaced, and maybe by one which uses charcoal. On the other hand, the replacement part for the lawn mower has been ordered, and should arrive next week.

 

So, for our two different problems, we have, again, and two different solutions.

 

 

 

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Getting Good Counsel

By Cynthia Simmons

We all want to be right—on the right side of the argument, of the law, of the street even! And we all want people to agree with us. We want to have the best opinions, and to be respected as well-informed people.

But for me, at some point as an adult I recognized that honesty is superior to agreement. I mean, I can get sympathy most days from a good friend. But if I want honest and objective feedback, I need to present my situation, my problem, honestly and objectively.

This is leading to my argument that having friends who are different than I am is invaluable—friends who have different values, backgrounds, and preferences.

Most of us have heard the story of the six blind men and the elephant. (This is a teaching fable cited in many cultures.) Each of the blind men stood next to a different part of an elephant and was asked to describe what sort of creature it was.

elephant, kiryat-motzkin zoo (5) brighter(2)

The blind man by the elephant’s trunk, said it was like a snake. The one by a leg, said it was like a great tree. The one by the ear, said it was like a fan. And so on.

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Each one was both right and wrong, because what he knew was from feeling only part of the whole elephant.

 

Wisdom is gained from perspective. And perspective does not exist as a singular entity.

As you travel the unknown and uncertain territory of job search, seek out and befriend people who are different from you. You will gain treasured relationships that you may wish to maintain for many years into the future.

Consider that possibly living with only mirrors of your own images, values, and perspectives can be boring. And incomplete.

Instead of considering how limited each perspective was – that each blind man was blind to the whole picture, instead consider that each blind man experienced his own perspective and his own version of the truth. His own insight. Having friends with points of view that are different from yours teaches you malleability, flexibility, and plasticity in your thinking.

A case in point: I was puzzled about someone’s motivation for a particular action. It didn’t make sense to me, so I asked a relative who is older than I am and from another part of the country. Her explanation was, “Of course, that’s what some people do, because…” And then I thought, “Really? I would never do that!”

In a small way, I was enlightened, and my mind opened up to more possibilities.

file0001739728230 - add contrast (2)Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.
Photos credited to the morgueFile.com
© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

Time Constraints, or Spokes, Within your Weekdays

It’s summer now, that time of the year when the weather is usually nicer than it is during the winter. That time of the year when you can look forward to doing all of those fun activities outside, such as having a picnic, going to the beach, gardening, taking a hike in a nearby forest preserve, or riding your bicycle somewhere. Of course, you are confining these activities to the weekends. After all, you have reserved the weekdays for looking for your next job, or, figuring out your next career move, haven’t you?

So, what are your weekdays like?

BicycleWheels

In the picture above, I have placed 2 circles, both with lines in them. I like to think of the circles as bicycle wheels, and the lines inside the circles as spokes.

My analogy regarding the above picture goes something like this. Each of the spokes represents some time constraint. Examples of time constraints are, any meals that you eat during the day, and, of course, the time that you sleep during the night. Those are the basic time constraints. Unlike the picture above, these are not all the same size. The amount of time you sleep at night is not equal to the time it takes for you to eat a single meal.

Other time constraints could be anything you have to do during the day which you have no control over, or things that you have to do which are not related to your job search, such as taking your children to and from any of their activities, or mowing the lawn, if it rained throughout the previous weekend.

Here, a job interview would be a time constraint because a job-seeker usually does not have much input as to what time the interview will be. And, like everyone else, we have to watch out for those “spokes” which can either “move”, and/or “get bigger”.

The space between the spokes represents that time in which you are free to pursue your career interests, such as learning a new skill for your next job, or just to take a little time for yourself, also known as “me time”.

As you might be able to guess, the circle on the left represents a day where you can be more focused than the day represented by the circle on the right.

Which of these two categories would networking meetings fall under? If you do not have any control over the time of the meeting it might fall under the “spokes” category; otherwise, it would fall under the “free space” category. Feel free to put the meeting in the “free space” category if you can determine the meeting time (like in a 1 on 1 networking meeting).

Once again, what are your weekdays like? Do they allow you to get organized and focused? And do you allow yourself to get organized and focused? Or do you have to squeeze your job-searching activities in between those “spokes”?

I don’t know about you, but I have to work at keeping my days looking like the circle on the left.

“Dave Vandermey is a web developer.”

Looking for Help in all of the Wrong Places

I’ve recently had to re-learn that wonderful art of using my fore-finger while simultaneously using my thumb to do that on a computer keyboard which is much easier done with a computer mouse. This is the result of having a somewhat skittish or overactive computer mouse, and my either being too cheap to buy a new one, or too lazy to try fixing the current one.

 

I say that I had to re-learn this art because my first laptop had a small, red ball squeezed in between the “G”, “H”, and “B” keys. Back then, I got to be pretty good using my fingers in conjunction with that ball.

 

The symptoms I have been experiencing with this computer mouse the past few weeks have ranged from things opening up when I simply “mouse over” them to the left mouse button just not doing anything when I click on it. And then there’s what I go through with it when playing Free Cell and Solitaire.

 

As a result, I’m getting better acquainted with the “Touchpad”, the “left click button”, and the “right click button” on my current laptop. Maybe now the batteries in my computer mouse (it’s a cordless mouse) just might start lasting a little longer.

 

My attempts at trying to solve one of these problems has been something like; going to “Mouse Properties” via the control panel, and then trying to change the double-click speed of the mouse in the “buttons” tab. I tried several speeds in that scale; none of them worked.

 

Finally, I turned to that one hyperlink where I know I can get some help for this kind of thing, Google, typed in what it was I needed help with, and hit the “Enter” key. Voila, a whole slew of hyperlinks to choose from. The first one I clicked on gave me the help I needed. The solution which that webpage directed me to was in “Mouse Properties”, but then it directed me to go into the “Device Settings” tab (and then to disable the tapping feature), and not the “Buttons” tab.

 

What I needed was right under my nose; I was just looking in the wrong place.

 

In our job searches, we sometimes look for help in the wrong places. We overlook the obvious, whether it be a person, or place, or piece of information which could turn out to be most helpful. We even search far and wide, when what we need just might be right under our nose.

  

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And sometimes we just spin our wheels, thinking that our answer will magically appear if we just dig a little deeper, instead of seeking outside help.

 

For those of you who have felt ignored when you have offered your help to someone else, take heart, and try not to be offended. It is not personal. The person you wanted to help just might have had too many things going on. Or he might have received too much information at one time. (See my blog post of June 25, on information overload.) Or he may have been searching far and wide.

 

In the short time since I applied the fix described above, I have not had anything open up when I simply “mouse over” it. And the mouse works just fine when I play Free Cell and Solitaire.

 

Now, about that left mouse button… back to Google.

 

 

 

Dave Vandermey is a web developer. 

Think Outside the Job Box

Here we are in summer, nearly time for the next networking gathering and I am still working through the ideas and suggested topics from the last one.

 

Only cats want to be in boxes these days.  Or maybe not, there are probably plenty of people who see the same benefits of being in a box that cats – even wild ones – seem to see in boxes.  People in job transition see plenty of benefit of being safely in a job box.  Work for a stable company, provide value and get paid in return.  Repeat each pay period.  (More on the stability thing in a later post.)

 

Public domain clip-art

Public domain clip-art

What if companies in your area aren’t hiring, or there is too much competition for your skill set?  A friend suggested we should all be prepared to think outside the job box.  He has done so himself by combining various interests into consulting or freelance gigs and adding in the occasional temporary work to keep his coffers filled.

 

Or maybe there is an opportunity with a start-up.  The money might be small at the outset, but the potential might be huge.  At the very least you will have an interesting story to tell when you are asked what you have been doing with yourself.

 

Years ago I was given a contact for antique or unusual furniture sales and consignment.  It was a cool idea, but almost entirely commission and I was newly divorced.  I needed a steady paycheck so passed it up.  Things would be a bit different now, depending on the opportunity.  I’m not much for sales, but I am willing to keep preconceived notions at bay.

 

The point my friend is making is that we shouldn’t be quick to evaluate an opportunity purely on its similarity to the job box that we know.

 

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

Mistakes

It might have been a mistake for me to spend some of my time Monday fixing the lower part of a gutter downspout that had decided to separate itself from the rest of the downspout, and our house. After all, when we are looking for a job, since that is our job, we really shouldn’t be doing things like this on a weekday.

 

Perhaps the mistake was when I searched 4 local stores, between Saturday and Monday, looking for a replacement part which matched the size and color of the part I was trying to replace (none of the stores had any).

 

Or maybe the mistake was when I checked the local weather report on Monday to find a 30% chance of rain for Tuesday, and decided to reattach that bottom piece in order to avoid the consequences of not having completed the repair job in time.

 

Normally, making repairs like the one described above is something that gets done on a weekend. The reason this did not happen has nothing to do with the fact that this past Sunday was Father’s Day. Choosing to delay this repair for a day or so may have been nothing more than an error in judgment on my part. Or maybe I was hoping to be able to put it off until next weekend.

 

We all make mistakes in our daily lives, and the job search is no exception. The mistakes mentioned above really are nothing more than judgment calls. When we make these judgment calls, and they turn out wrong, it’s not like we’ve broken some law, such as missing a stop sign or driving through a red light. The only penalty here is missing out on some opportunity; it is not the end of the world.

 

Sometimes, the bigger mistake just might be to not do anything. In that case, something needs to be done. One response to certain mistakes might be to choose a separate course of action, for others, just improvise.

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And don’t forget, sometimes the other guy makes mistakes. I witnessed this in a job interview I had a long time ago, where both the Human Resources Recruiter and the Manager that I interviewed with completely misread the qualifications I listed in my resume. I went through with that interview, because I wanted the practice, but the interview was only about 15 minutes long. Their penalty; who knows? My penalty that day might be called a penalty in reverse (I didn’t have to work for them).

 

The stores’ penalty was that they did not get to sell me something on that day; there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, stores are run by human beings. And one of the items in the job description of a human being is to “make mistakes”.

 

Mistakes are here to stay. You are going to be making errors in judgment sometime. When that happens, simply learn from these errors. You will be better off because of those experiences.

 

Oh, and by the way, there was no rain Tuesday. It came on Wednesday. So whoever created that weather forecast, they also made a mistake.

Dave Vandermey is a Web Developer