Tag Archives: Attitude

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.

Making It Count

I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity.  How it means a whole lot more than it has come to represent, at least from a broad economic sense.  Economically, productivity is getting more for less.  Put less resources in, but get more end result.  Increase productivity.

 

It would seem from that definition that the time between jobs would not be productive.  But I don’t think that is true.  There is so much that is done, can be done every day that can be considered productive.  And feeling productive makes a person feel valued, and we all want to both feel valued and feel like we are providing value.

 

Plenty probably told the Wright brothers that they weren't being productive.  (public domain image)

Plenty probably told the Wright brothers that they weren’t being productive. (public domain image)

Learning is valuable and productive.  There is so much that a person in job search could learn, and so many places to go to learn.

 

Sharing what you have learned with others is definitely valuable and productive.  There is so much that a person in job search could learn that it isn’t possible to learn it all yourself.  Sharing knowledge makes it more possible.

 

Helping somewhere, almost anywhere is valuable and productive.  Plenty of places could use a bit of help.

 

I found quite a few ways to feel productive during my search.  I went to my library to learn about current information and trends in job search and took classes toward a certificate.  I joined a couple of job search groups where I could share information and get support.  I created a presentation and gave it.  I joined Toastmasters.

 

There are countless ways to be productive, to provide value.  It takes a bit of concentrated thought to start being aware of all of them.  Asking others questions to find out what they do to be productive is a way to start.

 

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

Pushing Through

That moment when you realize that you are really an adult might just have something to do with motivating yourself to do an unpleasant task.  We think of being an adult as finally getting to do all of the things that we were prevented from doing as kids.  If I thought at all about all of the things that require prompting to do, I assumed that adults didn’t need that external push.  I found out soon enough that I was wrong.

This topic is coming to mind because I’ve had to make myself write this post.  Bleh.  Normally I love to write, but it just isn’t there right now and I don’t have a safety post ready this week.  Nothing I could think of countered the obstinate little pouty kid who shouted ‘you can’t make me’ over and over in my head when I tried to think of post topics.

My sister used to have a friend who went to the trouble to run the vacuum throughout the house without turning it on in an act of defiant compliance.  Even as a kid I thought that defied logic – if you are going to go to the trouble to run it over the carpet, how hard is it to turn it on?  But I also get the defiance, the dig your heels in contrariness of the act.

Archival Stock WWII Footage

Archival Stock WWII Footage

Sometimes even as adults we need to have someone else make us do something – hence the need for many laws – things that will give us great benefit like eating healthy, saving for retirement, getting our teeth cleaned.  And plenty of tasks at work.

There must be a solid evolutionary reason why we are so obstreperous at times.  I have found myself splitting into two minds – one is being terribly unruly and the other is consternated not only by the childish stand but also by the choice of the fit.  Why-ever have I chosen to cling to this particular cliff?

There is plenty about job search that brings out that ‘you can’t make me’ feeling, isn’t there?  And what’s worse, there really isn’t someone in authority, like a boss, to push you past that feeling.  Oh, plenty of people to nag at you, but that isn’t the same.  Deadlines are mostly self-imposed, as are most tasks.  If self-motivation is flagging or absent trouble can build pretty quickly.

How about you, what prompts do you use, positive or negative, when you’ve dug your heels in?

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

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.

A Question about Autonomy

How much control do you like to have over your day?  Over the tasks that you perform?  Now, while you are searching for that next job, would be a good time to answer these questions for yourself.  It is good bet that there are questions built into the interviews that you go to that will determine the answer from the perspective of the hiring manager.  (I know that I do for certain.)

 

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual (nice as that would be at certain stages) but some jobs are more structured than others, therefore more likely to have specific directions and expectations.  These jobs are suited to someone who is comfortable with low levels of autonomy.  Other jobs seem wide open to interpretation and better suited to someone who appreciates, and is capable of handling, a high level of autonomy.

Capture

I remember the first few moments after bringing my older son home from the hospital.  I had babysat for years and up until that moment felt confident that I could be a parent.  But in that moment I was pierced by a fear that someone messed up in letting me bring home this helpless being without checking on my skills with a newborn.  But the panic started to recede as I remembered the bits and pieces that I could do – I could change a diaper and feed the baby, these weren’t any different in a newborn than with the other babies I had watched.

 

My son became a toddler – when ‘me do’ is the anthem and autonomy is born.  From then on out the decision can be made – can/should I do this task or is it better for someone else to do?

 

My younger son has been doing work for various contractors recently.  Some want him to go ahead and move on to the next step without their input and some want him to just stop when he has completed the task that they assigned.  He is just as capable of doing the tasks in either situation and so better suited to the times when he is allowed to keep moving.

 

Sometimes it isn’t possible to find a job that provides the ideal level of autonomy so it helps to know what range you can tolerate without getting frustrated.  Or maybe there is a trade-off – less autonomy in one area but more of something else.  It still helps to know all of this about yourself going in.  All part of that ‘informed decision’ that we like to talk about these days.

 

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

Identity and Job Title

The one thing that you can almost guarantee will get asked and answered when meeting someone new, regardless of the circumstances or venue for the meeting, is the question of what you do.  It is treated as a central question, a means to gauge where the conversation goes from there.  How can we then help but to equate what we do to earn a living with who we are?

 

I spent a good chunk of my adult life as a stay at home mom.  That answer garnered glazed eyes or surreptitious eye darts around the room to find a way out of the conversation.  Surely the listener was going to be bored to tears with stories of diaper duty and play dates.

 

I found the same looks and attitude during my job search months.  A little bit of desperation was thrown in because they probably thought I would hit them up for some sort of assistance.

 

If you take careers off the discussion table – (and of course politics and religion too) there is still a whole world of topics to discuss, to connect over and about.  I got a job once because of my love of reading and reverence for books.  I’ve met plenty of people and participated in volunteer activities because of it as well.

 

Empress of Elucidation

Empress of Elucidation

Our identities are an amalgam of so many things – family, hobbies, where we live, and also what we do for a living – plus so much more.  Strike up a conversation and it rarely takes long to find something to connect over.  I’ve been me for a good while now and meeting people through my different phases – stay at home mom, career, job search, volunteer – I’m still learning the art of conversation and matching my stories to the situation.  I rarely ask the ‘what do you do’ question, frankly.  It seems rather limiting in leading the conversation.

 

As a wise woman that I know regularly says, you are not your job search.  Spending a few summer moments thinking about your larger identity might be an interesting exercise.

 

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

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

Oh, I Couldn’t Do That

I spent years, off and on, as a stay at home mom.  I had my kids fairly early, so had not established anything remotely like a career – I had some jobs before becoming a mother, some that I liked and some that gave me money.  I believed in staying home and couldn’t understand the women who claimed that they would be bored or unfulfilled if not working.  (But this post isn’t about the so called mommy wars.)

 

Periodically I thought about the jobs that I could do in the working for pay world.  I read the help wanted ads and compared my skills.  And I talked myself out of every single job.  Oh, I couldn’t do this or that part of the job.

 

public domain image

public domain image

And then I found myself divorced and responsible for supporting myself and my two boys.  Now the ads looked different to me.  I would do this and I would do that – I could learn this and I could learn that.  And I did.

 

It wasn’t the ads or the jobs that had changed, but my self-talk.  I knew that I couldn’t walk in hoping that someone would give me a chance.  I had to walk in chugging like the Little Engine that Could – I think I can, I think I can.  I told SARs that showed how I learned this or that in pertinent volunteer experiences.  How I stepped up, how I solved problems.

 

Worry and fear were boiling in my belly in those moments at the end of the day, by myself.  But I boxed them up during the day and stored them behind the ‘Oh I can certainly do that’ persona in daylight hours.  (Yes, that theater training in college was helpful.)

 

Do you find yourself saying something like this – oh, I couldn’t do that?  Ask yourself why not.

 

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.

 Image

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

Put it Out There

We all generate energy (and that is just about the extent of my understanding of physics).  Most of us are a mixture of positive and negative energy, with one a bit more prominent at any given moment.  The energy that we are generating and giving off is mostly unconscious, except in occasions when something makes us stop and examine what we are about.

 

Job search is not a good time to be unaware of the energy that we are generating; of course it is also a time when we are most likely generating a lot of nervous energy – perhaps even moments of panic and desperation.  A struggle with negative energy is part and parcel of job seeking so we shouldn’t waste our energy fighting the negative aspects of this state.

 

public domain image

public domain image

Instead, we could find ways to bring out our positive energy, to ramp it up.  One way is to think about karma – what you put out into the world will be returned to you.  Karma comes from your actions and the intent behind your actions – it is cause and effect based on the way that your actions affect others.

 

In job search it is all too easy to get hung up on yourself – your worry and misery in attempting to secure a new job.  This focus on yourself might lead to small actions that affect others around you negatively, unintentionally.  On the other hand, in deliberately working to create positive energy or good karma there are usually many ways in a single day that you could positively affect someone that you encounter.  (Some of these ways have been co-opted by a Liberty Mutual commercial, or there are the pay-it-forward folks that buy your coffee at Starbucks.)

 

We all encounter countless strangers in our day, each of us wrapped up in whatever conundrum is currently uppermost in our thoughts, imagine if we each made a small effort to make these interactions positive moments.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to do so for the past year or so, and it really does make a difference in my overall energy.

 

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