Tag Archives: connections

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.


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.


Remembering Stone Soup

By Cynthia Simmons

Driving to work one morning, I heard someone on National Public Radio talk about Stone Soup — one of my favorite children’s books. She was a consultant for executives attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

That made total sense to me.  Because… Stone Soup is the story of three soldiers returning home from a war, trudging on foot across unfamiliar territory, and stopping to stay the night in a town where they are not welcome. They try to persuade someone to sell or give them food. Apparently there is no extra food in that town, not for those three soldiers.

The magic of the story is that the soldiers had carried a big empty kettle with them, and when there was no supper to be had, they fill the kettle with water from the river, light a fire, and then place stones in the boiling water to give it flavor.

Someone becomes curious at the sight of  the soldiers sitting around their fire with their kettle full of boiling water. Someone comes up and asks, “What are you cooking?” The answer is “Stone soup.”

Then the question, “Well, may I have some?”

The response, “Well, yes, of course you can have some. It’s not quite ready. But it would be even better if we could add a potato or two.”

And the response to the response, “I have some potatoes for the soup.”

The rest of the story continues predictably with the questions and the answers, as people from the town become curious and find themselves offering to contribute to the soup. With the individual contributions the soup becomes a feast.

The lessons are, “People who are not interested in helping you in your job search may decide to help when you share a common interest.” and “Think carefully about how you approach strangers for help.”

(The version of Stone Soup that I know was written and illustrated by Marcia Brown. I first read it many years ago.)


Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

The Importance of Being Still

By Cynthia Simmons

Today is Easter. We’re at the end of a beautiful day—our first natural day of full spring. Not the calendar’s delineation of seasons, but the first actual arrival of sweet, warm air, clear skies, and a sense of grace and newness. We were lucky this year—some Easters are exasperating when bright Easter egg colors and images clash with miserable gray skies and unappealing temperatures.

For me, it was a busy day, starting early. The first task was to get up extra early and prepare to ride my bike to a 7:30 a.m. service with my boyfriend. We left at 7 a.m. to arrive at 7:30. Our return journey started at 9:00, for another 30 minutes of slow, out-of-shape riding home. (For me, I was thankful that I had done at least a little bicycle riding the prior two weeks. For my boyfriend, it was slow and tedious because he had ridden through the winter, so today he chose to handicap himself with a slow, heavy, fat-tire bike.)

Back at my place, we began to prepare for Easter lunch. My mom and her boyfriend were arriving at 12:30.  My boyfriend did most of the cooking. I concentrated on setting the table.

The story of the table settings is a story unto itself. The Blue Willow dishes came from three generations back, from my great aunt’s mother. My mom inherited the small collection and she later packed it up and (at great expense) shipped it to me.  She had added four tea cups. I later added six dinner plates from a resale shop. So setting the table for Easter involved going through the collected dishes and deciding what to use or not. Fortunately, those choices had been made the day before Easter; the dishes were already carefully stacked on the table to await the actual setting of the table.

If this sounds a bit cautious and over-worried, your interpretation would be correct.  My opinion is that many times intergenerational negotiations among adults can cause stress.

But, we were successful today. When the table was set, it was beautiful. The total contributions of the four people at lunch complemented each other with food, dishes, wine, and conversation. We arrived at the table from four separate directions. (Perhaps from the four points of the compass?—I ask myself.)

Afterward, as we separated to attend to different obligations, I found myself thinking about a long list of tasks I need to do. But, I reminded myself of the importance of being still. And that incidentals can hold life together, and give it meaning and direction.

Monday isn’t until tomorrow. Then I will go back to my job search.


Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

The LinkedIn Revolution

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

I have been reading a book by Orville Pierson called “The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search”.  Chapter Four is particularly enlightening.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

According to Pierson, almost all new hires are found in one of three ways:

1)      The Applicant Pool

2)      The Created Position

3)      Tapping a Known Candidate

Created positions are least common, accounting for only 5% of new jobs.  The Applicant Pool is what many casual job seekers think is the way all jobs are created – by posting a job, soliciting applicants, narrowing the candidates down to a few for interviews, and selecting from among those last few.  While the Applicant Pool draws by far the most attention, it actually accounts for only 25% of new jobs.  Most new jobs – 70% – are given to Known Candidates.  Therefore, the most effective job search focuses on becoming the Known Candidate.  This is why networking is so important.  The more people you know, especially if they are in the field where you want to work, the more job opportunities you will have.

This is also why LinkedIn is not only a powerful networking tool; it’s also revolutionary.  I sometimes wonder if the ability to connect to so many people – currently I have 16,000,000 3rd-degree LinkedIn contacts – will eventually create a backlash, with people tuning out when I reach out to them.

However, I don’t think that will be true to any meaningful degree.  LinkedIn is a tool, and like any tool it is effective if you know how to use it.  LinkedIn helps hiring managers find better candidates, and job-seekers find better opportunities.  My hope is that a similar revolution can occur to help people find more rewarding work throughout their careers.  I think that is also happening as tools like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strengths Finders gain more widespread exposure.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

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

Lessons Learned Volunteering

By Cynthia Simmons

I learned important lessons that have stood me in good stead since years ago when I did my first big volunteer project. I worked very hard and had good results to show for my efforts, but the public fame went to someone else. I had a co-chair and partner, who was equally and also ignored.

The first lesson I learned is –Whenever I volunteer, I need to know why I am doing it. I set my own goals. Usually my goals are to learn how to do something new and to support a cause I believe in. As time passes, I check in with myself to judge whether I think my efforts will be fruitful.

Here’s my story:

I had just finished night school classes for my BA and MA degrees and was searching around for my career path. I still needed to finish some research papers and to take my oral exam for my master’s. I spent a couple of months writing papers and studying.

As a treat for myself, I signed up for a pottery class at the local art center. That decision opened up new doors for me. I started hanging out with some artists, got myself a sketchbook, and some time later found myself co-chairing an arts festival.

Over a spring and summer I spent many, many hours working on the production of the arts festival. The event was set for the second weekend in August.

The beginning point was a logo. My instincts told me to look at the portfolio of a textile designer because most of the visual artists I was meeting at the art center created drawings, paintings, clay pots, or sculpture of some sort. A textile designer “felt” right. After spending an hour and a half reviewing her portfolio, there it was–a textile design that totally made sense as a logo for the event–a man and a woman dancing beneath a tree.

Design by Almuth Palinkas

© Almuth Palinkas

The next step was to recruit artists. We advertised our event and stated that artists needed to provide three slides by the submission deadline. We developed and printed an artist recruitment poster and a prospectus. During the summer, my co-chair and I visited local art fairs to informally jury and invite artists to show at our festival. The goal was a fine arts festival rather than a craft festival.

And of course, before the artist recruitment publicity was finished, we needed to begin to publicize our festival to the general public. That meant more press releases, and another poster.

As the event drew near there were long lists of small details to consider. We had about a hundred artists exhibiting, and at least twenty volunteers to run the festival. The art center shared the grounds with a music school; the music school scheduled on-going concerts for the Saturday and Sunday. The building was being restored; another group of volunteers was trained to give tours of the house.

The weekend of our festival, the weather was great. We drew a good crowd. The artists were happy. I was so very proud.

A couple of days afterward, our town newspaper had a full-page article on our festival with photos and thank you’s to…

You know what happened. The volunteers who ran the event existed as a faceless, nameless crowd.  Only the three paid staffers were named as having organized the festival.  And the two official co-chairs were the town mayor and the biggest donor.

(Two paid staffers were very new at working with volunteers and didn’t think to give the reporter volunteer names. Hopefully those staffers grew and learned their own lessons.)

Fortunately, on the Festival Program we had our titles and were recognized.

So here are the lessons I learned:

Know that when you do good work that you believe in, sometimes that is your only reward. If you seek to add professional credentials or projects to your resume, make that clear when you start to volunteer.

Know that people like to be recognized and thanked. Since that experience of being ignored, I have always tried, both publicly and privately, to acknowledge any individual contributions to a group effort and to say “Thank you!” unmistakably, loud and clear!

Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved

Working with Recruiters

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

Up to now I’ve talked a lot about networking.  Networking should be the top priority of your job search effort, requiring a majority of your time in one form or another – in-person networking being most important, but time spent on LinkedIn also factoring in to the equation.  However, tried-and-true old methods such as submitting applications directly or working with recruiters should also always be part of your effort.  It’s worthwhile to consider how to take advantage of services provided by recruiters.

First, recognize that recruiters work for the companies and not for you.  Most recruiters are friendly and certainly like to see job seekers do well – it’s a sign of a good job market upon which their livelihood depends – but ultimately their efforts on your behalf depend on how well you match the requirements of the position they are trying to fill.  They receive compensation from the company, so if you find a recruiter impatient because your qualifications aren’t a really great match with the job description, don’t take it personally.

Be respectful - call them Recruiters! Public Domain Image

Be respectful – call them Recruiters!
Public Domain Image

Recruiters are usually well aware of the salary you can demand for a position.  You still need to do your own homework regarding this, but in my experience recruiters are generally on your side in such negotiations.  This makes sense since if most recruiters only filled open positions without regard to just compensation people would stop using them.

Finally, most people are aware that the common vernacular for recruiters is to call them “headhunters”.  Most recruiters don’t mind this, but I still recommend using the more respectful term “recruiter” in direct correspondence with them.  Such consideration may make a good impression.  They may be working more for the company than for you, but they’re more likely to work harder in a mutually respectful environment.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – for Networking

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Holly, carols, cookies, Santa Claus & elves, mistletoe, Bethlehem stable figurines, fruitcakes, decorations, lights, presents, and…  job search networking?

Obviously, networking is not among the traditional reminders of the holiday season.  However, most of us attend one, two, or more holiday parties and meet new people this time of year.  So don’t overlook the great opportunity to advance your job search.  In light of this, it’s worthwhile to review some networking “dos and don’ts”, especially in the holiday context.

1)      This is not the time to imbibe excessively or overeat.  If you hope to make new job search connections, remember to act professionally.

2)      Have some business cards with you as usual, and handing them out should be your standard MO.  However, keep a few resumes in your briefcase or car in case you meet someone who requests it.

3)      Remember what Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to them the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  Don’t tell yourself you’re no good at remembering names – you can get better at it, as I have.  Tips:  repeat the person’s name back to them when you are introduced, and try to use their name once (as naturally as possible) when the introduction leads to a conversation.

4)      Remember, effective networking is not about getting a job.  It’s about creating new connections, and is as much about giving as it is about taking.  What do you have to offer your new colleagues?

5)      Follow up with those who’ve given you their business card or other contact info.  Probably the best time to do so is after the holidays are completely over, they’re getting back to their regular routine, and have more time to respond.

Have fun, but stay professional and give your job search another boost!

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Try a Little Appreciation

By Cynthia Sutherland

Deliberately adopt an attitude of appreciation.  When you intentionally appreciate aspects of your life, it starts you on your way to feeling good. 

And when you feel good, you will be inspired to positive action.  Others will notice.

From Wikimedia Commons, Scroll, in the public domain

From Wikimedia Commons, Scroll, in the public domain

This time of year, many of us are automatically led by the holiday season to focus on our blessings.  We’re told to identify positive circumstances, family members and friends, and what they mean to us.  We may or may not “feel” those blessings. It can be just an exercise, but what if you take it seriously?

As a catalyst, there are always stories about someone worse off than we are who has a positive attitude and achieves against great odds, or someone better off who shares their blessings with others less fortunate.

Yet here you are: still unemployed as you move into this season of Thanksgiving.  So it may make it a little harder to imagine the light at the end of that tunnel.  Or to appreciate the job search, or other aspects of your life right now.

But I say that not feeling appreciation promotes a very conditional view of life. “If I get this job, I’ll be happy.”  “If I achieve that success, I’ll be happier.”  “If I have that relationship, then I can love life.”  If…if…if.

It often is that way, though, a learned behavior from the time we were very young.  We cried our eyes out for the truck or doll that we wanted at that moment.  And when we got that toy, it made us happy for a minute.  Then we moved on to the next item we had to have to be happy.

Have you tried recently, just for kicks, to act happy, or to appreciate certain aspects of your life, just to see what would happen?  I have.  It really starts some positive juices flowing, you begin to feel better, and your outlook on life shifts – even if it’s just in the moment.  And your outlook about your job search will shift to a more positive view as well.

Make a list.  List the things, situations, people, foods, anything that you like.  Then think about why you feel good about the items on your list.  When you do, more reasons, and more things will come to mind. And you will start to feel some real appreciation.

You could do the same thing about all those things you don’t like, but that will make you feel bad. Our normal analytical selves assist us in doing this every day.  But we’re not looking for a pity party, or pros and cons, just a way to uplift your spirits.

A feeling of appreciation builds on itself if you let it.  Return to the list the next day and add to it, or start a new list each day.

After a time, you will move more automatically to think about how great your life is, how blessed you really are.  And you will realize that you are gaining more knowledge about yourself and others as a result of what you experienced in your job search.

Next year, your list can be a retrospective about what you learned in your job search process, and how wonderful people were in helping.  And you will be ready to help the next person who may just be starting their search process.

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.

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

Basic Beliefs in Job Search

By Cynthia Sutherland

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

-Bruce Lee   (From www.brainyquotes.com)

Peace, love and happiness From Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Peace, love and happiness
From Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

The first thing I learned about job search is not job search techniques (I learned those, too), but that job search involves solidifying – or shifting – beliefs about yourself.

I learned the following ten basic beliefs for a successful job search from the Job Search Circle. This group is the primary collective that I participate in to enhance my job search skills, and to remind myself how important it is to stay grounded during the search.

Most importantly, the networking and teamwork gained from participating in a job support group builds understanding about the intangible aspects of job search – about yourself.  I would never try to go it alone.

This list comes directly from the Job Search Circle:

  • Believe in yourself.  You are not your job search. (That’s a constant necessary reminder.)
  • Believe in your uniqueness.  You define the job; the job doesn’t define you.
  • Believe that you are a winner.  Convey this by your positive attitude, energy and enthusiasm.
  • Believe that you add value.  Know how your accomplishments and experience have positively impacted the organizations you have worked for.
  • Believe you are successful.  Success is all about what you can contribute.
  • Believe in your ability to make a difference. Cultivate a mindset of helpfulness and help others regardless if they help you in return.
  • Believe in your ability to learn.  Improve yourself; update your skills. (Now is the time to focus here.)
  • Believe in the gift of transition.  You have been given a gift of time – don’t waste it. (You may not see this right away, but this time allows self-reflection and re-connection.)
  • Believe in the abundance around you.  Be grateful for what you have.  (An attitude of gratitude is what will create resilience and positiveness.)
  • Believe you will land the right job.  Trust the process.  Embrace ambiguity and learn from it.  Stay positive. (Landing the right job is a by-product of your positive beliefs.)

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.

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

Nail the Pre-Interview

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

Why is networking so much more effective in your job search than any other approach?  I’m sure many articles have been written reflecting on this question.  Here is one of my theories.

In a sense, when you’re having a conversation with a new networking contact, you’re interviewing before the interview.  This is why personal contacts still trump connections you’ve made over the internet.  Nothing beats old-fashioned “face time”.  One of the things I’ve observed throughout my career is that in spite of many harsh realities in the workplace, most people when they first meet you want to like you.  (Incidentally, this is particularly true when you are a new hire – hey, I hired the guy who solved that perplexing problem that’s been an obstacle for so long!)

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

Reinforcing the value of meeting someone in person is the fact that some venues engender mutual support.  For example, job networking meetings are collaborations of job seekers – generally, everyone is there to help everyone else.  Such a climate is conducive to a successful “pre-interview”.

Keep that in mind whenever you meet someone new.  We’re told to look for opportunities to give our “elevator speech” and hand out our business card.  Speak with sincere enjoyment about the things you liked most in your past work assignments.  Take interest in your new contact’s situation, making clear you would be helpful to them, too, if they need it.  Be friendly and smile a lot.  Look for a shared interest, if possible.  Introverts may have to work at this, because it’s a lot of small talk.  Are you an oenophile, and you notice the new acquaintance you met at a social mixer got a glass of wine?  Use that to make a personal connection.

Nail the pre-interview, and more interviews will follow.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved