Tag Archives: Perseverance

She was there, A Tribute to Mom

She was there. My Mother. For us.

 

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

 

She was there.

 

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

 

She was there.

 

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

 

She was there.

 

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

Mother&Child

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

She was there.

 

She passed away this past January.

 

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

 

 

 

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

 

 

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Christmas will still come, so relax

Welcome to the Christmas rush, that time of the year when we have to deal with all of those distractions associated with Christmas. I will list some of them; putting up the tree, decorating the tree, putting up the outside Christmas lights, shopping for Christmas presents, baking Christmas cookies, cleaning the house, decorating the house, putting up with rude shoppers, dealing with family members who nag you to give them your Christmas wish list, sending out Christmas cards to friends you haven’t seen in years, and hearing phrases such as “Black Friday” and “companies are hiring” too many times.

Ok, that last phrase is one that only us job-seekers will hear, or at least pay attention to. While I might want to challenge those who say that companies are hiring by asking them to start naming those companies, I understand their reason for saying that. They are trying to tell job-seekers to not let up in their efforts to find their next job.

Something that is hard to do for those job-seekers who have to endure any, or all, of those distractions I listed earlier. In fact, trying to keep up the job-searching efforts while dealing with everything else is enough to drive a job-seeker insane, or make him feel drawn-and-quartered.

I will start with this one-word suggestion that a professional football quarterback told his teammates when the team was about to play its fourth game this season, with only 1 win to its credit; “Relax”.

MerryChristmasCandle

I will add to this advice. Christmas will come. Think of the peace that comes with that day, or the day after, when you realize that you do not have to perform those “extra activities” we do during the Christmas season. At least, not until next year.

I will also suggest that we job-seekers start thinking about each of those “extra activities”, and ask ourselves “Will this Christmas be less merry if this activity is not on our “to-do” list. (Do not delete buying presents, unless you have a spouse who is willing to do it for you; but then, you still have to buy presents for that spouse. And, if your family is not hosting Christmas dinner, that’s already one thing you don’t have to do.)

I have 2 suggestions for items which can be deleted; putting up the outside Christmas lights, and baking four, five, or six batches of cookies, or however many batches you bake.

First, the outside lights. Last year, I was unable to put up the outside Christmas lights, due to an early snowfall.

But Christmas still came, and was a merry one for us.

This brought back memories of those Christmases my family had when I was in grade school. Back in those days, people who lived in our neighborhood did not put up outside Christmas lights. I do not know why they did not do this.

But Christmas still came.

Second, I believe that we can get by with 1 or 2 less batches of cookies than we normally do.

Again, back in my grade school days, my Mom would bake cookies at Christmas time. I don’t remember how many batches of cookies she baked each year. Because she was a stay-at-home Mom, and not looking for a job, she could bake several batches of cookies without worrying about the amount of time she had left for all of the other activities. She knew that I liked to eat cookies, so she gave me a recipe for spritz cookies when I moved out of my parent’s house. I have baked these cookies at Christmas time ever since. However, I do not know if I will be baking those cookies this year.

But Christmas will still come, and it will be merry.

Maybe you have some other ideas of those “extra activities” that you can drop from your list of things to do. If so, good for you.

And remember, Christmas will still come, and it will still be merry.

Merry Christmas!
Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

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

 

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

 

public domain image

public domain image

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

 

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

 

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

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

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

Effort, Dedication, Achievement: which to recognize, which to celebrate?

If your primary goal in job search is to ‘get hired,’ then every day until you are hired, you will have failed.  (So, how about adjusting your goal?)

This point was first presented to me in a speech by Orville Pierson, author of ‘The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search.’  He emphasized how each day in job search is repeated failure until you are instantly out of job search.   Regardless of how close you may be to receiving an offer, until you accept an offer, you are fully in job search.  After accepting an offer, you are instantly, fully out of job search.

I recall a North American Olympic ice skater who, after receiving a score much lower than what seemed reasonable, was quoted as saying” “That is how it is: If I wanted purely objective scoring, I would have been a speed-skater.”  The fact that success levels would be assigned through a subjective means was a given, and she kept this awareness in her mind.   Similar subjectivity exists in job search, and this is an important fact to keep in mind.

 

Public Domain Image

There are many ways to interpret things. (Public Domain Image)

 

Your effort, dedication, and approach toward finding your next role tells a tale about you.  You may earn certifications, formally volunteer your time, or informally help others, while in job search.  It is your choice whether you recognize these efforts as valid endeavors while you seek your next role.  I’ve had many discussions with people in transition who struggle to accept the value of their efforts.  Although these efforts may not directly get you in front of a hiring manager, they do make you a stronger candidate when you are engaged in an interview.

Having a primary goal such as ‘Making myself better equipped, more valuable, and visible to prospective employers,’ can keep you focussed during your pursuit, and ensures personal recognition of your actions along the way.  Remember that job search completion is reliant, at some level, upon someone else’s judgement.  This is not a clear-cut, objectively scored competition, it is subjective.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

Idea Well Run Dry

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, I felt bad about it but my idea well was dry and feeling bad just dried it up further.  Until I decided to look at the problem from a different angle – there are plenty of times in job search when the well runs dry or threatens to do so.  (Ah-ha I could write about that, although there was a scary moment when I sat down and tried to retrieve this whole thought string and it wasn’t coming back to me.)

 

When job seekers gather they often fall into business buzz speak, so the question of what is in their pipeline is bound to come up.  What prospects are you working on, what might be close, what new things are going in to your pipeline?  All of the activity seems to run in cycles, and sometimes the previous cycle seems to be closing down without anything new coming along.  The well (or pipeline) is getting awfully dry.

thinking

What to do to fill it up again?

 

Just like my idea problem, worrying about the problem just makes it worse.  I have no ideas, why don’t I have any ideas, when am I going to have another idea, I really need to have another idea…  Not exactly productive thinking.  I pushed all of this to the back of my brain, enjoyed the splashes of fall color for a few days and a thought wandered in that dry spells occurred all too frequently when I was in job search and did I remember how I handled them?

 

Obviously nature helps me to reframe my thinking.  A brisk walk is good for a lot of what ails us.  Increased blood flow and a little green therapy create new brain flow.  There might have been leads that come back to mind that you might have intended to follow a bit further, say.

 

Trying something new might get you through the dry spell.  A seminar, networking meeting, informational interview that someone suggested that didn’t spark your interest at first.

 

Setting a challenge for yourself is a good one, I find.  I pick something that is just outside my comfort zone – this is how I went to my first networking event.  Or I have reviewed the way that my most recent prospects came in and pick a method that I haven’t used to find a new prospect.

 

How do you get through a dry spell?

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

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

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.)

CaptureOf_2014_0908

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.

What to Expect in Job Search?

It has been nearly a year since our group started this blog.  Much has happened, and some things have stayed the same.  An anniversary can be a time to reflect, so I am looking back at my first post here and giving it a slightly different twist.

 

People want to inspire when they tell others that life is what you make of it.  Responses run between ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ to the person for whom those words hit just the right spot at the right time.  But it is so common to say and to hear because it is true.  In life and in job search.  Whether we want to hear it or not, whether we embrace it or not.

 

What to expect in job search, then?  Well, we all have to find our own way – sometimes parts of the way can be shared with others and sometimes the way is lonely and challenging.  Good stuff happens, but it can be missed because it isn’t the good stuff we are expecting – that perfect job offer.  Bad stuff happens, plenty of it, and rejection too.  But we each have to find a way around it or through it.

 

Medieval scene of workers (public domain image)

Medieval scene of workers (public domain image)

I’ve been back at work for almost a year now as have some of the friends that I made in my job search groups.  A few are on their second and third jobs in the time frame.  A few are still looking.  A couple are stepping out to do their own thing.  Same root issue, so many different expectations and outcomes.

 

Some people get their new position and close the door to the whole job search experience.  I have found some great new relationships and I want to hold plenty of the things that I experienced and learned close.

 

Have you found what you expected in job search?

 

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

What’s the Hold-Up?

How long does it take to make a decision, anyway?  Don’t they know they have you on pins and needles?  Even in 1999 when the job market was much more in my favor as a job seeker, it took about 3 weeks from first interview until the offer was made.  Not surprising then, that now that the job market is in the favor of the employers – and they have probably already waited too long to fill this position – that it can take 8 or more weeks to get the final thumbs up or down on a position.

 

Why is that?  Let us count some of the ways:

  • Hiring manager doesn’t have the time for the process/doesn’t allow enough time, same with others at the company involved in the hiring process
  • Trouble getting all good candidates scheduled for a stage in the process
  • Definition of the role changes during the process
  • Funding for the position changes during the process
  • Departmental objectives change during the process
  • Issues in other parts of the company affect the process
  • Meetings, vacations, etc. of the team involved in the hiring process
  • Challenges unrelated to hiring come up in the department, taking time away from the process

 

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Big Ben

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Big Ben

I could probably go on, but that isn’t necessary.  Time passes differently for the people at the company who have to carve out time from their regular tasks to attend to the hiring process and you.  Your primary focus is the job search, while filing the position is somewhere down the list for the hiring team.

 

We humans are generally not very good at estimating how long it should take to do a certain activity or task.  (This makes for interesting project management discussions when it comes to estimating time for a whole project, but that is a different topic.)  Add in any anticipation and our ability to estimate is further eroded.

 

Not fun to hear, but the only thing that the job seeker has control over here is how to handle the wait time.  How do you fill the time?

 

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

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.

 

PictureOnly

 

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.

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