Monday, December 29, 2008
Think of it this way, remember being at your desk and working on a spread sheet, a contract or a memo and not being able to tie the numbers, or find the right words? The best thing you could do was walk away right? Go do something totally different, get your mind on something else, like getting a cup of coffee. Then all of a sudden, there it was. The answer you were looking for just pops into your mind. That’s what happened to me today. Because we are all forced to get really good at this landing a job business; thinking about the technicalities of getting networking connections, presenting ourselves correctly, getting those interviews, we may start to lose sight of where we want to go. You know what I mean, the whole finding your passion concept.
So today, I’m jogging along (cool down) and thinking about response to an email from a friend about what is it I want to do and beating myself up for not knowing what I want to do, as opposed to what I don’t want to do. Then Blam! It dawned on me. I thought of a skill that I am not only really good at, but that I also love to do. Wow what a concept! I’ll bet you’re thinking “now there’s the passion.” You got that right. I came home and put it on my “to do” list under update resume and job search, and started to think of other things that got me excited.
Now I’m ready. My list for the New Year is coming together. 1. Update resume highlighting those skills I am good at and enjoy doing. 2 Refresh those job boards with my newly updated resume. 3. Start using those key words in searches and communications. This probably seems so absolutely simple and obvious, but it really wasn’t to me. That’s why I thought it necessary to share on this blog. Just in case I wasn’t the only one who missed the point.
Onward my friends to the fun new challenges of 2009!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The thing is, I know most of us are bored with telling people we’re out of work and the type of position we are looking for (let’s be truthful here, don’t you just want to say “I’ll do anything” sometimes?), but that's where it is. I’ve been taking these couple of weeks off from job hunting. Have to admit that I cheated and applied for a couple of jobs. Just couldn’t seem to keep myself away from the siren call of all those emails from job boards. The hardest thing is to believe that there is that job out there waiting. But you know, we all need to go back to basics. Look this thing will turn around. It just has to. Companies still have growth goals. They are still are in business. Well most of them are. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, they will start becoming aggressive again instead of stuck in fear and reactionary thinking. Then bam we’ll be the best thing since sliced bread again. Meanwhile, they are still hiring. We need to use all that competitive energy that made us good in our jobs and use it to land that perfect job we’re looking for.
Me, I’ve gone back to the gym. Back to basics, right? On top of that, I’m going to clear out a bunch of clutter this weekend, get organized, and then open the windows and air out the place tomorrow. It’s supposed to be in the 60’s where I am. But the thought is to get the positive energy flowing again. It is so important. Time to start refocusing on the job you want, not the jobs you don’t want. It is important initially to go through the jobs you don’t want so you can focus on the ones you really want. For me, it’s beyond time to do that. So folks, that’s my game plan for this week. I plan to bring in the New Year full of energy and hope that 2009 will bring back some normalcy. I am just to bored with myself to do otherwise.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Speaking of which, that leads me to something else. I am giving myself a couple weeks off. Yup, I’ve promised a bunch of people that I will not look for any new jobs till the New Year. This raises an important point. Looking for work is hard. It amounts to constant cold calling and degrees of business development that I never thought I’d ever reach. I got to the point where I told my group that I was just so sick of interviewing. I believe that 2008 was a strange tough year and that I need a chance to let all the lessons land and be absorbed. Look, there’s not much you can do on the job front anyway, and I’ll be able to come up with a better campaign strategy. But hey that’s my advice, but you really should think about it. Just like you needed a vacation while working, you really need one now. Companies don’t give us vacation time out of the goodness of their little corporate hearts. No they do that because they want their workers to continue to be productive. If we want to continue to be productive in our search for the right job, we need time off. Therefore, I’m just focusing on friends, family, parties, cooking and reading good books for a couple of weeks.
On that note, I’m off to the kitchen to make some eggnog.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Anyway, I am really digressing here. I was really having a hard time coming up with something to write. Not only was it because I try very hard to write uplifting things and not add to all the bad news out there, but because there was so much bad stuff happening that I couldn’t seem to get myself to rise above it. Then a couple of things happened.
One of my friends called me to tell me about an experience she had at a networking event and asked that I write something about it on my blog. (Reminding me that people actually read this thing.) Have you all seen her comment? Have you had any similar experiences? A couple of things came to mind in hearing about this experience. First let me explain (if you want the description first hand go down to comments on my last posting) my friend was attending one of those ubiquitous networking events, which are so helpful, but can be rather stressful. She was speaking to this woman and as usually happens brought up the fact that she was out of work and asked if she could give the woman her card. Well, the woman refused to take it. My thoughts on the matter are these: First of all it’s about the other woman, not my friend. To be charitable perhaps she’s got some really bad stuff going on in her life. Secondly, the woman wasn’t too very bright (less charitable I know). We’ve been taught, to put those business cards in two pockets; one for the ones you want to follow up on, and one for those you’ll dump later. It’s a much nicer, smarter, and kinder way to go about things. Plus, people out of work are a very sensitive place right now. Do you know how much strength and courage it takes to go to these things, never mind working out a way to ask for someone’s help? If any of you have further comments on this I would love to see them.
The second thing that happened was I was speaking to a friend who reminded me that he read my blog. This in turn brought back to me the reason behind starting this blog. A lot of us are in our various homes isolated in front of our PC’s. Not only am I trying to increase a sense of community, offer helpful hints and shared experiences, but I am trying mainly to find ways to decrease/diminish that sense of isolation. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are bunches and bunches of people out there just like us and we are valued, experienced workers with a great deal to still accomplish and contribute. There, that’s what it’s all about.
Finally, this morning when I opened my email, I had a recommendation from a boss in my past that just absolutely blew me away. I had requested a recommendation through LinkedIn.com, which is an excellent idea, by the way. The reason I mention this is because not only is it hard to keep up with what’s going on in your industry, the longer you’re out of work, but I find the longer I’m out of work, the harder it is to remember doing a great job and being valuable. Reading this recommendation gave me a sense of purpose again. It was the little jolt I needed to get my tasks done. So along with the advice to take all the business cards, I’ll add writing recommendations is such a good thing.
This brings me to the kitchen and cooking. Now that I’ve finished the tasks on my list, I’m free to go into the kitchen and bake cookies. I have a new lemon cookie recipe I’ve been dying to try…Yummmm. I’ll put Gretchen Wilson’s “I’m here for the party” on my ipod, create lots of good smells and tastes. I sincerely hope you all can find something to make you all as happy as cooking makes me.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Before I forget, here is my process for applying for jobs. I actually created it years ago when I was unemployed, back in the day when you had to mail in a list of jobs you had applied for, just to get your unemployment check. Yes it was a bit more onerous back then, but I think it may have been too bad that they stopped asking for that sheet, because it did force me to actually aggressively seek employment. Anyway, I start the week with a “to do” list, one of the tasks being “apply for ten jobs”. This is helpful in a couple of ways; 1. Keeps you on track of things you mean to do and that’s not always easy. 2. Tends to give you a sense of accomplishment and of control over your life, which may be sadly lacking when you’re out of work. When I’m actually looking to apply for those ten jobs here’s what I do:
1.)Pull up the various job boards and sign in.
2.)Look for “new” postings.
3.)Keep my searches very broad. I find that if you make them too narrow you’re going by the engines definition and not yours and their version misses some great opportunities.
4.)Find a job, print the job description. If you don’t often times it’s lost when you’re transferred to the job site for application and it’s hard to capture correct items in your resume to match the job.
5.)Apply for the job. I usually only fill in the required fields, but it depends on how I’m feeling. I don’t give specific date unless asked for and I never give dates of graduation unless absolutely forced to. It ages you and your degrees, so beware unless you’re right out of school when it might be a good thing.
6.)Then I go to my job search spread sheet: (I was trying to attach here but can't seem to do it. I 'll keep trying or if you send me your email address, I'll mail it to you) and fill in fields.
7.)Finally, I put date I applied on top of job description and file in a folder for that month. This way, when they call you about the job, you simply go to your search sheet, find when you applied for the job, and pull it from the appropriate folder and do so much better on the phone because you know what they are speaking about.
That’s it. You’ll see on the sheet that I’ve also put tabs for recruiters, rejects, and interview notes. Hey it’s nothing more than what you’d do if job hunting was your job right? Wait. That is our job!
Before I finish, let me give you just a few pieces of advice for those of you who have just lost your jobs. Let it land. I don’t care if you hated the job or not, it still hurts. Wait before you make any major decisions. You might want to put together a spreadsheet of your expenses. It helps contain the panic, since it also gives you a sense of control. Finally, get out and get some exercise or do something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, take a deep breath, and remember you’re not alone. You really aren’t. That was the main reason for me beginning this blog. Oh yes, go back and read my earlier blogs.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Today, I was finishing up my job applications for the week, eleven so far, when my phone rang. OMG don’t you know it was the hiring manager for a job I applied for this morning!! Part of me was incredibly excited. After all it is a job really well suited to me. However, my other reaction was sfd!!! Just, when I’d managed to get myself into a place where I was OK with spending the rest of the year not expecting anything, they come along and get me all excited with hopes up again. The moral of this is, this job hunting business is not for the faint hearted. Oh boy isn’t that ever a true statement. Chins up everyone. I know I’ve said this before, but it only takes one yes. You just never know when it will come and you can’t win if you don’t play.
This year is so bleak that it’s almost funny in a kind of macabre way. If one tends toward dark humor, boy is this the year for it. Monday, I was sitting on my couch reading the paper (I know, I’m totally addicted), listening to the “Today Show”, when I realize that NBC is doing a piece on how the environment is being destroyed; drought in Australia, destruction of the barrier reef in some islands and melting of glaciers and resulting lack of water. All of a sudden, I was furious with NBC. I’m sure they’ve had this scheduled for a while and I did calm down before I placed any harassing phone calls. All I could think of was how about they give us a little light at the end of the tunnel? With everything else going on, they run this piece now? They did seem to cut it short over the week, so maybe some other poor souls did make the calls. After this I went to a networking session where we were given the advice to just network and not worry about applying for jobs. I came home and poured myself a glass of scotch that night. Then, the market dropped 900 points. Companies were announcing layoffs right and left. Holy Moly, even a Pollyanna like me has a really hard time keeping my spirits up. That’s when I came to the conclusion that it’s time for a holiday. It’s time for a holiday from everything. So what if you gain a few pounds. Those job opportunities will be there when you get back, believe me.
It is Thanksgiving next week, my favorite holiday of the whole year. Get together with friends and family, and eat all you want of favorite foods. Be there for them and let them be there for you. How can it get better than that?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Friday, November 14, 2008
I don’t know if anyone else is seeing this, but it seems to me lately that the people who are working are much more unhappy then those of us who aren’t. Maybe it’s just me. I do seem to have a hard time regretting the fact that I don’t have to set my alarm or that I’m not surrounded by stressed out people. I do think it is all in the mindset. It has always been my contention that I control how I view things and that things don’t happen to me, but that they are a result of some decision I’ve made in the past. I guess I just don’t like to feel helpless. I am mind you, the person who quit smoking because no inanimate object was going to make me go out in the middle of the night, putting my life at risk (this was after all NY in the 80’s). Oh no, not me!
Something happened the other day that made me realize that it’s not about me. I had stopped going to this nail salon because the owner always asked me in a hushed voice, “Have you found a job yet?” This is on top of all the old ladies in my building who are praying for me. Anyway, I went to the nail salon last Monday. (I was getting to look a bit wooly if you know what I mean) I was the only customer the whole two hours I was there! She did ask me the question, but with a quite different tone. I asked her if business was bad and she just nodded her head. That’s when it dawned on me. It’s not all about me or about us unemployed. Everyone’s getting hit in one way or another. I do kind of feel that it is our responsibly, as humans, to keep putting good energy out in the universe and to try to support others. It does make you feel good you know. By the way, I also feed the birds.
Speaking of those of us who happen to remember life in the 80’s, I found a couple of web sites in the local paper the other day. These websites are targeted at people over 50. That being said, just because these companies are 50 friendly, doesn’t mean that others can’t use them. Here they are: www.retirementjobs.com and www.retireeworkforce.com. I found jobs to apply for in both of them. Good jobs mind you.
As I was googling this blog, just to see how hard it was to find, I came across this other website. http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed. It appears to be a little of what I’m trying to do on my blog. I’m including it because I think the more advice the better. Anyway, feed the birds or feed the positive wolf, but do try to have a good weekend.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Don’t know about the rest of you, but I have had the hardest time focusing on anything else, but the election, the last week or so. Between checking on the market every 15 minutes and toggling to Realcearpolitics.com to check the polls, it’s amazing I’ve applied for any jobs at all. Here’s the good news, in the last week I’ve noticed a real up-tick in the amount of new jobs posted.
Here’s the bad news, if some people used to be mean and nasty before, guess what? They’re really letting their inner b#@ch flow now. I heard from two friends today about being given gratuitous, mean feedback. I’ve had my fair share of it as well. I remember at an interview in June where the interviewer yelled at me across the desk because he didn’t agree with my expert opinion on a part of the business. People asked me why I didn’t just get up and leave. It’s like you really relate to that deer in the headlights. Part of you just can’t believe the other person is acting that way. How does one react in situations like this? It depends. Me, I laughed and said thank God I found out then what a jerk he was rather than going to work there and then filed it away for when I finally write that book. I do firmly believe that we, ourselves, govern how we feel and how we internalize this feedback. Maybe it’s my inner b#@ch, but I’ll be darned if I’ll let this other person govern how I feel about myself. It is hard when you’re daily trying to keep up your confidence level, but don’t let the idiot buggers win! That’s what I believe!
OK, got that off my chest. Now, how about some suggestions for things one can do to further the search.
1. Apply for jobs: Here are some good websites to visit that I’ve found rather good at getting interviews: www.careerbuilder.com, www.indeed.com, www.linkedin.com. Please remember to be careful about personal details in resume when you post and it’s always a good idea to update your resume monthly. That way it pushes your resume to the top of the list for searching companies. I try my hardest to apply for at least ten jobs a week. I also print a copy of the job description, date it, and file it. I then put in on a spread sheet. This way when they call to set up an interview, you can remember what job was all about and what the requirments were. The spreadsheet helps you remember where you filled the job description and keeps you on track in your job search.
2. Network, network, network: The thing is, it may be embarrassing to tell people you’re out of work, but they can’t help you if they don’t know you need help. Plus there are so many people out there now, that it's almost like you're joining a club. The linkedin.com website is great for tracking down old friends and colleagues and asking for information on that company you’re interested in, for recommendations, or for just keeping your industry knowledge up to date. Other things that you can do are: toastmasters, your alumni association meetings, join clubs etc.
3. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to have a fall back. Things are kind of dicey right now and so maybe you will have to do something that you’re not thrilled about. It’s not going to be for life, believe me.
If while reading this you come up with other ideas, please send them to me and I’ll post them. I really do believe things will get better and that we are living in interesting times. I know, I know there’s a curse like that; “May you live in interesting times.” Me, I love interesting times. Looking back you usually find that, that’s when you were really conscious of living.
Friday, October 24, 2008
That being said, it is true that getting enough sleep is very helpful. In so many ways sleep can help you; to lose weight, to win a deal, or just to get up and get going. I know it’s not always easy to get to sleep, believe me. There are things you can do. Besides taking Tylenol PM, you can not eat right before you sleep, read or watch something boring or comforting. Whatever you do, just do something. It is really worth it.
With this new burst of positive energy, yesterday I actually reached out to some people for networking opportunities. Everyone will tell you, you have got to network. Now mind you, I have been doing some of this already, but not thinking of it as “networking”. For some reason the word “networking” just makes me cringe. But I do know it is really important to keep in contact with as many people as possible. This will not only lead to possible job opportunities, but also keeps you in touch with what’s going on in your industry and can lead to something you are really interested in and that you hadn’t thought about before. My advice to everyone is just email or get on the phone with colleagues, vendors, and clients and just touch base. Plus a friend said to me the other day that people would like to be in a position to help you. It gives most people pleasure to provide support and encouragement. I mean if they like or admire you. I wouldn’t reach out to those people you didn’t get along with. I know, enough said.
I’ll leave you with these tips I found in the NAFE newsletter (feed the positive wolf)
5 Tips for Staying UP in a Down Economy
Dana Lightman, Ph.D., is a national keynote speaker and trainer, expert on positivity, author and creator of POWER Optimism – strategies to create the outcome you want, regardless of the circumstance.
Dana says: You tune in to the economic news, and it’s practically impossible not to have some gut-clenching response. The fact is, there’s not much you can do to change the current economic circumstances. But there’s a lot you can do to maintain your own professional equilibrium in the face of increased business stressors. And once you are on an even keel, you can use these same tips to bolster your staff.
#1 Don’t feed the negative. A Cherokee chief, teaching his grandson about life, explains that we all battle two wolves. One is negative, filled with anger, self-pity and self-doubt. The other is positive, filled with joy, hope, and trust. His grandson listens carefully and then asks, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replies, “The one you feed.” Stop feeding your negative wolf with complaints, worries, negative talk, and excessive media. Even if you can’t feel positive, don’t let your negative wolf put you on a downward spiral.#2 Take a step back. You are taking a photograph. When you have the lens on zoom, it’s easy to focus solely on your subject. Conversely, if you step back far enough, your subject becomes one small part of a larger landscape. It’s the same principle with maintaining an upward spiral. You may need to zoom in on a particular problem or stressor in order to develop a solution. But don’t keep your focus there. Remember to take a step back to see a bigger picture. Put your problem in the context of positive aspects and it ceases to dominate your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You are now free to experience a sense of relief and perhaps serenity.#3 Keep breathing. No one knows how this economic crisis will evolve and resolve, but most experts agree that there is no quick fix. Staying fearful and anxious only serves to increase your distress, which may even escalate into more severe physical and mental symptoms. Instead, you can choose to relax and stay calm. Practice yoga, meditation or other relaxation techniques. Take deep, cleansing breaths and center yourself. This is a great way to increase your resiliency.#4 Focus on today. The past is the past, the future is the future, but the present is a gift. Life can only be lived in the present moment. So take time to create a positive intention for your day. You may even want to break your day into different segments and visualize successful outcomes for each. Plan activities and take actions that will put you on an upward spiral. In this way, you are feeding your positive wolf!#5 Reframe difficulties into gains. You are likely to face some business difficulties as a result of the current economic uncertainties. While this can be troublesome, within every difficulty lies the potential for gain. Think about past problems or disappointments and the gains that emerged over time in handling those situations. Now, imagine the possible benefits that you may derive from your current difficulties. For example, in searching for solutions, you may discover some hidden talents among your staff or less expensive yet effective marketing tools. By focusing on these potential gains, you are creating the momentum you need to keep you inspired and energized.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
A bunch of us were talking today about how important it was towards landing a job if one allowed that passion for the position to come through. I remember as a manager we used to talk a lot about “high skill vs. high will” and I always would prefer the low skill/high will person rather than the opposite. There’s the passion, which leads you to gathering the skills, but the other way around doesn’t quite have the same effect. I really don’t think this only affects those of us who aren’t currently employed. In fact, I believe, this is one of the main reasons; I’m not working right now. Of course, that could be just another justification for my situation, but it is a thought.
I do believe, I am not the only one going through this thought process right now. You don’t have to be my age. I remember I started my second career at 33. It was such an exciting time. I had spent over ten years in non-profit and felt I could do anything. I was in school getting my MBA and, at the same time, interviewing to become an intelligence officer. I seem to remember spending a lot of time, when I was alone, singing the sound track to the “Sound of Music.” My dream was to live and work outside the US. Guess what? It took me a few years, but I did live my dream and it was exhilarating! Now what?
The first step in “now what” is to start the juices flowing again. Knowing that no matter what your age is, it is OK to dream. This may mean, depending on your circumstances, taking a job you’re not real crazy about, but if it leads you closer to your dream, or adds pieces needed to get there, then it will bring back the passion toward taking on that position. It may also mean for some of us, to take the risk of being disappointed again. For some of us it’s going to Sanibel Island for six weeks, for others it’s staying home to see our kids grow up, or maybe contributing towards a bigger good, like ending famine or finding a cure for a disease. What ever it is, it’s a destination. Without it, it’s like riding the train and getting off at a station and saying “Why am I here?” You can do that for a while, but after a few times you start to wonder if you’ve been there before and why do you keep getting up and going here. Hmm, sound familiar anyone?
I think I’ve said enough for today. With the risk of sound corny or like something out of an old TV show, know this; it isn’t just the dream that counts, but the journey towards that dream that is so wonderful.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
1. It gets me out of the house! One of the very first things I did when I was no longer working, was to get a gym membership. It was actually the second thing I did on the day I had to "leave the building", my former employer's building that is, the first being getting a blackberry. The gym I joined costs $10 a month! It's filled with warmth and people of all shapes a sizes, and it's a place for me to go, where I see people and do things that make me feel good. Which brings me to reason #2.
2. The endorphins! Oh my oh my, when they kick in you feel like you can do anything and worries do tend to drop back. Plus I've found that I have to constantly increase my exercise levels to get the endorphins flowing which leads me to my main and third reason.
3. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Some days just going there is an accomplishment. Hey listen everybody, we all need to feel like we're accomplishing something. This certainly does not only apply to those of us who aren't working. One thing that I've always believed is that we need to find ways to feel we are accomplishing something and to reward ourselves.
Others that I've spoke with find other things that basically give them something to focus on, to get a sense of accomplishment. Some play with their kids or grand kids, which I can really understand. The other day I was walking by the fountain in my neighborhood and this little boy was splashing his hand in it and just laughing up a storm. Made me laugh too. Just put a whole different perspective on the day. Others volunteer or participate on boards. Me, in addition to the gym, I cook. I've learned to make all these really delicious meals from scratch, all the while playing my ipod in speaker and singing at the top of my lungs, just chopping and stirring away. By the way, I've also lost 20lbs and controlled my blood pressure without meds for the first time in six years.
Getting back to focusing. Years ago I managed a telemarketing department that was outsourced. My whole group was displaced. (Don't you just love the terminology, displacement, made redundant, yeesh) I remember sitting through many one-on-ones with my team leaders and getting them to focus on the now. If you only think about the future it tends to be really scary. I know I have my daily "to do "list. While my computer is booting up , cup of coffee at elbow, I make out this list of things I will focus on TODAY! Because, you know what, tomorrow will come no matter what we do, and if we don't focus on today we will have even less influence on the outcome. Those are my words of wisdom for today.
Cheers folks and in the words of Macy Gray, "Get up, get up and do something. Don't let your life pass you by."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Yesterday I was rejected for a position that I really really wanted. WORDS OF WISDOM: Don't let yourself get too attached to any lead or potential position! Don't! The reasons are many, but primarily because when you get rejected, it really nails you. It throws you completely off stride.
And so this brings me to my reason(s) for starting the blog today.
On my way to the gym (we'll get to that at another point under ways to keep spirits up) I started thinking about all those people who are out of work and dealing with the myriad of feelings that goes with it, and don't have support groups, teachers, and mentors like I have with the Right Management Group. What happens to them? How do they find advise or simply a place to go where people are in the same situation or provide advise? That's why I decided to start the blog today. I hope eventually it gets out to some of those people and they can use it and/or me to bounce ideas off of, or to simply get a good laugh at some of the goofy situations I get myself into.
Now everyone, please be patient. I know I'll get better at this, but you've gotta give me a little time. I'll figure out how you can get questions and comments to me, but first I have to finish setting this puppy up and post it before I chicken out.