Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts for Re-launch

Things really started to come together today at the gym. When I run on the treadmill, I push it to the extent that I can’t focus on anything besides my breathing and not falling down. As a matter of fact, I’ve been encountering a real lack of focus lately, so this “feels” really much better than it sounds. As I’ve written before, I’ve been taking a brief hiatus from my campaign to re-launch my career. It’s been a struggle to not apply for jobs and to go to all those job boards and search for possible leads. Why? Because there is a certain routine to doing those type things that can be quite comforting. But listen to this. Listen! Taking time off was a really, really good idea.

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

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me, or is this being out of work just become plum old? I realized that I hadn’t posted anything in my blog last night. I’ve been writing to an old friend and it made me realize that, those type of thoughts were more interesting. It may also have something to do with the fact that my brother asked if I could maybe write about something else. Hmm?

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

Isn't It Amazing

Lot’s of things are amazing I know. It’s the holidays, it’s snowing, they’re bailing out Detroit, but no what I’m referring to is the internet. You all are probably starting at this with a combination of “Duh” and “what is she smoking?” More specifically I’m referring to all the applications that have come through the internet and the implications on society, never mind our lives. In particular I’m talking about all the networking sites. All of you who are out of work have heard from all quarters at this point that we must network and therefore we have all become quite proficient with sites like I know I’ve become connected with people I worked with 20 years ago! You have to be careful or it starts to suck you in, but there is real value. Recently my favorite boss ever wrote me a recommendation and a former client did too. Then a former co-worker who now owns his own company re-connected. Maybe something will come out of it, or maybe not. You never know where things will lead.

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

Whatever it takes to get through the day..

Hey, the way I reward myself is by getting to go in the kitchen and cook. That’s me and the reason I’m bringing this up is because this is a strange time of year, at the end of a very strange year. Always makes me think of the “Designing Women” episode where they’re sitting around talking about cards and one of the characters complains about the Hallmark commercials. You know, how they make you feel your life should be like that and because it isn’t you feel even worse. Well, I say focus on the things that do make you feel good and the Heck with Hallmark instead of Deck the Halls.

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, 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

Hmm, What a Conundrum

You know I’m known as the Queen of job applications. I have this whole process I follow, which I’ll go into later, but sometimes even I can’t seem to find any jobs to apply for. We were talking about this in my networking group early this week. Is it a matter of there truly being fewer jobs to apply for (nowadays that’s always an issue) or is it, for some reason, in your mind? Does one feel like the all the jobs are, mind numbing, eyes rolling back in the head boring, or like you’d rather live out of your car, than do these jobs? Perhaps, you might feel like you’re not qualified. I especially liked the ad for Lifetime network operations that required the ability to write in English and Korean, for crying out loud! You really do need to put yourself in a certain place. I know I am having a really hard time doing that this week. I’ve only applied for three jobs so far, and one of those was from a company that approached me. On that point, it is worthwhile to post your resume on I’ve been approached by employers mostly from that website. With all that being said, why was I able to find fifteen jobs to apply for one week in November? You know there weren’t a whole heck of a lot of jobs then either. I think the answer is, you have to continue to be creative about how you go about seeking positions. If you continue down the same paths, day after day, they get pretty boring and you start to see more jobs that you aren’t really interested in. I find ideas on how to approach the application process from my local newspaper, “Tools help seniors on job hunt”, in “The Economist”, and even in the, dare I say it, printed version of the “New York Times”. I also put places like Omaha, Charleston, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago in my search engines to see if there are more opportunities in those cities. I realize not everyone can relocate, but it’s a thought just to shake things up a little and to get other ideas when you feel like you’re running dry.

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.