Archive for the ‘tough times’ Category

A word about the upcoming elections

October 28, 2014

We are a week away from the 2014 mid-term elections, and whatever state you call home has political action in the air.  On TV, on radio, in the newspaper, and in your mailbox are messages urging you to vote for someone or other.

In my home state in Maryland, we are electing a governor and a full slate of local representatives.

Lies!  Deception!  Distortion!  Exaggeration! What’s a voter to do?

What I do is think carefully about issues that really matter to me and then dig for the truth.  It’s not quite as simple as voting a straight party line, but that is a start.

Here’s the important thing:  take a stand, then show up and vote.  I hate the thought that we are governed by people elected by a tiny number of voters.  The rest of you?  Please care about something enough to do an imperfect job of research, show up,  and vote.

See you at the polls.  Please.

The job of jobhunting (4)

September 9, 2014

The fourth element of the jobhunter’s day is one which can draw on the activities of the three previously-discussed realms.  I refer to your social activities.

Social needs no definition.  It is that people stuff.  Networking.  You are supposed to do it, many of you love it, most of you fight it.

This is the realm of truth-in-cliche: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

You can become better connected, starting today.  Improving your people quotient really must be part of every job seeker’s day.

Go where the interesting people are.  That might be in a class, at a coffee shop, at a clean-up-the-park day, at the gym.  Or at the pool or your back alley.  Meet someone new or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in some time.  Just once a day.  

Actually, social activities can permeate the entire day of the successful job seeker.  As you are reading up on happenings in your field, you could be reminded of someone you know who would like to read this article.  Contact that person now!

As you are filling out a job application, you might think of that casual acquaintance who works at that firm.  You could contact him or her and ask a question.

There is little room for depression or inactivity in the life of a job seeker.  You’re so busy preparing for the new opportunity (yet to be determined, I know), that after all that conventional activity, the academic research, the creative projects and the socializing, that you will realize that you have taken steps on the structured path toward tomorrow.  Your knowledge, your availability, your involvement and your network will support you and make you a keen candidate for that next opportunity.

Here’s a final thought from Harper Lee:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

So how are you spending today?





The job of jobhunting (2)

August 30, 2014

How do you spend your time when you are unemployed?  In a previous post,  I reviewed the conventional techniques (job listings, online bulletin boards, classified ads, a resume honed to perfection) that should occupy a portion of your day.

What about the academic tasks that can nudge you on your way to a more successful outcome than you have had before?

Please don’t make that immediate link between academic and going back to school.  I’m all for keeping your education current.  Finishing (or starting) that degree is great, but not a guaranteed ticket to success.

I’m thinking of academic in the sense of reading/studying/learning more about your chosen path.  Here are a few options:

  • websites of companies or associations you are drawn to,
  • YouTube segments of presentations by leaders you admire,
  • newspaper or journal articles,
  • books written by superstars in your field,
  • TV specials or documentaries about your area of interest.

Does academic suggest that you take notes?  I hope so!  You will need to remember a few impressive points you gleaned from your research. You could dedicate a special notebook or a file on your laptop to this targeted note-taking.

You will need these fresh ideas and facts to make sure your resume is relevant to the positions you seek.  And you will have wonderful nuggets to share in interviews.  Let your conversations reflect your learning.

An hour a day on academics will keep you informed and inspired as you go about your job search.  I invite any reader who has gained knowledge through research to share a suggestion or two about keeping up to date.


The Job of Jobhunting

August 29, 2014

If you are looking for work, what does your current workday look like?  How do you spend your time?

I want to suggest something I’ve learned after listening to hundreds of people who were searching.

Think about a combination of conventional, academiccreative, and social approaches.


What is the conventional element of the job search?

It is what you already know.  Job listings, employment services, headhunters, classified ads.  These conventional techniques have worked for a long time and they will continue to be effective.  Most people will acknowledge that they have gotten at least one job this way.  I know I have.  Find an ad that sort-of-kind-of matches your experience, submit a resume, and wait for a phone call. Sometimes it works.  So please continue to put some time into conventional job search techniques.  I’d suggest an hour or two a day at the most.

But wait!  It doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t always produce a great work opportunity for you.  I’ll be exploring other elements of the job search in the next few postings, so stay tuned.

What have you been doing this summer?

July 29, 2014

The question is not just for kids.

It’s not only a written exercise for the first day of school.

It’s for you – for your upcoming job interview.

Reading, volunteering on stream clean-up in your neighborhood, making sandwiches for the shelter.  Canning peaches.  Brushing up on your Spanish.

Looking for a job.

How do you phrase it?

Not –  I’ve been on a number of job interviews.

Rather – I’ve been speaking with some fascinating people about work possibilities, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.  

Then, of course, you’ll have to be ready to share what you have learned.

Now let’s try it – What have you been doing this summer?

The job search must go on …

July 24, 2014

Job hunters – how on earth do you do it?

Planes are being shot down or just plain disappearing.  War, terrorist threats, and nasty politics are all around.  Fresh summer fruits are being recalled and discarded because of a threat of listeria.

And you are asked to get dressed professionally, go forth, and sell yourself, while tv news, the morning paper, and your favorite news websites, are screaming unending disaster.

I wonder if any job seeker is being asked questions about coping in the summer of 2014. Such questions might sound like this:

  • Thank you for coming in this morning.  Did you hear the latest news?
  • Did you hear about the food recall in our major supermarkets?
  • You didn’t have any overseas travel plans this summer, did you?

If this happens to you, how will you respond?   I know what I hope I would say.

It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the troubles of today.  But I try to focus on what I can do, and that includes sharing my skills and experience.

I am indebted to (experienced writer and new blogger) Paul Roberts Abernathy for an excellent take on the need to summon forth optimism in these troubled times.  If you would like a shot of perspective that is expressed far better than I can say, I suggest you follow the link.  Thanks, Paul, and welcome to wordpress blogdom.

You are invited…

January 5, 2014

Happy New Year!  If your resolutions include keeping yourself up to date in the latest job hunting techniques, I can help you meet that goal for January. Times are still tough, competition remains stiff for good positions, and you need contemporary ideas for your resume.

On January 16, 2014, I’ll be at the Prince Frederick library (Calvert County, MD) for an afternoon of exploring resumes for the digital age.  From 2:00 to 3:30, you can pose a question or two, share a concern, and learn a few tips about bringing your resume into the 21st century. I’ll share strategies that are featured in my e-book, Reflections on Resumes: Taking a Second Look.

I’m putting together some information for the workshop, so if you are planning to attend and you have a concern about your resume, let me know in advance and I will address it.

If you have a question about location or directions, you can contact the library at (410) 535-0291 or (301) 855-1862.

More on this later…

Resolved …. Goals for the new year

December 30, 2013

Resolution #3: Set goals for the new year.

Remember SMART goals?  You may have encountered this phrase in management classes or on the job training.  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  (I’d give attribution here, but I have no idea from whom this has been lifted.)

I’m not quite clever enough to work in fun and variety into Smart.  So how about this ?

FAVES,  as in my favorite things.  Fun, Attainable, Varied, Enterprising. and Social.

What if the pursuit of a goal were fun?  Like a rendez-vous with a friend or a trip to the theater.  Or a new volunteer job as an usher.  Think about whom you would meet!

What if the goal were attainable?  Not getting skinny, but down 10 pounds by spring.

What if the goals were varied?  A walk or a swim or a workout DVD or gardening every day.

What about enterprising?  Drafting more effective status updates on social media and doing them more often.  Writing a book or movie review.  Offering to tutor some students in a subject  that you happen to know.

What about Social?  For some, that’s the easy part, for others it is a headache.  But for all, it is an essential skill for a successful person.  Be in touch.  This was discussed more fully in Resolution #1, a posting two days ago.

Somewhere in the FAVES goal is something you won’t mind working on.  Do it.  And have fun becoming a more effective job hunter.

Have these three goals in a series been helpful to you?  Have you found something you can engage in during the new year?  I hope so, and I hope you will post a comment about changes you are making.

Meanwhile, I wish you a wildly joyous and exciting new year, doing more of what you love to do (yes, even on the job).  I’m planning to be busy, productive, and happy in 2014.  Join me!

Resolved … Give!

December 27, 2013

Resolution #2:  

Give information:

  • I’m linking you to an article that reminded me of our last conversation.  Hope you like it.
  • Here’s the name of the customer service rep for the restaurant chain.  She’d love to hear from you.
  • Have you read this book on networking?  It is filled with some new ideas.

Give support:

  • How are your kids doing?  I know the holidays can be rough when someone is unemployed.
  • I have an extra ticket to the show.  Would you be free to join me?
  • You’ve survived the first month on the job!  How do things look now?

Give recognition:

  • You were the first person who complimented me on my writing.  I’ve always appreciated that feedback.
  • You gave me a second chance after I acted really unprofessionally.
  • I know you had a hand in planning this presentation.  All the details were taken care of, leaving us free to focus on the content.

Watch for the third and final resolution in this series, which can help you approach your 2014 job search a bit more focused, a lot more effective.

Resolved … for 2014

December 26, 2013

Are you looking for a job?  Are you looking for a career shift?  Read on…

As a career counselor for many years (I’m embarrassed to say how many), I have heard success stories that center around a few ideas that would make productive New Year’s Resolutions for you.  This series of three will be completed by January 1 so you will be ready to approach your job quest with a few specific goals in mind.

Resolution #1:  Keep in touch.

This includes the nice people you used to work with, courteous people who interviewed you and chose someone else, former neighbors, your second cousins, the former dog walker, the dental hygienist, a favorite professor.

The beginning of the year is a great way to get in contact once again.  A note or a call that begins “I’m taking advantage of the new year to get in touch, find out what you are doing these days, and (I hope) get together sometime soon.  Are you free for lunch on Friday?”

Please don’t turn this meeting into a monologue about yourself and what you are looking for.  That contact will feel used and abused.  You are to listen more than you speak.  You are truthfully just catching up.  You might remember to share a positive memory of your previous encounters.

Will it be productive?  Hard to say, much too early to say.  And not everyone will want to have lunch or coffee with you.  But some will, and you will have taken steps to turn yourself into a more effective networker.

Read this blog tomorrow to learn about Resolution #2.