Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! This weekend we celebrate the 4th of July, the day that the United States declared independence from England. We’ll have barbeque and fireworks. Bands will play and families will gather. A great American holiday. Hopefully, we’ll also take some time to reflect.  If it were not for the women and men of our Armed Forces, we wouldn’t be celebrating Independence Day.  If not for their sacrifices, and their willingness, when necessary, to give their lives for our freedoms, we would live in a very different county. If you are member for our Armed Forces, a veteran, or a family member, thank you for your sacrifice. We can never adequately repay that debt.

But, many can also to celebrate independence from more than just England.  Maybe you’ve broken the grip of chemical dependency.  Maybe you’ve left a toxic relationship, or a really bad job.  Maybe you’ve finished your formal education (at least for now) or maybe your last child has moved out of the house, and you are an empty-nester.  Independence is phenomenal. The ability to do what we want, when we want it is one of the greatest gifts you can be given.  An effective job search can help you find the right job and that job might put you one step closer to independence.

But, with independence, comes responsibility, to assist those who have not yet achieved independence.  Look around you and find those that need your help.  I believe it is that willingness to help others that has made our country great and will continue to propel us into the future.

Enjoy Independence Day, for whatever you are now independent of.  If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


First Impressions

First, on this Memorial Day weekend, if you are member or veteran of our armed forces, please let me thank you for your service. I would not be able to ejnoy the life I lead, without your dedication and service. Thank you.

Now, I will bet that when you were very young your mother told you more than once, “You only have one chance to make a first impression – don’t blow it.” She was right, but she probably didn’t know how right she was.

Neuroscience has confirmed that we make first impressions within milliseconds, and those impressions are hard to change.  Think about it. As our ancestors were living in caves and struggling for survival every day.  They didn’t have time to interview every new person they met to decide if they should fight or flee. They developed the mental processes to immediately assess if this was someone they liked, or disliked, so they could react and keep their family safe.  We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have much of that caveman brain.

When you meet a new person, the way that they perceive you in the first few seconds will have a huge impact on their impressions of you.  It is even true on the telephone.  Scientists have found that just by how you say hello tells the caller a lot about you, including your trustworthiness.

If you really want to stretch your mind, watch this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy . If you’ve seen this before, watch it again. The power of body language is incredible and should not be ignored.  Match her advice with this.  (Sorry but I’m going to sound like your mother again).  When you go for a networking meeting or an interview make sure you are neat, clean, well-groomed and appropriately dressed.  Before you walk into the room, follow Dr. Cuddy’s advice.  Then, stand up straight, put your shoulders back, put a smile on your face, look them in the eye, say “hello” in a clear, confident voice and offer them a firm handshake (when we’re able to do that again).  If you can do those things, the rest of the interview will go much better.  If you are rumpled, smell bad, look at the ground, mumble a greeting and offer a limp handshake, then pack up your resume and head for the door.

Regardless of your circumstances, skills, formal training, what-have-you, you can be confident that you are unique. You are a person of value and a child of God.  You have worth, you can contribute, you can learn, and you can be a positive force for good in your community.  You may or may not be ready to be the next CEO, but you can be successful in whatever job you are applying for. If you believe it, they will too.

Your dream job is out there and waiting for you. Don’t let the first few seconds of your interview block your dream.  Make a good first impression.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


The Job Club

You know, job search can be lonely.  Day after day you are applying for jobs and searching the net. Hopefully, you are networking and meeting people, but those people, at least for now, aren’t people that you know personally, and you can’t really share your fears and frustrations with them.  You need people you can talk to.  Enter, the job club.

In my book, Bob visits the Lakeview Job Club offered through a local church. There he talks with a group of other people who are also looking for jobs. They share leads and success stories. But more importantly, those people get it. They provide community.  They know how Bob’s feeling and the struggles he is facing, because they are facing them too.  He has a support group which he comes to truly value.

Job clubs are usually led by someone with some experience in job search who can also give advice on resumes and tactics.  In a recent blog post Nadine  writes about a phenomenal program she stumbled across that was a job club and job training program online.

If you are looking for a job club, the US Department of Labor wants to help.  Their CareerOneStop website has some great tools to find local services to assist your job search. The Job Club Finder lets you search for job clubs in your local area and provides contact information. The site can also direct you to local community colleges, libraries, and more.

You don’t have to be alone during your job search.  Find a job club, and if there is not one in your area, start one.  I guarantee there is a need, and most likely a local HR professional who can help you get things rolling.  If you are struggling with your job search, this can also help  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


And so was Albert Einstein (or Maybe it was Jane Fulton)

In my last post I quoted Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  I support this idea and believe you need to believe in yourself and go forth with confidence. But, I suspect that some readers might have felt “Yeah, right, six months ago I would have believed you, but now I’m not so sure.” 

I hear that.  I once had to look for 13 months to find a job. So let me suggest another famous quotation.  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  This quote is widely attributed to Albert Einstein, but according to this site the author Rita May Brown originated the line in a novel. Regardless of the source, I believe it to be a true statement.

If your job search seems to be going on and on, and you are not having much success, you need to do something differently. Spend some time volunteering so that in addition to doing good work and clearing you head, you can meet some new networking contacts.  Take a course at the local community college to learn some new skills and meet new people. Consider looking in a different geographical area.  Get a part-time job working retail to give yourself something to do, make some money, and meet new people. Spend more time with your family. Whatever – just change things up.

Sometimes, you get so focused on your search that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Take a step back to examine and alter your process.  Maybe you need to change your goal, or maybe you just need to go about it in a different way. The economy is coming back.  Soon it is quite possible that there will be more jobs than people who want to fill those jobs.  You will find one, and while it might not be the perfect one, it may be the change you need to help you take the next step forward in your career. 

Life does not often follow a straight line.  One of my friends likes to say, “Man plans and God laughs.” None of us can predict the future.  We know what we want to happen, but it usually doesn’t turn out exactly that way.  If you a struggling, change things up. Do something different for a while.  Alter your search process.  Look in in different places.  Hopefully, change is what you need to get things moving in the right direction.

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Henry Ford was Right!

It can be difficult to be unemployed and to find a new job.  It is hard, frustrating work. You have to put yourself out there, swallow your pride, ask for help and take rejection – a lot.  You have to sell yourself.  You have to talk to strangers.  You have to make looking for a job a full-time job in itself.  How’s that for a depressing way to open a blog post?

But, people do it every day.  You have probably done it more than once already. There are lots of harder things you have done and will do in your life.  While challenging, the job search can also be a great learning experience, and if you do it right, you’ll come out at the other end with not just a new job, but with step up in your career, a number of new network contacts, and hopefully you’ll even learn something about yourself.  You will know that you stepped up, met the challenge, and were successful.  To sound like Polly-Anna, every cloud has silver lining.

I enjoy words.  I love songs more for the lyrics than the melodies.  I like to hear how someone can turn a phrase and make a complex idea simple, or provide that brief shot of motivation.  One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford.  Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” This quote is all about attitude and confidence.

Looking for a job can be hard work, and if you get up each day thinking, “I can’t do this – I’ll never find a job – no one wants to hire me,” then Ford would say “you’re right,” and you should probably go back to bed.   But the fact is, you’re wrong.  There are jobs. You have skills, and you can learn new ones. There are people who are willing to help you.  The opportunity is there for success.  Grab it!

But it starts with you. Think, “I can.”

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Meet Cherise

I’d like you to meet Cherise, a new character in this edition of the book.  Like Bob, Cherise is a jobseeker, but Cherise has zeroed in on her dream job.  Its’ the perfect job, at the perfect company.  She feels like she’s been preparing for this job her whole life.  She even gets to be one of two final candidates and nails the interview.

Then … they offer the job to the other candidate.  Cherise is beyond disappointed.  She’s devastated.  Crushed.  She says that she is not sure she can even get out of bed.  Why even bother looking for another job?  What will everyone think?

From my sidewalk-psychologist’s chair, I believe that Cherise has allowed her self-identity to be consumed by her job and her career.  In this state, she might label herself as an unemployed woman, rather than as a woman who is currently unemployed.

Bob tries to help because he knows that Cherise is wrong.  She will get up tomorrow, take a shower, get dressed, and get to work finding a job.  She will continue to care for her family.  She is more than her job.  She is a bright, talented individual, and while she thought that job was perfect for her, someone else disagreed.  It wasn’t that she was an awful person whom they hated.  They simply made a business decision that they felt the other candidate was the best one for them.  In the long run, they may learn that they made the wrong decision, but by then, Cherise will have a new job, that she loves and life will go on.

Remember, you are not your job.  Jobs are important because they provide the income we need to live our lives in the manner that we choose, but we are so more than what we do to earn a living.  In one of my favorite poems, Desiderata, Max Ehrmann writes, “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

If you need some help, read this.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 1

Looking back – wow!  Its hard to believe that 2015 is over.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on this year – the good and the bad.  For me, this was a good year professionally.  It was a good year educationally as I’ve finished my coursework and begun working on my PhD dissertation.  I can celebrate having a wonderful and supportive family.  That family celebrated the life of my father who passed away in May.  My respect for him and the impact he made on so many people’s lives continues to grow.  Editorially, I’m Fired came out in print and for the second consecutive year over 1,000 people visited the website.  If you are one of those people, thank you.  I can confidently say I am a fortunate man.

So, how about you?  If you’re reading this blog it is likely that you are a job seeker.  Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not, but there is more to your life than your job.  Use this opportunity to take it all in, and appreciate what you have, and make time to let others know that you appreciate what they mean to you.  If you are in job search, reflect back on what you know and what you’ve learned.  You will need a good sense of where you came from before you can clarify where you want to go.

Take time today, before the celebrations tonight, to look back on 2015.  Enjoy your successes, remember those who you lost, accept what you have, and know that you are not alone.  One of my favorite poems is Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and I encourage you to read it.  When I was in college, the Dean of Men had poster-sized version on the wall behind his desk and he would regularly recite it to young men who were struggling.  The final lines are:

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”

Happy New Year!  Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about resolutions.

—————-

If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


How long will this take …

I get it. You just lost your job. You have bills to pay. You’re ready to go back to work.  The question you ask is “how long will it take to find a new job.”  You better be sitting down, because you may not like my answer.

The rule of thumb that I use is that you should be prepared for your job search to take one month for every $10k of salary you want to earn.  So, a $30,000 annual salary job could take 3 months and an $80,000 job could take 8 months.  I’ve been fired/laid off/RIFed/what-have-you six times.  The fastest I’ve ever found a job was 2 weeks (and actually I had some advance notice so it was really about 4 weeks) and the longest was 13 months.  That is not completely true because one time after about 4 months I decided to open my own consulting business and stopped looking.  After about 2 years that consulting business led me to my next job.

This does not mean it will take that long.  Some people are in the right place at the right time. Also, if you already have a strong and well-maintained network, you may be able to speed up the process.

Likewise, this does not mean that it will only take that long.  For the 1-month rule to be a rule, it has to be an average.  For many of you it will take longer – but hopefully not much longer.

What this means is that you need to be patient and you need to be prepared.  If you think you are at risk for losing your job, evaluate your assets.  If you have no other source of income and will rely on unemployment and savings, how long will they last?  If you don’t have enough money for the rule of thumb it will change your search process. You may be forced to settle for a lower paying job just to get some income flowing.  You might have to lower your standards, or look in another geographic area.  You just need to be prepared.

If, like me, you have a loving spouse with a good job and you can get by, be patient and work the process.  Know that it probably won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen on its own either.  You have to do the work, build the network, and get the system to work for you.

Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to finding a new job, impatience often is just as important.


Holiday Giving …

In about a week many of us will be sitting down with family and friends to celebrate the holidays and exchange gifts.  What gift can you give a job seeker? Here are some of the items that have been on my wish lists over the years:

Resume Support – not all job seekers are equally gifted with grammar, writing or word processing skills.  If you have those skills offer to help the job seeker with their resume and cover letters.  Help with the phrasing, proofreading and layout so the resume presents the job seeker in the best possible light.

Networking – actively work to help the job seeker expand their network.  Just because you don’t know anybody that you know is seeking to hire someone with the job seeker’s background, does not mean that you don’t know someone.  Introduce the job seeker to the people you know and let the network take care of itself.

Time – job seekers are often unemployed and may need support like day care or transportation so that they can go on networking meetings and interviews. They may need someone to run some errands so they can focus on meeting an application deadline.  Give them some of your time, so they can spend their time focused on the job search.

Financial Support – while many won’t want to ask for help, being unemployed can be financially draining.  Financial support, no matter how small, can be incredibly uplifting.  Offer to pay a phone bill or water bill, buy some groceries, or whatever you can.

Emotional Support – more than anything, job seekers need your emotional support.  Most job seekers didn’t plan to be job seekers. They lost their job, and while often that was not their fault, that does not mean that they don’t see the loss of a job as their failure – their inability to provide for their family.  Often, they don’t need advice as much as they just need to someone to be there, to listen, to encourage and just be a positive and affirming presence in their life.

Holiday giving isn’t about the dollar value of the gift; it is about the thoughtful act of giving.  Give your job seeker a hug, tell them that you believe in them, and you’ll support them during their job search.

Happy holidays!


On Being Fired …

In 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book called On Death and Dying that changed the entire way that we looked at the grieving process.  In the book Kubler-Ross identified five stages in the process:  Denial – this isn’t happening to me, Anger – it’s not fair, Bargaining – please God, I’ll do better, Depression – what does it matter anyway, and finally, Acceptance – we had a great run now let’s look forward to the next phase.

With some perspective one can apply these same five stages to many of life’s challenges and they definitely apply to being fired.

Denial – no, there must be some mistake – they can’t fire me I’m a good person and a hard worker.

Anger – it’s not fair!  I do way more work than Joe, fire him!  This is discrimination!

Bargaining – there has to be another way. How about if I take a cut in pay?  Could I work part-time for awhile?  Maybe if I get some more training?

Depression – whatever – I’ve seen this coming – there is nothing I could have done – I probably deserved it – I should have left when Bob quit.

Acceptance – Okay, what’s done is done – time to move on and find that next job.

We all grieve at different speeds.  I’ve worked with hundreds of terminated people and I almost always see these same 5 steps. Some people take months, others can fly through the range of emotions in minutes.

The deal is though, that you will not be effective in looking for a new job until you get to stage 5.  While this may sound harsh, you just need to get over it and move on.  You might have been discriminated against; there might have been a chance for you to take a cut in pay; maybe there was a mistake; but at the end of it all, you’re sitting at home on the couch watching Judge Judy when you should be out looking for a new job.  No pitty-party, no woe is me.  Get up, brush off your resume, start networking, and get to it.

Looking for a new job is a full time job. If you let your anger at your former employer come out in your interviews, no one is going to hire you.  If you pout and whine during a networking meeting, no one is going to refer you to their friends.  If you can’t get off the couch and make some phone calls, your network isn’t going to grow.

It’s hard, but it’s life. I’ve been there. I’ve seen many other people do it.  You can too. Now get up and get to work and find that next job.