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.

What Do You Want?

My son just recently entered the professional job market and one networking contact recently asked him “what do you want?” My son (not really knowing what he wanted) answered the best he could and the manager repeatedly asked “so, what do you want,” or “why?” The interview was certainly annoying, but good natured and in the end, very profound.

Too often, when asked “what do you want” the job seeker says “I just want a job.” While I can understand the frustration and urgency behind that statement, rarely is it true. There are always jobs open if you want to work hard and not get paid much. I was fan of the TV show “Dirty Jobs” and they shared lots of jobs I really wouldn’t want.

As a job seeker, you need to be clear with yourself and others, who you are, and what you want. You may have to accept reality and you may not get what you want every time, but you can keep working toward that goal. If you just earned your degree in Accounting and think you want to be a CFO someday spend you energy looking for jobs that utilize those skills and fit that path.

Try to avoid begin overly general like “something in sales” or “something where I work with people” – both Wal-Mart greeters and corrections officers work with people but they are very different jobs.

Spend time thinking about what job you’d really like. If you’re not sure, use networking to learn more about different jobs. Go to a local Career Center (aka Unemployment Office) and they’ll probably offer a free job interest assessment. Figure out what you do best and what you like to do, then look in that market for a job.

Focus your job search and it will improve the quality of your networking and help you find that next job. And as the Rolling Stones Say “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, well you just might find, you get what you need.”

Join the Club

Join the club – a phrase with many meetings. When you first lost your job and met a fellow unemployed person the conversation might have been “I just lost my job,” followed by “Join the club.” The phrase means – me too, or you’re not alone. But join the club has a different connotation for job seekers. Maybe you need to join the “job search” club.

Across America you’ll find thousands of job clubs. These are groups of people that gather, usually weekly, to network, share job leads and just support each other. Job clubs are an excellent way to give your search a boost.

Job Clubs are often run by churches or other community groups. Frequently they are hosted by an area HR professional. Those that I’ve attended work a little like I imagine an AA group to work. There is strength in being able to admit to a group of peers, “Hi, my name is Bob and I’m unemployed.”

The practice of regularly attending a job club gives your search structure. Much like going to work you have a place to be and a time to be there, you have to prepare (so you have something to contribute), you get to contribute, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the right club, you may also get some refreshments.

Some job clubs work like book clubs, and they’ll agree to read and talk about a book on job search (maybe soon they’ll be talking about I’m Fired??!). Some involve going around the room and reporting on your progress. Most celebrate their graduations when a member finds a job.

Job clubs are full of people, just like you, who are looking for work and could use a little help. Check out the job clubs in your neighborhood and start attending. Then, when someone tells you “I just lost my job” you can say “join the club” and mean it.

BTW – on this Memorial Day Weekend, take a short break from your job search, spend time with family and remember those who have gone before, and made possible our lives and our freedom.



Body Language

Last week I posted about self-confidence and first impressions. I thought it was pretty good – had some hard science in it – very helpful stuff. Then about 4 days later my daughter sends me a link that just blew me away. To a degree it reinforced what I was saying, but then amped it up about 10 times.

In this Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard University talks about not only how your body language influences others (what I was talking about) but more importantly how it influences you. If you are a job seeker you MUST watch this. I won’t steal her thunder, but she says through some very simple techniques you can dramatically influence the outcome of your interviews.

Her talk is about how your body language influences your mind and your powerfulness (or powerless-ness). She explains how her research proves that by simply changing your posture for two minutes before an interview, you will not only appear more confident, but you will actually change your brain chemistry and feel more powerful and confident.

Here is the link. WATCH THIS VIDEO and then come back here next week and find out how to continue to make your search more effective.

Is Anybody Hungry?

I was participating in a panel interview recently and one of the panelists asked what might be one of the greatest interview questions I’ve ever heard.  He said “Tell me how you would make a peanut butter sandwich.”

I can hear you now – “What?!?  That’s the greatest question ever?”  Yes, it just might be.

Clearly there is no right or wrong to this question, but you can learn so much from the answer.  One candidate started with “well, I’m low on groceries so first I’d go to the store.”  Others are very direct, “I’d put peanut butter on two slices of bread and stick them together.”  Some get very detailed, “Take the bread from the cupboard, remove the twist-tie to open the package, remove two slices of bread and place them on a plate, reseal the package, then place the bread back in the cupboard” and on and on.  A surprising number will add jelly, even though it’s not part of the question.  Some talk about the colors and flavors while others stick to the facts like reading a computer manual.

What this question does is to force someone to reveal how they think. Are they a detail oriented person, a big picture person, or a descriptive person?  Do they understand process or only results? Are they creative?

As a job seeker, you need to think ahead about how you would answer this type of question.   The odds are that no one will ask you how to make a sandwich, but they might ask you questions that reveal who you are.  When they do, you need to know the answer to that question.