New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 2

Yesterday we talked about remembering 2015.  I hope you did that and celebrated how far you’ve come in life.

Okay, now spin your chair around 180° and let’s look into the future.  What does 2016 hold and how are we going to be prepared for it?  Inc.  Magazine asked people what they wanted to accomplish in 2016.  The number one answer was to enjoy life to the fullest (read the full list here).  Your resolution might be to find a job -not just any job – the right job.

If finding that new, better job is one of your resolutions, allow me to make a few suggestions to increase your likelihood of success.

Make a plan – Regardless of what your resolution is, there are three things you can do that will help you live it: 1) write it down, 2) include milestone dates and measures, and 3) make it public.  For your job search, set goals for how many people you are going to network with each week, how many emails and phone calls you will need to set up those networking meetings, how many new companies you will to research, etc.  Remember, looking for a job should be a full time job.  Make a plan that uses 8 hours a day – productively – two finding that best job then share that plan with a few key supporters – maybe even post it on Facebook.

Network – I can almost guarantee that you will not get that next BEST job, unless you network.  My suggestion is that each week you meet 5-10 people you have never met before, tell them your story, and ask for their help.  You will be amazed and what happens.

Be prepared – Every time you go to a meeting or an interview, be prepared.  Have your polished resume and target list with you.  Know as much as you can about who you will be talking to and the job/company you are interviewing for.  Be sure to have and practiced (aloud) your answers to common interview questions.

Be thankful – Say thank you – send thank-you notes – let people know how much you appreciate their time, their energy, their encouragement.  Even when you don’t think they were very helpful, thank them.

Be persistent – The economy is rebounding.  There are more jobs available, but I still tell people to plan for their search to take one month for every $10,000 in annual salary they hope to earn.  A $50k job might take 5 months to find.  Not any $50k job – but the right $50k job for you.  Plan the work, and work the plan.

If you are reading this blog thinking “but I don’t know how to do these things,” then you’ve come to the right place.  Search this blogs for tips on all of these subjects.  Or, buy the book (see below).  Or read someone else’s book or blog.  The help is there – the jobs are there – we just need to get you connected with one of them.

Speaking of resolutions – I resolve to help you find that next-best job in 2016.  Happy New Year!


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.

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.

Happy Anniversary!

Wow, how time flies. I just checked and realized that my first post on this blog was in October, 2013. Now, 13 months and 56 blog posts later, here we are. Hopefully, if you are job seeker, you haven’t been reading since last October.

This is Thanksgiving week. Take a break from your job search and reflect on the things for which you can be thankful. In my many searches, I have been blessed with a supportive family and friends, the generosity of my networking contacts, and the confidence that I would find another job and continue to build my career. I am confident that you will too.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.

In Honor of Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day. I hope you will all join me in extending a personal thank you to those who have served in our armed forces. If you are not a veteran, sometimes it is easy to overlook or downplay what they have done for us. Granted, not every veteran went into battle, but collectively, if they had not done what they did, I might not have the freedom to sit in my home office and write this blog post about anything I want to write about. I might not have the choice to travel as I please, to worship as I wish, to work where I do, or so say just about anything I want to anybody who wants to listen.

We cannot underestimate that freedom, but we can put a price on it. That price is the 850,000 soldiers who have died in battle and the 433,000 others who died while on duty. The cost includes the 2.7 million soldiers that have been wounded. It also includes the 38,159 who are still missing (source). That is the true cost of our freedom – and for that we are eternally grateful.

Here are some other unfortunate statistics about Veterans. First, according to the BLS, the civilian unemployment rate for non-veterans as of October 2014 is 5.4%. The unemployment rate for all Veterans of all ages is 4.5%, but the unemployment rate for those ages 18 to 34 is 8.6% which is slightly higher than the rate for non-vets of the same age (8.0%). So, while veterans are holding their own in the job search market, more could be done. In almost all categories, the percentage of unemployed veterans is higher than the comparable population of non-veterans and our younger veterans need the most help.

On a sadder note, while veterans make up about 8.8% of the total population, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, they make up about 12% of the homeless population and the majority of those suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or both. Finding, and keeping, a job is key to a veteran staying clean and staying off the streets.

So when someone calls you for networking, help them. If you learn that person is a veteran, help them again. You would not be where you are without them – and they need to know that you appreciate them for it.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.

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.



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 Giving Thanks …

On Thanksgiving afternoon, after too much turkey, potatoes, veggies and pie, it seems a perfect time to write a post about thankfulness.  But rather than thanks for all the blessings I’ve been given, I’d like to reflect on those blessings I’ve received from repeated job searches.

I’m thankful for Michael Shirley and Leigh Branham. They were my first job coaches when I went through outplacement after my second reduction in force.  Together they taught me, really for the first time, how to write a resume, how to use a target list, and probably most importantly, how to network.  My time with these guys plays heavily into I’m Fired?!? and Leigh graciously wrote the Forward.

I’m thankful for all the people I’ve met along the way.  Some have become close friends while others I’d rather not speak to again, but all of them helped to shape who I am.  I’ve learned to ask for help when I needed and graciously accept it when it’s offered.  I’ve learned to be more objective about business decisions and not take personally those that affect me adversely.

I’m thankful for the different bosses that I’ve had. Some have been great coaches, mentors and teachers who have taught me about business and helped me refine my craft.  Some have been complete jerks who in their own way taught me valuable lessons of patience and discretion.

I’m thankful for the twists and turns in my career path (at least most of them).  I’ve experienced more industries and types of businesses than anyone I know.  I think this gives me a great appreciation for diversity and flexibility and limits my ability to say “we’ve always done it this way.”

Most importantly, I’ m thankful for my wife, children and parents.  They have supported me and encouraged me time and again as I’ve gone through the job search process.  They have never blamed me; never been angry with me, and never doubted that I would find another job.  Their constant love and support gave me the encouragement to continue to work the process, even when it seemed like there were no jobs to find.

I encourage you to sit back and reflect on your blessings.  Your career may not be heading in the direction you’d planned, but don’t be surprised if there is good news just around the corner.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.