Archives May, 2009

30 May
Chris Arends

Sometimes people are amazing. From what is printed in the paper and on TV one would assume that people just don’t care for each other any more. These days I am even more convinced that those stories are printed because they sell papers not reflect the truth about people.

As I have been working my job search I have been networking. It just amazes me that total strangers will risk their credibility by introducing and in some cases vouching for each other. Now you might think that this is limited to those who are in similar straights but several people in the last week or so have been willing to connect me with people they know. If it stopped there it would be great but it keeps going. Those people who may have only had a five minute phone conversation with me are willing to introduce me to people they know.

The moral of this story relates back to the ask for help post. Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you. Most of them are more than happy to lend a hand. Why? There are more reasons than I have time for today but regardless of their motivation the kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing. Don’t forget to pass on your own help. It will come back to you in multiples.

29 May
Chris Arends

Today I was on my way home at the end of a bicycle ride and was at a stoplight. In the car next to me was a little boy in a baseball cap just tall enough to see out the window. He looked over at me with a coy smile and waved. I waved back then he ducked. I looked away to check the light then looked back. He waved again. We did this 2 or three more times before the light changed.

This is joy is the joy that a smile can bring. I won’t go into the studies about how smiling takes less energy, helps you live longer or earns you more money. I will emphasize how it will make you feel better about yourself. Life can be a bit of a roller coaster or even totally suck while you are looking for a new job but if you smile it isn’t as bad as it was.

That little boy made my day. He didn’t know it but that’s okay. We shared one of life’s simple pleasures that we all need to do more.

27 May
Chris Arends

One thing that we control as I mentioned in my first post is our time. That is very important as we now have no one to blame if we don’t use our time wisely.

One of the joys we can take advantage of now is the opportunity to learn something new. This could be as basic as learning a new word each day, catching up on some reading, getting a new skill or even getting more training or education. Which one is right for you depends on where you are and where you want to be.

Since I have become unemployed I have learned more about how use social media. Not to say I am an expert but there are many people my age who can’t even spell Twitter. On the other hand there are some who would say that a blog is no longer cutting edge but if you are reading this you are not one of them. To me, social media are the tools that I need to meet new people, ask for help, get a new job and in the end be a better person.

Reading is another way to improve. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read the latest summer fiction but keeping a mix of relevant reading helps you stay connected with your industry/profession and gives you great interview ice breakers and solid answers to the “What was the last book you read?” question.

Improving your self is one of the joys we have as people. What new things are you learning while you have the time?

27 May
Chris Arends

Help is one thing that is hard for many of us to ask. The good news there is plenty of it out there just for the asking.

Beyond our family and friends who sometimes we wish would stop helping, there are a lot of people out there willing to help. Former co-workers and others in our networks are willing to help. We just need to ask. The really cool thing is that there are total strangers willing to help you cope with losing your job, help you get by while you are looking and even help you get that new job.

Along with the joy of meeting new people, it us just amazing how many people are willing to help you. You just need to know what help you need and be willing to ask. While you can ask for a job, most people don’t have them to give. Most often what we need is advice, information or a connection. Since most everyone knows someone who is looking for a job right now, most people will go out of their way to give you the help you ask for if they can.

If you are needing help and don’t know who to ask there are tons of church based groups that don’t care what you believe that want to help and many of them have services equal to or better than any outplacement firm.

At the end of the day, you can have all of this joy you can handle if you can learn to ask for it.

26 May
Chris Arends

Employed or not we all should be thankful for living in the home of the free and the brave where we have people who are willing to serve and die so that we have the right and obligation to work in the greatest form of government and the most fruitful economy in the world.

22 May
Chris Arends

I know right now it is easy to focus only on what you need – a job, income, an identity. That is important. I know the concept of paying it forward maybe a bit cliche in our current situation but karma is a strange thing. Helping others could be as simple as opening a door for someone or as involved as volunteering full time for a cause that is important to you. Either way you will have made a difference in someone’s life in a positive way. If you were employeed you probably wouldn’t take the time to do that.

Zig Ziglar has a saying, “You can have anything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Yesterday I volunteered at a job fair where there were no companies that I was interested in. Today I volunteered at my kids school. Why? To help others. There are a lot of us out here looking for work and if I can help someone, it makes me feel great. Helping someone else will also make you feel good and improve your sense of control.

21 May
Chris Arends

One of the joys we have when we are unemployed is that we have the time and the need to meet new people. Some of these people will be ones we have to meet, recruiters, HR people, unemployment office workers and the like. Others will be people we are asking for help from in our job search.

The cool thing about meeting new people is you have the chance to make a first impression. You have a blank slate with this person. This means you can be the person you want to be with them, so unless you want to be seen as a bitter resentful person, get over your separation or leave it at home.

The way to get the most out of meeting new people is to set goals. A few I can personally recommend are, learn something personal about them like their spouses name or if they have a dog. LinkedIn and Facebook are great starting points for this. If it is true networking meeting be specific and set a goal like gettin 3 new networking contacts. The second thing is to make sure you have something to share with them. In other words thing about what is in it for them and then deliver. It could be a relevant news article or a contact they may need for their work.

I know this can be scary for some people. It is for me sometimes but it is something you can practice and become more comfortable with. In the end hopefully we will make new friends and how is that scary.

A goal I have set during my job search is to meet at least one new person every week. As I do, I will let you know who and how it went including highlights of what I got from the meeting and how I feel I helped the other person.

19 May
Chris Arends

Warning today may be a long one. It probably should have been joy #1 but yesterday was too nice of a day not to start with it. I promise they won’t all be this long.

This joy may seem a bit strange for the unemployed. A lot of times when you don’t have a job you feel you have no power or control and our lives are being run by “The Man”. In fact you are in control of more things now than at almost any other time in your adult life.

The most important thing you are in control of is your attitude. While you always have control over this, now there is no boss, long commute or being trapped by a dead end job to get in the way of having a great attitude.

Is it easy to have a good attitude? About as easy as it is to have a bad one and you have the choice. Yes being out of work sucks in many ways but as I will go into, every day there are good things that can be gotten out of the time and opportunities thatbeing in transition or what ever you want to call it can give you. If you are mad that’s okay for a while but don’t let it become you or you are only going to make things worse.

Zig Ziglar talks about getting “a check up from the neck up” when you have a bad attitude. This is all about stepping back and realizing no matter how bad things are, they are worse when you have a bad attitude.

The second thing you are in control of is your time. I am not going to go into any recommendations about how you should spend your time. Only you can make that decision. The thing to remember is that you need to focus on what YOU need. That may be finding a way to get food on the table or it may be reflecting on what do you want to be when you really grow up. I don’t know but I do know that you control what you do. So take control and responsibility for what you do. No one else will.

The more you stay focused on doing the right thing, even if it is taking a walk to get a new attitude or get into shape (see above) you are in control now and that is joy.

19 May
Chris Arends

Today’s joy is one that is close to my heart in that it involves something I love doing, riding my bike. My joy today is that with no job I have time to enjoy a beautiful day with a few hours riding.

Staying physically fit is key to us job searchers as it releases stress. Also there are many studies showing that people who exercise and/or are physically fit make more money. Also being in shape makes you more healthy over all so you don’t have to use those COBRA benefits.

So do what ever you like but take some of the time you have while you aren’t working and get in shape. It will make you feel better and might even help you make more money.