Archives November, 2009

30 November
Chris Arends

Being sick is never fun and one of the ardest things to do is have patience. When you are sick you want to lie around for a while hoping you feel better.  As time passes you get tired of feeling sick and laying around watching TV. 

Looking for a job can be the same way.  You may need to take some time off to get over the idea of having to look for a job.  Eventually you decide it is time to get out there and get your next job. Here is where things get interesting.  When you are sick and you get up too early you are worthless to yourself and those around you.  When you start looking for a job too soon, your attitude may not be “well” or you may not have decided on the right “cure” for joblessness. In this case you can make things worse because you can “infect” others with your sick attitude or you can relapse by getting a job that is a bad fit in which case you be “sick” again soon. 

I am not saying wait around until everything is perfect. What I mean is that you have to have your attitude and your goals set before you start looking or you will waste time looking at things that are not good for you or you will turn off good contacts with a bad attitude that could have been the help you needed.

So the doctor’s orders are to get your attitude in a positive place and know what you want from your next job so that you can get it.

28 November
Chris Arends

Since I didn’t post on Thanksgiving I will give you my post holiday view of things that make my life wonderful David Letterman style. Sorry this is going to be a long one. I hope you have a long list as well.

10. A healthy family – This year I know of many friends who have been through tough illnesses or the loss of loved ones.

9. People watching – Not only can it be entertaining and put your life back in perspective but it is free.  Especially entertaining at a Renaissance Fair.

8. My Mother in laws pecan pie –  While she didn’t actually make it herself this year, the fact that I am the only one who really likes it and every year she makes sure there is pecan pie at Thanksgiving is something I am thankful for.  Bonus – the pie was home made as part of a fundraiser so at least the profit went to a good cause.

7. Not having to go shopping on Black Friday –  I got to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast and spend the day with my family.  No digging through messed up displays, waiting in long lines, standing outside a store while it is still dark for something I can pay 5%  more for with out battling other sleep deprived crazy people.

6. Texas weather – Even though I grew up knowing the brisk chill of late November and seeing the empty corn fields of Iowa I still like Thanksgiving in Texas.  The first time I had Thanksgiving with my wife’s family and cutting the Christmas tree in shorts, fighting off mosquitoes seemed a little strange. Growing up we had to dig the snow away from the trunk of the tree to be able to get the saw where we could cut it. I got over it when I didn’t have to put up Christmas lights with out gloves and heavy boots.

5. Football – This time of year college football is really getting exciting.  The conference championship games, the rivalies ( Go Mizzou beat KU!) and the annual BCS debate. It is also important to me in that it brings back memories of working out side in the fall cutting firewood with the Iowa or Iowa State football games on the tractor radio and wondering where my little brother was hiding so he wouldn’t have to do as much work. We usually found him in the house drinking hot chocolate and reading, especially if it was cold.  (Sorry Andy I just had to go there.)

4. Bicycles – Not only do they help keep me in shape so I can enjoy my favorite brew from Shiner,TX,  they also give me something to share with my kids.  We get to go on rides together, watch the Tour de France, and share a classic sense of freedom.

3. Good tools – While I typically don’t have as much time to use them as I would like, my tools help me maintain the house, fix kids toys and make new things.  Having good tools makes the job get done faster and easier. Fixing and building new things helps me stay in touch with that side of men that enjoy knowing we can make things.  Too many of us just generate reports, or manage people who do and forget the spiritual satisfaction of taking raw materials, investing time and creativity to create something that doesn’t evaporate when we turn off our computer.

2. The Internet – Yes, kind of a big generic thing to be thankful for but it has helped me this year with a lot of specific things. Facebook has helped me connect with family across the country and keep up to date on people down the street.  LinkedIn helps me as I stay connected with my work network and make getting a job easier for a lot of people. Blogger for giving me a place to express my self and Twitter to have a new gadget to play with and keep us informed on breaking news like Michael Jackson’s death and what color underwear Ashton Kusher is wearing today.

1. Not having a job – Yes that is a bit over the top even for this blog but the truth is not having a job has given me a lot of things to be thankful for. De-compressing from the rat race,  spending time with my kids and wife, meeting new people, getting things done around the house that I wouldn’t have done if I were working, learning new things and all the other No Job Joys that I have written about.

25 November
Chris Arends

As you may have read in my last post I was headed for a wet camping experience so I wanted to update you on our adventure.  A job search is very similar to camping in the rain.  Your attitude can make or break your search and interviews. Try new things you might surprise yourself.  Finally while being unemployed is not a great place to be, it is worse in your mind than reality.

While it was raining as the boys hiked in and the adults set up, the rain did end before lights out.  Unfortunately we did get another shower around 2AM.  We woke up to wet grass and some soggy trails.  Regardless the boys and the adults went about the activities of the day with enthusiasm. After lunch the sun even came out to help dry things out. 

A few things to take from this experience.  First is that attitude is everything.  As we were driving up none of the boys cared that they would be hiking and setting up tents in the dark and in the rain.The boys could have been complaining about getting wet.  When they came into camp they were laughing and joking. When you are interviewing the same thing applies.  You can’t worry about how long the search may be or what if I don’t have enough experience. Your attitude will carry the day.

Second you may be surprised what you can accomplish if you try.  Setting up in the dark can be hard add rain and things can get challenging because you want to hurry to keep things dry. Despite the challenge, all the boys were dry and happy on Saturday showing they could get the job done.  Working a job search will have many challenges and give you plenty of chances to give up. If you do you will be wet longer.  If you try your best odds are you will get dry faster.

Finally things are never as bad as you think they might be. As you might have gathered from my last post I felt there was a good chance we would be wet and cold on Saturday morning. Even though it rained during the night, things dried out and everyone had a great day.  Despite all my concerns about getting wet and cold, proper planning and execution kept us warm and dry.   In your job search  you may go through some rough times but if you have done your preparation and have a good attitude things will likely be worse in your mind than they are in reality.

Today’s No Job Joy is for camping in the rain and staying dry.

20 November
Chris Arends

Tonight my oldest son and I are headed out for a Boy Scout Campout.  Our troop goes rain or shine so the fact that it is raining and  is forecast to rain all night is not great news. Setting up tents and sleeping in the rain is not an ideal way to camp.

The thing is camping in the rain is a lot like getting laid off. Do you want to do it? No. Do you have a choice? No.  Is it going to be fun? No.Will you remember it? Yes.  Can you grow from it? Yes!

The this camp out will mean struggling to keep dry while doing the activities, cooking, sleeping and hanging out. While not typically seen as fun it will be a bonding experience. The boys will learn what they need to do to stay dry and may fail in their efforts.  They will learn can do more than they thought they could and in the end will have memories to share for years to come.

Being unemployed has the same opportunities for adults. I am not trying to say being out of work is a fun experience but it can be a real bonding experience and can teach us more about ourselves then we may think.  Odds are we will try new things and fail in our first attempt. We will think we are doing everything right and then realize we have wet socks until someone else shows us a better way to do things. We will also make new friends that we can have a shared experience and in the end be stronger for having been through it. 

So think of us tonight as we hope our tents don’t leak and we try to avoid puddles.  My No Job Joy is that my socks get wet and I dry them out in new ways with new friends.

18 November
Chris Arends

A lot of people get caught in a rut when in their job search. You have looked at your resume for the one millionth time trying to find that silver bullet to make sure you get a call back.  You have emailed your network so many times they start filtering your messages to their spam folder and you have bruises on your ego from every network connection that has lead to a dead end. 

This is the time to look for new ideas. New ways to connect, new people to talk to, new things to learn.  Here one thing I have used to get connected with a new company.

Have a target company?  Find out if they are doing any webinars.  Almost all do and they are almost all free.  During the webinar ask a question.  Make sure it is relevant and try to make sure you are identified in the question. 

As you are in the webinar get the contact information of the presenter.   Many times the presenter will put their contact information in the presentation. Otherwise you will have to call the company.

After the webinar contact the presenter with a follow up. Once you have asked the second question you have established a relationship that can let you open up about your interest in their company and ask to set up some time to talk with them about their industry and opportunities in general in their company. As with any other kind of networking interview you are not asking them for a job. Just information. They are doing you a favor so respect their time.  Only if THEY think you may have something to offer their company can you ask if there is a referral bonus at their company and ask how to best make this a win win.

Yes this takes some time and may be out of your comfort zone but it can be a great way to learn something new about a new company and get a connection.

Today’s No Job Joy is about connecting out of the box.
Share your out of the box ways of connecting to new people or networks by commenting below.

16 November
Chris Arends

This weekend I was remind twice that my value as a person is not defined by what I do to make a living.  The first was at a get together for my oldest son’s football team.  Over the years my love of photography and the fact that I have some of the best equipment has made me the unofficial team photographer. Most parents have stopped taking their cameras relying on me to take and post photos.

As I thought our gathering might be the last time we would all be together I made my usual team video of still shots that I had taken during the season. Each parent was amazed at the shots of the boys.  The fact that I can make them happy with something I love to do reinforces that I am not just a job.

The second time I was reminded of this was as I was working on another home improvement project. Having the right tools and the ability to use them the right way to get the job done really helps boost ones confidence and drive home the fact that I am not just a job.There is something about making sawdust that makes you feel good.

Today’s No Job Joy is the satisfaction of completing a project and using talents other than those that people pay you  for.

12 November
Chris Arends

This week end our 91 year old neighbor was in the alley with her walker sweeping the leaves from three oak trees off her driveway. Seeing that she had a huge chore in front of her, my wife, brother in-law and youngest son went out and helped her bag up the leaves. 

Then my son who couldn’t be stopped, started raking the yard, even though they have a lawn service.  All told we bagged up 8 very large bags of leaves. My neighbor an her husband we very grateful and that was all the thanks we needed. We know they wanted to pay  us but since they weren’t expecting us they didn’t have any money out so we quickly said you are welcome and left before they could go get any.

Today as I was in the alley, she found me and tried to pay me again.  I politely said thank you but no several times. From there our verbal struggle of wills became physical as she stuffed the bills in my pocket. Now I knew I was in trouble. I tried to hand her the money back but she wouldn’t take it.  You would be surprised how strong a 91 year old can be. 

As we were in the alley and she had a walker so I knew this wouldn’t end well. If I try to out run her I look like I am running from a little old lady. If I stand and fight I risk getting beat up by an old lady.  A no win situation. So I took the money on the understanding that it would go into my son’s camping gear fund.   A compromise that lets her feel good about paying us for our good deed and I still get to feel good about doing it.

I think she really wants a throw down with me as she wants me to take a look at fixing some cracking cinder blocks in her alley as she noticed I was going to fix some of mine. I don’t know how I will get out of this one.

9 November
Chris Arends

When people have a serious illness their friends really want to help. They bring meals, they pray, they help run kids to activities and help reduce the stress of day to day activities. Friends and loved ones do this because they care and want to help the family focus on getting better and because they want to be able to do something.

When people are unemployed their friends often want to help them but often don’t know how. Meals,  money and babysitting are helpful but they seem to much like charity to be helpful.  Since most people don’t have a spare job lying around that they can give a friend, they often feel helpless.  This often makes people frustrated as they want to help but are afraid to ask how, because they are worried about hurting the person who is unemployed and confuse friendly assistance with charity.

So what can friends do to help.  As I mentioned in the last post i this series,  just be a friend and care.  Ask how we are doing and not just on the job front.  Ask about our kids and spouses just like we had a job. This is a temporary situation. We are not contagious.

Second help your friends network.  This is hard for a lot of people especially those who haven’t looked for a job in many years.  The rules have changed and learning them on the fly can be a challenge.  While you can’t do their work for them, be willing to offer connections and honest feedback when asked for help. We know our employed friends are feeling stress from the economy and are afraid they may join us in the job search.Reaching out to your network for someone else is a great, no pressure way for you  to reconnect with people you many need help from if you do get laid off.

Finally, connect with and keep current your social networking profiles and connections. This is big tool for most job searchers and the better connected you are the more you can help your friends. Sharing a personal connection is probably the best thing you can do for someone who is looking. Tools like LinkedIn help your friends know who you know that could be of assistance or may even be the person they are interviewing with.

While none of these taste as good as a casserole, this is what you can do to help your friends and help you feel like you have some control in your own life which may be crazy with job stress. Just like helping a sick friend, helping a friend get a job will make you feel good too.

5 November
Chris Arends

Today I went to see T. Boone Pickens do a town hall meeting at UTDallas.  While I had heard some of the story it was interesting to hear it first hand.  Not many 81 year olds can talk for an hour with out notes.

The thing I appreciate about Mr. Pickens is that he has gotten behind an idea, stuck with it, spend his own money and is using consensus to make something bigger than himself happen. The cynic in my says wait and see he will make money on the deal but as would rebut that he’s 81.  This is for the future.

I can’t say whether or not I agree with his plan as I haven’t looked at it closely, yet I am intrigued that he is  promoting a solution that has significant impact and that he apparently would get minimal personal gain.

So my No job joy for today is new ideas and people with the courage to stand up and make sure something happens

4 November
Chris Arends

Today’s No Job Joy is an easy one. A sunny 75 degree day with no wind.  Guess I jumped the gun on getting out the long sleeve jerseys.

Perfect  day for a bike ride around the lake. So I put on a sleeveless jersey, flew around the lake twice in 57 minutes averaging 20.5 MPH.  Even if I was working I would have played hooky today.  Not having a job just means I could do it with out feeling guilty about all the work I was missing.