Posts Tagged ‘Preparation for Job Hunting’

Finding Balance at the Speed of Life

October 27, 2010

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Ghandi

Yes, I know I’ve used that quote in my writing many times, but if you’re in transition, losing sleep over the future, negotiating for a new job, or hopeful that an offer is going to be your light at the end of the tunnel, Ghandi’s wisdom bears repeating. I’m reminded of traveling from Paris to Lyon, France, on the TGV high-speed “bullet” train years ago. High above the ground, the train clocked speeds of 125 miles per hour and more. The countryside literally flew by.

Doesn’t it seem like life right now for most of us is a speeding bullet train, with the added uncertainty of the stability of the tracks? We’re speeding faster and faster into an uncertain future, teetering on the rails of life, like a roller coaster dipping and climbing … and we’re holding on tight.

I know all too well of which I speak. I used to be Superwoman! Since summer’s end, though, I’ve been behind in everything – I’m like a hamster on a wheel, squeakily spinning it with as much velocity as I can muster, but to no avail. Yes, I’m moving faster, but the complexity of all of the issues and events of life during this recession have slowed me down mentally and emotionally. I’m “still kicking,” but with less clarity, more confusion, and more of a sense of overwhelm-ment than ever before. Superwoman has flown off the planet, and I’ve been left holding a five-pound bag containing ten pounds of overdue everything: blogging, twittering, phoning, reading, writing … you name it. Stop the world!!! I want to get off!

Can you relate?

Trust me, I have always been one focused professional, never making excuses about my shortcomings, always returning calls promptly, meeting deadlines, and going the extra mile for my commitments. But, I’ll admit that right now, I’m wondering when I’ll get my balancing act back in swing. If you’re wondering the same thing about yourself, you are not alone. The uncertainty of what our economic future might be collectively, and even more unsettling, what it might be for each of us individually and our families, is enough to knock even the toughest players off their game.

Are you losing sleep over the loss of a job – whether it’s your own, or a loved one’s? Are you uncertain of what changes landing a new job will bring? I just went through that with my husband – eight months of executive unemployment.

My husband and I are thrilled about his new job, and I’ve never seen him happier. However, wait for it – wait for it – we are now in a “commuter marriage.” His new job is three time zones and about 2000 miles away! BUT, and it’s a BIG but (go ahead, laugh, it’s a fun pun!) – we are so thankful that during this time of unparalleled recession for us and our peers, we are blessed with work.

Are you watching the clock on your finances, tossing and turning as the plans you made for retirement have unraveled? I get it. Retirement? What retirement? The AARP Association reported in its most recent bulletin that 51% of American households won’t be able to maintain their standard of living once they retire. In fact, we must change the notion of seniors as “non-contributors” in our society, and allow them to be productive way beyond what we have traditionally considered “retirement age.” It’s an economic necessity to keep us from plunging the largest demographic in human history into poverty, all at once. Thank goodness, “50” is the new “30.” We Americans are going to need to extend our working years into our 70s.

For now, I’d like to suggest you look at some productive ways to keep going to meet the road ahead of you, wherever it leads. I want your “take-away” today to be a renewed energy and resolve, courage to keep going, an “aha!” moment, or just plain inspiration for staying the course. I’d like you to take some action right away:

  • Look at yourself as part of the solution to our tough times, even if you’re in transition right now, looking for a job yourself. Doesn’t that give you a perspective of potential, instead of fear or lack?
  • Get out and circulate in the community, and consider taking a volunteer position or a “day” job in a busy place that will keep you meeting new people and feeling like you’re contributing to life.
  • Be proactive about the upcoming mid-term election and get out and VOTE! The biggest issue of this 2010 election is JOBS, hands down. Be a part of the buzz. No matter what your political party or inclination, pull that lever in the polling booth. It’s powerful! And while you’re at it, why not volunteer to help build a great turnout?
  • Count your blessings and start each day anew, with expectation of great potential in everyone you meet and everything you do. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Look for a “break” and the good in everything you see!

Finally, lighten up on yourself. Take a breath! My message here is “If I can do this … you can do this, too.” But it takes courage, acceptance, patience, and resolve, and the willingness to see that the struggles many of us are experiencing this year are the gateway to truly understanding what it means to be human, and to live a life of purpose, passion, and transformation. It can be a pathway to self-improvement and a new happiness in the simple things in life.

You can do this! Honest!

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. executive outplacement, coaching and career management service. Her Linked In profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/DiChapman. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.

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Resurrect Your Purpose, Passion and Possibility Thinking

July 23, 2010

Create Job Opportunities in Your Life – Right Now

The news of legions of jobless Americans strikes fear in even the strongest and bravest of us. No matter what your occupation, or strata of earning power, you, your family members,  peers, or associates might find yourselves losing a livelihood, a routine, and even an identity, as you dive into the most uncomfortable and demanding “job” of all: looking for work.

Joblessness is a condition that brings home to roost many of our own personal shortcomings, and let’s be honest: our human-ness often brings with it an aversion to seeing our job loss as a reflection of something within us; we often rationalize the event by describing it as the result of another’s behavior and attitude towards us. But, if you lose your job, as much as you would like to make it someone else’s problem, you can’t. It’s all yours.

The cold, hard reality of job search is this: it’s time to take a good look at your own “stuff,” what you bring to the table, and whether or not you need to press your own metaphorical “reset” button before you hit the pavement. Could it possibly be that in your most recent job tenure you let a few things “go,” like your attitude, your interest, your enthusiasm, your creativity, your potential? There’s that reset button.  Honest self-examination, soul-searching assessments of your skills and talents, and an attitude check and tune-up are absolutely in order.

The GOOD NEWS is there ARE JOBS out there. Seriously, there are!! If you will take an honest inventory of your interpersonal skills, your personal commitment to excellence, and the level of energy you apply to each day of your search, you will take “step one” toward finding another job that is just right for you. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your job titles have been, or what industry has employed you in the past. If you are a recent graduate, it really doesn’t matter what degree you have earned. There are still jobs out there, and new opportunities continue to arise each day. I challenge you to tweak your perspective, put on your “game face,” and resurrect your passion for life.

Let me tell you a story about a radio interview that I conducted that truly re-charged my own career resolve. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mac Anderson, Founder and CEO of Simple Truths Publishing, and Loren Shook, Founder, President, and CEO of Silverado Senior Living, on BetterTimesAfterFifty. com, an Internet radio show that is broadcast on AdviceRadio.com.

I asked the two men a number of questions about how and why they created their businesses; how Simple Truths evolved so swiftly into global success; and how Silverado grew from one Alzheimer’s residential facility to a company with 2200 employees in four states. Their companies continue to grow and prosper even now, during a time of unbelievable economic turmoil. Their responses to my questions resounded with enthusiasm, exuberance and, yes, unmitigated happiness with how living their dreams had created such potential to touch the lives of so many, customers and employees alike. Every question I asked, they each, in turn, answered robustly:

— “At Simple Truths, we bring positive ideas to life,

and reinforce core values.”

— “At Silverado Senior Living, we look forward to coming to work,

because we get to change people’s lives.”

— “Our goal at Simple Truths is to serve our customers

and serve each other.”

— “We touch the spirit of each and every person

we serve at Silverado Senior Living.”

— “I love what I do. I’m thankful each day that I can make a positive difference

in people’s lives at Simple Truths.”

— “At Silverado, we’re all about the passion and purpose

of giving life to those we serve, and to those who work here as well.”

My co-host Steve Mason and I, along with the show engineer, couldn’t help but feel the energy lift the roof off the studio during that 30 minute segment. “Wow,” Steve looked up at me over his microphone, “At a time like this, when so many are doing so badly, this is amazing!” The two of us felt like any bad news that was being reported that day by media throughout the world wasn’t going to puncture our bubble. Our own interview had given us a double shot of positivity!

Back in my office later that day, I processed my own “on-air” performance review by listening to the show several times in succession. I listened carefully to my guests, and “the feel” of the repartee that is captured by the recording. The two men offered more enthusiasm for their work, and sense of purpose about their companies in 30 minutes, than most of us ever express during 40 years of professional servitude.

I was struck with an “Ah-ha!” moment. Both Loren and Mac employ people like you, like me, like many people you know. The wisdom in their words tells me that there are other employers out there who ARE ACTUALLY HIRING PEOPLE right now. And guess what? They’re looking for people who can still see a vision of passion, purpose, and potential in their work and their lives. They are looking for people who can bring energy and enthusiasm to the job.

Julie LaCroix, M.A. Ed., CMP, Career Management Consultant and Coach for Power Connections Inc., gives this perspective on getting in touch with your passions during your hunt for a job:

“Perhaps it’s not the right time for a career change, but it’s always the right time to think about what drives you. Being intrinsical

ly driven at work lies somewhere between your abilities and interests, with a formidable paycheck sprinkled on top.” Julie asks each of us to truly think about what our unique interests are, and explains that whatever drives us has an underlying interest that represents itself in our actions.

“Are you interested in music and don’t see how that relates to being an accountant, for example?” she asks. “Those two things are very unlikely matches to one another. Perhaps the correlation for you is in the teams. If you enjoy playing music in a band, then you most likely prefer to work as part of a financial team with shared goals. It’s actually the power of the team that drives you.”

Once you know what drives you, according to Ms. LaCroix, you will be more in touch with your passion and deliver even greater results.

Now, that’s something to bring to the table during your job hunt.

Di Chapman, Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service;  and Chief Communications Officer, Power Connections. www.dichapman.com / www.powerconnectionsinc.com

Resolve to be a “Contributer” to Life

June 8, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Presence of Greatness

“Someone out there needs you more than you need them!” – Lt. General Hal Moore

It’s February 15, 2010, President’s Day, and I’m shivering in a brutally cold whipping wind in Montevallo, Alabama. The skies are blue and the sunshine is beautiful, though, and there is an air of expectancy and anticipation that buoys my every step. “Thank goodness I’ve worked in outdoor conditions of all description,” I think to myself. “At least I’m thoroughly bundled up.” The reality is I’ve spent many a production day in sweltering 95 degree heat, with 50 to 60% humidity, trying to salvage a silk blouse and a hairdo. I’d take the cold any day!

I step inside to check on last minute details in my notes, and to make final phone calls; and stop to compliment two polite and lovely women who await the start of an eventful and unforgettable day. They are currently in a quiet hall, chatting softly, giving no hint as to the magnitude of the convocation that will start shortly, or to the growing crowd gathering at the end of the driveway, stepping into line as they exit their vehicles. I take it all in, literally savoring every second of the energy and expectation and excitement that whirls around me.

I can’t imagine being anywhere else at that moment in time, and am still in awe of how God and the universe say “yes” to heartfelt intentions, to a deeply rooted sense of purpose, and a determination to find a way to somehow contribute to the world, no matter how great or how little you are able to put forth. So, literally running from location to location on an outdoor campus with freezing wind at my back, I’m elated at the prospect of what is to come, and know that this will be a day I will never forget.

Like every unforgettable day in one’s life, there is a back story. And my particular story about that amazing day in Montevallo, Alabama is directly related to the gift of a book, and what the words within it meant to me. “In the Presence of Greatness ….” Mac Anderson writes in his forward to the Simple Truths book A Tender Warrior: 5 Leadership Letters To America, “I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by General Hal Moore’s kindness, humility, and his passion for life.”

You see, a year ago, in February 2009, I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mac Anderson in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a follow-up to the inclusion of my story in his 2008 book Customer Love, and when I had the chance to speak to him on a “poster-perfect” day in the gorgeous Arizona desert, I was open to any inspiration and possibilities that a conversation with such an accomplished man could render. I was there with complete “heart, soul and intellect” at attention, and when he put an advance copy of A Tender Warrior in my hands, electricity went through me and sparked what I can only call “a knowing:” I was drawn to the General, and with each touch of the pages, I knew I had to somehow, some way, be in his presence.

So my story today is not just about how I traveled from sunny Southern California to unseasonably cold Alabama to be a part of an event that would honor Lt. General Hal Moore, and it turns out, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., as well. It’s a story about how deeply-rooted purpose gave me the courage to reach out again and again to someone I felt an enormous amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for; and in so doing, found myself in the presence of greatness all around.

We ALL Have Something to Contribute to Life

I remember a day, many years ago, when I had the privilege to meet Alma Powell. “Young or old, you still have something to give to your country,” she said. Now that I’m squarely positioned in the “mature” segment of our population, I think a lot about the wisdom of this statement, and believe that it applies to life as well.

Who’s to say that a person of a “certain age” contributes less to our world than someone of youth and physical prowess? I plan on living at least another 50 years on this planet (I have to – I have way too many plans to check out earlier!!), and not in one mental image of myself down the road do I see a woman who is not giving back to my community, country, friends, family and earth. I will leave this world kicking and screaming if I don’t make a difference. And, honestly, part of the drive within me to do something significant comes from a huge recognition of the trails blazed and conquered by those who have come before me. My achievements are meant to be an acknowledgement of the debt I owe to those who created the life I have, and who did so in uncertain, difficult, and often deadly circumstances. Giving back is part of who I am.

So, when I was offered the chance to come to Montevallo, Alabama to honor General Hal Moore as he was appointed Distinguished National Honorary Chair of The American Citizenship Trust and its American Village Campus; and to see him present the American Freedom Award to his longtime friend General George W. Casey, Jr., and posthumously to General George W. Casey, Sr., a fire in my belly said, “Go!”

I did, and I didn’t look back. In anticipation of what I knew was going to be an amazing experience, in the midst of the events of the celebration weekend, which included the 88th birthday celebration of General Moore, as well as a 10th Anniversary celebration of the American Citizenship Trust, I opened myself up to meeting amazing people like Tom Walker, Founder and CEO of the American Citizenship Trust, and his wonderful, accomplished staff at the American Village.

I met the man called “Driver,” the author of A Tender Warrior, and his lovely and spirited wife Char. I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Sobel, of Sobel Communications, a specialist in military history and events, who has interviewed and written about General Moore for publication numerous times.

But, I cannot tell a lie. The event truly came alive for me the minute the beloved Vietnam War hero himself, Lt. General Hal Moore, walked into view, a handsome soldier with a huge, beautiful smile. When he passed by me in the processional, I knew I was right where I was meant to be that day. And when he delivered his prepared speech with strength and conviction and energy, nearly 600 of us were electrified. We were truly “in the presence of greatness.”

Authenticity is Contagious and Powerful

There is one more observation I’d like to share with you about General Moore that I witnessed on President’s Day. I saw what I can only describe as the “magic” of this man. As he spoke about the importance of young people to our future, he was bold at the lectern. As he described his sadness about the blood of his soldiers on his hands, he showed the soft side of the warrior.

When he presented Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., and Casey’s father, General George W. Casey, Sr., with the National Freedom Award, his smile lit up the room. His love for the Army Chief of Staff, who was like a son to him after the death of his father in Vietnam, was demonstrative, and returned with genuine admiration from the man who now leads our country’s Army. Photos snapped of the two men side by side throughout the day reveal a bond so heartfelt, it lifted all of us who had gathered at the convocation, and infused an easy atmosphere in the press room, where I was helping direct the media crews.

But, here’s what I will never, ever forget for as long as I live: When it was announced that “Liberty Hall,” the venue for the convocation that day, was officially going to be renamed “Lt. General Hal Moore Hall,” we saw the purest, most radiant reaction of honest-to-goodness joy and surprise on our hero’s face. I imagine that everyone there that day feels himself or herself to be a better person for witnessing that moment.

“Suit Up” to Make Your Dreams Come Alive

What else did I learn while in the presence of greatness? Believe every day that your dreams can come true. The event at the American Village Campus introduced me to heroes from all walks of life. I saw the manifestations of the dreams of so many people, like Tom Walker, his staff, and Driver. I saw the joy in a beloved hero’s face as he became the official honorary chair of the American Citizenship Trust at 88 years of age. And, yes, I was there to see it and help with it. I suited up. I lived my dream.

If there is anything I would like you to take away from reading about my amazing experience in Alabama, it’s this: if you decide to follow your dreams, no matter who you are, where you are, or how old you are, the incredible can happen. As Geothe said many, many years ago, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. Executive Outplacement and Career Management Services. Her website is http://www.dichapman.com

Make New Choices to Create a New Future

January 15, 2010

One of my favorite quotations of all time is the one that reads something like this:  “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” Whoa! Does anyone need clarification about what this statement means? When you’re looking for work, or when you’re looking for a new opportunity, whether it will be where you are now, or somewhere else you’d rather be, you must adopt a mindset that is different than the one you’re currently using. Sound complicated? Well, it can be, but let’s see if we can sort through some solutions while we’re on this page.

Have you ever prepared to  interview for a job that totally excites you, at a place that sounds great to you,  for a purpose that really appeals to you… only to find that in the interview, there’s no ability to “connect” well with the interviewer? This can happen at any time, in any place, and with anyone, for a very simple reason. Wherever you go, there you are. When you go to an interview, the “you” who has experience doing a job in a certain way, meets the “he or she” who has been doing the same job in a totally different way. The potential for “missing the mark” in the interview can be huge, unless one of the parties makes a concerted effort to point out mutual similarities and benefits, and is able to be like a chameleon on cue when courting a new employer.

This is not impossible to do, but yes, it can be a very tall order! As a professional in transition, one of the best things you can do to land a new job is to step out of your box of habits and customs that you derive from your former position, and strive to BE NEW. We’re not talking about throwing out excellent working habits of strategy creation, talent management, project management, leadership development, or sales tactics. Your abilities in those arenas will make an absolute difference in creating your success or failure no matter where you go.

What we’re talking about here is your enthusiastic embrace of taking risks as you walk into an interview situation, and of sometimes choosing the road less traveled…. Maybe for you that means saying “yes” to some standard questions that normally you would say “no” to. Or maybe it means something as simple as making a change in what you wear to an interview.  Do you normally wear a black pinstripe suit to your interviews? Try a gray or a navy blue. Have you been telling the same anecdotal stories for the last 20 years? Take a walk down memory lane and create new stories by revisiting the things that happened to you, and the milestones you achieved. If your stories are oldies but goodies, find a fresh way to tell them. Breathe new energy into a well-worn anecdote.

You can also look at personality traits that affect how you are perceived by interviewers. Do you have a normally “whisper quiet” demeanor? Try adding some volume to your voice. Are you a slow, methodical mover? Interject some energy and take some brisk steps down the hallowed halls of a potential employer. Are you fond of using colloquial expressions? Try up-to-the-minute vernacular for a change.  The point is, while you’re job hunting, why not consider making some changes?

A new job is all about a new future. It holds hope for new promises and new potential. Try something different as you set your sights on your next job. BE NEW to land it.

Di Chapman

CEO, Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service