Opportunity Knocks – Will You Answer?

“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat”.  (Napoleon Hill)

 When you suffer a misfortune or temporary defeat, specifically the loss of a job, you may not always see it as an opportunity.  And, having now officially been a member of the downsized workforce for 18 months, I can attest to the fact that at times it may be hard to recognize the opportunities.  But believe me – they do exist, and when I look back over the course of this past year and a-half I recognize the many opportunities that have been afforded me.

 First, I had the opportunity to take some classes that allowed me to increase my knowledge and develop skills that will make me more valuable to my next employer.   And, in case you aren’t aware of it, displaced workers are eligible to receive funding for education in high demand areas.  What an opportunity that is!  If you want to find out more about this opportunity, check with your state unemployment office.

 I’ve also had the opportunity to learn that some of the things I thought I absolutely had to have, I don’t really need.  I know that may not sound like a positive thing, but it is.  Learning to be content with what you have and where you are is something that lots of people who have oodles and oodles of material possessions never learn.  I know now that I can actually accept employment that may not pay the “big bucks”, but will be rewarding to me.  When you measure that against giving up gourmet coffee and the trendiest outfit, it seems like a fair trade-off.

 This leads me to the last opportunity I have been given since being unemployed, the opportunity to volunteer.  This has been one of the most rewarding things I have done.  This may not be the case for everyone, but because of my intrinsic desire to help others learn and grow it has been particularly rewarding for me.  I currently provide financial counseling for those in need, tutor in an adult literacy program, and provide birthday cakes for residents of a children’s home who would otherwise pretty much be ignored on their birthdays.  Doing these activities allows me to keep active and sharp, and has given me the opportunity to see how blessed I truly am, because I’ve come to recognize no matter what situation I’m in, I don’t have to look very far to see someone who is suffering true misfortune. 

I challenge you.  Look around – whatever situation you currently find yourself in – there’s an opportunity just around the corner waiting for you to seize it!


“What Have You Been Doing Since You’ve Been Out of Work?”

“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once”. (Ashleigh Brilliant)

On October 30, 2009 “several days attacked me at once”. I left for my job just as I had every other day for the past 8 years (almost to the day).  My Outlook calendar was filled with meetings/phone calls/work tasks for several weeks out.
Of course, I knew when I went to work that morning, this was the day we were going to be told whether we would to be a part of the new organization.  So when my manager (of less than 2 weeks – explains a lot right there) sent me a meeting notice for that morning I accepted it, and showed up right on time.  And even though my teammates and I knew for many weeks, that because of the deep cuts being done, there was a possibility we might be let go, when I heard the words “your position is being eliminated” I was not prepared.  How could this be?  I was a model employee – volunteered for planning teams, received accolades from the groups I supported, met deadlines consistently, completed my performance reviews ahead of schedule, earned a graduate degree through the tuition reimbursement plan, participated in over 200 hours of company offered classes/seminars/training, maintained a positive attitude during the multiple changes the company experienced – and yet I had just become “downsized”.

After the shock wore off and I let all my co-workers and family know I had been let go, I began the process of getting on with my life “post-employment”.  Even though I am generally a positive and upbeat person, to say that this didn’t set me back would be a lie.
However, the thing is, it didn’t knock me down completely. And it has been both a learning experience and a growth experience for me.  Here’s a few things I’ve done while engaging in my job search:

  •  Researched multiple companies and learned there are LOTS of great companies in this area
  • Learned that I have so many strengths to contribute to an organization
  • Participated in multiple networking events (getting me out of my comfort zone)
  • Developed a relationship with some great people I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t been “between opportunities”
  • Volunteered for some incredible organizations
  • Earned 9 more college credits
  • Climbed a mountain in South Dakota
  • Read numerous self-improvement books

There are so many more things I could add to the list, but I’ll save those for later.  Do you realize if I wasn’t in this situation it’s unlikely I would have done most of these?  By not letting this particular life event crush me, I’ve  learned new things and grown as a person and as a leader.  So the next time I get asked in an interview “You’ve been out of work for a while – what have you been doing?”  I think I have a pretty impressive answer!

“You Inspire Me”

So I’ve been in corporate America long enough to have taken multiple personality/behavior/motivational tests.  An interesting thing that always comes back from these is that I’m the type of person that “inspires” others, that I am most motivated when I’m helping someone grow or learn or feel better about themselves.

Now I’m not saying this to “toot my own horn” (even though I did once receive advice in a performance review that I needed to do that more often).  I’m saying it because just yesterday I received 2 e-mails from different friends and the jist of what they both told me was “you inspired me”.  And all I had done in one instance was send an e-mail thanking her for some great help and advice she had given me.  And in the other instance, I basically showed up and talked about how I was conducting my job search and shared some tips on what is working for me.

My point in those 2 examples is anyone can be an inspiration to others, simply by doing what you can do.   In my case, I sent a quick note and I showed up!  And haven’t you heard it said that 80% of success in life is showing up?

Have a blessed day and be an inspiration to others.

Resume – To Pay or Not to Pay

“Keep it to 1 page”,  “you can’t show who you are in 1 page”, “chronological”, “functional”, “hybrid”, “have an objective”, “don’t have an objective, do a summary statement”!  Aggghhhhhh!! Resume advice……if you ask 10 different people about resumes you’ll get 10 different opinions.   Since my resume has become a fluid and ever-changing document, I’ve had time to get lots of different opinions and I want to share some observations with you.

First, the resume is a tool to help you get an interview for a  job – so make sure it shows your experience, accomplishments, contributions, knowledge, skills and abilities so it will really shine and catch the eye of the recruiter who is  looking at literally hundreds of resumes.

Second, there’s nothing wrong with having someone help you write your resume, (especially in this job market); but remember if you can’t sell what’s in it it’s not of much value.   I hired someone to help me, but I can speak to and support every detail in there if I’m asked about it.  And you can get help without having to pay lots of money.  There are great folks in job clubs, state employment agencies, and other non-profits that have lots of experience  and are more than willing to help you for free or a small fee.

Third, and last – a resume isn’t set in stone.  I’ve made tweaks to the one I paid for.   Nothing that changes the message – just re-worded something so it’s a truer reflection of me.  And that’s o.k.  If you don’t feel comfortable with your resume, how are you going to sell what’s in it when you are sitting in an interview.

Good luck – and don’t forget to make use of all the great resume resources available, paid or unpaid.  God bless you in your job search!

Lessons Learned When You’ve Been “Displaced”

Sixteen months – that’s how long it has been since I became one of the millions of Americans considered a “displaced employee”.  In some ways it seems like only yesterday that I heard “your position is being eliminated”; in other ways it seems like a lifetime ago.  I had been at that company 8 years – survived multiple layoffs, reorgs., restructurings, mergers, etc., etc., etc.   And before that I ran  two small service businesses or worked for other companies for over 15 years.   So being in this position was an entirely foreign concept to me.  Being in this position, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.  It’s common sense lessons, but sometimes we need  life to remind us.

In my first post I want to share three things I’ve learned from my circumstances.

First – I’ve learned that you shouldn’t let your job alone define who you are.  It’s true  – a full-time 40+ hour a week job does comprise a big part of your life.  But if the unforeseeable happens and you lose that job through no fault of your own, you have to realize you are so much more than your job title.  You possess unique traits and talents that have nothing to do                        with your J-O-B.  That’s what makes you – you!

Second – If you did let your job define who you are – redefine yourself!  I was a financial analyst in my last position.  But when I wasn’t a financial analyst, I realized I was still a: problem solver; relationship developer; constant learner; and consistent top performer.  These are skills I can carry to whatever my next challenge may be.

Third – Don’t spend all your time in front of the computer looking for job leads. Dress up, get out, meet people, network, volunteer.  I know it’s easy to sit in front of the computer and find all the great “opportunities” out there on those job boards.  But I’ve heard it from so many recruiters, job club meetings, career counselors:  you find a job by talking to people.  I believe that to be true.  And 3 out of the 4 interviews I’ve had were the result of a friend putting my resume in front of someone.

In my next post, I’ll share my resume’s life-story.  Yes  – it does have a life of its own.  It’s already celebrated its first birthday.  🙂

Keep on keeping on – God Bless!

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