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My Very Own Super Tuesday

What’s that saying? Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness? Do allow me to explain.

About four Tuesdays ago, the elections were in full swing. Everywhere on the news it was Clinton this, Obama that, and/or McClain this and that. All of this talk about changes they were going to make. I know because I was sitting on the couch watching the TV. Yep, you guessed it. I didn’t have a job. And it was getting old.

Well, I must have fallen asleep and through osmosis, gained inspiration from everything they were talking about. About how “The time for change is now” and “If you don’t like how things are going, change them!” The quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” comes to mind.

Anyway, I woke up with such a motivation to change my own life. I got off the couch and cleaned my whole apartment. And I have to say, a clean room to me, must be like springtime to a caterpillar. It really uncluttered my mind. Next, I got on the computer and updated my résumé. I wrote a compelling cover letter and scoured the internet for a job leads. Then I went outside for a jog (something must have happened to me by then because I am NOT a runner), and came back to a clean apartment. It felt great.

In the following weeks, I had really gotten my life on track. I was exercising, practicing my interviewing skills, applying for jobs and just generally being positive. I had started networking with my friends and parents and friends of parents— anything I could think of in order to get a job. That was my goal.

I wanted change, so I became changed. I had picked that day to do it and was awaiting an opportunity to come my way. I knew that when it did, I’d be ready. Another quote that comes to mind is, “You can’t win if you don’t enter.” And how very true that is. Luck isn’t found, it’s made. And you could make some of your very own, this Tuesday perhaps!

Beware: The Internet Can Ruin You

We all know what social networking is right? You sign up for an account such as Myspace or Facebook, become “friends” with hundreds of people you probably never talk to, and update pictures of you and your friends looking like fools. Oh it’s loads of fun. Until you risk a potential job over it.

Today’s employers are researching the online persona of applicants and taking that into consideration over the traditional resume. Resumes tell a lot about a person, but most people embellish and lie to get ahead in the professional world. By going online to your personal profile an employer can see your sex, race, age, interests, and all those drunken pictures you have with your friends. An employer can be on the verge of hiring you, but if your Myspace profile raises red flags about your lifestyle and values then you might as well go back to the beginning of your job search. You are only going to be hurting yourself by adding “smoking weed” to your interests.

The solution: clean it up! I’m not saying that you have to have a boring profile and delete everything that defines you as a unique individual. Just be smart about your choices. When I got back from my trip to Russia I had listed Vodka under my interests. That obviously isn’t the gem employers look for in applicants and so I cleaned up my profile and deleted that interest. I also deleted any pictures of myself holding alcohol bottles or anything that might be too risqué and tasteless. My final step was making my profile friends only. It is now private and employers can only see my main picture and my age. Think of how you would want to be viewed by the people you work with. If you put anything vulgar or crude on the Internet it will most likely come back to haunt you.

Resumes, test scores, and grades are one way of learning about an applicant but the Internet is now the main research tool in eliminating job candidates. Don’t belittle the adult world – they are smart and they will find out your personal information if you let it run free on the Internet.

The Key to Success in the Workplace

Passion. If passion doesn’t drive you then I don’t know what will. It makes work seem like fun, your hours spent actually seem to matter and you know that you are helping an industry that you have such a love for. My teachers always told me that if you can turn your passion into your job then you are the luckiest person in the world. If you have a love for what you do every day then your work will be top notch and not only you but the company will radiate from your performance.

Everyone knows what passion is. I don’t need to describe how to attain that glowing emotional feeling when you are overly enthusiastic for something. However, I can tell you why it is so important to exude passion in the workplace. First of all, passion intensifies your focus. If you love what you are working on then you will put all your energy, love and focus into the project. And focus is huge for the outcome of a company. Additionally, people with passion raise the standards of performance in the workplace. If everyone is motivated and excited about their work then the people who aren’t passionate will stick out like a sore thumb. This will let the company weed out the people who don’t care about their work and keep the standards of the company high. Lastly, people with passion create an electric and stimulating work environment that energizes other people. Instead of snoozing off on the job, people are active and everyone is feeding off everyone else’s energy.

Passion is the key to success in the workplace no matter where you work or how tedious your job is. If you love doing your job then it never feels like you are working a day in your life. Keep the passion alive in your work and you will outshine the people who are restlessly counting down the minutes to 5 pm.

Back to school: Not just for the kids

 

The mere thought of returning to school after an extended vacation is frightening enough for some adults to disregard the option all together. Or perhaps you’re one of the many who would jump at the chance but can’t seem to figure out how school would fit into your already overloaded schedule. 

In today’s age of technology the solution is simple: online courses.  

Online courses put the class time in your hands. They give you the flexibility necessary when scheduling car pool and class time. If you have school age children online courses let you focus on school while your children are out of the house during the day. If you’re more nocturnal you can catch up on your work after the kids are in bed. And if you’re working and going to school flexibility is just that more important. Schedule your test time after your afternoon meeting. Or, bring a lunch and do work then.  

Online courses eliminate wasted travel time. Your time is valuable. And if your closest campus isn’t just around the corner the time spent driving to and from school is time lost. If you travel frequently for your job it would be impossible to keep up with classes. But with online courses all you need is an internet connection.  

Online courses give adults the opportunity to become more tech-savvy. If you’re intimidated by the idea of communicating with your professors and classmates solely through the internet then chances are your eight year old is still turning on the computer for you. Once you familiarize yourself with the basics, the time needed to comprehend new software and online resources will be cut in half. Then you can give your kids a few pointers.  

And that’s just the beginning. Most instructors update the online calendar frequently making it easy to anticipate upcoming assignments and tests and even finish them ahead of schedule giving you even more free time. And by making your home office your new classroom you can even go to class in your pajamas. Just like the old days.

Mom’s Return to the Workforce

 

When I was a young girl I had the privilege of having a mother whose main priority and responsibility was, well, me. She dropped me off and picked me up everyday (as well as some of the neighborhood stragglers who missed the bus). I often scoffed at my classmates who brown bagged it; my lunch was constantly a gourmet feast, packed neatly into a fashionable lunch box with a matching thermos that almost always had steamy tomato soup inside. My science projects tended to shine more than others…mostly due to my mother’s contributions. And, of course all of my papers and presentations were neatly bound and laminated. Every week night, regardless of after school activities, we would all sit down for a family dinner prepared by – you guessed it – mom.  

But then I turned thirteen and high school was quickly approaching. My life was about to change – drastically. My mother was becoming increasingly bored and right about the time I was planning my courses for high school she was planning on going back to work.  

At first I was shocked. I knew I was at the point where I was too cool for the parent drop-off, but those lunches? And who would make dinner every night? (Food, obviously, is high on my list of priorities.) It never occurred to me how stifling it was for her to stay home all day.  

Going back to work after an extended sabbatical can be tough on anyone. For stay at home moms the process can be extremely daunting and exhausting. First things first: get on the same page as your family. Talk to your spouse and allow him to voice his concerns about your return to the workforce. Is he available to run some of the mom-type errands if you need to stay late at work? Are his barbeque skills up to par in the event you can’t have dinner ready? Next talk to your kids and tell them how it will affect them. If they are still young it is important to let them know your schedule and how frequently you will be around when they get home from school.  

Now it is time to address that pesky employment gap in your résumé. Luckily you aren’t required to organize your résumé in a time line. Rather, organize it by the types of positions you’ve held in the past. But if, and when, the gap is addressed don’t get defensive about the time you’ve spent at home. Instead try and emphasize what types of activities you were engaged with outside of your home. Were you active in the PTA or your home owner’s association? What about time you spent coaching your daughter’s softball team? These are contributions to the community and will never weigh against you when interviewing.  

The most important thing to remember when returning to your chosen field is that you weren’t unemployed in the first place – you were raising a family and shaping lives. Your new employer isn’t doing you a favor by offering you a job. You have all the necessary skills to be a contributing asset to your new company. You might just have to dust them off a little.

The Dating/Job Hunting Parallel

 

If you’re still feeling hopeless about your job search it might be time to brush up on your dating skills. Have you ever considered how similar job hunting is to date hunting? Think about it. From promoting yourself through the ranks to exploring for new opportunities the similarities are endless.  

Allow me to illustrate my point that the two are more than a little parallel with a few examples. Consider your single self. You’ve decided that its time to put yourself back on the market. First you have to put yourself out there and make it known that you are available and looking. What do you do? You go out with friends to places where there are many people to mingle with. You try to meet as many people as possible in order to determine the best fit for your personality and your lifestyle. You might mention to friends and family what type of people you are interested in and what you need.

Now consider your unemployed self. You’re on the prowl for a new occupation and you need to make it known. What do you do? You network with friends and family, neighbors and maybe previous coworkers. You let them know that you are searching and what exactly you are searching for in terms of a job. You research career websites as much as possible in order to be up to date on what is available in your market. If you’re out with friends and happen to stumble upon someone who somewhat matches what you’re looking for you make the effort to reach out to them and see what exactly they have to offer. The same is true for a job. If you happen to hear of an available position then you should reach out to the company’s HR department, submit your résumé and schedule an interview to see if there is a mutual fit.  And just like a new relationship, your guard is up with a new employer and a new position. You wouldn’t reveal all of your bad habits to a new boyfriend just like you wouldn’t to a new employer. It’s necessary to always put your best foot forward when approaching a new relationship and a new job.  

If you’re still having trouble seeing the light I’m shining, then Google “dating tips”. Within the first search page you will have more than enough inspiration to apply to your job search. For example, “Get prepared for dating [working]…decide who [what] you are looking for. Do your research and commit to dating [working].” “Get your image right. Don’t go overboard and become someone you are not, but spruce yourself up a little bit. People appreciate appearance.” And my personal favorite, “Choose those that you have a good chance of dating [becoming employed with], don’t aim low but do aim realistically.” 

It’s important to be mindful of your goals and aspirations when dating and searching for a new job. And with either it is important to remember that if someone doesn’t want you it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. You just have to get back out there and be more creative in your search.

Happy Hunting!