“If you have the courage to be yourself, people’ll pay your price.” – Rabbit Run, John Updike

In Rabbit Run, Updike presents an unhappy and unfulfilled character full of flaws and hopes and tied up in a life that seems not entirely his own.  Rabbit’s moment of greatest happiness occurs during his first appearance in the novel- in the opening pages he observes a high school game of pick-up basketball, eventually sloughing off his sports coat and joining in, all lanky limbs and joy.  You feel the optimism return to him as his muscles remember the game they used to play- it’s sport as religion, athleticism as the purest form of joy. 


Without launching into a full on analysis of a novel I very much enjoyed, what Rabbit finds, however briefly, is what we should all be looking for.  Whatever it is that makes you feel whole, electrified, on edge- and oftentimes it’s a combination of things- seek it out, thrive to include it in your life! It takes courage and conviction to recognize what it is that makes you tick and go after it, but as Updike notes, people will pay the price.  Stand up for what you believe in and remember to be yourself, in your professional life, in your relationships, and you’ll be less likely to find yourself in Rabbit’s predicament: a shell of who you might have been, in a life that seems to have happened around you. 

Even in my daily sales, rather than follow a scripted routine, I’m honest, sincere and always maintain a sense of humor, and it works!  People appreciate frankness and individuality- and value them more than you might think. 

Again, good luck to all you career searchers, and as always, I hope more of you have ceased checking in for tips and tricks and are happily employed in your dream job!


Stick It Out

There comes a time, especially often when you are in the beginning of your working days, when the bell tolls: it’s simply time to move on from your current position. Whether you have ascertained for certain that there is no room for growth in your position, your company has come under new management, or it’s just time for a new direction, it’s tempting to simply up and give your two weeks notice when you have that moment of realization. However appealing that might be, don’t! You’re infinitely more valuable employed than unemployed, whether your unemployment was your own choice or not. It’s back to that annoying paradox you encountered on day one of your non-student life: it’s near impossible to get a job unless you have a job. Don’t forget that lesson you learned- any job is better than no job! It’s simply the truth of how the market functions: when something is in demand, people fight to get their hands on it. When something sits unnoticed on a shelf, with back stock piling up, even the best sale can’t get someone to purchase it. If you are in demand by another employer, it’s a green flag for a potential employer- you are skilled and reliable, as certified by another company.

So, as much as you might want to jump ship and pour all your time and energy into seeking out that next opportunity, take a moment to assess your situation. Stay in your current position, continue seeking our opportunities for advancement or improvement, and search for a new career in your free time. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.

each one teach one

Way back when, wrapped up in the throes of “What color is your parachute?” I encountered a section toward the end of the book entitled, “Each one teach one.” Devoted as I was to discoveering exactly which shade of crazy my particular parachute might be, I dutifully plowed through the chapter.  Really? I thought to myself, I’m having a hard enough time just trying to get my own life together, how could I teach anyone how to do the same? As the months have gone on, and employment has followed, I’ve found myself obsessing less about the color of my parachute than simply being grateful for the fact that I have one.

As my own anxiety about unemployment has waned, I have become acutely aware of friends and acquaintances experiencing the same emotions I did just a short time go. Whenever possible, I offer my advice, guidance, enthusiasm, and above all, positive reinforcement. Looking back over these conversations, as much as I’ve helped others I’ve helped myself. Simply reiterating the sense of hope and perseverance I feel about the road ahead reinforces them for me, and I feel a renewed drive to make the positive changes I’m encouraging in others. So, each one teach one? Perhaps it hasn’t turned out to be as selfless of a mantra as I originally thought, but it’s certainly helped more than a few people move along in the world!

deck the halls

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

Let’s pause the ever fervent job hunt for just a moment, and take some time to consider those less fortunate than ourselves.  While I’m excitedly typing away on my MacBook trying to motivate myself and the jobless masses INTO employment, it’s all too easy to forget that there’s almost always someone worse off than yourself out there.

So, when you get a chance please check out this wonderful post!  It’s a great resource that makes it easy to pinpoint ways to lend a helping hand this holiday season.  The temperatures dropping and the holiday lights are out at midnight- so even if you don’t take advantage of one of these more creative ways to make a difference, drop off canned goods at your local food bank, or clear out those old winter coats that are just taking up room in your closet and donate them to your local shelter.

Happy Holidays!

torture or titillating?

Sending out a new cover letter for each position you apply for can be daunting- but I think we’ve all been at that point when it just feels like torture.  If you’re creating little rewards for yourself (if I do one more I get to eat that truffle that’s been sitting in my refrigerator) just to make it through, it’s time to step back and take a look at what you’re doing.

Sometimes the job is perfect for you, your dream position, but what your potential employer is asking for is the bare bones, plain and boring: “Please send resume and credentials in cover letter.”  Well, in that case, you’re just going to have to power through, because it will be worth it in the end.  Other times the prompt is great, but you find yourself really struggling to sound excited in your cover letter, to connect your true interests to those that might best qualify you for the position.  In that case you might want to pause and ask yourself, Is this really for me?  Unless you’re financially obligated to take any job that comes your way (in which case, DO!), it’s important to take time every so often to reevaluate what it is you’re really looking for.  As I’ve said before, finding a job is like getting into a relationship- it’s equally important to know what YOU want as it is to anticipate what your potential employer is looking for.

If the words are flying out from beneath your fingers and your foot is tapping in anxious excitement as your trying to reign in your cover letter from exceeding a page in length- by all means EDIT and EDIT again- this is the job for you!  If you can’t decide which example to use in your cover letter because you have too many relevant ones, or which interest to highlight because all of yours seem to align perfectly with those the position entails, follow up with a phone call, send another email, don’t let your dream job slip away!

In summation?  If even applying for the job is torture, do you really thinking doing it forty hours a week will be much better?  If you’re short of breath even while crafting your cover letter, do everything in your power to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for that job!

Go get em, tigers.

Twitter to the rescue!

3 Simple Ways You Can Use Twitter To Find A Job – AllTwitter.

If you haven’t checked out mediabistro.com – do!  It cuts a lot of the “internships” listed on craigslist, and thus reduces the amount of time it takes you to scan the listings for viable employment options.  This article from them, “3 Simple Ways…” is a great resource on how to use Twitter to help in your job search.  Here’s where I get a little confused- I understand that Twitter can be a great resource, as can its system of hashtags and search engine- but how do you maintain a Twitter that is both employment appropriate AND interesting?

I’ve noticed that a lot of companies lately ask for a link to your personal Twitter account, often justifying this request by adding, “So we can get a sense of who you are.”  I’ve read plenty of interviews with recruiting firms and hiring partners that extoll the virtue of Twitter for really getting a sense of what someone is all about, in five minutes or less, before you even walk through the door.  Twitter, unlike Facebook, is delightfully unencumbered of your high school years and the photos that accompany those…interesting…times.  Most people have acquired a Twitter account in the last year or two, making the “cleaning up for prospective employers” process a lot more manageable.

Getting back to the original question- is it better to go through and censor your current Twitter account or create a new one with the sole directive of aiding your search for employment?  I always wonder what an employer will think of a “clean Twitter slate”, if you will.  It’s clear that you deemed your personal Twitter unacceptable for some reason- and doesn’t that leave everyone wondering what exactly it is your hiding?  The only conclusion I’ve come to is to keep your personal Twitter, but follow these three steps before you start listing it publicly in your employment search.

1. Go through your Tweets and delete any that fall outside the realm of “acceptable”- whatever you determine this to be.

2. Change your bio to reflect what your looking for in your job search.  Use key words.

3. Keep tweeting as usual, but try to tweet at least once every few days something relevant to your desired field of employment.

In a world so focused on social media it’s inevitable that the employment game will reflect that many of us lead very public internet lives that we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking are private.  The only solution is to curb your internet persona- put the brakes on Facebook and Twitter as a personal web space, and come to terms with the fact that no matter how private you imagine your internet presence to be, the information you post is out there in cyberspace forever.  You draft and re-draft your cover letter and resume, choose the perfect outfit for the interview, rehearse potential questions and responses, so after all that effort don’t forget to groom the “internet-you” as well!

do what you love

My mother once told me, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”  I’ve tried to abide by this rule, seeking out employment in fields that interest me primarily because of my passions rather than the monetary reward.  I think it’s important to keep in mind that money can buy you plenty of things, but happiness isn’t one of them.  You’re going to be spending at least eight, if not more, hours a day in your career, so don’t choose something that’s going to make you miserable.  Concurrently, if you’re doing what you love, success will come naturally.  In the words of Abraham Lincoln,

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

Sometimes you have to take a job to maintain an income, but always remember what really makes you tick, and strive to enter that field.  If you don’t know what that field or career might be, turn to informational interviews, friends, relatives, anyone who might be able to provide insight into the inner workings of a particular field.  Asking questions never hurt anyone, and it might even unearth a job lead!  Be aggressive, and good luck!