So what did you do in your off time?

I’ve always thought this would be a great interview question. What you do with that extra time does say a lot about how you work and where you put value.

Donald Asher, in his book Cracking the Hidden Job Market, suggests that you spend 40 hours per week searching for a job when you are unemployed. Those 40 hours include networking, interviews and applications submitted plus any additional contact you can have with someone who could lead you to a new position.

The other 128 hours in the week can be used to help with the job search as well as help you get to your next position with a confident, excited spirit. You can start exercising (walk, take yoga, lift weights), learn a new skill (foreign language, web development, graphic design), find a new talent (no harm in making a little money playing guitar at a local coffee house while you’re looking for a day job!), or revamp you network (start a coffee and careers group with others in your area who are unemployed and exchange information, attend professional group lunches, volunteer in your community.)

For me personally, I put great value in learning something new, taking care of myself so I can be more self-assured when I get to the interview, working my network, and finding a special talent to share with others. During my unemployment, I’ve volunteered for a local volunteer center and started a job networking group. I’ve also taken this time to brush up on my technical writing skills. As well, I’ve signed up for career counseling which includes writing better cover letters, interviewing effectively, and making me a more confident job seeker. I’m also taking the time to write webinars in areas in which I wish to learn more (no better way to learn than to teach someone else!)

Take time to plan your 40 hours for the job search, but take the other 128 hours to make those 40 work better for you.


High Five – The 2nd Half

“I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.”

Being positive about the age you are, the situation you are in, or the state of your career can be a little difficult at times – especially if you are in the “Mid-Life” stage in the year 2014. The job market isn’t that friendly to, well, anyone but less so to those who are in the 40-65 age groups. However, at this stage, you are the more likely to find the career fulfillment you’ve been searching for since you left college. According to Carl Jung who created a model called Stages of Type Development in which there are four major stages – Childhood, Adolescence and Early Adulthood, Adulthood and Mid-Life, Maturity and Wisdom – this age group stands in stage where they have assets, experience and confidence enough to make positive changes.


“I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.”

In short, the first half of life (Childhood through Early Adulthood) is when family and cultural influences are most import and we are seeking experiences from which to learn. The “Mid-Life” stage (Adulthood and midlife) is when a major transition in energy and interests occurs. Additionally midlife is when people become aware of limitations both in time and possibilities and prepare to meet those challenges in life’s “Second Half” stage (Maturity and Wisdom).

Early adulthood is when most people pick a career; some are content with that choice and can excel in their chosen field until retirement or beyond. Others of us pick a career, love the career, but want something additional – not just to “be happy” as has become the joke, but to find some level of fulfillment and have some form of stability. Midlife has been defined as roughly between 40 and 60 years of age; however, Jung considered 56 as the beginning of the “Second Half” stage.

Those in midlife and beyond can be assured that they still carry the qualities of being positive, optimistic and determined because they have the assets and experience to meet career challenges. J.T. O’Donnell of wrote a great post on “3 Must-Dos in Your 40’s to Make Sure You’re Employed in Your 50’s” so give this a read and prepare to meet your second half with a smile.

High Five – Positive Vision

“In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision.”

I saw this quote and realized, I have not posted anything about my positive vision!


“In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision.”

I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, I think it started with my elective classes in college. In one class, I agreed to be a graduate student’s guinea pig (the control groups included those who did homework in silence, with heavy metal or classical music. I was in the group that had to listen to classical music and do some writing while it played. Kind of tranquil actually). I didn’t know at that point that I wanted to be more involved in psychology because I was on my way to becoming a technical writer (majoring in English).

Flash forward 15 years. I am inspired by a presentation at a local ATD meeting and learned that I enjoy personality assessments and the psychology as well as working with all levels of individuals that make up an organization. Add to this, a timely report comes out stating that Organizational Psychology one of the 20 fastest growing occupations. So I obtain my MBTI Facilitator Certification and enroll in a Psychology Masters program.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology defines the field of Organizational Psychology as “versatile scientists specializing in human behavior in the workplace. Employers hire them—either in-house or as consultants—because their expertise results in better hires, increased productivity, reduced turnover, and lower labor costs.”

There will be more posts as I begin my education and continue my research into this interesting and growing field. Until then, I will maintain my positive vision.

High Five – Never Give Up!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Mr. Edison’s quote reminds me of a time in my early life when I wanted to be a Pharmacist. I loved the idea of helping people feel better and the fact that I could live and work anywhere – but my way to success was blocked by an impenetrable brick wall made up of chemistry, statistics and physics. I collided with Math. At that point, I took my bruised ego and changed my major to Business which would lead me to Human Resource Management and play to my desire to work with people. In the Business classes I encountered were – wait for it – economics, calculus and accounting. There was no shortage wanting to give up here, at one point during a calculus exam, I looked at the test and realized I was never going to pass this class.

In that moment, though, I made a decision – not to be upset, not to be defeated, not be hurt – but to play to my strengths: writing, research, process and project management. I wrote my name on the test and handed it to the professor and said, “Thank you. I’m done.” I left that class for the last time and marched to the English department to change my major. My final attempt to find a place to succeed paid off; I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in English.

Along the way, I found a new passion – technical writing. I know it sounds weird to have a passion for writing technical manuals and online help but it allowed me to develop processes, manage projects and work with people to help them understand the most difficult concepts. And though I will probably never understand math, the position has allowed me to work with those brilliant people who do understand it – engineers, software developers and analysts.

With this quote, Thomas Edison encourages us to turn a negative – giving up – into a positive – be resilient and try just one more time to succeed.

High Five – Make a New Path!

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

I admit it, I have a background in English and I have a weakness for verse. But when I re-read this passage from Robert Frost, I thought it fell right into the positive category. Why? Because making and owning a decision gives us control and that control allows us confidence to go forth and make more decisions, even to divert from our current career path. As I’ve stated before, having control can lead to a more positive life.


“I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

According to Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert on, “Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times (with an average of 11 job changes) during his or her career, which means a good amount of time is spent changing employment. Job searching and networking, along with staying on top of the job market, has become an integral part of everyday work life, rather than something you do once or twice during your career.”

This could mean you change jobs for better pay, hours, more work-life balance, a chance to expand your skillset or you change careers to develop your skills in a different area. Maybe you remain at the same company and grow in your current job – team lead, supervisor, manager or encourage those in power to help you create a new position. If job changes are a constant, why tread down the same old path? No sighing involved, make a decision to take the less traveled road and make all the difference for yourself.

High Five – Just Be

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

I know you’re wondering how this could be a positive quote. But think about it. You take you and your talents with wherever you go. If you change jobs, houses, cities, states or countries, you are there. With that in mind, the you that you travel with had better be positive.


“Wherever you go, there you are!”

My point in using this quote for today is to bring attention to the fact that I know a lot of people are dealing with transitions in the job market lately. They have to determine whether they should move or stay where they are and stick it out. It’s true that only the individual can decide if that move is worthwhile. Leaving friends and family and, well, roots, is difficult but being laid off or having the job move away from you may call for tough decisions to be made.

In his book, Cracking the Hidden Job Market, Donald Asher writes, “Look around you. Do you see the future or the past? And don’t whine to me about your house. If you’re upside down in it, give it back to the bank. You’ll be a lot better off working in a career-enhancing role in a new locale. If you can’t sell it, fill it up with relatives or rent it out. Don’t hang on to a declining area until you’re flat, busted broke.” And he continues with, “Do something good and move away from bad times if that’s what it takes.”

The advice may seem a bit harsh but the sentiment is that you can make a positive change by doing something that may be very difficult. I’ve had friends who have moved – one completely uprooting within two weeks of getting her job – to new cities for new positions and new lives and both are thriving now. And I’ve met several people who sometimes live three hours from work but commute a few days a week, work remotely or have an apartment in the area. Keep in mind, taking your talents on the road or moving to another city entirely may be painful and a bit scary at the outset but in the end may be the most positive decision you will ever make.

High Five – Volunteer

Today’s quote from Arthur Ash embodies the spirit of volunteering: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” And it’s a positive quote because it states that you are perfect just as you are to do whatever comes next. However, you don’t have to be perfect to help someone else; you just have to be willing to help.


“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

I’ve volunteered most of my adult life. My first venture was for My Sister’s Closet which benefited the women who had come from domestic violence situations then I worked for a Crisis Center. I’ve been on professional boards, studied to teach adults to read, ran a website for my neighborhood, did a few resume writing workshops and wrote grants.

There are many articles out about the psychology of why people volunteer but for me (especially when I was laid off) volunteering was my lifeline because it helped me as much as I helped others. In the U.S. News ebook, How to Live to 100, it states “…volunteering improves the health, happiness, and in some cases, the longevity of volunteers. Children who volunteer are more likely to grow up to be adults who volunteer.” Then added, “And in a virtuous circle, communities with lots of volunteers are more stable and better places to live, which in turn further boosts volunteerism.”

Starting where you are (an individual with the desire to do something good) and using what you have (an ability to make a difference) to do what you can (achieve lasting results) can make the world a more positive place.