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.

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High Five – Be Positive for 12 Months!

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” –Winston Churchill

And I thought being positive for 30 days was tough!

Check out “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin who chose 365 days to be positive and happy!

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Be Positive for 30…no 365 Days!

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.”

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“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.

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

According to Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert on aboutcareers.com, “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.

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“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 – Change Your Perceptions

“To change ourselves effectively, we must first change our perceptions.” Aptly put by Steven Covey.

Changing one’s perception can often lead to a positive outcome. It gives you the ability to look at another person’s point of view, interpret a situation in a different way, or reevaluate an impression. It also gives you the opportunity to remove yourself from day-to-day monotony and alter your understanding. For example, if you meet a colleague at a coffee shop to discuss the ranking report or had a walking meeting with the Quality Assurance team to share statuses something more might be achieved.

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“To change ourselves effectively, we must first change our perceptions.”

I walked into Panera early one morning and looked around – everyone at the tables had open laptops, were scanning i-devices, scribbling furiously or speaking animatedly with their hands. Business was being conducted, and from the looks of things, a lot was being accomplished. Simply because they were away from the distractions of the office or were in a more open environment than a cold board room with institutional gray walls. A change not only in perspective (point of view) but in perception (understanding and thought) seemed to make this alternative work.

Another way to change the perception is through walking meetings. (I always recommend walking rather than sitting at a desk all day). Walking meetings stimulate creativity; inspire new ideas and improve well-being. It also increases brain function (brainstorming!).

Through movement – not just of our feet but of our thoughts – it seems that we are changing ourselves effectively and the working world is shifting in a positive direction as well.

High Five – One Step Starts a Long Journey

In researching positive thinking, I found a quote from Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I immediately thought of all the journeys I wanted to undertake. It was exhilarating to know that traveling a long distance requires the simplest of motions to get started – taking the first step. That, however, is often the hardest part because there is fear – fear of risk, fear that there won’t be enough resources or fear of giving up the life you already know. But, upon consideration, that first step allows you see a different perspective – closer to your goal – and can indicate a new, positive beginning, the start of something you’ve always wanted. Fear will be there, regardless, but it will fade with each successful step.

Everyone’s journey is individual – some may include learning a new skill, breaking a bad habit (like negative thinking!), exercising more, losing weight, getting a business off the ground or writing a novel.

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The journey I am planning involves going back to college for my Masters. For many years, I looked for a profession that would combine my love of process and organization (technical writing) and convey instructions either through eLearning online or as presentations (training) and conduct individual assessments to determine group interactions and organizational functions. And, after much investigation, I found Organizational Psychology.

According to Onetonline.org, Organizational Psychologists “apply principles of psychology to human resources, administration, management, sales, and marketing problems. Activities may include policy planning; employee testing and selection, training and development; and organizational development and analysis. May work with management to organize the work setting to improve worker productivity.”

It appears to be everything in one bundle. However, taking the first step is a little unnerving. Logically, I know and I’m sharing this: with the right mindset, one step will follow another until the mile marker shows that a thousand miles has passed. So, get moving! I’ll be walking right there, too.