What Are You Afraid Of?

Written by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

After years of working with job seekers, I see that for many people what holds us back isn’t our external circumstances – the job market, the economy, etc. – but our internal ones. Yes, there are factors we need to consider; child care, transportation, education, geographic location, and yes, the job market and economy are just a few.  But the internal landscape presents much more daunting obstacles:scared

Fear of change

Fear of getting stuck in a rut

Fear of leaving

Fear of staying

Fear of success

Fear of failure

Fear of what others think

Fear of starting over

Fear of rejection

Fear that you’ve “lost your touch”

Fear of looking stupid

Fear of making a bad decision

Fear of something new

Fear of things always being in upheaval

We start internal conversations and psych ourselves out of taking risks before we even have a chance to get started. “I wasn’t very good at school when I was a kid. What makes me think I’d be good at it now?” “That’s a big commitment. I probably shouldn’t even start.” “I’ll just go back to my old job.” “I have to do this because it’s what I went to school for.” “I don’t know what my options are.”

Why do we let our fears make our decisions for us? Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (who certainly knows a thing or two about walking away from a situation) wrote in Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Why are you in your current situation, whatever that might be? Is it where you want to be? I love quotes – so here are some famous people giving insights on how to get unstuck and stop letting your fears rule.

“Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson

Is your fear of change holding you back?

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” – Maimonides

Do you think you have to be perfect?

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.” – Cardinal Newman

Do other people think you have to be perfect?

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

You really can do this.

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The effort will be worth it, even if you don’t reach your goals in the way you expect.

“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try, you don’t take the risk.” – Rosalynn Carter

There are so many quotes about risk and reward and adventure; I’d like to close with one of my favorites:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd

Set sail!

 

 

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Career Monsters

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

With Halloween right around the corner, we’re constantly seeing displays and decorations with bats and witches and spiders and other assorted creepies. You might even see some scary creatures around your workplace:

 

The Vampire
vampire
“I vill suck all the happiness from your job….”

This person sucks the life out of every conversation. Have a great idea? The Energy Vampire will let you know all the reasons it won’t work. Happy about a recent success? The E.V. will point out the parts that didn’t go perfectly.

The Zombie

The Zombie is just putting in the hours. Instantly recognizable by his/her coffee cup death-grip and delayed reaction times, as well as an unmistakable lack of interest in providing input, meeting deadlines, or mustering enthusiasm for anything except Friday afternoons. Sometimes mistaken for Career Monster #3:

The Ghost

Does this person still work here? They’re not at meetings, don’t return phone calls, can’t be found at their desk, and might as well not have an e-mail address. Nobody is really sure what the Ghost does all day.

The Werewolf

You’re never sure which personality will appear: the mild-mannered, seemingly normal human being, or the vicious rampaging animal. The Werewolf may not even blink at a major problem one day, then totally flips out over a minor detail the next. Co-workers live in fear of being on the wrong side of this person.

 The Ogre

You might find yourself wondering how this person ever got hired, because you’ve never seen a smile on their face or heard them utter a pleasant word. An accepted part of the office culture, The Ogre’s grumbles, glowers, and roars are their own known methods of communication.

 The Skeleton

The Skeleton is a bare-bones kind of person, doing the absolute minimum required to get by but putting on a good face whenever the boss is around. Their role is important enough that you can’t justify getting rid of them entirely, but it’s obvious to anyone who works with a Skeleton that there’s not a lot of skin in the game.

 The Mummy

The Mummy is completely wrapped up in his/her own work, personal situation, or drama of the day, there’s no room for anything else. Need help or information from the Mummy? Be prepared to hear about every iteration of the project from the dawn of time, and all the unappreciated work the Mummy has put into it already. Need something done right away? You’re sure to find out just how inconvenient this is, given all the other things the Mummy has going on right now – which you’re about to hear in exhaustive detail….

 The Ax Murderer

“He was very quiet. He kept to himself…..” Doesn’t every neighbor of every scary real-life human say the same thing? Look out for the Ax Murderer, who appears perfectly nice to everyone but has a scary double life, picking out victims from among co-workers and chopping their reputation, work, or relationships to pieces and hiding the evidence.

 

Career Monsters aren’t limited to Halloween season. Keep an eye out for these real-life scaries (and make sure you can’t be mistaken for any of them)!

 

 

The September Blues Might Be Just a Habit

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

The school year has started. The dust has settled. Everyone is getting used to the newroutine. And the September blues start to settle in…..

September blues

For years I felt sort of depressed and anxious when fall rolled around and I wasn’t starting school. It seemed like that was what I was supposed to be doing, and even though I’d moved on to a completely different part of my life, some part of me was holding on to the idea that I needed to buy some school supplies and start out on a new adventure.

Does fall make you feel like you should have a new beginning as well? Take a minute to think about this in terms of your job search and the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Are you headed in the direction you want? Or the direction you think you’re supposed to want? Or the direction that you’re used to wanting?

We get into habits of body and mind: our morning routines, the route for a daily commute, the same haircut, a rotating menu of your favorite dishes. Some of these habits help us function without the drag of constantly having to make decisions. Some of these habits create a sense of continuity and form the basis of cherished traditions (turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, anyone?). And some habits go from being well-trodden paths to deep ruts that are nearly impossible to steer out of.stuck-in-a-rut

When you think about your job search, are you excited about the possibilities ahead? Or does your job search feel like a drag? This might be a good time to stop and consider:  What do you want? And why do you want it? Periodically reconfirming the reasons why you’re headed in your current direction can be a powerful force to keep you motivated during your search.

Back to the Classroom: A Success Story

By Rose Morrone-Reeves, Employment Services Coordinator

We are not officially two months into the summer season and the “Back to School” commercials have already captured the attention of millions of children, young adults and adults alike. Is it that time already? As a parent of grown adult children I no longer need to worry about the long list of school supplies or the expense of new clothes or the latest new running shoes for gym class. But, as a Career Advisor this time of year does bring many questions regarding the return to the classroom from my customers which are sometimes filled with confusion and uncertainty. For some adults, by personal choice or through circumstances beyond their control, are forced into a career change and contemplate seriously about returning to school.

Many of these folks are returning to school for the first time after having been employed in the workforce for 25+ years. Some of them know exactly what they want to do and may come to me already having been ewe-can-do-itnrolled in part-time classes for the last several years in a program of their choosing.  And then, there are those who by choice or design went to work just coming out of high school. They worked steadily for an employer for 25+ years, secure in thinking they would retire with this employer, only to discover the employer is downsizing or moving operations to another country. I had the privilege of working with one such lady.

When we sat down to discuss her options she went blank. She had never thought of doing anything else; she had worked as an assembly line worker for 27 years, raised her family and enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and reading mystery novels. It had never crossed her mind to return to school, but here she was at a crossroads. The process took her through testing and a multitude of questionnaires. After a few weeks we sat down to discuss her results. It was clear from the test results she had very high mechanical and math aptitude skills. This information shocked her; she confessed she never had a problem with math in high school and recalled having enjoyed it. We discussed non-traditional jobs which she could be very well suited for and the schools which would offer the best programs. She took a chance and decided to investigate and research a few schools of her choice.

She applied and was accepted to a very prominent Aviation Technology Institute. She confided in me at how quickly the two years went by. The course work was undoubtedly difficult and many times during our meetings she would tell me how much time she spent studying and having to pass up on many family and social gatherings so she could study. She was fortunate to have a supportive family who also encouraged and cheered her on during the two years. She had quickly discovered what worked for her when it came to her study habits and being successful. She completed her two year program with honors and received her Certificate in Airframe and Power Plant Technician Program. She told me if “If I can do it, anyone can do it”. I have always been a believer that where there is a will, there is way.

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated” Oscar Wild

 

Back to School?

Back-to-School

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

Job seekers often consider going back to school, either to update their skills or train in a new field,  especially if they’ve been working in an industry that had a significant downturn or has changed a lot in recent years. It can be tempting to look at one of those lists of jobs that are expected to be in demand and decide to make a radical shift for the sake of job security.

I’ve completely changed careers myself, and I’m the last person who will tell anyone they need to stay in a field that doesn’t work for them. But having met a lot of people who trained for new careers – only to continue to struggle in the (new) job search, discover they didn’t like the new job, be unable to live on an entry-level wage in the field – I think it’s well worth taking a step back and considering what you’re about to get yourself into. Even if your education or training is being paid for by someone else, it represents a huge commitment of time and energy on your part and you should go into the process with your eyes wide open. Here are some things to consider:

Are you making a change for the sake of making a change?

If you’re frustrated by your current job search, it can be tempting to think that starting over will be a solution. Take some time to consider the skills and abilities that you most enjoy using, either at your last job or in another setting. Will you be able to use them at your new job? Are you genuinely interested in learning something new, and how hard will be it to be the person at the bottom of the totem pole? No matter how well-paying or fast-growing a field may be, you don’t want to make a change only to find that you don’t really care for your new line of work.

What do you really know about the job?

It may be tempting to use that list of “Hot Jobs” or a review of job postings to make the decision about a field, especially if there are a lot of jobs available and the pay looks really good. Keep in mind that no matter how well-paid you are, you still have to actually do that work – and if you dislike it, that paycheck may not feel like compensation enough after all. If the idea that you should enjoy your work sounds frivolous, there’s plenty of research – and plenty of employers – who will confirm that fit is a huge component in getting and keeping a job.

If you’re considering a change, talk to people who currently work in the field, preferably in a variety of settings. Read newsletters or websites of professional organizations and attend a meeting or two if possible. Use your network to meet with new contacts in the field – LinkedIn is great for this. Learn as much as you can about the skills, experience, and qualifications that hiring managers really look for, instead of relying solely on job postings. See if internships are available, or if you can do some volunteer work to learn more first-hand.

Is education or training needed to get into the field?

Depending on how big a change this is for you, you might not need an entire certificate or degree program to make a change. Some schools offer short-term programs specifically intended to help job seekers transition from one field to another; don’t assume you have to take the long way around, especially if you have related experience or education.

Will education and UNrelated experience be enough to get you hired?

It’s frustrating to put in the time, effort, and expense of getting an education only to realize that you still don’t have the qualifications to get hired in your field. This is why doing your homework before you choose a program is so important. Admissions staff are professionals with a great deal of knowledge about the programs and offerings at a particular school – and part of their job is to help convince you that their program is the best one. It’s not the school’s responsibility to find or guarantee you a job upon graduation, and saying “when I signed up they told me there were plenty of jobs” is no excuse.

Have you chosen the right program?

Choosing a training or education program that fits your needs is important. Check that the program or institution has appropriate and current accreditation. Does the school have a good reputation in your new field or industry? Does the program teach what you want or need to learn in order to get the job you want? While the core classes may be the same in every program, schools may specialize in one or more areas; look at the places recent graduates have been hired and talk with employers in your field to get some insight on this.

Are you ready to go back to school?ready for back to school

Last – but NOT least – are you ready to go back to school? Education is a significant investment of time, money, and energy. Are you prepared to put in the effort to make it succeed? If you have a family, they will also be affected by your decision to go back to school; in addition to the time you spend in the classroom, you’ll need to spend time on homework and other projects. Are you willing to give up other activities and commitments to dedicate time to school? And finally, realistically consider whether you are academically ready for success. If you haven’t been in school for a while, it may be wise to take a refresher course or two so that you’re feeling more confident in your ability to tackle the coursework.

Education is often a key element to successfully changing careers, but it’s not a magic bullet. Take the time to consider your goals and choose a program that will help you along your path to career success.

 

Get Up and Take Action!

By Heather Coleman Voss, Business Services Coordinator

The most startling thing about experiencing a lay-off is that time stretches. What you used to accomplish in four hours now seems to take days. One minute it’s 10:00 am, and the next it’s 3:00 pm – and suddenly you realize you haven’t gotten dressed, or done a load of laundry, or sent out a resume yet. You may not even have been aware of the passing time.

I understand. I was there once myself.

This phase of working through the reality of a lay-off is normal. You may find yourself feeling physically weak, unable to cope with formerly simple tasks like sending an email or making dinner. Outwardly, it may look like you are simply sitting in front of the computer or the TV, but inwardly your mind is whirling with emotions and thoughts. It may feel like you are frozen.

Take this to heart: You will not be in this space forever. You are working through one of the top 5 most stressful events people experience in a lifetime. You are in the midst of the grieving process. It is important to work through the stages of grief – taking a few weeks to process through this time is important.

Then, even if it feels forced, you need to get up and take action.

My suggestions on how to make this happen are as follows:

1. Change your verbal and internal language. You are not “unemployed” – you are in a “career transition.” See the difference? How you speak about yourself will make a huge difference in how you see yourself – and how people react to you.

2. Set your alarm for 8:00 am every single day, Monday – Friday. Get up, shower and get dressed in business casual clothing. Put on your shoes. I know it may sound silly, but your routine will establish your activity for the day. How you feel is how you will act.

3. Set up a schedule. In the schedule, include 8 hours per day of active job seeking, broken up in a manner that suits you. Checking email and social media sites for professional networking and job opportunities may be one way to begin your day.

4. Get out of the house. Head over to the nearest coffee shop with WiFi and start updating your resumes and cover letters. (Remember, each resume should be geared to the specific position to which you are applying). If you don’t have a laptop or tablet, head over to the local library or Michigan Works! office, where you can utilize their computers free of charge.

5. At least twice a week, attend a networking event. Be open to meeting people! If money is an issue, search the internet for local free networking events – they are everywhere. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce – most chambers allow you to visit once without having to obtain a membership.

6. Attend or create your own in-person networking group for job seekers. Schedule a meeting once a week. People who are currently in career transition still maintain most of their professional contacts. After all…you never know who knows someone you should know.

7. Search the Internet for workshops and seminars geared toward current employment trends, resume writing, interviewing, creating a career action plan, social media for career seekers and more. Many low cost to no-cost workshops are available. Again, your local Michigan Works! office is a great resource for excellent workshops. Even if you consider yourself a pro, you will pick up great tips and meet people who are well-connected.

8. Spend time every week fine tuning your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and G+ accounts to reflect your career interests. Post articles and start conversations about your areas of expertise. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s new blogging platform – or start your own WordPress or Blogger account where you can showcase your career passions. Employers will search for you – make your profiles attractive to future hiring managers. Spend time in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn growing your network and learning about current career opportunities.

9. Use a free online calendar and apps like Evernote and Any.do to keep you organized and motivated. Remind yourself to follow up with employers, send out specific resumes, attend events and workshops. You may not have a job – yet – but you are working!

10. Every day, update a spreadsheet (I use Google drive) with the positions to which you’ve applied, the contact information of the employer, the title of the position and any other pertinent information. You will feel very accomplished when you can actually see the work you are doing. Additionally, this is a great way to be prepared for the employer to call you – simply check the spreadsheet for details during your conversation.

11. For chores around the house, I recommend creating a short and reasonable checklist. No more than 5 items that can be accomplished throughout the day. The point here is to be busy and proactive, not to overwhelm yourself. Create situations daily for your success.

12. Schedule in some “me time.” If you’ve set up a serious career seeking schedule, you are working. You still need time to relax and re-energize.

Bonus tip: Create business cards with your name, areas of expertise, social media links, email and mobile phone number.  Be prepared to hand out your business cards wherever you are – always carry them with you. Remember, how you present yourself is how you will be received. You are a professional.

Many local printers will print business cards for a very reasonable price. Otherwise, check out this article for free and low cost suggestions: Digital Trends – Business Cards.

**If you live near Ferndale, Michigan I recommend places like Chazzano Coffee Roasters, Java Hutt, Ferndale Michigan Works! workshops and resource center and the Ferndale Public Library as destination spots during your job search. If you are interested in networking with a local Chamber, definitely visit the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce.

 

10 Good Reasons to Get Back to Your Job Search NOW

by David Straka, Case Manager at Ferndale Michigan Works

So it is summer and you are out of work.  You applied for and are receiving unetop-10-listmployment.  I guess it is time to take a little vacation and enjoy the sights and sounds that summer brings.  You really don’t need to look for work right now because you have earned some time off to chill out, right?  From where I sit, WRONG!

It can be very enticing to fall into that trap thinking that a few months off is not going to hurt anything.  Here are a few points why it is not such a good idea:

  1.  The longer you are out of the workforce the harder it is to stay sharp and explain to a potential employer what you have been doing all that time.
  2. Unemployment money is not going to last forever.
  3. You will continue down the dark path of losing touch with possible networking leads and decreased motivation.
  4. I will see you at my desk with a week left of unemployment, in a panic expecting me to hand you a job.

Regardless the time of year, once you lose a job for whatever reason, you hit the ground running!  Summer is a perfect time to establish your re-employment marketing plan.  Here are a few hints to find your motivation:

  1. As soon as your job ends go ahead and get to your local Michigan Works!  File for your unemployment.  Find out all services available to you by asking staff or better yet, attending an orientation.
  2. Attend all the workshops that can benefit you and bring you up to date on skills needed in your re-employment efforts.
  3. Get referred to a Case Manager/Career Advisor to review your career goals, review and/or create your resume.
  4. Establish a regular “work week” schedule of what happens each day and stick to it.  This includes regular breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If your day includes an exercise program, keep that as part of your routine.  In the evening, take a break and get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Have some business cards made up through services such a Vista Print and carry those with you to summer events.  You never know who you are going to run into.
  6. Look at possible internships or volunteer some time in your schedule to expand your network.

Summer time is seductive.  Even when a person in employed we want to go out and play.  However, income is extremely important.  “Without it, ya ain’t going to get no snow cones or a cold beer.”  Get it in gear and stay successful!