Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Your Post-Christmas, Pre-New Year's Eve, Snowing, Freeeeezing, Single-digit-Chicago-Temperature Post!

It wasn't easy, they said it couldn't be done (don't they always say that..whoever "they" are?), but just under the wire, here it is: my final blog post of the year.  It's been a while since my last one, so tell us, is the economy fixed yet?  Everything going better than ever?  Everyone you know is employed?  Signed up for your Obamacare policy yet? More on that later (and no, not from any political point of view).  Carefully formulating your new year's resolutions - want to share yours?

How about sharing any wonderful things that happened to you or your family this year? What about any challenges you faced, overcame, or even still may need help facing?
An email from a good friend inspired me to work on a new blog post - I want to share with you some of her feelings about her relatively new job. Like so many of us, she's struggled through a few job searches, trying to apply her deep experience in sales and marketing to a new position.
Thankfully, she recently landed, now working for GoHealth.com. What is GoHealth.com you may ask?  They were the first Marketplace to go live with an integration that allows consumers to fully enroll in health insurance plans created by the new health reform law.  One can also get tax credits and subsidies through GoHealth.com.  Personally, it was a wonderful chance to avoid our government's famously flawed Obamacare site.  And...as I learned first hand just weeks ago: navigating GoHealth.com is easy, and it does work very well. Plus, working with her on the phone made it painless.

Her email made me think: when was the last time that I heard anyone this sincerely enthusiastic about their new job? Here are some of her thoughts she expressed:
"The culture there is so cool, I really enjoy it.  We were visited by the Secretary of Labor two weeks ago for the job creation, training program initiatives. They paid for all licensing & classes, registration in multiple states, etc.  I now have the ability to go anywhere pretty much to get work and because of my deep knowledge of ACA (Affordable Care Act) most agencies would love to hire me.  I will be 60 in 2014 and have a great future employment forecast."
This is so rare, amazing, and something that can't be taken for granted...especially from someone in their upper fifties! After reading her email, I immediately went to the GoHealth.com site to read about marketing job opportunities.
And now a quick update: I landed a tremendous contract job in September with New Control, a very unique, fantastic direct and digital marketing agency located in the Loop, in downtown Chicago.  I was fortunate to work on one of their key clients, Wellpoint.  The role abruptly ended last month due to an unexpected lack of work from the client.  With Obamacare around the corner (good lord, Larry, enough with Obamacare!), this was such an interesting time to work on this client since they run Blue Cross Blue Shield in 14 states - the second largest health insurance provider after UnitedHealthcare.  The people I worked with were very talented and top notch, management really cared, and those aren't empty words...I've been all over...the people running this agency cared so much!  Fingers are crossed for a call-back once their work load picks up.  

I've been very fortunate with the few contract jobs I've landed the last few years.  Next: turn one of these into a much longer lasting opportunity.  So, gulp, yet another job search continues...and I'm here as always, to help you and your friends' searches.
For those dinosaurs out there (e.g., me), I've found a bunch of interesting articles to help us all through the ageism challenges we face (ageism? Yes, everyone denies its existence, except, those that have to deal with it).  Some statistics about boomer job searches really surprised me.
Here's a program developed for those over 50 and out of work.  Some frightening facts: about 40% of unemployed workers are over 45; unemployed people aged 45-54 were unemployed on average for 45 weeks; for 55-64 year olds this number reaches 57 weeks. Have a look, share your thoughts on this article from nbcnews.com.
I don't call this article negative, I see it more as eye opening, being aware, and a learning opportunity about some, not all, but some headhunters. From Forbes, Seven Things A Headhunter Won't Tell You. Do you agree?  Have any experiences like this or similar when dealing with headhunters?
Last, from The Ladders, a good piece covering us older job searchers, but also a link to their article on job searching in your 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's.  Does it make sense?  Any thoughts on this other Ladders piece?
I think that's plenty for now to nudge our job searches forward, as we're just hours from 2014 creeping into our lives.  As always, I wish for success for you all in your search, as well as a healthy, happy, MORE prosperous, safe, and loving new year!  And, I hope to hear your thoughts here, soon, from which we can all share, learn, and debate.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

So....Did Anything Happen Around Here for the Last Eleven Months?

Sure, it's been almost eleven months since you've read an update here.  Perhaps since then you've had exciting and challenging opportunities at work, breakthroughs in, or an end to, your job search, achieved personal fitness goals, met the love of your life, or shared new milestones and adventures with your family.  You know that we all want to celebrate your successes - please share them with us, if you like.

It was a year that, in hindsight, I can't really compare to any other in my life. Last year's highs included:
- a wonderful three month contract Brand Manager position with Deltak in Oakbrook
- a blog ghostwriting opportunity for an insurance web site
- the birth of my brother's first grandchild
- a short trip to Israel to meet him, who is also our family's first Sabra, and to attend his brit.

In the fall, my little six year old daughter was blessed with one of the most incredible first grade teachers out there.  Finally, and most incredible - fourteen long, torturous years of misery came to an end for my beloved Baltimore Orioles, a playoff team, no less.

Sounds pretty great?  Well, 2012 also included its share of bad - a case of mild-pneumonia that hung out with me for the last 9 weeks of the year.  But of course that was nothing compared to the worst - after five long and miserable months of battling AML leukemia, the death of my mother, Jackie.

So, what's on  my table? Once again, I've kick started the job search; a smattering of freelance work; catching up with headhunters; networking; and saying Kaddish three times a day for my mom, (to learn more and read a fantastic traveler's blog about our year of saying Kaddish see my brother's blog: TravelingandKaddish).

One of my freelance gigs took me to the "other side of the table".  An excellent outplacement firm hired me for one day to meet with newly downsized employees of a large, local company.  I was tasked with sharing the outplacement information with them, encouraging them to take advantage of this package offered from the downsizing company. Not being a human resources pro, it was brave, but wise, of the company to use me.  Who understands what these folks were going through better than someone like me?  It made for a long, emotional, but fascinating day.

I haven't posted here in way too long, but my information gathering never stopped.  Here are a few nuggets I mined that may help you, please share your thoughts after you read them.  A reminder, I've attached very helpful links to highlighted words in my post, as always.  Please click and take advantage of all this additional knowledge.

On TheLadders.com are many helpful articles, a great resource, including one that discusses changing your perspective while in a job search.  Many excellent jobs can be found on The Ladders as well.

In ChicagoCareerSite.com I found a few helpful ones concerning your resume.  For those that are new to the concept of Keywords, so crucial when your resume is discovered through corporate scanning software, this one helps you avoid Resume Key Word Mistakes.

From the New York Times - an article from January, and I know it's a very scary thought for our tender, younger readers, but it may be very helpful for those of us who are, eh, um, not very young any more: Over 50 and Under no Illusions.

I hope that you take a few minutes to comment, share, criticize, opine about the articles, the post, the young baseball season, last night's NCAA Championship battle....anything.  Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Now, Time For Some News From the Search

And with that hideous, untimely injury...the Chicago Bulls summer begins. After the disappointing Blackhawks playoffs, and then this excruciating one...it's time to forget about all the silliness, and to finally focus on much more important concerns:

OK, it felt good to selfishly work in a mention of my beloved Orioles, who impossibly had the best record in all of baseball when I woke up Sunday morning...(I know, I know, it won't last...)

Those that are job searching (i.e., half of the U.S. it seems), we're all very curious to hear details about if and how your success has changed in the past three months. I'm noticing a new, uninterrupted stream of opportunities and activity since about February or March - are you? Headhunters calling, many friends landing, interviews coming...FINALLY! I'm really curious if others are having more bites as well, tell us about it.

If, like most of us, you experienced the all too common rut, or lag, or stall in your job search...are you still in it, or have you busted out of that rut?  If it's passed - that's great!! Please share with us how you broke out of it. We all can benefit from tricks used from those that have been through it.

On Sunday, there will be an outstanding free networking group, Career Renewal Ministry, that only meets every other month. Their next meeting is in Deerfield, on May 20, a Sunday morning, so no traffic for folks driving up from Chicago. You'll network, see a presentation, and most important: you will be assigned a mentor or advisor. And again, it's free!  Personally, I've had tremendous experiences during my job searches with the mentors with whom I've been paired up. If any of you have been there, please share your experience here.

I found this piece for those of us who have been out of work for more than year. Some of us never expected the search to reach years, let alone months. Share your thoughts; are there good ideas in here? What can you add?

Just last week, while networking at Starbucks, a newly employed person not even three feet from us was kind enough to share a tremendous book that she used and swore by, in her search. I've heard of it, still haven't read it, but it seems you will find it worthwhile: "Guerrilla Marketing For Job Hunters 3.0", by Jay Conrad Levinson. If you're familiar with this book, did you find it useful? Do you have other books you swear by? For me, I still go back to my very dog-eared copy of "101 Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions", by Ron Fry.

My update: I'm seven weeks into a terrific freelance brand manager contract job with a very interesting company called Deltak.
It's a fascinating business, and I'm lucky enough to be working with some fine, very smart, interesting, and wonderful people. With any luck, this will go much longer than three months, keeping my fingers crossed.

Every week I hear more and more stats: when you meet someone, you are judged in the first 2 min. Or, people decide their impression about you in the first 30 seconds.

Now take a look at this short article about the way-too-fast glance taken at your resume: What Recruiters Look At During the 6 Seconds They Spend On Your Resume. So, let's add to our to-do lists: create the 6 second version of our resume, right?

And finally, there is some classy advice in this piece that can help all of us: 9 Things Never to Say to Your Boss. Thoughts? What have you said that you lived to regret?
Mother's Day....what did you do for your mom?  True, in one of Woody Allen's films, he once said "You only have  one mother......thank god".  Sometimes, this is so true, but seriously...whatever friction you might have experienced...before it's too late, do something outstanding for her, today, and many days, and much sooner rather than later! Don't wait. Call her, soon, and often! She's worth it, no matter what.

thanks for reading,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Winter Ends, Spring Training is Here, Next?

No matter where you live, no matter how much snow you see outside your window and even if the temperature is near freezing...WINTER IS OVER. Why? You have to ask? No, not because March has arrived. Spring training is well under way! In fact, on my radio at this instant is a spring training baseball game.

But a special alert to all Chicagoans, you heard it here first: watch out for a nice blizzard in March and or April. This winter has been way too freakishly mild for this tough, 175 year old city. Why, happy 175th Birthday to beloved Chicago!!

During every job hunt, unemployment statistics never even enter my thoughts. Are they up? Are they down? It really means nothing - if you're out of work, then you're still out of work, no matter what the economic reports say. But in the last two months, phone calls and emails from recruiters are increasing. Even more telling: recruiters are actually returning my messages. Don't look now but, I think the job market is actually getting a bit better. Do you agree?

The 15 Second Rule. No, not the little kid's rule when you drop that perfect chocolate chip cookie on the floor. What are the 6 Ways to Get Your Resume Noticed in 15 Seconds? Click this link, learn from Phil Rosenberg's excellent site, ReCareered. Do you have other ideas? What do you think of his suggestions?

Each day my poor resume undergoes massive key word tweaking - think HR, think SEO, think ATS...wait, I hate acronyms. Instead, think about staying far away from that bottomless, scary, black hole piled up with resumes from all those online applications. These days, the constant tweaks can't be avoided. I do think the market is slowly opening up (hmmm, wait...might it be an election year?) What about you? Are you getting more bites? Are you hearing about more landings? These experiences are definitely worth sharing with the readers here.

Is it time for a Dirty Rotten Job Search? Can you imagine? I liked this article, also from Rosenberg's site, Recareered. Tell us your thoughts - have you tried any of these ideas with success?

Movies are the perfect escape from the grueling, ongoing job search (and life's) ups and downs. Well, the Academy Awards have come and gone. Did any films really get to you this year? Were there any special performances that stuck in your head? Streep? Clooney? Mara? Davis? Here's a fast quiz: do you remember when the Oscars used to be on the same night as the NCAA Final Four championship basketball game? Pretty difficult to deal with in the days before dvr's and vcr's. So does Elliott Gould's name ring a bell? Be sure to see the end of this post for an explanation.

Writing online for my friend's business has come to a break. It's been a couple years full of learning and on line communicating. I'll miss the great clients as well as the interesting work for
The Spitzer Internet Strategy Group. From high-end swimming pool service, design, and construction; insurance; to divorce mediation. Be sure to check out her site.
By running five marathons years ago, I was able to raise over $23,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Back then, the great, late singer/songwriter Steve Goodman was my closest brush with this horrible disease.

During each of these unwanted job searches, I've met people who have temporarily put the brakes on their job search or career, in order to care for very sick relatives. I've never quite understood how they do it. I wondered how they broached the subject of this unusual gap in their resumes during interviews.

Still very stunned by the awful diagnosis given earlier this year,
the disease has landed in my own family. It certainly puts the job search in a new perspective for me. But, always keeping it positive, thus far the patient has responded amazingly well to the first two rounds of treatment.

When some friend hits you up for a donation for a worthy cause for their race or walk, I highly recommend giving something, anything, to that cause. Even we job seekers can always spare something, anything. It's very true: you never know.

Now let's learn about some upcoming events that look very worthwhile:

Holy Cross Parish in Deerfield offers their Career Renewal on Sunday morning, March 18. They only meet once every other month and I can't recommend this group enough. You'll network, see a presentation, and most important: you will be assigned a mentor or advisor or coach, and it's free.

"What's That Noise"? A Linked In overview presented by JVS, Thursday, March 29, 4:30 - 7:30pm. This is always an excellent networking opportunity as well as a worthwhile presentation. JVS often has a few programs each month.

Save the date: Tuesday, May 8, BMA's: Windy City Biz Bash, more about that in a later post. They are still seeking volunteers for this event, another great way to meet other B2B marketers here in Chicago.

Ok, so what's this about Elliott Gould? Go back more than 30 years, it was the 1976 Academy Awards: It was Monday, March 29 and the undefeated Indiana University (32-0) destroyed the University of Michigan in the first ever inter-conference (Big 10) NCAA Championship basketball game. Presenting the Oscar for Best Film Editing, the envelope was torn open, and then Gould said "And the winners are....Indiana, 86-68". For some reason, I've never forgotten that scene.

Folks, I encourage you: comment, respond, argue, agree, let us know your thoughts, share.

thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012! Oh My, It's an Election Year too....

...and, god help us all! To be clear, I mean "all" as in Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, Libertarian, as well as far left, far right, the middle, up, down, etc.

Just thought I'd acknowledge both the new year and our incredible country at work. This isn't the place to debate how, why, and especially not who, will lead us after the election. By the time you read this, maybe the New Hampshire primary will have ended and the political pundits will be in full force...let's enjoy the long bumpy ride!

Also in 2012: the Summer Olympics will come. For those of us in Chicago, let me remind you: "summer" clearly is just a rumor - allegedly it gets here in a few months. For those that miss the tons of snow as much as I do...here's just a couple of heart-warming visuals for you from last year's blizzard, Chicago's 3rd worst, all-time blizzard. Ahhh, the memories...

Blog interruption: to all of you that are employed - before you delete this or go back to work or browsing or emailing, please read the last paragraph of today's blog, thanks! Your friends, family, peers will thank you for it!

Many job seekers have begun implementing new year's resolutions. Tell us how you plan to intensify (and hopefully end) your job search. We can use a boost, your tips, your energy, and your positive enthusiasm. I'm very interested in what your resolutions are, job search-related or not, please share them with us. In fact, making these goals very public increases the odds for success.

I'm thrilled that this blog has been added to an interesting web site which is loaded with great job searching information. It's based in Utah, but one doesn't have to be a Utahn (or do you say, Ute?) to benefit from checking it out, and I hope you do: www.careerient.com. Please let us know what you think of the site. Amy L. Adler, its president and founder, is an expert resume writer and career strategist.

The excuses are over folks..."nobody hires in December", "nobody's in the office", "nobody wants to focus on work", "they all focus on Christmas parties". Am I missing any? As I suggested a year ago in this blog, check out the 1979 film, "Kramer Vs. Kramer" for one of the best, urgent and desperate December job interviewing scenes ever written. The lines that Dustin Hoffman says to the interviewer, lines that I wish we could use, at the end of his interview with an advertising agency...during their office Christmas party, no less:

"This is a one day offer. You saw my book, you know I can handle the work. You're gonna have to let me know today, not at the end of the holidays. If you want me,
make a decision right now."

It's January - time to get serious, again. Here's a good piece from The Savvy Intern, by Mark Babbitt, called "The Three 'P' Statements to Guarantee a Great Interview". How do you feel about these statements? Have any other ideas you want to share?

And, once you've gotten past those three 'P' statements in the interview, and you are learning about the company, the position, the interviewer - do you take notes? Do you have strong opinions about this? Please share your thoughts. Here's a piece I found helpful from The Ladders, "Taking Notes in the Job Interview".

Networking events - time to share with you some good networking events and organizations to consider:

Tuesday, January 10: Network After Work at Crimson Lounge This is a pretty good group. They have monthly events and have a very large turnout, as many as 400 people. It's both social and business networking, only $10 in advance and a pretty solid group of people attend. Definitely worth trying at least once.

Wednesday, January 25: Social Media Club of Chicago at Morningstar. If you have interest in learning more about social media, meeting many smart, young professionals in the social media world, then this too is a great group for you. Click HERE for some initial information, via Facebook. They always take place at very unique locations each month. Last month's was at the Chicago Tribune Museum.

Jewish Vocational Services (all are welcome) Some good presentations coming up, free, and these also are great networking opportunities:
Friday, January 20: Social Networking and Linked In
Thursday, January 26: Networking and Crafting Your Elevator Speech

Enough for now, let's get back to it. And a suggestion for many of you who are employed: you all know more than one person in the job hunt. Go out of your way, at least once this month, get in touch, offer to help. You all know someone who can help them, I'm certain. Not someone who can offer them a job, but you all do know someone who can help, who can network, who can get them one step or one person closer to landing. Don't wait, don't think about it, don't say "Larry's right"...just help them. Now, not next week. It's nuts out there!
Here's a challenge: jump into the comments section below and tell us what your specific commitment is to help your friend or relative this month. Mind you, many of them do read this blog too, but hey, no pressure!

thanks for reading!