Come Depressed, Leave Enthusiastic By Tina Cervantes
After eighteen years of employment with a firm, I suddenly found myself without a job. What? After eighteen years of loyal service, they no longer want me! I knew the business extremely well; I was given awards for being a valued employee, someone they didn’t want to lose. Now they were discarding me!
Regardless of the reason, losing a job is painful. I had assumed that because I was loyal to my employer, they would be loyal to me—I was wrong.
When I first started attending Career-Confidence.org, I benefited from the technical and practical know-how—from learning how to write a resume that recruiters want to read to negotiating job offers. The team of experts, recruiters, and HR professionals lets you know what you need to do to land a quality job.
Then there’s the individualized aspect of Career-Confidence.org. Robert Brandau, the Founding Director, will meet one-on-one with job seekers to assist them in applying the information taught in the seminars.
Although I benefited from the first two aspects of the program, what really changed my life was the increased confidence I gained by being a part of the group.
I had the opportunity to represent Career-Confidence.org as a volunteer at a few job fairs. The first fair I attended was a Corporate Gray job fair, www.corporategray.com. I went there depressed, anxious, feeling worthless, and thinking to myself: “Why do I have to look for a job?” “Why couldn’t I just be employed like I was for eighteen years?” “Why do I have to have the stress of not having a paycheck?” I spent the first 40 minutes sitting in my car, having a pity party, and then went in. I stayed for about an hour and left; it was too depressing to be out of work.
Later, one of the speakers at a Career-Confidence.org seminar shared with us a weekly schedule for job searching. I found out that when you’re unemployed, you do need to keep a work schedule. Your “job” is to find a quality job. Having a work schedule made my life feel normal and productive. It also helped me focus on critical job search activities and avoid unproductive activities.
After a few months of being around the team at Career-Confidence.org, I gained confidence by believing that my skills were of value to others. My value no longer came from having a paycheck, but from knowing that I have, can, and will benefit future employers. This time, when I went to the Corporate Gray job fair, I was full of energy and enthusiasm. I was there for the entire time, confidently talking to people about my skills and value to others. I had a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. Yes, I still needed work, but I knew my skills were valuable to future employers. Career-Confidence.org gave me CONFIDENCE, a priceless gift.
The Path of Increased Confidence
Career-Confidence.org is a business education organization with a Christian component; at the end of each seminar, volunteers share how Jesus changed their lives. This is a 15-minute presentation, and attendees are free to leave before or ignore it altogether. For me, however, this segment became the path towards a different kind of confidence.
I had put my confidence in the paycheck and the steady job I had for eighteen years. That proved to be a bad idea. Then I learned to be confident in my abilities as a benefit to future employers; I am still confident that employers need my skills. However, the economic realities of our world are unpredictable. After being around Career-Confidence.org, I understand that my confidence should be in the creator of the universe (Jesus), who came into the world and died on the cross to draw us back into a personal, loving, and caring relationship with God. There are countless stories about God caring for people who didn’t deserve His love, nor could they pay Him back. God loves Tina just because God loves Tina. God loves you just because God loves you. God loves us because that is His character; we can’t earn His love. The confidence we have knowing that a loving God is controlling our lives gives us peace, even when life makes no sense.
Career-Confidence.org offers hope to those who need help finding their true value and path in this world.
Some Will, Some Won’t—So What! by Shajmil Smith
Introverts—Stand up and stand proud! We can prevail in NETWORKING!
I am a self-described introvert and finally comfortable with this awareness. I am also friendly, smart, ambitious, and not necessarily shy. However, at the end of the day, I would rather a quiet setting by myself instead of attending an event with a large group of people; whether I know them or not makes no difference.
As a leader, I have learned to capitalize on my introverted nature by focusing on quality instead of quantity and being very intentional about managing stakeholders and building relationships.
Now that I am an active job seeker, my boundaries have been truly tested! Fellow comrades can relate to the idea of having to do the following activities:
- Attending multiple networking events
- Cold calling or emailing a recruiter
- Updating LinkedIn
- Posting on LinkedIn
- Contacting old colleagues out of the blue
- Following up with contacts you didn’t really want to contact in the first place
- Attending yet another networking event
I come to encourage you. You can network effectively as an introvert, especially while you take advantage of this new virtual reality we are all dealing with now!
Here are a few tips for in-person and virtual networking:
#1 Tip. Just do it, even if you have to force yourself or reward yourself later. This has to be the first step because, at the end of the day, it’s what matters most. Once you walk through the door, make eye contact, log in, find a seat or place to stand. I promise you will feel much better—but you must take the first step.
Set small and specific goals for yourself for the event you attend, such as
- show up,
- talk to at least two people,
- stay for the entire event—don’t escape,
- ask one question during Q and A, and
- offer to help/volunteer.
- Arrive early to scope out the location, and if you’re comfortable, offer to help the host set up. Arriving early also allows you to choose your seat/standing area and maybe, meet a couple of introverts.
- Find a person who is also alone and introduce yourself. This is my go-to strategy for in-person networking. Remember, its quality, not quantity. Making one new connection and having an authentic and genuine conversation instead of standing in a group of people and exchanging business cards cannot be underscored.
- Follow-up via email with each person you talked to, and request to connect on LinkedIn. When emailing, ensure you add a personal touch or reflection from your encounter. Email is easy for introverts, so it’s important to take advantage and make it more personal. Show the person you cared with your great listening skills. Lastly, offer to help them in some way. It can be as simple as offering your LinkedIn contacts or meeting for coffee in the future (after you’ve recovered from the networking event, of course!).
- Take advantage of the virtual meetings/webinars occurring right now. Career-Confidence.org hosts exceptional webinars on various topics that will benefit you and your job search. More important, you have an opportunity to network, make new connections, and support fellow job seekers.
- Turn on your camera. Similar to stepping into a room full of people you don’t know, turning on your camera can be just as intimidating. However, it will ease the feeling of social distance and help in connecting with others. It’s also great practice for the virtual interview you want to secure.
- Share your contact information during the virtual meeting in the chat box, if possible. Request a LinkedIn connection with everyone who has shared their information, and remember to make the request personal by referring to how you met and/or offering to help them.
- Use LinkedIn for the powerful networking tool that it is. We have all heard this multiple times, but it is true! Take advantage of your 2nd and 3rd Connections, and request informational interviews to understand the person’s experience and insight. They are powerful! You will be surprised by the responses you get from people you haven’t met before! Again, Career-Confidence.org offers great webinars on using LinkedIn.
In Summary, no matter the circumstance or your reason for networking, remember to
- Follow-up with a thank you to each person who has spent time with you. This includes prescreen interviews, hiring managers, and informational interviews. Treat these moments as the gifts they truly are.
- Network with a positive mindset. Be authentic; networking doesn’t have to feel superficial if you focus on building relationships as opposed to “asking” for something.
- Keep moving forward. Remember, when it comes to networking and making connections, “Some Will, Some Won’t—So What!” Keep moving forward and offer grace to those around you!
I’m sitting in the parking lot outside the Launch Workplaces www.launchworkplaces.com office building on Seven Locks Road (Rockville, MD location) trying to decide what to do next. It’s early Saturday morning, and I’m dressed for business: interview suit, new (tremendously stylish) pumps, contact cards in hand, resumes printed on blindingly white paper… now what?
What if? What if I’m the only one in the room? What if attendees already know each other and don’t talk to me? What if everyone is weird? What if everyone has it all together and I’m weird? I get out of the car and walk up the sidewalk. There’s no one around—I’m about to turn back.
Then I see the sign on the door—Welcome, and the meeting room at Launch Workplaces is inviting. The volunteers and attendees are professional, friendly, and I soon find out, know what they’re talking about.
So I try my hand at networking and pretend to be friendly (a challenge for me). I pretend that I know what I’m talking about (I don’t). I pretend I’m not panicky or ready to bolt. I listen carefully to the speaker and I learn.
That was then, and I’m glad I kept coming back. These are some of the things I learned:
- Defining your value to hiring managers and recruiters
- 81% of jobs are found through relationships
- Interviewing effectively
- Time management for job seekers
- The first five minutes of the job interview are make or break
- Finding a job is a sales process
- Why my job search is taking so long
- Negotiating your job offer (and everything else)
Before long, I started volunteering and continued to learn, learn, and learn.
The founder of Career-Confidence.org is Robert Brandau, and he is integral to the organization’s success. During my first meeting with Robert, his counsel was hard to hear. Emotions from my previous job situation were getting in the way of my job search. I was hurt, and it was showing in my words, my tone, even my posture. Not one to dance around the issue, Robert said plain and simple, “Get over it. Get over it. Get over it!” It wasn’t easy but it was what I needed to hear. Side note: as I talk with Career-Confidence.org attendees, I can spot the ones who have recently had a chat with Robert. They have the same look on their face that I did. It’s not common for someone to be so frank and direct. It’s even more uncommon for them to be compassionate and kind about it. Sometimes what’s helpful is not what’s easy. Robert has never shied away from saying what’s helpful.
One of the biggest challenges in my job search was the number of times I was ghosted. I would have a great conversation and then… nothing. I would have a great interview and then… nothing! Ghosting is unprofessional, unkind, lazy, and frankly, cowardly. It is also very common. As a motivated job seeker, I was thoroughly disheartened each time it happened to me. No matter how often I heard, “You don’t want to work with them anyway” or “If that’s how they treat you now, imagine how it will be when you know each other!” the sting still hurt.
At Career-Confidence.org, I did not learn any magic cure for ghosting. Rude as it is, ghosting isn’t going away. What I heard was, “Don’t look back, look forward. Stay focused. Keep pushing ahead. And if you need to cry it out, do it and move on.” In other circumstances staying focused on a goal seems to be a whole lot easier. When you’ve been treated badly and don’t feel like you’ve got much going for you, it can be downright painful.
A useful device for me is the concept of a solution space. I first heard the term from Kathy Murphy of Sterling Partners: The solution space is the mindset of embracing
- challenges—they can be overcome,
- goals—they can be met, and
- assurance—the universe does, in fact, need each of us.
In the solution space, I can tackle problems with tenacity and enthusiasm. Now that I am employed, I use the solution space concept with my team. It’s a great reminder to stay positive when despondency starts to pull us down. One of my team members has proposed that the solution space is trapezoidal. I can’t confirm that, but I can say that intentionally resetting my perspective gives me a much greater likelihood of success at whatever I’m attempting.
Some not so revolutionary insights I have accumulated from the career-confidence.org seminars and speakers:
- Ghosting is a fact of life. Get over it.
- Hiring managers who talk too much in an interview will probably not be that great at managing.
- If you have exhausted your network, it’s time to start expanding your network (actually it’s always time to expand your network, but people who are network-challenged like me need a push).
- Sometimes happy hour is the highest priority.
- Practice out loud what you want to say before you have to say it.
- Companies that require you to record an interview remotely, especially in video form, are not good companies to work for.
- It’s OK to make a mess as long as you clean it up.
- Some of the friendliest, most caring people I’ve met can be found at a Career-Confidence.org seminar or workshop.
- You can never make too many updates to your LinkedIn profile.
- Everyone has a different opinion about resumés. Don’t sweat it. With a few exceptions, your resumé will not land you a job anyway.
- Not all recruiters are created equal. It’s important to understand the role they play, and in many cases, help them see how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.
- You will never regret paying it forward.
I accepted a salaried position a few months ago. The serendipitous nature of the job search finally tipped in my favor—apologies for the mixed metaphor. The easy stuff (interview, business suit, tremendously stylish pumps, contact cards, resumés printed on blindingly white paper) didn’t even matter in the end. It was networking. Someone knew someone who knew me. It’s a story I had heard many times during my job search but didn’t imagine it would happen to me. Finding a new job took a little longer than I would have liked but I’m on the other side now. Career-Confidence.org preaches building a strong network of connections and relationships for a reason—It works!
By: Kathi Gagliano * Program Manager * Career-Confidence.org * Montgomery County, Maryland
© Career-Confidence.org 2020
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