The Last Chapter Can Now Be Written

For those who have been counting, this is the 140th post of the “In Transition: A Search For A New Home” blog.  Thanks to WordPress and Posterous I have had the opportunity to touch all angles of what it takes to search for a new position in these difficult times while also hopefully providing some experiences and techniques that may assist others in finding their new employment opportunity.

I must admit that this blog has been therapeutic and cathartic.  It has truly been a remarkable opportunity to share with all what has become a nearly daily chapter of my life.   Though I have heard from numerous readers who have found value in what I have written, I must admit that I believe above all, that the 100,000 words have been personally beneficial because more often than not, this blog gave me the motivation to persevere.

What is so startling is the number of people who I actually heard from; prompted by these posts.  I have interacted with numerous people who are in much worse states than any of us would like to admit exists in today’s society.  Individuals who have come to the point that though they are multi-talented have currently nowhere to turn.  Individuals who not so long ago where at the peak of their game, now finding themselves worrying about where tomorrow is going to take them.  Individuals who had everything going for themselves until a downturn in the economy made the journey so much more difficult.

I am sincerely overwhelmed if my words have assisted any of those individuals who find themselves in such a predicament.  It is the least any of us can do during these trying times.  I encourage others to provide a helping hand to those who aren’t looking for a hand-out but encouragement and understanding for a condition that you too could be experiencing, but by the “Grace of God.”

If I have learned anything during this transition, it has been perspective and humility.  Perspective for what is important in life and the balance of work and family.  It is absolutely amazing how simple things can make your day and how a phone call or a visit from friends and family can make your life so much better.  Thankfully we aren’t talking death or illness here, but having people around us who encourage and care can take us all a long way toward that ultimate goal post!

The reason why I am talking in the past tense is that I am pleased (who am I kidding, I am excited beyond belief!) to announce that starting next month I will be returning to my native Chicago for a new position with a dynamic and robust trade association.  It will be great to once again roam the streets of Chicago (except those January days when you need to cross the Michigan Avenue Bridge) and to be able to work side-by-side with a creative and encouraging industry leadership and a very capable and professional staff who are yearning for a new energy that will result in an even greater organization and additional value-added benefits for the membership.

Though demands will certainly be placed upon me in the next few months in my new position, I look forward to continuing to write about the topics that seem to have found a home with so many readers.  I thank you for your support and encouragement and this is far from saying goodbye but rather it’s a first chapter in an entirely new book!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 100,000 words or 140 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Aunt Mary Is A God Send

For those who have been following this blog, you may recall my mentioning of Aunt Mary on more than one occasion.  Technically she is my wife’s Aunt Mary, all 96 years of her.  She is as sharp as all the knifes in the drawer but let’s face it – she is 96 years old!  We should all be so lucky at that ripe old age.  The state of Illinois, in their infinite wisdom just awarded her a new driver’s license and she is now legally free to roam and drag the streets of West Suburban Chicago in her turn of the century sedan until her birthday next summer.  She only drives (exceedingly slow) to the grocery store, pharmacy and church on Sundays so I would advise to keep your distance, if at all possible on the Lord’s Day.

I recently came across the letter she sent me some seven years ago, the last time I was in transition.  She included a copy of an obituary of a seemingly nice guy who had just died the day before from a motorcycle accident.  I certainly don’t want to make light of this man’s demise but everyone needs to know that the reason why I was receiving this notice from Aunt Mary was because she advised me to apply for the job this man just vacated!  It gives new meaning to the phrase – being terminated.

Aunt Mary goes into great detail why this is just the right position for me and completes the hand-written note with the very heartfelt statement “I’m sorry about the man who had the accident when he was out having a good time.”  Leave it to Aunt Mary to find a silver lining on such a tragedy.  I never did apply for that job since it wasn’t an association position, most of our friends still don’t understand what I do for a living but such actions and notes as this certainly help in getting a job seeker through those numerous down times.

What’s the old adage – you don’t get to choose your family, but I guess in this case I did since I married into it.  Friends and family are essential in helping you get through difficult times.  A transition, such as a job search is the poster child for the term difficult and if it weren’t for the assistance of others many would not be able to emotionally get through these experiences.

There are much too many individuals right now who find themselves seeking work.  Some have been in transition for 99 weeks and beyond.  Like any project, the emotions and assistance are front-loaded and such help seems to wane as the days mount.  It is after the dust has cleared that these individuals need your support and not just at the beginning.

An association friend is interviewing for a CEO position today!  We all are wishing her the best of luck.  She has enormous talents and abilities but she has been in limbo for more than 18 months now and even she is now having serious doubts.  I gave her my best Ronald Reagan version of “the gipper” yesterday but in reality it is all up to her.  You can’t motivate someone who seemingly can’t be motivated.  Hopefully she will dig deep down and find the courage and the confidence to make this opportunity, an opportunity that is just perfect for her, be “the one.”

Family and friends, like Aunt Mary are irreplaceable when it comes to getting you over that hump.  Life is interesting and we must never forget that we are here to not just thrive but also hold the hands of those who need it.  We couldn’t survive this rollercoaster life of ours if it weren’t for all those who assist us along the way.  Make sure you are there for others because you will be repaid many times over for your generosity and support.  Who knows when you will be needing some emotional understanding in the future?

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of  Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Patience Is A Virtue And Perfection Is An Unattainable Goal

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.”  – Victor Hugo.

One of the most asked questions of any candidate in a job interview is which of your personality traits that you are most proud of and which that you would like to improve upon?  For years the most popular response, and one that I have used more often than not is that “being a perfectionist I always strive for the best that I can be for my employer while the trait that I need to improve on is the lack of patience that periodically I can display.”

With age, experience and maturity one realizes that perfection is unattainable in our lifetime and that you can be proud of what you produce despite the fact that it probably could always be better.  With the demands placed upon all of us, a timely and appropriate end-product is very acceptable when it is quite obvious that next in line is another demand that you must respond to right now!  It was always my goal to create a perfect result but unfortunately that perfection always provided stress, anxiety and disappointment along the way.  Acceptability has become my new mantra and it appears to be the right approach for most people who are aware of the never-ending demands that are placed upon them in today’s society.

Patience is another personality trait that is a constant in employment interviews.  I must admit that for too many years my pet answer was that patience is a virtue and that it was an attribute that never found a home with me.  I wore the badge of honor thinking that others were just like me; that patience was a sign of weakness and that if you were to achieve much in this world that you must demand results now and not later.

Maybe it is because I have lived outside a metropolitan community these last few years or maybe it is because age has a knack of slowing you down, but I have come to the realization that everything doesn’t have to be achieved in a speedy context and that the job doesn’t get done any faster by standing over the person (for image purposes only) who is doing the job.

I remember the first day or two that I lived in the country and came upon a stop sign.  Of course I thought the car in front of me was too slow to move into the intersection and thus I beeped my horn.  I wasn’t surprised that the individual in the car in front of me raised his hand in response but I was taken aback when I noticed that what was displayed was the full hand, as in a wave of hello rather than a middle finger raised in anger!

We are never too old to learn and if I have learned anything over the years is that the best manager is one that can roll with the punches, be flexible when flexibility is demanded and never expect more from others than what you expect from yourself.  Perfection is a lofty goal and a goal that we should all strive for, but we shouldn’t stop the world just because we haven’t achieved such on every project.

The long line of tasks that need to be accomplished is forming right behind you and before you take two years to complete that perfect job, just think about everything else that needs to be accomplished right now.  With fewer hands to complete the task and what seems to be more demands placed upon all of us, maybe acceptability is the perfection of our current times.

And, oh by the way, I would advocate you finding a higher patience quotient as well,  if you are going to survive in today’s economy.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine.

Dan Borschke is  a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

People, People Who Needs People?

The other day I was aghast to hear of a story told by a relative in Connecticut.  She mentioned that they survived the hurricane and the torrid Irene rains quite well, but that they had been without power for days.  Thankfully they had a generator and that they were able to maintain basic human needs while awaiting an expected lengthy lapse of power from the electric company.  Their neighbor, who by the grace of God still had power was irritated by the constant noise of the generator and requested our relative to please turn it off so that they could have some peace and quiet.  What are these people thinking?

American Society has always reacted positively when neighbors are in dire straits.  Sure there will always be a few who take advantage of the situation (price gauging being a great example – I understand certain hotels in New Jersey were increasing their rates fivefold last weekend) but by and large your neighbor has always been there during winter storms, family illnesses and great times of need.  We have always believed in personal responsibility in this country, after all the colonies were based on such a philosophy, but we have also always believed that when the need is great – we are there for you.

Unfortunately, during these difficult economic times it is becoming more apparent that we are more concerned about ourselves than about what is going on around us.  It reminds me of a corporate member of a former association I managed.  We were thrilled to have this company as a member because it opened up an opportunity for a whole new segment of the industry to participate in the association community.  Upon their joining of this trade association I had a conversation with the point person, who ultimately also became a Board Member.  I requested the contact names of her competitors so that I could also invite them to join the organization.  I was shocked when she said that she was not interested in giving me those names because she felt that she now had a competitive edge and that she would rather remain an exclusive within her segment of the industry.

Besides the obvious fact that if we knew she wanted to be an exclusive member within a particular industry segment that we should have charged the company a much greater membership fee, such an attitude might be an aggressive position in corporate circles but as a member of an association community it really is much too self-serving.  Associations do not use the descriptive word community lightly.  Any professional or trade association is a community of mutual interests.  What is the value of being the exclusive while the rest of the industry around you is failing?  We in the association community believe that competition is very positive but the only fair competition is if everyone is in the game.

Needless to say we worked around her and contacted her competition.  Such a conversation could have been bordering on anti-trust if we allowed such behavior but probably more importantly it was quite obvious that instead of seeing the big picture, this individual only concerned herself with her immediate needs and not the needs of a robust and valued industry and association community.  It is obviously important for our families and our mortgage-holders that we are successful, but that success is quite shallow if limiting access is the only means to your success.

The generator continues to buzz and the anticipation for power remains high despite the reality that in many cases it will take weeks for the emergency crews to find their way to all those in need.  Of course we all think of witty retorts much too late but after hearing of this story it became quite obvious to me that if the noise was too much for the neighbor to take, the very least they could have done was provide access to their home’s electricity via an extension cord.  That certainly would have been the neighborly thing to do!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

It’s A New Employment Beginning Come Labor Day

I can’t believe that summer is almost over, with the unofficial end of the season next week with Labor Day.  The shorter days and cooler temps also mean that search committees and recruiters are now more diligent in finding just the right candidate for their openings.  By all indications, despite the lack of robustness in the economy, association hiring is on the surge during the second half of 2011 and should be a better opportunity for those who are searching for new employment.

It is also timely and a great opportunity for those looking to fill positions.  With outstanding candidates readily available and with frustrated college graduates chewing at the bit to commence their careers, there is certainly a plethora of very capable individuals for recruiters and search committees to engage.

For those individuals who have had difficulty impressing decision-makers during the summer months, fall is a golden opportunity to get the word out that you are still available and that you are still willing to consider joining the team.  Once the kids are back in school and the vacations are all but over, it seems organizations become more serious in filling voids in their rosters.  For most organizations, the fiscal year ends with the calendar year and it behoves them to get their operations in order, in plenty of time before the start of the new year.

As a job seeker, it is your time to get your act together, unless you prefer sitting out another cold winter at home.  Consider the following actions to stimulate your job search:

*  Fall means business and education meetings.  Make sure you are attending as many of these events as possible.  It is good for your colleagues to see you in action and ready to take on a new assignment.  Who knows, there might be someone attending that has a lead for you.

*  Keep working your contacts and sources on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  Though the right position is hard to find on these sites, by being obvious to all your friends and connections the last thing that can happen to you is that you will be forgotten.  Like any product or service, you need people to remember your name and comment positively about you.

*  Make sure you are engaged with the specialty job boards that can pinpoint just the right position for you.  In the association community – CEO Update and ASAE Career Headquarters are great places to start.   The Ladders and other similar job sites can be helpful but they are basic duplicates of the specialty sites.

*  Recontact the “headhunters” who just might have a position for you.  Obviously, you are not their client but if you can make their life easier by possibly being just the right candidate for an opening – they will be most grateful.  Don’t be a pest but yet on the other hand don’t give up either.  Most of these people are overworked and aren’t always available to answer your call or e-mail.  Be persistent and if you don’t get a response after 2 or 3 attempts – move on. 

*  How is your network performing for you?  Are you consistently adding new people daily to your list of potential contacts?  Do not live on your past laurels –  meet and engage new people that can assist you in finding just the right new position.  Remember it is a two-way street;  you must also be available to assist a contact in their hour of need.

*  Finally, you have to eat don’t you?  Make lunch appointments with individuals who might be able to open doors for you.  Obviously the setting doesn’t have to be over-the-top.  You might even offer to bring a sandwich in if the contact can’t get away from the office.  Keep good records because these expenses are tax-deductible come year-end.

All the employment experts are expecting a better fall than the first 3 quarters of 2011.  Those individuals who were waiting out the recession to improve their retirement bounty have given-up and are now ready to find their next, new golf course or fishing hole.  This is an opening that you must not let pass by.  For every $10,000 salary you can expect a month of searching – for many that time is now.

Use these next few weeks to reinvigorate your efforts and the results may surprise you.  The kids are back in school so it is now time for you to start a new stage of your career as well.  Good Luck!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Your Support During A Job Search Is Vital

“I’ve always thought that people need to feel good about themselves and I see my role as offering support to them, to provide some light along the way.” – Leo Buscaglia

Whether it be your child’s Little League Baseball Game, a colleague’s candidacy for a new job, a spouse who has experienced a miserable day or a supervisor’s empathy for the work being conducted, your support and belief in the person are needed and vital for ultimate success.  Too often we get so busy and so involved in our everyday life that we forget that there are people, close friends and colleagues who on occasion need a positive word.  For many, our support is their only means to get through a tough day.

It has always been my policy, way before I needed it myself, to assist in anyway possible those who are looking for work.  Not knowing where your future is taking you can be the worst feeling in the world and I have always believed that there is always something I can do to make the situation more tolerable.  I will write recommendations, I will make phone calls and when in a position, I will assist in finding just the right position for those who are in a transition period.  I have even hired a qualified friend who was out-of work for 2 years for a position.  There is nothing more heartwarming and satisfying than assisting a friend or colleague who needs help.

During these difficult economic times, we all know of people who are aggressively looking for their next great stop in their career.  If anything, the old adage “by the grace of God go I” should always be top of mind.  We all need encouragement and support during our lifetimes and let’s face it – to receive you must also give.  I am very thankful for the numerous people over the years that have been there for me and my family.  During difficult times you truly know who those people are.  These are the people who have priorities that include assisting their fellow man.

I am not an out-going religious person;  I believe that the relationship between you and your Lord should be something kept close to your heart. However, I have been really touched by those who have contacted me over the last few months and mentioned that my blogs have assisted them during their difficult times.  I can’t believe that more than 7,000 people are now in one way or another following these postings.  It has been cathartic for me and if I have been of assistance along the way, I truly have been blessed.

I have been truly blessed, friends and colleagues who have called and written on a regular basis just to check in and see how I am doing.  These are the people who I will go to war with and will remember until my dying day.  These are the people who can get you through a difficult time as well as rejoice with you when ultimately you succeed – and yes, though at times it may seem improbable and unlikely, we all will succeed.

A recent e-mail humbled me deeply.  The colleague mentioned what value a posting of mine was for him.  He is very close to finding a new position and if an encouraging word gets him over the top – good for him!  We all have different talents and abilities, let’s use them to help others.

Your friends, colleagues and contacts are asking for nothing more than your support.  Life is much too hectic and we obviously have 1,001 things on our daily agenda, but we can always find the time to assist our fellow man.  A good word, a pat on the shoulder or even a kick in the pants goes a long way.

I still remember a colleague a few years ago who was between positions.  I was one of many who pointed him in the right direction and I was rewarded with a great bottle of wine upon being hired.  Though he died soon thereafter at a much too early age, I am comforted in knowing that my little assistance during his hour of need was appreciated and made his final months a little easier.  Life is much too short – be there for your friends and colleagues because in the very least, someday you will need your friends and colleagues to be there for you.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words and 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Do What You Have To Do

Careers are planned and made by hard work and perseverance but unfortunately extenuating circumstances can makes those plans obsolete and irrelevant.  The Great Recession of 2008, which technically ended at the end of 2009 is still showing it’s ugly head and for many is the determining factor in our future plans.

Too many very good and talented people have been on the sidelines during these past few years and the “so-called economic recovery” is pitiful at best and continues to force individuals to forget about future plans but worry more about day to day solutions that can get them to their next position in life.  It certainly isn’t an easy task but there are creative means to taming that weakened employment beast.  It takes a lot of work and a bit of shrewdness to get the attention of employers and decision-makers.

I’ll say it one more time – It is a full time job in finding a new job.  It certainly can be frustrating and demoralizing at times but no one is knocking at your door to hire you – Lord knows many of you have tried that technique with miserable results.  You need to work at finding your next employment and you need to make sure that you stick out above the crowd when candidate decisions are being made.

*  No one is hiring individuals who are unemployed.  The old dictum that it is much easier to find a job when you have a job is more relevant today than ever before.  It is a buyer’s market and employers can be very particular when hiring a new staff member.  It behooves you to make sure that you have done something with your life since leaving your last assignment.  Make sure your resume doesn’t have a gap that you can’t explain.  If it has been awhile since you were gainfully employed it is now time to either put out your Consulting Shingle or volunteer with a deserving organization, maybe even as a Board Member so that you can at least show some activity during this downtime.  You need a title for that resume.

If you think it is tough for you, can you imagine what it is like for those just getting out of college?  I am very proud of our son who graduated smack in the middle of the worst economic situation since the 30’s.  He graduated in December, 2008 from a Big Ten School with a great GPA and a degree in Finance – his timing has always been impeccable.  For the last two years, he returns stateside next week, he has been teaching English in South Korea.  It has been a remarkable experience for him, he has grown and matured beyond belief and his tenure abroad looks wonderful on his resume.  His goal is to get an MBA, but of course a year in the finance field starting this fall will certainly help him to accomplish that lifelong goal.

To a future employer you are a busy individual who is no longer with that previous position but Lord knows you have kept yourself busy and have added skills in the interim.  With a resume title of Consultant, Board Member, Volunteer or Advisor you will be able to explain away what you have been doing the past few months and you can also highlight the new skills that you have attained that will assist you and a new organization at your next stop.

Like ripe fruit, your talents can go bad if you don’t continue to develop them.  Your field or industry is changing rapidly and much has happened since your recent departure.  Make it a point to keep abreast of the changes that are taking place around you.  It is important to name drop during interviews and it helps knowing where those names are currently residing.

We all must do what we have to do during these tough economic times we find ourselves in.  Unless you are ready to retire at a much too early of an age, it is time to get out there and make a difference in your current situation.  Keep active in your field, update your abilities and most importantly know what is happening around you.  This too shall pass and despite the hardship and pain, this will make you a better person and a better employee at your next employment stop.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words and 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

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