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.

They Like Me, They Really, Really Like ME!

Truth be told, we all want to be liked.  If you had a choice between individuals disliking us or truly thinking the world of us – obviously we desire to be liked.  We can haggle or bicker over why people ultimately get hired for a job, but let’s be honest with ourselves – it is because the individual was liked by the decision-maker.

A candidate may have a spectacular resume, experience beyond belief and references that can battle the Fortune 500 for prominence but if during the interview that individual comes off as someone we don’t want to spend at least 8 hours a day with – they won’t be hired for the job!

When you ask recruiters and employers why one candidate is chosen over another, they will explain that it was a gut feeling or an innate decision.  What they are really saying is that there were many candidates with impeccable credentials and that the deciding factor was their comfort with this particular individual.

For those who have interviewed or interview candidates on a regular basis, you can tell almost instantly if there is a chemistry.  There have been times that in the first minute or two you can tell that this really isn’t the right place or the right candidate.  You can continue for another 50  minutes going through the interview process, but rarely will that immediate reaction change your decision on that candidate.

I recently read an article where an employer admitted that she hired an individual because she reminded her of herself when she was of that age.  Decision-makers have numerous filters and rationale for the choices they make but we all have certain comfort areas and would we rather work side by side with someone that we are comfortable with or someone who is very qualified but for whatever reason is not a fit within our group?

Here are some ideas for a positive first reaction:

1)  Google the interviewer prior to arriving.  You may have something in common – college, hometown or maybe even a mutual friend.  Make sure you use this information in your conversation.

2)  Dress professionally with appropriate attire.  A dark suit or dress is mandatory.  Nothing flashy and nothing that will detract from the decision-maker listening to your words rather than looking at what you are wearing.

3)  Upon entry in the interview location, make sure you are pleasant and have your best smile in place.  Not that smile that looks like you would rather be elsewhere but a smile that you have when you are glad to see someone.  By the way, in today’s world you should always be thrilled to have an interview!

4)  If there is a receptionist make sure you are friendly with her.  It is surprising that on occasion they do have input on such a decision – even if it is in passing.

5)  Have some pleasant chit-chat prepared for the office walk to the interview.  A story about the drive over or a laugh you had in the morning.  Something to break the ice and more importantly that shows you aren’t a nervous wreck and that you are a pleasant person.  How about mentioning that it is your Aunt Mary’s birthday – by the way she is now 96!  Please, please make sure you don’t have a nervous and annoying laugh of any kind.

6)  A firm and attentive handshake goes a long way.  If you perspire – make sure that hand is dry for the interaction.  Be cognizant about personal space and remember this is not your best friend you’re dealing with so no patting on the back or unprofessional conversations.

7)  Make sure you maintain continual eye-contact, be attentive and though you want to be comfortable in the chair make sure you are sitting straight with both feet firmly on the floor.

8)  This is not the time to warm up to an eventual crescendo.  You need to get the interviewer(s) attention and interest immediately.  Your A material is need initially.

It is important to get a positive first reaction and by using some of the techniques mentioned you may indeed keep the interviewer’s attention beyond the first few minutes.  It is obvious that you need a strong close, just like any other salesperson but let’s be honest – without an impressive introduction you might not ever get that opportunity.

I thank all of you for the minor indulgence of including a mention of Aunt Mary in today’s blog.  For those of you who have followed my posting over the last few months, you may remember her as the relative who sends me obituary notices from the newspaper – just in case I would like to apply for the job the person just vacated.  Since I have mentioned Aunt Mary in my first and 50th postings I thought it very appropriate for her to be mentioned in today’s 100th posting. 

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide in the last 25years who has been granted such a prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 500 words or 100 blog posting on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:  dborschke@yahoo.com.

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

Waiting for Aunt Mary

The standing joke in the family is what is taking Aunt Mary so long?  For those who have been keeping up with these postings over the last few months, you may recall that Aunt Mary’s idea for a dynamic job search is to look through the obituaries on a daily basis in the Chicago Tribune and pass along any pertinent information on fallen leaders in the hope that I could be first in line for the recently vacant positions.

Unfortunately for the funeral business and for my personal employment search, times have been slow recently – no job leads!  Aunt Mary who is 95 years young has spent the last few weeks in hospital and recovering from numerous ailments so her focus has been on her own needs and not others.  You have to smile because when you are In Transition you need to turn over every available rock in your attempt to find a new home, however and wherever they may be.

I have learned from a previous job search that there are numerous highs and lows in this process and during the search you must be prepared for the rollercoaster.  Thankfully through the assistance of numerous contacts and friends we all do survive the ride, despite the bumps and bruises.

In a recent google tour under the category –  job search, I was astonished to see how many search engines and websites are now dedicated to employment; it is almost as if all the mortgage companies of the last decade are now reinvigorating themselves as employment agencies.  

Of course one must ask themselves, if there are so many services now out there willing to assist in finding you a job why are there still so many people jobless?  Pages upon pages of services and companies are available to provide assistance in finding you a job and some are even willing to have you pay for it.  DVDs, webinars, books and counselors are all priming the pump in this weak economy.

Of course there are some very valuable services available to job seekers that should be considered.  Career/Personal Coaches, resume writers and specialized/professional newsletters are just a few potential aids for those who are interested in widening their horizons and potentially improving their odds for employment.

I hate to reiterate it once again, but to achieve success in this market job seekers must use all the means available to them to find the appropriate end result.  This lengthy process demands that you not stagnate and that you must continue to move forward in making contacts and networking beyond even the widest boundaries you have already set in place.

Despite the hesitancy, touch base again with the people you initially spoke with when you started the search.  It has been a few months and it is about time that you speak with them again.  Don’t get mired in old stories about what has taken place in the past but address the optimism you have for the future.  Enough time has passed and hopefully you are no longer talking about the old place but excited about what is available for your new home.

It is also time to reinvigorate your resume.  Put a new spin on the facts.  How about adding a more descriptive accomplishment or two while reconsidering some of the material that may not be getting you through the front door.  Again I am advocating repackaging and not embellishing the truth.  There is nothing more volatile for your career than not being completely honest on your resume and in your discussions with interviewers.

It wouldn’t hurt getting your name out in front of potential employers.  Write an article that can be seen within your specific field or community.  Be active and comment on blogs and list serves.  Tweet and attach important facts and information within your industry. It is important to show everyone that these past few months of job search have not been a vacation (if it was a sojourn I trust you would  have picked a warmer destination to relax), that you truly have been active and alive and have kept up with what is going on in the world and in your field of interest.

Finally, revisit what makes you unique.  Readjust your personal marketing plan and find a new positioning of your capabilities.  Don’t just be one ewe in the flock of sheep, find a way to make yourself different in promotion and in fact.  Continue working to make sure you standout – in a positive way.

After all, Aunt Mary (God love her!) is my unique means to success.  She will soon be back on her feet and working her magic once again, which is unfortunate for some.  The competition best beware!

You Gotta Have Friends

With this being the second time in seven years that I find myself In Transition, I must admit that I am a much wiser individual this time around as I work my contacts and network with family and friends.  Matter of fact I have a great Aunt who checks the Obituaries for me on a daily basis just in case there is an appropriate job that might meet my fancy which is vacated by the untimely demise of a parting soul.  Job searching is literally a job in itself and one that needs to be taken seriously and with robustness.  I continue to put in 10 or 11 hour days but instead of devouting my time overseeing and promoting my former association I now spend that amount of time networking and making phone calls emphasizing my availability and capabilities.  I still wake at 6:00 AM, but in lieu of commuting to an office I now can just journey upstairs to what has become a very comfortable environment to accomplish the task of finding a new appropriate employment position.

Family and friends are vital to get you through the task of employment search.  Like any important event, many are there at the begining to hold your hand and wish you luck.  Unfortunately many fall by the wayside for numerous reasons during the lengthy process but those in the know and those who are truly good friends will be there when needed.  I have said it too many times but during times of stress and anxiety – you do determine who your true friends really are.  What opens your eyes is the realization that there are different levels of “friends” and it becomes painfully clear quite quickly who is there for you in your time of need.

Seven years ago I started a book about the task of finding a job and one day I will hopefully complete it because there are some really interesting stories that need to be told so that others can benefit from the multitude of experiences I have had in this process.  Much has changed in the last few years including the debut of blogging.  Who needs to write chapters and verse when you can put your thoughts down in a blog format, tag a few items and have them out for all to see on wordpress almost immediately.

I plan on describing this task in an on-going blog that I am calling In Transition – Search for a New Home.  It will be therapy for me and hopefully instructional for others who find themselves in the same sitution or anticipate such in the near-term.  In the mean time I am going to trust my friends to assist me in this journey and who knows, maybe Aunt Mary will find a live one (or should I say dead one!) in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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