Here is a question for you: can you guess four of the most powerful words in a job search? From the following choices, A, B, C, or D, which answer would you choose as the correct one?
A. Will you hire me?
B. What is the problem?
C. Give me a break.
D. None of the above.
So, which answer did you choose: A, B, C, or D? While all four answers could be said at some point in your search, I’d go with D – none of the above. And here’s why. After working with hundreds and hundreds of job seekers, I have come to believe with a vast amount of conviction that four of the most powerful words in job search are these: I need your help.
I need your help is something that – according to many job seekers I have helped -- requires courage. And humility. And vulnerability. It requires setting aside pride and ego – for the moment, anyway – to say words you might not want to say as a job seeker: I need your help.
As a counselor to those in career transition, clients have taught me that it takes much courage to state with clarity and confidence: I need your help. When I inquire as to why it takes so much courage and humility to say “I need your help,” I am often told that “a weak person says such things – not a strong person.”
“I don’t want to be perceived as a weak candidate.”
“I don’t want people to think less of me.”
“I don’t want people to think I am a loser or something.”
“I don’t want people to think I don’t have it together.”
And a crazy thing happens.
You get help.
You get a job.
Flying home from Charleston last evening, the stranger next to me asked me what I did for a living. I told her and we talked about our careers for a bit. The conversation moved from occupations to Thanksgiving. I told the stranger the following story as it was fresh in my head and in my heart.
Once upon a time last Saturday, a handful of people – mostly Millennials except for me, the lone Baby Boomer, traveled to a house in rural South Carolina. A house that was falling apart. A house that had a screened in front porch minus the screens. A house with broken windows and doors. A house that some would have condemned long ago. A dilapidated house that was home to seven people…six children I’m guessing between the ages of five and 13, their loving grandmother and one pit bull. A house with holes in the walls from being kicked out or punched out for one reason or another. A house that was filled with debris, dog feces, dirty clothing, cockroaches, stench, filth, laughter and love. The grandmother was in a robe – it was about 10:00 A.M. when we arrived. The care project was divided into work that needed done immediately.
Clean the pantry shelves, remove debris and put new boards on the shelving.
Fix the holes in the walls and closets by installing new drywall.
Install new screens on the front porch.
Hang new blinds in all the windows of the house.
Clean – everything and everywhere.
Throw out junk and debris.
The task I was initially assigned was to help clean the pantry area and get it into a condition where the family would know what food they had – or didn’t – and provide some semblance of organization. Once that task was completed, I was then asked to go into the grandmother’s room to clear a path so the new blinds could be installed.
I enlisted the help of one of the boys – for the sake of this post, I’ll call him Sport – he told me he liked sports and rattled off his favorite teams. I asked him if he had ever heard of the state of Iowa or The University of Iowa Hawkeyes – nope, he had not. I thanked him for his honesty and for not confusing Iowa with Ohio or Idaho. Our work together continued. He picked up garbage about two feet deep along side of the bed and tossed it into the large black sack I was holding, then we traded tasks. I would sweep, scoop and dump as he held the sack. We found a pretty bracelet, a one dollar bill, Winnie the Pooh and assorted children’s books, among other things.
As we worked together, we chatted. Sport and I hauled the first of many sacks of garbage out through the yard. I told him I was afraid of the pit bull and he told me not to be. I asked him to walk with me and be my protector – and he did. I held onto Sport’s arm while we passed by the pit bull. As we walked back to the porch to continue our project, I said, “Sport, let’s assess – let’s assess our work so far – yes, let’s make an assessment.” He asked me what assess and assessment meant. I said, “you know at school, Sport, when you take a test. Well, that is an assessment of what you have learned – a review of what you have learned I guess you could say.”
Sport laughed – he thought it was cool to say assess and assessment. “Let’s make an assessment” he stated. And we did. We assessed that we had completed the task of clearing the debris by the bed and that we were ready to do something else of the cleaning variety.
Early afternoon, it was time to go. Sport wanted to know if I would be coming back. I told him I was heading home to Iowa soon and would not be back. As I walked towards the car, I turned to see Sport as he tossed his football in the air. He was smiling. I waved goodbye and my eyes filled with tears. Assess. Assess. Assess – no crying!
This Thanksgiving, I am keeping Grandma in the Red Robe, Sport and his brothers and sisters in my thoughts. I am thankful for them. And I think of them. I wonder what Sport is doing now?
I went to Charleston to hang out with family, to see the sites, to shop, to dine and to do the town. While that was fun and fine, what I left with is a story about what matters. A story about giving + thanks. A story about thanks + giving. A story about a little boy named Sport – a story that will stick with me much longer than the Carolina Moon soap, bean soup or Beadah Licken Brownies that I bought at Boone Hall Farms Market. What I came home with is an even deeper sense of gratitude for family, friendships and things that truly matter in life. What I came home with is a story about a little boy with a football, a dust pan and a broom who taught me a thing or three about what’s important and what’s not.
Find someone’s arm to hold onto when you are scared.
Happy Thanksgiving 2014.
“We cannot start over, but we can begin now, and make a new beginning” ~ Zig Ziglar
Posted at 07:31 AM in Billie Sucher, Career Management, Career Transitions, Careers, Gratitude, Inspiration, Interviewing, Job Hunt, Job Search, Outplacement, Personal Branding, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: careers, employment, job search, jobs, outplacement, transitions, unemployment, work
Earlier in the week, I was chatting with a small business owner who has operated his own firm for many years. His business, like many, has witnessed a never-ending cycle of change to the point that he may decide to go in a different direction. He mentioned that the most important aspect of the people business is to let someone know that they matter. I have been reflecting upon his words, thinking of some ideas on how I can do a better job of letting others know how much they matter to me. Please add your own ideas – I’d love to read them.
How do you let people in your circle know that they matter?
How about reaching out to someone within the next 24 hours to let them know how important they are to you?
P.S. Along those lines, I would like to take a moment to extend a special “thank you” to readers of this blog – you matter to me!
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Posted at 08:46 AM in Billie Sucher, Career Management, Career Transitions, Careers, Gratitude, Inspiration, Job Search, Motivation, Outplacement, Twitter, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: careers, employment, job search, jobs, personal branding, transitions, work, you matter
How long does it take to get back to normal when you lose your job? my client inquired.
I pondered the word.
What would you say if someone asked you this question? Would you give them a specific time frame such as:
Normal. Once again, I turned to the dictionary for a definition of this word:
a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle
b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
Will you get back to normal when you:
~~ find a job?
~~ finish your degree?
~~ quit your job?
~~ hear back from a recruiter?
~~ get the right job offer at the wrong salary?
~~ stop being a chameleon and figure out what makes you the amazing you?
~~ ask your boss to stop bullying you?
~~ get the courage to talk about yourself in an interview?
~~ reach out and ask for help?
~~ motivate yourself to lose the extra pounds?
~~ decide that you will pursue an advanced degree?
~~ pack it up and move to another city?
~~ stop living your life to please someone else?
~~ start living your life to please yourself?
~~ find your voice?
~~ accept a job for the salary you are worth?
~~ share your thoughts and ideas at meetings?
~~ negotiate the best deal for yourself?
~~ build your confidence?
~~ make your own decisions?
~~ stop berating yourself?
~~ realize that you are in the right company and the wrong job?
~~ find the courage to start over?
~~ focus more on ‘success’ than you do on failure?
~~ gain an understanding and appreciation for the many talents, gifts and skills you have been given?
What do you think?
Posted at 10:40 AM in Billie Sucher, Career Management, Career Transitions, Careers, Gratitude, Inspiration, Interviewing, Job Hunt, Job Search, Motivation, Outplacement, Personal Branding, Twitter, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: careers, job search, jobs, life, normal, outplacement, transitions, work
86 degrees. Full tank of gas. 315,000 + or – miles on the F-150 odometer. All systems go for departure from The Windy City. Not far from O’Hare, the air conditioning decided to stop conditioning. No worries. Windows down – real air in. Refreshing. Made us think of another time in life. (Note, I did not say happier…I said another.) A couple of hours later, we wanted to make a brief stop at a fast-food drive through. The drive through was packed with what appeared to be Pearl Jam fans headed home. Decided to walk in instead of drive through – faster, anyway, we thought, so we could jump back on the road and keep rolling.
22 minutes later, still no food. My newly acquired Conflict Management skills training kicked in....what the bleep was that acronym, anyway? As I headed toward the order counter, I recalled the tone one is to use in managing conflict…pass the butter please tone. May I help you? Yes, we have been waiting for 22 minutes now for our food….we stopped here only because we knew you had fast service so we could keep rolling blah blah blah. Food finally served; money refunded. No worries.
Back on the road. Not far from the food stop fiasco, one ABS warning light popped on and did not pop off. Interesting. What does ABS stand for, anyway? About that time, the power windows and door locks stopped working. No worries…nothing but a luxury, anyway, right? A few more miles, we pulled into a rest stop to check things out. As soon as we turned off the engine, it would not start again. No worries…a friendly family parked next to us just happened to have jumper cables. Our vehicle started and off we went, back onto the interstate.
About 30 minutes later at cruising speed, our vehicle stopped running – flat out dead done – though the semis and cars going 80+ or - mph whizzing by did not. (Why was I humming Dierks Bentley’s I’d Settle for a Slow Down?) We coasted to a stop as far from the interstate highway as we could get without going into the ditch. It was about 5:00 P.M. Finally, after multiple attempts to call for help, we spoke with a man named Dan. Thank you, Dan, for answering your phone. Dan apparently lived not far from the interstate mile marker where we had broken down. About 45 minutes later, he arrived with a new battery in hand. He thought we had an alternator issue and speculated that the new battery “should” get us home, though he wouldn’t guarantee it. On the road again and indeed, we made it home, thanks to Dan, our new-found friend.
If you are in the midst of a career transition and find yourself stalled out and broken down, I hope you will reach out to someone. I hope you will keep searching for help until you find “a Dan” to help you. I hope you will have a relentless spirit and determination to move forward. I hope you won’t get derailed by obstacles and issues in your quest to get going again. Staying stuck along the side of the road is not a good option, in my opinion. Reach out. Connect. Get help. Keep calling. Keep emailing. Keep in touch. Keep doing. Don’t give up on yourself – or others. Keep trying until you get the help you need to get back on the road again. Safe travels!
Posted at 02:28 PM in Billie Sucher, Career Management, Career Transitions, Careers, Gratitude, Inspiration, Job Search, Outplacement, Personal Branding, Travel, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: careers, employment, job hunt, job search, jobs, outplacement, transitions, work
In August of 2011, I wrote a blog post titled Job Loss Endings and EGBDF. The gist of the post was about losing a job and moving on, even though what lies ahead is uncertain and unknown. In that particular post, I referenced my Grandmother’s old piano for sale at an auction.
At the time of the sale, I was struggling with letting go of the piano and the role it had played in my life and being okay with it belonging to someone beyond a close relative. As it turned out, no one bought the piano because it was too heavy to move. Ultimately, the piano was destroyed, or so I thought.
Last Sunday, I was out in the garden pulling weeds and my sister stopped by. She got out of the vehicle and cheerily announced that she had something special for me. I thought it might be flowers to add to the garden or maybe something really, really crazy special like tickets to see the Stones in D.C. or something.
Nope, no flowers; nope, no tickets. I could not believe my eyes. My sister said “I hope you like this; we had it made just for you.” There it was – the most beautiful little table made out of my Grandmother’s piano. A black walnut beauty. I started crying. I was stunned. I was overjoyed. The top of the table was made out of the piece where sheet music rested at another time in its life. The intricate wood detail from the piano legs had been salvaged and now serves a new role.
Repurposed. What was old is now new. A new purpose. A new place. A new beginning. A new story yet to be scripted.
What once was had been recreated into something new and unique and meaningful, at least to me.
The piano transformation reminds me of all the clients I have worked with whose jobs have been eliminated. Poof, just like the piano, gone away for good.
Perhaps there is no better time than now to repurpose your skill set. And as you maneuver through the process of recovering, rethinking, reinventing and rebuilding your career life, I hope you wind up with something new and unique and meaningful, at least to you.
Posted at 07:19 AM in Billie Sucher, Career Management, Career Transitions, Careers, Gratitude, Inspiration, Job Hunt, Job Search, Outplacement, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: careers, job hunt, job search, jobs, outplacement, piano, Rolling Stones, transformations, transitions