Monthly Archives: February 2011

Ms. Streisand’s Job Search Advice

Prelude – Short Piece of Music

Last weeks posts were intense, so I decided to lighten the mood today.  This article applies to anyone who is in transition.

Introduction – The Opening Section of a Piece of Music or a Movement

Do you want to know what it is like job searching in 2011?  Just listen to Ms. Barbara Streisand sing “Putting It Together” (from the musical “Sunday in the Park with George”) on “The Broadway Album.” 

While listening to this song the other day, I had one of those “Ah Ha” moments upon realizing just how well this song describes conducting a job search in today’s market. 

Now for “The Main Event”

The words to the song are in italics and beneath the lyrics are my liner notes.  So, take it away Barbara….

 “Putting It Together” – Words and Music by Stephen Sondheim

“Bit by bit, putting it together
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art”

These lines refer to your job search as a whole.

 

  “Every moment makes a contribution”

Absolutely everything you do in life.

 

 “Every little detail plays a parts”

LinkedIn, Twitter, Blog, Resume, Cover Letter, Elevator Pitch and Personal Brand.  

 

  “Having just a vision’s no solution”

What job functions and industry you see yourself working in the next 3 years.  There is no job security anymore so plan on being unemployed numerous times before you move to the grave, urn or masoleum.

 

 “Everything depends on execution”

How you handle yourself in person, online and in interviews.  (No doing your Elvis imitation by swiveling your hips when seated in a swivel chair during an interview.)

 

 “Putting it together, that’s what counts!
Ounce by ounce, putting in together
Small amounts, adding up to make a work of art”

All the individual items come together to make your job search function beautifully and flawlessly

 

 “First of all you need a good foundation Otherwise it’s risky from the start”

Having a 100% complete LinkedIn profile.  If you do not have this, kiss your job search goodbye!

 
“Takes a little cocktail conversation”

Networking, Networking, Networking, and did I mention Networking.  After all it is NOT who you know but WHO knows you.

 
“But without the proper preparation”

Looking deep down inside and figuring out who you are, what problems you solve and how you can save or make a company money. 

 
“Having just a vision’s no solution”

What job functions and industry you see yourself working in the next 3 years.


“Everything depends on execution”

Again – How you handle yourself in person, online and in interviews. 

 

 “The art of making art
Is putting it together, bit by bit”

  How you conduct an effective job search.

 

Coda – Closing Section of a Movement

These are just some of the song’s lyrics applicable to today’s job search scene.  Listen to the entire song and you will put the rest of the pieces together – bit by bit. 

Was It Worse?

Was the second year worse than the first? That depends upon your perspective.  Yes, my position was eliminated during a realignment of departmental hours and some people might see that as being worse.    

I did not and still do not.

Being laid off did not cause me the pain and anguish that widowhood did.

My mantra became “You survived the first year of widowhood, surviving unemployment should be no big deal.”  I kept repeating it over and over and would tell anyone who panicked the same thing.  It only took them a few seconds to agree with me.  

Yes, it was unfortunate that I had to deal with another major change one year after Joe’s death, but as Mr. Sinatra once said “That’s Life.” 

Back To School

The second year was an intense period.  I had to learn the new job search rules, create and maintain a LinkedIn profile and a Twitter feed, learn resume writing since my resume writer died, and figure out not only who I am as a person but also my career direction.  This required a lot of work, so much that an honorary Master’s Degree in Career Counseling should be issued. 

Unemployment gave me the chance to learn and grow in unimaginable ways.  It also allowed me to meet and have my life enriched by such wonderful people as  Jeff, J.T., Gabriana, Deb, Kristine, Sharon, Fung, Teresa, Tracy, Stacyann, Sandrine, Katerina, and Bentley – just to name a few.     

I never dreamed that being unemployed would be such a blessing.

May your joyful weekend be filled with many blessings.

Michele

Second Year Attitude

“I lift up my eyes to the hills –

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV Study Bible)

It was the second or third week during my first round of Griefshare, that someone mentioned they heard the second year was worse that the first year.

I sat there and thought “Oh, flipping great! As if I am not in enough pain as it is, you mean it is going to get worse?” 

I was ticked.

On the way home, God and I had one of our “chats” where I did all the talking and none of the listening.  I told God in no uncertain terms the second year would not be worse than the first.  I would not tolerate pain worse that what I was experiencing.  

It was important for me to maintain a positive attitude towards the second year.  I would not accept it being worse, although it certainly could have been. 

After all I made it through the first year and that was HELL!  If I could make it through that, then the second year should be no problem.

I just needed to remember where my help comes from and all would be well.

My Death Sentence

Note – I debated over whether or not to publish this post due to how the information effected me.  However, I decided to take a chance since this blog is about my adventures through widowhood and beyond.

Shock & Awe

After Joe died I went to my doctor for a physical.  Once she found out about Joe, she said the odds of my becoming ill and dying within two years were great.

She did not say how great and I was too shocked and chicken to ask but I definitely got the impression it was greater than 50%, maybe more like 80%.  Talk about shock and awe! 

This was just what I wanted to hear at a young age.

I knew that sometimes spouses died close together, as in the case of my Great-Grandpa and Great Grandma Evans.  However, they had been married for 50 years  Joe and I were only married 14 years.

The First Two Years

So for the first two years I lived with that knowledge in the back of my head.  Sometimes it crept into the front and then I would have to find a way to push to the back.

The best way to pushed it into the back was to tell myself once Joe got to heaven, if God told him that I would be joining him within 2 years Joe would throw a temper tantrum.  He would tell God off.  Joe was insistent that I go on with life and that meant dating and remarrying.  There is no way he would tolerate me dying young.   

Besides, Joe would also not want me to leave our daughter, Rommie (a golden retriever) without a parent.

When It Weighed The Most

It was tough enough working through grief, but having that thought running around in my mind complicated my grief recovery.

It especially weighed me down after I got laid off.  I figured since it had not been two years yet, maybe I was not going to find a job because I am going to be dead by the second anniversary.

Then I would once again remind myself that Joe would not tolerate my dying young. 

The 2nd Anniversary

Needless to say, once the second anniversary of his passing got here, I was elated.  I had beaten the odds and was still alive!   Yahoo!  My mind felt a lot freer and clearer. 

My Doctor

Still keeps a close eye on me as she knows I have been under stress not only due to Joe’s passing but also because of the stress of my previous job and then being laid off.

God willing I will continue to be healthy and live a long life here on earth torturing my relatives!  Just kidding – I love my family and when I say my family, I also mean Joe’s family.  Even though Joe is gone, they are and always will be family.  

Griefshare

There are times in life when I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone by doing something new, such as this blog.  I never liked nor thought I was good at writing but saw this blog as another opportunity to help grieving people and educate those not grieving.

However, when Joe’s sudden death hit, I did not step outside my comfort zone. Some invisible force came along and hurled me way outside my comfort zone.  I flew through the air with the greatest of ease and did a face plant on the ground with a tremendous thud. 

Once outside my comfort I had a choice, do I climb the boxing ring’s ropes, slowly and surely or do I just lay on the mat, down and out for the count?  Life has knocked me down many times but each time I got up again.

But this time was different. 

In the days after Joe’s passing, I did what I had to do regarding the funeral arrangements.  But was I going to get up after the initial shock waved passed?

Griefshare

My church offered  Church Initiative’s Griefshare program (Griefshare.org) and I knew my attendance was mandatory if there was a snowballs’ chance in hell surviving this nightmare. 

Management was nice enough to let me rearrange my schedule one day a week so I could attend.  At first I did not believe this program was going to take me “From Mourning to Joy” but after a few weeks, I started making slow but steady turtle-like progress.

“More Actual Guidelines.”

Each week we viewed a video, took a snack break (very few events get held in our church without food being available) and then discussed the video.  Once we started our discussions, the conversations took on a life of their own.  Rarely did we stick to the questions in the book.  (“We figured they were more actual guidelines.” – Mr. Gibbs/Pirates of the Carribbean: The curse of the Black Pearl).   The facilitator’s just let God control the conversations after all he knew best what needed discussed. 

I completed the 13 week session and then went back for another round.  Attending two thirteen week sessions was recommended because I would be in a different place in my grief the second time, enabling me to pick up on items previously missed. 

“The Rock”

The Griefshare classes were my rock, my stabilizing force for getting through the week.  I shared time with others on a grief journey and learned to relate to my fellow class members even though we did not share the same type of loss. I was amazed at how God worked through this program to heal and get us moving forward with life. 

Have not left yet.

I started the program in June 2008 and in June 2009 started serving as Co-facilitator.  We run the program year-round with only a few weeks off during the year.  It is amazing the progress I see in people who are strong enough to attend the sessions. 

That is right – those who are strong seek help.

Whether it is the Griefshare program, seeing a professional grief counselor, or another type of grief recovery program, the strong seek help because they realize they are weak.

Doing the recovery work is not easy but it is worth it – unless you want to stay on the boxing ring mat, down and out for the count.

Networking, Interviews & Widowhood

Being in transition requires attending networking events, job seeker groups, seminars and finding other events where you can interact with people who may be willing to help you.

Being a widow in transition requires all of the above, but I also have to figure whether or not to admit being a widow. 

The Reason

The reason for being unsure about admitting marital status is hearing the word widow usually causes people to run for the hills because: 

  • They do not know what to do nor do they want to learn what to do (see the “Just Be There” tab above)
  • They believe I have cooties.  Yes, I am talking about that dreaded disease from elementary school.  If they hang around me too long, they will “catch” my cooties and what happened to me will happen to them. 
  • They feel threatened.  (I find this fact sad but hysterical.) Upon becoming a widow means I am now single and therefore perceived by some couples (wives especially) as a threat to their marriage. In today’s day and age of everything you do being a reflection on your personal brand, why would I want the reputation of a marriage buster-upper?   No thank you.

I have experienced all three situations either in my job search or in my personal life.

Interviews

A couple of interviewers wanted to know something about me that was not on the resume.  I sensed they suspected something unusual since my work as a volunteer Co-Facilitator with Griefshare is on the resume.  I did come up with an answer but one that did not pertain to widowhood.  

Events

In the course of a conversation at one event, I mentioned the launch of this blog. The person wanted to know what topic was, so I explained.  This person appeared flustered when I mentioned the blog’s subject matter.  Have not heard from the person even though they said they would be in touch.

Thank You

There have been times when I stepped out on a limb and mentioned becoming a widow prior to being in transition and people have been very kind, gracious and did not run from me.   To those people – THANK YOU.   Your friendship means more than you will ever know.  I just wish more people were like you.

What I Don’t Miss

I have written about missing the little things like hand-holding, hugs and kisses.  Therefore it seemed appropriate to write about what I do not miss, especially because I have had a cold since Tuesday night.

I do not miss Joe being sick. 

Even an attack of the sniffles would find him on the couch moaning and groaning that he was going to die and I should call the funeral home.

“Well yes dear, you are going to die but NOT from the sniffles.” Is what I would be thinking. 

He would not take medicine but just suffer through the sniffles and the cold, lying on the couch watching TV.  He would ask for a sandwich and after bringing it to him, I would sit down.  Immediately he would ask for a drink.   After bringing him the drink, I would sit down again and he would find something else he needed.  I was constantly up, down, up, down – get this, get that, etc…

Guess when men get sick they want the wife to wait on them hand and foot just like Mommy did.  No more playing tough guy for them. 

When I first feel a cold coming on give me drugs!  Let me try to zap it in the bud.   Give me water, hot tea, cold tea, orange juice or any other liquid as I attempt to flush the crap out of me. 

On that note, it is time to crawl into bed with Kleenex, water, and a good book.

Wishing everyone a joyful weekend with no sniffles or colds.

Michele

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