Ah, winter. Time for Ohio’s famously bad weather… and unexpected surprises.
When your company gets bought out by a national conglomerate, and you’re one of dozens of people who get downsized because they don’t want to maintain a branch in Ohio, it can ding your enthusiasm a little bit. But it does make you think.
The beginning of the year is traditionally when people are regrouping, recouping, and making long term plans. So I’m going to talk about the three steps I’m taking to find an exciting new direction in the New Year!
- I’m going to take an honest look at what I bring to the table.
Years ago, I was working at a facility that helped people get back into the job market after a long absence. One of my tasks was helping new arrivals write their resumes. And I couldn’t help noticing that I was having the same conversation over and over again.
What jobs have you had before? “Well, I had a job as file clerk, or a gas station attendant, or I bagged groceries. But that was years ago.”
What have you been doing between now and then? “Oh man. I lost my job and I couldn’t find another one. Or I went to prison for a couple of years. Or I got married, and the other person was the breadwinner. But you can’t put that on a resume.”
What skills do you have? “Nothing! I told you, I haven’t been working.”
So all you did was be unemployed, or incarcerated, or married, and just sit in a room somewhere? “Well, no. I did volunteer work, I helped out at my church. I nursed older relatives who couldn’t afford outside help. Plus, I got all three of my kids into college, despite the fact that we were on welfare for decades. But it’s not like anyone was paying me. That doesn’t count.”
It’s easy for us to think of our experiences in terms of what people will pay us to do. But everything we’ve done can be an asset.
So ask yourself what you’d say if you were trying to sell yourself as a person. Pretend you’re writing a dating profile, an autobiography, or your own obituary. If you had to talk about the things that are important to you, what would you say?
2. I’m going to define my mission.
A decade ago I was driving a hand-me-down car that was on it’s last legs. I thought it had a few more months left in it. I was wrong.
My car died at the worst possible time and I spent every waking moment trying to find its replacement. I lost 10 pounds from stress, stopped sleeping, and still had no idea what I was doing. What was my budget? Should I go economy, compact, or sedan? Did buying a truck make sense? I honestly didn’t know.
But then a family member mentioned that they usually had a make and model in mind when they went car shopping. That way, they could compare what was out there, and find great deals with ease.
I ended up taking their advice, and I found an amazing car in just two days.
In stressful, unforeseen situations, it’s easy to look for the nearest solution. A crisis can make us feel like having a solution is more important than having the ‘right’ one. But if you reach for the nearest answer, you won’t find what you’re really looking for. Which can make your search for a real solution last longer.
So ask yourself: what do you really want? Do you want to get back into your previous career? Is it time for a massive change? Are there services in your area that can help you get to where you need to go?
3. I will shoot for the stars!
My last job gave me the chance to work closely with my amazing manager, M. During her 20 years at the company, M had risen to be an unofficial HR rep and a fantastic resource for spotting new talent.
One day the company decided they needed to hire a design temp. So they asked M to find someone. I helped M write an incredibly intricate job post, one that detailed the many skills the hire needed to have. The posting that was eventually approved wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Fortune 500 company’s job board.
The deadline for resumes came and went, and I didn’t think too much about it. Until I stepped in to M’s office one day, and I saw her looking over a stack of papers, her head literally in her hands.
The applicants had sent portfolios full of stick figures. Improperly formatted ASCII art. And, most memorably, bad Sonic the Hedgehog fanart.
The young man we ended up hiring didn’t have the many lofty credentials we were looking for. We were the first company he had worked for, and he had to learn a lot on the job. But he was a great guy. He knew the basics. And he knew that absolutely no one was going to hire him because he drew fan art of 90s cartoon characters.
And, quite frankly, sometimes that’s all you need.
When you’re trying to start all over again, sometimes you just need to take the big risk. So go for it! Apply for the job that you’re only 60% qualified for! See if your dream company is hiring! Submit that piece to an impossible-to-get-into literary journal!
You never know what’s happening on the other end, and taking the shot may be enough to get you where you need to go.
The world can always change on a dime… but sometimes that’s the best thing about it!