Monthly Archives: October 2011

Creating Positive Spin While You Wait for an Interview

            This Sunday morning started out on track. Made coffee, turned on Sunday Morning, checked my online messages, began reading the Sunday New York Times, and next thing you know, Detour. Just as I was ready to work on my Staying Positive During Job Searches workshop, I was distracted by Facebook.

              An email alert let me know that my friend posted something that said that my all time favorite, The Wizard of Oz, is just a movie about two girls fighting over shoes. Intriguing and true. This lead to a series of funny posts that kept me from my mission, or did they?

             It reminded me that proper perspective is necessary to keep your sanity while you wait for someone to call and ask you to come in for an interview. Dorothy was on a quest to find the way home – or was it an opportunity to meet three BFFs – or was it a battle to keep those gorgeous, red shoes from the clutches from the Wicked Witch? (Did you know she has no name in Baum’s book? Another quick detour this morning.) How well you survive the job search depends on the spin you put on your day.

             I know firsthand that it’s depressing emailing six resumes on Sunday evening when you know that there is a chance that AZ10989384@???.com will never respond and you have no phone number for a follow-up call. So what do you do on Wednesday when your phone hasn’t rung? You turn off the TV and internet and find something physical to do to burn off the stress waiting brings. The money rule for the day is that the only money you spend is for gas.

             My Top 5

  1. Get some of your unused, closeted things ready to donate or put in a yard sale. You won’t really miss it and someone may need it.
  2. Call your friend or get the kids and go shoot some hoops or play Frisbee.
  3. Go for a walk. Avoid the mall if you find it depressing to go there and leave without buying something.
  4. Volunteer at a pet shelter. Who can have a bad day when you spend it playing with kittens and puppies?
  5. Work in a garden, rake some leaves, or wash down your apartment deck.

             This physical activity can trick your brain into thinking you have had a productive day. Your victory dance when you beat your friend in hoops insures that.

             Now, back to planning the workshop that I am presenting in ten days. I have decided to forego the PowerPoint ritual and do an old school paper and pencil presentation. Having something concrete to annotate and refer to will definitely be more helpful than a series of bulleted slides.


The Mirror’s Cracked, Mr. Cain

I am amazed by the insensitivity of politicians and the media right now. I can’t imagine anybody saying that 14 million unemployed and another 12 million under-employed people have chosen to be without a job, or are working in a job making significantly less than what their skills and experience are worth, yet that is the new proclamation from republican front-runner-of-the-week Herman Cain.         

             How did you find your job? I was lucky. Can you help me? I’ll try. Do you know someone who’s hiring?  No, but let me see your resume and we’ll look.  Experience is a tricky devil. It is the big fish in the bottom of the lake that just taunts you.

             If you put the year that you graduated college, the employer can figure out how old you are simply enough. 22 + the number of years since graduation = roughly your age. Not fair, but probably fairly accurate for most of us.

             So the question becomes, can you tweak your resume to disguise your age? This is a delicate balancing act. In this recession, some job coaches are saying it is ok to cut your resume off at ten years’ experience. That is fine, but what about the year you finished your education? Listing it and then only the last ten years of work may create a gap between graduation and your oldest job. So, to avoid that gap, some leave out their graduation year. My friend was worried that if she put down all her job experience, she would price herself out of a job.

             I have toyed with both resumes. I am not comfortable with creating a gray area. Seems a bit like telling someone the good fishing hole is over by the overhanging branch when it is really by the big rock. In the end, the employer will figure it out and you then have to deal with the consequences of the little box on the application that says if you lie on an application, you can be fired.

             Younger job searchers have the problem in reverse. Not many employers want someone fresh out of school with no job experience. Some are tempted to add extras or leave off dates. Same advice – be careful how you fudge, it will come back to haunt you.

             The career-changer has a different set of challenges. He has to prove his skills and feels as if he has to justify his decision in every cover letter. The trick here is to make your resume reflect the skills you need to effectively do the job you are seeking. In other words, the fabulous deal you got with the Pepsi distributor for your job as buyer may not mean much to someone who is looking for a personal assistant. The trick is to list the great deal as a negotiation skill. After all, it did take some sweet talking to get a case of soda for $4.50!

             The final word on experience is truth. The old axiom of truth in advertising pays off. As the politicians will tell you, spin is everything. The trick is to list the truth in terms that the prospective employer values. The big fish can’t resist the perfect bait.

Birthday Detours or I’m OK with Being Older than Fred Flintstone

            Every year toward the end of summer, my mom starts reminding me that I’m an old lady. It used to crack me up because she’s been 21 for nearly all of my life. Then, last year, the day before my birthday, I was listening to the news and learned that I am older than Fred Flintstone. Everyone knows he’s prehistoric, so how can I be older than him?  That was my least favorite birthday because I could not get past Fred’s age. It took many silly jokes to get over it and, thank goodness, I found I was looking forward to my big day this year.

             The celebration usually starts when I get my pre-birthday present about two weeks before the actual day. In my universe, birthdays are delicious eating and shopping extravaganzas that go on for weeks and weeks. This year was no exception. The celebration began with lunch and antiquing and ended with at stop at Sweet by Holly for outrageous birthday cupcakes. Because my friends tend to do things in small groups instead of large events, the party’s still on. We just celebrate our way to the next person’s birthday.

             This birthday is drifting into my niece’s birthday this weekend. She played the Make Me Something, Aunt Cyndi card and the perfect thing to go with one of her other presents happens to be something handcrafted. I started the project in plenty of time and then….tragedy struck. The tension on my sewing machine wasn’t right and so I began troubleshooting.

             Did you know that the teensy screw on the side of my sewing machine bobbin case is impossible to find when it drops in the carpet under my sewing table? Either it bounced and rolled, or, it’s not magnetic. A bright Ott Light and a magnet sweep couldn’t find it. So, I am sewing her gift by hand and this weekend I will have to detour to the sewing machine shop.

             Detour averted. I decided to look one more time last night and found it under the curve of the table leg. Got out my smallest screwdriver and put the screw back in the bobbin and the machine sews beautifully. Present finished and in the box.

             This weekend is prime time to get back on the road. My goal was to have a query letter for my book completed by Sunday. I may be able to have something roughed out by then. Ha! Who am I kidding? Playtime detours are scheduled for the next couple of days and did I mention that the book I’m reading is getting really interesting?

Connected by Thread

             In junior high I learned that the Fates control our life. A thread of indeterminate length is spun, measured out and cut off. Seems like a nice, orderly process. So how come it feels like there’s a cat lurking near them who loves to get in there and tangle the thread?

             Some days I think that is exactly what happens. I have prepared a nice to do list and, thinking I am in charge of my life this day, I begin checking tasks off as I complete them. Then life happens and I lose the power that comes from checking off an item complete.

             But I digress. This post is about thread and sanity. Creating art out of multi-hued threads has been the one constant in my life of detours. Needlework connects me to my family. All I need to do to have family around me is fix a meal. Some of my most cherished possessions are dish towels embroidered by my grandmas. I have a small collection of pot holders crocheted by great aunts, a few roses crocheted by my dad add another dimension to a plain surface and then there are the tablecloths and afghans worked by in-laws.

             My sewing area contains implements passed down from my family. When I was small, my grandma came to live with us. She taught me to embroider and to do a bit of crochet. The summer before junior high, Mom added sewing machine lessons to the mix and, a dozen years later, I had the confidence to begin quilting.

             Working colorful threads through a piece of cloth is a peaceful process. All the day’s worries are pushed aside as I study the pattern and work the stitches. I found that I can’t be stressed, or I rip out twice as many stitches as I put in. A perfect day is one that lets me put on some music, fix a cup of tea, gather my project and work until the light fades.  After a few days like this, I have a piece of functional art to decorate my home.

Wall hanging inspired by churches in Lugano, Switzerland

            (Oh, who am I kidding? Dozens of quilts made and I have two. They go out the door as fast as they are done because someone always says, OOH! I like this. Is it mine? Christmas or birthdays are never that far off and adios, project.)

            Of my two quilts, one is finished and one’s been in the quilting hoop for about 5 years. My goal is to finish it by Christmas. The one in the hoop is a memory quilt created out of old kitchen linens: fussy cut tablecloths that belonged to my mom and grandma and a set of cherry curtains and a red tablecloth from an Iowa farm sale in the 80s. Most of the fabric is vintage and I know that means the quilt will be more decorative than practical, but it’s the connection by fabric and thread that is important to me.

            The farmhouse quilt has inspired me to become a pattern designer instead of a pattern follower. Vintage linens are an addiction that fill my closets. My quilting closet and baskets of embroidery and crochet threads will help me create pretty things to decorate my house.