Restarting Your Job Search After The Holidays

Welcome to Monday, January 4, 2016, the first “true” working day of the year.  This is also the day that you have designated to restart your job search after “taking” the holidays off.

Now that the days of holiday cheer have ended here are some tips to get you back into the job search mode.

1.Review your job search strategy

Finding a job is not a happenstance it takes focus work and a dedicated strategy to find the right opportunity.  Some things to consider are you strategize:

  • What kind of job are you looking for?
  • Have you made a list of target companies?
  • Have you compiled a list of the people you know within those target companies

2. Refresh your resume

Think of your resume as the single most important marketing document for your job search campaign.  Now that you have been off the job search trail for a while take a moment to consider these refreshments to your resume:

  • Consider adding a skills summary – outlining what abilities you bring to the table
  • Does your keywords match the current requirements for the jobs you are looking for?
  • Have you listed with measurable metrics the key achievements of your previous jobs?

3. Revise your social media strategy

Social media is now a major driver in any job search effort.  As you restart your job search consider the following:

  • Refresh your LinkedIn profile
  • Retake your LinkedIn profile picture
  • Reuse content and produce new original blog content for LinkedIn Publisher

4. Reengage your contacts

Research from Monster.com indicates that 80% of all jobs are acquired via networking.  Having a vibrant network is key to finding the right opportunity.   Consider these tips:

  • Tell your contacts that you are looking (If you have done it before – do it again)
  • Attend the January meetings of your professional association
  • Set up informational interviews with perspective employers

You Will Find Work In 2016

The American economy and the job market has picked up.  I am confident that if you prepare and are aggressive you will find work.

However, finding work takes work.  So welcome to January 4, 2016 the first true day of work.

Want A New Job By Christmas? 5 Things You Need to Do Today

As I write this post there are 53 shopping days until Christmas.

If shopping for a new job is one of the items on your list, here are 5 things that you should be doing in the days before December 25th.

  1. Know What You Want

Before launching on the other four items on this list. The first question to ask yourself should be: “What am I looking for in the new job?”

Taking the time to think about what is important to you in your next job will elevate and bring great power to your efforts during the days remaining until Christmas.

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles is a great resource that can help bring clarity to your job search efforts.

  1. Create A Target List Of Companies

As you become clearer about want job you are looking for, the next thing to do is create a target list of long companies that you want to work for.

I have been an advocate of the use of a company target list.  Use this six step to get the process started.

  1. Use Your Network Strategically

A 2012 CareerXroads study reviled that 75% of all available jobs are filled either through employee referrals, social media recruiting or the personal networks of hiring managers’.

This mean that your job search must be focused on strategically networking, backing up your list of target companies ensuring you can make the connections needed to find the next job.

My friend Marc Miller, the founder and CEO of Career Pivot has written extensively about networking.  His white paper Strategic Networking is a great guide in how to turn your existing network into a more powerful force for your job search.

  1. Upgrade your LinkedIn profile and other social media

Having an effective presence on social media and specifically LinkedIn is key in finding that next job.  Today your LinkedIn profile is more critical than a resume in fining new opportunities.

Upgrading and keeping your LinkedIn profile refreshed is central in showing that you are serious about your profession and available for new opportunities.

As a LinkedIn Ninja, I have written extensively about LinkedIn.  Here are a few posts from MarbenBland.Com that can get you started:

3 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your LinkedIn Profile

3 Ways To Transform Your LinkedIn Picture From Crappy to Fabulous

5 Easy Ways To Make Your LinkedIn Profile Standout

 

  1. Start Spreading The News

 

The fact that you are looking for a job should not be a secret.  Tell everyone you know that you are looking, counter to what many may think the holidays is a superb time to conduct an effective job search.

In a post I wrote last year called How to Power Up Your Holiday Job Search I outlined strategies for using the parties, dinners and goodwill leading up to Christmas to your job search advantage.

 

Find A New Job Under Your Tree

Job searching, whether employed or unemployed, is never a fun undertaking.

Use the next 53 days to challenge yourself to take your job search to the next

Good luck and have a very merry job searching Christmas.   

 

 

The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Bland

My siblings and I are so blessed to have been raised by two wonderful parents.  My mother Mary Lois was in education, and we were students in her family classroom of faith, love, and achievement.  My father Benjamin worked for the department of defense, traveling an hour and a half each day to an air force base in the height of 60s, 70s, and 80s cold war.  Together, Mom and Dad formed a tandem with God’s grace and love in order to raise six children in Jim Crow, small town Georgia.  Our parents navigated the particulars of segregation and degradation, while at the same time, gave each of us the confidence and strength to take full advantage of the opportunities that the Civil Rights movement afforded.

Mon Dad Me 1980
Mon Dad Me 1980

Daddy was the smartest, wisest, and funniest man I have ever met. While this is not a singular statement for a son to say about his father, it has been confirmed to me in so many ways by people who never met him.  Particularly, when I invoke one of Daddy’s many nuggets of wit and wisdom in a business meeting, a speech or in my writings, often I have been asked to catalog the statement he has made. However, as a man who for too long had been too busy with the things of life instead of the meaning of life, I declined to catalog many of Daddy’s nuggets of wisdom.  In part, thinking who would really care and why would I be so presumptuous to think that these thoughts would stand the test of time translated in a world of social media dominated by tweets, pokes, and critical refrains.  However, as God has given me more things to do, He has also given me the gift of reflection and in those moments, I have come to realize that I must share the thoughts of Benjamin Bland.  Not just for me but for the generation of grandchildren and great-great grandchildren who did not know Daddy personally but can benefit from his wit, his wisdom, and his love.

Most of Daddy’s wit and wisdom were personal messages to me, delivered by starting with the word “Son.” In the convention in which they were given, many of these messages will start with the word “Son” as well:

1.    “Son, I never worried about the mistakes that you would make; I knew you would make plenty of them.  I worry about how you are going to handle them.”

As humans our life is a mistake fest; we make mistakes all the time, especially in the most critical areas of our lives such as in our careers, in our finances, and in our relationships.  God also knows that we will make mistakes, bad choices, and commit sinful behavior. However via His love and grace, He has given us ways to handle them, making us stronger and better, so that we can do His will.

2.    “Son, you are too dumb to lie.”

From the first lies ever told by Adam and Eve, lies have been the downfall of our existence.  While we have all lied, God has provide us a pathway out of a life of dishonesty.

Why? Because “God knows everything (1st John 3:20)

How? Because He knows you and me intimately (Psalms139:1-10)

Where? Because He is aware of each temptation, each broken heart, each illness, each worry, and each sorrow we face.” And if we tell Him, there is no need to lie.

I invite you to read the post Have You Been Lied To? Where I share more of Daddy’s advice about not lying.

 3.    “Son, pride will rule you if pride is all you’ve got.”

As a young man, I was always concerned about my appearance. How would this decision make me look?  Why would someone say that to me?  What must I do to fit in?  Daddy understood that pride was ruling me. pride clouded my judgment, impeded my relationships, and prevented me from standing on my own principals.  God is clear about the destruction that pride can have in our lives. The story of Cain and Able in Genesis 4 is about pride and what it can bring us when pride is all we have.  Daddy’s message to me was that when we live a life, a full life trusting in the Lord, we can live free from the crippling elements that pride alone can bring. 

4.    “Son, I am going to see a man about a mule.”

When we asked Daddy where he was going, he often replied that he was going to see a man about a mule.  As small children, we inquired constantly about the mule.  We asked questions like, “What does the mule look like?” “What things can mule do?” “When can we see the mule?”    Daddy’s response to all of our questions was always, “You have to talk to the man?” Later as teenagers, we observed that Daddy no longer used the phase about seeing the man about the mule.” When asked why? Daddy said, “The man died.”  The fact is that Daddy’s visits were never about a mule, the visits were always about the man.  In our dealings in the world, it is always easy to focus on things, the shiny object of the mule often takes us away from what is most important relationships with people.

5.    “Son, be patient, be persistent, but be in a hurry.”

Life goes fast and Daddy understood that the opportunity of a lifetime only lasts for the lifetime of the opportunity. However, Daddy also understood that his children needed to have a balance of urgency, mixed with patience, and persistence.  Galatians 5:22 grounds Daddy’s wisdom in biblical truths: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (New Living Translation)

Daddy’s Wit and Wisdom

In the decade and a half since his passing Daddy’s wit and wisdom is more real to me than ever before.  While I pride myself in writing these post with a focus on the readers; this post was for me.  For it was in the writing of the worlds you have just read; the essence of Benjamin Bland came to me.  Daddy’s life was not about his wit and wisdom but about his love, for his God, his wife and his family which was the true source of his wit and wisdom.

How to Manage Time, Especially When You Think You Don’t Have Any

Woman looking at her Watch

Yes, I want to manage my time more effectively, but look at my day. I have so much going on: work, family, school, and community duties. I have so much to do! When do I have time to manage my time?

 

Time management is really about managing yourself. It is about Woman with a clock3making a commitment to be more organized, to maintain your focus, and to use your 24 hours each day to your best advantage.

Here are five tips to help you manage time, especially when you think you don’t have any.

1. Make a to-do list

A do-to-list is simply writing down what you need to To do list2and want to do.  Create a to-do list and make it a habit to update your list continually. Include urgent and non-urgent items so you’ll never forget or overlook any obligations again. Carry your list with you at all times, on paper, on your phone, or on your tablet.  The easy practice of keeping a to-do list will help you to not only manage your time but will also help you to find time for neglected interests and obligations.

2. Become deadline-driven

Deadline ClockBring action and power to your to-do list by adding deadlines to the tasks listed. Be realistic about setting deadlines, and commit yourself to meet your deadlines.  Becoming deadline-driven can add speed and urgency to the accomplishment of any task.  Have you ever noticed how quickly you can blitz through paperwork, delegate assignments, and make decisions on the last day before your vacation? Although we tend to get a lot done when we’re under pressure, it is a lot less stressful and considerably more professional to establish and stick to a to-do list that includes deadlines.

3. Clean up your act

Clean up and organize your act, including your desk, hard drive, computer files, and Dog Cleaning Upe-mail folders so that you can find items and information easily. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “A place for everything, everything in its place.”   You will be amazed by the time you will free up to get things done when you are not constantly in a search mode.

 

4. Take control over time-consuming distractions 

Toy Strory distractionsDistractions and interruptions rob us of the time that we need to complete the tasks on our to-do list.  Here is a simply way to take control. Make a quick list of the distractions in your life, and then start scheming to eliminate all distractions.  Turn off the alert rings on your computer and phone, especially when you need to focus on a task at hand.  We all know how much people can distract us.  If your office has a door, close the door occasionally. Having an open-door policy for your staff is self-defeating if you don’t have the time to listen attentively to their questions and concerns. If a coworker comes to your desk when you’re too busy to chat, ask the coworker to set an alternate time to meet.  Taking control of the distractions in your life will give you new-found time to accomplish the many things you want and need to do.

5.  Keep a schedule

Your day is made up of blocks of time that can be measured in seconds, minutes, andschedule hours, 24 hours, I reiterate for emphasis. How are you controlling that time?  A schedule, a calendar, or a datebook can bring order to your day by helping to make those second, minutes, and hours more effective, providing you with more time than you every thought was possible.

 

The bottom line: Even though you think your time is limited, more time is available

woman running on a clockTime management is really about managing yourself. It’s about making a commitment to be more organized, to maintain your focus, and to find more time in our lives to fulfill our professional roles and responsibilities. Once we achieve better time management skills, then we can have time to spend, supporting causes we care about, enjoying our families, and giving ourselves time to rest, recreate, and invigorate our critical thinking, imaginative, and creative thought processes.

A Valentine to God

Heart & ArrowToday we consider love, as we celebrate Valentine Day.  I hope your gifts and cards are ready!   God, who clearly loves us, deserves a valentine. In Matthew 22: 36-39, Jesus provides clear directions on how we should love God, our neighbors, and ourselves.

Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first commandment on any list. But there is a second commandment to set alongside it: Love others, your family, your friends, and your neighbors as well as you love yourself. These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. (Matthew 22: 36-39, The Message Bible).

The valentine that God wants us to give to Him is all about loving:

  • Loving God,
  • Loving our neighbors,

And

  • Loving ourselves,

Therefore, the question is how do we fulfill this valentine to God?  The scriptures truly provide all the guidance we need for the loving that God wants us to do.

Loving God

Loving requires action; loving God requires us to do something and that something is Love Godinteracting with God.  We can interact with Him in so many ways. Some of these ways are:

  • Praying
  • Worshipping

  • Giving

  • Witnessing

Paul make the loving interaction with God clear by saying this: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (English Standard Version)

When we pray, we get closer to God, not only because we are asking Him for things, but because we understand how we can depend on Him, how we can trust Him, and how we can become close to Him.

Loving Our Neighbor

Neighbor SignWe need to look no further than “The Ten Commandments” in Exodus 20 for a vision for how to love.   We show love to neighbor when we simply pledge not to:

  • Lie,
  • Steal,

Or

  • Bear false witness against our neighbor.

Loving Ourselves

Romans 12:1-2 provides a powerful reason to love ourselves:

Successful diverse business team laughing togetherTherefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will  (Romans 12:1-2, The Living Bible).

As a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, I must love myself because God loved me so much that that he deemed me worthy to be pleasing to Him, and I can show that love to God by:

  •  Being Confident

We can say these things because of our faith in God through Christ.  We know we are not able in ourselves to do any of this work. God makes us able to do these things. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (New Life Version)

  •  Having Self Control

My Christian brothers, you know everyone should listen much and speak little. He should be slow to become angry.  A man’s anger does not allow him to be right with God.  James 1:19-20 (New Life Version)

  • Expiring Joy

…happy the man who puts his trust in God. Romans 4:6-8 (New Life Version)

 My Funny Valentine

Enjoy Valentine Day secure in the understanding that our valentine to God is far moreFebruary 14 that cards, flowers, and candy. For me, the thing that I love the most about the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-blessing God that we serve is that while He commands us to love Him as we have seen in Matthew 22:36-39, he does not make us love Him.   God shows His loving power to us by allowing the best decision that we will ever make, loving Him, to be made by us.  God gives us the power to decide.  This Valentine Day, I hope you will give God a valentine and love Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

Happy Valentine Day!!!!

Hank Aaron@80 Consistency, Persistency, Dignity

 

 

Aaron WaveThis week marks the 80th birthday of baseball great, Hank Aaron.  His hall of fame career history shows that he played 23 seasons, leaving the game as an all-time, home run king, breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary mark in 1974.

Hank Aaron is my favorite baseball player, not only for his excellence on the field, but also for exemplifying three traits, if we emulate, will serve us well in life. These traits include consistency, persistency, and dignity.

Consistency

Hank Aaron’s work was playing baseball, and he went to work every day.  Presently, Aaron ranks third in all-time games played at 3,298; he ranks  second in career at bats, with 12,364; and he ranks third in plate appearances at 13,941.  These achievements make Aaron the only player in the history of the game to be in the top five in these categories.   However, more striking is how Aaron produced in those games, at bats, and at plate appearances.

Aaron Production

Aaron’s consistency in these important offensive categories clearly makes him one of the greatest players of the game.

Persistency

For Hank Aaron, persistency represented a commitment to excellence. Powered by the determination he learned from his parents, Aaron was considered an elite player as evident by his record of 20 all-star game selections.

Yet, Aaron’s game was not as flashy as other players of his day, like Willie Mays, Aaron-Maysresulting in him not being noticed beyond his Milwaukee and later Atlanta fan bases.  So, it came as a surprise to many baseball fans when, in 1973, the largely unknown Hank Aaron showed up on the national stage, pursuing one of the most cherished record in America, the all-time homerun record held by Babe Ruth, a baseball icon.  This count down chart shows Aaron’s nearly two decades of persistent chase to surpass 715.

Aaron HR1

Hank Aaron’s determined persistence landed him in the top 15 in home runs in the National League for 20 straight seasons.  While he only led the league in homers 3 times, it was Aaron’s persistence that enabled him to pass the Babe.

Dignity

Hank Aaron TuckHank Aaron’s consistent, determined chase for the all-time home run record was marred by racial taunts and death threats.  It was during those times that the country saw the dignity and grace of Aaron.  However, for those fans and foes who knew him well, the dignity of the man was always on display.  In his book The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, Howard Bryant, reveals Aaron’s support for the Civil Rights moment and in the tradition of Jackie Robinson his fight for equality for African Americans in Major League Baseball. Aaron’s outspokenness did not make him popular at the time; however, the honesty and dignity that he demonstrated in the midst of the negative environment of the time, has garnered Aaron respect beyond the statistics of baseball.

Hank Aaron@80

Hank Aaron’s stature as a man of substance has grown mightily@Aaron2
in the years since his retirement.  His influence as a social activist and business man has nearly eclipsed his play on the field.  April will mark 40 years since the epic swing that broke the greatest record in sports.  However, the most important swing of Hank Aaron is the template he has given us as to how to live a life of consistency, persistency, and dignity.

Peyton Manning – The ultimate measure of a man

Safety

Seahawks 48 – Broncos 8, and with that, the record-breaking Most Valuable Player (MVP) season of Peyton Manning was over in an epic Super Bowl loss that Manning himself termed “not an easy pill to swallow.”

 

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Without question, the outstanding Seahawks’ defense lead by Super Bowl MVP InerseptionLinebacker Malcolm Smith, whose interception of a Manning pass resulted in a crushing 69 yard touchdown, provided times of great challenge and controversy for the regular season MVP of the National Football League (NFL).

However, it is in this moment of defeat, for a record-setting quarterback, from a family of football royalty, with millions in the bank, and millions more in endorsements, that we see the ultimate measure of a man.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports reported that Manning faced a throng of cameras and PMSuit2microphones to explain to the football world how his team lost and his part in it. He was walking back to the locker room, surrounded by police and stray, media when he was approached by Steve Lopez, a 25 year-old beer vendor from the Bronx. Lopez said in a very respectful voice, “Mr. Manning, could I please get an autograph?”  Manning, in an equal respectful voice said, “Not now, but when I come back this way I will.”

This exchange between Manning and Lopez, as Wetzel calls it, represented the opposite ends of the NFL food chain, the megastar multimillionaire and a guy hawking Bud Lights in the stands. This exchange tells us all we need to know about the ultimate measure of Payton Manning.  At a moment, when the bright lights were off and his frustration from a complete defeat was at its highest, Manning could have been dismissive to Lopez, but he was not.

Y.A. TittleTheodore Roosevelt reminds us, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “

God wants us out on the field, using our talents and skills and exercising our faith.  ForPM1 without works our faith is dead (James2:14-26, KJV). While the measure of Payton Manning, the football player, came up short on the Super Bowl field, the ultimate measure of Payton Manning as a man, came up big as he emerged from the pain and hurt of the Denver locker room to give an autograph to Steve Lopez as he said he would.