Because There was “No” Room

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

We all know the story of Jesus’ birth as told in Luke 2:1-20.   The Roman emperor Augustus ordered all the people to be counted in a census.  As part of that count, all males had to return to their ancestral homes.  Joseph, a descendant of King David, traveled from his home in Nazareth to Bethlehem with his pregnant fiancée Mary in tow.  While in Bethlehem, the time for baby to be born came.  With the town teeming with people for the census, lodging was not available.  The only place Joseph could find for the birth was a manger “because there was no room at the inn.”

“The No’s” 

The word “No” is a constant in the lives of those seeking employment.  Think of the many times and many ways you have experienced “The “No’s” during you job search.

…”No – We don’t have a job for you.”

…”No – You are under qualified.”

…”No – You are over qualified.”

Relentless and persistent, “The No’s” can sap our strength, our confidence and our will during the job search.  Learning how to take “The No’s” with the confidence, grace and humility demonstrated by Mary and Joseph that day in Bethlehem can make all the difference in successfully weathering the “The No’s” in the job search storm.

3 Ways to Fight “The No”

Career expert Molly Cain, writing in Forbes Magazine, says that with the employment rate hovering around 7.5%, competition is at its highest right now, which means there can be lots of reasons you were told “No” about the job.  Molly recommends 3 things that we can do to fight “The No”.

1. Your Resume

Take a look at what you gave your prospective employer. If they’ve got any sort of head on their shoulders, they can typically read through lies, they can read through “elaboration” and they can read where you’ve panicked and tried to insert just about anything to lengthen the word count. Consider these resume “No No’s:”

  • Sticking your entire 20 year career on 1 page – Forget what your college career counselor told you – 2 or more pages is commonplace and is expected.
  • Failing to adequately explain breaks in employment – Due to the Great Recession, long breaks in employment is the new normal.  In my e-book the Smart Job Search, I show how savvy job seekers use the resume to highlight job productive things they have been doing while out of work.  List volunteering, freelancing, classes taken and other industrious stuff you have done while you have been unemployed.
  • Nonprofessional email address – An email address saluting your favorite Justin Bieber song is charming.  However, the email address on your resume should reflect the seriousness that you are bringing to the job search.   So while it is much more boring, use your name in your email address, such as: marbenbland@gmail.com.  It will be far more effective.

2. Your cover letter

Take a fresh look at the cover letter you sent.  Does it have typos?  Was it addressed “To whom it may concern?  Or, was it not captivating enough to get perspective employers to open the resume attachment?   I have an admission to make– I hate cover letters–they are filled with potential to bite you–but we have to do them.   Alison Doyle, the brilliant job search and employment expert, says that there are 3 general types of cover letters:

  • The application letter which responds to a known job opening
  • The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions
  • The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job search

Go to Alison’s website: www.about.com/carrers for examples of the cover letters listed above. I did. and now I have taken the “No” factor out of writing cover letters.

3. Your Networking

Are you getting “No’s” when submitting resumes to online job postings?  Well, you are not alone.   With nearly over 1,000 job seekers for any one job, it is easier to win Powerball than to get a call back from an online posting.   Now, I’m not trying to dissuade you from posting for jobs online, however a survey from the top end job search site ExecuNet reveals that 80% of all jobs are obtained via networking.   The vast majority of job openings are never advertised; they’re filled by word of mouth. That’s why networking is the best way to find a job.  Unfortunately, many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage of networking because they’re afraid of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving.  But networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. Tapping the hidden job market may take more planning and nerve than searching online, but it’s much more effective. Adopting a networking lifestyle—a lifestyle of connecting and helping others in good times and bad—will help you find the right job, make valuable connections in your chosen field, and stay focused and motivated during your job search.  Several of my best networking friends have given me these 3 tips to pass along:

  • Figure out what you want before you start networking – Networking is most effective when you have specific employer targets and career goals. It’s hard to get leads with a generic “Let me know if you hear of anything” request. Asking for specific information, leads, or an interview is much more focused and easier for the networking source.
  • Improve your communication skills – Effective communication is a cornerstone of job networking. As simple as communication may seem, much of what we try to communicate—and others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood. Effective communication combines a set of learned skills, such as: attentive listening, recognizing and using nonverbal cues, managing stress in the moment, and understanding your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with. Toastmasters is the best place I know of where you can both enhance your communication skills and build a network.  Go to www.Toastmasters.org to find a club near year. 
  • Focus on building relationships – Networking is a give-and-take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. It’s a way of relating to others, not a technique for getting a job or a favor. You don’t have to hand out your business cards on street corners, cold call everyone on your contact list, or work a room of strangers. All you have to do is reach out.

What are you saying “Yes” to?

Clearly as a job searcher we are going to hear the word “No”…. repeatedly. However, we have plenty to say “Yes” to and those “Yeses” can be parlayed into a job.  Your days of unemployment should not be idle time. There are only so many episodes of “The Price Is Right” or “Sports Center highlights” one can endure before your mind turns to mush.  This may sound strange, but your time of unemployment should be a joyous time, a time of personal growth, a time of rejuvenation, a time to get your groove back, or a time to discover a new groove, or a time to give your groove to others.

In my e-book The Smart Job Search, I profiled Leslie Ross, a truck driver by trade, but out of work due to the post-traumatic stress caused by an accident where a young mother was killed.  Leslie, who was not at fault for the accident, couldn’t drive any more.  However, she had a broad and impressive, almost encyclopedic, knowledge of topics that ranged from the Dalai Lama to the origins of Honky Tonk, gained from hours listening books on CD’s in the cab of her 18-wheeler. After a year of job searching “No’s”, Leslie said “Yes” to a volunteer gig at her local library reference desk.   In the weeks that followed, Leslie assisted a struggling author with an obscure factoid from a book that she heard on an early morning drive from Modesto to L.A.  She helped a young student with a term paper about molecular biology, a topic that Leslie happened to hear about one day while listening to the leading expert on the subject interviewed on a late-night, call-in show as she drove from Destin, Florida to High Point, North Carolina. And, she astonished an executive with her insightful knowledge about his company gained through years of overhearing conversations at the loading dock of his company’s main factory.

Saying “Yes” to the volunteering proved to be Leslie’s eureka moment. She didn’t need to volunteer for the library…. she needed to work for it. Leslie the trucker reinvented herself into Leslie the librarian.  She enrolled in the library science program at the University of Pittsburgh. There, she thrived in the environment of knowledge, discovery, and arcane facts, and in two years, this former trucker from Indiana became a librarian.  Today, you can find her in the streets of Indianapolis serving the city’s neighborhoods.  With her newfound confidence, Leslie, the librarian, has started driving big rigs again. Only this time, instead of the books being on CD’s, they lined the shelves of her new 16-wheeler — the city’s bookmobile.  Leslie, our hard-driving, trucking librarian, found her new gig through the magic of saying “Yes.”

You have experienced enough “No’s” in your job search…..what are you saying “Yes” to?

The Bottom Line – Jesus said “Yes” to us

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

Luke 2:8-11 NLT

Jesus’s birth in a manger was “No” accident.  He was born in these humble circumstances to demonstrate to us that the word “No” should not deter us.  If the king of kings, our Lord and Savior was told “No”, what should being told “No” mean to us?  Instead, Jesus said “Yes” to us. He said “Yes” to our sins so we can live lives of significance, lives of dignity, ….and “Yes” lives of work in service to Him.

My gift to you in this joyous season is the hope you will be like Jesus and say “Yes” to not being defeated by the “No’s”

Merry Christmas

Making sense out of the tragedy at Sandy Hook

It started as just another school day for the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Children at the bus stop, children on the playground, and children in the classroom. However, it was not just another day for at about 9:30 a.m. as announcements were read over the loudspeaker shots rang outAnd when the shooting was over 20 children first graders between the ages of 6 and 7 were dead.

Why

The tragedy at Sandy Hook has shaken all of us.  Speaking for the nation a weeping President Obama simply said…”Our hearts are broken.”

This tragedy again beckons the question why?

—Why would someone shoot innocent children?

—Why do bad things happen to Good People?

—Why do these senseless rampages continue to happen?

I have no answers to these questions; the time for answers will come later.  For now all I can ponder is

– The unwrapped presents that won’t be opened this year.
– The birthdays that won’t be celebrated.
– The high school graduations that won’t be attended.
– The weddings that won’t be held.

Making sense out of the tragedy

What makes sense to me now is love. The outpouring of love within the Newtown community, the torrent of love from the nation, and the surge of love from the world tells me; while we are still filled with faults ….people are still good.

At times like these I am driven to my knees in prayer for solace and to my bible for comfort.  For as Abraham Lincoln said “I have no place else to go”.  Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”   Matthew 19:14

The safe harbor of Jesus’s love is now the home of 20 children from Sandy Hook, 12 girls and 6 boys. Their death reminds us how precious and fleeing life can be.   And for now that is all the sense I can make out of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

How Strong Are Your LinkedIn Contacts?

5 Shades of Thankfulness

This week, we celebrate my favorite holiday…Thanksgiving.  Yes, I favor it for the food, the football and the family.  But more than that, I favor it for the reflection…the reflection on the shades, if you will, of thankfulness that wave over my life.   For this year these are five of my many shades of Thanksgiving thankfulness.

❶I am thankful for my Faith.

God is my anchor.  His teachings are the guidepost of my life.  His love has given me peace; His grace has given me perspective.  And, His mercies has given me my life, my joy, and my stability.

❷I am thankful for my Family.

My family is a constant source of joy, wonderment and pride.  Joy, that comes with the privilege of every moment I get to spend with my magnificent 86-year old mother.  Wonderment, when I look into the sparkling eyes of my granddaughters while seeing my son growing into becoming an excellent father. And, pride in being the third child born into a remarkable family parented by Benjamin and Mary Lois Bland.

❸I am thankful for my Friends.

My friends–new, old, and more numerous to name, have been an endless source of intelligence, advice, and unconditional love.  But what my friends really are a source of a great deal of silliness and fun!!!  And for that, I am truly thankful.

❹I am thankful for my Country:  The United States of America.

Yes, I know we have just experienced a bitterly contested election where money, lies, and voter suppression substituted for ideas, honesty, and leadership. However, despite of and because of its faults, I am so thankful to live in this country–a country that is the beacon of liberty for the world; a country of innovation and hard work.  A country where despite our tinged racial history a child, born in Hawaii to a white mother and black father, can grow up to become the President of the United States.

❺I am thankful for my Work

During a time when millions of my fellow citizens are out of work, I am thankful to have work.  I am extremely thankful that part of my work has been to assist those looking for work.  I am thankful to never forget that work is more than just a paycheck; work represents the dignity that comes from using your talents and skills to support yourself and your family.

The bottom line

These are only five of the many shades of thankfulness that I am grateful for.   I hope, amidst the food, football and family, that you will spend a moment reflecting on your shades of thankfulness.

A final word of thanks

Finally, thank you for reading my weekly blog post.  Your comments week after week are a heartwarming affirmation that the words written and the stories told… matter.  I am forever amazed and grateful for your readership.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

A Soldier’s Last Letter Home

On this Veteran’s Day as we wind down the longest war in American history the war in Afghanistan.  I would like to share with you the true cost for those who served in uniform and their families in a soldier’s last letter home from the war that just ended the war in Iraq.

Private First Class Jesse Givens had been in Iraq for a less than a month.  The 34 year old married with a stepson and a new son on the way was unable to shake a sense of dread – and a need to say goodbye to his family.

On May 1, as he helped to snuff fires set by insurgents, his tank crashed through a berm and fell into a canal off the Euphrates River. The rest of the crew escaped through a hatch, but Givens was trapped inside. Of all the dangers they were warned about, of all the terrible scenarios that went through the minds of his family, it was a scene nobody imagined:

Jesse Givens husband, father and father to be drowned in the desert.

A month later Melissa Givens, Jesse’s 27-year-old widow while going through her husband’s personal effects fond a letter that simply said “Open after my death”.   This is Jesse’s goodbye to his wife, Melissa, his stepson Dakota and his unborn son Bean.

My family:

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if you are reading this . . .

I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. . . . The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. You will never know how complete you have made me. Each and every one of you. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never even dreamed existed . . .

Dakota, you are more son than I could ever ask for. I can only hope I was half the dad. You taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn’t so serious and sometimes you have to play. You have a big beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play together. I hope someday you will have a son like mine. Make them smile and shine just like you. I hope someday you will understand why I didn’t come home. Please be proud of me. Please don’t stop loving life. Take in every breath like it’s your first. I will always be there with you. I’ll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom’s belly, and the joy I felt when we found out you were on the way. I dream of you every night, and I always will. Don’t ever think that since I wasn’t around that I didn’t love you. You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love. Please understand that I had to be gone so that I could take care of my family. I love you Bean.

I have never been so blessed as the day I met you Melissa. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover, and my best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A million lifetimes’ worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That’s how long I will be with you. Please keep our babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. . . . Do me a favor, after you tuck Toad and Bean in, give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile.

Love Always

Your husband

Jess

Private First Class Jesse Givens – Thank you for your service.

5 Tips for landing a job this holiday season

In less than a month we will be knee deep into the holiday season packed with lots of heartwarming holiday get-togethers, wonderful food, and great family fun.

Most job seekers see the holidays as lousy months to look for work, and at first glance that is probably true.  Potential hiring managers are distracted by festivities, travel and family obligations.  Plus they are often overwhelmed by year-end deadline pressure, and reduced budgets.  Finally companies are often in “slowdown mode” with employees taking time off and decisions being delayed until the start of the new year.

Add all of that to the feeling of many who have been job hunting for a long time that the holidays present the perfect opportunity to take a break from the discouraging task of looking for work and it is clear why the holidays can be lousy months to look for work.

However, it does not have to be that way.  An analysis of the last 4 holiday seasons revel that  90% of job-hunters assisted by my company, The Marben Bland Group who keep at it during the holidays actually found work as a result of those actives as quickly as 3 months after the start of the new year.

Those successful job seekers and their job search coaches have compiled a list of the best practices they have found most helpful in mounting a holiday search.  These 5 tips are presented to you now as our per-holiday gift.

There’s less competition.

Lots of people give up looking over the holidays, and that means you’ll have a better chance.

The holidays put people in a receptive mood.

The focus on family and fun makes people more open to conversation, even with job-seekers.

Holiday parties are great for networking.

In addition to parties thrown by family and friends, professional associations and offices host their own fêtes.

Respond to holiday leads quickly.

If you get a job or networking lead at a holiday party, act on it right away. Momentum is always important in a job search, so don’t wait until the new year to send that e-mail.

Hiring Managers have more time to take your call.

Workloads often lighten up during the holidays. If a hiring manager isn’t out of town, he’s more likely to chat with you than he would be at another time of year.

Bonus Tips

Everyone likes a bonus and because it is the holidays these 3 tips are our bonus to you!!!

Hiring managers must meet end-of-year deadlines.

Some managers have quotas to fill, like hiring 15 marketing staffers by Dec. 31. If they’re behind on hiring when you present yourself, you could get lucky.

Holiday cards offer a great way to stay in touch.

The hiring process often takes weeks, if not months. If you’re in protracted talks with a potential employer, a holiday card can be a great way to remind him or her that you’re available and eager.

Holidays offer time to polish your résumé.

Employed job-seekers looking to make a switch are often too crazed at work to spend time on their résumés. The holiday lull can offer precious time to fix up one’s C.V.

The Bottom Line

The holidays is a time to count  our blessings, yes you may be unemployed or underemployed  however, all is not lost you have a family that loves you and a cadre of people who are rooting for you and willing to help you find that next job.   Our work with thousands of job seekers clearly shows that those who express confidence and are resolute that they will find a job despite the difficulties, setbacks and the time it takes are untimely successful.   So use the holidays to renew your appreciation of all that is good in your life that can help you pursue your search with an attitude that’s most likely to get results that you so richly deserve.   — Happy Holidays!!!!

3 Costly LinkedIn Profile Mistakes

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 175 million members and growing.  LinkedIn’s ascendancy makes having a profile on the social media site a must for any job searcher, small business owner, or corporate professional.  Why?  Because LinkedIn gives you the keys to controlling your online identity in Google and other searches LinkedIn profiles typically rises to the top of search results.  Your LinkedIn profile allows you to directly control the first impression recruiters, customers and fellow professionals get when seeing you online.

Despite the growing importance of the impression gained by an effective LinkedIn profile a number of professionals are making profile mistakes which are costing them potential jobs, customers and professional opportunities.

What effect does your LinkedIn profile have…?

  • On your job search?
  • On how your customers find you?
  • On your online image?

This quick quiz will provide a measurement to gage if you a making any of the 3 costly LinkedIn profile mistakes.

  1. Is Your Profile100% Complete?  – A LinkedIn profile basically acts as an online resume giving recruiters, customers and professional contacts access to your experience, thoughts and interests.  LinkedIn estimates that you are 40 times more likely to get found in a LinkedIn search if your profile is complete.  Click on this link to find how to get your profile to 100% complete    Give yourself 10 points if your profile is 100% complete.
  2. Are you a member of at least one group?– LinkedIn groups provides an opportunity to join other industry professionals adding value to your own profile and helping you to get found by other industry contacts.  Click on this link to find out more about groups   Give yourself 10 points for each group you are a member of.
  3. Request recommendations – Obviously don’t ask everyone, especially if you don’t know them that well. But having recommendations will help your profile to stand out and will help to build trust in your reputation to visiting users. This will help improve the visibility of your own profile within internal LinkedIn searches as well.   Find out more about LinkedIn Recommendations by clicking on this link

Scoring: 

0-10:  You are in need of a LinkedIn profile makeover

10-50: Your profile is good but could use some work

50 & Above: Wonderful you have an effective profile

 

The Bottom Line  

LinkedIn makes much of its money by charging an elite group of corporate recruiters’ big money for the right to sift through member profiles, hunting for great candidates to hire. Old or threadbare profiles aren’t much use to recruiters. In contrast, profiles that sparkle with members’ latest awards, new job responsibilities and fresh professional qualifications are regarded as treasure.   I hope you will make your profile a treasure.