Written by Susan Lamphiear
As we recently commemorated the 15th year anniversary of 9-11, most of us remember where we were September 11, 2001, because it was a life-changing event. The whole nation, possibly much of the world, reflected on that day, and all that has happened since, as we try to make sense of it.
Most people have experienced at least one personal 9-11 in their lives, and probably more than one. It’s that moment when life changes as we once knew it. It could technically even be a happy moment like a marriage or the birth of a baby or a child going off to college. An alarm or wakeup call that time marches on and tomorrow is promised to no one. Or it can be a shocking life event like illness or a death of a loved one, an accident or natural disaster, the change or end of a relationship, or, JOB LOSS — forever altering our own world.
A mammoth event, national or personal, though difficult, can lead to growth and positive changes or insights. It makes me think of that song, “There’s Got to Be a Morning After….if we can hold on through the night.”
Best day of Brenda Cunningham’s life happened in January, 2009. But how can that be, you say, since that was the month Brenda was laid off from her high-paying, well-respected career as an electrical engineer? She didn’t realize at the time it was the best day of her life. That came after a little couch surfing and contemplation. At the time her two kids were under age five.
Once she reflected and realized she’d been working so hard she didn’t have time to live, the next thought was, “Crap. I don’t have a job. I love my babies but love ‘em after three o’clock.”
When Brenda was laid off she admits her confidence took an immediate and severe hit. Millions of dollars had crossed her hands in business deals. She was busy on conference calls day and night. But she realized after the layoff she’d been going through the motions. She was always working, conference calling on her blue tooth, even as she picked up her kids from daycare. Life was passing her by.
Her husband would come home that first month of her layoff and say, “What’s going on?” as he looked around at the chaotic scene. “And where’s dinner?”
Then one day, “It was like the hand of God pulled me off the couch and said, ‘Get to work!’”
Since that ominous day in 2009, Brenda, among many other things, has written a book, CRUSH the Pink Slip: Get Back to Work in 60 Days which stresses three important points she wanted to share with other job hunters. Have a goal, a game plan, and a realistic time table.
Brenda’s Takeaway Wisdom for the Job Hunter
- You need to do more than the average job seeker. Be willing to get uncomfortable, including networking.
- Face the fact there are certain things it takes (for most people) to get a job in this day and age.
- Update your resume. Remember that layoffs are no surprise. They’ve been a reality for some time now.
- Work on your resume remembering there are many opinions about resumes floating around out there. Be selective about whose advice you take. Her best advice is to tailor your resume to fit the job you want.
- Use LinkedIn! It’s no longer optional! Remember it was never intended to be a quick job search tool. It’s a long term strategy. (Be sure to include a professional head shot, not a selfie!)
- Keep yourself in good health. She goes to the gym. Early. Remember what Kobe Bryant says at his speaking engagements: “I’m here because of 4 AM.” Be willing to put in the work to get a job and to be healthy doing it.
- Know what you are looking for! If someone says to her, “I just need a job” her response might be, “I heard QT is hiring.” With all due respect to QT, she says most people don’t mean just any job. Be willing and able to articulate that. “I want a position in IT working for…..” Be as specific as you can. Name the industry at least, better yet, the company. More than likely most people at least want something more specific such as Project Management, IT network security, or Customer service manager.
- When you network, follow up. Don’t expect someone to remember you if you haven’t seen or contacted them for five years. She references a cousin who only calls when she needs money. Guess how often Brenda takes her calls these days?
Brenda urges us to remember Napoleon Hill’s words from his book — Think and Grow Rich: “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants and a burning desire to possess it.” Be able to explain what you’re looking for and then be willing to put in the hard work your personal career goal probably requires and deserves.
Bonnie Taylor, Sr. Staffing Consultant
Health Net, after being acquired by Centene in 2016, is now one of the largest providers of Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and other government-sponsored and commercial programs in the country in addition to being the number four Fastest Growing Company (Forbes 2015). The company takes pride in operating locally. Benefits include medical, dental and vision; short and long-term disability for employees working at least 30 hours; life insurance; financial plans like 401K, Paid Time Off and more. Bonnie states that no one ever says they can’t work for the company because of their benefits! Career opportunities available with the company include Behavioral Health, Analysts, Clinical and Nursing, IT and more. A tip for locating jobs in Arizona — type “Arizona” in the key word search. For a complete list of careers, visit their website or contact Bonnie Taylor.
Jessica Bowles, Director of Recruitment and Selection
Northwestern Mutual has been around for 160 years, with offices today in all 50 states. Known as the Policyowners’ Company, their products include mutual funds, disability insurance, annuities and life insurance. The company prides itself on being an industry leader with high ratings from all four major agencies. Supportive team environment and capable, encouraging leadership are among their hallmarks. Opportunities currently available at Northwestern Mutual in Phoenix include Marketing Assistant, Financial Representative/Advisor and Assistant Financial Representative. For more information or to apply, visit their website.
Christian Kaijser, Managing Director
Career Evolutions, a Hiring Company, offers support throughout the full employment lifecycle in functional areas of Accounting & Finance, Sales & Marketing, Technology, and Direct-Hire & Consulting.
Advice from Christian
Christian reminded us that it’s all about attitude (80%) and aptitude (20%). Employers are looking for people with desire and passion for the job and people who are tech savvy. To stand out, today’s candidate should possess appropriate appearance, intellect and presentation.
He urges everyone to use social media including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Blogs to brand yourself and to stand out. He admits that the job search sucks, that some careers and locations are hot, some not. Administrative and Finance are hot areas right now. Going to Houston may not be so “hot” right now for the job hunter.
- Start the job search immediately.
- Treat the search like a job.
- Be open to interim positions, freelancing or consulting.
- Don’t panic, be patient, but don’t be overly picky.
- Stay fit.
- Have a dynamic, relevant and error-free document portfolio.
- Manage your personal and professional brand.
- Do your homework; stay fresh and engaged.
- Don’t prematurely talk salary, vacations, and schedules.
If you’re worried about age discrimination, take time to get current. He explains his own metamorphosis from 1995 to present day — where he’s evolved from yesterday’s a little overweight and out of fashion guy to today’s with-it businessman with spiky blond hair and a leaner silhouette.
For more information on the company, visit their site.
Susana Romero, HR Recruiter
TJX is the leading off-price apparel and home fashion retailer in the U.S. Brands include such stores as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. “Off-price” indicates brand names, fashion, price and quality. Typical benefits as an employee include direct deposit, associate discount, holidays/sick time/ bereavement leave, Medical/Vision/Dental insurance, and much more. Current home office positions in Phoenix include Fulltime positions of Distribution Center Supervisor, Finance Supervisor, Merchandise Controller, and Loss Prevention Specialist. For more information or to apply, visit their website.
New Horizons Learning Center
Zack Hiscock, VP Learning and Development
New Horizons Learning Center is the world’s largest independent IT Training Company “turning ambitions into marketable skills.” Their goal is to empower people to success through training. Most programs they offer end with a certification which can help students differentiate themselves from the competition. Certifications include Microsoft Office, Cisco, IT Programs, Office Management or Healthcare Records Management and more. The training center helps students find just the right program to suit each person including experience, job market, salary requirements, funding, and flexibility of training needs. Courses are offered using a variety of methods including traditional instructor-led, online LIVE learning, and online ANYTIME learning. Tools include hands-on labs, reference materials, practice exams, learning guides, course ware, and exam preparation. Job placement assistance is also available at this State-of-the-Art facility. Funding is also available. Contact them for a free consultation, or visit their website for more information on classes and funding.
Executive Director Jessica Pierce closed the formal part of the meeting, thanking volunteers and the host site, Highlands Church. Attendees were reminded to take advantage of the free DISC assessment available to Career Connectors’ members. During breakout sessions, everyone was invited to participate in the free resources available including talking directly to hiring managers, getting professional head shots taken, consulting with professional resume writers, and networking with other attendees.
The next meeting of Career Connectors will be held Tuesday, September 27, 2016, in Gilbert, starting at 9:00 AM. and featuring keynote address by Pamela Heward –The Work Before the Work: Box Free Breakthroughs for a New Career and Mind.
The next Scottsdale event will be Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 9:00 AM. Keynote address, The Key to Improving Your Job Search, will be presented by Greg Harnyak.
For an ongoing list of events and details about time, address, and program, click here.