Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Grieving Parent's Tribute

Today is the second anniversary of my son's death.  Nick would be 21 now.  I hadn't really thought about it yesterday.  I started a new job this week, so I've been pretty busy.  That's probably a good thing, keeping my mind active on other things.  But I woke up around 3 am and haven't been able to sleep.  Crying a lot. No surprise. And when I'm sad, I write poetry. This one came out sounding like an old country song to me, well, without a chorus. Here's my poem:

A Grieving Parent's Tribute
It's a parents worst nightmare
Standing over their child's grave
There are no words of comfort
No sanity to save

It brings you to your knees
with every breath you take
each little thing reminding you
your heart relives the break

You swim around in darkness
and wrestle with the why's
there is no answer, not this time
not one that satisfies

The pieces that remain 
you pick up and try to hold
play the hand you've been dealt
trying so hard not to fold

Life goes on, it speeds right by
you try to catch your breath
the whole world seems so callous
what's one more senseless death

As the years go by without them
you make a point to say their name
you think of them and it still hurts
but you do it just the same

Some say God only gives you
a load that you can bear
that doesn't seem to make much sense
it doesn't seem quite fair

Some say your child's an angel now
like that makes it okay
to love someone so precious
and have them ripped away

But if there is a reason
it's what they left behind
you feel it deep within you
the strongest love to bind

It changes your very core
for good or bad, a choice
one path leads to bitterness
the other to be their voice

They'd want you to be happy
to forgive yourself and live
they'd want you to find peace of mind
a place where you can give

Dig down deep within you
find the sense among the strife
live each day a gift to them
a tribute to their life

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Job Search Advice

I was laid off a few Fridays ago and had to dive head first into job hunting the following Monday.  Because I was a consultant for many years at the beginning of my career, I was actually pretty well prepared to switch gears quickly and found another really good local database data modeling job in less than 2 weeks. Although I certainly feel I was fortunate, I believe it was less about luck and more about being prepared and knowing how to go about getting a job.  

Today, an old buddy of mine reconnected with me and asked for my advice on searching for a new job. After I replied to his email with my advice, I realized there are probably other people out there that might appreciate my perspective. Keep in mind that this guy and I both have over 20 years experience doing what we do and that we're technical computer/database geeks (so some of this won't pertain to junior professionals or unskilled folks).  Here is the advice I provided.  I hope you find it helpful.

1) Update your resume. While I offered to give him a copy of my resume, instead here I'll provide basic resume hints but there are tons of examples online for you to use as inspiration.  Include your technical skills, your work history (including your job title and the technical skills you were required to know for that job), your education history, and describe yourself in terms that a hiring manager will find desirable (this may need to be revised for different jobs you're applying for), your name and contact information.
2) Update your LinkedIn profile to include stuff in your resume. Search Linked In profiles of other to get ideas of what to include in your profile. Solicit old and current co-workers for recommendations.
4) Prepare a general cover letter that you can fine tune for each job that you apply for. There are lots of examples online, but I try to convey my passion for database work so that it doesn't sound too dry or generic.
5) Look for jobs on LinkedIn, GlassDoor, Monster, Dice, TheLadder. Look for jobs posted on the career pages of all the major employers in your locale. Do the same with each of the consulting firms/temp agencies in town.
6) When emailing, include your LinkedIn profile in your signature. Accept all LinkedIn invites from recruiters. The more your LinkedIn profile is looked at, the higher chance you'll get approached for a potential job by recruiters. Use LinkedIn exclusively as a social network of professional people that can help you get a job either by recruiter, recommending, being in the same industry, etc.  This is not the place to post pics with your friends at the bar...use facebook and instagram for that type of shenanigans :)
7) Keep a communication log of each job you apply for, including the date, the person, the company, the job title, the pay rate (this is especially important if you're more flexible with your pay rate and agree to different proposed rates for different job opportunities).  I also keep a separate email address strictly used for recruiter correspondence.
8) Be positive (don't talk trash about your last job, how many idiots you work with, etc.), smile when you talk to recruiters on the phone (they'll hear that you're smiling, no shit I'm serious), be confident, show off your great verbal communication skills, make them excited to pitch you to the client/hiring manager, help them feel confident that you're the right person for the job. 
9) Think about who you can use as references, make sure these people have recent exposure to your abilities, have them in a range of perspectives (a manager, a colleague, a subordinate, someone from another part of the business that interacts with you). These people should be articulate, professional, and also people you trust to represent your interests. Get their permission and prepare a page with their info, but only provide it if and when asked. 
10) Determine culture and dress of company prior to showing up for interview. Dress slightly better than their standard office attire at that office. Too much better (or worse) and you'll look and feel like a bad fit to them when you walk in the room. 
11) Talk in terms of how you fit their needs. If you can, talk with language that subtly sounds like you've already been chosen for the position and how excited you are about joining the team so they feel how fun you are to work with (you are fun to work with, remember!!).
12) At the end of the interview, try to call out the points you think will really set you apart from the others interviewing, the things they will really desire based on the issues they've share with you about the role, and help them see what a great find you are.
13) After each interview, send a thank you email to the hiring manager and the recruiter (barring an unknown email address) that reiterates why you think you're a good fit and make sure to make it clear you definitely want the job.  

Good luck!