Welcome to Reality

I was reading an article this morning titled “Hiring Charlie Sheen, Separating the Personal from the Professional”.  The theme of the article says digging into a person’s personality / personal history ‘seems hypocritical’ because as hiring authorities we’re supposed to ‘make hiring decisions using job-related information assessed as objectively as possible’.  It goes on to say that ‘it’s near impossible to link most personal behavior to job performance in an objective way’.

What?!  Are you kidding me??!!  Are you telling me that someone that is a slacker in their personal lives will be a go-getter in the workplace?  Or maybe a person who’s personal life is disorganized will be ‘detail-oriented’ when it comes to their job.  Or possibly someone that complains ad nausem about others in the social space will have a great team attitude?  Come on….  Get real.

As a technical recruiter my job is not simply to line up the right buzzwords in a resume and a job description.  Interviewing thousands of people over the past decade has given me a good sense of who will and won’t match a position.  Does job performance factor in to the decision making?  Absolutely.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore other indicators that factor into performance.  I’ve had people be dishonest with me.  Could they do the job?  Sure.  Am I going to recommend them?  Not a chance.  Would you hire a liar?

The article suggests casual writing on Facebook may have some typos and grammatical errors which might not translate to the workplace.  Most jobs require solid written communication skills.  If I’m considering a candidate with a poorly written Facebook profile / blog compared to someone with a well-written profile / blog that is going to factor into my decision making.

Are you listening?  Hiring managers have access to more information than ever before.  The more we can get to know a candidate the more comfortable we’re going to be pulling the trigger.  Someone is going to stand out from the crowd.    9% of the population is unemployed – there’s qualified people for most any  job.  Like it or not, who that person is and how they blend with the existing team is almost on par with their ability to do the job.

What you do on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, MySpace, on your blog, and anywhere else in cyberspace is going to be scrutinized.  Just ask Gilbert Gottfried.  I learned this lesson in the mid 90’s.  I was active in a piano-oriented Usenet group.  We had a vendor strong-arming us to purchase a sub-standard product that I knew would be sitting on our floor for years (and as it turned out I was right).  I said some less than complimentary things about the vendor and their product in the group.  The vendor saw it and presented it to my boss at a trade show as he was trying to negotiate a deal.  I got my butt chewed, and even though he would have been justified, I did not lose my job.  Ironically, the vendor lost a big chunk of business by holding my rants over our head to stay firm on price.  We decided to purchase from their competitor (one of the advantages of having multiple lines).  But the end result easily could have been professionally disastrous.

Big Brother is here and watching.  You can use it to your advantage or you can let it sink you.  What happens is completely up to you.

Social Media and You

If you know me you probably know that I’m on the Social Media bandwagon. The power of any community is amazing and what’s happening in the social space continues to amaze me. There’s no denying its woven into the fiber of our lives – from the microeconomics of connecting with long lost elementary school mates to the macroeconomics of Barack Obama’s grassroots movement on Facebook that helped propel him to the White House.

Here’s a fact that tells me social media is here to stay:  since the 90’s pornography had been the #1 ‘consumer’ of bandwidth on the internet (sadly).  For over a decade porn has driven demand for higher internet speed and more internet bandwidth.  Recently social media traffic on the web surpassed porn.  Technology is starting to be driven by ‘how can we leverage social & mobile media to drive more business’.

Organizations are being compelled to develop policies for your on and off the clock ‘behavior’ on social media sites.  Many employers are blocking major sites like YouTube and Facebook in the workplace.  So I have a question for you – are you on the train, at the station, or still at home trying to figure out what to pack?

I’m on the train. I’m doing things every day on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter.  I own two domains.  I blog.  There’s even videos on YouTube of me winning a lawn mower at the K and my family on vacation.  I’m a fairly gregarious guy so I don’t mind sharing my professional or personal life online.

Take a tour of this site. You can find out where I grew up, see some pictures of my family, and discover my dream car. Follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn and you’ll start to develop a good idea of my personal and professional ‘style’.  I’m using these tools to develop the Dave Templeman brand. I want people to know what I’m all about.

People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Social media gives you a forum where people will get to know you better, and hopefully like your content.  I’m not saying that these tools are meant to replace an actual relationship, because that is not the case.  They are best leveraged by enhancing existing relationships, and helping us discover new people with whom we might want to connect.

Social media is also a tremendously powerful tool in a job search.  You can ‘follow’ companies on LinkedIn and ‘Like’ them on Facebook.  You can find inside connections.  You can build a comprehensive and compelling LinkedIn profile – no more ‘2 page’ resume limits.  Get crazy and produce a video resume.  Use SlideShare to share PowerPoint presentations you’ve developed.  Cruise on over to Tweet My Jobs and see what’s out there.  When it comes to social media and job searching, if you’re still at home packing your things and trying to figure out what to take, you are being left behind.  Its time to put a plan in place and get to the station so you can catch the next train.

Emotional Intelligence

Show of hands – who’s been a teenager?  Those were the days, weren’t they?   You knew everything you needed to know, your parents were out of touch with reality, there was no car payment or mortgage…. The sun seemed to rise and set on your whims.  Then something happened.  Your days of skating through ‘Music and Art Appreciation’ and hanging out with your friends all afternoon & evening came to a crashing halt.  Maybe you delayed the inevitable by going to college, but eventually you ended up with a bunch of obligations.  A spouse & kids, a mortgage, car payments, a career.  Look at us all grown up.

Or are we?

I read an article today that got me thinking about the first few years of my career.  I started selling pianos when I was 23 years old.  I’m 46 now, so I’ve now spent half my life as a working professional.  At 23 my emotional intelligence was very raw.  Emotions had more control over me than I had over them.  I have always worn my heart on my sleeve – its a blessing that has made me a very effective salesperson, but its also been a curse that in retrospect probably made things more difficult for myself as well as those around me.   Instincts can be a tough thing to fight sometimes.

Here’s what I’ve learned about emotional intelligence over the past two decades.

1.  The more emotional I am, the more emotional others are likely to be.

I remember having knock-down, drag-out arguments with co-workers in the piano store.  Sometimes it was about the rotation (when you work 100% commission each customer in the door is an opportunity to make money so you take turns).  Sometimes it was about ‘ownership’ of a particular customer or whether a deal had actually been consummated on a particular ‘one-off’ piece of merchandise.   It ALWAYS had to do with ‘all about me’.  I’ve called people ugly names, I’ve complained about them behind their back to anyone that would listen.  It did not make for a very harmonious workplace at times.

2.  Controlling my emotions makes life a lot easier than letting my emotions control me.

This is a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn.  And its something I still haven’t mastered (not by a long shot).  When faced with a crisis situation at work I can feel my adrenaline start to run.  I start to talk louder, faster, and can be resistant to input.  Ironically my ‘side job’ as a basketball official has helped me make strides in this area.   I have parents, coaches, and players constantly questioning my judgment which definitely makes my adrenaline run.  With very few exceptions I ignore the crowd, but when someone warrants an ejection I calmly tell them ‘you need to leave the gym’.  When players get chippy with me on the floor I smile and talk to them in an even tone.  Occasionally I have a coach yelling at me at the top of his lungs.  For players and coaches I have my standard ‘let me call the game’ line and when that doesn’t work the final warning is ‘that’s enough’.  If it continues I blow my whistle and calmly walk over to the table and announce the technical foul.  I know the adrenaline is running because my hands shake a little bit while we’re shooting the free throws that come with a “T”.   However, I never, ever raise my voice or (like a few officials) take some sort of pleasure* in the power to administer a technical foul.  I actually hate handing them out, but you have to take care of business on the floor or the game is going to get out of control.  Same with your professional and personal life – you’re going to have to stay calm and keep things under control or its going to get out of control.

*I will admit I take some pleasure in being calm and under control with the other party going bananas.  I’ve also found a smile will get you a long ways in those situations.

3.  Self-Awareness goes hand in hand with Self Control.

If I’m going to manage my emotions I need to recognize the triggers that lead to my emotions taking over.  Like the clueless or obnoxious jerks that drive in the right lane next to a car in the left lane and take 5-10 minutes to pass on a 2 lane interstate.  As my wife can attest, that is one of my biggest emotional triggers that I still don’t have under control.  It may take a while to get rid of that one.  Once those triggers are identified, I need to remember that in the grand scheme of things its all little stuff.  Being a fairly well-grounded Christian helps me put most of what happens to me here on earth in perspective.  The video by Francesca Battistelli below sums up how we should all deal with our triggers.

4.  Its not about me.

We all have a self preservation mechanism hard-wired into our psyche.  Often that manifests itself as a ‘get what’s mine’ mentality.  This is especially true in my chosen field.  Sales is a winner take all situation.  You either get the deal, or someone else gets it.  Early in my career I only thought about what a deal meant to me.  I learned over time that if you take your needs out of the equation and focus on the client’s needs the sale takes care of itself.  The same can be applied to the workplace.  Rather than trying to push your way to the top try helping other people get there.  You’ll have a lot more peace at work, and you’ll find that by uplifting others you will be uplifted.

I’ve come along way with emotional intelligence over the past 23 years, but I still have room to grow.  Knowing that is step one to staying on track.

I Give Up

Three words that mark surrender.  The Rubics Cube came out when I was a teenager.   I was always amazed when my brother could solve that thing in 2-3 minutes, no matter how much I messed it up.  I think I solved it once.  Or not.  Maybe there was one color in the wrong place.  Regardless, when it comes to the Rubics Cube, I gave up.  Obviously there are things in life that we should give up.   Smoking, driving and texting, substance abuse, accumulating mountains of debt…. I give up can be a good thing in many instances.

But here’s one thing that you can never, EVER give up on.  And that is YOU.  I talk to many, many people who are worried and stressed out about their work situation, much of that worry & stress revolving around their financial situation.  I know a few who have completely given up.  But here is the reality of those situations

‘I give up’ looking for ways of making income is not an option unless you are financially able to support yourself the rest of your life.

There are people who have been trying in vain (for several years) to find a job in the same or similar field they left.   The fact is there are fields that are over-saturated with available resources with very little or no opportunities on the job side.  Ask anyone in or around the auto business in Michigan why they can’t find a job and the legitimate answer is ‘there aren’t any’.  If that’s the case for your background its okay to say ‘I give up’.  But what you’re giving up is continuing to try to stay in your former field.   People in that situation need to look at their transferable skills and how they can be leveraged in more lucrative industries and jobs.

Manufacturing.  Wired Telecommunications.  Print.  Finance.  Construction.  If you’ve been in these industries you hopefully know they are on the decline.  ‘I Give Up’ is healthy.  Moving away from declining industries into growth industries will give you more long term security.  Healthcare.  Engineering. Web/Social Media. Mobile Technology.  BioResearch.  Environment.  All on the uptick.  If you’ve given up on A, you need to be exploring B-Z.

Does this happen overnight?  Not by a long shot.  It can take months.  It might even take years if the field you select requires specialized education you currently lack.  But don’t ever give up on yourself.

Good News, Bad News.

“I have good news and bad news,” the defense lawyer says to his client. ”What’s the bad news?” the client asks.  The lawyer says, “Your blood matches the DNA found at the murder scene.” “Dammit!” cries the client. “What’s the good news?”  “Well,” the lawyer says, “your cholesterol is down to 140.”

We all have had bad news overshadow good news.  Its like having a cloud follows you everywhere you go.  No matter what’s going on around you that might be good, the shadow of the cloud hangs over those positive events and all you can see is the rain getting on your newspaper.   Don’t worry, these are normal human emotions, but they also are emotions that will get in the way of your success if you don’t know how to deal with it.

Back in college I had a class called “Death and Dying”.  Real upbeat stuff.  The textbook was Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s book of the same name.  For those of you who are not familiar with her work she is the person who came up with the famous “Five Stages of Grief“.  This model isn’t relevant just for the terminally ill, it applies to many other life-altering events.  If you can recognize the stages and understand where you’re at you CAN find a way to get out of the clouds.  If you went to work on Friday and were blindsided by a reduction in force, keep these stages in mind.

*Stage One.  Bargaining.

What do you mean I’m being let go?  I got great reviews just 3 months ago.  The work I’m doing is critical to the mission of the company.  This can’t be happening to me.  I’ll take a pay cut, I can go to part time, I’ll volunteer.  Is there anything I can do to stick around another month?  Isn’t there someone else that could go instead of me?

Stage Two.  Denial.

“I can’t believe I’m packing up my office.”  Denial from a displaced employee usually doesn’t last long.  The minute you pack your box and leave your cube for the last time brings home the reality of the situation.  If you’re 3 months removed from your last job and still wondering why you were let go you are in denial.  You also might be experiencing….

Stage Three.  Anger.

The stages don’t necessarily have a firm start and stop.  They overlap.  Anger generally comes after reality sets in and denial simply isn’t a logical way to deal with the situation.  Anger is a raw emotion with little logic to it.  Its okay to be angry, but its not okay to let the anger control you.  When you do let denial & anger take hold you usually will run into…

Stage Four.  Depression.

This is the ‘gotcha’ stage.  Depressed people don’t want to get up and do anything.   They don’t feel important as human beings.  Even people who had strong egos can be humbled to a point of depression by the loss of a job.  Especially those whose identity was wrapped up in that job.  I strongly recommend you seek advice and guidance from trusted friends and associates throughout the job transition process, but its more important at this stage than ever.  You need people to remind you of your value.  You want people to tell you it’s going to work out.  A solid support system will keep you from being depressed, and hopefully bring you to…

Stage Five.  Acceptance.

It’s going to be okay.  That chapter of my life is closed.  I have good people around me that are willing to help.  This is an opportunity, not an opportunity lost.  I am ready to move forward and find out what God has in store for me today.

Recognize where you’re at in these stages and deal with it.  Eventually that will allow you to accept your situation and be okay with it.

*Apologies to Ms Kubler-Ross, but I switched up the order a bit.

Whatever it Takes

I’ve been a recruiter for 10 years.  Take a guess at how many times I’ve heard candidates, employers, clients, and references say ‘will do whatever it takes’.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that phrase I most likely could fill my pick up bed with nickels and then some.  But I’ve been thinking about ‘whatever it takes’ lately and wanted to share some thoughts about whatever it takes and unemployment.

I was listening to the radio today and heard unemployment went down in January by .4%.  They said some of that number is skewed by the half a million people who dropped off rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out.  Which got me thinking – how many of those half a million people who collected unemployment for up to 99 weeks really do whatever it takes?

Maybe people expected to find a job in their field at or above their previous income level and held out.  Maybe they were in the car business in Detroit.  Maybe they worked in telecommunications here in Kansas City.  There’s no question that some jobs simply aren’t coming back, and when they do, the talent pool is so saturated you have about the same chance of being hired as you do being hit by lightning.  But whatever it takes doesn’t care about the reasons why you’re in the situation, it cares about how you get out of the situation.

If you have been out of work for nearly 2 years and surviving only on unemployment you are not doing what it takes.  I don’t want to point fingers at anyone, but I find it difficult to believe that a half a million people couldn’t find something that could generate $320 a week (the average unemployment benefit in Missouri) or more.  There’s no question that unemployment benefits are helping people survive, but relying on the government is like relying on Cousin Eddie – at some point you’re going to be let down.

Whatever it takes means you’re exhausting every possible option to not only find suitable employment (which is the long-term goal), but also addressing the income crisis that comes with long-term unemployment (which is more immediate).  Doing all the things that I recommend while searching for a job is a part of it.  Applying for jobs, networking, interviewing, researching the market, etc…  But if you’re living on $320 a week there’s another big part of ‘whatever it takes’ and that’s addressing an obvious income crisis.

Here’s some whatever it takes ideas to make money:

  • Get a minimum wage job.  If you are reliable, drug free, and willing to do manual labor or work in a call center for $8/hr there are a multitude of jobs waiting.
  • Clear snow off driveways.  You probably could have made more than unemployment last week doing just this.  Before you know it the grass is going to be growing.
  • Be a handyman.   If you can paint you can earn.
  • Sell stuff.  You’ve got a bunch of it – Craig has a list – it’s like a garage sale 365 days a year.
  • Consult.  There’s opportunity when you have knowledge other people want, but can’t afford to have on staff.
  • Provide ‘domestic services’.  People are busy and pay others all the time to clean their house, run errands, watch their home / pets when they’re on vacation, scoop dog poop, wash cars, etc…
  • Get ‘official’.  I made a weeks worth of unemployment this weekend officiating basketball.  There are organized baseball, soccer, football, and basketball programs in every major suburb in the area.  If you are interested in this way of making money I can help.
  • Tutor.  My son went well beyond my ability in Math by 7th grade and I would gladly pay someone to help him with Physics this semester.
  • Ask your family to help.  If you have kids the income crisis effects them as well.  Engage them in the process of solving the problem.  They can babysit, walk dogs, shovel snow, mow lawns, and if they’re old enough to have a more traditional part time job they should have one.
  • Make stuff.  Wood workers, quilters, arts & crafts buffs, etc..  all have opportunities to make money while staying sane doing something they love.

If you want more ideas for making money here’s an article with some ideas – a few of them are ‘out there’ but many of them are sound and legitimate ways to earn extra money.  Whatever it takes means you will be doing work that you may not like.  It means you will be working when you’d like to be doing something else.  It means that you’re going to spend more than 40 hours a week generating income and searching for a job.  But that’s what it takes.

Will ‘whatever it takes’ get your life back to normal?  Maybe not.  Will ‘whatever it takes’ stop the creditors from calling?  Not unless you pay them back.  But whatever it takes WILL give you back some control over your situation.  It WILL give you a sense of accomplishment when you start to reap the rewards of your work.  Whatever it takes will let you go to sleep every night knowing you are doing everything in your power to right the ship.

Unemployment benefits are going to run out.  That’s the fact.  The question is what are you doing now to prepare for when that happens?

The City

I hear a lot of complaining from my friends in Kansas City that it takes them forever to clear the streets.  I live in Lees Summit and I have to tell you, after this weeks blizzard they’ve done a fantastic job of clearing the streets.  We are not on a major street, yet I had a plow run through my neighborhood twice on Tuesday, and then again yesterday.  You can actually see the asphalt on my street.  So congratulations City of Lees Summit, you far exceeded my snow removal expectations.  You were an overachiever.

Employers have a deep talent pool these days.  Average performers are losing out on jobs being filled by the overachievers.  Overachievers generally aren’t on the list when it comes to cut 15% of the headcount.  So here’s some tips to help you overachieve:

Take on tasks without being told – if you see something that needs to be done at work, do it.   The “that’s not my job” attitude will get you nowhere but the unemployment line.

Go beyond the boundaries of your job to solve problems.  This is more strategic than just taking on additional tasks.  If you need to make calls after hours stick around and make the calls.  If you need to come in on a Saturday so you’re prepared for a big client meeting Monday then do it.

Find ways around obstacles.  “We can’t do that” shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary.  With a little bit of creative thinking and negotiation you can overcome any obstacle.

Read.  Books, magazines, articles, blogs.  Anything you can get your hands on that will help you learn something that you can bring to the table.  If you’re not moving forward you’re falling behind.

Listen.  To your boss.  To your co-workers.  To your customers.  Find out where they want to go and figure out a way to help them get there.  Give them feedback and ideas, don’t just be a ‘yes man’ but be sincere in wanting to help make things better.

Be creative.  You have to set yourself apart from the crowd.  What are you doing to distinguish yourself from other people who are in your role?  Does your local dog catcher offer a monthly program for dog owners to teach them basic dog training?  An overachieving dog catcher might.

Most importantly, be genuine.  Overachievers aren’t brown-nosers.  They are people who care about their impact on the people and business around them.  They want to make it better and will do everything in their power to make it better.

So, how do your streets look today?

Snowzilla!

Is it just me, or do you hate the news too?  Back in the day, the news existed to report stories as they happened.  Networks didn’t really care about ratings as much as they cared about getting it right.  News was consumed first thing in the morning, at noon, and then at dinner time.  If you wanted news outside those timelines you needed a magazine subscription.  Today we not only have 24×7 news, we have 24×7 weather.  Everyone has to be ‘first’ and each station has an ‘exclusive’ to ensure strong ratings.

Which brings me to my first point – the latest winter stormaggedon. Starting last Friday every station was talking about how much snow we’re going to get.  Some parts of Missouri could get up to 2′ of the white stuff.  Yes, that’s a bunch of snow and, yes, it is going to impact our week.  But really?  24×7 coverage?  Its winter.  This stuff happens.  I don’t need Don Harmon taking up 75% of the 3 hour broadcast repeating the same thing over, and over, and over, and over.  I saw the color-coded map of the state’s expected snowfall about every 90 seconds.  I get it, we’ve got a snownami.  Now can you please get to something else?

Which brings me to my second point – beating a dead horse.  During your job search are you telling the same stories over and over?  Probably.  Are you listening to your message?  If you are repeatedly talking about your former employer and how they made mistakes that lead to your departure, its time to stop.  If you can’t help but talk about how your former co-workers were given preference and you can’t believe Sally is still employed while you’re gone, it’s time to stop.

You will have to answer the ‘why did you leave your last job’ question.  Make your departure story short and to the point with a positive spin.  Don’t air your dirty laundry.  Don’t be bitter.  Get over your disappointment / anger about being let go.  No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you think you can hide it, it’s going to come across when talking to potential employers.

Years ago I was hired to manage a retail store.  The employees didn’t want a manager, and they certainly didn’t want an outsider managing.  The couple that owned the company gave me a unified front while hiring me, but in reality were at odds.  There was a bookkeeper who either didn’t understand, or didn’t care about the financials.  I could go on for 10 minutes about her alone.  It was a tremendously political environment with division being driven from the complete opposite philosophies the owners.  The staff took sides which cause a lot of animosity throughout the organization.  After 4 months it became obvious that things were not going to continue status quo.  Ultimately it came down to a decision to either fire the entire staff and start over, or just walk away and let the wolves run the hen house.  Thankfully I went with option two.  The company was sold within a year and now its someone else’s problem.  That’s the reality.

Here’s what I tell people when asked (especially potential employers) – I worked for a company owned by a husband and wife.  The husband hired me to implement programs that I found out the wife didn’t support.  After 6 months we decided it was best to part ways.  I still have a great relationship with the owner who recruited me, and actually hired him as a salesperson at my next employer.  It was a good experience and it led to a great opportunity.

That is the truth of the story without talking about the storm.  The storm isn’t relevant anyway.  I got over it the minute I walked out the door that Tuesday afternoon.  I was unemployed, and it was a relief.  While you’re stranded in the Snowpocolypse this week take some time to look for ways to tell your story without the blizzard.

Learn to Swim

As I was driving to work this morning Bob Dylan was on my mind.  Maybe it was David Longstreet’s presentation last night, maybe it is some of the things going on in the news, or maybe its just boredom on my commute, but I could not get “The Times They are a Changin'” out of my head.  I’ve always thought that particular song was not terribly optimistic – there’s a battle outside ragin’, it’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. I started thinking about the message of this song.  The more I thought about the lyrics to that song, the more encouragement I felt.

This song is not a woe-is-me, why is this happening song.  It’s a call-to-arms to be ready.  Bob’s right – we need to be ready to swim.  The imagery of the song starts off with a flood.  There’s nothing you can do about a flood.  When the water starts rising you need to learn to swim (metaphorically speaking, usually you’ll have time to get to dry ground).  The message is you’re going to have to take action and move from your position.

That means even if you’re in a job you could never imagine leaving, you need to be prepared to leave it when the flood waters start rising. What constitutes rising waters at work?  Perhaps the company was just acquired.  Maybe you just got a new boss.  Or you lost you biggest client.  Sales are down.  Checks are bouncing.  Despite all the assurance that all is well and nothing is going to change these are situations where waters have started to rise and you need to be alert.

9% of the United States would love to have those kinds of rising waters.  Its always easier to ride out a flood when you have a boat.  Well, Mr. Dylan provides some encouragement for people who are not working in a position where they feel called.

Keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again

Did you catch that first line?  Keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again.  You need to be alert to opportunities.  There are doors ready to be opened, but you need to be at the door and willing to turn the knob.  Don’t be paralyzed by fear because of all the doors that have closed behind you.  Don’t sit at home waiting for someone to deliver you a door.  Do things every single day that can help you find and open that door.  Whether it’s a phone call, an office visit, networking event / job club, or researching something at the library or online – you need to be in motion.

And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob is asking you to be patient.  Once you put things in motion it’s going to stay in motion.  And you never know who or what your actions are effecting.  For the loser now will be later to win.  Don’t think you’re a loser because you haven’t found a job.  We are experiencing unemployment at levels we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.  The recession was officially over in 2009.  Eventually the economy will recover enough to have more employment opportunities to bring our rates back down to what is considered full employment (~6%).

For the times, they are a-changin.

Who Are You?

My parents Harold and Joyce met at Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa.  Shortly after they were married dad was drafted and Private Templeman served his country for a year in Lawton, Oklahoma.  I was born several years later and I’m certain that I was referred to as ‘the baby’ for at least the first few months of my life.  Each of us has many identities throughout our lives.  Some are permanent, others temporary.  I’ll always be a son, father, and (hopefully) husband.  But my dad isn’t a Private anymore.

Think about your identity.  A big part of who we are is wrapped up in our career.  I was a retail salesman for over a decade.  In August of 2000 I walked out of a store on the Plaza and I haven’t been a retail salesman since.  I took over a decade of experiences with me, but that part of my identity ended.   Frankly, I was tired of being a retail salesperson so it was a relief to lose that part of my identity.   I was blessed.

Many people have to deal with a loss of professional identity when they aren’t ready to move on.  It can be a traumatic and life-altering event.  If you are experiencing some pain from losing some of your professional identity I want you to consider the following:

You are not defined by what you do for a living. There is so much more to who you are.  The next time someone asks you what you do tell them you are a proud parent.  You are a good friend.  You’re a volunteer.

You are not defined by the numbers in your life. Your credit score. Your bank account.  Your age.  The number of employers you’ve had.  The amount of time you’ve been in between jobs.

You are not defined by what others think. You have control over who you are.  You are not cool because that’s what people think.  You aren’t creative because that’s what people think.  You aren’t different because that’s what someone thinks.

Identity is temporary.  Husbands and wives in half of the marriages in our country will lose that identity at some point.  Its sad that some parents lose that identity as well.  There will come a day where I’m not a recruiter or manager anymore.  There will come a day where I’m not ‘That Job Guy’ anymore.  The secret to being comfortable with who you are is knowing that things will change and taking control of how you identify yourself as your life evolves.

I have one final thought on identity.  There is a big part of my identity that doesn’t change.  Its something that keeps me grounded and helps me get through times of ‘identity crisis’.  It is the only constant in this world that I believe you can depend on.  I am a Christian.  I know that no matter what happens to me today, God loves me and has a plan for me.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even when I try to do things my way, God’s will is done.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

I know that no matter what I do for a living, I am doing it because that is His will for me.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

You’re in between jobs.  So, who are you?