Monday, January 11, 2010



I started Notes from the Job Search (NFJS) last winter in response to my need to support my job search and it has evolved into a full-service career-coaching organization focusing on re-employment. The part of this is that our participants are going back to work and they are going to jobs they want. The number of stories about people identifying what their passions are, then getting those jobs just keeps growing and makes NFJS very rewarding.

We currently host two free weekly support groups and are adding a third this week. The new group will meet at Jitters Cafe in Overlake (15010 NE 20th Bellevue) Thursday's at 1:00. This blog has been reasonably successful, and more importantly, the number of people following it continues to grow.

My last post was on Sandy Jones-Kaminski's book I'm at a Networking Event, Now What? and this book is inspiring us to co-host something called a "Pay it Forward" (PIF) event as a way of putting into practice some of what we are learning about networking. We are preparing classes that focus on individual skills within the job search process.

My brother Mike Paul joined me in this endeavor last summer and has become a full partner in developing and presenting solutions to the job search challenge. His help and support are critical and amazing!

My background (as many of you know) is Information Systems/Technology: First as a developer, then as several kinds of manager, including a stint as Director of IT for a large non-profit. The most important consequence of that for NFJS is that it is normal for me to analyze problems, break them down into component parts, and then develop solutions that included all of the necessary steps. I also spent four years as a Resource Manager at Excell Data managing 75+ contract employees. They worked at a variety of locations from Microsoft to the City of Seattle to Boeing, to two-person “ma & pa” startups. While I spent a lot of time mentoring people in technology in this role, the real value was mentoring/coaching them to success within complex political environments. So this change in careers isn't nearly as large as it mightn seem on the surface.

My brother’s career is in writing first as a newspaper reporter, then as technical writer. In this role he’s developed trainings, written countless documents translating the complex into the understandable and has become something of a “networking maven” within the tech-writing community. He has also been an adjunct instructor at Bellevue College in tech writing for more than five years.

While we have learned an amazing amount from the participants and volunteers with Notes From the Job Search, the learning has refined our core concepts rather than replaced them. What are those?

  • Focus on what works, rather than what doesn’t, and build on that.
  • Networking will normally find you a better job than anything published on the Internet, and find it quicker.
  • Custom resumes work better than a generic resume, but custom resumes are also extremely hard to do without a lot of preparation.
  • You know more about yourself than any consultant/coach can ever know… although it may be very hard for you to articulate it.
  • The Internet is now a key and required component of job search.
  • The Internet is a great way to avoid real job search while convincing yourself that you’re trying.
  • Networking is an ongoing part of life. It’s just another name for what occurs when you talk with someone. And if you only do it between jobs it means you misunderstand what it is. This is like trying to harvest wheat without planting any.
  • Interviewing works better when you practice.

Our offerings are evolving and growing. We started with the support groups, have added individual coaching and are in the process of putting together classes that take the components of job search and address them individually.

So 2010 is an exciting year, I'm looking forward to it.

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