Category Archives: Daily Practicum for the Unemployed

Skill Upgrades That Pay You Back

Recently, I read the typical spring article on home upgrades that add value to our homes.  As I read the article, I realized, it depends on the location and the amount of money we spend on the upgrade.  For example, a below ground pool may not be the best add-on for a home in Iowa, but it is a great idea for Florida.  More insulation may be a perfect upgrade for Maine, but not for Southern Alabama.  Same goes for jobs.

The closer we get to retirement, investments in skillsets requires careful consideration.   Not only can training and education be costly compared to the return, they can be extravagant.  Extravagance is not something we can afford in an economy that does not value seasoned employees.  There are a few skills that everyone can use, regardless of age or impending retirement, but where will we get the most value?

My rule of thumb regarding skills is to revisit old skills first.  Keeping up-to-date on skills that serve us well is more important, in my mind.  We need to stay current in our areas of expertise, or get left behind.  Think of it in terms of home repair and must-have upgrades.  If we want to sell ourselves, we need the current upgrades.  It doesn’t mean we have to undergo a complete redesign, just a refresh.

Other skill sets are important, for example communication, but if training budgets are limited, go with your areas of expertise.  We cannot be everything to everybody, and if we try, we will fail to be what we are needed to be most at critical times.  You’d also be a better resale value.  This is not to say avoid training and education in other areas, but consider more cost-friendly options for additional skill sets.

Many public libraries, colleges and universities subscribe to online learning sites like and, and they are free with your membership.  You don’t have to attend a public institution to get a library card in most places.

Believe in yourself, and thanks for ‘listening’.


Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Appreciate Our References

When was the last time you checked in with your professional references?  Regardless of your employment status, we need to keep in touch with the people who impact our careers – our lives.  If they are not friends, they are at least good contacts.  I love reaching out to my references throughout the year.  I consider them friends, and I am grateful for their efforts on my behalf.  Perhaps I can be of assistance to them as a way of showing my gratitude.

So, today’s activity is to reach out to your professional references.  Ask them how they are doing and offer your assistance.  Unemployed or employed, it is a nice break in the day and a great way to lay down tracks to keep moving forward.

Believe in yourself, and thanks for ‘listening in’.

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Life Reimagined

This is a great program provided by Life Reimagined through AARP. I strongly encourage you to consider joining AARP to access this and many other programs that can help provide direction in your life, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a long time.  If you need financial assistance, contact the AARP Foundation first.

Life Reimagined helps us make better decisions about relationships, work, purpose, and our general well-being.  You could join them directly for a fee, but your best bet is to join the AARP first to gain access to other programs and discounts.  Either way, the program takes you through a decision-making and exercise process, one step at a time. 

I recently started the program, Get an Edge in Your Job Search, and it provided access to an abbreviated version of the Strong Interest Inventory.  This tool enables a person to compare their interests (strong interests) to others who have high job satisfaction in their field.  For example, if I am someone who likes research, analyzing, and calculating, I may be a good candidate for a job in science.  If I really prefer writing, design, and helping others, I’d probably be a good candidate for a job in communications.  There are additional tools as well, so I’ll be going back to complete them soon.

Combined with new techniques in neuroscience, these are powerful tools, so please give Life Reimagined through AARP a try.

Life Reimagined Institute

Photo courtesy of Modern Farmer, Picturing Women Farmers by Audra Mulkern

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Trust Building as a Job Applicant

Trust is an important part of our lives, including at work.  We need to be able to depend on each other to be successful.  Recently, I reviewed a course on, Building Trust, by Brenda Bailey-Hughes of Indiana University, to check out new material, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The presenter suggested an exercise, which I pass along to you here; write an action plan to build trust. 

In the case of job hunting, the plan is to establish the beginnings of trust during the interview.  We can do this by being prepared to present business cases that support our qualifications and professional experience. 

Of course, it goes without saying, but I will, to:

  1. Be honest on our resumes.
  2. Demonstrate honesty during the interview, especially when it comes to weaknesses and responsibility for failures that show how you’ve grown and learned from the experience.
  3. Present a demeanor that shows you are dependable – despite what you see on the tube, shenanigans are not the order of the day.

Back to the script.  It should be tailored to the job requirements.  If the posting indicates the applicant needs to be ‘quick on their feet’ or ‘tech savvy’, this indicates the need for urgency and ability to make decisions as well as to work with technological tools.  It does not necessarily indicate you need to be an IT guru or leader. 

A good business case example for the script if you were in manufacturing (this is also a good answer to the question, what did you do at ABC company?):   I was accountable for quality control on the first assembly line, ensuring defects were caught before they arrived at final assembly.  I was required to safely operate the MAG54 punch and post unit by ACME company.  I had X number of defects pass through my line in five years, and I received a Quality Award for my performance.

This may be an idea for a sales job:  Follow-up customer service was my primary responsibility with ABC company, and I was required to ensure all customer complaints were resolved before final billing.  ABC trusted me to make decisions to resolve issues quickly.  I had to work with the IT department on a daily basis at times to keep on top of installations and updates and explain these to the customer. 

The idea is to be specific to their requirements.  As you move through each new script, customized for each job interview, you will find just how qualified you are for the job, gaining confidence in yourself and the ability to sell yourself at any interview.

How to Get Your Job Application Noticed Every Time

If You Want A Great Job, Tell a Great Story

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Acknowledging Grief

bench under treeI think it fair to say that we get angry and sometimes depressed if we are unemployed.  Maybe we get angry and not depressed, but we do experience a variety of emotions for obvious reasons.  For myself, I noticed I was angry and did nothing; I denied my anger and as a result, I was easily agitated.  This did nothing to help me focus on job hunting; and though I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere with this frame of mind, I couldn’t just stop being angry.  And then it came to me – I was grieving!  I was grieving the loss of my job.

According to Kubler-Ross (in her later years) and others in her field, we can experience grief in response to any great loss and uncertain situations, and that grief is a very personal process.  I believe unemployment, especially long-term unemployment fits the situation.  And I think the key to moving forward is to acknowledge and permit oneself to grieve.    

Once I allowed myself time to grieve, I wanted to take the next step – outside my grief; just one step.  For me, the next step was to share my experiences and read about others in similar situations.  Following that, I started this blog.   With every step I took, I felt more confident in myself and my abilities to take the next step, to define my future.  What is your next step? 

If you are stuck, consider career counseling or psychological counseling even.  Sometimes, we need a new perspective to be able to see the path ahead.   

Have a great day, and please feel free to share!

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Early Morning Odd Jobs

Start getting up earlier, at least three days a week.  Get a jump on the day and tackle those few odd jobs needing to get done.  It is an accomplishment.  Being unemployed can get us down, so we need to do whatever it takes to get us up, even if for only a short time or to generate more good mojo.  The more mojo, the better!

What odd jobs do you like to tackle in the early morning hours?

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: CareerOneStop

Your local CareerOneStop is a great resource for anyone who is unemployed or underemployed. This organization has been around for a while now. I’ve worked with them on a professional basis in the past, and I see they are picking up the slack where our unemployment offices leave off. I highly recommend a visit for anyone who is unemployed. I’m off to my local office this week!

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Resume Keywords

Now that you have the first draft of your resume ready to go, have your friends and family critique it.  If you’ve surfed the Internet for resume help, you’ll find most of them advise to engage the recruiter and the tracking programs with keywords.

Does your resume include the keywords that quickly identify you as an expert?  Keywords will vary based on your industry and expertise, but all the online sites I researched agree, resumes that contain the most relevant keywords in the right places get the most hits.  This is why it is so important to customize your resume for each job.

Job hunters are encouraged to post more than one version of their resume to improve the odds of getting hits.  This is why it is so important to maintain and update your resume.

Here are a few links to online resources to resume keywords:

Resume Keywords and Tips for Using Them

SEO Your Resume

Optimize Your Resume to be Found by Recruiters

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Resume Reminders

A few reminders before you put together your resume:

  • Dates should only be used for your work history; don’t include dates anywhere else on your resume
  • Only list that last ten years for your work history
  • Keep a summary to two sentences – shorter is better
  • Think keywords – the automated tracking systems will look for keywords associated with the job posting

Here is a sample resume format:  Resume Sample 1

More to follow soon.

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Create Your Resume Worksheet

Just hearing the word resume sends even the seasoned professional into a tizzy!  Supposedly these represent all that you are in the workplace … wow, that is intimidating.  Further, we know that our resume is not even seen by a recruiter over 80% of the time, because most resumes end up in the ‘black hole’ of some application software.

You may ask why do we put together a resume since we have to enter the same information into a form online?  Well, we do this for a number of reasons, including it is ‘what we’ve always done’.  OK, not the best reason, but there are more.  There are hundreds even thousands of people who want and need to apply for a job.  The only way to manage the volume is to engage technology to help distill the many into the few.  It is impersonal, often ineffective, but necessary.  So, the next question is how do we make our resume stand out?   That is the purpose of these resume exercises.

We are building a resume that not only represents the best of who we are in the workplace, we are building our confidence in who we are!  We have a lot to offer, and our goal is to help recruiters see what we see.  It is not easy, but well worth the effort.

Therefore, the next step is to create a resume worksheet.  This worksheet will be used as our reference sheet and our ‘copy and paste’ source for online forms.

You can find the template Reference Worksheet.