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Friday, February 20, 2009

No Strings Attached

It is February vacation week so my daughter is off from school. As a result, I decided that I would take a holiday too. Monday, as generally we do this time of year, we drove the 60 miles or so to my sister’s house. In the past, having taken a day off, I would spend the night, rising before dawn in order to beat highway traffic on my way to work from her house the next morning. My daughter would spend time with her cousins until my husband picked her up later in the week. This time though, I slept in. My goal with this “vacation” was to take a break from the fair bit of worry that has consumed me for the last few weeks, to suspend the accomplishment listing and resume writing and LinkedIn reviewing, in order to take a cleansing breath. Nice idea I guess, but what was I thinking? Of course my sister has a computer.

That first morning, when I didn’t have to fumble out to the cold car in the dark to make my way south, my sister built a roaring fire and I nestled in her reclining love seat, wrapped in a comforter, sipping fresh perked coffee. There I devoured my library book until arriving at the point where some fiend had ripped nine pages out of the middle. After staring at disbelief at the gap between pages 206 and page 215 in my book, I made my way to her computer and logged in. Just a quick check, I muttered to myself--and viola. Three LinkIn invitations from former co-workers and one email. While staying in touch is a good thing, this plummeted me right back into the current reality of life, which, I had pledged to avoid for 48 hours.

I am in regular contact with several individuals “out placed” at the same time I was. The email that day was from one of those contacts, who commented: “Could you imagine trying to find a job with out the aid of our computers? Right now it is my life line. Can’t even imagine what I would be doing without it.” However, while at my sister’s house, I found myself torn as to whether to consider the computer a lifeline or a ball-and-chain.

But once I was on-line, I perused my inbox, pondering the question. What in fact did we do before computers? Help Wanted anyone? Yup, and mailed resumes and subsequent phone calls, and yes, we even pounded the pavement, dropping off resumes at receptionist’s desks. Yikes, how things have changed. But then I remembered exactly how I happened to receive a job offer at my last company--my most recent employment stint that lasted for so many years.

Way back then, my husband and I were planning our first home purchase, a move to a town that was a non-commutable distance to the city where I worked. In lunching with a former colleague I mentioned our plan. She suggested that I contact what became my twenty three-year-employer, because the office was located nearer to where we’d be living. While familiar with the company, at that time I didn’t know where it was based. The rest—as they say—is history. Had I not shared my goal of employment closer to home with my friend during that lunch long ago, my past may have been markedly different. I couldn’t have put a name on it at the time, but that job came to me via networking. According to the outplacement professionals, it is likely how my next situation will evolve too. In spite of the transformations that technology has introduced to job search methods; it appears things haven’t changed much at all.

So, what is the computer? A lifeline? A ball and chain? Well, neither really. The strings that attach me to it are more like a ribbon tied around a gift. Sometimes it’s too snug, but most the time, I can untie it and find something wonderful. To that end, I’ll continue to stay in touch via email, complete my on-line research, maybe even view a job board or two. Primarily though, I’ll concentrate on how to package myself, keeping in mind that every one I meet is a potential link to a rewarding opportunity.

After establishing all this, I got back to the fire. And back to my book. While I was failing to keep my job search in a separate box, my sister, the most thoughtful of hostesses, procured a copy from her local library. I plunked myself back in front of her fire and read the missing pages in her edition before finishing up from my own.

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