Saturday, June 8, 2013

My journey from Sequestration to Capital Caring

I'm writing this to not just tell my story, but to hopefully help others who have experienced or who have known someone that was laid off.  Believe it or not, getting laid off sometimes can be for the best, as it can lead you to different, more exciting opportunities. At least it did for me.

My story begins around 10 am April 11th.  I was called into my boss's office for a meeting where I was told that my position was being eliminated due to sequestration.  I had been looking for other opportunities and all of us had known sequestration was going to hit at some point, but it didn't prepare me for the moment. The biggest thing was the finality of it all.

I always had this idea in my head that I'd say goodbye to all my Alumni candidates I had worked with for so many years. That I would say goodbye to all my coworkers. But instead, I packed things up and left. Just like that, over 5 years at CACI over in an instant.

My feelings were mixed. A part of me was hurt, a part sad, a part happy, a part angry. But mostly I was just kind of in a shocked daze.  CACI was part of my identity for so long and now it was my past.  I was lucky enough to pick up a consultant gig right away through a friend. but it was part time and short term. I was determined to treat my job search like it was a full time job(which it is). Here are some tips for those looking for work. This is what I did and it helped me land a great job at Capital Caring.

1) Never stop making contacts
I know and hang out with a ton of different groups and people. If I ever get married the wedding is going to be a cluster F. It's not only because I enjoy people, but also because I know the bigger your network the better chance you have to land a job. I got my job through Capital Caring through a referral. Applying online is worthless if you don't know someone that has a say in the hiring process. 15 minutes networking and making contacts is more useful than a day of applying online. In fact, I spent whole days just reaching out to people and didn't apply to one job.

2) Update your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is one of the best ways to get noticed by recruiters. Keep it up to date. Join groups in your skill areas. For example, Health Care Recruitment, or Financial Professionals in Northern Virginia. Once you are in groups you can reach out directly to people that work for companies and connect with them directly. This is such a great resource, but so many don't know how to utilize it to its full potential.

3) Join groups/associations/organizations

It's not enough to work 9-5, go home and watch TV and expect to be successful anymore. Your job is never safe. I thought I'd never get laid off and I did. Stay active in outside groups to really put yourself out there. Also, in job interviews it looks great that you showed initiative and did things outside of normal working hours.

I always get comments about my role on the NOVA SHRM Board. These groups often are the ways you hear about jobs. I got my job through an email from a NOVA SHRM Board member and I think it was the deciding factor to bring me on. If I had applied online without any contact chances are I would've been rejected because I lacked the healthcare recruiting experience.

You need to be proactive and take ownership of your CAREER. Don't look at things as jobs, look at it as another stepping stone in your career. Sure life is busy, but everyone needs to make time to follow their passion whatever that may be.

4) Message all of your contacts that you are looking for work
Obviously this applies to those that are not currently working, but its of vital importance. The first thing I did when I got laid off was message all my contacts my resume and career summary. You never know who may know of an opportunity available. Don't keep it a secret. If people don't know they can't help you.

5) Send thank you emails after interviews and to people who referred you
This is a lost art but extremely important. These messages don't have to be elaborate. Just a simple, "thank you for taking the time to meet with me this morning. I look forward to hearing from you soon" would suffice. Showing appreciation goes a long way.

6) Develop a career summary and update your resume with IMPACT words

A huge mistake people make is just sending their resume to people with nothing else in the message. In the body of the email you should send your career summary and skill matrix. Talk about your experience( 5 years of Recruiting, program management, etc) education , certifications, and anything else that describes your background. Talk about what you are looking for(be specific), your availability, whether you can relocate, and mention salary is negotiable(this will be a question answered when you talk to someone individually).

For your resume don't talk about just your daily tasks, talk about how they impacted the organization's bottom line. For example instead of saying "recruited Alumni back to CACI" instead say " Increased rehires by 50% over a 3 year span accounting for over 10% of company hires."

7. Follow up and track applications

The first thing I did when I got laid off was create an Excel spreadsheet documenting when I applied, what position I applied for, the POC if I had one, and mst importantly when I last followed up. Don't be afraid to follow up every week. Recruiters are busy and we can sometimes be forgetful. It helps both you and the recruiter.

8. Enjoy your time off

I was lucky enough to get about a month of severance pay, but even with out it I really enjoyed my time away from the daily grind of a full time job. It's nice to be able to go to the river on a random Tuesday afternoon. Life is busy and will only get busier as you get older and are given more responsibilities. Embrace the time off.

Last and most importantly, stay positive. It's tough out there, but it's not impossible. Being sad and resentful gets you nowhere. Pick up odd jobs or volunteer. Stay active. Don't hole yourself up in your house or apartment. Look at it as the companies loss, not yours. CACI was good to me for the most part, but the company I ended with is more suited to who I am. In every job you learn something you can take forward with to the next.

I'm as happy as I've ever been right now and given that I'm basically always happy that is saying something. I'm excited for this next chapter of my life. I'm excited for the challenge and the impact I can have on the organization. Remember, although change is scary sometimes it can make life better.

Feel free to pass this along others or email me directly with questions. Value yourself and what you can bring to to the table, both at work and in life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The top 11 greatest sentimental jams of all time( It's long so get some popcorn)

This blog has been decades in the making. For anyone who knows me, they know my favorite jams to listen to are sentimental/romance songs. Why? Well, because life is about love, whether it be with a signifigant other,  family, friends, a sport, a place, an animal. Love is awesome. This list was the hardest thing I've had to do since I had to choose my top 5 favorite 2pac songs in high school, but I did my best. Comment below if you agree or disagree.

1. Stand By Me-Ben E. King: Who knows if I'll ever settle down or better yet find a girl crazy enough to marry me, but if I do have a wedding this will my "first dance" song or whatever they call it. I've liked this song since I was a kid and it has gotten even better with age.

"If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall and the moon is the only light you'll see, no I won't be afraid, no I won't shed a tear, just as long, as you Stand By Me." Is that the greatest line in the history of music. Ya, probably. The background music is amazing as well. A great love song embodies what it means to truly be in love and this is a perfect example.

2. Mandolin Rain-Bruce Hornsby: I'm seeing this guy in concert in August and when this song comes on I will probably run on stage and hug him. What a powerful song. You know it's funny, there isn't one meaning for this song. but I feel like it means different things to everyone. In fact, I don't even know what Mandolin Rain is. What I do know is every time the chorus comes on I get chills. "Listen to the Mandolin Rain!"

3. We've Got Tonight-Bob Seger: I love Bob Seger. Most know him for "Old Time Rock N' Roll" or the Chevy commercial song, but this is his best and most powerful ballad. " We've Got Tonight" talks about having one final night with the person you love. It doesn't matter about tomorrow. It is about enjoying that moment with that special person.  I tear up a bit every time the chorus comes on because I've thought back and had moments like that in my life. " We've Got Tonight, who needs tomorrow?"

4. Wind Beneath My Wings: Bette Midler: Right now this may be my favorite song period. If the chorus doesn't make you shed a tear you have no soul. This was my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary song. Besides my own parents there is no stronger love I've ever seen. I want to love someone like that someday. Every spouse should be the other person's hero. " Did you ever know that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be, I can fly higher than an eagle, you are the wind beneath my wings". Wow, think about that line for a second and tell me this isn't one of the greatest songs of all time. When she sings the last part I get chills. Incredible.

5. End of Innocence/ Heart of the Matter- Don Henley

I'm trying not to put more than one song for each artist on this, but both of these songs are too good to leave off. Don Henley is just incredible. Next to Phil Collins he's probably my favorite singer of all time as he was also lead singer of my favorite rock band of all time, the Eagles. Yes, I love rating things and I'm not going to apologize for it.  End of Innocence is something we can all relate to. It's not necessarily about romance with another person,  it's about the romance of life. It's about getting older and reflecting on the days of your youth. If I had to listen to one song for the rest of my life this would probably be it. When is the End of the Innocence though? I guess it depends on the person, but life will never be the same as when you were a kid.

6.. Heart of the Matter is actually a really sad song in theory. It's about dealing with divorce or a breakup. It is about being able to forgive and be happy for those that you're no longer with.   "But I think it's about forgivenessm  forgiveness,  even if, even if you don't love me anymore."

It takes a big person to forgive people that broke your heartm but part of love is heartbreak and this is what this song is about. Unless you married the first person you loved or at least liked a lot we've all felt this. I can honestly say I cherish all the times I spent with all my ex's even though it didn't necessarily work out. There is no point in being bitter or not wanting someone who once made you smile to be happy.

7. I Can't Fight This Feeling-REO Speedwagon: This will always hold a special place in my heart because it's my first girlfriend and I's song. I was an idiot back then in terms of relationships but I did still love sentimental jams. " It's time to bring this ship into the shore and throw away the oars forever." Amazing line. This is another song that's so easy to relate to anyone who has liked someone but isn't sure how to act on it. It's about loving someone so much they are the only one for you. It's about stopping fighting the feeling and acting. It's awesome.

8. This Magic Moment: The Drifters: This was actually my first love song experience. Heard it when I was like 10 for the first time and to this day it's one of my favorites. I think oldies are the best love songs. Things were more innocent back then." Sweeter than wine, softer than the summer night, everything I want I have whenever I hold you tight. " This Magic Moment, when your lips are close to mine, will love forever, forever till the end of time." The music in this is just incredible. I've had one magic moment before but at the end of the day it didn't work out. It'd be awesome to find someone to have a lot of "Magic Moments" with.

9. Always Be My Baby- Mariah Carey: I love me some Mariah. If you ever come to one of my parties you'll see me put this song on multiple times in a row.  This is in some ways about a crazy girl that won't let go of someone, but if that crazy girl was Mariah that'd be fine. In all seriousness, it's about two people that we're great together, but like most relationships it just doesn't work and people fade apart. However, in some ways they'll always be in each others lives. Some relationships end for different reasons whether it be timing, circumstance, age, etc. But the love will never end and we will always be a part of our past.

10. When a Man Loves a Woman: Are you still reading? probably not. In the Twitter age a paragraph is too long.This is another song I'll play at my wedding if that ever happens. This is a pretty obvious message. When you love someone you'll do anything for them. Never felt thism but my parents have this type of love I feel like and maybe someday it'll happen for me. If not, at least I have this awesome jam to listen to.

11. Yup, needed to have an 11. Phil Collins would hold about 5 of the 10-20. He's my second favorite music artist behind 2pac, and basically all of his songs relate to certain aspects of my life and all humans lives. My top 2 are probably Find a Way To My Heart and   True Colors but there are just so many. Tomorrow is Fridays with Phil, don't forget!

That's my list. Whether you agree or disagree the important thing is to always open up your heart and listen to sentimental jams. Nothing better in this world.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The boo's

Good to be back writing on this blog. I wish I had more time to write or that blogging paid the bills. Anyway, tonight I am going to talk about my relationship with two of my best friends in the world, Sarah Sheldon and Dan Saphire. We call each other the "boos" a nickname I think we invented about 6 months after we met. Anytime we are together that is usually how we reference each other. It's strange and awesome and we embrace it.

The friendship Dan, Sarah, and I have is one that I truly believe will last a lifetime.  A lot of people think that your closest friendships are ones with people you've known the longest, but I disagree. Like anything in life it is quality over quantity. I've only known them for a few years but feel like they are two of my best friends I've ever had.

We all met through chance encounters. I met Sarah first through another friend then met Dan through Sarah.  Next to Jimbutta, Dan has become the closest thing I've ever had to a brother. Yes, we have a legit bromance and I'm proud of it. We've had talks of opening up a bar called " Boos bar" once we hit the lotto or my blog goes viral.

Sarah is my rock and next to my mother and sister, there is no woman in the world I respect more. She is the person that always can make me feel better no matter what life throws my way. Her positive energy, sense of humor, and selflessness  is why I always joke about wanting to find Sarah's clone and marry her.

Friendship is the most powerful thing in this world. The center of friendship is love, mutual respect, and a love of Phil Collins. Though Sarah now lives in New York City we are proof that distance does not matter when it comes to friendship.

I am blessed to have some of the best friends a guy can ask for. The reality is most of the friends you meet eventually you lose touch with as life happens(marriage, kids), but the best friends are the ones you'll never lose touch with. I truly believe I'll still be having chats with Dan and Sarah when I'm old and gray and we'll always be there for each other with whatever life throws at us. Boos for life.