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Finding a Job After an Extended Time Off

bigg-challenge.jpgKathryn called us on the Bigg phone. Not the Bat phone … we don’t live in a cave!

She said that life on her own terms meant staying home with her two boys until they were both old enough to be in school all day. They’ve reached that point so she wants to return to the workforce. Besides that, she and her husband are looking forward to having some extra money available.

She says she has been checking classified ads and the job boards just about every day. Unfortunately, she’s not seeing many jobs that she’s both interested in and qualified for.

She’s applied for several jobs and had a couple of interviews which she doesn’t feel went so well. She thinks that the eight years she’s been out of the workforce may be hurting her chances. She asked us for our suggestions.

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It’s who you know

Keep in mind that we’re facing a tough job market right now, so you’re not alone in your frustration. One thing to add to your efforts is reaching out to your network. It’s something that a lot of people overlook or don’t place enough value on.

Start by making a list of everyone you know. Then start contacting them. You may start with an e-mail, but try to meet them in person or at least catch up with a phone call.

Be yourself, but make sure you tell them what you’re up to. Also find out what they’ve been doing. You never know … something they say may spark an opportunity for you.

Ideally, you’ll get a referral as a result of this conversation. However, don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t happen. You got to spend some time with a friend or got to know an acquaintance better. They can keep their eyes and ears open for an opportunity for you.

Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up

Be sure to follow up after your meeting or phone call. Let them know how much you enjoyed seeing them. Help with any challenges they may have brought up if you can. If you can help them, they’ll probably go out of their way to help you!

Keep in touch with them. If you see an article they may be interested in, share it with them. If you see a great deal on something you know they like, let them know about it.

The bottom line is: follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

Interviewing

In her message, Kathryn said she’s had some difficult questions in her interviews. For example, one woman asked her if she thought she’d be able to get to work on time even with her two kids.

Of course, that’s an illegal question, which you have every right to point out, Kathryn. However, you’re probably better off emphasizing that you’ve always been punctual if that’s the case. For instance, we bet you were on time for the interview. Point that out!

The job you’ve been doing

You’ve been a full-time manager for the last eight years. You just haven’t been getting paid directly for it in cash. Don’t underestimate the skills you’ve learned.

Stress what you’ve done and what your strengths are. Bring the skills you’ve learned out in your answers. Have specific examples ready. These will depend on the job you’re seeking. Some examples:

Do you keep your family’s schedule or oversee the finances?

Have you coordinated a remodeling project?

Think about it. You’ll quickly see that you gained a lot of valuable experience.

Preparation

There’s a great way to prepare for interviews: role-playing. Simulate an interview by putting yourself in an environment as close to an actual interview as possible.

Get your husband to ask you questions or find a friend, preferably someone who interviews people as part of his or her job, and practice interviewing until your answers just roll off your tongue.

What suggestions do you have for Kathryn?

Please leave a comment below, call us at 888.455.BIGG or send us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks Kathryn for sharing your challenge with us. We wish you bigg success in your search efforts!

And we’re sure grateful that you checked in on us today.

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Would you like more tips and tools to live your life on your own terms?
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Please join us next time when we talk about why you should play more at work.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00369-040909.mp3

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Social Networking – The Line Between Work and Play

facebook

We love hearing from people in the Bigg Success community and recently, Rupa, one of our newsletter subscribers, sent us an e-mail with two great questions.

She said that Generation Y wrestles with the blurred lines between their private, public and professional lives. So colleagues in their professional world have access to personal information.

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Young professional

Which leads to Rupa’s first question is, “How do we uphold our ‘professionalism’ while still enjoying our youth?

Rupa continues by saying that we’re now a very visible society and are encouraged to share our information online. But she’s not thrilled segmenting who can see what by setting up different privacy settings.

So her second question is, “Should we – as a collective society – consider redefining ‘professionalism’ as we've always known it? Is it outdated?"

In the interest of full disclosure, we should tell you that we know Rupa. She is a very professional young person. That’s why her question carries even more weight with us.

Back in the day …

For the sake of simplicity, we'll use Facebook, the most popular social network right now. Generation Y users began using this social media service when it was just a place for Gen Y.

Back in those good old days, your boss wouldn't be on Facebook. Today, he or she may be. Back then, a colleague you met at an event would contact you via email. Today, that colleague may ask to friend you on Facebook.

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marylynnI think all active social networkers wrestle with this to some extent. I have a friend who holds a highly visible position in her community. We were talking the other day and she said that she originally got on Facebook to keep track of her kids. Her family joined her. It was mainly a personal space for her. But now she is getting a lot of requests from people she knows in the community and she worries about the same thing. I think you have to find a happy medium when using social media. Make it not too much personal and not too much professional.

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georgeWhen you create your profile on Facebook, they ask you to fill out all kinds of things. But you don’t have to. For example, I don't include my religious or political beliefs on my profile page. However, I also don’t walk around with those labels stamped on me when I network in person either. That’s something I only share with close friends.

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“How do we uphold our ‘professionalism’ while still enjoying our youth?”

We think you can do one of two things:

  • When a professional colleague asks to friend you on Facebook, reply with: "I would prefer to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" and provide your link.  
  • If you do add them to your Facebook friends and you are concerned that they might see something you don’t want them to, then you don’t have a choice – you have to use privacy settings.

This can be done by creating a "Professional" friend list and applying specific privacy policies to that group. We found a fantastic article that lists some useful privacy settings for Facebook along with instructions on how to configure them.

Privacy settings allow you to present yourself in a youthful way to one set of friends and as a professional to another group. Don’t we do that, at least to some extent, in the real world as well? Imagine all of the people you know in one room together!

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george
I went too far with my privacy settings. Now, even I can’t see what I’m doing!

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Maintaining privacy settings may be a little bit of a pain but your efforts will give you peace of mind – especially if you are in Gen Y and used Facebook for its original intent but you’re now integrating your professional contacts too.

Is social media creating the need to change the definition of professionalism?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Acceptable behavior hasn’t changed. People still hold each other to pretty similar standards as before.

What is different, and Rupa said it clearly in her e-mail, is the visibility. In other words, you’re more likely to get caught, we say tongue-in-cheek!

Because of that visibility, you have to be more careful about how you portray yourself online. For instance, let's say you are having a bad day. As a professional, you wouldn’t yell out, “I hate my job,” for everyone in the office to hear.

By the same token, it might be wise not to post that sentiment on your Facebook status, especially if you have co-workers in your network of friends. If you want Facebook to be a place to share the "authentic you", and you friend co-workers and managers, then it’s best to set up some privacy settings!

Your brand image

The bottom line is to remember that you are a brand. Your brand consists of your personal life and your professional life. Social media allows you to share both sides of your life with people in a public arena. You have to control your public brand image.

Thanks so much, Rupa, for your thought-provoking questions and for giving us permission to use them!

What are your thoughts about Rupa’s questions?

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00350-031309.mp3

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The Most Important People of 2008

new_year Michael Bailey recently wrote a post about an e-mail you may have received before. It was very timely and got us thinking about events of 2008. Let’s test your memory …

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Who won the World Series? We know it was NOT the Chicago Cubs. Will that ever happen? The Philadelphia Phillies won it this year. Maybe baseball’s not your thing, so let’s try this one …

Who won the Super Bowl last year? The New York Giants.

What movie won the Oscar for best film?    No Country for Old Men

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georgeI have to admit that I haven’t seen this movie. On the other hand, I don’t have a country either!

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marylynn
You aren't an old man either…yet!

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Who topped the Forbes 400 this year? Warren Buffett overtook Bill Gates to be named the richest person in the world. Of course, this was long before the recent financial turmoil. We’ll see how he rates this next year.

Who was the American Idol? You may say, “Who cares?” You may not, but millions do. It was David Cook.

So how did you do? We found it interesting that we didn’t really remember many of these events without some prodding.

The surprising list of the most important people of 2008

We had to look many of these up. For example, as soon as we realized the Giants won the Super Bowl, we could picture in our minds the pass from Eli Manning, escaping the nearby defenders, to David Tyree, who caught the ball on top of his helmet. That catch allowed the Giants to keep the drive going that ultimately lead to the winning touchdown.

As we discussed it, we realized there are people who you remember without having to really think about it. So here are a few questions for you to think about to help discover the most important people of 2008:

  • Name a friend who helped you through a difficult time in 2008.
    They deserve a toast!
  • Name a person who taught you something worthwhile in 2008.
    Roll out the red carpet for them!
  • Name someone who made you feel special in 2008.
    Give them a bigg party horn toot!
  • Name a person who you particularly enjoyed spending time with in 2008.
    Reach out and touch them – figuratively, not literally!

This list is not exhaustive. Feel free to add categories. But you get the point – in spite of the fact that there are people who accomplish bigg things, who excel in their chosen field, we often don’t remember it.

It’s the people who affect us individually that we remember. We recall those little acts of kindness, that one-to-one help, individual caring and sharing. These things may seem small and inconsequential, but they’re not because they affect us personally.

So here’s one more question: Who would put you on their list?

We do! You’re on our list of the most important people of 2008 because you take time to check in on us. We thank you so much and wish you a peaceful, prosperous, and happy New Year! Here’s to your bigg success in 2009!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00298-123108.mp3

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Put Your Cocktail Napkin To Good Use

(Image in today's post by Tinneketin)

Do You Make Your Friends Happy?

happy_people A recent study of happiness showed that the birds you flock with make a bigg difference. Nicholas Christaskis with the Harvard Medical School and James Fowler from the University of California at San Diego found that the more connections you have with happy people, the more likely you are to be happy.

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It cuts both ways

They likened it to a quilt. If the person in the patch next to you is unhappy, it increases the likelihood that you’ll also be happy by seven percent.

If the person next to you is happy, it increases the odds that you’ll be happy by fifteen percent. It’s interesting to note that we seem to have some resilience to unhappy people since happy people tend to rub off twice as often as unhappy people.

But the good news is that is doesn’t stop there. If the person who knows the person next to you (i.e. the person two patches away) is happy, the probability that you’ll also be happy increases ten percent. So happy people one step removed still increases the odds that you’ll be happy more than that unhappy person next to you!

In a quest to find out how happy we could be once we get to Kevin Bacon’s patch (six patches of separation) on the quilt, the researchers found that if the person three blocks away is happy, your chances of being happy increase six percent.
Happiness is contagious!

4 questions to discover if you spread happiness

To determine if someone was happy, the researchers asked four questions. During the past week, how often …

  1. Did you enjoy life?
  2. Were you happy?
  3. Did you feel hopeful about the future?
  4. Did you feel that you were just as good as other people?

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marylynnI feel blessed because I have positive responses to each and every one of these questions. I guess I’m a happy person.

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georgeI think I’m a happy person as well. In fact, if I remember right, I was voted the “Happiest” person in high school! But when I look closely at these questions, it makes me think. Like the first question … I enjoy my life, but how often do I stop and recognize it?

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This study was released recently, but imagine how you might have responded if you were asked the third question at the height of the financial crisis. Uncertainty creates fear, but as these questions show, it’s important to remain optimistic in any environment. That’s where happy people come in – they’ll help you have a brighter outlook no matter what the situation!

There’s one more benefit to hanging out with happy people. The researchers reference a study done in 1984 that showed that having an extra $5,000 increased a person's chances of being happy by about two percent. Based on those results and the results of this study, the researchers conclude that a happy friend is worth $20,000!

They say a happy friend is worth $20,000. We’ll borrow from MasterCard – we think having a happy friend is … priceless!

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The Bigg Success Weekly may not be priceless, but it is FREE!
Subscribe today to get the tips and tools you need to be a bigg success!

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We really appreciate you checking in with us today. Join us next time when we discuss the three categories of spending. Keeping them in mind will keep your budget in line! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00285-121208.mp3

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Two Proven Keys to Happiness

(Image in today's post by merala)

Thanks to You, Bigg Success is One Year Old!

birthday Hey it’s party time! We’re celebrating the first birthday of Bigg Success. We’re so excited to have come this far. We weren’t sure we would make it!

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Seriously, though, we want to take this opportunity to say one simple thing …

Thank YOU!

We couldn’t do this without you. There would no reason to keep doing it if you didn’t visit us. So whether you check in every day or every now and then, we thank you so much.

It wouldn’t be any fun to do this if you weren’t here. We feel fortunate that more people are discovering Bigg Success. From site visitors to subscribers – in iTunes, in Zune, our newsletter, and our RSS feed – we’re seeing more people every month in every category. We thank you so much for sharing Bigg Success with your friends and business associates!

We also check page views and show downloads and we see that you’re consuming our content faithfully. We’re just thrilled that you take time out of your busy schedule – and we know how busy you are – to check in on us like you do.

You got here early so you’re a leader in the Bigg Success community. We appreciate everything you’ve already done to help us build this community of bigg goal-getters. We just ask this one thing – if you have any feedback, if you have any questions – please reach out to us. If you want to keep it private, send us an e-mail (bigginfo@biggsuccess.com,) or call us on our toll-free number (888-455-BIGG). If you can share it with everyone, just leave a comment. We want to get to know you better in the days and months ahead.

Special thanks

We would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to thank those people who have been a bigg help to us as we launched Bigg Success and throughout our first year.

Chris Brogan You helped us build our confidence when we didn’t know if we could put out content worth anything to anybody. You have also generously shared time with us that we know you didn’t have.

Liz Strauss
You helped us think outside the box and develop a framework for Bigg Success in the coming years. We so appreciate your guidance.
 
Jim Bouchard You have unknowingly been a model for us and you continue to be an inspiration. Our conversations with you always make us think bigger!

Shwen Gwee Is there anyone you don’t know? You’ve been so helpful in introducing to people who have made such a difference in how far we’ve come.

Chris Christensen You’ve always been willing to take time to answer our questions, especially when we were as green as green can be. You’ll know never how much your advice has meant to us.

Denny Birt You’ve been helpful for years in other businesses and now you’re helping us make Bigg Success a bigg success.

Liz McMillen We feel so lucky that you share your graphic design genius with us to give Bigg Success the right look and feel. You’re incredible!

Michael Bailey What would we do without you? You’ve always been there when we faced technological challenges that we didn’t know how to handle. You’re amazing!

Keith Kravitz You’re a fantastic marketer and you’ve helped steer us through the rough waters of launching a site. We just wish you had a little more energy!

Lon Ray That bigg voice. Thanks for introducing us on every Bigg Success Show!

Jerome Ritchey You’re one of the most talented people we know. We love all of your character voices and are so glad you share them with us. This one is our favorite.

Dana Mancuso
You’re so good at taking great lessons away from real life situations. Thanks for sharing your gift of writing with us.

Jake Novak You’re one of the funniest people we’ve ever met. We know you’ll make it bigg in Hollywood someday. Thanks for the laughs!

Paul Faraci You were there when this was just an idea. We thank you so much for all the promotion you’ve given us. You’ve also shared so many resources that have been great show topics. Keep ‘em coming!

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georgePat Drake Mary-Lynn and I can’t thank you enough for both your moral support and all of the advice you’ve given us. We always know you’re listening. I couldn’t find a better sister if I picked her out myself!

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marylynnSue Foster You’re not just my sister; you’re my best friend. Thanks for encouraging in my bigg step from the corporate world to life as a business owner. George and I are so grateful for all your help this year, including your great work on our soon-to-be released DVD.

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We’re very happy with the results of Year 1. We look forward to Year 2 and many more to come. We’d like to virtually share a piece of birthday cake with all of you. It’s totally non-fattening!

Join us next time as we look at a natural experiment that shows how isolation impacts innovation. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

(Image by PinkCakeBox, CC 2.0)