Sometimes a reader tells it better than I can. So here is a recent comment on Job Search: Four Ways Helping Others Helps You from Ebony, a former job seeker who explains what gave her the edge during the interview process.
Hey Ronnie Ann!
It’s been a long time…things have been very busy but still going well. I LOVE this post because it applies to me.
During the year I spent out of work I definitely felt alone on an island even though my situation was not a unique one. However, my change in circumstances dictated that I approach how I handled my dealings with people; where in the past I would write a check to a charity as opposed to volunteer my time, or help a friend out with cash as opposed to taking something off of her plate when she was overwhelmed; I no longer had the financial resources to do so since my “savings” was now what I was living on while I waited for work.
When I look back on that year, I found that I created more valuable friendships and got more joy by actually sowing into people’s lives through actual direct participation rather than writing a check. Additionally, taking a break from my own loneliness and frustration with my job search and helping someone address theirs was helpful and allowed me to return to my job search renewed. While my primary focus was still finding a job, the time I could take in doing something for someone else was a welcome distraction and definitely helped to keep me sane.
Additionally and maybe more importantly, after getting my position and getting to know my new boss, he expressed to me that one of the reasons why he was drawn to hire me was how I had handled my time off. He did ask me what I had done with my year off and I mentioned the things I had been doing which included traveling to a friend’s home in a different state to help her adjust to a new life after losing her husband unexpectedly, helping my cousin who was a new mother with childcare so she could finish an advanced degree, using my project management background to help a charity establish business processes and infrastructure so they could qualify for more government grants to keep some of their programs going, were the very things that helped to make his decision.
He had asked the same question to the other candidates and he mentioned how they all replied that they were just focused on finding a job and that they seemed beaten. I’m not saying any of this to draw away from the excruciatingly frustrating experience it is to find work in this current economic climate nor to sugar coat or be flippant about my experience but to say that finding outlets for your time that translate into something attractive to a potential employer are definitely valuable and you never know if that is the thing that puts you over the edge.
I just love what Ebony says.
I’ve suggested before that a good way to fill time (and help explain a resume gap) is to volunteer or take on projects that help others. Ebony’s words help us see that, for the right boss, this can also make all the difference in showing what kind of person you are, especially during tough times (all jobs have those)…and, above all, help keep you from looking desperate or “beaten”. Too many job seekers don’t even realize they carry that into the interview with them.
How much more powerful to carry accomplishments in with you!