Monday, August 29, 2005

Real life lessons—job loss

So many real life lessons lately that it’s hard to sort out what to share. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve made most of these mistakes myself so there’s no judgement. Just hurt sometimes with your hurt. But I can’t share the joy without also sharing the sadness, right?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/29 at 03:45 PM
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Informational Interviews at your fingertips

How do you find out—before you get there—what your dream job is really like?

I’ve met with a number of people who never did check things out ahead to time and, low and behold, 15 years later and they hate (should be a capital H there) what they’re doing. Worse yet, might be making a lot of money doing it, thus exacerbating the stuck feeling. A few lawyers I met with years ago always come to mind.

Anyway, one low risk way to get the facts is to do informational interviews, i.e. line up what amounts to advice time with a professional and get them to basically tell their story.

Sound too daunting? Well, jump to and click on Interviews for real life tips from people in a variety of fields.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/26 at 01:49 PM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cover Letter Hints

Since I’ve been hitting the whole job search thing rather broadly of late, I thought it was about time to add a few specifics.

One area which typically stumps searchers is the dreaded cover letter. I’ve seen everything from two paged tomes to very brief—but dry—form letters.

The best lies somewhere in between…if you drop the dry, that is… in a shorter, one page targeted letter. Easy to read. Interesting enough to hook people into reading your resume, which is the real purpose of the letter in the first place. Think interesting version of a direct mail piece—one which lures you on to the second page.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/24 at 02:41 PM
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Monday, August 22, 2005

Think you can’t get there from here?

Cross roads. Life choices. Which way to go…

I did a late-night in the dorms last year where I talked about my own career story. What struck me was how often I’d made decisions in the dark. You know, that place where you don’t know which way to go but your back’s up against the wall and you have to choose something.

Iíve been in that spot many times. But over the weekend I thought of yet one more incident. Again, I didn’t know what I was doing but somehow ended up in an entirely different spotóthe place I was designed for—because of the changed direction.

Here’s the story…


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/22 at 10:11 AM
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Friday, August 19, 2005

What do you talk about with a career counselor?

So you’ve seen the office space—-or at least gotten a glimpse in the last posting because I admit that the pic is a bit on the tiny side. Now the next hurdle. What do you talk about with a career counselor?

Many people come in with pretty specific questions—like, how does my resume look or how do I write a cover letter?

But, what if you’re one of those people with no specific concerns, someone who just thinks it would be a good idea to visit a career counselor? Or maybe, worse yet, your parents have been bugging you to come in and you’re worried about not having anything to say. How awkward would that be!


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/19 at 02:19 PM
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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Demystifying a visit to a career counselor

Surprisingly—to me, that is—some people find going to a career couselor to be downright scary. I know this because they tell me, usually near the end of their appointment. I do what I can to help them feel at ease, so maybe the very fact that they tell me how much they dreaded the appointment is a good sign.

So, to help those of you who also equate visiting me with being a participant on Fear Factor, I thought I’d help break the ice ahead of time by showing you what a career counselor’s office (albeit low budget decor) looks like.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/18 at 02:40 PM
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Monday, August 15, 2005

Questions to ask in an interview

Bright sunny Monday morning. Start of the week. It’s a good time to think about success stories from past summers.

Like last summer. A grad of about two years had, like many other Michigan residents, lost her job. So she would use the computers in our resource area daily. Everyday I’d see Kelsey—working tirelessly on her job search.  We’d often talk and, at one point, spent some time in prayer asking the Lord for a job.



Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/15 at 10:09 AM
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Email—small stuff/big consequences

I had originally planned on writing stuff in a sequential manner. But, if you know Aunt Bonnie personally, you’ll know I’m not really a sequential kind of person. And, so much of this is based on what I encounter on a day to day basis that itís hard to stay sequential.

So, with that out of the way—today’s topic has to do with email. Foibles of, that is.

Three live examples of nixing your job search right out of the gate.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/11 at 12:17 PM
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Streeeetched ouuuuutttt—Looking over the long haul

I met yesterday with a grad who had accumulated about 2 years of experience, fortunately in his desired field. He was, admittedly, one of the fortunate ones whose internship had resulted in a full time professional position. But after two years, the glamor had worn off.

The grad was out on the streets conducting his very first job search. During our meeting, he made a comment ruing the fact that he knew nothing about the process because his first job had literally landed in his lap.

I’ve told stories like this to other job seekers who have been looking for months. Something to the effect that they are in some senses fortunate to be put into a spot where they’re learning essential skills about the job search process. After pondering that unusual perspective on their situation, the most common question had to do with hanging here. Essentially, how do you hang in there over a long period of time?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/10 at 10:36 PM
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Persistence Pays

There’s nothing to develop character like a tough job search. Not necessarily fun but worthwhile on multiple levels.

Take persistence, for instance. A noble quality but look what a person usually goes through to develop it. Tough times spent sloughing through difficult circumstances.

Actually, an article written last year (before my personal blogging era so did not keep the reference) listed persistence as the number one quality which led to eventual success. Makes sense. But it’s sometimes easy to overlook the obvious, especially when you’re in the middle of stuff yourself.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/10 at 09:37 AM
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Glad Grads

In retrospect, starting with sad grads as a topic sounded a bit dour. So, how about some success stories I’ve come across. Like—
Susan—with funds running out near the end of June managed to find a temp job.
Nancy—two weeks left before having to move back in with her parents, she got a call from a friend of a friend. Went in for an interview one day and was offered the job with a request that she start within two days.
Tom—opted for the phone, calling all the companies in his field listed in the yellow pages. One of the many employers he talked with did not have a job open but, yes, his friendly competitor did. Bingo.
Tim—out of necessity, located a job in his barely acceptable range (more on that later). Was hired and sooner than he could blink, the company fast tracked him. They recognized his potential and did what they could to keep him.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/09 at 11:12 AM
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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sad Grads

The title sums up many of my meetings with May 05 grads this year. Aside from occasional good news, grads are finding that the job search is taking a lot longer than they anticipated. After all that work, where’s the pay off?

If they’re anything like me, I figured that the job offer would be waiting after a few post-graduation celebration weeks.  But no. It wasn’t.

So, what do the 05 grads and I talk about? The conversations usually include phrases like these:
—The process seems vague and unclear; how does a person actually get a job?
—I feel like a loser.  I’m the only person I know who doesn’t have a job.
—For the last 16 years, I knew what I’d be doing in the fall. This is the first time I don’t know and that doesn’t feel very good. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/07 at 02:33 PM
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Thursday, August 04, 2005


First day blog. Feels like jumping into a cold plunge without warming up in the hot tub.  Submerge. Shock. Surface and blink. Guess I’ll survive after all.

Maybe the best place to begin is to answer the question—why.  Like, why another blog added to the growing millions. Well, after 11+ years as a college career counselor, masters in counseling, and my own personal history of stumblings and foibles (i’m old…thus the aunt bonnie part), I thought it would be a good idea to jump into conversations revolving around….anything career/vocation/life calling/job related. Intended focus group: college age and recent grads. Though I have to admit that some months, about 50% of the people I meet are well past that age bracket.
So, keep checking for words of advice, information and hopefully sometimes even a bit of wisdom from your new auntie.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/04 at 03:01 PM
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