“The Blogless Blogger” or “When Fun Becomes Work it’s No Fun”

I haven’t visited this blog in some time. I started it for a few reasons. First, as a way to chronicle a year that I anticipated to be one of transition. Second, to get myself to write more (I do have a writing degree, right?). And third, as a way to establish some sort of online presence as a way to boost my chances of getting a job.

I’m not one to stick to habits. In fact, the original title of this blog was “365” because I planned on writing one blog a day for a year. Yeeeah. That didn’t work out. So, instead, it became a sort of chronicle of advice and experiences in my journey toward getting a “big girl job.” Well, what happened? I finally got that “big girl job” and stopped writing. Why? There are few reasons, but the most significant one is the fact that I make my living, in part, by blogging. I am supposed to write several blogs a week to satisfy the requirements of my job. But, as one might expect, blogging at work usually entails writing about relatively boring subject matter for the purposes of catching Google’s little bots in their constant crawl across the web. Yay SEO! And, as a result of both my pig-headedness and the fact that writing is no longer the most fun thing I can do in my spare time, I don’t write for my blog anymore.

There’s a part of me that laments that fact. I have so many ideas mulling about in my mind. To put them all into action or give them voice would likely result in my never sleeping. But, there is still that desire. That need to give life to things that exist as little synaptic firestorms in your brain. And, yet, here I am. I’m writing. Is it well-organized? Does it have some larger message? Have I carefully planned it out to make sure that it is optimized for Google? No. This is more like stream-of-consciousness than anything. But, I’m actively engaged in the pursuit, however banal my attempt.

Until this time next year,
Brooke

Learning to Say “Yes, And…”

One of the fundamental rules of improv is to always say, “Yes, and…” This is another way of saying that you should always accept whatever “gifts” your scene partner gives you and add to them. It all boils down to trust. If your scene partner calls you Boris and says that you need to return to your job as a deodorant tester, then that is who you are. It doesn’t matter who you thought you were in your mind. You accept the creative gift they have given you and treat it as your own. You springboard off of that idea and run with it. You never say, “No.” This is an immediate negation of your scene partner’s creativity and ideas. It is a pronouncement of your mistrust.

I’ve been performing improv for years now (my entire adult life, to be honest), and it has taken me until now to recognize that this principle applies to life. Truth be told, I have a tendency to be a “Negative Nancy.” This isn’t because I don’t trust other people or feel that what I have to say is more important. It stems from the fact that I tend to anticipate problems before they happen as a form of preparation. I suppose I’m in constant “disaster mode,” just in case. By the same token, I don’t take well to having those plans thwarted on a whim. And while this makes me prepared for any possible contingency, it also closes me off to others and what they have to say. I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.

So, I’ve taken it upon myself to do a little experiment this week. At work, when someone brings up a new idea/change/request, I simply say, “Yes, and,” despite my overwhelming desire to say otherwise. “Brooke. I need you to change direction on that blog post.” Instead of saying, “Ooookay. I’m not sure I can do that. I spent X amount of time on it and we need to publish it before…” I will simply say, “Yes, no problem. And I’ll make sure that I get that draft to you before the end of the day.” Not only have I made myself seem open and affirmed what I’ve been asked, but I also buy myself some time to think about what I need to do, rather than tell all the unnecessary details to whomever has requested the change.

Long story short, be open. Let others help shape you when it is a group effort. Don’t be so stubborn because you think you’re right. Being obstinate is not the way to go. Besides, if others’ ideas turn out to be bad, you can always blame them (j/k) 😉

Paying It Forward

I haven’t blogged in forever. I’ve been too busy blogging at work, among many other things. Every day, I’d look at this little abandoned chronicle of my life in the past year and think to myself, “Tomorrow.” Tomorrow never really happened. I was sapped for ideas. It seems that when we devote ourselves to creativity on a daily basis, we run the tap dry a bit. I am not complaining. I appreciate that I get to be creative.

But, nevertheless, I have a few small things to say.

Paying it forward. It is an often overused, nearly cliché thing to say. But, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. My life has changed a lot over the last few months and I’m trying to spread the good energy when I can. To that point, I am trying to help my friends seeking jobs. I know the frustration and seemingly endless amounts of dead ends that one can run into in a job search. My job is hiring. I’m telling everyone I know. Why? Because you never know how that lead/interview/résumé submission, even if it doesn’t result in hiring, can make a positive difference in someone’s day. It can be encouragement, and that is what I want to do for my friends.

So, I encourage you to do the same, if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to do so. Little things can mean a lot. And good karma is awesome.

Ciao

Self-Imposed Crises: How We Become Our Own Victim

I’m a really observant person. I often don’t even realize it until a while after the fact, but I seem to have an ability to identify patterns pretty easily. So, what do I mean?

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately among my fellow 20-somethings. I’m sure this has been going on forever and I’m sure it isn’t limited to a particular demographic. Nevertheless, this is what I’ve seen from my perspective.

I’ve already talked about the Millennial generation being one of dreamers. This isn’t an inherently bad thing, but when we don’t have the guts to follow through, empty dreams can be pretty damaging. So, here we are. Young people with the world at our reach, filled with hopeful ideas of a future our minds have crafted. When that world doesn’t align with the world outside of our minds, we tend to collapse inward like some sort of black hole. I’m not talking super depressy black hole, but you get the analogy (if you know anything about astronomy). What results is a) people moving on (even if the dream is not completely out of reach) or b) people living within a sort of bubble, still pretending that these things are going to happen (even if we don’t try to make them a reality). If A occurs, people are usually better off. They have a healthy impulse to keep on moving forward. If B occurs, however, people can (I’m not saying always) take that energy that is replicating exponentially and use it to dig out of the black hole or they can keep it inside.

So, let’s take the latter of part option B. It is the brain’s natural impulse to divert blame away from ourselves. It is how we justify our actions to our consciences. That is why we are so apt to defend ourselves without thinking–it is a natural cousin to physical defense. So, when our lives aren’t panning out the way we think they should have (or the way others think they should have), we tend to look for a way to explain why things aren’t happening, if we are the defensive type. What I’ve noticed is that people in this stage tend to create crises for themselves. They may not even realize it at first, or maybe they even forget that they created it in the first place. So, then they can blame their inaction on the crises or problem they have created for themselves. No longer is it their fault that they didn’t do anything with themselves after college. Maybe it is the “problem’s fault.”

The rub is, however, that people from the outside don’t always see it that way. It is so easy to convince ourselves of things when it is in the best interest of our ego. But our egos often have ways of outing us for who we really are, too. 

People who create crises for themselves subconsciously create a wall, mentally and emotionally blocking out the thought that they never really had what it took to pursue their dreams–that maybe they were never that good in the first place. They can then hold onto the idea “I could have, if only…” Rejection is a nasty thing. Few people deal with it well. Sometimes it feels better to be a “coulda been” instead of a “never woulda been.” At the same time, you never know until you try. You never do. Unless you are 4′ tall and want to be a NBA player, you never really know.

 So, all of this is to “out” every young person that is victimizing themselves with their own, self-imposed crisis. You aren’t hiding behind that thing that seems to pacify the unfulfilled passion you have inside you. Let this be encouraging in knowing that hiding behind whatever “wall” you have created–whatever maladaptive behavior or state of mind it may be–does not create the illusion you think it does. It doesn’t create pity. It doesn’t create excuses. It doesn’t take the ball out of your court for you. It only makes you have to do 10 times more catch up work later on when you decide to snap out of it. Because most people will snap out of it eventually.

I’m no psychologist. I’m no self-help expert. I’m still figuring out myself, for goodness sake. But, I can get all blog mommy on you and say “Snap out of it!”

Until next time….

Coming Full Circle

I started this blog a year ago tomorrow. My goal was to write every day as a way of working toward becoming a better writer and making myself feel like I was doing something meaningful.

I haven’t written every day. Far from it. And this has become more like some sort of weird diary/journal thing than anything else. But, I’ve learned from it, even if in a small way.

So, I’ll continue writing here and there, and we’ll see what happens.

I look forward to 2014. 2013 wasn’t the easiest year, but it did teach me a lot. So, I guess there’s value in that.

Happy New Year to anyone out there who might be listening 🙂

Robots Read Your Résumé: Death, Taxes, and the ATS

I’ve complained about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) for some time now. When I began my job search over a year ago, I had no idea that robots read you résumé. It’s true. Computers sift through your information looking for keywords before a human being ever lays eyes on it. They do this to save time and money, allegedly. And maybe it even does what it’s supposed to do.

But what these robots and algorithms lack is the ability to detect the nuances of someone’s experience and abilities. In simpler terms, they can’t tell if your unique combination of stuff will fit the job. At least, I think that is true.

Either way, it has become necessary that people move away from the old style of résumé you learned how to make in your Business Technology class in high school. Even that cool one you made in college that got you the internship might not apply anymore. It is all about keywords, bot-friendly fonts and layouts, and easily accessible info. It’s SEO on a smaller scale.

So, I ran across this cool infographic that I think explains the ins and outs of robot-ready résumés and outlines some simple steps to help yours stand out from the crowd. Check it out!

Meet the Robots Reading Your Resume - An infographic by HireRight

From HireRight.com

 

1 Huge, Overlooked Job Search Tip

I landed my current job through somewhat of a fluke. I was applying and applying and applying and applying. I was getting very few, if any, responses. So, of course, my nights of Craigslist searching paid off and I found an advertisement that was not only legitimate, but right up my alley. So, I compose a nice email and attach my résumé. I wait. And I wait. And I begin to think that my misuse of the word “its” in my email for this writing position was coming back to haunt me in the form of “Forget you!”

And then one night (actually around 2 AM), I get an email asking if I was still interested in the position. WHAT?! I immediately begin to panic. Did I miss something? Are they confused? Are they weird and have a strange way of responding to applicants’ emails?

Then, I decide to look in my junk folder.

BOOM.

There it is. An email. From a week before asking about a phone interview. Had this employer not been nice enough to send me another email, I would have completely missed the opportunity. And now the job is mine.

So, I’ve strung you along, but I’ll put the tip in big bold, red letters in case you don’t feel like reading everything else.

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK YOUR SPAM/JUNK FOLDER WHILE YOU ARE JOB SEARCHING! THOSE FILTERS MIGHT BE A LITTLE TOO STRONG AND YOU MIGHT MISS SOMETHING GOOD!

So, here is my monthly blog. I haven’t been blogging as much because I have to do it at work. And I really want to resist the urge to think about SEO and marketing for this one. It’s just for fun.

Ciao