Saturday, April 30, 2011

Frustration, impatience and a silly lizard

Sometimes, no matter how optimistic and patient you are, you hit points of frustration that can test your strongest convictions.

For many people, it seems to be milestones. When I was younger, they were things I looked forward to and rushed toward: to be 13 and a teenager, 16 and a driver, 18 and drink my first legal beer or wine (times – and laws – have changed), 21 and hard liquor. After that, age-wise for me anyway, it’s been rather uneventful. Oh, there was 40 – I remember that birthday well only because I awoke that day and, realizing I had hit the end of another decade, thought, “Wow, I never thought I’d make it this long.”

But I remember watching with some great amusement years ago during my first newspaper job when a co-worker who had about five years or so on me approached his 30th birthday. I apparently trailed him just enough to not quite grasp the whole “Don’t trust anyone older than 30” thing that was so popular in the 1960s and early '70s.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Needling in threads: Discussion board threats surprise

One of the stronger suggestions I’ve encountered over the past several years while looking for new employment opportunities is that you have to set up a profile – essentially an online resume – on the professional networking site LinkedIn, and then you work to build as many connections, or a network of associates, as you can to help you find a job.

Initially, I was skeptical. It seemed to me to be less than genuine and more like a manipulative and self-serving activity than anything else.

However, I was looking for greener pastures back then (that was before I was laid off – now I’m simply looking for green pastures) and thought I could enter into this realm and try to give back more than I took out.

Despite my misgivings, there were no hands to shake or babies to kiss, and I thought I could step into the world of professional networking without feeling like a politician out to press as much flesh as he can on the campaign trail.

Three-plus years later and I mostly have great things to say about LinkedIn. Particularly since I was laid off in December, people on the site have been very kind and very encouraging. In fact, at least two individuals in my LinkedIn network, one of whom I do not know very well, sent me job leads soon after I was laid off. Each time left me teary-eyed with appreciation for the undeserved kindness they had shown.

More recently, however, I’ve encountered a few negatives, both in the last month as I began participating in discussion boards, which is one way to get to know and cultivate relationships with people within your field of interest.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Restored sight adds clarity to job search

Regaining something you've lost and taken for granted can be exhilarating, particularly when it returns in better condition than it was when it disappeared.

That is what happened last week when sight was restored in my left eye thanks to the skills of Dr. Brian Heffelfinger of Fox Valley Ophthalmology in Elgin. But the experience also renewed my hope as I search for a new job.

Seven years ago, I had a stroke in my left eye. The blood vessel that burst filled the inner eye with blood, which is opaque, meaning I no longer could see – well, I could see. If you have ever seen one of those winter pictures taken near Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, in which the outlines of an elk or bison are just barely visible through a milk-like fog hovering over the geyser field, you'll have an idea of how little of my vision was left.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Newspapers continue painful evolution

It was no surprise. There was no “wow” factor. Not even enough to raise an eyebrow at what I read. In fact, had I read it two years ago I would not have been too surprised, either.

IbisWorld, the world’s largest independent publisher of U.S. industry research, issued a report in March listing newspapers among the nation's top 10 dying industries – industries whose decline will continue even as the economy makes a comeback.

As I read, however, there was a pang of sadness, as journalism – particularly newspapers – has marked the lion's share of my 27-year career in the field.

Newspaper readership has been in steady decline since after World War II. The industry tried many ways to combat it – the Newspapers In Education program provided newspapers to schools with hopes of attracting young readers who the industry hoped would become readers of tomorrow. Yet even as the industry pushed that program, it failed to fully consider the march of technology, despite taking advantage of that march for decades upon decades.