What's on my heart?

Photo by Carbon NYC

I’m in the business of creating career marketing strategies for job seekers. This is not new to me. I have been doing this for 25+ years. How I do it has changed and the level of complexity of the job search has changed. Our global communication has changed and we know what is happening instantly and yet we don’t.

Job search challenge

We have a dichotomy of job seekers and career changers right now. For some, they are moving seamlessly from one position to another, in some cases even being promoted or recruited into much better positions than ever before.

And then there is the opposite. The person who lost their job more than a year ago. They may have sought professional help, used social media, communicated their value, and done all the right things. In their industry or their location, they are not connecting. They have tried to use transferable skills, may have applied for retraining, or to jobs that are at a different level than their former positions. Nothing.

Desperation sets in. Basic needs are not being met. People who once dined out frequently can’t even fill their refrigerator for the next meal. The mortgage is late, the rent check bounces. The phone bill isn’t paid. Despair.

Government programs don’t fit them because they don’t fit into the profile. Unemployment benefits are used up or stalled.

From my seat, I know I can’t help every one. And I too need to pay for mortgage, phone, lights, food, and more.

But I need to see if there is something beside the government programs which may take too long to help the person who is without food, rent money, and is willing and able to work. Some touch point for those who are broken and need fixing and fell out of the system.

In addition to basic needs and job search help, the long term pain grows with every rejection and depression sets in. Career coaches and resume writers are not trained counselors or psychiatrists but sometimes that is the need. The long term effects of this economy are debilitating and devastating to too many job seekers. Professional help is needed.  Financial resources are needed.

While we are on this topic, one of my favorite bloggers who I consider a friend, Danny Brown, wrote a post on his blog while I was writing this one. Danny has helped countless others with his 12for12K project which will roll out with a relaunch on October 1. Danny’s post is titled: Imagine If. It is very short but has some provocative thoughts for all of us, starting with:

Instead of blowing $50,000 on the staff Christmas party, companies offered employees the option of a smaller bash and donated the rest to a local charity.

His points are along the lines of what I was thinking. If everyone who is working, made a few changes and companies made a few changes to help, we could change the world. Government programs are mired in bureaucracy and there are definitely some that work but the length of time and dollars involved make true help hard to get when a person needs it.

I’m not offering a solution. I am asking for your input. How can we provide the support those people need? How are we going to help? I believe there is a solution but it will take so many people without agendas working together to bring a viable solution for people and then we need employers to step up and hire. Thoughts?


  1. Barb Poole on August 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

    You and I have talked about this. Once again, I’m brought to tears at the thought of those doing what they’re told works; and it’s not. Adn we are talking about people with talent and much to offer, who now are at the bottom, financially and emotionally spent. They need people to help them.

    My hope is that what you’re doing in the post is a good start. Perhaps using the power of social media to quickly spread the word–a modern day Paul Revere–those who might be able to offer a solution, reach out a hand, or be in touch with someone who can–there can be change. Please those with ideas, insights…join this thread.

    • Julie Walraven on August 25, 2010 at 10:38 am

      Me too, the tears, all of us in the career community give pro bono and extras but we can’t touch everyone and the job is getting bigger not smaller.

  2. Haneef N Nelson on August 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    As I read this post, I think back to 1 year ago when I was laid off and I remember all of the old colleagues, some friends, and family members that all said that they would be there for me, support me and help me through this, and never did a thing.

    Then I also think about my motivation and the things that I learned about myself during that time period. People that are in the situation described in your post need more then Job Search/Networking Support. They need Emotional/Psychological Support; Outlets to vent their frustration; Companies that will hire them, and some need Financial Support as they don’t have a large amount of savings and Unemployment simply isn’t enough.

    Most job seekers are not looking for a handout, they are looking for a hand up. It’s remembering those times, and remembering what I’m truly passionate about that is a big part of the driving force of writing; of my desire to grow in all aspects that I can to help people that are truly in need.

    There are plenty of things out there that we all can do, but the great question is are we all willing to do it?

    • Julie Walraven on August 25, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      I agree totally. And your voice is the voice of many. Last year was thought to be the lowest point of the crisis but I think we are now feeling the pain of those who are still out there and are not getting any of that support and help. Food pantries are drained, non-profits are strained, and there is more red tape in the way of true help than ever before.

  3. Ari Herzog on August 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Part of the problem is those career coaches and resume writers don’t say the same thing. I met and spoke to many in recent months about my resume, and everyone told me something else.

    Half said I should have a single page for 10 years of experience, and half said page length doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, I picked one person who came personally recommended and who helped a friend get hired — and I tuned out the rest.

    If the “experts” are giving contrary advice, what’s a job seeker to do?

    • Julie Walraven on August 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Ari, since I don’t know who you spoke with and I haven’t seen your resume, I don’t want to comment on your particular case. As in anything you need to do what you did, select one person you trust and who is either recommended or has been helpful to others you know.

      My point with this particular post was that we have people that are ready to go, the resume is done and does meet industry standards and they are still having trouble. There are industries that are not recovering and whole areas of the US and other parts of the world that have been hit harder than others. The competition is stiff.

      If you cannot find work, you still need to eat. I don’t have a solution and I said that. Do you?

  4. Christine Livingston on August 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm


    I’ve been reading how around 8 million jobs have just been wiped off the map in the US in the last couple of years, possibly never to return. Bizarrely, here in the UK, although the statistics are currently showing a growth trend, that doesn’t jive with my experience. Our perception of “certainty” is shifting hugely.

    I have no answers either. I did think about running a “back to work” mega self-help workshop for people looking for jobs in London. But all the ra-ra and motivation in the world doesn’t create work that doesn’t exist.

    I encourage my clients to be as creative, flexible and pragmatic as possible. Even that doesn’t prevent brick walls.

    When nothing is working, all I can offer is empathy. I can feel deeply inadequate at times. The thing is that, those of us who can and do touch those feelings, are expressing something not just for ourselves, but for the system and the economy within which we live and work. The primary inadequacies start there. Those of us who care need to guard against taking too much of that on our own shoulders.

    Still, it’s a tough one for sure.

    • Julie Walraven on August 25, 2010 at 8:07 pm

      Christine, I think we help one person at a time. I know you give and share just like the rest of us that work with people looking for work or a different kind of work. We all feel inadequate but we just have to take it one step at a time.

  5. Melissa Cooley on August 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I remember a conversation that I had a while back (possibly with Hannah Morgan?) about the need for free counseling services for job seekers, which Haneef’s comment echoed. Job loss is not a normal situation, and it’s difficult to provide the kind of support that each individual needs.

    I know some job seekers are able to get the emotional support they need through job clubs, but others may need specific 1-1 support. In times like the present day, it would be wonderful if that service could be available pro bono to those most in need.

    • Julie Walraven on August 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      So much is needed, Melissa and how to deliver when some of our connections are virtual. Here’s the way I see essential: Food, housing, phone so the job seeker can be reached by potential employers. There is so much more that a job seeker who has been out of touch needs. Emotional support and / or counseling is a big part of it.

  6. Terry Del Percio on August 25, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Great question. Complex question. Troubling question.

    I love that you are forcing us to think about the bigger picture, yet encouraging us to also come up with practical and varied methods of assisting.

    I am going to think about this more and come back and comment again, if that is okay with you. (?)

    Thanks for raising this issue. My clients remind me that it is all too familiar a scenario that friends and family say “Let me know if I can do anything to help” and then nothing happens. I don’t think this is because they don’t care…I wonder if they just don’t know what to do.

    On the flip side of that coin, it is my philosophy that it is better not to just suggest that you can help (implying that the unemployed person must come to you) but just do it.

    Figure out a SPECIFIC way to help and just do it. And then ask the person AGAIN, ‘what specifically can I do to help you?’

    As several of your colleagues (and you) suggested above, sometimes just being a true listener is extremely helpful…or inviting the person to a movie and dinner and tell them you are going to treat.

    You are right…we need to find other ways to help and reach out our hands for others.

    A dear friend got laid off recently, and another close friend & I pitched in wrote a check and sent it to her. We did not ask if she needed it. We just did it.

    Of course, we were lucky to be in a position that we could do that…not everyone is. But it was the best feeling in the world to send it w/o being asked.

    Bringing fresh vegetables from your garden could be a start or a casserole…or sharing your resume with them…introducing them to a few of your colleagues.

    Above all – just do something.

    • Julie Walraven on August 26, 2010 at 4:05 am

      Great points, Terry and I think you did a wonderful job of specific examples! You are another example of how caring and creative people in the career industry are. Please leave more.

  7. Nancy on August 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I am very impressed. May we try to skypt one day?

    • Julie Walraven on August 26, 2010 at 4:09 am

      Thank you, Nancy! Sure, call me or e-mail me first and I can walk you through the steps. The webcam isn’t working anymore but I can teach you the rest of it. I use it more to share screens, write, edit, collaborate, and teach than I do to see people.

      This is my Skype directions post: https://designresumes.com/how-i-use-skype-write-resumes-teach-jobseekers/

      Hope all is well in AZ and with your birds (especially Charlie!)

  8. Ed Han on August 26, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Julie, sorry I missed this yesterday. As always, I’m impressed by your spirit. Excellent stuff, Julie.

    • Julie Walraven on August 26, 2010 at 9:37 am

      Thanks, Ed, my blog door is always open. You can come any time to visit on any post and if you comment, I will make the post reappear! Thank you!

  9. Jeri Hird Dutcher on August 26, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Hi Julie,
    I’ve been thinking about this issue, too. Just yesterday, I had a call from a woman who hasn’t worked since 2009, has since separated from her husband, and now is living with her sister, basically penniless.

    She hasn’t been applying for RN jobs because she hasn’t been able to do her own resume or afford to have someone else do it. We talked about using a credit card, borrowing from a relative, but she wasn’t open to any options. She appears paralyzed.

    I’ve been thinking about calling her back and saying I would do her resume for the regular price and wait until she has a job to be paid. Have any of you done that? Has it worked out?

    The other thing I’ve thought of offering is a basic resume written only from a questionnaire, no phone consultation, not heavily edited. $50 or $75. Gives them something and gives me a name for follow-up. Has this worked for anyone?

    My logic goes like this. She would ordinarily be in my target market. She’s not right now because of extraordinary circumstances. I am willing to help her get back on her feet, but not for free. Government programs that aren’t working for these folks are free. I don’t want to be in that company.


    • Julie Walraven on August 26, 2010 at 9:42 am

      I understand, Jeri, none of us can afford to regularly do free projects because that is our livelihood. But I figure that now and then, I can do one and just not make that an announcement.

      I think we all do a bit of that now and then in some way. I believe firmly in the law of abundance and that I am gifted with certain talents and there will always be clients who can pay for them. Some will not see the value and they are not my market. But others desperately need help and if my heart says go for someone, I am going to help.

      I know that at some point, it will balance out. I know that isn’t true for everyone and some people like to keep their giving back for other areas not related to their business. I do a mix of both.

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Julie Walraven

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