The holiday season is one of the worst seasons to find yourself without a job. And while snatching up a temporary holiday job can help pay the bills until you find something else, oftentimes it is not a long term solution. Last week was our final Financial/Family Stability Class for our Fall Semester and the topic was Jobs. Matt Morgan taught the class the essential keys to begin looking for a job, how to write a resume, how to prepare for an interview, and where to shop for less.
First Matt began talking about how to successfully market yourself, and he gave four steps everyone should follow. You have to first change your mindset and look at yourself as the product and potential employers as consumers. If you make yourself the only/best/most logical option to fulfill their need, chances are they just might hire you! Second, you have to start networking. The more people you know the more opportunities you will have. There are many different ways you can accomplish this, whether it is through social networking online, joining local clubs/groups, or just making it known to all your friends and family that you are looking for a job. When people hear that you are looking, they are more likely to suggest you to employers and to listen for job opportunities. This is a very valuable resource because you can not be in two places at once or hear everything that is going on. Another important part of networking is to volunteer. Volunteering shows that you dependable, willing to work, and that you have an idea of what is going on in the world, which employers love. The third step is to develop an elevator speech. This is basically a sales pitch that can be delivered during a typical elevator ride, but sums up your resume and gives two or three of your strongest skills. The key to the elevator speech is to make it sound casual and unrehearsed. I will give you a sample elevator speech, just to help you write your own. “Hi my name is Sasha Renee. I graduated from college last May and I am currently an AmeriCorps volunteer at Amarillo Habitat for Humanity where I work in Family Services. I love my job at Habitat because it enables me to work closely with the Partner Families and those interested in joining our program. I also work with the Financial/Family Stability Classes and I am in charge of recruiting teachers and getting donates to keep our classes going.” It’s as simple as that! The fourth key is to learn patience. Sometimes it takes a long time for something to come around, but if you get discouraged or impatient right off the bat, you will give up and lose out on vital opportunities.
The second important item Matt talked about was the resume. He provided a list of do’s and don’ts that I will list below, but he also talked about tailoring each resume you send out. Gone are the days where one size fits all. Employers want to know what you have to offer them and how you will benefit their company.
Resume Do’s and Don’ts for Today’s Job Market
1. DO use your resume as a marketing tool.
2. DO edit your resume based on the job for which you are applying.
3. DO research what message your resume should send.
4. DO edit your resume for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
5. DO use strong language.
6. DO highlight your skills and capabilities.
7. DO choose interesting headings.
8. DO use numbers to highlight specific accomplishments.
9. DO leave “white space.”
10. DO use standard fonts and sizes.
1. DO NOT use personal pronouns such as “I” or “me”.
2. DO NOT flatter yourself with adjectives—let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
3. DO NOT be over-modest.
4. DO NOT be too wordy—most resumes should only be 1 or 2 pages.
5. DO NOT put previous salaries or current salary requirements.
6. DO NOT list references or say that they are available upon request.
7. DO NOT put dates of education if you feel age could be a problem.
8. DO NOT fold resumes in the mail—use a large, flat envelope.
The third thing Matt talked about was the interview. First, congratulate yourself on getting an interview and then you better start preparing. If you did not research the company before submitting your resume, now is the time to do that. Employers want to know that you took the time and interest to look into their company. Your answers will be better tailored to the company and that also gives you an opportunity to come up with a few good questions to show your interest. Next practice answering interview questions with yourself in the mirror. Not only will this help you answer tough questions, but you can practice maintaining eye contact. A few other tips Matt shared are always bring another, unfolded, copy of your resume and references, dress a step above what the company requires, have a firm handshake, and remember to smile.
The final part of Matt’s class focused on what to wear. His suggestion is to dress a step above what is usually worn by the other employees. Also, be careful about your choice of jewelry and perfume. You do not want to distract from your answers. He also made it a point to talk about where to get clothes to wear. You do not have to spend a fortune on something to wear, especially if it is just for an interview. Some great places to go shopping include the Downtown Women’s Center Thrift City, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and any other thrift or consignment store in the area. While some consignment stores are still pricey, you can always try to bargain. However, unlike other stores, you will not be able to pick up something you like and then look for your size. Most stores are very organized and already have things sorted by size and sometimes even by color, which makes it easier to meet your needs. Just be prepared to spend little bit more time browsing then you would otherwise. Happy Job Hunting!
Advanced planning for your estate is important and is also a thoughtful expression of your care and love for those you will be leaving behind. Your wills and related documents should outline your wishes and desires that you want to happen after you pass. If you do not take charge of your own plan, then the Texas Probate Code will dictate a plan to your family and the law may not be consisted with your true wishes and desires. One question that most have when they begin planning their estate documents is, “Do I have to get a lawyer?” The answer is no you do not have to. You can write your own documents, you can use resources online, and you can be your own lawyer. Don’t let lawyer fees scare you away from these very important documents.
1. Last Will and Testament
Your “Will” is a written document that expresses your intent as to the passing of all your properties that would otherwise pass by the laws of intestacy if you were to die without a Will. Your Will governs passage of title to “probate” assets. A Will may be changed at any time by executing a new Will or a Codicil. A Codicil is just a supplement to a Will, containing an addition, modification, explanation, etc. of something in the Will. Also, a new Will may be executed without destroying the original or any copies that have been made. However an existing Will may not be amended by marking through words, sentences, etc. or by making handwritten changes to the original. Also, there are “probate avoidance” techniques (non-probate assets and/or Living Trust) that you may wish to consider implementing to carry out your wishes, in place of or in conjunction with your Will.
2. Power of Attorney
A “power of attorney” authorizes your appointed agent(s) to make important decisions on your behalf as long as you are alive. You have the option of making the power of attorney effective immediately after you sign it, or delaying its effectiveness until you become mentally incapacitated. There are two different “powers of attorney,” Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney gives the authorized person to make financial decisions on your behalf whereas Medical Power of Attorney grants the authorized person to make a broad variety of health care decisions if you are incapacitated.
3. Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
This document allows you to make decisions in advance concerning your desire for life-sustaining treatment. If you are suffering from a medical illness or condition that you will not survive, this document tells the doctors to provide only those treatments to keep you comfortable.
4. Declaration of Guardian
This document serves as a back up to the two powers of attorney. Although the powers of attorney generally avoid the need for a guardian, if a guardianship is instituted in court for you by any party, your Declaration of Guardian is the legal way for you to designate the person you want to entrust with your affairs. You may list persons whom you would not want to have as your guardian under any circumstances also.
5. Declaration of Guardian for a minor
This declaration is applicable to persons who have one or minor children. This document sets forth your designation of the person(s) whom you would want the Court to appoint as guardian over your minor child(ren).
We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is ready to kick off the Christmas season. This past week was very busy around our office! Last Tuesday Steve Swicegood taught our Financial/Family Stability class all about loans. He introduced us to several loans, cost terms, the advantages of an installment loan versus rent-to-own, and common traps that buyers fall into when making big purchases that require loans. I thought all last week about how I was going to try and recap everything we learned, and I have come to the conclusion that it just might be an impossible task. If you are really interested in learning about our class, stop by our office and I will give you the class handouts and then I will just tell you all about the notes I took. Be prepared though, this will probably take a while. We also added two new partner families to our fold, and we are very excited for them to begin their journey to homeownership. One partner family is a young Burmese couple who have a young daughter, and the other partner family is a single mom who has a son in high school. We had our official paperwork signing on Friday and they have already started working on their sweat equity. Habitat for Humanity is all about families and in keeping with that tradition, we had a Christmas party on Sunday afternoon for all our homeowners and family partners. It was a wonderful opportunity for the families to get together to strengthen friendships and meet new families that have been added to our community. It is also a wonderful opportunity for our board of directors and committees to get to meet and interact with the families that they have served over the years. Do not worry, we did not forget about the kids. The party was at the Don Harrington Discover Center, so they had plenty of entertainment and Santa even stopped by for a visit.
“You can’t master conflict resolution if the inside isn’t “fixed.”” Last week our class was about Communication and Conflict Resolution, and our presenter started the class off with a different perspective then everyone expected. We started off with how children perceive things they hear and see and how those things affect how a child feels not only about themselves but about the world around them. Sometimes adults assume things are understood or that certain tones or actions will be quickly forgotten by a child. However, this is often not the case. Children lack the filters, experience, and knowledge that adults have to process information and therefore hold onto those tones, harsh words, and actions. Often time’s children also replay that scene over and over again in their minds trying to get a better understanding of how to file that away in their minds; this in turn often ends up hurting the child’s self esteem causing them to feel badly about themselves whenever conflict arises or harsh words are exchanged. Not only is this important information for adults to remember whenever speaking to children, it is important to realize that those feelings still affect us today.
We then transitioned into how these experiences during our childhood often times reappear during moments of conflict without us even being aware that these unjustified feels are the root cause of our responses. To demonstrate this, we all did a little exercise.
1. “When I am in conflict or argue with my spouse or other, I generally feel ___________________.
Unloved Unworthy Insignificant Alone Discouraged Powerless
Unacceptable Hopeless Unwanted Unsafe Insecure Failure
Vulnerable Disconnected Unknown Abandoned Invalidated Etc.
2. “When I feel the way I identified above, I normally cope with these behaviors______________.
Blame others Rage Shames Self Depressed Angry Sarcastic
Anxious Arrogant Fault-Finding Aggressive Inconsolable Discouraging
Threatening Whiny/Needy Holds Grudges Retaliatory Manipulative Withdrawal
Controlling Escape Drink Defensive Perfectionist Irresponsible
Critical Judging Isolate Nagging Demanding Lecture
Avoid Issues Minimize Get Dramatic Intellectualize Negative Etc.
One of the keys to managing conflict is to be self-aware and to consciously react in a positive manner, so that you do not escalate the situation. Often times just changing the tone of our voice could completely change the other person’s response. There are times when we are more vulnerable to conflict and that happens when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and/or Tired. (Those spell HALT.) This is also when those feelings from our childhood surface and cause us to react without thinking. We need to remember that
3. “the truth about me and my situation is that I am________________________________.”
Loved Full of Worth Significant Never Alone Priceless Valued
Precious Treasured Accepted Wanted Celebrated Talented
Smart Deserving Unique Etc.
When we remind ourselves of these things, we reinforcing positives that will help us react positively during moments of conflict. Thinking positively is not only good for your self esteem and avoiding bad conflict, it is also good for our brains. People who think positively show more brain activity then people who think negative thoughts.
We all know that no matter how positive our thinking is and no matter how much we try to avoid bad conflict, conflict is still going to happen. We must realize that not all conflict is bad. Conflict causes us to grow and develop. We also must learn that we cannot control how the other person communicates or reacts. If emotions are running high, there are too many distractions, or someone is not listening, taking a 30 min. break could be the best way to deescalate the situation. By saying “I think WE ALL need to take a little break to calm down. Let’s meet back up in 30 min. in my office/the dining room/etc.” you are not pointing fingers, and this is something everyone can benefit from. Remember though, if you take a break you must bring the issue back up before the day is finished. Drawing things out until the next day will only add unnecessary anxiety and cause people to forget exactly what was really said.
Another great way to help others understand that you have heard what they are saying is to validate them. Often times the reason for negative conflict is due to someone feeling like they haven’t been heard. A great example is saying: “I hear you saying that you believe I don’t respect you. I understand how you might think that because I walk away when you are trying to talk to me. And that must make you feel rejected or ignored.” This way the other person knows not only are you saying “I heard you,” but you are able to understand them.
Our class closed with a few statements that directly influence how we would normally react in moments of conflict. By understanding and remember these statements we learn not to take everything so personal and therefore avoid impending conflict.
- People do not do things against me; they do things to meet their own needs.
- How people behave tells me about them, not about me.
- Things do not bother me, it is the view I take of them that does.
- I learned to be this way, so I can learn to be different, and I am learning to be different.
- Separate the distortions of the child’s perspective and replace them with the insight and understand of your adult perspectives.
- The only way I can be abandoned is if I abandon myself.
Our class will be taking a break this week for Thanksgiving, but we hope to see everyone next Tuesday November 30th. Our class is titled “Loan to Own” and it will be over installment loans, lender practices, and loan purchases. We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Break!
This past week has been a very busy week for us here at Habitat. Tuesdays are usually our busiest day whether it is spent in meetings or out in the community. This past Tuesday a few members of our Family Selection Committee and I went out and conducted home visits for a few house applicants. Just about everyone in Amarillo knows that there are some people in our area who do not have safe and healthy living conditions, but I really wish everyone had the opportunity to go on a home visit and to see how wide spread the problem is and how unsafe and unsanitary the living conditions are. I think if people were actually able to see the poverty that some live in, it would change attitudes and greatly affect the Amarillo area.
Tuesday evening after the home visits we held another class at our office. This class was titled “Setting Long and Short Term Goals” and we learned not only how to set goals, but how to create goals, how to manage our time wisely, and most importantly how to accomplish the goals we set. The two most important things to remember is that you can accomplish the goals you set and you have to figure out what methods work for you. Another key item to remember is to look back at your listed goals, not only so that you can remember them, but also so that you can adapt and change them as your life adapts and changes too.
You also might have see Becky Davis on the local morning news. We have recently launched a new program called A Brush with Kindness, and it is geared toward helping low or fixed income homeowners make outside repairs on their homes that they cannot afford to hire someone to complete and cannot complete themselves. All work would be completed by volunteers and the homeowners would receive a no-interest, short term loan through Habitat to pay for the materials needed. If you, or someone you know might be interested in learning more about this program call or stop by our office to pick up a brochure and application. We are hoping that this new program will get us out into the community more and help those who otherwise might not be able to get the help they need to maintain their home’s exterior.
We also had some fantastic groups of volunteers this week. From our committees to those who volunteer at the jobsite, we appreciate everyone! On Friday we had a group of WTAMU honors students come help us out at our office and shop and on Saturday the FPC Girls Softball Team came and helped us paint at one of our houses.
This week brings its own excitement. Tomorrow night at our Financial/Family Stability Class the topic will be insurance. The class is going to focus on our insurance needs and answering your insurance questions. Call our office to reserve your spot and bring all your insurance questions with you. We hope to see you in class tomorrow night at 6:30!
We had another great Financial/Family Stability Class last Tuesday night. It was titled “On the Cheap,” and we learned how to make our house feel like a home at little or no cost that we can feel comfortable in and be proud of. Most cannot afford to hire a designer, so doing it yourself is the only other option. The three most important tips that we were given over and over again during the class were to decorate using items you love even if they “do not belong in the room,” use items you already have by giving them new life, and think outside the box.
The first portion of the lesson focused on the big ticket items of a room. Buy main furniture pieces in neutral colors and patterns so that if you change your mind about how you want the room to look, the accent colors will be much easier and cheaper to change. After discussing furniture placement we learned that lamps are a great asset to change the atmosphere of a room. They help to fill in empty spots along walls and on end tables, as well as create a more intimate lighting. All ceramic, glass, and plaster lamps can be spray painted to change the color and lamp shades are very easy to replace, recover, or decorate with items like ribbon to cover stains, holes, or just change up the look.
Another great tip was to use old picture frames. There is no reason to buy brand new expensive pictures frames, unless you just happen to be in love with it. Picture frames are very easy to repair and spray paint to change the look. If happen to not like the item inside of the frame, it can easily be replaced with a personal picture, last year’s Christmas card, or a simple cut out made from scrapbook paper or material.
The second portion of the lesson focused on setting the table to look fabulous for when you have friends or family over. Assuming you start out with nothing but the table and chairs, a Thanksgiving table was set for under $30 and then changed into a Christmas table for about $5. Our table was set with items bought from the ReStore, but any of the items could be bought from second hand stores or garage sales. For our table we got different China plates, used saucers for bread plates, different glasses, and then used fall colored scrapbook paper for placemats. Bandanas from Hobby Lobby were used as napkins and tied with a twine bow around them, and cheap unscented candles that can be purchased from anywhere were used to set the intimate mood. Leave were then gathered from the front yard were tied with twine around the candles to make them a little more special. A glass vase was used as a centerpiece and it was filled with little pumpkins and then placed in a flat basket that had been filled with more leaves from the yard.
To turn this table from a Thanksgiving table into a Christmas table the same plates, glasses, napkins, and candles were used with just a few modifications. The fall colored placemats were exchanged with Christmas colored paper, the leaves were removed from the candles and replaced with ribbon, the basket full of leaves was removed, and the pumpkins from the vase were replaced with glass Christmas balls. The silverware was also taken out of the napkins and the napkins were fan-folded and placed inside the drinking glasses.
Just before the class ended we were all reminded that everyone can be creative and that we are our own worst critic. Even if you see that one little piece that is not perfect, chances are you are the only one who will notice. Part of being creative is to think, how can I reuse this or what could I use for this? We were all inspired by what we learned and you can view pictures from the class on our website and on our facebook page. We will be having another class tomorrow night where we will be learning about setting goals. There are many different types of goals and we need to set goals not only in our personal lives, but also in our professional lives. If you are interested in learning more about this class call our office at 383-3456.