Navigating the job market and being let down by “friends” and colleagues

I was an employee of Eastman Kodak and Kodak Alaris for a combined 43 years. Once an industrial giant, Kodak was battered by foreign competition and the switch to digital technology and has been in a downward spiral for the past 35 years. I was hoping for three more years with the company to reach Medicare eligibility and full Social Security, but was laid off at the end of September. Ouch.

To say I was unprepared for the layoff would be an understatement. I did not have a resume prepared (despite being fully aware of my company’s ongoing decline) and I knew nothing about how one goes about searching for a job in the digital age. As part of the separation package, Kodak Alaris provided three months of assistance from a “career transition” training firm, which was VERY helpful. I’ve learned all of the ins-and-outs of job search including crafting a resume, interviewing skills, and networking. Networking? Yup, statistics show that the majority of job seekers find new employment via contacts and word-of-mouth.

One of the must-have requirements of a job search these days is having a profile at LinkedIn. Recruiters routinely check a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile so it had better be appealing. I did not have a LinkedIn profile prior to being laid off, so it was all Greek to me. The career transition company helped me put a profile together. Whew!

It’s important that a job seeker has a lot of “connections” on their LinkedIn account. That gives the impression to recruiters that the candidate is well-connected, well-liked, a team player, yada yada. There’s also the possibility that a connection can help point a job seeker to an employment opportunity. So I began inviting my former co-workers at Kodak Alaris and Kodak to “connect” with me. Some did connect, but half didn’t. I could see that some of my invitees had even gone to the trouble of viewing my profile (LinkedIn enables members to do that), but still declined to connect. Why not? They knew I was in need of a little help that would have taken very little effort – a click of the mouse – on their part and yet they declined to do so. Yes, I’m aware that some LinkedIn members rarely interact with their account, so that explains some of the non-responses, but others purposely declined to accept the invitation. Ouch.

However, there are several ways to skin a cat. I’ve sent out close to 1000 invitations – mostly to strangers – and 372 have accepted to date and become part of my “network.” Thank you, kind strangers!

I’m inclined to hold a grudge against those old friends and colleagues who wouldn’t help out even in a very tiny way. But then I think about all the times I have deliberately disappointed people. Perhaps some of the non-respondees felt that I had wronged them in some way when I was working with them. I also think about how many times I have disobeyed God – in thought, word, deed, and by omission – so far just this week. Quite a few times and it’s only Wednesday!

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

Better that I should set an example of love and forgiveness than bitterness and feeling offended. Jesus Christ calls us to be that way.

A little advice to EVERYONE who is working: You could be hit by a layoff/downsizing/restructuring/takeover at any time. Prepare now. Buy a good book about “career transition” (there are many), follow the steps and regularly work at it. I wish I had. Build your network – at LinkedIn and elsewhere – now. Be systematic about it. And if someone invites you to join their connections network, be kind, even if they’re not on your “favorite people” list. It won’t cost you anything except a click of your mouse.

Postscript 1: I began applying to job postings in December, admittedly not a good time of year for doing that, and I’ve applied to 33 job postings to date. Now that we’re in the new year, I’m starting to get some serious nibbles from employers. Objectively, my age (63) is a serious disadvantage. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my job search!

Postscript 2: Many people tend to think of LinkedIn as just another social media outlet where they can connect with their friends. My career transition coach told us to think of LinkedIn rather as a mammoth Rolodex (remember those?), a resource for growing networking opportunities that should not be limited just to friends and personal acquaintances.

Postscript 3: I realize the majority of people under age 50 don’t need to be schooled about LinkedIn.

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of my friends and readers here at the WordPress blogosphere a Happy New Year! May we follow the Lord more closely this year by His grace and be a blessing and encouragement to others.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  – Lamentations 3:22-23

“Hey, dummy. Not for nothing, but you missed the exit AGAIN!”

Meet our dog, Gracie. She’s a twelve-year-old, forty-pound Labradoodle,* but she’s in pretty good shape for an old gal because she and I take a one-mile walk around the neighborhood almost every day.

On our walks, we always did the one-mile loop straight back to our house and Gracie became thoroughly familiar with the route. But one day, I decided to have a little fun with Gracie and I kept going, walking right past our house. Well, Gracie is no dummy! She knew the walk should have been over when we reached the house and she balked and balked and didn’t want to take another step. When we want her to do something, she’s like, “Huh? What?,” but she turns into Einstein when SHE wants something.

So now we continue our little game every day. I continue to walk past the house and she refuses to keep going, each time giving me a look (photo above) as if to say, “Hey, dummy! I can’t believe you missed the exit again!” After we debate on the street for about a half-minute, I relent, Gracie wins, and we turn back to the house, with Gracie joyfully bounding ahead like a labra-gazelle and thinking to herself, “Yes! I got through to the big idiot once again!”

*Labradoodles are a dichotomous mixture of laid back, friendly Labrador Retriever and high-strung, demanding diva, French Poodle. Gracie is therefore in constant internal conflict as she fluctuates between being a contented, grateful lap dog and a demanding prima donna. In the last couple of years, she would frequently have anxiety attacks in the middle of the night (Argh! It was torturous, friends.), but ever since her vet prescribed a daily sedative, she’s a reasonably tranquil girl (for being half-poodle).

Question: What kind of guy washes windows when it’s 30F outside and snowing???

Answer: A husband whose wife is currently not working and needs a hobby.

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The two photos were taken on Monday, November 11th. Check out the gargantuan snow-covered leaf pile in the foreground of the second photo and ALL of those leaves STILL clinging to the oak trees in the background! Sheesh! What kind of short-sighted ignoramus would consent to buying a heart-attack trap like that?

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Billboard makes whimsy of eternity

Every Wednesday, I must drive into downtown Rochester for a “career transition” training class. A couple of weeks ago, I was driving along Interstate 490 West into the city when I noticed the new billboard pictured above near the intersection of Winton Road and East Avenue.

Yikes!

I’m sure this advertisement evokes a chuckle from the tens of thousands of unbelieving commuters who pass by every day. But salvation is no joking matter. Your life could end today.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” – Proverbs 27:1

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” – 2 Corinthians 6:2

Before I accepted Christ, I struggled with the idea of all of the things that I would have to “give up” in order to be a Christian. Boy, did I have a misconception. Jesus Christ came to save sinners, not the morally self-righteous. Acknowledge your helplessness and inability to live a moral life, turn from your rebellion against God, and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. The Lord will then help you to live a life that’s pleasing to Him.

What can compare to eternal salvation in Jesus Christ? Treasuring the temporal pleasures of this world over eternal life in Jesus Christ is irrational insanity. Who would choose a single, discarded, maggot-infested corn husk for their meal over a thirty-day, sumptuous banquet feast? Does not compute.

Friends, I don’t get all flustered and outraged over a billboard such as this. Unbelievers do what unbelievers do. Perhaps this billboard is valuable because at least it will get people thinking about their souls and eternal judgement. However, your salvation is nothing to joke about. Every soul is either going to Heaven or Hell and only those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone are going to Heaven. What’s going to happen to you after you die? Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior!

Dead man walking?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Dead man walking?” The expression was made famous by Hollywood, but was based on fact. Evidently, a couple of generations ago, when a death row prisoner was led from his cell to the electric chair, the prison guards would call out, “Dead man walking,” to warn fellow prison staffers that a very dangerous man with nothing to lose was approaching. Perhaps there also may have been an element of malicious taunting in the warning?

A couple of weeks ago, I had my yearly checkup with my cardiologist, reminding me that I had a bit of a “dead man walking” experience myself.

I had walked away from the Lord in 1991 after some problems with our church. Not to go into great detail, but our marriage subsequently fell apart, we divorced, sold the house, and moved out on our own in 2001. I then fell in with a group of friends who were younger than my 45-year-old self. They were big into team sports and I tried to keep up. One particular Friday, we were slated to play a softball game. I had a very bad cold, but I wasn’t about to let my friends down. During the game I felt very strange, as if I was going to blackout. I took myself out of the game and sat on the bench, hoping the feeling would pass, but my heart felt like it was going beat right through my chest. I reluctantly asked a friend to take me to the ER. When I got to the hospital, I described my symptoms to the admitting nurse and she rushed me right in. They immediately hooked me up to a monitor and I could see my heart was beating wildly and rapidly, up to 300 beats per minute. One of the nurses grabbed the heart paddles (manual defibrillators) and stood there anxiously watching the monitor and me. It was a surreal moment. I was wide awake, fully conscious, and watching this nurse standing in front of me waiting for me to die. Meanwhile, I was injected with a drug that eventually slowed my heart down. I was later told that I had a bad case of Ventricular Tachycardia (VT), a heart arrhythmia that’s often fatal. My doctor later told me that extremely few people have a case of VT as bad as I did and live to tell about it.

I was prescribed a blood pressure medication to keep my heart from racing, and that worked for several years. Praise God, my wife and I remarried in 2003. However, in 2010 I started to feel palpitations and dizziness again. I then had a cardiac ablation operation in which a surgeon used a laser to destroy the heart tissue that was “misfiring” and causing the arrhythmia.

My heart’s been doing well since then, and no prescriptions, although I have yearly visits to the cardiologist including electrocardiograms just to make sure nothing’s changed. In this last visit, the doc was pleased to see I had lost 30 pounds and was walking 4-5 miles every day. But I’ll never forget that moment laying on an ER bed watching that nurse observe me very nervously with paddles in her hands. Yup, I was a dead man walking. Praise God for giving me more time to reunite with my wife and, FINALLY, to return back to Him in 2014.

The Bible says that everyone is spiritually dead and must be reborn in Jesus Christ. If you have not repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone you are a “dead man walking.”

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Colossians 2:13-14

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #3

It’s Tuesday, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas. First, we have have Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching about our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. And what a GREAT High Priest He is!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15

Next is a sermon by Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City that examines what it means to be a Christian.

Roger Copeland – Our Great High Priest

 

Cody Andrews – What does it mean to be a Christian?

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #1

Many of you are aware that brother Wally over at Truth in Palmyra has opted to take a sabbatical from blogging because of his very busy schedule at this time. I’m surely missing Wally’s daily posts, but I realize a brother needs to prioritize and get at least a little rest during the day.

As a part of his weekly blogging schedule, Wally regularly posted the Sunday sermon videos from Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, Arkansas and from Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City, Arkansas.

I really enjoyed and was blessed by both sermons each week, which I listened to while I entered long lists of data into my computer at work. After I was laid off, I enjoyed listening to the sermons while taking long walks with my iPhone and wireless earpods. Right after my wife and I were saved, we attended an independent Baptist church where we regularly sat under some lively Baptist preaching from the pastor who was from southern Ohio, so listening to brothers Roger and Cody each week brought back fond memories.

Since Wally won’t be posting the sermons for awhile, I told him I would be retrieving the sermons for myself each week. It then occurred to me that I could post both sermons for the benefit of others as well until Wally returns to the blogosphere.

So grab your ear buds and enjoy this week’s edition of some good ol’ Baptist preaching from Arkansas!

Roger Copeland – Let It Rain

 

Cody Andrews – The Three Glorious Promises

Argh! One of those Major Life Events

I had one of those “major life events” a short time ago, but haven’t posted about it to this point. I guess I needed several weeks for the dust to settle.

In early-July, my boss informed me that one of our company’s major corporate customers was not renewing their contract for 2020. That was definitely NOT good news. That particular customer accounts for about 40% of our sales. My boss advised me to prepare for the inevitable. For the next couple of months, I read the daily reports as the customer in question began methodically pulling our equipment out of their stores and returning it to our warehouse. Arriving back to work on the Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend, my boss called me into his office the first thing in the morning, usually not a good sign. As I suspected, I was being laid off at the end of the month.

I began working at K* in 1976 when I was nineteen-years-old. At that time there were 60,000 people working at K’s massive manufacturing, research, logistics, and administrative facilities in Rochester. But foreign competition and the subsequent switch from analog to digital technology began impacting K in the mid-1980s. The layoffs started in earnest in 1985 and have continued non-stop for thirty-four years. From what I can gather, there’s now probably less than 2000 Rochesterians working at K and KA (the company that was spun off from K and where I ended up).

My boss asked that I continue doing my job in the interim while simultaneously training my replacement. Needless to say, September was a difficult month.

So, here I am, 63-years-old and unemployed, with twenty-two more months until I’m eligible for Medicare. To complicate things further, my wife was forced to discontinue working in early-August because of health issues and was placed on short-term disability. There’s a very high probability that she will eventually be switched to long-term disability.

But this is not a self-pity party. The Lord is Lord of the valleys as well as the mountain tops. I was blessed with 43 years of employment at K and I’m not all that far from retirement. As part of its limited severance package, KA has provided three months’ worth of assistance from a “career transition” company. I’m currently using those services and creating a resume in preparation for some job hunting.

I have many brothers and sisters in the Lord who are dealing with challenges much more serious than losing a job at age 63, so I didn’t write this as a whine fest. But I was still a bit angry and bitter. All I needed was two more years, Lord! Well, the Lord has been teaching me many things in the last six weeks. When everything seems to be going fine and we’re living in our “it’s all good” bubble and familiar routine, our faith can tend to become lackadaisical, but it’s in trials and tribulations when we truly lean on and lean into the Lord. This is a fallen world and if you haven’t experienced any “major life events” yet, you surely will. This world doesn’t offer much in the way of safety nets, but our Sovereign God, who knows all of our circumstances, is our immovable Rock and High Tower!

Postscript 1: One day I was feeling particularly stressed because of all of the red tape issues I had to take care of due to my pending unemployment, mostly signing up for various types of insurance. To make matters worse, I had let my reading material queue run dry. Oy vey! In “desperation,” I went back to my half-finished and neglected copy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ “Studies on the Sermon on the Mount.” The next chapter just so happened to be “Be Not Anxious,” followed by “Birds and Flowers,” “Little Faith,” “Increasing Faith,” and “Worry: Its Causes and Cure,” all sermons on Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus’ teaching on worry and anxiety. Praise God for His care and encouragement!

Postscript 2: My 24/7 full-time job and joy is following Jesus Christ. Everything else is secondary.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27

*Due to legalities, I’m being purposely circumspect about the name of my former company, especially in regards to their current troubles.

We love our super-heroes! But why?

I recently completed a lengthy series of thirty-five posts written over a span of eighteen months that was comprised of reviews of Legion of Super-Heroes comic books from DC Comics’ Silver Age (see here). This blog is mainly devoted to theological issues and many readers were undoubtedly scratching their heads wondering why I allotted thirty-five posts to such “frivolous” subject material. Throughout the long series, I had this concluding post in mind and now we’re finally here. Phew!

For millennia, human beings have been absolutely enthralled with tales of heroes versus villains, good guys versus bad guys. Think of the notable fictional heroes of literature in the past: Odysseus, King Arthur, Beowulf. In the last one-hundred years, as entertainment forms have expanded with new technology, audiences have continued to gravitate to tales of heroes triumphing over evil via radio, movies, television, and even video games. The release of a new movie featuring a comic book super-hero has become a shared, must-see event for society-at-large. These hero movie and comic franchises have even become a quasi-religion for some people. Skeptical? Just visit a Comic Con convention.

Why do people crave these stories of heroes triumphing over evil? As human beings, we’ve all experienced injustice and unfairness to some degree. We all know what it’s like to be bullied or mistreated and we innately crave justice and even revenge. Fictional heroes right the wrongs that we never could.

At movie theaters, we thrill at the hero’s bravery, resolve, and commitment to what’s “good” and “right,” because such qualities are in short supply in the real world, even within ourselves. While we all would like to flatter ourselves and think we are “good” people and lovers of justice, we’re mainly concerned with our own personal circumstances and we ourselves have often mistreated others as we selfishly prioritized our own welfare. Yes, we have and we still do. There is a God and He is Holy and Just. The Bible states that we are all sinners and that we all deserve eternal punishment. We don’t like to admit it, but we are the unjust ones. We are the villains. Yes, us! Argh! That’s not a popular message, but that’s our reality as we stand before a Holy and Just God. But God, in His love, provided a Hero for us.

A real man, Jesus of Nazareth, walked the streets and trails of Palestine two-thousand years ago and He was on a mission. Jesus was the only person who was ever truly good. He was/is God the Son and He lived a life of perfect goodness. He didn’t deserve the cruelty and punishment that He received, but He willingly died on the cross as the atonement for your sins and mine. But He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of their sin and receive Him as Savior by faith alone. Now, THAT is a HERO! He is my Rescuer, my Defender, my Solid Rock amidst turmoil! Thank you, Jesus!!!

Postscript: Many fictional characters have been based on persons mentioned in Scripture. As just one example, much has been written about how the “Star Wars” movie franchise draws heavily upon the Bible. See “5 Biblical Themes from Star Wars.”