2009 In Review: We have just come through a really tough year. People have been impacted in numerous ways. Whether you have lost your job or watched those closest to you struggle to find work, you have no doubt experienced financial and emotional havoc. If you have been fortunate enough to stay employed, you are not likely to have done so without real fear and anxiety about what could happen. And to top it off you may be rather exhausted from being one of too few remaining to get the job done. Taking Control in 2010: Approaching a new year can fill people with optimism and hope for real and positive change. That sense of anticipation can give you a boost of energy and creativity which are necessary to combat fear and anxiety. Channel that sense of purpose and determination into a single and clearly stated objective. Visualize what you want to happen. This is important, though often underrated. Kick off the new year by assessing your situation with a calm, objective eye. Make a list of the activities you have performed, the steps you have taken, to realize your dream. Next to each item, note the impact each has had toward your goal. Certainly, there are things beyond our control. The trick is to focus on what we CAN. Start with these fundamental questions with answers of Yes, No, or Not Sure: * Does your resume need work in order to stand out and be competitive? If not sure, get it evaluated (and edited) by a professional. Unless you are truly skilled in persuasive writing, using proper spelling and grammar, and understanding not only the mind of a hiring manager but the way automated applicant tracking systems work, don't rely on a do-it-yourself resume. This need not be costly: see your college career center, your local workforce center, and the services of ethical and affordable career coaching professionals. Get a second opinion. Excellent help can be found for under $30. * Do you have a well-written and professional base cover letter that conveys your talents and aligns yourself squarely with the needs of the companies to which you're reaching out? If not, refer to the advice in item 1. * Are you conducting search activities that align with your qualifications, industry, and geographic location? Or are you contributing to what I call the "great chase of 2009" where you apply for anything and everything that's posted and think it is just a matter of time until you get lucky? That is not an effective approach. Stop immediately and get help in re-vamping your search approach. * Are you doing more of the necessary legwork or are you counting on others more than yourself? Making positive change comes from the heart and mind, yours, and no one can do for you what you must do for yourself - not entirely. Work with ethical recruiters. Take advantage of community resources. Seek out expert advice. But you still need to be taking on the bulk of the direction and control of your search efforts. * Are you truly putting yourself out there in terms of networking and self-promotion? Are you meeting at least one new person per day who can help you succeed? Are you portraying yourself in a positive and energized way? Are you actively listening to employers and others in your community about problems they are trying to solve and offering solutions? What image are you presenting to the world? And how is your presentation coming through in terms of your conversations, your networking opportunities, your resume? Not sure? Ask. Get objective feedback. Start with your college career center, local workforce center, professional association, or career coach. * Are you getting enough sleep? Enough exercise? Enough calm in your surroundings necessary to weed out distracting mental clutter? Take steps to keep yourself healthy, mentally and physically. You may need to take control of your surroundings and your physical being before you can focus adequately on your search. Find or create a calm, uncluttered space in which to carry out your plans. Seek out healthy ways to re-charge. Exercise is free - it costs nothing to use your living room floor or the street outside to get your blood pumping. Take an hour or two and research healthy solutions. * Do you find yourself unable to cope or make basic decisions? Is a sense of hopelessness taking over your daily activities? Do you find it very difficult to function day-to-day? Depression happens - please seek out professional help. You are worth it!