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Taking Risks

After appearing on the CBS News Early Show, Diana Schuman offers her reflections about participating in the Job Squad segment and words of advice to others on over 50 employment and career change.

by Diana Schuman

In January I was selected by CBS News The Early Show to be one of four job seekers featured in a series focused on job hunting in our very troubled economy. Last week The Early Show told my story of the "older" worker along with that of the other three. So how do I now make meaning out of this whirlwind experience?

Taking risks can pay off sometimes. No, I cannot say that my media exposure and new resume have gotten me a job yet. But what I can most assuredly say is that the last nine weeks have been a blast!

While being an educator has provided me a career I love and frequent opportunities for self-assessment, my recent roller coaster ride confirmed and affirmed both skills and weaknesses that I knew needed to be addressed. Not only was it time to expand my horizons in the jobs I would seek, it was also time to look at those places of insecurity and make a decision to step out of my comfort zone.

While I have no hesitancy in teaching large and small groups, giving presentations, or delivering a speech, my introverted side balked at doing informational interviews, joining a networking group, or walking up to people at gatherings to deliver an "elevator pitch". However, the need to network has become imperative. Compounding the challenge of the job search is the practice by many employers of accepting only on-line applications and keeping under wraps where your information is going. I realized I had to be creative and push my own boundaries if my resume was going to get in the right hands and rise to the top of their pile.

Through The Job Squad I was afforded a great opportunity to work with Kit Harrington Hayes, a consummate professional in the career counseling field. We met every week for at least two hours. Not only was she able to help me re-work my resume to get rid of educational jargon and change statements to accomplishments, but she also encouraged my baby steps in networking and challenged me to stand in the skills that my assessments confirmed. She also offered wise words and compassion when the daily grind of the job search got me down.

Even with the professional guidance I have received like many of you, I am sure I still struggle with getting myself away from the computer and onto the phone to schedule those face-to-face meetings or to do the follow up once a resume has been sent out. Fear of rejection is such a strong adversary.

Above all, through this journey I have had the blessing of being surrounded by folks who care about me, affirm who I am, and remind me not to take myself too seriously. I find humor in each new day and trust that all of this effort and waiting is part of my preparation for the next season of my life.