What to find your ‘dream job’? Then Press the Flesh!
I found my current position through the Internet. LinkedIN job search worked for me by connecting me to a tech savvy HR recruiter and my eventual current manager. There’s no doubt this new technology can get the job done connecting us to possibilities. I learned about LinkedIN by talking with people. The Stewardship Employment Ministry at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Westerville, OH introduced me to an expert on LinkedIN. He showed me how to put a resume’ on the site. Then, I learned how to search for positions. Then, once connected, I still had to ‘press the flesh’. I shook hands with my mentor when I arrived for an interview at the plant. He smiled, we joked a bit, and that was the start of knowing we could work together as well as have some fun.
Earning my ‘dream job’ was all about talking with people in person and shaking hands. I’ll credit the Bernard Haldane, Inc. for reminding me of the importance of the personal connection. Today, it appears Haldane is defunct. What happened I don’t know. I only know what they professed to me in Winter Park Florida in 2000 earned me a position at Kennedy Space Center and in the Space Shuttle Program.
Talk to people. Tell everyone you meet what you want to do. Coupled with a consummately professional resume’ format as a ‘talking paper’, the Haldane method helped me earn what a few other Ohio boys earned. Neil Armstrong and Gene Kranz were test pilots, one from Wapakoneta OH and the other from Toledo. I am a Navy Nuke from Findlay, smack in between the two cities and two generations later. I watched as they played out their dramas, never dreaming I might play a part in those ventures. We all shared the experience of ‘earning our wings’ in the Boy Scouts.
I retired from the Navy at the turn of the millennium. I started out operating nuclear reactors and advanced to showing others how to take the steam from those and push air craft carriers through the water. Engineering applications from the electronics monitoring those power plants to the not-so-simple practice of pumping water up twenty-one stories to flush the Captain’s toilet behind the bridge provided a strong foundation of how and why ‘things’ work.
Haldane helped me formulate a resume’ format to talk from. It had the usual content. These things haven’t changed much from the days with I learned about them in high school typing class. The advent of the Internet made for about a decade’s worth of shuffling as the HR and IT guru’s competed to find the ‘most effective’ screening software, and we all have played the game of figuring out which ones really work. Haldane’s format, though, worked through all those changes. I know it’s successful because I shared the techniques and it has earned at least seven other people interviews that lead to employment of their choice, across several professions. The format is an objective at the top, simple and direct. For the ‘dream job’ it has to be tailored to what the employer is looking for. More about that in my story. Below the objective, a list of eight-to-twelve key phrases that describe my career in an easily readable table for quick viewing by the HR screener were laid out. Bullet phrases with ‘action phrases’ describing each of the twelve words from the table told both the application and the quantifiable success of each characteristic. Page two was the employment experience, followed by education and then any awards. This resume’ was my talking points paper. Whomever I spoke with had a copy of this paper in their hand in advance of our meeting. And that is the key to my dream job, to the best job I ever had; talking with people about it.
What Haldane reminded me was that I needed to ‘talk’ with people to find employment. I had to go from person-to-person and tell them what I wanted to do. I had to take time to express not just what I could do but who I was. I had to find people who ‘liked me’, or rather were ‘like me’, people with whom I could hold a conversation, who had common interests professionally, who might then be willing to tell their other friends about me and what kind of impression I made on them. Then, I’d talk with their friends and companions, and their friends and companions, and so on. This is how I found employment with the Space program.
My mentor at Haldane had one friend whom I only ever talked with on the phone. She had seen my resume’ and knew someone who worked in the materials laboratory at Kennedy Space Center for NASA. This NASA scientist agreed to meet with me and give me a tour. It was fascinating to learn what he did and to see equipment I had only ever studied about through my nuclear career. You see, engineering is a discipline that crosses most boundaries in industry. It has threads that cross over the boundaries of ‘end product’; technical drawings, material proving, Bernoulli’s equation, electron or ‘hole’ flow are just a few. This scientist and I spoke enough of the language for me to make him understand that my own skills didn’t fit within his circle of influence. But he knew someone else, and he introduced me.
The NASA HR expert listened to my story and looked over the copy of my ‘talking points’ resume’ and within minutes knew she couldn’t help me. But she knew what she could do for me. She handed me a list of all the major contractors that helped run the space center. Now I had twelve more names of companies to find people to talk with.
I drove immediately to the first contractor’s off base administrative center, walked in, and talked with the guard. He pointed me to a computer where I could put my resume’ in and apply for any position. The computer is lifeless, and an endless connection of electric ones and zeros. It was a closet with no light and I knew it. I went back to the guard. “There are a lot of open positions on that computer. Do you have anyone I can talk with so I can be more specific?” He did. In fact, there was a new manager coming in every day that walked over and talked with him was just in the back and he’d go find that manager for me.
Rick came out and shook my hand, and read the resume’ talking points I handed him. “It’s a great resume’ but it doesn’t say anything about instructing. I’m an instructor manager. If this was an instructor’s resume’ I could talk with you right away. Just go back and work on it and if you can build in any instructor comments, send it back in and I’ll look it over.” That was all I needed to hear.
I went home directly; put a note on the front door for the kids coming home and my wife not to disturb me I was rewriting my resume’. You see, the continuing training program of the Navy’s Nuclear Power operations meant that every supervisor would be a trainer and I took that further and spent my two shore tours teaching in a classroom. I had plenty of instructor comments to build in. I was back on Rick’s doorstep at seven a.m. the next morning, only Rick didn’t arrive until eight, and the guard didn’t find him for me until ten. Once again we shook hands, surprised he was to see me, and laughing at the occurrence of someone being so diligent in trying to meet and shake hands. Six weeks later I was orienting to the nation’s Space Shuttle Training facility. I worked there for nine years until the program began to shut down.
The Haldane method was to organize ideas and coach professionals about using those professional ideas to talk with others. It was about networking with people. What it required was for each of us clients to get out and to talk about ourselves with anyone who would listen, and for us to listen to others to see what their needs were. The ideas were not new. In fact, these very ideas are the foundation for the Dale Carnegie Corporation’s century of success with public speaking and sales. These principles, updated with LinkedIN and other Internet search tools, are being taught in Westerville OH by The Stewardship Employment Ministry at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Meet people, smile, and ‘press the flesh’ with a hand-shake. People make things, and make things happen.