It’s Sunday afternoon and I am writing this column in anticipation of tomorrow morning. For the first time in five years, I will again be working in an office. I got hired as the administrative assistant to the executive director of a major company. I wasn’t actively looking for a job, but the opportunity found me!

Since getting laid off five years ago, I’ve worked a multitude of jobs. Getting my commercial driver’s license (which I’ve written about) allowed me to work as a school bus driver, a driver at O’Hare Airport and, most recently, as a para-transit driver for PACE.

It was while driving for PACE that I met my new boss. She is disabled and I picked her up as part of my job. I guess I impressed her doing that job because out of the blue, she told me about a job for which she would be part of the hiring team. I sent a résumé, then filled out an application, followed by the scariest part of all: a team job interview where all five ladies put me on the hot seat! I passed and was offered the position at a decent salary, plus benefits paid by the company. Those benefits include two weeks’ vacation, sick leave, personal days, medical/dental/prescriptions drugs paid for by the company and best of all, I am vested immediately for retirement. In today’s world, this job is a miracle! I am so fortunate.

Now I am not writing to gloat. Rather, I want to remind people that if you truly believe that when one door closes, another opens, you need to be in a position to find that door opening. It’s OK to sit around sending out résumés, but as I learned over the past five years, it’s hard to get past the résumé part and near the door. Personnel directors see hundreds of résumés and getting yours noticed is, to say the least, hard. And even when noticed, getting through the door for an interview is sometimes nearly impossible.

When you do get an interview, many jobs will have you interview 3-4 times and then never call you back. They make their decisions in a vacuum and consideration for your time and effort is non-existent. Jobs now want to know if you will fit it. No longer is personnel simply making the decision and everyone else has to go along with that process. Now everyone gets to decide if they want to work with the person prior to the person getting hired. The team gets to determine in advance if they feel comfortable with the new person. They can judge and decide if the candidate will be a pain in the butt for the team or if the person might disrupt the camaraderie of the group. I know I passed all those parts because I was offered the position. Hallelujah!

So to the long-term unemployed or the under-employed, don’t let your current circumstances define you. Driving para-transit wasn’t a job I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but it ended up getting me noticed for a another job. It is up to me to do well in my new position and I know I will. And the job I left behind means that someone got hired to fill the position I left.

Life is a journey with twists, turns, curves, bends and bumps. We never know what life has in store for us. The only way to find out is to be out and about in life and meet the challenges head on.

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