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I spent 18 years with the New Jersey Department of Labor in the unemployment division. I certainly never thought I’d wind up there, but career paths don’t always turn out the way we expect.
In 18 years, I spoke one-on-one with thousands of unemployed people. In most cases, we met for an eligibility interview where I verified their claims and made sure they were doing everything necessary to remain eligible for their benefits. I was eager to succeed, and, like most rookies, I followed the procedure to the letter. I had my interview form and simply went down the list looking for job prospects, phone calls, contacts made, etc.
As time passed, I discovered I had a lot in common with the group I’ll call “first timers.” You see, I was unemployed before joining the state workforce, having owned my own business, a shoe store, for more than 20 years. When it closed, I was lost and devastated – and I had no idea how to get through each day, much less find a job. With no energy or self esteem, I felt unwanted and scared to death. How ironic it was to land a job through networking with friends. I spent each day hearing the same pain I’d felt myself only months before.
As I grew more comfortable in my role as an interviewer, I’d occasionally ask, “How are you feeling?” or “How do you spend your time?” Once candidates sensed that I was genuinely interested in them, they often broke down and cried. I had hit a nerve, and it was revealing. They were somewhere they’d never been before, yet they were expected to fall into place and accept their plight.
Because I truly cared, I developed a program called TLC (Transition Layoff Counseling) and would suggest to certain candidates that they attend my weekly TLC seminars. Each week, I spent 90 minutes with 25 to 30 people giving them feedback and instructions based on the one-on-one interviews. Afterward, I tracked their progress. To my amazement, by demonstrating the danger of rejection and the value of victories, 92% were back to work in 5 months.
I went on to become the supervisor of claims examiners and the manager of the local office over the next 15 years, but I never forgot the gut-wrenching feeling of becoming unemployed. I’ve helped thousands of people by implementing the principles in Little Victories, and I hope that this book will help you establish your own victories, a new job and a happier life.