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Sunday Inspiration: Want to Be More Valuable to the World? Learn to Embrace Silence

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly blog posts. Enjoy!

 

As I see the bell tower appear over the blue grass on the rolling hills of rural Kentucky, I’m giddy because I know it’s only seconds until I’ve fully escaped the din of emails, push notifications, telemarketer calls, and pointless TV shows.

I’m entering into a weekend of complete silence.

No talking, no TV, no computer, and very little cell phone.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, and the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County, Kentucky is one of my favorite places to just “be.”


 

The Trappist Life

The monastery sits on 2,000 acres of gorgeous farmland and is home to Trappist Monks.

It’s the oldest monastery in the United States (est. 1848) and is part of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance which can trace its origins back to the year 1098.

 

Trappist monks pray seven times a day (including a 3:15am prayer service), every day, and have been keeping the same prayer schedule for centuries.

They pray for many things, including each individual in this world.

So, if you’re ever wondering if someone’s praying for you, the answer is, yes, there is.

The monks of Gethsemani are self-sustaining through the labor of their hands.

They make various food products including cheese, fruitcake, and Kentucky bourbon fudge (oh the fudge!).

Other Trappist monasteries around the world are self-sustaining too, each making different products and selling each others’ products at their guest centers and via mail order.

 


Embracing the silence

Once a year I go to the monastery for one of their silent retreats to unplug, get quiet, and really listen to what God wants to say to me.

It’s a place of beautiful gardens for solitude and quiet reflection.

The only sounds are of singing birds, bellowing cows from a nearby farm, and chimes from the bell tower announcing the monks’ next prayer session.

 

I’m free to do as much or as little as I want during my retreat.

I can take a walk in the gardens.

Go for a hike on the hiking trails.

Read a book in the library.

Or just take a nap if I want to.

Through the freedom from not having to follow a set schedule, I’m able to hear from God and gain perspective on what matters most in life.

I love it and feel so at peace.

 

Discomfort with silence

But not everyone is comfortable with silence.

I see this all the time when preparing clients for job interviews.

They often feel like they have to start giving their answer immediately after an interview question is asked, without taking the time to really listen to the way the question is being asked or thinking about how they should answer it.

All because they’re uncomfortable with silence.

My theory for the discomfort is silence is such a foreign thing to most people in this modern world.

Father Carlos, the monastery’s retreatant chaplain, has a different theory that makes a whole lot of sense to me.

He tells the story of one young man who came to the monastery’s guest house for a silent retreat.

After two hours, the young man decided to leave because he couldn’t handle the silence.

Father Carlos told him,

“Most people who are loud, talk a lot, or surround themselves with a lot of noise usually do so because they’re afraid of what they’ll learn about themselves if they get quiet before God.”

I know a few people this theory accurately applies to.


 

How silence can make us more valuable to the world

“King David understood the importance of getting alone, and so did Jesus. If a man considers his time to be so valuable that he cannot find time to keep quiet and to be alone, that man will eventually be of no value to anyone. To spend all of one’s time with people is soon to have nothing to give any of them of any value.” ~Dr. David Jeremiah


It doesn’t matter what your faith is.

I’m not Catholic yet I visit this Catholic monastery once a year.

Silence and solitude is important as noted in the quote above. It makes you more valuable and productive in your calling and your place on earth.

Even if you can’t get away for an entire weekend, try to at least find 20 to 30 minutes a day to just turn everything off and not say a word to anyone.

If you develop this habit each morning before starting your day, and each night before ending your day, you’ll see a dramatic change in your perspective on the important things in life.

And others will notice a dramatic change in you as well.


 

Need proof?

During this particular stay, I was asked upon check-in if I had a room preference.

Since I wasn’t picky, the lady behind the desk said she was going to give me room #308 because it’s her favorite room.

She didn’t say why though, but later that evening, I found out.

After arriving I went to eat in the dining room (which is also an area of silence), attended one of the prayer services, and then went for a walk on the grounds.

Afterward I went back to my room and pulled out some of my books I brought with me to decide what I wanted to read first.

But while sitting at the small desk in room #308, something told me to open the desk drawer.

I had never done this in any of the previous rooms I’d stayed in, but suddenly I was overtaken by curiosity of what might be in the drawer.

That’s when I found a red pocket-folder.

On the front someone had scrawled in black ink the words,

“Please open and read!”

So I did…and here’s what I discovered…

 

…letter upon letter from previous occupants of the room addressed to future occupants.

All in different handwriting (a soon-to-be lost art form).

There were even some pencil drawings by very gifted and talented artists.

Many letters were written by people who’ve been coming to the monastery every year for the last 25+ years.


I read each and every letter during my weekend retreat.

While each author had a different perspective, they all conveyed a similar theme: how beneficial the silence has been for the direction of their own lives and how it’s helped them be a better person to others.

The previous retreatants shared how clearly they heard from God during their time of silence.

“It isn’t that God has stopped speaking, but rather that we have stopped listening. If we can drag ourselves away from the crazy, noisy, busy world and step into the classroom of silence, God will speak to us in this place and this time.” Matthew Kelly (author of The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity)

The letters encouraged all future retreatants to make the most of the silence without an agenda their own, and instead let God guide their steps during their stay. It truly is the best approach to hear from Him.

I also left a letter of my own to the future occupants of room #308.


The silence becomes addictive.

Every year, when it’s time for me to leave the monastery, I don’t want to go.

I find I’ve become addicted to the silence and don’t want to lose it.

I usually drive the entire two and a half hours home without the radio on, just so I can savor a little bit more silence before I have to return to the noise of the real world.

It really is difficult to find periods of silence in our modern world, and I say that as someone who lives alone!

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for someone who lives in a large family or household.

This is why each and every one of us needs to be intentional about carving out a little bit of time each day for silence.

It will make us better, not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones and those we serve in our work.

It will make us more valuable to the world in which we live.


Retreat Reservation Info

If you’re interested in taking a silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, you can visit www.monks.org to make a reservation. There is no cost for meals or accommodations. Just an offering in any amount you feel led to give.

Keep in mind, because of the experience people have at the Abbey, reservations fill up quickly. When someone has been once, they typically return every year (I have friends who’ve gone every year for the past 35 years), making it a high-demand experience.

You must book at least four months in advance, and no one person can stay more than once in the same calendar year. This is so everyone can have the opportunity to visit.

Be patient with their reservation system since it’s currently being ran by one person taking reservations by hand.

If you can’t attend for an entire week or weekend, you can make a day-visit which does not require a reservation.

If you do stay for an overnight retreat, check the desk drawer in your room. You may also find letters of encouragement from past retreatants. Use the silence to read them and learn from them.

What You Need to Know About a Job Loss

As a career coach and outplacement counselor, I work with many people who’ve been laid off from their jobs.

Some saw the writing on the wall and knew the layoff was coming.

Others were completely blindsided.

If you expect (or even suspect) you’ll soon be losing your job, here’s what you need to know.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Job Loss

1. Expect to experience grief.

A job loss, especially an unexpected one, can lead to the same stages of grief experienced with the death of a loved one.

The stages of grief don’t always happen in order. Some repeat and some may last longer than others.

It’s important to understand this is natural and to let yourself feel and express this grief.

It’s also important not to wallow in your feelings or let negative reactions spill over into your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters can easily pick up on any negative feelings or attitudes when interviewing you. You have to learn to manage your emotions during those crucial interactions.


2. Expect to have a new outlook on your career and life.

One of my clients who suffered a layoff had a very positive outlook on her situation.

She started calling herself “funemployed” because she now had the time to do some things she didn’t have time for when working full-time.

Once she had her few weeks of fun, she then turned her focus toward her dream of starting her own business.

A layoff can be used as a time to pursue your passions, to discover new passions, or to give yourself or your family some much-needed quality time and TLC.


3. Expect it to take time to conduct a job search.

It’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to how soon you may find your next opportunity.

The average job search can take three to nine months, even in a good job market. You should also expect to spend at least 20 hours per week on your job search.

You must be patient with the process, do everything in your power, and leave the rest up to fate.

Also, you mustn’t take the first thing that comes along, especially if it’s not a good fit. You don’t want to find yourself looking for another job again a year later. Allow yourself to be a little selective for as long as you financially can.


4. Expect online job boards to be (somewhat) a waste of your time.

Most people who find themselves back in the job market immediately jump online and start applying for jobs through job boards.

While you want to use all the resources at your fingertips, you also want to use your time wisely.

Since 80% of the current workforce found their jobs through networking, 80% of your job search should be spent networking.

The other 20% of the time should be spent searching and responding to job ads, preferably with a more targeted approach through LinkedIn, professional associations, company websites, and select job boards. The more specific the job board, the better, as opposed to a large “one-size-fits-all” job board.


5. Expect to take advantage of available resources.

In addition to my work as a career coach, I also work under contract providing outplacement counseling.

This is where a company provides and pays for all career coaching for each person being laid off. It’s usually part of the employee’s severance package.

While most employees opt for this service, I’m shocked at how many who don’t.

I mean, it’s free! The company is paying for this service. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of every resource made available to you?!

If your company doesn’t offer outplacement counseling as part of your severance package, there are still some affordable and helpful options for you to brush up on your job search skills. (See below.)


6. Expect to have to sell yourself.

In today’s job search, accomplishments are king! You will have to sell your experience by showing the results of your skills and previous job duties.

Now is the time to start making a list of your on-the-job accomplishments and start collecting any numbers or figures that quantify the results of your work. Many people fail to collect this information before their layoff.

You should always record this information every six months whether you are looking for a job or not. Then you’ll want to add it to your resume.

Having accomplishments on your resume will help you secure interviews, where you should expect to tell the story of those accomplishments. When backed up with details and quantitative data, your stories will help you land job offers.


In conclusion

A job loss can be devastating.

But, losing a job doesn’t mean you’ve lost the ability to work.

Remember to stay positive, remain realistic, and use the resources available to you.

Resources

  • Free advice: free advice is always good and this blog provides a lot of that, from “how-to” tips on resume writing, interviewing, and networking, to encouragement to keep you motivated when the job search gets tough.
  • Goal-Achievement Plan: when you subscribe to the paNASH newsletter you’ll receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.
  • Affordable online instruction: when your employer doesn’t provide you a career coach or you can’t afford one on your own, there is the option for paNASH’s affordable on-demand videos, available online 24/7.

Related Posts:

job loss

How to Overcome Questionable Gaps on Your Resume


“If someone hasn’t had a job in a while (let’s say a couple years), what, on the resume, would make you consider them for the job?”

This is a common question among job seekers with resume gaps. The following answer was originally published on Quora by investor and consultant, Bernie Klinder. He’s graciously allowed me to publish it here under a new headline and format.


Legitimate Reasons for Resume Gaps

Long gaps on resumes are a red flag for HR. 

It could mean you are covering up a reason for the gap, or that you’re just unemployable and that other employers have consistently passed you up.

But there are many legitimate reasons for a gap: 

  • raising children, 
  • taking care of a sick relative, 
  • or other personal reasons. 

I have a 2-year gap in my mid-30’s because I traveled the country after selling my business.


How to Address the Resume Gaps

You need to address the gaps, as openly and honestly as you can. 

The more obtuse you are, the more the hiring manager will think you’re hiding something.

You also need to show what you’ve done with that time, or at least the last few months to stay relevant in the marketplace. You need to show that your skills are still current.


Years ago, I interviewed a candidate that had been unemployed for over a year. I felt bad for him. 

But when I asked him what new skills he had learned in that period, he didn’t have an answer. 

There is a world of free information and training available at your fingertips, especially in information technology.

I would expect a candidate who hadn’t worked in several years to be able to demonstrate that they’ve taken the initiative to keep their skills up to date and maybe even learn something new. 

This can be accomplished through:

  • Industry certifications
  • LinkedIn Learning courses
  • MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) (like the ones found on Coursera.org).  
  • College classes
  • Local community education classes
  • Anything that shows you’ve not just been sitting on your butt. 

Be able to talk about current or cutting edge industry trends and things in the news.

Always show interest in the hiring company. 

You have to demonstrate that your head is still in the game, and you’re ready to work!


Why Networking Helps

Ultimately, the hiring manager needs to know that you can hit the ground running and be ready to work day 1, and not “Oh, I’ve never used this version of the software before”, or I’ve never seen that technology before.”

I would also leverage your social network for referrals. 

Managers expect candidates from job boards and other online sources to be sketchy. They far prefer referrals from someone they know and trust.


Be Confident, Despite the Gaps

Above all, don’t beg or seem desperate — even if you are. 

The good employers will pass on you and the bad ones will take advantage of you. 

Be confident, have an attitude of “I got this, and I’m chomping at the bit to get back at it,” and you’ll stand out in a good way.


Thank you Bernie for sharing your honest feedback!

Lori


Sunday Inspiration: Thoughts for Dreamers

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“Joseph had a dream…and they hated him.” Ge 37:5 NKJV

First, dreamers are willing to make tradeoffs. When God puts a dream in your heart you’ll have to make certain tradeoffs, like forfeiting popularity for the pursuit of excellence and short-term pleasure for long-term fulfillment.

Paul understood this principle: “The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me” (Ac 20:23-24 NKJV). 

Second, dreamers aren’t always appreciated. “Joseph had a dream…he told it to his brothers; and they hated him.” Some people won’t appreciate your dream because it reminds them they’ve never had a dream, or that they have abandoned their dream.

And when they try to talk you out of your dream, often they’re trying to talk themselves back into their comfort zone. They will present you with every “rational” excuse they’ve ever given themselves.

So how should you respond? Love them, help them if you can, but don’t be influenced by those who have given up on their dream.

Author John Mason says, “If you move with God you’ll be critiqued. The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing and be nothing.” 

Third, dreamers are overcomers. Joseph’s dream enabled him to overcome temptation at the hands of Potiphar’s wife, betrayal by his family, false imprisonment, and a lot of other things that cause us to quit.

God’s purpose alone should be the stuff of which your dream is made.

To discover your dream, get to know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses. Observe where God has placed you, seek His counsel, and look for opportunities and “kingdom connections.”

When you do, He will give you a dream for your life and help you fulfill it. 

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/thoughts-for-dreamers

Dear Recruiters, Treat Candidates the Way You Want to Be Treated


An Open Letter to Hiring Managers

Dear hiring managers and recruiters,

I know your job is tough. 

I know how many hundreds and even thousands of resumes you have to look through and the pressures you face in finding the right candidate for the job. 

And I know the things job seekers do that annoy you (those things sometimes annoy me too). 

It’s why I coach my clients on how to strike a balance between helping you see how their qualifications fit the job and not pestering you to death. 

I want to help them help make your job easier. 

But, I also have to come to my clients’ defense on a few things. 

The etiquette and courtesy you expect from job seekers…the etiquette I teach them in order to meet your expectations…should be reciprocated


My story.

Before I go any further, let me first tell you a story.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Twelve years ago I interviewed for two different career services jobs in two different departments on the campus of a very prestigious southern university.

While both interviews were on the same campus, my experiences were as different as night and day.


In my first interview, the search committee chair picked me up from my hotel and took me to breakfast. 

After breakfast she took me to the office where all the staff greeted me warmly. Everyone showed a genuine interest in my skills and my portfolio during my interview.

After my interview, several other staff members escorted me to the University Club for a very elegant lunch.

I was honest and upfront with the director who was making the hiring decision. I told her I had another interview scheduled with another department on campus the following week.


A few days later, I got a call from the director saying she wanted to meet with me as soon as I was back in town for my other interview. 

I told her I could come by her office as soon as I was done with the following week’s interview.

She gave me her personal cell phone number and asked me to call her as soon as I was finished with the interview.


I arrived the following week for my interview for the other job.

This time, I was told I needed to walk from my hotel to this department’s office. That didn’t seem like a problem since it was only a couple of blocks away, until I stepped outside into a southern sauna.

When I arrived for my interview, the receptionist offered me some coffee. Instead I chose water because of the heat from the walk.

This was around 8am.

Finally, around 1pm, when my interview with about the 5th person in the office was starting, I asked if I could have a minute to use the restroom (because I had not been offered a break at all yet during the interview process).

She was very kind and said to me, “You probably haven’t had lunch yet either, have you?”

“No ma’am,” I replied.

She rolled her eyes and started sifting through her purse. She must’ve been a mom because she pulled out a granola bar to give to me, and said, “ They did the same thing to me when I interviewed here!”

As I was leaving the second interview, the hiring manager for this job said, “Thanks for coming,” and shut the door in my face.

I’ve never had an interview end that abruptly before. I was starting to think they didn’t want me.

And I knew from that experience, I didn’t want them!


As promised, after my second interview, I called the hiring manager from my first interview to let her know I was done and that I would soon head toward her office across campus. 

But first I asked her if I could have about 30 minutes to grab something to eat before coming over. I was so hungry since it was already about 2pm and I still hadn’t had any lunch.

Her response: “You mean they didn’t feed you?”

Me: “No ma’am.”

Her: “You stay right where you are. I’m coming to pick you up and take you to lunch.”

She picked me up and took me to one of the swankiest restaurants in town.

And she offered me the job.


Believe it or not, I also got an offer for the other job, for the same amount of money.

Can you guess which offer I took???


Do Unto Others As You’d Have Done To You

With the unemployment rate at an all time low right now (3.9%), hiring managers can’t afford to turn off any well-qualified prospects.

Yet, I see it happening all the time. I hear it directly from my clients.

My clients do all the right things I teach them to do. The things every job seeker is expected to do in the job search, like showing up for interviews on time, sending thank you notes afterwards, etc.

But (in general), they’re not treated with the same respect.

So my plea to you, the recruiters and hiring managers, is to consider practicing the following five common courtesies. They are simple and easy to do. 

And I guarantee, by extending these courtesies, you’ll land the best talent who will show the same courtesy to your customers and your clients.


5 Common Courtesies for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

1. Be clear, specific, and realistic in the job description.

One of the complaints many hiring managers have is candidates not fully reading the job description before applying for the job. That is frustrating, I’m sure. 

But often times, hiring managers post job descriptions without having read them either. 

Are you really taking the time to see if the description sounds too vague? Does it accurately describe what’s expected of the person in this role?

Did you just copy and paste it from a past job ad? Or did you just ask HR to write it for you without telling them what you really want?

One of the complaints most candidates have is that many of the hundreds of job ads they have to sift through are extremely vague.


Also, be realistic about what you’re looking for. 

You can’t expect to find an adequate pool of candidates who check off each and every box. Especially if you’ve gone overboard on your list of requirements. 

You’re not going to find a unicorn!

But it is likely you’ll find some high-quality candidates who have the majority of the skills and requirements you’re seeking who can easily be trained in the areas where they’re lacking.

Be open to such candidates. This will save you time in the long run so you wont’ have to go back through your list of candidates your originally dismissed.


2. Be on time for the interview.

You obviously expect candidates to show up on time (if not early) for their interviews. It would make for a very bad impression if they didn’t.

You also don’t want to make a bad impression. Don’t keep candidates waiting. They’re already nervous. Having to sit and wait for you is just going to make them more nervous. 

And it could possibly make them late for any other interviews they have lined up after yours.

Be mindful and respectful of their time.


3. Be honest in answering questions.

The interview should always be a two-way street. 

When giving candidates the time to ask questions of their own, be as honest as you can in your responses, just like you want and expect them to be with their answers to your questions.

This may sound obvious. But I personally have been in interviews where I asked some tough questions about turnover and I was given vague or politically correct but dishonest answers.

Remember, candidates do their homework. 

They read the reviews on Glassdoor.com.

And they have connections of their own who know what’s really going on in your company and aren’t afraid to tell them the truth. 

Consider how it will make you and your company look when candidates compare notes with their contacts. 


4. Don’t abuse the process.

I always tell my clients it’s unethical to interview for a job they have no intentions of taking just to get the interview practice.

It’s also unethical for a company to interview candidates and have them pitch ideas with no intentions of hiring them, just get collect the ideas.

Years ago, I had a day-long interview where in one part of the afternoon I was given 45 minutes and certain parameters to come up with an idea for a new program that could be implemented throughout the organization. 

I then had to pitch my idea along with details on how to implement it.

I didn’t get the job, and later found out that no one got the job. 

It made all of us candidates wonder if the company held interviews just to get ideas without having to pay a salary for them. 

This can and has happened before, which is a very unethical practice. 

I always tell my clients if they sense this is what’s happening in an interview, consider it a red flag!


5. Follow up.

I teach my clients to always follow up their interviews with a thank you note to each and every person they interviewed with, even if it was with 15 different people. 

I’m sure many recruiters and hiring managers appreciate this gesture and take it into consideration when deciding on who to hire.

So, please, for the sanity of the poor souls who have:

a.) gone through a cumbersome online application system,  

b.) taken the time to research your company, 

c.) spent time interviewing with you, and 

d.) written numerous thank you notes to all of the interviewers, 

…let them know if they didn’t get the job.

You don’t have to notify everyone who applied for the job. Just the 3–5 people who interviewed with you. You don’t even have to tell them why you didn’t select them. 

Just LET THEM KNOW.

It breaks my heart to see clients’ hope slipping away along with their confidence as each day passes without hearing anything at all from the company they put so much time and energy into their interview process.

It’s just plain rude to spend that amount of time with a candidate getting to know so much about them to then never hear from you.

Recruiters and hiring managers say they want candidates to come in to an interview with confidence. But when the above scenario occurs over and over, how can you expect them to maintain their confidence? 

Trust me. It’s much better for them to know they didn’t get the job than to know nothing at all and to keep replaying in their minds what they might have said or done wrong. 

Please, help them move on with a simple “yes” or “no” email. That’s all it takes.


Remember, you were once on the other side of the desk. 

So do unto your candidates as you’d have done to you if you were in their shoes…which you may be someday again in your own career.


hiring managers