I received the most unusual email last night – definitely a first. Someone in my LinkedIn network had forwarded my “Open Letter to Candidates” blog to a job seeker who took me up on my offer. We chatted on the phone a couple of times and met in person at a job fair I attended last week. I gave him a few ideas, validated some other great advice he’d already received, and figured that was that. I was so surprised when I received a follow up email including this line –


“Yes, your suggestions were very helpful. They pretty much confirmed what I already suspected. You've been so helpful that I wonder if I could do anything in return. For instance, do you have a favorite charity that I could donate five hours to?”


In a world of “ME ME ME” job seekers this really struck a chord. Not that I fault any job seeker who is focused on themselves. My own mother is one of those – she’s so stressed out about finding her next employer that every conversation turns to her job search. What she’s doing, what she should do differently, what she’s not doing enough of. I do not have a problem with this. Besides, nearly every job seeker I’ve coached has offered everything from referrals to LinkedIn recommendations to coffee as thanks. It’s certainly not necessary, but I do appreciate it.


This isn’t about me, though. This is about a job seeker who has enough on his plate trying to recover from a 2009 layoff. He’s got battles to fight and hurdles to overcome in his search. Yet he still had time to teach me a very important lesson – there is more I can do. I think I’m so busy, between work and family. There’s never enough time. The weekend is never long enough. So once a month I write out a check making a donation to my favorite charity and pat myself on the back for being such a giver.


I’m going to take Maisha Cannon’s advice. Her blog about volunteering was so timely coming on the heels of my job seeker’s email. I’m going to start by being more grateful for my own career, health, and well-being – then figure out what I can do to help someone else.

Views: 431

Comment by Tim Spagnola on March 7, 2012 at 9:38am

Wow - just wow. Amazing stuff Amy. Why working with people and making an impact (at times) is so fulfilling. You can never take the human spirit for granted.

Comment by Kirk Baumann on March 7, 2012 at 9:48am

I love this, Amy. Great story! Thanks for sharing. It's funny how three little words like "pay it forward" can mean so much when someone actually follows through. You're right - in a world that is all about ME, ME, ME, it's refreshing to hear a story like this. 

Empowering others with the tools they need to be successful (hand up, not OUT) is what it's all about. Keep up the great work and please do keep us updated on your volunteer experience!

Have a great week!

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on March 7, 2012 at 1:07pm

Thanks all for commenting! Such an inspiration... My charity of choice happens to be Seattle's Union Gospel Mission - here's a guy who's been unemployed for over 2 years, I have no idea what his financial situation is like (though I can't imagine it's great) and he's willing to go spend 5 hours at a homeless shelter as a way of thanking me. Just unbelievable - really puts my "bad days" in perspective, you know?

Comment by Tony Palm on March 7, 2012 at 1:55pm

The highest praise I can offer is to say someone is ‘authentic’, particularly in their speech or writing. I wish I had something in my verbal toolbox a notch or two above that. Because the way you write Amy, authentic just doesn’t seem sufficient.


Thanks for this one!


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