Digital Project Manager in Charge of Launching Websites Lands in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tell us about yourself and your career.

My name is Ron Vitale, and I am a digital project manager focused on launching websites with experience in agile and waterfall methodologies.

Why were you looking for a job?

After eight years at my former company, my position was eliminated in July 2020. With the pandemic still in full swing, this was the first time in my 25-year career that I was out of work. With companies hesitant to hire due to the pandemic, I needed to learn how to adapt quickly to a new job market.

How did you discover PAGCG?

A few years ago, my wife had mentioned the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group to me, and after I lost my job, I decided to go all-in and learn as much as I could from the group.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?

I cannot stress enough how much value and help PAGCG offered to me. I signed up for the Bronze membership, and it was the best $35 I ever spent. I met dozens of people, attended online webinars that helped teach me the latest on resume writing and interviews, and aided me with my elevator pitch.

How did you find your job? How long did it take?

I found my job through an informational interview. After I was laid off, I reached out to my network and asked if anyone had contacts at one of my target companies. From there, I contacted people and asked if they would spend 15-minutes talking with me on the phone. I focused on learning and listening during those informational interviews. I made sure that I honored the 15-minute time commitment and then asked the person if they knew of anyone else within the company they thought I could speak with to learn more. 

During my job search, I had a multi-pronged approach: I worked with a recruiter, applied for positions that I found through my search queries, and I also applied for positions recommended by my network. However, the position that I landed came through one of my informational interview calls.

The whole process took ten weeks for me.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?

I signed up for a PAGCG weekly professional networking 2-hour meeting. The weekly meeting helped me be accountable for my job search goals as I shared those with the others on the call, and I also practiced my elevator pitch each week. When I struggled, I made sure that I focused on self-care activities or called up a PAGCG member to talk through how I felt. Hearing other people’s stories and having an outlet to talk through challenges really helped me get through the tough times.

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?

Many people in our area are willing to help you. Since I was open to networking and taking part in PAGCG events, not only did I learn new skills for interviewing and resume writing, but I also met some great people. 

After I was laid off, I put together a daily schedule to know what job-searching tasks I wanted to complete each day, but I also built time into my day for self-care activities. I went into my job search knowing that it would take time due to the pandemic, but I didn’t let that get me down. I kept working each day to take small steps to reach out to others, apply for jobs, schedule informational calls, and talk to as many people as possible about my looking for a job.

I took a diversified approach by trying many different ways of finding a job. And when I hit a wall, I took a break, eased up a bit, but then got back to work.

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?

I recommend putting together your job search plan. Join a weekly professional network group through PAGCG, and you’ll learn what others are doing, what’s working for them, what isn’t, and then you can create a plan that works for you. I approached my job search like a job, and I went in knowing that the more people I talked with, the better my chances of landing a new position. 

As an introvert, I’m not shy, but reaching out to people through a Zoom or phone call does take energy and makes me tired at the end of the day. I planned my day to make sure that I didn’t overschedule myself and talked to as many people as possible.

What will you do in your new role?

I will be a Digital Business Lead to help oversee the launch of websites in the pharmaceutical industry.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?

Don’t give up. Take a risk, talk with people, listen to them. See what help you can provide them instead of going to them for a favor. You’ll be surprised by how many people will then help you in return.

The Stockdale Paradox and Your Job Search

The August 2020 unemployment rate dropped to 8.4%, but it’s still more than double our pre-pandemic rates from earlier this year. If you’re out of work and struggling to find a new position, you’re in an employer’s market, with the competition being high.

How you approach your job search can be as individualistic as you would like. Some people apply for hundreds of jobs blindly and hope that their hard work in getting past the applicant tracking system (ATS) will be the special sauce that will win them the prize.

Even though estimates are that only about 5% (and that’s the high end of the scale) of online applicants land a job, people keep pouring their time and resources into doing what they know.

Before spending time and energy on a job approach, what is your plan to make it through being unemployed?

Showing up at a computer and staring at a blank screen isn’t a plan. Nor is using a scattershot approach of applying for dozens of jobs online.

Stop a moment and take time to build your foundation. Your mindset and how you approach your job search is key to your success.

Back during the Vietnam War, James Stockdale survived torture and imprisonment as a prisoner of war. When asked how he survived, while others did not, he gave this explanation: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose —with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

He went on to share that those fellow prisoners who hoped to be “home by Christmas” would put all their faith into the date, but when Christmas came and went, they “died of a broken heart.”

For Stockdale, he knew that he wouldn’t be home by Christmas, but that he would survive and eventually be freed.

What does Stockdale’s story have to do with a job search?

We are currently in a pandemic with high unemployment rates, a once-in-a-lifetime Presidential election, and a reckoning in the United States on social justice. No one can adequately predict what the next year will bring for our country (or the world). And although a job search does not in the least compare to Stockdale’s harrowing story of torture and imprisonment, we can still learn from him and apply what he taught to overcome a crisis.

The brutal fact is that we won’t have all our economic, social justice, and pandemic-related problems solved by Christmas. However, we can have hope that eventually, the country will stabilize.

To make this more personal: you may not have a job for the next five months, but eventually, you will land a new job.

Understanding the Stockdale Paradox will help you prevail.

Once you come to terms with the challenges ahead, you then need to create your plan.

Your new work is to find employment, and how you do that is up to you.

A quick search online will net you the top ways to find a job. There’s no secret in the ways to find a job; however, perseverance and resourcefulness are a whole different matter.

Just as a financial advisor will recommend a diversified approach to invest, the same is true for your job search.

Talk to people, network, and reach out to other professionals and ask for a 15-minute informational interview call. And when that doesn’t work, consider alternative ways of finding a job.

Finding a job will take time, patience, and a lot of work. The more irons you have in the fire, the better.

If you’re struggling on where to start, here are some daily recommendations to repeat each and every day:

● On your first day out of work, make a post for LinkedIn that lets your connections know that you are out of work. List a few of your last job achievements and share with everyone what you’re looking for in your next position. After day 1, share a tip or article to help others in their job search. Make sure that you use hashtags to get more eyeballs on your posts.

●     Meditate. Seriously. Make time to settle your mind. If you wanted to run a marathon, you would need a training plan; the same is true of your mind.

● Each day reach out to 1-2 LinkedIn connections and let them know that you’re looking for work, would appreciate any recommendations of people to speak with to help you find a job and let them know that you will gladly help others in return.

● Exercise. Walk, run, do something to get your body moving. If getting up is a challenge, practice chair exercises.

● Set up daily job search alerts, review the listings, and apply for relevant jobs (after seeing anyone in your network works at the company).

● Read books to learn something new in your field and/or listen to podcasts (and then share this information on LinkedIn).

● Attend online professional networking sessions/webinars. The Great Careers Groups & BENG has dozens of thought-provoking webinars. Sign up for one, meet new people, and connect with everyone on LinkedIn.

The list above is only a high-level overview and is simply a recommendation. Once you settle on what works for you, write the list up on a whiteboard, and after you complete them each day, check them off.

The most critical tip to help you find your next job is a deceptively simple one: Be open-minded.

Schedule one-on-one calls or Zooms with people you met in a webinar, consider opportunities that you might not have thought of in the past, and talk to as many people as you can. The more people you connect with, the more chances you’ll have in finding an opportunity.

Most of the time, jobs won’t fall into your lap, but if you are persistent and willing to talk with people, an opportunity will eventually present itself to you. The secret isn’t really much of one: Be persistent, helpful, and positive.

Remember, you make your own luck.

Author Bio

Ron Vitale is an accomplished director of digital project management and has successfully overseen the launch of more than a dozen websites and is currently seeking employment opportunities.

His colleagues have come to know him as a diplomatic problem-solver with a proven ability to envision people’s web needs and then launch viable new web-based systems on time and under budget.

Ron is also the author of more than 15 fiction and non-fiction books and uses his author career as a platform to learn new technology and online marketing techniques. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

Embracing the Digital World with e-Residency

With more than 29 million Americans receiving some form of unemployment benefits from the government and the July unemployment rate being 10.2%, millions of people are looking for jobs. Due to the uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic and many businesses closing, if you’re looking for work, one option is to take a more entrepreneurial approach.

In short, start your own consulting business and provide your services to companies and people in need. However, competition for contract and freelance work is fierce, as many companies struggle to keep afloat by cutting costs.

Instead of competing in the same geographical location for work, why not broaden your search to work remotely in another state. If you’re still unable to find a job, why not become a digital nomad and obtain an e-residency card from Estonia?

What is an e-residency card?

The country of Estonian offers e-residency that “provides digital entrepreneurs the freedom to establish and manage an EU-based company paperlessly, from anywhere in the world.” By signing up online and then going through the application process, you can obtain an Estonian e-residency digital ID, set up a European-based company, and then with the digital ID card, be able to work with countries in the European Union.

Instead of competing for work solely in the United States, you can offer your skills to companies throughout Europe.

If you chose, you could then work from anywhere in the world. The possibilities are endless if you think from a different point-of-view.

Or, if you’re looking for a significant change in your life, Estonia began offering their Digital Nomad Visa back on August 1st that “allows remote workers to live in Estonia and legally work for their employer or their own company registered abroad.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, people have stopped to reflect on their career paths, life goals, and the very nature of work. If face-to-face work is more complicated due to health restrictions, taking an inventory of your skills and re-evaluating your career goals can help you chart a new path forward.

Richard Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute is a solid career advice book to help you identify your skills and define what you want out of your working life.

We’re living in a VACU (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, and economic markets may be in flux for quite some time. How we choose to handle a difficult economic period is up to us.

Millions of people will look for work as they always have: Receive job alerts and then apply for jobs the traditional way.

But suppose you take a more proactive approach, by reinventing yourself to think globally. In that case, you’re not only broadening your reach, but you’re displaying an entrepreneurial attitude in approaching finding a new career, and new avenues of opportunity will present themselves to you.

By applying for an e-residency in Estonia, you’re creating a path that would enhance your career by setting out on uncharted waters. All the basics on how to apply for the e-residency are available online to how to start a European company. Yes, these steps take time, but if you’re planning for the rest of your working life, learning and completing the process is minimal.

Although some might scoff at such a radical plan, we are living in unprecedented times. Why look to solve a problem with the same tools if there are other options available?

In December 2019, Estonian e-residency celebrated five years of the program and announced that more than 62,000 e-residents are participating in more than 160 countries. And service companies have cropped up like Xolo to help entrepreneurs navigate through the process of e-residency and starting a European company.

None of us can see the future, but we can see the signs laid out for us. Over the last six months, millions of Americans worked remotely due to lockdown requirements to help mitigate the coronavirus’s spread. People (as well as corporations) have realized that they can work from home. And “home” can be anywhere that you have electricity, a laptop, and the internet.

Recently, Google announced that its employees could work from home until June 2021, and other tech companies (like Microsoft) are following suit. If you can work remotely and are looking for work, why not consider your options and think outside of the proverbial geographic box? Though you may live in a certain state, what if you could obtain work in another country?

When we stop, reflect, and look at a problem from a different perspective and are open-minded, new solutions will present themselves. Where some people see a wall, others see possibilities.

The challenges and struggles that many have suffered through over the last six months are not to be ignored. If you have an opportunity to reinvent yourself, now is the time to do it. Take stock, educate yourself, and then ask yourself this question: Where do I want to go next with my career?

You might be surprised at the options you now have at your fingertips.

As a member of the (Philadelphia Area) Great Careers Group & BENG, you will receive a link in the automated receipt upon purchase. This link contains many valuable resources, including a very extensive list of links for remote jobs.

Author Bio

Ron Vitale, an accomplished director of digital project management, has successfully overseen the launch of more than a dozen websites and is seeking employment opportunities.

His colleagues have come to know him as a diplomatic problem-solver with a proven ability to envision people’s web needs and then launch viable new web-based systems on time and under budget.

Ron is also the author of more than 15 fiction and non-fiction books and uses his author career as a platform to learn new technology and online marketing techniques. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn

Three Unconventional Ways to Supercharge Your Professional Networking

Are you looking for additional ways to network with people, but are hampered due to the pandemic? Instead of merely sending cold “connect with me” requests through LinkedIn in, why not try out one of these other approaches?

Start a Podcast

If you have a computer, are curious by nature, and are willing to step out of your comfort zone, consider creating a podcast. It not only can help you connect with other professionals, but you create a product that becomes your business card that has a life of its own.

Pick an interest that you are passionate about and then reach out to people in your network and ask if they would be willing to be interviewed on your podcast. Over time, as you build up episodes, you can then take risks and invite people onto your podcast with whom you always wanted to speak. 

Not only are you able to have thoughtful conversations with people, but by recording the session, you’re able to share what you learn with others. Your ability to network will skyrocket as you’re not only reaching out to new people to speak with, but over time, you’ll be building an online repository of content that will make your website a destination place for other like-minded professionals. 

So how do you get started using a podcast? It’s not as complicated as you might think. The most challenging aspect is the planning, organizing, and doing the work. From a technical standpoint, there are many free tools available. The basics of what you need are:

● Recording equipment. To record, you’ll need a laptop and a microphone. (Yes, you can use your phone in a pinch, but for best sound quality, you might wish to pick up a USB microphone with a shock mount and pop filter.)

● You’ll need software such as Pamela (for Windows) or ecamm (for Mac) to record your interviews.

●     Free software such as Audacity is available for editing your raw audio file. And if you need to learn how to use the software, free YouTube videos are available to help. 

● And finally, you’ll need a place to host your final podcast files. Anchor offers a free service (but be sure to read their terms of service to make certain you’re comfortable with it, as they might run ads within your podcast or create a derivative of your work). Services like Buzzsprout and Podbean also offer limited free services and paid options for more functionality and server space. 

Want to learn more about how to start a podcast? Be sure to read Joanna Penn’s How to Podcast article for more tips and recommendations on services and equipment. 

Write a Book

Like creating a podcast, writing a book is another unconventional way to broaden your professional network while also allowing you to become a thought leader or influencer in your area of expertise. 

First, take an idea and then come up with five people you’d like to interview in your book. Reach out to those individuals, share your vision with them, and ask if they would be willing to be included in your book.

Need an example to help you get started?

Monika Kanokova wrote her book My Creative (Side) Business: The insightful guide to turning your side projects into a full-time creative business by reaching out and interviewing 12 female entrepreneurs and asking each of them a set of questions. Her interviews allowed her to connect with like-minded women from around the world, amplify their stories, and then offer the book to up-and-coming freelancers who looked for a place to start.

The options available to you are endless. You could choose to make a short ebook or a print version, offer the book in digital formats that will work on a variety of ebook readers, or even distribute the book for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble. 

If you need help in creating an ebook, be sure to read my step-by-step How to Publish an eBook in 8 (Somewhat) Easy Steps. The technical aspect of creating a book is not the primary challenge. With today’s technology, anyone can easily create a book from their own computer, free software, and then distribute online.

The more significant challenge is coming up with an exciting topic, defining your project’s scope, and then executing. Remember, a book doesn’t need to be written in a day or a week. You can set your schedule as you see fit.

An excellent place to start is to brainstorm, select your idea, and then run with it. Writing 1,000 words a day for four days a week will net you 48,000 words in three months. That’s plenty to work with for a first non-fiction book.

After the draft is finished, you can use tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid to edit the book (or share with friends to get their feedback), and if you’re not up for the challenge to format the text yourself, there are many freelancers out there to do the work for you at a minimal cost.

Once you have the book, share it with your professional networking groups. The point isn’t to become rich from the book, but to use your work as your business card. You can connect with other professionals during the research phase of your project and then share the books with those individuals to pass the book along to their networks (be sure to list your contact information in your book so that readers can reach out to you). 

Over time, with one ebook, you can distribute the file for free to tens of thousands of people. The possibilities indeed are endless if you are willing to step outside the parameters of traditional networking.

Volunteer and Teach 

What skills do you have? Choose one and then offer to reach out to a professional group and offer your services to the group. The Great Careers Group & BENG is one such organization that offers a plethora of events throughout each month.

Instead of looking for people to come to help you network or find a job, flip the dynamic, and ask yourself: “What do I have to offer others? How can I help?”

Professional networking is a two-way street in that we’re looking to make connections with people and give.

Think about how you can help people, write your idea down, and then reach out and volunteer to help. Do you have tech skills? Professional networking tips? Unconventional job searching techniques? If you stop to think about your skills, see what you’re passionate about, and then give back. The more you give back, the more your network will grow as you will become the person that people want to gravitate toward instead of showing up to people with your hand out.

If you want to take teaching to another level, why not record yourself on a platform such as Teachable, and then offer the recording to people? If signing up for a paid service is not an option, use your laptop to record your screen, and then upload the video to YouTube.

Take the YouTube link and share the video out on Twitter, LinkedIn, and any professional networks where you are a member.

Summing It Up

Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s more challenging than ever to meet up with people to network professionally. Stop sending the cold invites to people on LinkedIn. Successful networking takes effort, and the ideas suggested here are creative ones to challenge you in ways you might feel uncomfortable. That’s the point. Each of us has an opportunity to step up and use the skills/tools at our disposal to create something great and share that with others. Have fun, and if you have a question about one of the ideas in this article, reach out and contact me. 

Author Bio

Ron Vitale is an accomplished director of digital project management and has successfully overseen the launch of more than a dozen websites seeking employment opportunities.

His colleagues have come to know him as a diplomatic problem-solver with a proven ability to envision people’s web needs and then launch viable new web-based systems on time and under budget.

Five Ways to Focus on Self-Care During Your Job Search

Finding a new job is challenging enough, but add in the complications due to the pandemic with 10.2% unemployment, and the road to obtaining a new job becomes even harder.

With a job search on average taking five months or longer, having tools at the ready to help you deal with anxiety and stress is essential. Yes, you’ll need to brush up on your resume writing and interviewing skills, but it’s also necessary to strengthen your self-care skills.

If you search for a job day after day, week after week, and you’re not building time into your self-care schedule, here are five simple ways to help you.

Call a Professional and Reach Out for Help

If you have healthcare coverage, call a therapist, and schedule an appointment. Talking to a professional can help you learn how to deal with the emotional burdens you are carrying. Long gone is the stigma of calling a professional for help. With telemedicine so prevalent during the pandemic, help is only a phone call away. And if you do not have any insurance, the LiveWell Foundation offers free support or try calling a professional and asking if they’ll help you at a reduced rate. You might be surprised by how generous therapists are during this challenging time.

But if you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide hotline immediately. The service is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Create a Routine and Stick to It

With social distancing in effect and being out of work, finding a sense of normalcy can be even more challenging. Write out a simple schedule and list out a basic routine each day. To help, here is my weekly self-care schedule:

Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday:

● Morning run

● Write blog post

● 15-20 minutes meditation

● Read daily affirmations

● Get to bed by 11:00 p.m.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday:

● Write blog post

● Take a walk, do simple exercises

● 15-20 minutes meditation

● Read daily affirmations

● Get to bed by 11:00 p.m.

The purpose of the routine is to make it simple enough so that you can easily remember it each day. Between searching for jobs and making network calls, the fewer decisions you need to make each day about self-care, the better.

Call a Friend

Reach out to a friend and talk with them on the phone, daily if needed. Social interaction is at an all-time low due to the coronavirus, but a simple phone call (or Zoom) can make all the difference. Be honest with your friend, talk about what’s on your mind, and be a generous listener. It’s a give and take.

Being a good friend is a two-way street. 

If talking on the phone isn’t your thing, schedule a socially distant walk. Meet up with your friend, go for a walk, and just talk. A nice long walk while talking with your friend is a great way to help your mental health and also get you physically active.

Talk into the Mirror

A few months ago, a friend recommended that I start reading affirmations to myself in front of a mirror. I cringed at the thought of standing there and reading positive thoughts each morning. When I first tried it, I felt embarrassed and a bit odd doing it.

After reading the affirmations for two weeks, I realized that daily practice made me feel better and helped build my self-confidence up for job searching and interviews. Not sure where to start?

Here’s one of my favorite:

“I know my value is inherent in and outside of my work.”

I recommend writing down (by hand) two affirmations for the following categories: relationships, careers, purpose, wellness, and mindset. To help, here are 31 powerful affirmations by Liz Huber on Medium

Write It Out

If you haven’t written a journal before, here’s a simple technique to get you started. You can use a pen or a computer. I prefer the laptop. Sit down, close your eyes, and start writing. If you’re dealing with a problem (i.e., finding a job during a pandemic), write about how you feel, get your worries on the page, and exorcise them. Give yourself a few minutes to write about whatever you want. There’s no judgment, no shame, just the words and you.

When you’re finished, rip up the page and throw it away or shut the computer off without saving, and move on. Let it go. Use the time to process and think through how you feel and then move on.

A few minutes spent writing each day will help you focus better, strengthen your writing ability, and also give you a healthy way of dealing with stress, worry, and anxiety.

One More Thing

And because I like to give more value than what I promise, here is a sixth recommendation: try some yoga. If you’ve never given yoga some serious consideration, be sure to check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She has more than 8 million subscribers, and her videos are free. She’ll walk you through the basics, and if you’re a beginner (like me), fear not. She’s a great teacher, and I’m getting the benefits of both relaxing my body and mind through only 15-20 minutes of time.

Summing It All Up

Yes, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, unemployment is high, and finding a job is challenging with having to deal with ATS, Zoom interviews, and all the other complexities of the modern job search. Take time to go through these simple recommendations and build them into your weekly schedule. Creating positive and healthy habits is good for your long term mental health. Good luck with your job search, as well as incorporating self-care practices into your life. 

Author Bio

Ron Vitale is an accomplished director of digital project management and has successfully overseen the launch of more than a dozen websites who is currently seeking employment opportunities.

His colleagues have come to know him as a diplomatic problem-solver with a proven ability to envision people’s web needs and then launch viable new web-based systems on time and under budget.

Ron is also the author of more than 15 fiction and non-fiction books and uses his author career as a platform to learn new technology and online marketing techniques. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.