Sounding Off: More than 300 job applications and counting

Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.

The latest description of the employment challenged is the term "in transition." According to the Advanced English Dictionary, "transition" means, "A change from one place or state or subject or stage to another."

I view my employment transition phenomenon as a reflection of where I am and where I've been, along with an opportunity to evaluate where I want to go. My professional experience consists of more than 25 years working on leading-edge technology, supported by a master's in business administration and a bachelor's in information technology (IT), as well as PMP, ITIL V3 Foundation and Six Sigma Black Belt certifications. I have the smarts and moxie to add value to most situations and continue to push myself — I currently am pursuing a doctorate in management at the University of Phoenix.

During the past several months, a typical day "in transition" began with prayer with my wife followed by house chores, exercise and diving into the "box" for the dreaded job search activity utilizing conventional methods and tactics. (The box is the many hours spent on a computer looking for employment opportunities on a myriad of Internet job sites.) Unfortunately, the results have not been positive and have gnawed away at my psyche. I have sent more than 300 job applications and received few responses and interviews.

You know things are bad when your alma mater and current post-graduate school turn you down for employment. It's not like the past when you would receive a rejection letter or e-mail; silence is the new "no," representing the disappearance of your resume and application into the virtual black hole. To think of it, I can't remember receiving a job from any of the sites, yet I was still hopeful and invested so much time but to no avail. In truth, all of my jobs in recent years came from referrals and personal relationships. As a result, I am left trying to make sense of the current stagnant job market. I now realize that maybe the path to success is to expand beyond conventional wisdom and become a creative or cognitive force behind the next emerging industry or technology.

I have always worked and learned to earn at a young age.

"By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat." (Genesis 3:19).

I can remember working as a 10-year-old in Frederiksted, U.S. Virgin Islands, to build a wooden box to shine shoes. Navy ships would dock at the port, delivering potential customers to support my enterprise. I painted the box red and began my business soliciting U.S. Navy personnel for a quick 25 cent shoeshine at the local USO. Those sailors did not need a shoeshine, but the fact that a young boy would be assertive enough to pursue the opportunity must have been impressive because they kept me busy.

As an 11-year-old, I worked with my stepfather to deliver soft drinks from his small business (Brow Soda) to customers on Saturdays. The day started at 7 a.m. and ended around 8 p.m. I would sit on the back of a light-green truck filled with wooden crates of glass soda bottles as we traveled from neighborhood to neighborhood. At times, I wondered what would happen if the rattling wooden rails supporting the many soda cases broke. Would I go flying through the air or remain safe? I can still hear the voice of customers calling out in the Crucian colloquial dialect for six Damson, three Lime Rickey, four banana, three ginger, four cherry and four pear sodas. You can say that I was shaken and stirred after riding a whole day on the back of the truck from morning 'til night. I continued to work with my stepfather on Saturdays and during the summer until the age of 14.

The fitness landscape is the evaluation of where you are and what is needed to achieve your highest point of effective performance.

In "The Origin of Species" Charles Darwin stated, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

My current situation led me to ask myself what happened to that kid who naturally identified with being an entrepreneur. I realized that it was time to reconnect with that positive, can-do attitude.

DAVE CORNELIUS lives in Costa Mesa. He has been unemployed since May 2009, when he was laid off as a senior project manager in Citibank's information technology division.

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