Try-Decide-Attitude: Successful Responses to the Job Search
Book Reviews by Karol Taylor
In her three motivational pocket books Try: A Survival Guide to Unemployment; Decide: How to Make Any Decision; and Attitude: For Your Best Lived Life, Karen Okulicz has done an interesting job of sharing her successful personal responses to job loss, decision making, and keeping a positive attitude. Written in stream-of-conscious style with lots of short snappy sentences and phrases, Ms. Okulicz imparts her ideas and suggestions for successfully navigating the world of work and thriving there.
A salesperson, marketer, and former airline flight attendant, Ms. Okulicz shares her surprise, frustration, and eventual job search success in Try: A Survival Guide to Unemployment. In it Ms. Okulicz gives unemployed individuals "permission" to experience their sadness and anger; pull themselves together; find support; answer career questions; and develop a job search "Weekly Day Guide." Importantly, Ms. Okulicz encourages readers not to blame themselves for current business practices that often result in lay offs.
Try shares techniques Ms. Okulicz developed during her first job search, and further honed in a second search about a year and a half later. After her initial lay off, it took Ms. Okulicz eleven months to obtain another job, and just ten months later she was again laid off. Ms. Okulicz forthrightly reveals her emotional response to each lay off, yet shares how much more focused, deliberate, and effective her job search became the second time around, yielding serendipitous and positive results.
Choose the best to live your best life. -- Karen Okulicz
In Decide: How to Make Any Decision, Ms. Okulicz presents her ideas and methods for decision exploration and final decision-making, especially career decision-making. Techniques include exercise; creating to-do lists and/or a journal of goals; creating a flow chart of yes/no decision making questions; asking for information or help; recognizing the timing of things; and being kind to yourself.
In his Social Learning Theory, John Krumboltz posits that through experiences over time an individual learns skills relevant to decision-making about careers they view as appropriate. Ms. Okulicz' decision-making approach aligns itself with Krumboltz's theory as she offers a methodology for readers to make decisions "quickly and painlessly" so they can build and strengthen their decision-making skills.
Much has been researched and written about flow experiences, and about how to deal with difficult people using Emotional Intelligence. Ms. Okulicz' third book, Attitude, incorporates these ideas in a unique approach. Topics include how to 1) choose a positive view of life; 2) deal with joy robbers; and 3) take the best care of ourselves. The suggestions are upbeat and for the most part helpful, providing insights about ways to control feelings and thoughts in ways that reap positive outcomes.
The one area that could have been strengthened with research is Ms. Okulicz' discussion about dealing with difficult people. Incorporating Dr. Robert Bramson's coping recommendations would have added meaningful insight. Ms. Okulicz asserts that such people are "crazy" and cautions readers to stay out of their way as much as possible. Concomitantly, Okulicz says these people exist everywhere we go. Her recommendations are helpful, but ultimately Bramson's research provides the more effective insight:
Stand up to them without fighting by assertively expressing your opinion ("In my opinion, I disagree with you.") If you allow a fight to escalate you'll never win against these people and you may end up losing the war.
Take unpredictable actions to get their attention: drop a book, stand up, firmly call them by name, get them to sit down and don't sit until they do.
Be prepared for friendly overtures as soon as they view you as worthy of respect (whether you want them or not).
The first two books were written in response to Ms. Okulicz successfully traversing the world of unemployment (twice in three years), and becoming recognized by her friends as the go-to person with job search wisdom and insight. She eventually parlayed her experiences into a motivational speaking career, writing the books in response to friends' urging then providing workshops on them. Based on audience response to her first workshops, Ms. Okulicz realized the need for her final book.
These books seem appropriate when viewed as inspirational. A concern is that although the books clearly reflect the author's experiences and probably hold universal truths, generalizing from one person to many provides a venue for erroneous analysis. The books do not reflect research from other sources; such research could have strengthened and supported the content found in each.
Ms. Okulicz' books can be found in State and Federal One Stops and Rapid Response agencies as well as College Career Centers, Outplacement firms, Job Corps, and Military reduction in force (RIFs) and spouse programs. Such acceptance and promotion at higher management levels reveal the books' capacity for providing information compelling and helpful to job seekers. Since so many job seekers seem discouraged and overwhelmed, materials that support their efforts should be considered important and viable resources.
Karol Taylor, Owner, Taylor Your Career, is a career advisor specializing in federal resume writing, KSA writing, and federal job search. Karol can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Try: A Survival Guide to Unemployment, 2005;
Decide: How to Make Any Decision, 2005;
Attitude: For Your Best Lived Life, 2006;