My Landing Journey

By Barbara Usack

While job searching, it is our goal to have a smooth flight and landing…

Alas, we usually hit some turbulence.

That’s just part of the journey, and we do well to embrace it while we do our best to avoid a crash landing!

As a three-time member of PSGCNJ over an eight-year period, I have learned a lot and met some truly wonderful people along the way. Everything that I learned was of great value. Joining, and then chairing, the Training Committee was invaluable.

My biggest takeaways from PSGCNJ and my job search journey remain:

1. The answer to just about every single job search “How should I…” question is: “It depends!”

2. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) applies here as in business. In business, if 80 percent of our business comes from 20 percent of our customers, do we ignore the other 80 percent of the customers? Absolutely not! So if 80 percent of landings rely on networking, do we ignore the other 20 percent of job search tactics? Absolutely not!

3. Volunteering is one of the best ways to gain experience while showcasing our abilities and work ethic.

4. We need to be ourselves. Our uniqueness is what makes us stand out.

Image credit: Fly-Belts (http://(

My journey is a bit unique because I’ve done a lot of different things and never had a career path. After being home for seven years with my daughter and then going back to school, my first go ‘round took me about two years to land and it was through … dun-da-dun-dunnnn… The Black Hole. I received the call for an interview four months after I applied. Two years later my department was eliminated, and I was back to square one, and PSGCNJ again.

My second position was found through a request for AIR (Advice, Insights, and Recommendations – an informational interview) with a woman I met at a community networking event. She worked at local organization which seemed a good cultural fit for me. After the info session she admitted that she would have hired me in a heartbeat if she had had an opening, but suggested I try a local nonprofit that was hiring as she thought it would be a great cultural fit for me. She warned me that it wouldn’t pay enough to live on, but she was sure that I would like it and I could get a part-time job to help pay the bills… So I dropped off my resume packet in person only to learn they were no longer hiring. I asked if they would hold onto it. They did and called few months later when their new-hire didn’t work out. I never had time to get a part-time job. I was so busy there, and within the year I was promoted to director. (The previous director had kept my hand-written and ripple-branded thank you card on her desk!) Three years later it was time to move on, and the pandemic hit. I used that time to catch up on credits for my professional certification and to try to force myself into a specific career so I would finally have a path.

So, how did I land? Networking, of course! But if it wasn’t for all of the work I had done on myself, volunteering, being open to part-time work, and knowing my strengths and weaknesses, it would have never come to pass. While I continued to work on my resume, LinkedIn, and trying to focus my job search:

1. I attended PSGCNJ meetings, and through networking with a PSGCNJ member I learned of Mr. Simon and the Work Search Buddy program. I learned about and started using some productivity tools and other technologies to help me with my job search. I started volunteering, wrote a blog post or two, and did a couple of presentations on the productivity tools. I even did a paid project for them before Mr. Simon went on hiatus.

2. Through a PSGCNJ member I learned about Skill Developers and their free Microsoft Office training bursts. The CEO and owner, Jeff, asked us for feedback after a year of attending their trainings, so I gave some comprehensive feedback (as you may know I do!) Jeff didn’t realize I was unemployed. I could see his proverbial wheels spinning and asked what he needed help with. He asked me what I do. I replied: “Well, that’s kind of the problem – I do a little bit of everything! What do you need help with?” He laughed and responded: “Well, that’s kind of the problem, we need a little bit of everything!” He did not have a job description and wasn’t sure exactly what he’d be hiring for.

3. I offered: “Don’t worry about that. Just start throwing things at me. If I can do it, I will. If I can’t I’ll throw it back.” His response? “Okay. You started today.” It was to be a part-time gig.

4. It was never really part-time, and within the month I was hired as operations and resource manager.

I continually utilize the many skills and technologies I garnered through my journey, and because I stayed true to who I am and what I do I now work for a company that is truly the perfect fit for me. I have found the best possible cultural match with an organization that values the way I work and what I bring to the table. I’m blessed to work with a group of people who want to do more than see me succeed. They want to help me do so. And I get help others regularly, as I need to do! 

About the Author:

Barbara Usack is a long-time supporter and member of PSGCNJ. She is a proactive problem solver and collaborator, with a passion for helping people and creating friendly and collaborative work environments. Barbara also enjoys researching, implementing, and sharing technologies that increase productivity and collaboration. She is currently the Operations and Resource Manager at Skill Developers, a corporate training company.