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Virtual Job Club Day 8: Are YOU Relevant?

I know that jobsearching 24/7 for months (if not longer) is frustrating, exhausting and, quite frankly, unsustainable. Who can keep at anything every single day with no success — and be expected to continue with a smile on her face? It’s hard, if not impossible.

So today’s topic is relevance. How do you remain (or get) relevant when everything seems stacked against you?

Deborah Shane, a branding specialist, knows a thing or two about this since she’s had to reinvent her career — and has done so very successfully. Click play below to listen to Deborah as she talks about relevance and career branding on a 20 minute recorded call.

In the meantime, one of the best ways to stay relevant is to START SOMETHING. Anything. It could be a running club or a knitting group. Maybe it’s an initiative to raise money for a cause you care about. Don’t assume that nobody will care, don’t assume that it won’t help, don’t assume that it’s a waste of time.

If you were to start something in September — something you could proudly share in networking conversations, informational meetings and ultimately in interviews — what would excite you? What would have some relevance to the type of position you’re seeking…even from a distance?

Would love to hear your ideas below!



  1. JKP

    I want to put together a proposal for solar power in my community. I envision the schools, community center and stores in the strip mall all having solar panels on their roofs, and the individual homes having solar hot water collectors or solar shingles. I’d like to see us become energy self sufficient. I know that a project such as this would bring the community cache and raise property values.

  2. RK

    I would begin mentoring high school students, specifically those at risk for dropping out of school.

  3. N.C.

    I think that staying active in your field is extremely important. The networking is priceless. Being in the field of agriculture, I’ve stayed active in our state and county Cattlemen, CattleWomen, Jr. Cattlemen & 4-H (with the kids). I haven’t been in the ‘outside’ workforce in over 9 years but my husband started a business 8 years ago and I started my own 5 years ago. I was worried that people wouldn’t take this experience seriously when I was forced to start searching for outside work. Since I started my job search a little over a month ago, I was offered a job during a first interview (had to turn that one down because of $$) and I’ve been called back for second interviews for two other positions and got a first interview on-the-spot for a fourth position. I’m feeling pretty good about the job search right now. It almost seems I might get to CHOOSE between the two I’m really pushing for! My field of ‘expertise’ is quite specialized and yet my experience is sort of diverse… and I’m in a position I did not forsee going into the job search!! God is great!

  4. Maureen Reintjes

    Since I’m already the founder of and run a large online job club and I am also an advocate for the families of the missing and am an administrator on a site for the families of the missing all that coupled with working full-time and part-time while searching for a new position I don’t think I have time think about starting something else.

    If time were not an obstacle then I would begin researching grants to start a foundation slash training organization for supporting and training organizations that work with the missing.

    I totally agree though that the “best way to stay relevant is start something.”

  5. BJ

    Relevancy is a good thing. I like the possibilities that can happen when you start things. I would like to assist with infants that are alone in hospitals. Has nothing at all to do with my profession but there, with infants, is true unadulterated love.

  6. Victoria

    I am about to start volunteering (again) at my local elderly center. I really think that the poor elderly are under-served and I hope to be able to help some lonely people who are cooped up in their Manhattan apartments without friends or family.

  7. Joyous

    I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Ghana, West Africa and returned state side beginning of 2010. While in living and working there for over two years, I worked with a Ghanian woman that had a desire to open a school for babies and very young children who are left abandoned in their villages or on the streets, with no one to care for them. I would like to start a website to raise funds to help her with this vision to care for abandoned children. She has started the building of the small school with funding from NGO’s and local churches, I would like to have the funds from the website go to buying books, toys, blankets, and basic health necessities for the children.

  8. Gwen

    How to stay relevant . . . I have been toying with the idea of starting a co-op in my very rural community, where people could bring gently used or unwanted items and trade them for something they need. To add to this, people could also trade their services for other services where no money would be involved. Unsure of how to get this started, as I would need materials and would have to pay for electricity, etc. and I definitely don’t have any money for that. With so many people out of work, I think a place where stuff could be examined and then traded would be very helpful.

  9. Kathy

    Volunteering, most likely for vets and/or military families. It’s a great need. As for being “relevant” to future employment, perhaps any step outside of one’s own concerns is “relevant” to the greater good. Especially amidst today’s overwhelming shrieking selfishness. Also, getting involved at even a basic level will reveal challenges and spark creativity to resolve them.

  10. TSH

    I agree that staying active is the key to being relevant. I stay busy; I think if you stay in the house it can hurt you. “Think outside the box”, try different things that could possibly lead you to the job you want. Life sometimes is full of curves, not just straight lines.

  11. EE

    I have used the words “not relevant” to describe myself so this is a very good exercise for me. The following would help make me feel relevant.
    I need to take advantage of an opportunity to sell my photographs and cards in a great shop. I have fames and printers.
    Also, need to take some Office classes. My skills are not up to date.

  12. Janice E

    I have recently returned to the States after living overseas for several years. This, I realize presents one of my greatest challenges to breaking back into the field of HR Management. So in order to stay relevant and also to meet my financial needs I have decided to market my services to organizations that are already familiar with my work. This means I would have to do a lot of on line coordination. But I believe this is my ray of hope for the present.

    I am already engaged in initial conversations and am moving to formalize arrangements.

    Participation in this virtual job club helps to keep my motivation and confidence level up.

  13. HR

    As a teacher of young adults, I encourage students with personal issues that may impact their academic progress to seek counseling. Sometimes I think I come across as a frustrated therapist because of my deep-seeded interest in mental health. Recently, after hearing a sermon by one of our clergy, a trained social worker, in support of mental health awareness, I approached her about starting support groups for members of our congregation. This led to a well-attended healing service and interest among members for several types of groups that could be led by clergy and members of the congregation who are mental health professionals.

  14. PL

    I think that I would start a food bank in my area. The nearest one is only 30 miles away but it’s a different county and an entirely different situation. I am so concerned abut the hungry in this country and am constantly dumbfounded at the amount of foreign aid that is authorized and/or freely given by our government and private individuals who give millions of dollars to provide food for people in other countries. I don’t mean to sound harsh but do these people KNOW what a hunger crisis we have here in the U.S. and that charity starts at home?? Almost 16% of our American families are currently food insecure (households with and without children) and it’s higher in households with seniors who have worked all their lives, paid taxes and now can barely afford food on the limited incomes of their Social Security checks. That’s deplorable with all the wealth in this country when so much is given out to foreign aid. I have no idea how to go about this, whether it be trying to write a grant or networking with other organizations that have already taken up this cause but I would be so happy running a food bank and maybe even a small soup kitchen in my area. It would be a reason to get up in the morning. If I could figure out a way for it also to financially sustain my family (we don’t need a lot, we just need to survive – nobody needs to get rich off the misfortune of others), that would make things complete for me.

  15. mj

    I am learning new skills and collecting info that will be useful for my job search as well as my new job and as a person.

  16. PK

    i want to help small business get started. By doing their research for the markets that they are trying to get into, the clients they want to target, their product(s), and their competitors, I think I can make a difference in my community.

  17. PVG

    I am going to get my community blog back online. I still have a passion for helping members of my community get connected through neighborhood activities, service opportunities and special events, so I think I will begin this adventure (again.) Approaching this as I would a new client or new job, by setting deadlines and committing to researching new ideas will keep me writing and broaden my experience in social media and networking.

  18. je

    Since I love being involved in anything that has to do with computer software, I am looking into whether or not the Microsoft Office certification course fits the guideline for retraining to see if there are funds available to cover the $4,000 cost. I’ve had several people tell me I should look into going back to school (yet again!) to work on my doctorate, but I’m still undecided about that.

  19. I.S.

    I guess I’m staying relevant in the field I want to work in (Public Policy & Administration)by teaching online courses in the area. My question is…how do I make that stand out on my resume?

  20. Barbara Cann

    Before I tackle today’s assignment, I have to say I’m disappointed and frustrated to find my post from yesterday disappeared. It had appeared with the “awaiting moderator approval’ comment and when I checked back in last night to read new comments that had been posted, it was gone. If it did not pass moderator approval, or if I shouldn’t have provided that link to David DeLong’s vid clip I wish someone would have emailed it back to me with comment as to what I needed to fix. If it was a glitch, then please let me know. I’m not angry, just frustrated I don’t have a copy of the post. Just saying…..

  21. BLM says:

    It is difficult these days to stay relevant within your area of expertise. I would like to start my own business; doing some sort of office/admin work. I have taken some online classes for medical terminology and medical records. I just keep pushing myself to strive for success and that one day it will happen. I would also like to contribute to my husbands business; landscaping & hard scapes.

  22. AB

    I already started to use my first language, Spanish, to offer translation services. I have gotten several assignments. My next step is to go to the local High Schools, private and public and offer tutoring or volunteering in helping the students in Spanish.

  23. JF

    I am staying relevant by keeping up and posting with my linked in groups. I recently stepped up to be the VP of one of my organizations and I assist at a cooking school which gives me free cooking lesson for the price of clearing and being a sous chef for the chef. I also help out a returning veteran’s organization and would like to increase my volunteerism to include the building museum to fuel my passion for facilities.

  24. Barbara Cann

    I have an idea for a different type of housing unit — green, energy sustainable — geared to that part of the struggling economic population mostly overlooked for any type of federal or state assistance to keep a roof over their heads while they can get back on their feet. Mid- to older individuals who don’t have children, who get j-u-s-t a bit too much income to qualify for even a food stamp program, yet not enough to pay their monthly bills and keep decent, nutritious food on the table (for example). People who are too old to have family to fall back on, and too young/fit to qualify for senior or disabled housing. The once-middle class folks who are falling off the economic radar and are the next largest group in danger of being homeless on the streets.

    It’s a very exciting concept I’ve been working on the last few months and I would like the opportunity to present it to some business and industry leaders (I have a list in mind) to generate their interest in backing and helping develop the plan. I would also like to network with people who have expertise in so many different aspects/disciplines so that time and innovation is saved, time and experience I’d have to expend learning from scratch.

    It is NOT subsidized housing, but an innovative way to combine cutting edge technology and people in a creative way for a forward-thinking lifestyle approach. This is perhaps my ultimate dream for my life’s accomplishment. It’s a huge undertaking, but your comments here point a blinding light on it — the longer I keep it to pencil scratchings on paper, the longer I hold off reaching out, the longer I use lack of money as the reason to wait, the more stagnant its progress will become.


    It starts tomorrow.

  25. REK

    Earlier assignment (what would I start in September):

    I am currently partway through certification courses in two different (but related) aspects of web development. When I have finished enough to be useful, I will be looking to volunteer my web development skills to local non-profits. This will definitely keep me relevant in my chosen field, and will have the added benefit of making a contribution in the community. I can see as I write this that this plan is still too vague. I will have to do some investigation to identify organizations that can use my help. This will be my September project.

    Deborah Shane’s assignment from the teleconference:

    Three key work accomplishments that highlight my skills and brand me as the problem solver that I am:
    • Provided IT production support for a 24/7 operation resulting in an over 99% availability rate. This required rapid (and accurate!) troubleshooting and resolution of problems.
    • Designed and implemented a data migration application that enabled the “old” system to continue to run while the “new” system accepted data over the course of several months, all while maintaining data integrity in both systems.
    • Reviewed the vendor account for a system for which I was responsible, and found a way to restructure support fees that saved my company $1.3M over the two years remaining in the contract.

    Three industries where I can apply or adapt my skills:
    • IT skills can be applied across a broad range of industries.

    Three other job capacities where I could also use my skills:
    • Web development (the goal of my retraining effort)
    • Help desk or customer support
    • Training users in software usage

  26. DWS

    Now, is the perfect time for me to get active in one of my church’s many ministries. I feel like the one that could make the biggest impact for me would be the Hunger Ministry. It is build on finding people in our local area that need food and find ways to get it to each and every needy family. I will follow-up this week and begin to contribute and make a difference in these peoples lives! Thanks for the reminder…

  27. Lois

    I stay attractive to the few employers seeking staff by showcasing my current skills in the cover letters I send and by networking. I stay relevant by adding freelance work to my background. I am 1) a strong fundraiser 2) very organized with excellent administrative & computer skills 3) smart, creative and productive

    My goal is to apply these skills in a position with a Not-for-profit in New York City.

  28. (Catching up, help is welcomed)

    Meet DW Consulting. I will “meet” your needs, by getting the best value, for meetings, events, conferences, incentive trips, tradeshows. How? Online and offline, I help find unusual ideas, the correct words to say, and measure and execute your programs of excellence.

    Relevant, Create a new (second) blog documenting my ancestor search. My first blog, Travel Off the Beaten Path with the Fun Tour Guru, already shares unusual ideas, tips, and traveling stories with steady readers. (I may not be anonymous with this last disclosure.) I assist professional associations with social media, websites, blogs, (even accounting) and promoting as well as write for online magazines.

  29. Maria

    I stay relevant by keeping up with LinkedIn groups, and a biweekly networking group. I also volunteer at my children’s schools where I learn & use skills I can use in the workplace – managing & motivating people, marketing, fundraising, etc. Those skills are not included under “work experience” on my resume and I do not know how to mention them in an interview since they are skills acquired from volunteering, and I don’t want a potential employer thinking my volunteer commitment would take time away from my full-time job.

  30. Susan Kaye

    I use LinkedIn belong to 30 groups and have over 150 people in my network. Also use Facebook belong many groups. Not too many people in my network on Facebook. I have a section on my resume volunteer and fundraising. Most people talk about that than my work experience. But in today’s job market you must have volunteer experience down will not give the name but are are involved in running events that is a bank, and by now you can guess who that is.

  31. Mary

    I created a fundraising concept for one of the non profits I volunteer with that involves having high school art students create art work that will be used in a silent auction. I have already prepared a list of the schools we are going to approach, along with all of the principal and teacher contact information. The non profit management really liked the concept but has been slow to select a date and location for the fundraiser. However, another non profit that I volunteer at also likes the idea, and already has the space to host a fundraiser so if the first one scraps the project, I will do it at the second one.

    Secondly, I am heavily involved volunteering at a ministry for helping people find employment and recently volunteered to assist people who discovered they have been the victim of identity theft. Both of these projects have caused me to come into contact with other volunteers and/or clients the organizations serve, so I’m finding out a lot about business practices in the area, and have met two excellent IT gurus who have superior investigative skills using the new technology. Now I too have very up-to-date skills in these technologies, which young people have complimented me on.

  32. b

    I want to thank you ladies for taking us on this journey of discovery. In the past few days, I’ve gotten very comfortable with the nuances of the premier social networking sites and have even decided to post a blog where I share my personal growth, experiences and motivations:

  33. Linda

    1. Created a different billing model based on $ for the time card system at NYC Law firm in 1976. Accelerated their billing of clients.
    2. Updated and redesigned the Bid Forms for the New Jersey state architect engineers office in 1986. Changed the old form and format to include new processes and reflect new bid procedures.
    3 Created simple billing template and alpha monthly filing system for attorney during internship of 2 months. Allowing easy access and accelerated the processing of the older bills.
    4. Created a manual for myself and then shared it with new hires on how to do basic lab procedures in Diaper Lab.

    Four industries where speech communications BA, clerical -organizational skills, and paralegal AAS can be utilized.
    1. Law Firm
    2. Court system
    3. Local and state government
    4. Federal Agencies

    Three jobs where I might shift within my field-
    1. Nationally Certified & AMTA MsT – Subcontract or restart my own business after I purchase my PA License.
    2. Court system
    3. Local, State or Federal government job

  34. MB

    My willingness to adapt skills to the market. I also participate in a lot of tech and software webinars.

  35. AW

    I want to start a blog. I know that sounds very simple, but it’s true. The lightbulb came on for me about 2 months ago that this is a simple answer to a lot of questions. This is such perfect timing because now I can really focus because all of my summer activities have been completed. And I will be able take full advantage of the time off next week to get some important things done!

  36. teetee

    Since I have been out of work since May of 2008, I have had a few temporary jobs but nothing permanent. I hope no one will think I am crazy but I become very interested in a band that I really like and I have been doing some marketing promotions for them by handing out flyers emailing places about them I have actually gotten some gigs too. It is very accomplishing and I am trying to figure out now how I could change my field of work to do something like that full time. I never felt more dedicated to anything and it keeps my mind off how frustrated I am

  37. Alison

    I have 3 things I am considering starting.

    The first is I want to continue painting again. This was always something I enjoyed doing in high school, but once I graduated HS I always used the excuses of too messy, I don’t have time, and what am I going to do with the paintings. I saw a few months back that a coffee chain will let you put up your artwork in a designated area. Also, I always wanted to have a very personalized home with my own painting and photos up, so this can be for later. This can be influenced by all my travel photos, so it relates to creating promotional materials. Also, I can share the stories behind the painting, so this relates to traveling.

    My second thing I would like to start is either/and my own pierogi and bakery side business. I looked into a lot of laws for this and that has held me back because they don’t want you to use your own kitchen unless it’s in a separate space. My friend had a wonderful suggestion of using a church’s hall because they should have the permit and I can pay them for my use.

    The third thing I need to do is actually take notes at the end of each day of my trip. I am going to NYC on Saturday and I need to sort out the happenings of the day. This will help me write better travel do’s and don’ts, etc.

    The other assignment per Deborah:

    3 Key Work Accomplishments:
    1. Taking control of problem areas and finding solutions
    2. Inventory management including analyzing usage and trends
    3. My ability to quickly adapt to new jobs, new rules and procedures.

    Three industries this can apply to:
    1. Travel agency
    2. Corporate Travel arrangers
    3. Group Travel companies

    Three other job capacities:
    1. Administrative
    2. Analytical – analyzer
    3. Tour guide

  38. MMP

    3 key work accomplishments that highlight my “brand”:

    1. Provided hand-rendered drawings for an award-winning green building design competition that showcased the warmth and livability of the design.
    2. As a partner in a mural-painting and faux finishing business, delivered more than 125 successful projects on time and within budget. Frequently attended workshops to sharpen my skills as an artist and businesswoman.
    3. Quickly taught myself a new computer drawing software application in order to deliver 180 floor plans of convenience stores that will be used to facilitate communication between the marketing department and the store managers.

    Industries I can apply or adapt my skills to:

    1. Building construction/design (drafting, presentations)
    2. Engineering (drafting)
    3. Motion Picture production (art department)

    Other job capacities in my current field:

    1. Clothing design/retail
    2. Textile artist
    3. Sewing instructor

  39. KE

    Since I want to work in media, international affairs, music and/or film, there are many things I can do that are relevant.

    I’ve already applied to volunteer at cultural events in my area and I am planning on attending events about international discussions that can help me network and just meet new friends. Since I’ve moved back to the States, I’ve been trying hard to reconnect with old friends but it hasn’t been working and I also need to be around more ambitious people. I need to network not just to meet people that can get me a job but to also talk to people in similar industries that are willing to hear my ideas so that I can be critiqued and improve on what I need to do to get to my goals.

    Another thought that has come to mind is to start a blog about international music. I even have a couple of friends that already have some positive international recognition for making similar blogs so I know that it can be helpful for me too.

  40. WR

    I want to start a group for young women with low or no self esteem. This would be like a soft skill group to help them learn how to advocate for them selves. Teaching them simple things such as etiquette and pose. How to stand tall and demand respect.

  41. ED

    These assignments had already planted a seed to address a health issue in our community so the relevance assignment fell right in line for me. Last week I scheduled a meeting with my pastor to discuss a women’s health retreat. Participants will evaluate their nutrition, physical activity and spiritual disciplines and leave with tools to a healthier lifestyle.

  42. Michele

    I would like to start a blog for parents of bed wetters. This will align with my passion to Patent a product I have in mind and I could later leverage the blog to sell my product.

  43. EW

    I would like to think I am relevant – but relevant to what? I am relevant to the field of Human Service. even though I am not working in that field yet, I volunteer at our Community Action Agency every so often and I look for service projects for the women’s organization for my church. I have to stay relevant because I am the President of that organization. This gives me opportunities to be of service. I define relevance by being of service in your community, and since that is the field I would love to work in, it is a perfect fit. At this point though, I am looking for work in a Customer Service field as well… (which is still providing a service).

  44. Janice E

    Assignment from Deborah Shane

    Key Work Accomplishments
    1. 50% increase in middle managers pursuing and attaining academic and professional certification
    2. 50% increase in the number entry level employees taking advantage of tuition reimbursement policy to prepare to advance careers
    3. Designed and successfully delivered a training program in Performance Coaching resulting in increased confidence among middle managers. (This training was addressed by an external provider four years become and failed to produce the expected results trainees were still uncertain as to how to apply. Hence it had to be offered again to some of the same persons)
    4. Designed HR policies that were previously undocumented. These policies gained the approval of the Board of Directors
    Three Other Industries
    • Higher Education Institutions
    • Career Development Coaching
    • Training Organizations

    Three Other Job Capacities in My Current Field
    I list these in order of interest
    • Compensation Management
    • Human Resource Information Systems
    • Employee Relations

  45. shw

    My CSA farm in the Catskills was wiped out by the effects of the Hurricane. I would like to start fundraising (which I’ve already done within our CSA) with all the other groups they provide for in the metro area and see substantial funds donated to them so the season is not a total washout for them.

  46. Susanna Carbajal

    Thanks so much Tory for helping so many of your readers find their true reason to establish there “why” and really appreciated Deborah’s topic on relevance! This is a huge step I continue to visualize for myself, as well as, help to reinforce for my business partners too! It’s so important to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments and have a positive attitude along the way towards achieving your personal and financial goals! Having been in the corporate world for 13 years, rat race and all – now a stay at home mother of two small children, I launched my business a year ago and love what I do. It is more important to me knowing that it’s about helping others, than it is about helping yourself! I believe this is a huge shift in mindset to achieve any level of success and if one finds a career in being able to apply this philosophy, it can be extremely rewarding, especially in these economic times. There is a lot of fear when it comes to change, we all can relate to those experiences, but with change comes opportunity and as you mention being open to trying something is the first step to take!!! Thank you again and wishing everyone all the best –

  47. SB

    I would like to start a Virtual Assistant business from home.

  48. ST

    I often thought that bringing up my accomplishments were relevant and that I am a fast learner at picking up new thingd. I never have an issue with inquiring within if something is not understood. I really don’t know why that seems not to work. I thought they look for someone who goes after getting things done and being effective.

    I want to continue to expand my knowledge in the healthcare industry by learning about medical coding and icd-9s in my spare time.

  49. PAL

    In September, I want to explore a business to help support women’s micro businesses around the world.
    Other homework from Ms Shane
    Compelling accomplishments
    1. Three days after I trained a nursing professor how to use Elluminate Live, she conducted a successfull lunch and learn live web conferencung presentation that was open to the entire campus.
    2. During a live webinar training using WebEx, I taught students the basics of using a wiki. I had each one practice before the training ended.
    3. Created tutorials that aided over 1,000 faculty memebrs to learn how to use the university’s learning management system.

  50. MJD

    I am relavant. I have continued to attend classes, when offered; I also have volunteered to stay abreast of what is the latest and greatest in ministry today. I will continue to do this because I believe in this career and so staying relevant is also fun.

    Volunteering to help someone else. I think that when you volunteer you see the world anew. I believe that you give in areas that really need your help and it is a positive way to keep on looking for a job.

    Key work accomplishments: Organized, expericnce upbeat
    Industries: Other church faiths,
    Other jobs: Humen Resources, admin, and hospital chapels

  51. Debbie G.

    Something I would like to start that would have relevance to what I want to do (even from a distance) and something I would be proud of talking about while networking, it would be:
    A blog on how even small businesses can grow through “triple bottom line” focus

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