Problem Solving


In order to claim you’re good at solving problems, you must have not only had problems arise in the past, you must have successfully resolved them. If you claim you’re an expert at resolving major problems, it logically follows that you’ve not only had major problems in your life, but again, you’ve eliminated them.

What however, defines ‘major problems’? When an interviewer asks you to share examples of having resolved some major problems in your past, you have to hope that your definition of a major problem and theirs is a shared understanding. If you share something they perceive as a relatively easy problem to have faced, and you view it as a major challenge, you might not be up to the demands of the job being discussed.

You have to also be mindful of what you perceive as an acceptable compromise in resolving challenges and problems compared to the person you’re speaking with. When they don’t tip their hand or react in any way to how you describe the steps you took to resolve the problem you’re relating, it can be difficult to know if you’re on the right track with your answer. There may be no way to amend your answer, provide additional commentary or even move to a better example altogether.

One of the poorest things you can do is claim to have none whatsoever in your past that come to mind. This response either comes across as a flat-out lie or if you somehow come across as believable, it only serves to prove you’re inexperienced when it comes to resolving problems. Neither of the two responses to your claim will help you if they want a problem-solver.

Having had problems is a given in your personal or professional life. I’ve yet to meet the person who has sailed along without having had any problem come up. Owning up to having problems in your past is not a weakness. What is of significant interest is your reaction to the problem(s) you’ve elected to share. So faced with a problem, did you a) ignore it, b) face it, c) tell someone else to fix it, d) make it worse, e) make sure the circumstances that led up to the problem were changed so it didn’t recur or f) give up or give in and let it overwhelm you.

One key to dealing with big problems is learning how to tackle small ones; and I mean small ones. Finding yourself ready to go to work but being unable to find where you left the car keys for example. Hardly a life or death problem, but nonetheless at that moment, a problem that must be resolved. Retracing your steps, asking for help from other family members, checking the usual places, the pockets of whatever you wore the night before, all good. Finding them still in the outside door where you mistakenly left them overnight, maybe the lesson learned is hanging up the keys in the same spot from then on as your usual practice so the problem does not arise again.

Building on the idea of adjusting your behaviour and hanging up keys each time in the same place, you can apply this lesson to other situations. You learned to act in a way that anticipates a potential problem and head it off before it occurs. If nothing changes in your behaviour, you’ll repeat misplacing your keys. While that might be frustrating, the leap in reasoning is that you’ll repeat behaviours that bring on self-inflicted problems in other areas too, and that could be costly for an organization when your problems become theirs.

All problems have two things in common; a goal and one or more barriers. There’s something to be achieved and there’s one or more things which need to be addressed and resolved to remove the problem and reach the desired goal.

Successful people are often viewed as people who face their problems head-on, tackling problems before them and reaching their goals. When they do so, they not only reach the goals they desired, they reinforce their belief that they can solve problems. Their confidence rises, other people come to regard them as capable and recognize their problem-solving skills.

People who struggle often hope problems will go away if they ignore them, or they fail to resolve the problem even when they try because they lack the resources or skills to do so. Their past experiences with problems did not prepare them sufficiently to handle the current problem, so they make what others see as poor decisions which either allow the problem to continue or even become bigger.

If your confidence is low when it comes to solving problems, asking for help is a smart thing to do. There’s no shame in knowing your limitations and seeking help but do make an effort to learn from the person helping you. When someone does something for you, that may resolve the problem this time, but it may not prepare you for when the same problem or one of a similar nature comes up again. Having someone guide and support you while you solve the problem will improve your confidence in not only resolving the immediate problem, but similar ones as they arise.

You’ll likely experience failures and setbacks when facing problems; this is normal and okay. Problems will always come along in life. They really present opportunities to grow.

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3 Key Components To All Interview Answers


Many of the job seeking people I’ve met are totally confused and frustrated with the lack of success they’ve had in trying to land employment. While some aren’t getting interviews in the first place, there are a large number who get their share of interviews but always seem to finish 2nd or worse when it actually comes to getting a job offer. “What am I doing wrong?” they ask.

The short answer is they’ve failed to market themselves to the needs of the employer. In fact, if you’re an Employment Counsellor or Job Coach and you’re having a hard time figuring out why the people you’re working with aren’t getting job offers, I suggest you interview them as an employer would. Of course, you have to know both what you’re listening for and how it’s delivered to knowledgeably give the job seeker useful and relevant interview feedback.

Let me highlight what I’m speaking of with a concrete example. Suppose the job posting indicates that teamwork is one of the key requirements for the job. A lot of interviewees will pick up on this and be sure to mention in the interview that teamwork is one of their strengths. They might bring this up right at the beginning when asked to tell the interview a little about themselves or possibly later when asked about their strengths. While this sounds good, is it enough? No.

Granted it’s a start, but simply naming an attribute falls short. Perhaps you’re thinking that where I’m headed and what I’m about to say is you need to offer an example to prove your teamwork claim. Well, only in part. Yes of course you must have a real example that proves you’ve worked successfully in a team setting in the past to make your claim believable. So is this good enough? Again, No.

You’re only two-thirds of the way to the best answer. So, you’ve made a claim of teamwork and you’ve provided an example from your past that demonstrates your teamwork. Fine. Now, if you really want to stand apart from the competition, you simply have to answer the implied question, “So how does that help me?” In this case, the, ‘me’ being the company, employer or specifically the supervisor considering you for the job.

So in the teamwork example, you could close your answer by noting how working cooperatively with your colleagues creates a seamless experience for customers; supporting one another on the work or sales floor improves morale, picking up the slack when a co-worker isn’t at their best or is off ill results in clients still being served well, resulting in an improved client experience. As a result, their impression of your organization improves, they spread that reputation, and your business profitability grows as a result. Bingo! You’ve now made a clear connection between your past teamwork accomplished elsewhere and how what you’ve done there will translate into the employment opportunity being discussed here.

Unfortunately, too often when I first meet people and do a mock interview, they’ll say something like this:

“I’d be happy to tell you about myself. I’m organized, detail-oriented, work hard and enjoy working in a team.”

Even if all 4 things above are pulled right from a job posting, this alone isn’t good enough. Many people will be smart enough to name what they should tell the employer. Many of the same people will even be coached well enough to give examples from their past demonstrating one or more of the skills. Few however as I say – and this is THE key to successful interviewing – answer the implied but ever-present question, “So how does that help me?”

I’ve essentially repeated my point now twice. Why? Simple. IT”S IMPORTANT! I know the tendency of readers to read quickly and skim. When done, many might feel it was a good read and yet 3 minutes later revert right back to doing what they’ve always done; that’s human nature.

But you – yes you…

You might be one of the few who does more than just pass the time reading this with your favourite beverage in hand. You might actually re-read the above and do more than say, “Well that was interesting.” You could be one of the few who will actually approach your interview preparation differently. Whether you’re a job seeker or someone who assists and supports those looking for work, you might opt to assure all three steps are in the interview answers you provide in the future. The three steps again are:

  1. State the desired skill the employer has identified as a need.
  2. Provide an example demonstrating your use of that skill in the past.
  3. Relate how that skill benefits the potential employer here in the present.

When you do the 3rd and last step as part of your interview answers on a regular basis, you accomplish one major thing successful interviewees do; you show clearly that you get it. You understand WHY the skill is integral to the job. Employees who cognitively get it, don’t let that skill ebb and flow on the job, or just do teamwork because the boss says so. They do it because they’ve bought in to the critical importance of the skill on the job and they share a high premium on the value of the skill.

Please pass this on; it’s important! Your kindness in sharing is appreciated at my end but more importantly may greatly help another.

Not The Judgemental Type? Yes You Are!


Well it seems pretty harsh to say, maybe to some insensitive or cruel, but the fact remains that you’re being assessed and judged by each person around you daily. Yes, those you talk with, those who see you coming down the sidewalk, those you meet while shopping and so why is it any different to expect it carries on in job interviews as well? And just so I go all in with this assessing and judging angle, I’m including you as well; don’t think you’re immune to judging others.

Now maybe you’re the type who doesn’t agree with my point of view? “Not me! I accept everyone for who they are! I don’t judge others lest I be judged myself! Really I don’t!” Oh get over yourself, you certainly do assess and judge others, and you need to own up to it. Assessing others and forming opinions and judgements is a good thing; why it’s kept you safe and alive all these years!

Prove it you say? Prove you’re this judgemental person? Fine. You’re walking down a street in the evening in a neighbourhood you’re not familiar with. Coming towards you is a person with a grimace on their face, they’re muscular and they don’t seem to be sharing the sidewalk. Nobody else is about. Something inside you starts pumping some adrenaline, and you start looking for alternatives such as a store to walk in until they pass, or you think about crossing the street, looking around for help if it’s needed etc. At the very least, you clutch your purse or wallet a little tighter, avert your eyes at all costs, and lower your head, stepping up your pace and leave lots of space to avoid the encounter. You are in fact, assessing your safety and potential danger the person coming towards you represents. This could keep you from being assaulted, robbed, etc. Sure they could have that grimace because they’ve just broke a tooth while working out with the young man at the gym they’ve taken on in their role of Big Brother, but you’re not taking any chances!

Another example of assessing and judging? What about dating? Do you just go up to the first person you meet and say, “Hi! I know nothing about you, I don’t care whatsoever about how you look, what you think or believe, and being totally non-judgemental about absolutely everyone I see, I’d like to date you, but no more or less than anyone else. Shall we?

That’s ludicrous. Of course you assess and judge people. You might be initially attracted by their physical appearance, then you continue to assess them as you talk, finding out what they think, like to do, their background etc. and you either change or reinforce your first impression.

Assessing others and judging them is something we all do. We assess possible careers for what we’d find enjoyable and worthwhile. We assess the distance an employer is from where we live, we judge the time it will take to get there and home, we assess the co-workers we work with and we even try to change some people to help them realize their potential. We make good choices and bad choices, some that reward us and some that we regret. We choose and judge potential partners – again with varying degrees of success.

While on that subject of partners, we might date a number of people in our teens and early twenties, learning as we go from the relationships what we really want in a long-term partner. The more we date, the more we find what we like, what we’ll accept and what we want to avoid in the next main squeeze. (Main squeeze? Who says that anymore?!)

Jobs and careers are no different. We take a job in our teens and find out what we like and don’t. We soon learn what we’d like to do more of, what we’re good at, or what we want to avoid in future jobs. Every job, just like every relationship has its pros and cons. Even in the best relationships, there are some things we’d like to improve; some quirks or things we’d change if we could. So too with jobs, even the best jobs have some aspects we’d alter if we could.

Now some people hold out for the perfect job; you know, the ONE that will give them purpose, define their life and really make a difference in the world. What it is remains a mystery, but when it comes along they’ll know. They become so fixated on finding this particular job or career that all other jobs become entirely unacceptable. I believe it’s more the IDEA of the perfect job they’re really after.

If you’re looking for the job which will define your purpose in life, may I humbly suggest there isn’t one. That doesn’t mean you’ll spend your life unsatisfied; rather, I believe there are multiple jobs that will bring you immense satisfaction and fulfillment. The idea that there’s only one on the planet you’re destined for is what I debate.

So my advice? Work.

Take a job and invest yourself in it. Assess as you invest in it, judge what you’re good at and what you want to do more of. If the job doesn’t bring you the measure of satisfaction you’d like, move on. Learning never stops.

 

Aging And Job Searching


“Well, my age is a barrier that’s for sure. I mean, come on, I’m 48 and employer’s look at a guy like me and they want to go with someone younger.”

“Well, I’m not as young as I used to be. Employer’s look at me and just see an older person. They want someone younger, prettier. Oh I’ve got curves, but their in the wrong places.”

Age. Is it working for you or against you? Age is a curious thing to me. I mean on the one hand we’re aging every second of every day, and chronologically we can’t do anything about it if we wanted to stop it or reverse it. On the other hand, our thoughts are well within our power to control. What we think, how we choose to think definitely is. As our thoughts guide and steer our actions, we can opt to behave anyway we so choose – and make no mistake it is a conscious choice.

The two opening quotes are from real people; the first a 48-year-old man and the second a 50-year-old woman. The two statements both make comments about what employer’s are looking for when they hire, but as an Employment Counsellor working with them, the two statements say more to me about how the person see’s themselves than anything else.

I recall with great fondness and admiration a woman by the name of Anne. When we met, Anne was 64. I knew her age and had her résumé in hand before I met her. My instinctive reaction was to make some assumptions about her. Hmm… 64. Her best years were likely behind her and I wondered about the kind of work she’d be after and what kind of physical shape she was in which would affect her performance.

When I met Anne I was so impressed. Here was a woman who obviously took great care to look healthy and vibrant. Her hair was neat, styled beautifully, and her makeup was applied with care and expertise. She obviously cared about her appearance. There were no furrowed browns, her mouth wasn’t set in a grimace, she didn’t shuffle with her shoulders bowed forward in submission to the years passing. She walked with purpose, shoulders back, her smile was electric and her eyes warm and full of life.

Now before you think she doesn’t have her share of problems, let me assure you not only does she have her share, she’s got enough for a few people. An abusive ex-husband, lost property, bankruptcy, adult children who mistreat and abuse her, a huge slide in social standing, health scares; yep, she’s got lot’s of reasons to feel sorry for herself and then choose to let that sorrow turn to bitterness.

Anne however believes in the positive. While there are many things in life she cannot control, her personal appearance and her attitude are two things she feels she not only can, but must hold on to. Age is something Anne is proud of at 64. “Why would I choose to worry about something that I cannot change?” she often said. Anne not only got a job when I was partnering to help her, she got multiple offers. Would you believe 5? It’s true.

So how does she do it? First of all, she’s reprogrammed her thinking. I cannot state how critical it is to believe you’ve got what it takes to succeed, for when the opinions of others threatens your self-confidence, your self-perception is the anchor that keeps you grounded. If you choose to see yourself solely as others see you, then you’re dependent upon others for your self-worth. If they like you, you’ll like yourself. If they tell you you’re too old, too weak, too frail etc., you’re self-worth plummets.

As you read this, check your posture. Are your shoulders hunched over? Are the muscles in your face tense? If you smile – go ahead and try it now – do you feel a release in tension? That tension you’re holding as in your natural facial expression might be coming off to others as grim, overly serious; negative in general. Anne smiles constantly. She lights up others when she approaches them. I’ve noticed that as she speaks with people around her, they too start to smile when they face her.

If you’re older and looking for work, take some care with your appearance, the energy in your voice, the fit of the clothes you wear; take care of your health, to the extent you can, walk with purpose and smile. As for your words, listen and curb any tendencies towards the negative. Choose to look for and comment on the positives.

There are always going to be people competing with you for employment; many of them younger as you grow older. The one person you cannot allow to beat you however, is yourself. If you allow yourself to take the easy cop-out; I’m too old – well, perhaps you are. But chronologically speaking, there are older people than you who will win those same jobs because they show a vitality and positivity that gets rewarded. They don’t in short, beat themselves before even trying.

This change in attitude is not something that can be instilled within you unless you yourself invite it in and then make the conscious decision to own it. Take pride in your experience, your knowledge, your age!

What Would You Like Me To Know About You?


50 seconds ago you were seated in Reception, waiting for someone to come out and take you in for the interview. The door opened, and for the first time you saw him or her walk purposely a few steps in your direction, smile, introduce themselves with a handshake and thank you for coming in.

25 seconds ago you were ushered through the door, and once on the other side, taken into an office where the interview is being conducted. After some ice-braking comment about the weather, you both plunged in to the interview; this being a job you really want.

It’s now been 1 minute and 15 seconds and you’ve been asked to essentially introduce yourself. What, you wonder, should you reveal and what your worry, should you conceal?

Okay let’s pause; let’s think about this seriously. What do we want the interview to know about us? Honestly, this shouldn’t be the first time the question crosses our mind. If it is, highly unlikely we’re going to share something brilliant. No, more likely we’ll say something and then later we’ll wonder why on earth we chose to share what we did. Without some forethought, we might even blurt out something which, gauging from their reaction, snuffed out any chance of getting the job right at question one. From there, our confidence and the job were lost, neither one to be ever regained.

So what do we want them to know about us? Hmm….

Well, this isn’t a casual conversation between friends. This is a job interview; one of those times we need to be at our best – professional and personable. We’re being evaluated on both fronts; from a professional standpoint how are we qualified and from a personable standpoint, how are we likely to fit in? This make sense to you? Hope so, because you’ve got one shot at this first impression, and not to get you all anxious, but these first few seconds and minutes are crucial. If they like you, you’re off to a good start, but if you fail to make a good impression early on, it’s going to be an uphill challenge to change their mind and time is of the essence!

If you think about the posting or job ad, it’s probable that it contained something like, “Here’s what you bring”, “We’re looking for…” or “The ideal candidate will…”. If you’ve read these summaries prior to the interview; a few times in fact, hopefully you’ve found yourself matching up well. It would stand to reason that if what you’ve got is a close match to what they’re looking for, the odds of things going well is in your favour. So choosing to state your education, experience and personable attributes as they relate to the job makes sense.

Be genuine however! A good interviewer will have heard enough other people use the old, “I’m the perfect fit you’re looking for”, introduction when they’ve been everything but. If you only pay lip service to the requirements and are a poor fit, they’ll know by assessing your body language, darting eye contact, and they’ll listen for inconsistencies and weaknesses in your answers.

Those who interview well know the importance of sharing their education and experience as they align with the requirements of the position. However, it’s not just saying, “I’ve got a degree in Engineering and my Health and Safety training” that’s going to impress them if those two are job requirements. What sets you apart from others who have similar qualifications is stating what you’ve got AND how those translate into a benefit for the employer.

“I’ve a recently obtained degree in Engineering and my Health and Safety certification. The Engineering Degree covered recent changes and best practices in the field, and the Health and Safety training updated and replaced some older practices. Both the Degree and the Certificate assure you I’ll be operating at industry standards.”

Notice the difference in the two answers. The first is simply stating what you’ve got as it relates to a job posting. The second answer not only states what you have, but responds to WHY the employer wanted them in the first place and HOW these benefit them in meeting their needs.

The second answer is still not complete however. You’d do well to share some of your current and past experiences as they relate to the job. This is your opportunity to talk about the motivation that brought you to the interview, and some genuine excitement for the position would be welcome.

Now, think too not just about the content of what you share but the way you share it. If you’re excited about this opportunity and really want it, communicate this not only with your words but your facial expression and your body language. As you speak of  accomplishments you’ve had, your strengths and things you’ve overcome, you want to smile as you recall pleasant moments when your skills were recognized, and your achievements appreciated. Employers want to hire people who will be a pleasure to work with.

Examples that show and prove your claims of experience are crucial. My own experience is that this is the one key area people generally fail in. What they think are examples are really just summations and general practices. Zero in on specific times you demonstrated what you’re talking about.

What would you want them to know about you? This is your chance!

When Sharing A Skill


Whether you’re a newbie or a long-time, seasoned veteran, you could be guilty of making a rookie mistake; sharing a skill and assuming the other person can do it without actually observing them try it on their own.

Now it’s not that you’re smarter than the people you’re sharing what you know with. No, it’s more than that. It’s that you’ve had practice over time and have come to master or improve what you once found new and they haven’t. If you make the assumption that someone who is nodding their head in the affirmative can do for themselves what you are instructing them on, you’ll be surprised to find they often can’t. The danger here is that when you do discover they can’t perform up to your – or their – expectations, you might actually even set them back further than when you started, as they wrestle with a drop in self-esteem and question their abilities.

Case in point, the dreaded resume. I know, I know, why that! Ah but it’s true my readers. Yes, as an Employment Counsellor I help many people daily and one of the most common things I’m passing on to those I help is how to craft a winning resume. This is something many people think is pretty simple to put together; they believe anybody can make one. On the one hand, this belief is absolutely true; however, not many can make an effective one, and that’s the difference. I regularly see people genuinely show they understand the suggestions I’m passing on, and most importantly, the reason behind those suggestions. Yet, if they sit down on their own to implement those ideas and suggestions, there’s often a gulf between what they understand and what they produce.

So may I suggest that when passing on a skill, do more than just tell someone how. Perhaps for the auditory learner; those who just need to be told how to do something, this might work. However, the majority of learners I’ve found need to not only hear what you’re passing on, they need to also see it done and then have the opportunity to try it themselves under some watchful guidance.

Again, it’s not that the learner is inferior to the teacher but rather, the teacher has had more experience learning a new skill, practicing it repeatedly and mastering the subject. A new learner has neither the practice doing what you’re passing on, or the time to have mastered what you impart.

A trap you also want to avoid is feeling somewhat smug about your superior knowledge in whatever you’re teaching and then making the leap to feeling superior as a person overall. Whomever you’re sharing your skill with is without question the expert in other areas; certainly better skilled say in what they do for a living than you are at the moment. So a trained and experienced Office Administrative professional might not be able to market themselves in a résumé as well as you, but they may well have superior knowledge about keyboarding skills, shortcut keys, use of tabs etc.. if you’ve never had formal training in Office Administration and everything you know on a keyboard has been self-taught, they just might be able to share a few things with you!

As I say, the majority of people I’ve come into contact with as an Employment Counsellor, Trainer and Facilitator learn best by being given the opportunity to practice newly learned skills. A tremendously good thing to do during this learning period is to give encouragement and recognize the skill development so watch your words. If they hold you in high esteem and value your opinion, they’ll be greatly influenced by both your praise and your corrective criticism.

I have found that taking a few minutes while sharing what I know, to learn something from those I’m working with does us both a lot of good. First of all, I learn and appreciate what this person can do; a little insight into a job perhaps that I only have a basic understanding of. More importantly by far however, the person I’m helping feels good that I’m both interested enough to want to know, and they experience some measure of improved self-worth in knowing what I do not. We are after all, two people with skills in different areas, both having strengths and areas to improve upon. We just happen to be in a situation where my strengths are being showcased and drawn upon. This however, doesn’t make me better overall, or in any way superior.

It is also of critical importance to recognize just how much a person can take in during your time together. If you’re working together for 2 or 3 weeks, you can pass on much more than telling them everything you’d like them to know when you’ve only got 30 minutes together. Your expectations of what you can share and what they can grasp and retain must adjust to the circumstances.

So share what you know while checking both the learners comprehension and ability to do for themselves what you’re sharing. Share to the ability of the learner in a partnership model; working together to pass on a skill or series of skills and not the model where one is the, “Wise One” and the other an empty vessel to be instructed. See if this makes a difference.

Thanks For The Social Services Caseworker


If you’re fortunate to live in a community that provides financial and social assistance to its most vulnerable citizens, then you’ve also got a number of people tasked with providing that same service. These people may have varying titles, but for the purposes of identification, let’s call them Caseworkers. More about that name later, but for now, Caseworkers it is.

It may well be that your own upbringing never brought you into contact with any Social Service organization; you may have no personal contact with or real understanding of the role these people play. This would mean you’ve been raised in a self-supporting family and never required the support the social services safety net provides. From an economic point of view, the fewer people who turn to these supports the better; the resources are more readily available for those who truly need them, for those unable to financially support themselves.

Administering these benefits are the Caseworkers; working within and under the legislative guidelines set out by governments. But if you leave it at that, you’ve got a very limited view of what a Caseworker does. Caseworkers you see, are in the people business. This is a role of privilege and responsibility; one that most Caseworkers carry out with gratitude for the opportunity. It may not have occurred to you should you outside the field, but the people who work in these roles are a special bunch.

You see as much as we know the role is a privilege, it’s disheartening to hear that same word used in a derogatory way when people say, “Oh those government workers are a privileged bunch!” A government worker is a public servant, and serve we do.

The Caseworker is tasked with ensuring that people initially meet the established standards in qualifying for financial help, and then ensuring each month that they continue to do so. While the number of people and families served by any one person varies, it would not be atypical for a Caseworker to have 175 files representing some 325 people at any given time. That’s a lot of people to serve on a monthly basis! Given each day the Caseworker might see 3 or 4 in-person for an update, talk on the phone to 15 – 20, respond to letters and faxes and the odd person who drops in unannounced, there’s a need to be highly organized, efficient and time-management conscious. Now add in some ongoing training, team meetings, breaks and a lunch and suddenly you get an idea of how their day goes. You might understand how frustrating it is then to have people then complain to the Caseworker, “You never pick up the phone when I call. What are you doing all day?”

The job also comes with expectations from top down too. There are Supervisors monitoring caseload management, doing random file reviews, following up on client contact with Caseworkers, reports that tell how on top of things a Caseworker is, the various benefits each Caseworker has issued, where they might have some updates overdue. Then the legislation that dictates how the job is done changes periodically, and more training is scheduled. Every so often the technology itself is overhauled and like it or not, there’s another entire computer software system to learn.

And you know what? Caseworkers didn’t choose to get into the job to do any of the above. What they did sign up for when they went to University or College was to help people. What they envisioned was sitting down, listening to people express their challenges and then providing support and encouragement; helping people help themselves. With this job there’s an unexpected emotional toll too. The Caseworker hears and feels the worse in human nature; rape, abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, zero financial literacy, loss of self-esteem, growing anxieties and depression, shame, guilt and yes despair. Caseworkers have to both steel themselves against taking on the suffering heard yet empathizing enough to fully appreciate the hardships of those served. It’s a fine balance.

Yet, for all the troubles and challenges, administration and tight timelines, the Caseworkers are a positive bunch; some of the most caring and wonderful people you could hope to meet. They are often the first people who come to mind by those on their caseload when there’s trouble; this is the privilege. Caseworkers see the breakthroughs, the changing attitudes, hear the joy of landing job interviews and announcing new jobs! We congratulate those moving to financially supporting themselves because we know just what it’s taken for many to make it.

Like any field, sure there will be some employees who are better at the job than others. You may hear someone complain about their own Caseworker but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the objective story. Besides, go ahead and name any job where every single person who holds it is identically excellent in every way. You can’t, and Casework is no different.

A big thank you to Caseworkers everywhere; be they anywhere on this planet of ours. While you may not expect or ask to be thanked by those you serve, may you who hold it always be blessed with some who express their sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you do. It might only be a handshake and a nod or maybe you’ll get a personal note to be treasured expressing words of thanks.

Keep up the good work, for even we only get a glimpse of what life is really like for those we serve.