Update Your Resume Now

I sure hope you don’t read this and say to yourself, “The guy makes a lot of sense, people should update their resumes; but I personally don’t need to.” I’m addressing this to you; if you have grown comfortable and stagnant in your current job and the last thing you think possible is that you might soon be looking for work.

So you’re working and you’ve been there for some time now. Could be that it’s between 4 to 20 years let’s say, and you seldom if ever think seriously about having to look for another job. Why on earth would it be good for you to update your resume? Wouldn’t that just be a lot of work for no immediately obvious reason? So why bother?

The most obvious reason of course is that you are involuntarily added to the ranks of the unemployed. Whether its your company moving in a new direction, downsizing, cutting it’s workforce, picking up and moving to another city or country where wages are lower, or you find yourself fired, you’re out of work. In any of these situations, you’re going to spend some time (short for some, longer for others) in a state of shock and denial. This stage is not the best time to be intelligently putting together your resume. You’re not going to produce your best.

You may also find that your old resume is locked securely in your desk drawers at work, and you no longer have access to it. All those dates, training courses you’ve taken, certificates you earned; oh how much easier it would be to recall them all if you could just browse your file where you kept that information. You may eventually get that information, but it means contacting the employer or HR, and you’re just too angry to do that with grace and class.

On the positive side, let’s assume you don’t lose your position. In fact, let’s go in the other direction and view you working with a proactive Supervisor who takes an active interest in their immediate employees. He or she comes to you and talks about wanting to help you grow and re-ignite that desire for self-improvement. You look at potential opportunities together and realize there are some positions in the organization that you hadn’t previously considered and now want to apply to. You’re going to need a decent resume and in short order. So much easier if the resume is fairly up to date to start with.

Now these are but two kinds of situations you might find yourself in. Others might be that while the organization as a whole is going to stay solvent, the department you are in is penciled in for dismantling. Move quickly and make a lateral move or risk being out on the street. What about a physical move to another city by your spouse requiring you too to journey to another location where you have to look for a new job? Yes, that too would be so much easier with a resume already relatively current.

But I suspect that you are still clinging to the notion that this is a good idea for others but not for you. I for one sincerely hope you don’t find yourself looking back and chastising yourself for not heeding such advice while you had the luxury of time.

While resume construction isn’t something that gets people all excited, it does make a lot of sense to do, even if just to remind you what you’ve done, achieved and the scope of the skills you’ve used and now possess. Do it well and you’ll look at yourself on that marketing document and feel pretty good about yourself. Let a co-worker seemingly see it by chance and you can have some fun with the rumour mills in your workplace too as they whisper to everyone that you must be moving on even if you’ve got no plans to do so!

Still, this advice is like telling someone to set aside a fund for their next car when they’ve only had the current car for six months. “Yes, good idea but I’ll worry about that in the future”. Let’s hope that car you’re driving now lasts and you do start that fund soon so you don’t find yourself having no money to put down on the next one because you never got around to it.

Remember you don’t have to do your resume in one shot. You can start with your contact information which only takes a few moments. You can gather all your certificates from the folder in your desk or look at the walls if you mounted them there and get the proper names of courses and the all important dates.

You could start with your current job description or get a current one from HR and then write down the things you’ve accomplished in your job or are in the process of accomplishing. What kind of impact are you having on the bottom line or the people you work for?

So my challenge is for you to take action now and start working on your CV or resume. Make a copy and take it home so it’s accessible no matter what. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, news, forthcoming changes etc. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re scrambling. Few people do their best work under such pressure!






The Secret Fax Machine Feature

Have a fax machine in your place of employment? Can you do anything other than fax documents with yours? Maybe your fortunate to have a large photocopier that has the capability to fax, scan, email, add digital signatures and re-size documents as well. Is that it? If that’s all your fax machine does, trade it in.

I have found a feature on the fax machine where I work that ironically is also available on the photocopier too. I’ve been using this secret and most amazing feature for years and figure it’s about time I share it with those of you who may have yet to discover it.

There’s a feature on all the technology equipment in my client-shared workspace and it’s the Empowerment and Conversation Starter feature. Now not everybody knows how to use these commands. So when someone says, “I need to fax something to my Caseworker”, some folks will just take the item from them and go fax it for them and be done with it. That’s fast, moves the client along, provides the quickest way to accomplish the intended action – and completely misses an opportunity to teach and share a skill, empower them with independence and start a conversation!

Now me, I’m different. (My co-workers say that all the time; “Kelly, you’re different!”) What I like to do is take them over to the fax machine, show them the instructions on how to fax which are right at eye level and simple to both read and follow. Then show them the fax cover sheets and have THEM fill it out. Then I show them the other sheet at eye level which has the fax numbers for the 4 offices where our Caseworkers work out of as the number they want is usually one of the 4.

At this point I ask them if this is their first time faxing. Then as they get ready to fax and go to hand things to me, I make no movement to take it from them and tell them I like to watch. So directing them again to the simple instructions, they cautiously start to do things themselves. Put the papers in the top of the machine face up, dial 9, then the area code and fax number, then press the start key. Then I usually say, “Tell me when you get to the hard part.” Almost without fail, they’ll say, “That’s it? That was easy.” And then I conclude by saying, “Congratulations, you are no longer a faxing virgin.”

I have yet to have a single person not smile and chuckle. But I’m not done. For the fax to go through to those busy offices, it can take anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes. While the client is standing there waiting, I move past this task-oriented conversation on how to fax, to the more meaningful relationship-building chat with this captive client.

“So are you in school or looking for work maybe?” Something like that to get the ball rolling. Depending on the answer, I might gleam a little about their career or job interests, problems, challenges, family life, criminal record or any number of things depending on how much they share. What we talk about isn’t as important as just talking.

I point out before they leave that not only have they themselves faxed their documents wherever they needed to go, but the next time they need this done, they’ll perhaps be able to do this themselves without needing help. That’s empowerment people. Now some of you might be thinking, “Big deal!”

Ah but you’d be surprised to look at things as they do. Some of the people I assist and serve have very little self-esteem, accomplish very little in their eyes and feel entirely dependent on others. They depend on social services for their rent and food money, bus fare or gas money, help with their bills, help with their childcare, resumes, job search skills, help with dealing with their stress, anger, self-esteem etc. So learning something they didn’t know previously and can now do on their own IS a big deal. It’s a start.

And not to sound overly dramatic, but I have also had more than 1 person say to me later, “You actually talked to me and didn’t want anything; I’m not used to that.” Isn’t that sad? The person is used to people only talking to them when other people want something from them and so for someone to just want to chat with them and take a genuine interest in what they are up to is remarkable.

Simple opportunities to engage and connect with people present themselves all the time if you have your eyes open to the possibilities and seize them. Showing people how to fax can be frustrating if you have to do it 15 times a day when the instructions are so clearly visible and simple. But to just sit at a desk, not move and say, “Help yourself, the instructions are on the wall over there”,  is an opportunity missed.

So do you have this secret feature on your fax machine, photocopiers, computer or even the simple telephone where your clients meet and mingle? Empowering clients, using some humour to lighten someone’s moment, taking an interest in the person standing before you, it’s pretty simple stuff. Maybe not remarkable, maybe just obvious and mundane.

On the other hand, maybe the first small step in starting something bigger.





Make Staying In Touch Your Responsibility

Just two weeks ago now, I wrapped up an intensive two weeks working with a group of unemployed people who were job searching. While 4 of the people in that group obtained employment, 6 are still looking.

One fellow in that group previously worked in the field of IT. He shared with me that he had battled some personal issues with depression and anxiety, requiring him to actually exit the workforce for just over a year and take care of his mental health. When like him, you open up and trust someone enough to share such private information, you do yourself a huge favour.

For starters, you openly acknowledge a setback, demonstrate trust in others, and because the language you use is past tense, you even help yourself by realizing you’ve moved forward from where you were. Movement you see, is critical to repairing self-esteem and ones confidence. Overcoming such an obstacle and personal barrier means you can similarly overcome other barriers too because you’ve already done it; and unemployment is a barrier to success.

So he spent two weeks applying for work with some professional guidance and ended up with a few interviews. As it turns out, those interviews were with people representing placement services, and in his mind they weren’t really equating the same as an interview directly with an employer. I’m happy to say that he recently achieved just such an interview.

The thing I want to point out because it’s significant is that this fellow is doing something which the others in the group who are still looking for work have not done to date and that is staying connected. He has sent me a few brief emails keeping me advised on the job search, success obtaining interviews etc.

In response to one such email, I replied with, “So how did the interview go?” Now how long do you think it took me to prepare and send that email to him? Not very long is it? Yet that brief email to him communicated more than the six words alone. It sent a message to him that I am interested in his job search, interested in his success; interested in him.

When you are looking for work it can indeed be isolating. I’d venture to say that almost all the people whom I’ve had in my employment workshops say that what they truly appreciated from the group experience was the support of others, the feeling of being included and valued. When a brief two weeks comes to an end the key for those still looking is to maintain momentum by continuing to use all those great ideas and tips they picked up but it can be very tempting to fall back into poor daily habits.

I received a reply to my email by the way. In his response he mentioned how things had gone in the interview, and how he found he wasn’t as anxious as he’d been previously. This was no Recruiter, but an actual employer. I smiled as I read that the person doing the interview had trouble maintaining eye contact and seemed more nervous than my job seeker.

I was so proud of him because he told me that he’d been asked what he knew of the company and he’d done his homework in advance like never before and was confident in his answer and thinks he really impressed the interviewer. Awesome! He was still therefore continuing with the discipline and putting into practice the concepts I’d shared and it was paying off. And then he thanked me for my ongoing support.

Did you catch that? He thanked me for my ongoing support. You see that means a lot to someone who has been struggling, gains some measure of inclusiveness and then is back on their own again looking for a job. It’s like that song, “Don’t forget me when I’m gone” by Glass Tiger. And I haven’t.

Some really solid advice for anyone working with a professional Job Coach or Employment Counsellor is to always take the initiative and responsibility to stay in touch. Let’s face it, most professionals these days come into contact with a huge number of people either on their caseload, or through their daily exposure to job seeking clients. The reality is that you’ve got 1 person to stay in contact with, while the professional might have 50, 75, 100 – maybe 170, with more added every day.

With those kinds of numbers, it isn’t that you’ve been forgotten, it’s that there isn’t sufficient time to take care of ones daily tasks and then think to phone or email all 170 or so people and say, “Thinking of you…what’s up? How can I help you out?” So if you crave that ongoing support, you’ve got to take the relationship on as your own to invest in and make it your goal to stay in touch.

If you are in need of ongoing support, (and not everyone wants this), drop in unannounced, make an appointment, place a phone call, send an email. Share what your successes and struggles are. Go so far as to ask not to be forgotten! Staying visible keeps you in their mind if opportunities arise that you might be perfect for.

One last idea is to drop a line when you do succeed and are working long after you’ve notified that person you found a job. Tell them how you are doing. That could be helpful down the road!






Pondering A Social Services Career?

So you’re thinking of getting into the field of Social Services? Why? I’ll bet it’s because you want to help people; make a difference. Noble of you really, and we can never have enough good people with good intentions who care and are willing to serve others.

Social Services however is pretty broad though isn’t it? I mean helping people is a pretty all-encompassing statement that you’re going to have to narrow down somewhat in order to determine the population demographics you want to work with. So for example is it children, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults or seniors? And there’s more. The unemployed? Those in the corrections system? The field of addictions, (alcohol and drug, prescription medication abuse)?

Maybe you’re thinking of the homeless or those who have been physically, mentally or sexually abused? We haven’t even scratched the surface here. Are those you want to help dealing with bereavement, anxiety, social phobias, poor self-esteem, isolation, abandonment, mental health and the list goes on and on.

So here’s a tough question: what is it exactly you’re going to do for the population of people you identify? And while you may have identified a segment of the population to work with, if you haven’t been told or figured it out on your own yet, no matter which population demographic you’ve settled on, you’d better be prepared to work with multiple issues from those I’ve described above. No one ever presents with just a single issue.

Take my job as an Employment Counsellor. I’ve been dealing lately with some pretty serious issues; drug addiction, mental health challenges, over and cross-medication, alcoholism, homelessness, poor self-esteem, family estrangement, reliance on social services and food banks, separation and divorce, unemployment, incarceration, cancer and other serious physical health issues.

All the above have walked into the resource centre where I work with a variety of such combinations. And while I personally don’t have any of those issues, the people who I interact with do, and because they do, so do I. Thankfully I don’t have to live with those issues beyond quitting time at work and I’m grateful for that.

People such as myself and my colleagues must deal with whatever walks in our door on a daily basis. Imagine how convenient it would be for the helpers like you and I if upon entering they would fill out a label and disclose all their issues and then wear it prominently. One might read, “Evicted, low-self worth, alcohol addiction, criminal record (assaulting a police officer), unemployed, bi-polar, arthritis.” And then after filling out his label, he says, “Hey buddy can you help me?” Okay, you’re up; go for it.

This isn’t some once-in-a-blue-moon kind of client who I’m exaggerating about. This is a regular run-of-the-mill kind of person you’re going to meet face-to-face who is going to present one day as pretty together and wanting to change and the next as rude, looking for a fight and resentful of that smug attitude you seem to have from the other side of the desk.

Even if you wanted to work with seniors in a retirement home, those kindly old folks are still dealing with multiple issues: declining physical health, mental health challenges sneaking in and robbing them of their memories, concerns with dying, the hereafter, family abandonment, loss of independence. You don’t just get one issue with one population no matter which you choose.

And that’s the beautiful thing about us as a human species; we are so multi-dimensional. So what does this mean for those of us who choose a career in the field of social services, health care, corrections etc.? We have to be prepared to deal with multiple issues, balancing between knowing when we are in over our capabilities and need to bring in qualified help, yet also listening enough to get a bigger picture of the people we are listening to in order to determine what help we can provide.

Even when we determine what issues a person presents with, what complicates things even further is that there is no one tried-and-true method of dealing with all people who present with the same issues. People are unique. The strategy for dealing with Thomas won’t work for some reason with Harry. While you may have really got through with Samantha and feel pretty good, Tanya thinks you are totally inept and yet seems to have the exact same situation.

This is precisely why no two days are the same in the field. The issues might be similar, the stories sound familiar, but the dynamics of the people involved, their own histories if you will, are different. Therefore in many situations, it is important – no it’s critical – to listen with an open mind as if you were hearing things for the first time. First of all you might find just really listening is something they appreciate. That alone is a great start.

You can make a difference but don’t think you can save them all. ‘Saving them’ in the first place isn’t necessarily even the goal. Being present, being available, providing that one safe haven where the marginalized and often-judged can relax a little and not feel pestered, abused, used and devalued might be enough. Maybe.

There’s a lot of work to do, and we can always use good people. Not a few good people mind you; a lot of good people. Be one.





How To Keep The Job Search Interesting

Anyone putting in a full-time effort looking for work will tell you that it is often frustrating and hard to keep sustained momentum going. While there are highs and lows, when the rejections or lack of responses happen, it can be tempting to give in and give up. So how do you keep investing a steady flow of energy into a job search?

The answer in a word is, ‘variety’. If you’re going about the job search only sitting in front of your monitor for example, you’re bound to get bleary-eyed and you can be susceptible to feelings of isolation, loss of confidence in your interpersonal skills, and you might also find yourself over-checking your inbox only to find no responses which will only further increase your feelings of frustration.

Going about your job search using a multi-dimensional approach means not only using the internet, but also the phone, knocking on doors, meeting with people, setting up information-gathering interviews, reading, doing some self-assessments, mock interviews and also ensuring you have some positive, healthy diversions. Yes you can and should have diversions even in a full-time job search.

A good way to get going with such a job search is planning. Schedule yourself some time to get on the computer perhaps first thing after some breakfast. Check your email for anything that came in overnight, for new postings you want to take advantage of. Set yourself some goals related to diversifying your day. Maybe your plan is to call 3 people that day, write a couple of cover letters, apply for 3 jobs, spend 30 minutes out for a walk or a run, having lunch with one of your references.

In order for the above to all get done, you’d have to organize and plan your day. You want to finish the day checking off all the things you had planned to do, not feeling bad that the time just got away from you. This kind of structure to your day mirrors the kind of structure you might find in a job. You are practicing the same skills – planning, goal-setting, organizing – that your job would require. This kind of behaviour also gives you ammunition if you decide it’s appropriate and want to bring it out in an interview.

You’ll appreciate how different this kind of approach is from the person who wakes up, has some breakfast and says to themselves, “Now, what will I do today?” This kind of spontaneous approach is more likely to result in a scattered, hit-and-miss kind of day where at the end you might find too much time was spent doing a thing or two and too little or no time was spent doing other important things.

So suppose you spent one day doing what I had outlined earlier. Your next day might be to get up, eat breakfast and then check your inbox and job postings but then change-up your schedule. Could be you opt to take advantage of a sunny, bright day and visit 4 potential businesses you are interested in working for. Meet the Receptionists, pick up some literature, observe the employees for clues on their dress code, soak up the atmosphere (busy, laid-back, formal, stressful?).

Giving yourself permission to get out from behind the monitor and out of your home can improve your disposition, give you a sense of purpose and opportunities to work on your people skills. Once home, reading some of the literature you picked up (promotional materials, annual reports, brochures about products and services) can all help you better answer a potential interview question, “What do you know about us?”, or “What did you do to prepare for this interview?”

You should observe that activities you do are not activities in isolation; they all build on one another. So by visiting a business, introducing yourself and getting the name of the Receptionist, you have started the basis for a relationship that you can build on with a phone call. “Hello Brenda, this is Kelly Mitchell. We met yesterday when I dropped around to pick up some information. It was very nice to have met you. As you know I’m interested in speaking with Mr. Campbell, and am calling at the time you suggested. Could you put me through please and thank you.”

Brenda the Receptionist now has a clear idea of who you are from your visit the day before, sees that you follow through, and may have some emotional connection to you which could improve your chances of getting her onboard with your efforts to get through to Mr. Campbell. While you could have called and just said, “Mr. Campbell please”, recalling yourself to Brenda first shows her respect and increases her own self-esteem as you remembered her name.

Be sure to add some small diversions placed strategically throughout your day. In the business world, you’ll have breaks scheduled, so do this at home too. Short breaks to refuel and re-focus. If you record a half hour television show and advance through the commercials, you’ll have a 22 minute break and then get back at it. Conversely, read a chapter of a short story on the back patio in the sun.

By using variety in your job searching, you will avoid mental fatigue, practice a variety of work-related skills, and feel you’ve done more at the end of the day. Keep your job search positive and interesting!

Feedback always welcome!






Schools And How To Job Search

When I say that young people don’t know how to job search, is that because it isn’t taught in schools? Sure there is the internet, their friends and family, but in large part, society as a whole counts on our education systems to teach young people whatever knowledge they need to get a good start in life; at least in the developed world.

While acknowledging that schools and the people who work there are under increasing demands to teach beyond reading, writing and mathematics, I have to wonder at how much job searching is touched on. Teachers these days have some groups of people wanting them to get back to basics. Other groups of people want issues they feel passionate about taught to our children. Yes I can certainly empathize with the people who design the curriculum as they try to keep everybody happy; all the while in a system that has the same number of hours in a day, weeks in a school year.

The case I would make in order to have more attention paid to teaching effective job searching skills would be that the point of educating young people is to give them the knowledge and skills to live successful lives. We give them diplomas to acknowledge that success, grades to gauge their comprehension, and then we turn them loose as young adults.

Now I can imagine my fellow colleagues in the education systems around the world are dying to read to the end and hit the reply button so they can tell me how they do teach job searching techniques in school. That may be. If so, there are a great many folks I know who collectively must have been away or not paying attention when it was taught.

I can not nor would I ever use my own school experience as any relevant addition to this piece. I graduated from high school in 1978, University in 1981, College in 1983. Just because they didn’t teach it then doesn’t mean anything when comparing what is taught today. And my memory might be suspect! So I rely on the feedback I get from people I meet in my personal and professional life who tell me their own experiences with the school system. Some of them are unemployed youth and adults, some of them teaching professionals.

It can certainly be said and well defended too I suppose that the information I’m getting isn’t scientifically gathered; certainly isn’t the universal experience, and things therefore may be quite different in various parts of the world. I could check in with local school boards too and get the definitive answers when it comes to education curriculum and how much if any time is spent on job search techniques.

I haven’t done this however, and here is why. No matter the answer I would get from any educator, I still see a steady stream of young adults who show only the most rudimentary skills when it comes to knowing how to look for work. Most of these people tell me how they are going about looking for work usually has come from a family member or friend.

Now, suppose you and I did agree that learning how to look for a job is important enough to teach in schools. Could we agree on the grade or grades in which this should be taught? What about the length of time it gets covered? I know there are career days where community members file into schools to talk about their jobs, and career counselling in high school is supposed to help shape a students future education to meet the requirements of potential job posting. So yes some time is spent getting ready.

What about the kids who won’t be heading off to University or College? They should be equally prepared to know how to go about getting a job. There is a huge responsibility on the students themselves however to be receptive to this kind of educating, and we have to be honest and say there are some teens who know it all, think their teachers are out of touch and in short, close their minds to learning. That’s reality.

It’s an unfortunate reality however, that many young people are leaving school (before or after graduation), and don’t have the necessary skills to compete for work. So they may have recent education, academically know their stuff, but how to market themselves and compete for work is a missing link.

But wait: I can recall some young people who have learning disabilities, dysfunctional families and living conditions that made learning hard if not impossible. Could they have indeed been taught how to job search but only so much (and maybe very little) got through?

Could it be that educators today are thinking ahead and doing all they can in a tight curriculum to prepare young people for the world that awaits them? And those that are going to drop out because they want a job now, not another year of school to graduate; would any amount of talking convince them to stick around?

Maybe this is part of natural selection. Some pick up survival skills and succeed, some don’t but learn and succeed later, some don’t get it ever and don’t. They teach that in schools.

Maybe after all, they do teach job searching in school, and as a student it’s your responsibility not just to be in class, but to BE PRESENT. Hmmm…



Job Interview Help

Many people I listen to when discussing employment interviews, raise the issue of having difficulty coming up with real life examples from their past when responding to interview questions at job interviews. They are searching for extreme situations they have been in that highlight extreme responses and in many cases, they draw blanks.

Situations that require our skills to resolve, organize, lead, cooperate or meet targets probably happen much more frequently than we first imagine. Equally, we succeed in achieving successes on an ongoing daily basis much of the time but fail to recognize these moments and therefore fail to recall them when we wish to.

Let’s start with a very simple example; one I’m not suggesting would be interview worthy but an example nonetheless. Have you ever gone to get a drink on your break at work and after ordering found you are a tad short on the change in your pocket? That quarter you thought you had turns out to be a nickel? How did you resolve the problem? Did you decline the drink? Offer to run right back with the missing 20 cents? Borrow the 20 cents from a person you went with? Ask if you could pay them later the same day the missing 20 cents? Any of these work as an example of how you resolved the problem.

Interview worthy? No. An example of being in a stressful situation where there is a problem and you have to resolve it somehow, yes. Or have you woke up ill and had a full day of meetings planned with clients? What did you do to resolve that? Go in ill? Call in and tell the boss you wouldn’t be in and where he or she would find the names of people to be called and rescheduled? Just went back to bed and did nothing?

This gets closer to something you could use in an interview, but neither is some major hurdle that resulted in newspaper reporters banging on your door to get an exclusive interview with you because of the extreme skills you displayed in overcoming the issue at hand. Both do however show your judgment in action, your quick thinking or your ability to follow established procedures and level of personal responsibility.

You can find examples of your skills not only in the world of paid employment but also in the realm of volunteerism. If you are donating your time and giving of yourself with a non-profit organization, you are still required to have a level of accountability and punctuality. You are still showcasing your organizational skills, interpersonal skills, perhaps your computer proficiencies. Is your work – and truer to the point – are you yourself – valued and depended upon where you volunteer? That could be shared and score you points.

One of the key difficulties I often hear from people preparing for job interviews is that they fell ill-prepared for the questions they’ll face precisely because they don’t know what questions they’ll be faced with. Like I’ve said in my blogs before, you can anticipate with fairly good accuracy what many of those questions will be however. Yes, you can predict with a high degree of probability the questions in advance of the interview, and that in turn should guide you in coming up with some examples of your past performance to respond in kind to the questions.

If you are going for an IT job where the job posting specifically states you need problem identification skills and problem-solving skills, it’s a safe bet you’ll be asked to give examples from your past that clearly prove your accounting skills. Wouldn’t you agree? Oh you wouldn’t? Good for you. Yes I am being smart here. Sorry. You wouldn’t be asked to give examples of your accounting skills because the job you are applying for doesn’t require that skill set. It does however seem likely you’d best have a couple of situations in mind that prove or demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

So the smart thing to do in the example above would be to sit down now ahead of the interview, and recall some concrete, very specific examples from your past. Examples in which you were faced with a conflict or problem, and then next compose an answer that shows how you identified it, step-by-step worked on it, and then the positive outcome. Voila, you’re on your way to a good interview.

If the job you are going calls for leadership, be prepared for that question and pull out examples that show leadership. Whether in a time of crisis, a project with others, a sales competition, even a medical emergency on the street, situations that you’ve been in which demonstrate your skills and performance and match the qualifications the question is looking for are all good.

If you have difficulty coming up with your skills and stories from your past, I can assure you that a good Employment Counsellor can in a conversation, draw out your skills and name them just from hearing you talk about your past. This kind of skill identification will increase your self-esteem, your confidence and reduce your interview anxiety when it comes to answering questions if you feel anxious, unsure or don’t believe you are truly qualified somehow.

Starting today, look for moments in your daily life AS THEY OCCUR which show how you to respond to situations. Note them. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.