What Don’t You Like About Your Job?


The majority of people, I believe, would say there are pros and cons to the job they hold. While we all want jobs that bring us fulfillment, happiness and positives, here today, I want to explore the not-so-good things about the work we do.

First off, I think it’s fair to say that when the negatives in a job build up to the point where they outnumber the good, it’s definitely time to strongly consider looking for a change. Well, honestly, if it were me, I’d have started to look for a change long before I let the negatives grow to such a point where they outweighed the negative. But that’s me.

Now the negatives in a job generally fall into two categories; things we can change and things over which we have no control. Take a job where you’re working outside in all weather conditions and you have no control over the rise or drop in temperatures, you can’t control hail, rain, sleet or blazing sun, but you can of course control what you wear in such conditions to mitigate the impact of the weather on you., Then there’s the length of time you may be exposed to such conditions, and in some situations and depending on the importance of the work or whether there are deadlines to be met or not, you might not even be compelled to work until conditions improve.

For many, it’s the people that we come into contact with each day that either make or break our jobs. Work for a supportive and encouraging supervisor and you might express your thanks by willingly putting in extra effort as you go about things. On the other hand, when there’s friction between you and the boss, that heightened negative stress may be so severe you get to the point where you realize your mental and physical health aren’t worth risking any further, and you walk away.

Here’s something to think about which you may or may not have already realized; the things that you find frustrating as you go about your day may actually be the things that keep you growing, improving and keep you stimulated. Huh? How can that be? And if this is how you grow and improve yourself, maybe you’d rather not!

Ah but it’s true. Sometimes we can coast along in our jobs, doing what we’ve always done and doing them well. We don’t stretch ourselves, we’re stable and reliable. What we do is what we’ve always done and others around us have come to see us as trustworthy, capable, competent and someone they can rely on. That sounds good right? Yes, of course it does.

But then adversity hits. Something or rather some things, come along and cause a wrinkle in how we go about our job. New technology, a new policy, some additional training we’re required to undergo, some personal health concern that impacts on our stamina, or anything which puts our performance in jeopardy. Yes, it could also be a change in your supervisor, new expectations, a shake up to the team, relocation or a move by your competition that changes how you’ll go about things moving forward if you’re to survive and thrive.

It is these things with which we can become frustrated. It begins to feel like we have to invest energy coping with whatever this new annoyance is; energy that we’d rather pour into the work we’ve done, doing it the way it’s been successful for us in the past. If and when whatever is causing this frustration is confined to us alone, we might also start to worry what others might think of us; will they question our abilities to adapt and succeed? It’s different for sure when frustrations are shared by others; as in an entire organization having to overhaul and redefine their place in the market.

The key is to identify correctly what your source of frustration is and secondly identify what you might do as options to work through things and get past these frustrating days. When you’ve identified possible solutions to implement, you move to action; actually putting into place one or more of the ideas you’ve brainstormed. If your actions reduce or eliminate what you find frustrating, you carry on. If on the other hand, the frustration remains or has escalated, you go back to the ideas you brainstormed and implement another. And don’t underestimate the value of sharing what your source of frustration is with others. You might find your solution is one that has worked for others and they are only too happy to share it with you.

You may end up stronger and have added a new skill to your repertoire as you look back on the frustration of the past when it’s behind you. And if there’s truly nothing you can do to eliminate this frustration that’s affecting your health and happiness, walking away is often not a sign of your failure, but rather your intelligence in preserving your dignity, self-respect, future happiness and good health. The wisdom in knowing how much to invest as you combat your work frustrations, and when it’s time to remove yourself from the situation altogether is what it’s all about.

Go ahead then. It’s good to share! What are you finding frustrating at the moment? Or if you’d rather, what did you use to find frustrating and how did you move past it?

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Job Application Rejection


There was a time in my life when I was fortunate enough to get an interview for every job I applied to. Okay, being entirely honest, I actually got selected and hired for all those jobs I applied to and was interviewed for. Hey, I thought applying for work was pretty straight forward. In retrospect, it’s a good thing that pattern didn’t last very long, because had things continued that way, I’d have made a very poor Employment Counsellor.

Over the course of my working life, I’ve applied to many jobs and not been successful. I’ve applied and heard nothing, received letters telling me the organizations have moved in different directions, been told in person and over the phone that I didn’t get jobs too. In my experience, the more I wanted a job I didn’t eventually get, the more it stung. The loss of an opportunity I was only somewhat motivated to get didn’t hurt near as much. Perhaps you’ve noticed something similar yourself?

Being rejected by an employer does damage to your self-image. It’s called your psyche; your self-perception. It’s not surprising that we should feel badly after being passed over for jobs we really want. Seeing a job ad for a position we could see ourselves doing is one thing, but once we get down to actually applying, we go from casual observer to active applicant. The more we invest in the application by conducting research, targeting our resume, writing a cover letter, having conversations with people – all in an effort to obtain the position, the more it stings when all that effort doesn’t produce the results we’d hoped for.

The solution is not what some would think; to only put in minimal effort when applying in order to minimize your losses. This is the logic I’ve heard some people use over the years. To avoid getting their hopes up and being extremely disappointed, they jus don’t get too excited or invest too much of themselves in any potential job application. Ironically, when these people do get rejected, while you think they’d be less affected than the person who goes all in on applying, they actually feel a similar level of frustration. Not only is this frustration similar in it’s impact, they are often left wondering if they’d have had a different result with some more effort on their part.

Now there’s been times in my life when I’ve been unemployed and had to go through the process of finding jobs to apply to, submitting my application, not getting hired and continuing my search with other opportunities. I have to say, I’ve never lost touch with that feeling of joyful relief that comes when you have an employer select you from the many applicants they’ve had. The degree of relief experienced seems very much related to the length of time away from employment. I have also felt immense gratitude for the jobs I’ve been hired to do after going without one for longer than I’d have liked. It’s the memory of these success following roller coaster periods of hopes and frustrations which now help me immensely in my role as an empathetic Employment Counsellor.

This is the way life goes for many people though isn’t it? The Employment Counsellor is better for having experienced the personal ups and downs of job searching, experiencing the blues personally often helps a songwriter make a connection with their music, etc.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to experience a prolonged job search, fraught with it’s financial, psychological and emotional hardships just so they could get a better understanding and appreciation for the process. Besides, there’s no guarantee that just going through a lengthy period of unemployment makes one more appreciative of the job they eventually land in. I’ve seen some extremely bitter people; changed negatively and intensely so because of their unemployment. Let me assure you I’ve no wish to see anyone come close to that experience.

Having this personal appreciation for being unemployed and through the course of my daily work seeing the potentially spirit crushing affect of the job search process on others, I urge you to get support. Believe me, there’s no sign of weakness in reaching out to a Job Coach, Mental Health Counsellor, Employment Specialist or Employment Counsellor. It’s not an exaggeration to say that partnering up with one or more of the above as you navigate your career exploration and job search might just save yourself. Unemployment has destroyed marriages, destroyed families, financially ruined people of their livelihoods, and broken many people’s spirits of optimism. Some have lost jobs and ended their lives too. Job loss is a serious business.

You see being isolated at a time when you’re experiencing the emotional ups and downs of being hopeful and then rejected, time and time again can stretch a person’s patience and is a genuine test of fortitude, character and emotional well-being. This isn’t a time to draw further into yourself as your normally sound judgement may become skewed. In short, you might not make good decisions when your under prolonged stress and desperate.

It doesn’t have to be me, but get yourself some support. This is a running theme of mine because I know first-hand just how important being supported is when you’re job searching. There’s so much at stake; and you my reader; yes you – the one reading this – you’re so worth it!

A Huge Thank You … To You!


So today’s blog might not, on the surface, appear to help you get a job or keep a job. However, if you take a moment to pause and think, the behaviours I’m going to applaud and recognize are of the kind that will help you in your own workplaces.

And so it is today that I want to use my blog to express my sincere gratitude to those who have in the past taken the time necessary to post a comment after reading a blog entry. I have to say, the impact of your thoughtfulness and kindness is significant and extremely appreciated.

You see I know that as I strive for 900 words in each piece, that represents a commitment of time to get through the article. I’m not sure why I initially hit on 900 words as a daily goal; it just seemed in those first early blogs that it took that long to convey the messages intended. 900 words for the reader was enough to get in to a topic without being overly time consuming. So yes, to read my blog takes time, and I am grateful for all my readers; exceptionally so. I’ve found with bytes and brevity abounding around us in these times, not everyone has the attention spans they used to. Maybe for many 900 is actually too long?

Hence it is that after having read a piece of my thoughts, you can see that those who take a few moments and leave a comment leave me a tremendous gift; a gift I recognize as such and truly appreciate. I don’t necessarily envy the celebrities who have thousands of replies and comments whenever they post something, but I have had spikes where my daily readership increases, and where the comments are more plentiful than other days. I will admit while it’s not jealously or envy, I do love those days when there’s more activity than usual. I think this is to be expected.

So this one is for you the readers. Whenever you take the time to read my blog and if you so choose to go further and rate the piece or leave a comment, you also say something about yourself as much as you do the piece. You demonstrate appreciation and with your input you participate. How disheartening it would be to write day after day and have no ratings, no comments, no indication that anyone was listening or had any appreciation for what I was sharing! This is not only true for me of course, but for others you follow or pieces of theirs you read; maybe for yourself if you’re a writer, a blogger, a novelist.

There are those such as James, Gayle and Dave who are in my audience daily. There are those like Rochelle and Rhiannon who don’t comment frequently but when they do it’s significant and from the heart. There are those who are new followers, some who were with me right from the start back in February of 2012, and of course many who are attracted through LinkedIn posts in addition to my personal blog.

I have to stress how grateful I am to all of those – to you as well (yes you reading these words here and now) who make up my readership. One of the nicest things many of you do is gift me your time in reading a piece, leaving a short comment and then there are those who pass on the blog to someone in their audience. When I learn that the thoughts for a day have been shared beyond my own sites, it’s another moment of gratitude at my end. To be deemed worthy enough of sharing with your own readers in your own circles is a very great privilege I recognize.

And so you see it’s important for me to practice my own gratitude; the behaviour which I so often suggest to others is highly desirable. When you and I express our gratitude for the kindness of others, we say a lot about ourselves. Think about your recent past and recall if you can the moments when you personally thanked someone. Now, how did they receive and respond to your thoughtful words of appreciation? It’s my hope they in turn expressed their thanks. Unfortunate indeed if they brushed it off as nothing. They likely didn’t mean it by the way if they did.

Whether a co-worker, someone in management, a customer or client, a resident or patient, a child or a student; whomever you come into contact with, everyone is potentially someone we could thank for something given. Are you grateful for the student who appreciates your guidance, the patient who’s trust you’ve earned in treating them, perhaps the co-worker who backs you up every so often. Maybe you’re grateful for the customers that keep your doors open and spread the news about your services and products.

When you think about it, there’s so many people to not only be grateful for, but who are worthy of actually being told how they’d touched you. I know that it’s a busy world and social media has added one more thing when we have so many things vying for our time and attention. It’s precisely because of these demands on our time – on your time – that it’s important that I express my thanks to let you know how truly I appreciate you my readers.

So THANK YOU!

 

 

Getting The Best Of Your Staff


There’s things we are good at, things we are great at, and there are things that we get excited and enthused about. If we’re lucky, the things we’re enthusiastic about are also things we’re great at. In the workplace, if we’re fortunate, we land in a job where our boss recognizes and appreciates the importance of these things we are great at and love doing, and finds a way to put us in a position to use these talents.

This isn’t always the case though is it? I mean there are some Supervisors who fail to appreciate the talents their employees have. You may have actually experienced someone who in their wisdom, wanted those of their team to be interchangeable, and therefore rotated their staff around, making sure everyone did a little of everything. As a consequence of this thinking, many employees on a given team tend to grumble; frustrated that what they’d like to be doing most isn’t what they do, and the people doing whatever that is are a little jealous that you’re doing what they’d love to do too.

Now I get the interchangeable dream. When you know more than one job, this cross-training makes it far easier to shore up needs as they arise. Be it short or long-term absences or an increased demand for people performing a certain function, this keeps things running at a high degree of efficiency. The Supervisor who uses this thinking puts more emphasis on having a team of equally skilled employees to draw on than they do on assessing the individual preferences of their staff.

However, consider that an employee who performs work they love doing and does a great job as a result, can transform a job into a passionate career. Now multiply that single person who loves what they do right across your team, and suddenly you’ve got a force to be reckoned with! When people love what they do and they perform great works, they come to work happier, they invest more in their time while there, attendance improves dramatically, and the culture of the workplace becomes dynamic.

I believe therefore, that this way of going about managing human capital in the workplace is a better model. It becomes critical for a Supervisor to get to know their employees; to learn what they are good at, what they excel at, and where their passions are. I feel there are too many Supervisors who make assumptions about those on their teams solely through work performance statistics and casual observations. Investing in people by having regular conversations to learn where their interests and passions are is a great way to learn about the people you are responsible for. And it follows that if those under a Supervisor’s watch collectively perform at a high level of efficiency because they are doing work they love and doing it well, that Supervisor in turn is going to be recognized by their own Supervisor for achieving results. We now have the win-win; the employees win, the Supervisor wins, the company wins and most importantly, the customer or consumer wins.

In reality, it doesn’t always follow that the above is what we experience though. There are those in Management positions who abuse their power. They may be disgruntled themselves and go out of their way to break the spirit of the great worker they see emerging, by removing them from doing what they obviously enjoy doing and relocating them to some other task they perceive will be less enjoyable. This abuse of power is exactly that; while they explain their move by saying things like it will help the individual grow, become more valuable or learn a new skill.

This isn’t the case of someone being in a rut and plateauing in the workplace who could benefit from a shot of stimulation. No, this could be the case of an unhappy boss, jealous of the worker who arrives happy, works happy and leaves happy. It’s also putting their own needs above the organization they both work with. Sure it’s petty, but many a Supervisor is gainfully employed doing exactly this. Maybe you’re working for one now.

Ah but the best Supervisors are the ones who invest in the people they supervise. You know, they listen, they observe, they go out of their way to get to know the people on their teams; what makes them happiest, where they can be put in positions to excel and succeed. This takes some effort on the part of the person to do these things on top of their other tasks. The investment in this process however creates a better culture. People feel they are being listened to, accommodated where possible and they appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Supervisor. And because we evolve, our needs and wants change, this should be an ongoing, living practice rather than a one-time conversation.

When you do work you love, and that work is something you do really well, you show more pride in your accomplishments, you’re a better ambassador for your organization and you also pull harder for the person who’s given you this opportunity.

As an employee, it’s important to communicate your preferences to your boss and do work that motivates and stimulates so you become a highly valued employee.

If you can’t find work you love and you’re good at? Move on. Your good mental health is at stake.

 

After 12 years Together We Part


We’ve been through a lot together. It was approximately 12 years ago that he was walked over to where I sat, extended his hand introducing himself and sat down. Coming from outside the organization, I knew nothing of him prior to that moment; well nothing beyond my office mate was male.

“Hi I’m Trevor, nice to meet you.” Are those his exact words? Truth be told my memory isn’t that good! However, it was something like that. Now our office isn’t that large. In fact, the Supervisor that occupies the office next to us has the same square foot space all to himself. We’re so close to each other we can lean back in our chairs and high five each other if we want. In short, it’s the kind of space where you’d better get along with each other because once you add the two chairs, tables, a lateral cabinet and one chair for a guest, you don’t have a lot of free space to move around.

Our time together is soon coming to an end, as Trevor has made a decision to take a lateral move and work on one of the other teams in our office. That move necessitates a relocation and thus it is that as the longest serving partners in our office, we’ll each get new office mates. While he’s leaving, the change isn’t reserved for him alone though. Spend a dozen years working alongside anyone and when that time is up, both of us will be impacted. Whether I remain in the same space or get relocated myself to a space new to me is as yet unknown, but it will represent a change for me even if I don’t physically pack up and move.

If you’re in a similar situation to me, having shared your workspace with someone else for a long period of time, you know how you work things out together. Over time you get to know how you work best together. For example, I found that being sensitive to light and getting headaches as a result, he appreciated it greatly when we had the overhead bulbs removed from our lighting. That leaves our office darker in the a.m.; so much so that I have two small lamps on my desk which exudes a warmth until the morning sun through our window lights the place up sufficiently they aren’t required.

We’ve come to respect the other guy a lot too. I’m so much better for his wisdom, support, kindness and his generosity. I hope he feels the same way about me too; in fact if I’m honest, I know he feels the same way. We’ve always had great care for each other, especially when we’ve vented, been stressed over something or wanted to pitch an idea. It’s curious that over all that time, we’ve actually done very few workshops together as co-facilitators. We’re both very adept at sole facilitation, and as we’ve grown to a dozen of us on the team, the times we’ve been paired up to co-present has waned. Ah, but everyday we talk with each other about our groups, how the people are coming along, those that shine and those that struggle.

We talk sports with each other too; him with his college football team out of Alabama and me with my Alouettes out of Montreal. Yesterday he told me just how much he’s going to miss our sports conversations. It’s not that we can’t get up, walk around the office and have those chats, it’s just that they won’t happen on the spur of the moment, natural like. And of course we’d have to be mindful of the other person sharing that space; be it in his new location or the office we currently share with someone else sitting where he sits now.

As much as we’ve got along so well, it’s time he left. We’re at different stages in life and he’s destined for new challenges, new responsibilities and perhaps down the road a promotion. Diversifying his experience now puts him in a better place to make such a move, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

So one day this week, I suspect there’ll be an email go around announcing the pairings to come. With 3 new staff in our office arriving this week, and some staff in addition to Trevor on the move, we could have as many as 20 people impacted with those changes. With these moves, change is going to impact the entire office. Knowing someone and sharing a space with them are two different things. You have to find the boundaries all over again; music no music while working? Lighting or none? Who gets the lateral cabinet or do you share it? And of course the personalities of the two people in such a small space have to gel in some way. That adjustment period can be short or long depending on care, styles, attitudes and respect.

As for speculation, I’m not really doing that. I don’t have any guesses really, and I’ve other things to think about beyond whom the next office mate is. I do hope the two of us hit it off and if we come even close to the relationship Trevor and I forged together I’ll feel fortunate indeed.

You don’t go into a job thinking about developing a strong relationship with someone but it can happen. Thanks Trevor; for everything.

Coming To A Decision


All through your life you make decisions. By their nature, some of those decisions are bigger or smaller than others. Some are so huge they affect the course your life runs as a consequence. At the other end of the spectrum are those decisions you make automatically; seemingly without much thought or difficulty; like switching on a light when you enter a dark room.

It’s important to acknowledge and affirm you make decisions; that we all do, because when you linger over making a choice for what appears too long, you may just say outloud, “Why can’t I make decisions without all this stress?!” And it’s then, at those moments, you have to remind yourself that yes, you do make decisions. It’s just the gravity or importance of what you’re weighing over that has you paused until you choose.

Have you ever considered just how many decisions you make in a day? I’m not surprised you haven’t. You’d likely miss many even if you tried to recall all the decisions you make. What time to get up, to shower or not, turn on the light or stumble in the dark? Which pair of underwear? Slacks or skirt, shave or not? Cereal or toast and if it’s toast, butter, jam or peanut butter? Do the dishes now or when you come home at the end of the day?

Okay, so you’ve given yourself credit over the small ones. Good. Now, to the bigger ones; maybe one you’re fretting over now for all I know. Okay so let’s look at that process. First of all, if you’re upset that it’s taking too long to make your choice, consider on the positive side of things that you won’t be upset with yourself for having made a rash, spur-of-the-moment decision without giving things the time and reflection they require. Every made a rash decision without thinking and regretted it? Hopefully it wasn’t over something huge; yes, hopefully it was choosing one ice cream flavour over another; something with small consequences.

When considering 2 or more options, we generally weigh the pros and cons. We look at the benefits of each choice, (the good) and the negatives (consequences). Can I suggest by the way that we both remove the word consequences as a negative. Make a good choice and the positive outcomes are consequences of having made that decision. Consequences go both ways. Too often someone warns us of consequences in our decision-making and like the word stress, we come to associate it with a negative. But stress and decisions can both be positives.

Okay so you’ve got your pros and cons. If you’re looking for a choice that has all positives and zero negatives, you’re not likely to find it. Just as obvious is that whatever you don’t choose in the end likely has some upside or positives too. Believing there’s an option with nothing but positives, where everything is a win, just doesn’t happen much of the time when you’re faced with 2 or more big choices and you have to decide.

Take choosing a school to go to as an example. Is it the College or University close to home or the one across the country. One close to home might mean you could continue to live with your parents and save on residence costs, but then again, sometimes the freedom to do what you want without the constant scrutiny of your parents would be a welcome positive. You might mature faster by doing your own shopping, washing and cooking. On the other hand, you’ll miss dad’s barbeque and mom’s lasagna. As for programs, they may be similar but one has a slighter better reputation but comes at a higher fee. One’s in a densely populated city and the other isn’t. Maybe your family encourages you to go to one over the other, but the other is close to those ski hills you’d love to get out on. Ah decisions.

Consider that having decisions to make is a privilege. Some on this planet are fighting passionately for the rights you enjoy; the right to choose. Be it school, a political party to vote for in an election or if and whom to marry. Never wish you didn’t have to decide; that others would make decisions for you. Coming to a decision helps you grow. Some of your decisions, yes, you’ll regret those choices. This makes you human. We all make decisions we’d like to reverse, and yes, some of those are big ones. While you hope to learn the lessons that go with those choices you wish you could have back, the key is to look forward and make better, informed choices, not relive and beat yourself up over choices made in the past.

Go ahead and get information when weighing your choices. Pay attention to your gut too. If you flip a coin between two important options, do you feel hopefully of one over the other as the coin is in the air? What does that tell you? Grab the coin and put it in your pocket without looking at how chance might have played out.

In the end, DO choose. Spend the time you need but please make a decision. Don’t run the risk of missing a deadline, losing an opportunity, then feeling bad because you waited too long.

In the end, go with the positives of your choice and feel good!

Dark Days Having An Impact?


Everywhere on our planet, albeit at different times of the year depending on where you live, the elongated orbit we take around the sun brings us increased darkness as the sun takes a little longer to rise and sets earlier at the end of the day. Where I am in Canada, here I sit at 5:50 a.m. and outside is completely dark.

Now were this a couple of month’s ago, there’d be light outside. Our summer is waning and Autumn is moving in. While it’s many people’s favourite time of year, for others, this prevailing darkness which shortens our hours of daylight is of great concern. The darkness outside touches a darkness within; moods change, some cocoon themselves away, contact with others is restricted, it’s harder to get going in the morning and there can be a prevailing sense of anxiety, worry, stress and depression.

Some of us adapt to this change in light better than others. If your job is to record the attendance figures for your organization, you may note patterns of absenteeism, increased use of mental health days, and even when people are at work, there can be a drop in productivity for some individuals. This isn’t just a case of lazy workers, but may be attributed to this period of reduced natural light.

For many people, there will soon be days of commuting to work in the darkness and again commuting home in the dark. Not everyone has the benefit of sitting with a window out into the world around them, and so it’s possible that without making a conscious effort to get out for a walk at midday, one could travel to work in the dark, never see the light of day and then return home in the dark. Now if this goes on from Monday to Friday, that’s a huge block of time being deprived of daylight.

There’s a name for this condition which negatively impacts some people; seasonal affective disorder. (Isn’t there a name these days for everything?) It’s important to remember that such a condition is not someone voluntarily choosing to be so affected. This isn’t a conscious choice to be moody; it’s not something one can, ‘snap out of’. It’s a state of mental health.

Just like many other mental health conditions, it’s invisible to the eye though. I mean there’s no walking cast or arm in a sling that gives us a visual clue to someone’s condition. Those affected may actually do their best to compensate for their mood by forcing smiles, laughing along at things they don’t really find funny; in other words, doing their best to appear to be their normal self. They aren’t sick in the sense of having a virus nor is there a need to be walking around with a box of tissues at hand.

Now you and I who aren’t affected to the extent these people are might still find ourselves missing the sun. We all have an awareness of the lack of light in the morning and evening – all of us. However, those impacted to the point where it affects their mental health experience this lack of light differently. They may not know what the problem is defined as, they may just feel they aren’t themselves. Without knowing it’s the deprivation of natural sunlight, they may just brood more than normal wondering, “what’s wrong with me?”

Now take this condition and add to it unemployment. For many unemployed people, waking up and consciously realizing there’s no job to go to is in itself a depressing state. Looking for work as you know takes focus, energy, commitment, a strength to face the disappointments of outright rejection, being passed over for someone else or getting no feedback at all on jobs applied to. When you add in the negative impact of what we know to be Seasonal Affective Disorder, well, you’ve got someone who should be ramping up their job search but who is weighed down and not at their best. Worst of all, on the outside, they appear to be normal.

So, what can be done? Well, like many first steps, getting in touch with your physician is a good idea. A check up might be in order. Yes, and be honest when you see him or her. Even if you’ve got a 1 p.m. appointment on a sunny day and your mood has improved, it’s incumbent on you to share openly and honestly about how you experience your days. Many tend to downplay their mental health; wanting to appear ‘normal’, to come across as in good shape and in control; able to handle themselves. But if you conceal what you experience, you won’t get the help you need. Like the toothache that somehow disappears the day of the dental appointment, you’ll regret not being open and honest with your doctor who can’t treat what they don’t know.

Secondly, get out in the daylight. Go for a walk and clear your head. Make a point of looking out a window during the day if possible. Consider some vitamin tablets to compensate with what you miss from the sun.

Most of all, do your best to engage when your instincts tell you to withdraw and isolate yourself. Your thoughts will go to darker places if you’re alone. And finally, open up and share how you’re doing; this is a strength my friend.

We’re all in this together.

Would You Hire The Last Chocolate In The Box?


Today a question for those Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Headhunters, Interviewers and employers who are responsible for the selection and hiring of applicants.

First,  imagine a box of chocolates; you know, the ones that come with the pictures and descriptions of the contents. It’s a full box, none have been tampered with. Most people tend to look at the descriptions, match up what they read with what they want, reach in and choose one. That’s pretty much how companies hire when you think about it too. You know what you’d like, you do some research into your choices via resumes, social media and interviews, then make your selection based on which candidate which is most likely to fulfill your needs.

Over at the chocolate factories, every chocolate they produce has to appeal to at least some of their customers in order to continue profitable production. If the market shows a trend where consumers are consistently passing over a certain type of chocolate, it’s probable they’ll produce it in fewer quantities; perhaps dropping it entirely.

However, each one of those chocolates is in their own right, a quality produced piece. We might not like the coconut maroon, the fudge caramel or even the one with the maraschino cherry center, but they are in the variety packages because they’ll appeal to someone if not us. As for the last chocolate in the box, there’s nothing wrong with it; as soon as the first one is selected, one will inevitably be the last one remaining.

Ah, if they could only talk though. I’d guess that last piece would have started off feeling pretty good about itself; just as appealing as every other chocolate. As it’s neighbours get selected again and again, that chocolate’s self-worth might get shaky though. I can imagine it wondering aloud, “What’s wrong with me? Will I ever get taken? Give me a chance, you’ll see I’m pretty good; you’ll like me!”

If you think about it, the value of that last piece of chocolate might start off on equal footing compared to each other chocolate in the box, but as fewer and fewer remain, and ultimately it ends up being the last one, it’s value at that moment is higher than ever. For the right person, they’ll be thrilled to find the one they want most is the one remaining. For me, that last piece will always be the one that tastes like coffee. I’ll pass that one over every time. What’s that? That’d be one of the first ones you’d reach for? Point made.

So my question for you is whether or not you’d hire the last chocolate in the box. It’s unspoiled, unhandled. My guess in this scenario is that you wouldn’t. Probably because like me with the coffee tasting chocolate, no amount of time would have me take it. I’d go and get another box of chocolates; one which contains the kind I’m looking for. That coffee tasting chocolate will either go to a guest who drops in or out in the bin; even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

And here my analogy of hiring and a box of chocolates breaks down and gets uncomfortably real. That last chocolate that nobody selects and gets trashed has no feelings; it’s a chocolate. Individually it’s under a dollar, maybe about 27 cents. So big deal. A person however? The one that gets rejected over and over, passed over time and again? The one that puts on their best face, extols their attributes and strengths as best they can and gets considered, evaluated and ultimately tossed aside; well, they’ve got feelings. That person’s value never truly diminishes, but the process – your process – can make them similarly feel undervalued.

The things you find unappealing as far as employment goes get in the way of taking a chance right? A decade of unemployment, lack of a car, poor credit history, lacking local experience, age, as examples. But every so often, you might take a nibble of a chocolate you’d otherwise pass on and in that moment, discover it actually has an appeal. Hmm… you might even take a second, larger piece, then in the end satisfyingly pop the remaining bit in and wonder why you didn’t try it earlier. You suddenly have a new favourite and want more.

Now suppose before you there was a woman with a 10 year gap on her resume. Prior to that gap she worked for 12 years with a single employer in the Financial Industry. The gap? No fault of hers; certainly not by choice. This was a time when her controlling, emotional and psychologically abusive spouse forbade her to work, relocated her away from her friends and family; manipulated her into isolation and full dependency on himself. He crushed and all but extinguished her self identity. Today, she’s left him, is rebuilding her fragile self-worth, still holding onto the belief there is good in the world and she’s deserving of a normal life.

Her resume is before you and she wants an interview to best make her case for hiring her. She’s got the education, past experience you said you wanted. It’s just that unexplained gap… Without a conversation, you’re never going to understand that 10 year gap. You could end up with a genuinely grateful employee; hardworking, trustworthy and trainable. Initially rusty yes, but will shine up nicely.

Come on…might surprise yourself and be glad you took a chance.