Where Are YOU Going?

Imagine yourself with your bags all packed, but having no idea where you were going? That would never happen in real life would it? I mean how would you know what to pack? If you were headed to the north, you’d need some thermal socks and long underwear. Head on south, and you might want to include your bathing suit and sun tan lotion.

Everyday millions of workers are just like this however. Inside those suitcases, they’ve packed away their confidence, skills, attitudes, beliefs, hopes and dreams, work values and personality. All those things are really awesome but, yet somehow many of those same people have done little to actually plan where they are going in their careers. When they do move from job to job, it is with little planning, and what they’ll need is not necessarily what they’ve brought along.

Ever seen somebody ace the interview and get offered the job but after a few weeks or months, they’ve already moved on to something else because it wasn’t what they thought it would be? Me too. Then again there are people who move from job to job looking for their passion. I guess they forgot to pack that when they began that trip. Maybe you’ve even seen or know those people who somewhere along the way can’t find their hopes and dreams anymore? Yep; seen them too.

Most people put far more planning into a two week get-away than they do into their life-long career. So why is that so? It’s a headscratcher for sure. Planning for a trip they’ll consult the internet, check weather patterns, talk with people who have been their before, maybe learn language basics, and plan things that are must-sees. With their career however, they don’t research companies on the internet, ignore the company climate, ignore talking to people who work their now, don’t learn company lingo, and forget to learn some of the highlights of the company’s values and missions statements.

Once in a position, they often find that the job is unfulfilled, rewards are few and far between, and the skills they brought to the job are not all that much in demand. Skills they want to use are ignored or seldom used.

Planning takes time and effort. The payoff for doing good planning can be that the job you land next is something that gets you excited and pumped up to do on a regular basis. What’s important to you? If you’re looking for a certain type of boss to work for, do your homework. Check out the atmosphere and the culture of the organization. What do they value? If you love to be creative, but you’re moving into a Call Centre, you’ll hate it reading a script all day! If you like routine and doing the same thing all the time, you’ll fit in nicely at an automotive assembly plant.

Where are YOU going? What’s your plan for the next couple of years? If you are happy now but planning a move within the organization, what skills, certificates, training etc. will you need to compete for that job that maybe you could be brushing up on now? Maybe you need to start networking with decision-makers, movers and shakers, influential folks. It won’t do to suddenly call up someone in two years time and ask for inside information unless you’ve fostered a relationship that’s also about giving not just taking.

If you bring your lunch everyday, but all the people you need to meet eat out regularly, it might be worth the price of a lunch to eat with them once a week or more if ultimately you need to get, ‘in’ with this crowd. Most jobs are found through networking. Sure you can use the internet to find jobs and do your research, but sooner or later you’ll need to talk with people face-to-face. So if your interpersonal skills are weak, work on them now. Get out and join Toastmasters to speak easier and more comfortably. Join some discussion groups on Linkedin and actually participate in conversations that matter. Join the walking crowd in your office and get out of your cubical at noon hour.

Do some long range planning that takes you where you want to go. Not sure? Sit down with your company’s HR professionals. Some employers have succession plans in place that help their employees grow as the company grows. Find out. No one available where you work? Okay so hook up with a Career Advisor and pay them for their services. This could be some of the best money you ever spend if it leads to your long-term happiness. You’ll probably spend less on a Career Advisor or Counsellor than you do buying Christmas gifts for a single year; and can you even remember what you bought with that money last year?

You are worth the investment in time and money that it will take to plan out a slice of your future. You don’t have to do a 10 year plan, or a 4 year plan for that matter. What you do deserve is some thought and investment in perhaps your near future. Get excited about the possibility of knowing where you are going and having a big say in where you end up instead of just letting Life dictate where you go.

All the very best.

Preparing For Winter

I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks around the house. Outside I’ve got a couple of gazebo shelters to take down, a garden to turn over, compost bins to empty, 6 rain barrels to empty and remove, and a lot of plants to pull out and remove. Then of course there’s the garden furniture to put away, a lot of garden lighting to remove and some lawn to over-seed and cut until the snow flies.

While it’s a list of chores some might see as work, to me it’s just something to look forward to. I know that by getting at it now, I won’t be caught by an early snowfall down the road, and all through the winter the compost bins will have room in them as I remove the best of the soil at the bottom. If I take good care now, none of my rain barrels will split with a surprise frost, and the two bird baths will not ice over and crack. All of this means next Spring, I won’t discover nasty surprises and have to run to the store and spend more money replacing items I didn’t bother to take care of over the winter.

A job search is much the same. Look at yourself and your own situation whether you are unemployed or not. Sure you’re either looking for work or comfortably employed, but are you thinking and planning ahead? Or do you just hope for the best and take no planned action to craft out your future?

Let’s look at those already employed first. Do you plan on doing your current job for the next 20, 10, 5, or 3 years? At what point might you see yourself interested in moving on, up or out of your current company? Perhaps some planning now and some action on your part will help prepare you for the future. This is especially true if you are one of those who doesn’t react well to change when it is forced on you. Take courses, join associations, volunteer on a Board, network with some people in companies that might interest you, keep your resume up-to-date. All of these steps will help prepare you for change when opportunities arise. Many people stop updating their resume when they get a job, and then have difficulty remembering courses they’ve taken and dates when they have to remember what they have done for the last seven years!

For the unemployed, it is important to keep to a structured job search. However, at the same time I would suggest you pay some attention to the things that do have to be attended to in your family and personal life. Allocate time to plaster over that nail pop, paint that bedroom, clean out the garage. All of these things might seem like a distraction from your job search. Really however, they can be extremely valuable in helping you focus more on the job search. You see, if you’ve got a desire to clean up the garage for example, but you put it off so you can job search continually, you’re going to hate seeing the inside of the garage daily as it reminds you of the task you’re ignoring. That will cause you to feel guilt. Now you have no job and guilt about the garage. So clean the garage for a day, get it out-of-the-way, feel like you have accomplished something with meaning to you – hey maybe even have a garage sale and make a few extra bucks into the bargain! Then you can concentrate more of the job search with renewed energy.

Life outside of employment still has to go on, and it will whether you pay attention to it or just allow it to happen. So if you have necessary things to do around your place, set aside some time and then get at them. So if like me, you have rain barrels to empty of water and you don’t do it, you’ll still be unemployed but now feel ticked off because you have to buy new ones in the Spring or do without. I know without my six rain barrels, I would have spent more money on water this past summer which was dry and hot. So a little preparation now is actually saving me money over time.

Of course the other thing is that family members who might be affected by your unemployment will also benefit from your actions. If that room that needed painting is your son or daughter’s room, they’ll appreciate you paying attention to their needs. Do it together, and you’ve created a bonding experience that will give you both some pleasure.

Hey by the way, NOW is the time to get into retail stores and apply for Christmas help positions. While the job might only last until the end of December, working will restore your dignity, give you some cash for the holiday season, raise your self-esteem and get you out of the house. The best day to apply for a job was yesterday; the second best day to apply for a job is today. Get going and all the very best!

More job advice can be found at https://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/

I’ve Given Up On You

Here’s something that you must understand if you are going to ask for the help that is available from a Job Coach or an Employment Counsellor: You’re not the center of their universe. When you ask for assistance in your job search from a Career Advisor, Mentor, Coach or Counsellor with respect to employment, that’s a real sign of strength and courage.

You’ll get empathic support, and these folks will really go out of their way to help you out because quite frankly they want you to succeed. It’s what turns them on, and it gives them tremendous happiness. They’ll set up a plan for you that if you follow it, will move you closer to your next job. Generally speaking, you’ll identify together a number of strengths, weaknesses, and activities to change those weaknesses into positives to improve your job searching.

But….at some point…..they will give up on you. Evey single one of them, (and I’m one of them) will give you lip service, do very little, and stop working hard to land you that next job. So how come? After all, isn’t that why all those folks get paid in the first place? What nerve! So how can you know if your Advisor has packed it in and passed you by?

Well first of all, there are a number of these folks reading this blog right now who are wondering where I’m going with this blog, and they’ve got the reply button under the cursor ready to fire back a volley that disagrees with me. Read on.

First of all, you aren’t the only person out there that your Employment Counsellor is working with. You probably had that figured out when you first met that professional. So sure they gave you their undivided attention during that first half hour or hour meeting. They might have asked you to do some homework, like work up a resume, go to a workshop, etc. So let’s assume you did, because in the beginning you see some hope here and you’re starting fresh with this person. You might have even done the homework, gone to the workshop, and have completed the resume in the time allocated. Great for you. The Employment Counsellor is still working with you.

Time goes by though. No results. Nothings changed. You’re doubting again, falling into old patterns of behaviour. You’re sleeping in at 10:00a.m. when they call you to see how things are going. The first silent alarm goes off on their radar. So they remind themself to call you in a couple of days. Your cell phone is out of minutes and they can’t leave a message – neither can employers. Serious doubting creeps in. There’s a conversation you two have, and your given some money to buy some minutes on the phone. Next day, your roommate answers the phone and says you aren’t home because your up north at a friends cottage for a few days. Alarm bells are ringing.

Keep this scenario going and you’ll see that the precious time that the Employment Counsellor has for you and all those other clients is going to shift away from you more and more. Why? You don’t appear serious and committed anymore. Those leads and job openings that cross the desk aren’t going to be given to you even though you first appeared right for the job. Nope. Those job leads are going to others on the caseload who may not have the same skills as you do, but they do have more of a positive attitude and are DEMONSTRATING their commitment to the job search.

Your Employment Counsellor has temporarily given up on you. You are no longer on the must call list. You’re dangerously close to being dropped as a client of theirs, and going back to job searching alone. Your actions in this case outweighed your words, and you have proven yourself to be not worth the effort. You see the Employment Counsellor is also forging relationships and networking. They speak daily with employers and try to land opportunities for their clients. When an employer agrees to contact the Employment Counsellor first, that person naturally wants to fill the spot with someone who will make a good impression so more referrals come in. You have ceased to make that good impression.

The good news is you can control to a great degree the level of interest and commitment a Job Advisor or Career Counsellor gives you. How? Follow through on your homework. Stay in contact with your Employment Coach and tell them what you are doing on a regular basis. Ask for feedback and be receptive to getting it. Do what you are told. Keep to the plan you came up with together on your goals and steps. Look neat when you meet and make sure you keep appointments. Be honest about challenges and problems but don’t dwell on your misery.

“I’ve given up on you”, isn’t something you want to hear so don’t act in a way that gives someone any justification for cutting you loose. If you aren’t really ready to job search because or things going on in your personal life, take care of those things and get them out-of-the-way. Sure ‘life’ comes up and gives you challenges. Did you think you were special? Everybody has setbacks, things to deal with, deaths and births in the family, money woes, etc. Get help if you can’t move on, but otherwise get back to your committed job search. Then my friends, no one will give up on you.

That One Bizarre Interview Question

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have the services of an Employment Coach or Counsellor, you’ve probably been advised to expect an off-beat question during your upcoming interviews. You know, a question like, “What kind of animal would you be and why?” or “Tell me a story.” Well the later really isn’t a question but it is unexpected and may throw you for a loop. So what’s with these odd questions?

Well first of all, most companies assume that people are doing their homework these days, learning about the company, it’s mission and values, its products and services. Most interviewers also make a pretty safe assumption that you have rehearsed and practiced your interview answers to potential questions you might be asked.

Typically, you can expect to be asked questions pertaining to your strengths (what you’ll bring to the company), your weaknesses (what the company will have to train or teach you before you are valuable to them). Expect questions on what you know about the company, how you handle problems and conflict, how well you get along with your co-workers, your attitude and your outlook. So if you are preparing to tell the interviewer all the things that anybody could expect to be asked, how can they be sure they are seeing the real you and not just some image you want them to see?

That question that comes out of left field, that bizarre question that you puzzle over and can’t understand the logic in the asking of, is the one that superior interviewers relish. If it’s asked at all, it’s asked by companies who want you to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet in a matter of seconds. How good are you at improvisation? Freeze up at this point and say nothing and you demonstrate an inability to be spontaneous, to think laterally, and to act outside of a careful orchestrated script.

For example, you can pretty much assume you’ll walk in, shake a hand or two, be offered a seat, and be asked questions like, “Tell me about yourself”. “Give me an example of a time you had a conflict and how did you resolve it?” “What do you know about our company and products?” “What did you do to prepare for this interview?” “What skills and assets would you bring to the position that separate you from other applicants?” Very safe, very predictable, very good questions designed to get information the company wants to know.

However, let’s also take for granted that the interviewer is a smart person too. He or she prepared for the interview just like you. They know that one of the qualities they need is employees who can think for themselves, who can adapt to changes quickly, who won’t miss a beat when faced with change. Change is something many people do not react well too. So how can they get you to DEMONSTRATE your ability to do this and not just tell them? Create a situation where you are faced directly with something unexpected and see how you react of course.

So here, see how long it takes you to respond to this situation. Really, try this. Imagine you walk in, sit down, shake hands, and talk about getting to the interview without any problem. Chit-chat over, you’ve answered 6 questions you had prepared for and your confidence is high, your self-esteem rising. Okay, next question; “What single current news story world-wide is of interest to you today and what bearing if any does it have for our company?” Say what? The clock is running and the interviewer is looking at you for an answer, pen poised in hand ready to write. And you answer…….?

It doesn’t matter if that’s a fair question or not. It’s been asked and it’s on the table. You’re now being watched for body language, facial expression, signs of anxiety, nail-biting, looking off into space, finger tapping, or maybe you stall by saying, “Gee that’s a good question….” (what kind of stupid question is that? Is she messing with me?) “World-wide news story….” (AH why don’t I read the paper or listen to the news!”)

The question shows your general awareness, or lack thereof, of world events. In other words, how aware and how well-rounded are you? Would you be able to contribute to conversations and projects outside your specific job or not? By relating to the company, you show your ability to take events and connect them together. How does something like rising oil prices in the Middle East affect the accounting department when they have to pay employee gas mileage? Does the crisis in Libya impact on the net worth of the company interviewing you on the stock market?

Think about the odd questions but understand the interviewer will still ask you questions you couldn’t possibly expect. Think on your toes. Be ready and whatever you do, ANSWER the question. Don’t pass and say something smug like, “I choose not to answer,” or “I don’t know.”

Try these:

“Would you rather be a sapling in a city or a mature tree in a forest? Why?”

“What’s your favourite nursery rhyme and why?”

“Tell me a story.”

“If you were a raindrop, where would you want to land, and why?”

An Hour With Jacques Demers

So today I find myself out-of-town attending a conference with several of my work colleagues from my own office, and many more from across the Province of Ontario.

In addition to the planned workshops on topics of interest to those in my field of Employment Counselling, yesterday we were fortunate enough to have Jacques Demers address us as a keynote speaker. For those of you that don’t know him, Jacques is a former coach in the NHL, and won the cup back in 1993 with the Montreal Canadiens.

Now being a fan of the team, I was intimately aware of Jacques and thought I knew his story. In short, I knew he had literacy problems and that he revealed these upon his retirement and wrote a book about his problem in an effort to help others.

The man had the groups’ attention from the moment he took to the podium. Speaking from the heart, he described his early life, raised by an alcoholic father who abused his wife and son. He described hiding his literacy problem from his sisters, his teachers, his fiance and others all the while living in fear that someone might intentionally or accidentally reveal his dark secret and destroy his dream of coaching in the NHL. What fragile self-confidence he had, was constantly just a word away from being stripped from him. What he told us was that he didn’t have option of having people like us in his early life who could have given him a chance, and reached out to him.

It saddens him to realize that there are more illiterate people than ever in an age of electronic readers, I-Pads, Blackberry’s etc. and while the climate has changed and people can be more open about their literacy problems, the problem nonetheless grows.

While I had gone to hear Jacques because of his affiliation with the Montreal Canadiens, what I really heard was an ordinary man speaking about his problem with literacy growing up, dealing with an abusive father, and making a commitment to himself to improve his situation. Back then he didn’t have the opportunity to speak up and get the professional help. He said that in those days you kept your problems to yourself for fear of being branded as stupid and dumb. No way could he risk being found out and his career aspirations destroyed. Hockey would provide his family with its livelihood.

Upon his retirement from the NHL and subsequent revelation, he was contacted by Stephen Harper and asked to accept a position as a Canadian Senator. “Why me?” he asked. After all, he was a hockey guy not a politician. Apparently the Canadian Prime Minister said he needed people like Jacques who had overcome adversity and knew what it took to succeed. Jacques was being given an opportunity to take his past experience and use it to better the lives of others through his new role as a Senator.

Funny how life sometimes works this way. In order to end up in a position where he could inspire others and help them to better deal with their problems, the man himself had to endure a tortured youth, constant worry, hide his problem from those he loved most, and throughout the entire ordeal, still find a way to get by. He didn’t plan on ending up as a Senator working with Aboriginal people to improve literacy and their quality of life but he did.

The message Jacques also conveyed was one of thanks. He thanked all of us seated there for choosing to do what we do. He said we were people of character, and he thanked us on behalf of all those who don’t stop to express their thanks. I don’t know what it cost to get Mr. Demers to come and speak to the group yesterday. I do know now that his words made an impression on me personally and perhaps I would say on most people in that room. When he spoke, he spoke with genuine sincerity. He brought no notes, he used no script, he just stood at the podium and shared his story and expressed his appreciation for our capacity to care when helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

So to you on his behalf I say this. If you have a problem or secret of some kind, whether it be literacy, alcoholism, drugs, anger, or any other of the many issues that can get in the way of living a better life; the life you want to lead, seek out help.
And if you happen to be in the people profession, dedicated to helping others, I extend my personal thanks echoing Jacques, for doing what you, what we, do.

Oh yeah and I did get his autograph!

Darker Days Are Coming

A message today for all those job searching; darker days are coming. Now hold, on, it’s not all doom and gloom here so don’t misread and lay this aside.

With the arrival of Fall 2012, the first thing you may have noticed is in North America the sun is showing less and less due to the change in the year. The mornings are darker later, and the darkness creeps in earlier and earlier each day. The job seeker is wise to be reminded of this. Why? Well many people are affected to a lesser or greater degree by the weather and the presence or absence of light in their day. Sometimes going without sunshine for a few days can be disheartening and can even find someone feeling depressed or with a headache.

When you job search, you try to keep positive, see the ‘bright’ side of things, and it gets harder when it’s physically darker all around. Soon people will walk a little brisker, hold their coats closed a little higher, and look down at the pavement lost in their own thoughts a little more often. If you’re looking for a pleasant smile to you the stranger, you might be more often disappointed. Don’t take this personally, it’s just the weather.

However, when you speak with people, especially in interviews, networking functions and one-on-one, do your best to be positive and upbeat. Remember that most people like to be around people who are positive, upbeat and enthusiastic. If your dour, grumpy or just plain cynical, who is going to want to hang out with you and then help you out? This is your chance to demonstrate your positive attitude.

If you haven’t done so in some time, contact people and let them know you are still job searching. Ask for referrals, recommendations, leads, and thank them sincerely. Find out if there are any present or emerging job openings. Get to know the company you want to work for most and determine what their needs are. Check out their website and see if it gives you specific information on how to apply for work. Determine if they accept applications in person, online, fax, email or a combination. Look objectively at your own experience, resume, skills, strengths and weaknesses. If you need something upgraded or improved, get it done now. Yes money is tight, but now is the time to position yourself so you are the right applicant when the posting appears. Separate yourself as the woman who is ready today, not the woman who is willing to take a course if she gets the job. Let that be your competition.

When things are getting darker, two things to remind yourself of. First, stars are always present, but they shine brightest on the darkest nights, not on sunny days. Secondly, darker days are just part of a larger cycle. Longer, brighter days are coming too. Do your best now so that when they come you’re ready. Already you’ll find some defeatist will be packing in their job search until the new year to get a fresh start. Then they’ll complain nobody hires in January so they’ll wait until February. Then they’ll complain about the snow and getting around so they’ll wait until March. All the better for you. When others gear down their job search, step yours up!
There’s more job advice waiting for you at https://myjobadvice.wordpress.com

Thanks To…

Some people say thanks because it makes them appear to be appreciative. Others give thanks because they genuinely mean it. While there are many people who get thanked often, I thought I’d pass on my thanks to a few who you might have missed. Why not take a second and find a way to express your appreciation for some of the folks on this list.

1. The Night Cleaner

After you’ve gone home for the day and meet up with your family or friends, the Night Cleaner is just arriving at your workplace. When you return to work the following day, your trash basket is empty, your carpet clean, your desk disinfected, your floor swept, and not only does your area feel clean, their actions help keep down any potential bug problem. Instead of complaining about the few things a Cleaner might not have dusted, look at how much they have done for you. Leave a handwritten note saying you appreciate their cleaning. Do it twice a year.

2. The Receptionist

Here you’ll find someone with people skills, who if you treat them with respect, will chat up your clients when you’re running behind, apologize on your behalf even when they aren’t to blame, and who will often take a tongue-lashing for things they don’t deserve. Your Receptionist is the face of the organization to people for their first visit. They also deal with whoever walks in and with whatever chip they may or may not have on their shoulder. They also have work of their own to do.  Good Receptionists are hard to find. Be sure to thank yours often.

3. The Client

The whole reason you continue to be employed is due to this person. Treat them like they are the only client you have, no matter whether you are in the retail, manufacturing, service, health, government or in fact for any sector. If you ever wish your clients would just go away, I remind you to be careful. You just might get your wish. My car dealership has the salesperson send me a card on my birthday wishing me the best. A single sale resulting from the contact that card brings justifies sending out thousands in the mail. Thank your clients for their business and their trust in you.

4. Security Personnel

If you have a Security Guard or detachment at your workplace, they can often have a very lonely job, patrolling the area to keep company stock and staff secure. Don’t take these people for granted. While it may appear they go for long periods doing not much of anything important, that’s just your ignorance speaking up. These folks monitor so much behind the scenes that you aren’t even aware of. The fact you aren’t aware of them should tell you just how good they are doing their job. Shake the hand of a Security Guard and look them in the eye as you say, “Thanks for keeping me safe.”

5. Administrative Support staff

Okay so they have one day a year that celebrates their contribution to your workplace. That’s no reason to look down on them the rest of the year. They file, type reports, prepare your paperwork, organize your day, schedule, re-schedule and appease your clients. They call your customers, order your supplies, sometimes do personal things for you that aren’t in their job descriptions. How much does it cost to say, “Thanks for everything” and mean it?

6. IT Staff

IT staff keep your computer running, ensure the latest virus doesn’t attack you, fix Server problems, and allow you to electronically keep in touch with your customers, clients, distributors, manufacturers, suppliers etc. When something goes wrong, they are the first person you call right? When did you last call them to just say, “Everything is fine, just calling to say thanks for doing what you do.”

7. The Maintenance Team

In the middle of the day when a bulb goes out, the fridge leaks, somebody needs to mop up vomit in the hall, the floors need polishing, the water fountain isn’t working, the sidewalk needs shoveling, who gets called? Yep, the Maintenance Man or Woman. Most staff want a problem fixed with minimal disruption and the want it done immediately so they can continue without interruption. Who got interrupted though to fix your problem? You got it. Would a sincere, “Thanks for coming right away!” be out of line?

8. Cooks, Hostesses, Servers

Oh sure you’re in a hurry and need to get in, fed and out in a timely matter. After all you’ve only got 30 minutes! “Jump people jump! What is taking that girl so long? Are they killing the cow out back?” The world doesn’t revolve around you. It’s a good bet that the people preparing, cooking and serving you the food you eat are not making what you make in salary. There are fewer and fewer career Servers, and many are in the job because they can’t get hired in their field of training. Have a touch of gratitude. A smile and a thank you go a long way.

9. The Office Equipment Guy

You’ve seen him or her. They arrive only when you’ve jammed the photocopier and can’t fix it yourself despite your trying. Some thing-a-ma-jicky seems cracked in an impossibly hard place to reach; why you’ve even tried unsuccessfully to reach it with your scissors. Right beyond the, “Do not attempt to extract items beyond this point” label. Hmmmm….and the Office Equipment Guy isn’t allowed to say what’s really on their mind now are they? Okay so a decent, “Thanks I appreciate the quick service” might go a long way here.

10. Window Cleaners

It doesn’t matter if your office is on the first floor or the Penthouse, you probably appreciate looking out a clean window every so often. Maybe that’s because if you stand at just the right angle, you can see your own reflection when everyone else thinks your enamoured with the view? And you look so much better with a clean reflection too! Yep, thank the window cleaner too. Tape a piece of paper to the window saying, “Thanks for cleaning the window – here’s looking at you!” They’ll get a kick out of it, and it will remind them that the job they do is appreciated.

No matter who you think should be on this list of unappreciated people in your work day, go beyond just reading the blog and chuckling. Get up and thank somebody. Yes I’m referring to you. Oh I know you did it just last week but, well, does it really mean you don’t NEED to do it again? When did saying, “Thanks” become a chore to be done?

If you’re interested in other blogs centered around a job advice theme, check out https://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/

I know, I know, shameless self promotion. But honestly, it’s free, it’s meant to be helpful, and I don’t get any monetary gain from it, just a good feeling from sharing tidbits of experience and knowledge with an aim to help others who are job searching or employed along the way.

All the best!

Why Is Passion In Fashion?

The word, ‘Passion’ is a word that I’ve heard used with growing frequency over the last year and a half with respect to employment and job searching. “Find something you are passionate about” is what many people are saying. So what’s with that?

Well, some of you might have thought that passion was reserved for the love of your life, the person of your dreams, what you share when your behind closed doors in private.

With respect to a job search or building a career, passion has to do with finding a career or job that you can bring real energy and enthusiasm to on an ongoing basis. It’s a position that you look forward to being in everyday, doing things that bring you happiness and satisfaction, where you can truly feel at the end of the day that you’ve done a good days work and leave looking forward to coming back and doing more the next day. Do you have a job or career like this? If you’re not employed, are you seeking a job like this? Or are you just looking for money and don’t care what you do?

Employers, Job Coaches, Employment Counsellors and Career Advisors are using the word, ‘passion’ these days to sum up all the positive things I noted above. After all, from an employers point of view, you’d be happy to have your entire workforce show up each day with a smile on their face, enthusiasm to get down to work, happy to work with co-workers, focused on solving issues and satisfying customers resulting in a healthy bottom-line for the company.

So first and foremost, all those professionals who are trying to help you land your next job know what it is that most employers are looking for. It’s like this…if you are passionate and enthusiastic about your job, you’ll be on time, you’ll be happy, you’ll be productive, you’ll be good to be around, you’ll be counted on to resolve problems, and you’ll stick around for years.

Now the other thing that all those career advising professionals know is that for you the individual, being happy and satisfied each and every day is something to strive for, especially when you have the luxury of time to consider what it is that you would most like to do. After all, if you can identify what would make you happiest, then determine what you need to do in order to get THAT job, there is a tremendous possibility that you’ll not only be hired, but you’ll succeed personally, and everybody wants that for you.

Still, every day, I know I speak with people who have put their happiness way down the list on requirements for their next job. At the top of their lists are two things many times: money and looking for what they’ve always done. This is true even if the last jobs they’ve had they hated. Odd.

However, the real reason people don’t often pursue what they are passionate about, (or would really find fulfilling) is fear. You might have to return to school, take a course, get a loan for your schooling, upgrade your education, move, start at the bottom, accept lower pay etc. In other words be vulnerable.

As you only get one life to live, why not spend the majority of your waking hours on this planet doing the things that bring you the most personal satisfaction and fulfillment? If you change direction in your adult life and for example go to College or University to get a Diploma or Degree in something needed to get a job in a field you really want, you’d be demonstrating courage, conviction, and your self-esteem will soar. And if you are the 40ish person in a class of 20 year olds what an inspiration you’ll be!

If you don’t like the word, ‘passion’ and want to reserve that for your better half, substitute words like, ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘fulfillment’. “What are you enthusiastic about? In what do you think you would find fulfillment? After all, passion is something you might think is sustained over a short period of time. Enthusisam and fulfillment are things that are generally longer lasting and that after all is what we all as Employment Counsellors want for you our clients; jobs and careers that you can find fulfilling and that bring you happiness.

If you sit outside a company and watch the employees walk onto the company property, how do most of them look and act? Do you see slumped shoulders, heads lowered, defeated expressions, anger, resignation, indifference? Or on others, do you see smiles, heads raised, bounces in steps, laughter, friendliness? I bet you don’t need me to tell you which of these characteristics go with those who are passionate about their work.

Stealing From The Employer

Have you ever robbed your employer? Really? C’mon think about it; I’m willing to bet you have! (I wonder how many people will choose to ‘like’ this blog posting now!)

Stealing from an employer can be done in a few different ways. One obvious way is to slip an item into your pocket, like a pen and mistakenly find it’s still in your pocket when you get home. If you put it in the drawer at home where you keep your other pens, you’re guilty of stealing. Take it back and you’ve just ‘borrowed’ it unintentionally for the evening. This kind of innocent theft happens from time to time but boy does it ever add up. Not only are pens in this category but perhaps you tossed a post-it note pad into your briefcase or attaché and it too ended up not used for work but for home use inadvertently.

Then too there is the kind of theft that is actually planned with foreknowledge and carried out secretly away from observing eyes. Do you know what the number one item employees intentionally steal from their employer? Toilet paper! Ooohhh. Can you imagine walking out of the office with a roll or two of toilet paper in your lunch bag. Imagine if you got caught and subsequently fired for walking out with something as inexpensive as a roll of toilet paper. And in many offices, the toilet paper is of the cheapest variety! Make up your own pun at this point about getting dumped.

One of the least obvious but even more costly things that employees steal, and some on a daily basis, is time. Are you working 100% of the time that you are getting paid or do you extend your breaks, take longer lunches, chit-chat at the water cooler, check out your Facebook or Linkedin page on company time, phone the kids afterschool every day, make up your shopping list etc. Employers struggle to give their employees some freedom to use the internet for example to complete work, but also don’t want to monitor their every working moment. Some companies do pay staff to remotely monitor computer use and provide this feedback to Managers. You might find yourself confronted with your digital trail at a performance review and asked to explain yourself. Could you? It’s a company asset, company time, and even when you are on YOUR lunch, others working are affected by your computer use.

Ideas are also stolen; otherwise known as intellectual property. Often it’s only the really big scandals that hit the press, but everyday people take information they have obtained at one workplace and share that information with friends, family and even the competition. Think very carefully about what you share as you might be open to lawsuits, firing and suspension.

Even if you don’t work in an office, you might steal supplies from the work yard, contact information from another employees client lists, advanced notice of stock information etc.

I’ve heard people use the defence that the company can afford it. The employee feels slighted, underappreciated and somehow justifies the theft. There is no justification for stealing and it is what it is. Most companies, especially in retail, actually expect that a certain percentage of their stock will disappear without ever being removed from the inventory records via a sale. Some of these things are removed by customers, and others by staff. Even if you work in retail, this remains no justification for theft.

Every employer expects their workforce to be honest. Do your best to act with honesty and integrity at all times, even if you are tempted to ‘borrow’ something from the employer.

As a related but separate item. don’t steal from your co-workers either! Ever seen a co-worker open another employees desk and scoop up some loose change for a coffee? Is it really worth it if you get got pinching something? You’ll never be trusted fully again. You could end up with a disciplinary meeting and a black mark on your employee record that comes back to bite you big time when you apply for a promotion. Pretty expensive coffee!

Last but not least, it’s a competitive job market out there. If you land a job and are encouraged to help yourself to something that belongs to the employer by a fellow employee, consider the source. How do you know that the person encouraging you to help yourself isn’t just looking for a young scapegoat to blame missing items on? Maybe you took a job away from his best pal, and to your face everything is great but behind your back he’s out to get you fired. Think very carefully. If your common sense says something feels wrong, don’t do it. Resist the pressure and temptation to walk off company property with anything that isn’t yours.

Why Work At All?

When was the last time you stopped and actually thought about why you choose to work? Seriously. Are you working for the pay cheque, the satisfaction, the meaning in what you do, just to keep busy? Understanding WHY you work, or why you want to work, could go a long way in the end to helping you determine WHAT you want to work at.

Let’s look at one reason most people will tell you they choose to work. “I have to in order to pay the bills.” Sure money is one tangible reward you get when you are working. With it, you can buy food, pay for housing, get around, and keep clothes on your back. If you get a lot of money, you can live in a larger home, pay more for your food, clothes, second homes and recreational activities and travel in luxury. If you don’t want to work but want the money, there are ways to try to take the shorter route like crime, lotteries, and gambling. Ever notice however that newspapers only print headline stories on the two extremes of lotteries though? There’s the big winner, the woman who bet and lost everything, but no stories on the millions of people who spend $50 and lose week after week. Yet, if obtaining money was only what it was all about, shouldn’t we all just be looking to get jobs that pay the absolute most no matter WHAT the job is? So there has to be more to it.

What about seeking out something that will be enjoyable and fulfilling? This is why our system is flawed in many respects where teenagers are pressured to make career choices in school. How can anyone at 14 or 15 possibly really know what they will be passionate about at 24, 35, 44, 56 etc.? Now that’s pressure. And if we told the teenagers that they’d be changing careers 7 or 8 times over their working lifetime anyhow, wouldn’t they just be better to focus on what they’d like to do over the next 3 years? Sage advice perhaps.

Don’t you find it interesting that we put all this pressure on our youth to figure it out, and yet once we are out of school, very few people ever have a discussion with any professional to re-evaluate their career choices, direction and job satisfaction? Consequently we get a lot of people later in life saying things like, “If only I had done things differently”. Sad.

If you didn’t work at all in the traditional sense, you’d still have to work. It’s true. Ok so let’s suppose you’re this rebel who quits their job. You’ll need housing of some kind and you’ll have to apply for assistance somewhere if it’s available. If it isn’t available you’ll be relying on friends and strangers for charity or turn to crime. You’ll have to network and find out where to get food, housing, shower, clothes, healthcare. You’ll have to work at keeping your belongings safe and if stolen, you’ll have to work hard to get your ID restored. Your standard of living may drop, and you’ll have to work at finding money by anything from panhandling to odd jobs or work hard at THINKING of schemes for raising the money you need. That’s a lot of work for uncertain money!

However, seems to me that if you are going to take the road most people take; you know, get a job and use the money you earn to buy the things you need and want, why not put in some effort to get a job you like? There are many people working in jobs that are less than fulfilling, but they do it because the money they earn is more than they feel they could earn doing things they’d rather be doing.

Weigh the pros and cons of the job you have now and the salary you receive against the happiness you would experience doing something more interesting and the salary you would receive in that job. It will be a personal choice as to what you decide in the end.

Then there’s the self-employed. The best reason I’ve heard for being self-employed is that it provides a chance to do what you love, be in control of how much work you do, determine by consequence how much income you make and determine your own priorities. While that sounds good, realize that those who opt for self-employment work harder and longer than traditionally employed people until they make it big. Even then, when others have been hired as employees, the self-employed usually work hard to train their employees to have the same passion for success and the business as they do themselves, which they in reality seldom do. Why? If you’ve been reading all along you’d know. Those employees are in it for a pay cheque!

If you haven’t taken some time to think about why you want to work because it’s so obvious why waste the time, AND you are unemployed, use the luxury of the time you have NOW to stop and evaluate why you want to work. It may be that thinking about the WHY will help you determine the answer to the question, “What kind of work should I be looking for?”

Need help in the process? Get in touch with an Employment Counsellor, a Job Coach, do some personal assessments to determine your strengths, interests, dislikes, preferred work settings, etc. TIme very well spent so you spend the near future doing the things that give reason and purpose to your future work.