The Importance Of Grammar And Spelling

Pick up a good book, and if you are like the majority of people, you start to picture in your mind what the character looks like, largely because of the information provided. Interestingly enough, the image you envision is different from the image other readers have, even though you read the same description.

Now look at a CV or resume. Unlike a work of fiction, this is the work of a real person who you may not have actually met yet. Do you find yourself forming a picture of what they look like, how professional or casual they are, maybe the language even suggests that they are from a foreign country. If the document contains spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, you might find yourself making all kinds of judgements about their level of education and literacy too. And do you get exasperated when they say somewhere that they have strong attention to detail, and communicate effectively?

When I see someone working on their CV or resume in our Resource Centre, I often start-up a conversation with them with the line, “Ah, working on the dreaded resume; mind if I have a look?” What I’m really doing is trying to do is make their effort worthwhile. I think it is very sad that some people feel proud of their work, believe it to be error-free, and then head out with an inferior document with such high hopes for success. The choice of telling them what they want to hear or sharing honest feedback from a supportive but critical point of view is easy for me, but sometimes difficult for the person to hear.

For some, it’s a matter of English not being their first language, and when they talk and write, they mix up the placement of verbs and adjectives, neglect the use of plurals and you can almost hear the accent as you read it. For others, the message they want to convey is trumped by an unintended message which is either that they can’t be bothered to proofread, or don’t have the education to know when something is wrong. Neither of these last two are messages you want to convey to an employer.

It is precisely because we all have different skills and abilities that it is imperative that as you construct your resume and cover letter, that you seek out the help of someone who does it for a living. How foolish would I be as an Employment Consultant, to tackle the job of adding an addition to my home unless I also had qualifications in that area. I would use the services of a professional to do the work. Why would I assume that anyone can do it? Likewise, if my vocabulary is rather basic, my spelling and grammar are suspect, or the language I’m writing in is not my first language, I’d be wise to seek out some professional feedback.

I really believe that a good critique of your resume and cover letter is one that is thorough. While it might be nice to only have one or two corrections or revisions to make, if the person you are asking is limiting their feedback because you strike them as hostile to suggestions, you haven’t gained much. Communicate that you really would value a critique of your whole document, no matter the extent, and you might initially be embarrassed and frustrated, but in the end, you’ll leave with an error-free document that you can really feel confident in, not just confident in out of ignorance; be smart enough to know the difference.

By way of example, just yesterday a colleague of mine was reviewing a resume and offering to correct some glaring errors. As I entered the situation, he had met with such resistance, he was passing over many errors, trying to just fix the worst of the lot. Not knowing this however, he brought me into the conversation and used me to support his position that there were many errors to be found on the paper. So as I started making the same suggestions without knowing it, the client got more and more defensive. I backed out of the situation and soon the client left with a very poor document. While my colleague was choosing his words carefully, all the client could hear was negative I suppose, and they just weren’t ready and open for honest feedback.

Remember that an employer looks at resumes and cover letters in an attempt to screen OUT candidates. If your documents have spelling and grammar errors, they may replace the content of WHAT you are communicating in HOW you communicate it. Having all the right qualifications and experience may not be all you need; spelling and grammar really do matter!

I Share A Weakness

Today I write a column that shares one of my own problems and exposes me for someone giving advice to other that I’m not taking myself. Why do that? Well, we can all learn from each other, and I’m just as vulnerable and human as anyone else, so maybe you’ve got some words of encouragement that I can draw from!

As a little background, I work on a team of Workshop Facilitator’s who deliver training programs for clients receiving Social Assistance; money from taxpayers to pay rent and food while they try to turn things around and find jobs and regain their financial independence. Collectively we also run an Employment Resource Centre where these same people can drop by, use a computer, telephone, fax and photocopy machine and resource information. While most staff on the team do a variety of Workshops, others tend to specialize in doing just one or two, and from time-to-time pitch in with others.

Recently I found myself scheduled to work in our Resource Centre, and the schedule didn’t call for any other person to join me that day. When this happens, typically other members of the team relieve for a morning and afternoon break and the lunch period. Being all adults, I love the fact that we can just work things out on our own without every moment of our day being scripted which also takes the pressure off our Supervisor to actually plan out all our break and lunch coverage. However, on this one day, I found it difficult to get anyone to willing provide any help covering off morning break, lunch or afternoon break.

Seems two staff in one workshop didn’t feel like helping out because it was their last day with a group and they really wanted closure. Other staff working alone obviously couldn’t leave their groups to relieve me – and that makes perfect sense. Two other staff felt like they shouldn’t be pulled away from their workshop because one was learning from the other, and they felt that because they had helped cover someone the day before, it was someone else’s turn. Seemed like I was now in a position of begging my co-workers just to get my regular break and lunch coverage according to a teammate.

So I announced to four or five of them assembled not to worry, I’d just not leave the room all day. And there’s my weakness. I’m entitled to a break and lunch like anyone else. Why did I turn into a seven-year old? Truthfully I was so disappointed because our team is one that I pride myself on being part of in part because we work well together for the most part. In the end I did email a teammate and let it be known that because there were two of them facilitating one class, I would be expecting coverage for my afternoon break and lunch from one of them, and felt compelled to add in my email, “I’ve done the same for you.” Why though did I need to call them out?” The return email I got said, “No problem.” So if it’s no problem, just say so the first time instead of me involving the entire team and wasting time. Maybe they realized their original denial of help wasn’t the right thing to have done. Who knows?

I’m not a fan of confrontation, and here I felt I was drawing a line in the sand. I was disappointed I was writing an email and TELLING a co-worker to cover me. I’m not the Boss after all, and don’t want to tell anyone what they are doing unless that becomes part of my responsibilities. This was hard only because we generally look at a schedule, anticipate coverage needs and actually extend voluntary offers of help. So perhaps people were only thinking of themselves, maybe they had outside things going on that left them less able to extend themselves, or were just cranky.

So where I might counsel someone else to sit down one-on-one with a certain individual and discuss how their actions made them feel, I wimped out. I haven’t shared how let down I felt and asked if there’s something else going on or not. Of course I’m trying not to make a big deal out of this too, but I noticed a week later, the same person let down another member of the team by actually saying they didn’t feel like doing either of the two things they had choices to do that day, and would really rather stay in their office. That’s not teamwork in action, that’s mework in action. (Yes that’s a typo but you get the point even if Spellcheck doesn’t).

So while we, as the so-called experts in our fields are great on giving advice on how to deal with conflict in the workplace, we don’t always follow that advice when it comes to ourselves. That doesn’t make us anything but human, and we can all grow from time-to-time and practice what we preach.

Dealing With Assault And Unemployment

The very last thing I would want to do is to appear to trivialize the trauma that victims feel when they are physically assaulted by another person. That victimization is horrible, so extremely tragic and deplorable. However this blog is all about the assault that is experienced by the person looking for employment; and some of that assault is both from external and internal sources.

When you were given the word and notified that your services were no longer required, how did you feel? I’m guessing a mixture of shock, anger, resignation perhaps if you saw it coming, maybe even betrayal because one of you was loyal to the other, and it wasn’t the employer. So you were hurt in the process perhaps, and if you weren’t feeling it then due to some compensation package provided by the employer, you undoubtedly will later.

If you met someone you knew who was a victim of a physical assault, and they were in pain and you could clearly see the marks on the victim, I’m hoping you would immediately seek some medical attention. Aside from Police needing to document the physical marks of the assault to punish someone, what would be more critical was offering support to the victim. You would want them to make a speedy recovery, and you’d also probably want them to distance themselves from the person who did the assaulting by getting them somewhere safe. Did it ever occur to you that you yourself may be this victim? Losing your job is like having your worth assaulted. “We don’t need you anymore” is the message you receive.

When you lose employment, your self-image as an employee of a company is immediately gone. The longer you have worked for a company, the more imprinted that image is on you and by you, and the more difficult it will be to deal with. For example, if I were to lose my job as an Employment Counsellor, I would have to deal with all my family and friends and professional colleagues by informing them all that I no longer work for my previous employer, and I’m no longer an Employment Counsellor. For some people, there is still tremendous shame and anxiety in this process; so much so, that many resort to telling as few people as they can in the hopes of replacing that job title and employer quickly so they can just substitute one positive image with another. However as unemployment drags on, I might go from “I used to be an Employment Counsellor”, to “I’m still looking”. You might be looking for a job, but really…you’re looking for a new identity in large part.

One mistake many people make in their unemployment is trying to shoulder everything on their own. Trying to deal with shock, anger, anxiety, feelings of loss, betrayal, fear can be overwhelming. Just because there are no visible black eyes or broken bones for others to see, doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing tremendous mental anguish. It is doubtful that you received sufficient training in maintaining and repairing your own mental health. Even professional Mental Health Counsellor’s who lose employment know the importance of finding someone to listen if it happens to them.

Get started today by stop beating yourself up. As odd as it sounds, you might actually have found yourself blaming yourself for your job loss. While you can certainly learn from the experience of losing a job, or underperforming in some way, the past is, well, the past. You need to move forward don’t you? So stop thinking, “If only I had…” or “If only I hadn’t…”.

While it might seem strange if you haven’t done it yet, get yourself into your family Doctor. You can never have too many check-ups. Tell your Doctor that you’ve lost your job, and share anything you might be feeling physically. Stress can manifest itself in stiff muscles, chronic shoulder pain, etc. as well as constant fatigue, loss of energy and changes in weight. You might also want to go see a Mental Health Counsellor. These services are confidential. Taking care of your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health. If you think this kind of help is only for sissy’s and crackpots, you’re way out of touch with reality. The weak are actually the ones who forge along alone, and the wise are the ones who admit they could use the help. It takes strength to open up and share feelings like loss of self-esteem and questioning one’s worth.

Another thing you can do is try to think ahead to that next interview. You really should consider one major question that is bound to come up; “why did you leave your last position?”. If you ignore thinking about this question until interview day, it will hit you like a slap in the face when you are forced to deal with it. Your face and body will betray your feelings of anger, shame, hurt, revenge etc. and the anxiety building up to that question might get the whole interview off course. Best to come up with a good answer that you can deliver with confidence. An Employment Counsellor can help you in this process.

While you have my sympathy for your unemployment status, sympathy is not what most victims of assault want. Sympathy alone is not helpful. Someone to listen is helpful, and someone to actually provide hope for change and change itself are much more effective.

Me! Me! Me!

Heard of the Me Generation? You know, supposedly an entire generation of youth who are so self-absorbed in themselves that they want it all and they expect it right now to be given to them. And the generation that preceded them that is apparently to blame because they told the Me Generation that they could do anything, and be anything, and have everything if they only put their mind to it? What do you think of that?

I hear Teachers on the radio saying they want it all too; good jobs, low-class numbers, summers off, wages that increase without end. I hear Auto Workers saying they should have it all too, with higher wages and plants that run shifts around the clock, high pensions and benefits. Then there are politicians who have the one job where they can vote themselves raises, pensions for life, get appointments to Senate that the average Canadian doesn’t even know about. Oh and there’s our Sports stars who make grossly high amounts of money for playing games. How many games does a North American player actually play in a year? Somewhere between 15 – 20 and can make millions (literally) in the process; even if injured.

Let’s not forget all the singers who teenagers catapult to stardom who make millions too, and not one of them – yes not one of them – can hold a candle to a multitude of bands and musicians from the 60’s who are still performing today 50 years later. They all want it now, the fans, the adulation, the money of course, the big houses, the pools, the sex, the glamour, and then when they get in trouble they “politely respect some privacy as it’s a personal matter”. Yeah right.

So is it any surprise that young people who are job searching don’t really perform all that well across the board in those entry-level jobs that don’t offer them everything right away? Not many take a job and are willing to ‘pay their dues’ as it were. In fact, if the employer doesn’t make it a happy place with new challenges and rewards, stimulating their employees who need a buzz every 35 minutes, those same young workers become so disillusioned.

However, put the reality of a large pool of young people who believe they can do anything and deserve everything together with a large number of employers who are cutting back frills in the workplace, lowering their staffing levels, curtailing wages, rolling back benefits and closing plants together, and you’ve got a recipe for big problems. Think down the road not too far, and we’re going to have a large number of bitter young people, many with debt from schooling, who are underemployed or unemployed, who are going to collectively feel somehow that they are under-performing and under-achieving. While the adults in their lives will be supportive, it will only be to a point. Eventually, that nurturing bubble that is built so carefully around those young people will burst, and there will be a 180 degree shift from “you can be anything you want, what will make you happy”, to “just get a job”.

There’s nothing wrong with a job vs. a career. Jobs give you experience, references, build your self-esteem, provide income, get you connected with the real world, make you feel productive; as do careers.
If you’re working with someone who ‘just wants a job’, please, please, please encourage them. Even if you mean well, don’t turn around and say, “Oh but you can do so much better dear. Wouldn’t you like a nice career? Hmmmm?” The message you send is going to be that the person isn’t living up to your expectations. Who made you God anyhow?

In my opinion I’ll tell you why so many people in their late teens and early twenties are hooked on Facebook for example. As many are unemployed, they are seeking that social interaction that older workers typically get through the workplace. More mature, older workers look forward to talking with colleagues about their weekends, their families, work projects around the home, trips they are planning, events they are going to. If young people aren’t working, where are they going to get their social needs met? Facebook. Once employed and working regularly, see if they don’t experience a decline in their social media activity.

Me! Me! Me! is really not exclusively the mantra of a single generation. Some seniors I know don’t want to pay full price for anything. “Don’t I get a discount? I’m a senior you know!” Then others expect different treatment because they are a member of a group as in, “I should get a discount because I’m a Mastercard or Visa holder you know!”. Or a frequent flyer, or an employee wanting the employee discount, or even just so-and-so’s biggest fan. If everybody moves themselves to the front of the line, all that happens is the line moves from being east-west to north-south etc., we’re all still in line.

Whenever you feel you should be getting ahead, it implies by nature that you are ahead of others. You can either work your way to get ahead, or count on luck, influence, money, bribery, association or fraud. While it might take more time and effort on your part, working your way is the most rewarding and you’ll appreciate it more.

Get going on your earning your way in this world. Take some individual responsibility. Learn how to job search, interview, conduct yourself like a professional, responsible adult. Fit in, work on your people skills, get enthusiastic. Put down all your electronic gadgets and realize that for all your socializing and zillions of friends, eventually you have to actually have person-to-person conversations with real people standing in front of you.

You certainly are a unique person…just like everyone else; and while it’s okay to shoot for the stars, there are no current employers on any of them. Get your sights set on what you can do here on Earth.

Pespectives On Sundays

Not a lot of people conduct interviews or do any hiring on Sundays. In some climates, you might meet with clients from other businesses on a golf course and talk while you walk for a few hours, but generally speaking, the average job seeker or employee can count on Sunday as a day off so to speak. Depending on who you are, your employment status, and your enthusiasm and motivation, Sunday could mean different things to you.

Rest Day. Sunday might be the one day, possibly coupled with Saturday, that you take a break from job searching, or from planning on how to advance in your organization. A day for family activities, hanging out with your friends, going to a movie; just recharging your batteries so you are at your best on Monday. It could actually mean a day spent sleeping in, lounging in your pyjamas, just resting.

Edge Day. Another way to look at Sunday is a day to get a step up on your competition. With a majority of people taking the day off to rest, you have a day where you can do some research on a career, a job, a company. Maybe this research is done on the internet, maybe it’s getting out and about. For people who devote a part or all of their day to this, there is a psychological boost that you are moving forward and distancing yourself from others that are not working towards employment or advancement. More people are devoting part of their Sundays to job search/advancement activities, simply because of such strong competition out there.

Reward Day. If you really accomplished some good things over a week, why not reward yourself with a day just to do whatever you really want? This behaviour is excellent for realizing the balance between personal and professional life. A trip to a museum, reading a good detective novel, skating on a pond, a visit with your sister What you do to reward yourself is up to you.

Preparation Day. Every good soldier knows that before you throw yourself into a battle, it’s good to prepare, plan and go over what you want to accomplish. So for some, Sunday is the day to wash, dry and iron your interview clothes. This pre-planning makes sure your clothes are just right when you reach for them on Thursday, and therefore eliminating the huge stress of getting dressed for an interview in two hours only to find your skirt has a stain on it and you can’t wear it. Likewise, double-checking on your childcare arrangements for this coming Wednesday when you’ll be out and about dropping off several resumes avoids the frustration of a sitter who forgot and made other plans.

First Day. Look at any calendar and you’ll see Sunday is not the last day of the week; it’s day one. Therefore some people just see this as a regular day to forge on with the whole job search. They scour job postings, tweak or overhaul resumes, re-stock their supplies of paper from the local supply store, and write cover letters.

There are a multitude of ways to look at Sundays. So whether it’s getting jobs done around the apartment or house, taking time for yourself and connecting with friends or getting down to work, you have the power to decide how you make use of your day. YOUR DAY is Sunday. Whatever you do, make an active choice so that Sunday night you really got out of Sunday whatever you wanted to. Feel good about how you spent the day, especially if you’re finding the job search frustrating and your self-esteem is getting assaulted Monday to Friday on a regular basis.

All the best!

Feeding A Demon?

Remember when you first started this job search? Or perhaps it wasn’t a job search so much as it was having ambitions of moving up in the organization? Let me jog your memory. You had drive, you had high hopes, you walked with purpose and your head was level. You looked people in the eyes, kept your focus on obtaining your goal of employment or advancement, and people commended you on your attitude.

Then something sinister found a small crack and crept in one day; nestled into your being and started its terrible reign. Self-Doubt. Call it by its wretched name. Oh it found its way there innocently enough; it was that one day you decided you didn’t want to look in the mirror, or when you kept clicking the ‘back’ button on the computer because that job needed some attribute you were no longer confident in, maybe that time you didn’t make love to your spouse because you thought your inadequacy in job searching might spread to the bedroom so you feigned a headache.

It was at that precise moment that Self-Doubt found a home and stroked your deepest feelings of insecurity. It slowly has nurtured those negative self-defeating feelings that had lain dormant so long you had never even remembered they existed at all. Your self-image at one time had been defined in part by the job you held, your position as the bread-winner, the provider, the contributor, and now Self-Doubt has suggested subtly that you are the leech, the burden, the ner’ do well. Unfortunately along the way it’s got easier to just give in and believe those negative images Self-Doubt has planted. Yet it has been done with such stealth that you haven’t even been aware of the degree of change that has happened.

Every once and awhile, you catch a glimpse of someone who reminds you of how you used to be, successfully carrying their coffee in one hand and their pride in the other as they confidently head off to work. You peer through curtained windows long after 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. on purpose because then you miss your neighbours all pulling their cars out of their garages and going off to have productive days. Yes, the Demon has placed all these suggestions in your brain, to keep you from re-kindling some small measure of hope.

Well, you have a choice…and the Demon doesn’t want you to believe this. You have a choice right here, right now to self-assess and make the changes that will cause the Demon to jerk back the hand that’s been stroking your inadequacies. To make it recess quickly you can start reverting back to your old confident self. For starters, make a mental or actual list of the things that do give you feelings of accomplishment. What small, simple, easy to do things could you do today that would at day’s end, give you some feeling of accomplishment?

Depending on how long that Demon has been nestled on a decaying throne in your mind, you might have to start with very basic, simple tasks. So if it’s just throwing on some clothes, getting out of the house and walking around the block do it; and remind yourself that the fresh air and exercise is healthy. Maybe you need to have a look at those clothes in your closet. Take every last pair of pants out and toss them on the bed. Now, one by one, try them all on. Anything that doesn’t fit, either donate them to charity or hang them in the spare room or the basement but get them out of your every day closet. You don’t need negative reminders of your change in weight or size. From now on, anything you try on will fit and no self-esteem woes there. If you need newer clothes, you just learned you have a new goal. Write it down.

As for your self appearance, shave if you’ve got lazy and grew a beard. Trim it up professionally if you want to keep it but have let it get out of hand. Shaving off the beard also usually makes a man look younger. The Demon is starting to take note of your behaviour and is slightly worrying. If you are a woman, shape up those eyebrows, look at the colour and condition of your hair. If you coloured it, would you feel younger, better, more confident? Do it yourself because it’s cheaper until you can afford to get it done professionally. Self-Doubt would much rather you note your wrinkles and lines…think of these now as war scars, but the battle has just begun because you’ve found reinforcements.

Don’t dust off your resume; start from scratch. Get a professional to help you but get started on your own. Read some earlier blogs of mine that offer support or those of others on the internet that you may find helpful. Watch a few good comedies in the evening that make you laugh and put you in a good mood. Put some effort into really making an enjoyable meal for dinner tonight that you can really be proud of.

Now the job market is competitive and getting a job or advancing in your career isn’t going to happen overnight. That’s to be expected. Knowing this, give yourself permission to not be successful immediately, but give yourself credit for doing what is necessary to make positive changes. Tell your family and friends about your plans and ask them to help keep you accountable but in a supportive way. So no yelling or telling you that your lazy any more. Surround yourself with people who are willing to help you out by asking how you are doing, and get going on gathering together some people you can use as references.

You can do this. You have the power to make the choice to change or to keep feeding this Demon. But know this…Every Demon has friends….let one take up residence and soon you’ll find others are with you constantly breeding. Spring is just around the corner, so get a head start on your Spring cleaning by starting INSIDE.

Old Age; Barrier Or Asset?

Turn up the font on this blog old dudes if you find it easier to read; this blogs for you.

Now before I throw myself into the blog, and for some of you out there, throw myself into a hangman’s noose, I’m 53 now, 54 in June. I want that right up front so you know what demographic I’m in on some census report. I’m also Caucasian, married, own my home, employed full-time, like the Beatles, gardening, drive a Smart Car, and play acoustic guitar. So what does any of that have to do with looking for a job and dealing with the issue of age? Nothing. Nothing at all unless of course I want to make them relevant personally.

Getting older is inevitable and while some movies have characters that reverse age or have stopped aging, or live for hundreds of years, it’s not likely going to happen in our reality. So with an overall average longevity of 84 years lets say, and a working life that might have you working anywhere from age 55 – 67 or so, you’re looking at almost 20 years of life after you stop working. Ironically you may have had about 20 years before you really got going at working too. Hmmm…40 not working and about 40 working give or take a few years either way.

So as you age, (or aged)you’ll find new challenges to deal with without question. Maybe its wearing glasses, false teeth, losing your hair, your temper, your patience, your memory, your tolerance for others etc. I didn’t say you will have all of these, but maybe some of these and there are lots more to deal with too. However, before you phone up the local Nursing Home and ask if they have a Party Planner to arrange your next birthday celebration, there’s a lot of positive things that happen as you age. Sure there are. Maybe you get wiser, more mature, no longer pay for a mortgage, get the thrill of grandchildren but not the responsibility full-time. Could be too that you are respected more, have a more senior position in your workplace, and command attention when you walk in the room.

However, let’s look at the older job seeker. Are you using your age as a crutch to explain your lack of success? Many countries are reporting aging populations, and with all those aging populations, you might actually be closer in age to the interviewer or the company president than that young pup sitting across from you in the Reception area with his headphones and electronic gadgets. Your life experience and diversity of employment might be vastly superior to his, so why not turn that into an asset?

Younger people are always been credited with picking up technology faster and easier, having more recent training, being full of energy and enthusiasm, and being open to learning. So, why not espouse some of these strengths of theirs as your own? Come across as inflexible, unwilling to adapt, set in your ways, living in the past and you just feed the stereotype. So take a course on your own time at night school or online. Use the internet to network professionally, create a social media presence, update your hairstyle and clothing – in short, get with it Daddy-o. Get hip to the trip, move to the groove, shake and bake, trade in the 8 track and download some tunes. Don’t know how to get started? Go shopping with your grandkid and tell him he’s your new fashion and technology consultant. You’ll have a blast and so will he. Hmmm…on second thought….just go in on your own to a reputable clothing store and look for a young salesperson and say you’re in their hands. Oh and smile a lot; she’ll think your cute.

Too many aging people are complaining about being discriminated against in part due to their age. Okay, so if that is really the case, what are YOU doing about it? I don’t mean suing the employer or calling some Human Rights Tribunal either. I mean what are you doing to set yourself apart from that stereotype? If the answer is honestly that you’re doing nothing well, they may be right. On the other hand, if you are still vibrant, creative, in good health, willing to learn and full of enthusiasm, SELL IT TO THE INTERVIEWER! Demonstrate all these things. Maybe you should turn off your Blackberry or I-Phone just in front of the interviewer so they actually see you have one! If they want to set up a second interview, put it in your electronic calendar. Use the new lingo that the company is using so you talk the same language.

It’s easier to use advancing years as an excuse rather than an asset because it takes so much less energy to complain about it than to do something about it … and you just proved that 19-year-old interviewer right by the way. If you have a lot to offer in the way of experience, maturity, wisdom, foresight etc., and you can marry these assets with the pros of youth, you’ve got a winning combination. Maybe you’ll bring stability to the workplace, can help the employer reach out to customers who identify more with someone in their own age group, and won’t be looking to climb over people and rise to the top. You’ll be happy to just cling to a middle rung on the ladder until you’re done. And you can assure the interviewer that you won’t engage in office gossip because you can’t hear half the things you used to anymore either! LOL (That means Laugh Out Loud these days Granny).

Bring your sense of humour to the interview but keep it appropriate and show some real vitality and enthusiasm. Downplay any health issues and look as put together as you can instead of ruffled, tired and stodgy. The person you most often have to convince that you still have what it takes is often sitting on the same side of the interview table as you are; imagine that.

Yes Or No To An Employment Ojbective On Your Resume?

Things go in and out of style or fashion over time, and what to include on a resume is no exception. One of the things that constantly comes up in the work that I do with clients is whether or not to include an Employment Objective on the resume. For that reason, I thought it worth a write to go over this and please consider adding your thoughts and comments.

Look at any job posting and you’ll see that invariably they include the title of the job, a set of qualifications, maybe even a description of the environment or a link to a website where you should find out more information about the company. Okay, so it’s clear to you what job you are applying for. For sake of argument, let’s work with a position of Kitchen Planner in a large home improvement box store. To understand the argument for including an Employment Objective, you have to see things not from your point of view, but that of the employer. What path will your resume take once it leaves your hands, and does it in fact end up getting where you want it to go.

So you drop off your resume in person and hand it to someone in Customer Service and tell her what you’re applying for. Debbie thanks you and sticks it in Sharon’s inbox because she’s in HR. Sharon picks up her mail, goes to her desk, and opens your mail with the others. If it’s got an Employment Objective, Sharon stops reading. Her job is just to put it in a pile that Jim, the Department Head is going to collect and go over to get a short list of interview candidates. Congratulations! You made it to Jim’s desk.

Now suppose there is no specific Employment or Job Objective. Sure it got to Sharon’s desk, but upon opening it, you’re now relying on Sharon to read your entire resume and determine what you are best qualified for and interested in applying to without a cover letter or an easy to read Employment Objective. In short, what you’re really saying is, “Hey Sharon, you’ve got lots of time on your hands, so read my resume and if you think I’m qualified for some job here, great…pass me on to whoever does the actual interviewing.” Yeah that’s not going to happen. Sharon isn’t going to do your job, she’s already got one. So Jim comes and collects all those resumes that are for the Kitchen Planner position he’s in need of filling. Your resume? Oh it’s still on Sharon’s desk in a pile that she’ll get to eventually once she gets time. So you are entirely qualified and wondering why nobody calls you for an interview.

Now on the other hand, some people have an Employment objective like this one; “Seeking a permanent position where I can use my strong interpersonal skills and help an organization meet its goals”. Even after having read this, do you know what job they are wanting? Exactly. A statement like this is a throw-away. It could mean anything from a Cashier to the CEO. Don’t even bother to include one this vague.

Another option is to state the job you are applying to as the subject heading on a cover letter, and leave it off the resume altogether. Instead of an Employment Objective, some kind of profile statement that describes you is an option. Something like, “Dynamic, self-motivated individual with strong customer retention skills and a passion for providing service excellence seeking a permanent position in the Home Improvement industry”. While it’s still not specific, it illustrates some key traits, and the cover letter states the job applied to. All you’re hoping for here is that Sharon looks at the cover letter to discern the job you are applying to and you get in the right pile.

Sometimes of course, a company won’t even accept your resume in person any more but will direct you to apply online. In these cases, it is the norm to find you must identify the position from a drop-down list that you are applying for. Often there is then a spot for you to upload your resume. Best you make sure that your resume doesn’t have an Employment Objective on it that differs from the job title you are now applying to! Failing to make sure of a clear match here will send the message that you are applying to multiple positions, and may actually weaken your chances, especially if you have said something like the job you are applying for is THE job you want. Then why apply openly for others?

So what do you include at the top of your resume just beneath your contact information? Whatever it is, consider that it will be one of the first things the employer reads, and will often determine whether or not they are interested in reading more or not. That first look at your resume that took some time to put together may only last 8 – 20 seconds at most. Make sure you say enough to capture their interest and they’ll read on.

So what do you think? Yes or no to an Employment Objective heading on your resume?

Deal With It

Most evenings before I go to bed, I check out the forecast for the following morning, so that I’ve got an idea what I might have to deal with before it’s upon me. Now not everybody is too concerned with this and plans in advance; I get that. Some people just roll with whatever as they find it and do so with varying degrees of success.

Last night I had a look at the weather forecast because it’s the winter time here in good old Ontario Canada, and with a one hour commute to work driving in both country and city conditions, advance preparation is just smart. All the weather said was a mixture of rain and snow, with up to 3 cm on average. Nothing I couldn’t handle. When I headed out this morning, the first thing I noticed was that the driveway which was bare yesterday, was now a sheet of ice. The Crescent on which I live was a little better; a mixture of wet pavement and ice. Snow started falling after about three minutes of driving, and soon it changed to heavy flakes of snow, then to a mixture of icy rain and snow, then to plain old rain.

So what does all this have to do with job searching, interviewing, daily work etc.? Well in short it has to do with how you react to situations that come upon you. When things become challenging at work how you react to them will often dictate how others around you react to you. Complain a lot, and you’ll draw cynical people to your closest group of friends, and you’ll not only endear these people to you with your tales of woe, but you’ll bask in the pleasure of listening to them drone on and on about how sad their weary little lives are. Oh you’ll be entertained for hours by stories of miserable weekends, spouses that don’t help out as much as they should, bosses that demand far more than other bosses, and unreasonable expectations – like showing up on time consistently.

On the other hand, when things become challenging at work, look at the bright side as much as you can and you’ll attract people to you that deal well with change, that enjoy pitching in to resolve problems and come up with creative solutions and who seem to make your days better just by being there.

In short…choose. The same weather conditions that I encountered this morning will greet all my co-workers this morning. Being the first employee to arrive at work each day I always find it interesting to listen to the arrival of my co-workers. Some will by nature, come in and be positive and greet new arrivals. Some on the other hand will arrive artificially enhanced exclamations of how rotten the roads are, the significant hurdles they alone had to endure to make it to work, and there was so little warning as to what they would experience! They may go on about poor drivers they encountered, etc.

Choose your attitude and deal with whatever you get dealt. You see those snow flakes, ice pellets, rain drops and winds are going to fall whether you are happy or sad, positive or negative. Once you realize you have to deal with whatever is occurring, you can get down to the task at hand which is making it safely to work. Consider the interview now. Suppose you expected a one-to-one interview but walked in only to find three or four people seated at a table and a very lonely looking chair facing them meant for you. Well it might have been helpful for you to have known what you were in for, but you are here now, and all the coulda, shoulda, woulda, isn’t going to change the present reality. Best way to reduce your anxiety is to just say to yourself, “Wow, four people; didn’t see that coming, but okay, I can do this.”

Until you actually make a decision to deal with things, the anxiety rises because the body is going through a physical transformation. Chemicals are being produced to help you deal with the situation at hand until you can deal with your dilemma. Once you actually make a decision, your body no longer produces those chemicals to sustain in your moment of stress, and as an added bonus, instead of sending valuable energy to your coping areas, energy flows to your action areas, and you can concentrate on actually moving forward with your interview.

This works the same way even when you’re at work and something crops up like a change in your schedule, or an unexpected customer with a problem. You can stress about the mood of the person waiting for you in the reception area, imagining all the problems and coming up with pre-set responses – all the while feeling your anxiety rise, or you can put down the pen, get up and go see what the problem is, reduce the time the customer has to fume about tardy service on top of their original problem, and put your energy into resolving the issue. Deal with it…deal with change.

If You Couldn’t Fail, What Would You Do?

Imagine a situation where you were granted the power to successfully obtain a career or a job; but this magical ability would only be granted a single time. And while the power to realize this dream would happen, it would be up to you to act and work in such a way to keep the job or career once you had it. Got it?

Okay so what job or career did you select? Whether you envisioned your transformation coming from a Genie in a lamp, a Fairy Godmother fluttering around with a wand, or some ethereal figure whispering in your mind while you slept, play along and think about what you’ve magically become overnight. Was it something relatively ordinary, such as Butcher, an Addictions Counsellor, a Salesperson in a mall? Maybe it was a little bit more out of reach like a Professor, a Dentist, an Orchestra Conductor? Or was it truly something unique like an Astronaut, a World Leader, the greatest Athlete in the next Olympics?

Whether you imagine an occupation that is grandiose, highly unlikely, a bit beyond your current means, or relatively easily obtainable, I’d ask you why you can’t make that dream a reality? Oh sure I grant that you’ve not the power to blink your eyes and just make it happen tomorrow afternoon. Let’s get realistic here. However, unless you believe in Leprechaun’s, Unicorns and Aliens that have nothing better to do than mysteriously select you from all the life forms in the universe to transform, you’re going to have to create your own future.

Now if you don’t know what it is that you want to do with the rest of your life, don’t fret. Good advice is to try a variety of things and get some diversified experiences and skills. You’ll really appreciate that accumulated experience down the road and have had lots of stimulation from the variety and diversity of the jobs you’ve undertaken when you look back. You might even find that in the pursuit of many different jobs, one of them ignites your passion and you’ll know you landed where you can make a difference.

Let’s assume though that at least some of you reading this do have a career ambition. Whether its work that requires years of school, education and training, or perhaps just some serious focusing on your part, you need to get going. Every day that you put off getting started is one more day that your dream remains out of reach. Some people don’t even know what steps to take to go from where they are now to where they want to be. Is this the issue? Speak with a highly trained Employment Advisor at a College or University amongst other places.

Work backwards in your mind but put it on paper. Take the end of the journey and write it down. You’re a Teacher for example. Okay so how did you get there? What happened just before you opened the door on the first morning? Well that certificate you got didn’t just drop out of the sky, did it? That came after you graduated from University where you took your Bachelor of Education. Before that you had to have a Bachelor’s Degree. Before that you had to apply to get into the program. Before that you had to apply for some kind of financial aid. Before that you had to do some research and find out where to apply for help. Before that you had to get some career advice and see if teaching interested you as much as you thought it might. Before that you spoke with some teachers who inspired you and asked how they got started. Before that you had to finish and graduate from High School. Whew! That’s a lot of steps.

The above is only meant to serve as a quick illustration of working backwards from some goal to determine what steps you might have to take to realize that end result. Each step of course has varying degrees of time associated with it; 3 or 4 years to get that B.A. followed by 1 or 2 to get your Bachelor of Education Degree and 5 or 6 days to apply for financial aid. So add those numbers into your planning at each step. What you are doing here is building a plan with steps you can measure.

If you connect all those dots and work from step to step, you’ll eventually wake up one morning and realize you’re the Good Fairy and you sprinkled all that fairy dust on yourself and made your own dream come true. Maybe believing in all those Fairies, Genies and magical entities isn’t such a stretch after all, they just walk around on two legs like you do and they’re everywhere. You see you’ve got within you the capacity to do pretty much what you want. Older, wiser people have been telling you and I that for years haven’t they? Turns out they were right.

Create the future you want and there is no difference if your dream is working at a car wash, a variety store, a bowling alley, a lumber mill, on a police force, or whatever else you might name that seems beyond your reach. It all starts with the same process of really wanting something, determining how to move forward to it and then putting your thoughts and plans into action.

Get started.