What Do You Think Of The Way She Lost Her Job?


I arrived at work yesterday morning and noticed my telephone indicated I had a message. As I settled in I listened to it and just sat there fully absorbed until the entire message was over. As I share this person’s message, pay attention to your own reaction, and then I’ll give you some background to her story.

“Good morning Kelly, I wanted you to tell you myself that I am not actually working for _______. I know I had told you I was in my last message, but I’m not and I wanted you to hear it from me first. I was to have started on Monday last week, but called in and told them on the Monday that I’d like to start the next day instead. It’s only 20 hours per week, and they seemed fine with that. The reason between you and me is that I had a cheque waiting to pick up and wanted that to buy some things for the job. The next day I called in sick because of my allergies. The phoned later in the day and said they just went to the next person on the list because they needed someone committed to the job. I just wanted you to know.”

So what are you thinking and feeling? As for background, the woman in question has not worked in several years, has in the past disclosed an addiction to alcohol, and is getting ongoing support for that. She was most recently in a group of job-seekers I was working with, and at my suggestion applied for this job with a social services organization in the area. It is a 20 hour per week, 7 week contract position, which would be over at the end of the year. The position was one she was qualified for and interested in.

Now yesterday I made the decision to give myself the luxury of a day before attempting to contact her and respond, even though no direct request was left to call her. This is primarily because I wanted to think through my answer, and sort out the measured response from a knee-jerk reaction.

Part of me just shakes my head and says in exasperation, “Really? You’ve got to be kidding! I’d hire someone else too!” Then there’s the other side of me that pauses to consider her insecurities and demons and wants to give her some leeway because she’s been out of work so long. Could it be that she has been out of work so long that she’s forgot what commitment is? Or is it something else going on like a fear of work itself?

I shared this with a colleague who knows the person as do I, and he said, “Doesn’t part of you just want to throw up your hands and say, “There’s nothing I can do for you anymore?” I know he doesn’t really feel that way, but that was his immediate reaction, and as I say, part of me agreed.

What makes it frustrating for me personally is that I know she would have done well, raised her self-esteem in the process, had a little extra cash for Christmas, had some 2013 employment history to add to her resume, got a solid reference in the process, maybe have demonstrated her worth to secure a second contract with them if available, and what it would have done for her own self-image would have been remarkable. As it is, I fear it may reinforce the negatives or worse yet, perhaps she’ll defend her actions and learn nothing from the experience.

So why share this at all? It serves as a stark reminder to applicants out there that employers need people they can count on to perform work they’ve agreed to. If you go to the trouble of applying for a job and interviewing for it, you have to be prepared to then follow through and do what you said you would. Your reputation, and those of the people you used as references is depending on it.

I know myself if I was a reference for this person, I would withdraw my support if I knew the whole story, because I could no longer vouch for the persons professionalism, commitment and self-discipline. However, as an Employment Counsellor working with her in the past, I know she could benefit from ongoing support and a review of the decisions she made and the consequences of those decisions. In order for this to be a learning opportunity, something has to have been learned and carried forward. Otherwise, this experience is just unfortunate and may be repeated.

But her life isn’t my life; and the decisions she made were hers alone and she has to bear the consequences of those choices as I say. No one should be tossed aside and rejected outright, and I’ll invite her to talk over her experience and see if she’s ready to move forward rather than regress. Disappointing for me personally, but then again, it’s about her isn’t it – not me at all; and that’s a lesson I’d do well to share with you.

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7 thoughts on “What Do You Think Of The Way She Lost Her Job?

  1. It sounds like this person has more barriers to employment than initially thought. I like that as an employment professional the author recognizes that the job is about the support offered a person not how we feel about a clients choices. If the employment professional gives up on the person, how then is the person supposed to be able to hope for themselves? In my classroom we often discuss what I call the “Big Three of Support”….the most important skill we can have is listening, the most important thing to create is resilience and the greatest gift is hope.

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  2. As a qualified employment counselor, job developer and an additional credentials in addiction, she does in fact have multiple barriers to employment and addiction may in fact be one. Many clients report sobriety, but isn’t always the case. Knowing the woman far better, it is good to see support, but also understand throwing the hands up in the air; She obviously needs lessons, and strong ones, in what an employer expects and I would be telling her her there will be no refernce again if she does this.YOu can only help people so long and they need to help themselves too

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  3. It appears she’s not over what she says she over. She’s probably scared out of her mind and doesn’t appear to understand the essential skills to employment. That may be understandable as she has been out of work for several years. On the other hand as a Vocational Rehab professional
    I fully understand where you are coming from – been there done that. I think sometimes we want them to work more than than they do.

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  4. Good topic Kelly! There will always be frustration, but we can not decide for a client or make the choice for them. Perhaps the fact that she was offered a temporary job after not being employed for so long was a nice surprise, but at the same time ‘scary’ for her. We do the best we can to prepare clients, but ultimately it is up to them to do the follow through.

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  5. Another great topic Kelly. We do our best in the hope that the candidate is ready, willing and able. As difficult as it may seem, everyone deserves a second chance. Possibly for this person, volunteer work or one or two days a week may be best to start out for her new job.

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  6. Great post Kelly, I am a qualified employment counsellor and currently a student JD myself and I am wondering about the assessment process as related to deeming the client employment ready, going by a small idea of MRD–Motivated, Reliable and Dependable, I wonder of she had met these perimeters in her search–and in her work with you thus far? It is very hard to vouch for a client if they were not willing or able to do it for themselves. I definitely understand the frustration though and it might make you re-consider when sending the client out on a job lead…( I wish I had something better to say, but the best I can tell you is: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it.) so I think you can pat yourself on the back because you really did try to assist the client the best way you knew how, who knows down the road the client might yet be ready for work if the barriers have been resolved.

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