Her Vision Was Bigger Than The Barrier: Problem Solving Excellence


I am thrilled to have a very practical example of problem solving today which in addition, demonstrates an outstanding attitude. Sit yourself down and get ready to learn from an unemployed lady who not only solved a problem, but now has a fantastic story to share in an interview that demonstrates her attitude and problem-solving skills.

Let me set up the situation. This woman is looking for employment either as a Customer Service Representative or a Personal Support Worker. She contacted a Recruiter I know at my advice who received her resume for each (for she sent her two). Yesterday as she arrived half an hour early for the supported job search group I’m running, I told her about a possible short-term job the Recruiter had come across her desk. The Recruiter had emailed me and asked if I thought she would be good for it as the two had yet to actually meet or speak on the phone, and of course I said I thought she would be ideal.

There was in my mind only one concern and that was she has no car. The job you see is only a three-day position, and she’d need to get to a train station in the area and hand out gift card to commuters. The position would pay $16 per hour, but the bad news was that she had to be there from 4:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. each day. Now many would turn down a job like this flat. 3 days? 4:30 a.m.? 4 1/2 hours only?

Ah, but this lady thinks like I do. She jumped at it because she could see past the financial. This job wasn’t actually about the money at all. What it is about is demonstrating to the Recruiter who doesn’t know anything about her other than the resume before her, that she can solve problems, will be dependable, and the three days are nothing more than an audition for the next and better job. The Recruiter doesn’t want to jeopardize her own relationship with employers with longer term needs, so she’s seeing how the woman performs.

So with no car, here’s what she did on her own. First she called to determine if buses were running that early and found they don’t. Then she called a cab company and found a ride there and back would be $20 each way; a $120 fare for the three days. Then she looked into a three-day car rental and it would be $117. Still, she’d gross $217 she figured and still come out with about $100 from the job. It got even better when she realized she’d only need the expense of the cab to get there, and then she could take a bus home because they would be on the road by 9:00 a.m.

I haven’t mentioned it, but she’s on social assistance and making only $4.36 per hour by comparison. So now she has a way to get to the job and resolved that herself, will come out financially better for taking the three-day assignment, and more importantly she will be demonstrating the whole time that she is reliable, and can do the job. Now this work is so short in duration, I don’t recommend she include it on a future resume. I do however, suggest that she does consider using the story in a job interview if she is asked to demonstrate a time when she resolved a problem.

Over a long period, this position wouldn’t be practical. However, not only does this do all the above, but for someone who hasn’t heard, “Yes, you’re hired!” in a while, something a small as this can be extremely good for the ego. “I’m wanted”. There is a rise in self-esteem, relief that a newly crafted resume and cover letter supported by contacting a Recruiter all are paying off.

I don’t know nor can I say for sure that the job over the three days will lead to anything else. There is no guarantee. I do know for certain though that she has demonstrated to me, the Recruiter, her classmates and most importantly to herself, that she could see the bigger picture than just seeing the job itself.

There are so many benefits to this story. When the class assembles this morning, I will be presenting them with two different problems and dividing them into two groups. They will be asked to brainstorm and present options for resolving the two problems. Problems you see, are usually progress stoppers for many who don’t have good problem resolution ideas. And to be honest, many of those I deal with make poor choices, quick decisions they later regret, and most importantly, don’t ask for input from those around them from whom they could get other ideas and possible solutions. This results in jobs passed on, opportunities lost, and they can’t always be resolved because the damage is beyond repair as in quitting a job they could have kept.

It boils down many a time to, “How bad do you want it?” If you want something like a job bad enough, (and that means seeing the real value beyond the short-term money), you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you won’t.

I hope you like me, think this story is a practical example of problem-solving. The three-day job could be an end in itself or the start of a life-changing chain reaction about to happen. Fingers crossed for her….

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