“Hate” Is A Job Interview Killer

“Oh I hate it when people are like that; I really do!”
“Okay, well that about does it. Thanks for coming in, we’ll be in touch.” And they never are. What went wrong?

It’s likely that whatever you find annoying in other people that prompted you to make the comment you did cost you a real shot at that job. “Hate” is one of those words that people use more commonly than they really mean. For not only do people use it to describe extreme revulsion, but they also use it in 2014 to describe things they don’t like a little but can easily adapt to. So for example, “I hate this pudding!”, “I hate having to get up early!”

Odds are that pudding flavour or texture is something you don’t find to your taste, but you could just as easily have said, “I prefer vanilla instead thank you, the butterscotch isn’t a flavour I enjoy.” This may not be what you would say if you were hanging out with your trusted girlfriend, but it might be what you’d say if you were having dinner at someone’s house you were just getting to know and wanted to make a good impression.

“Wanted to make a good impression.” Hmmmmm……isn’t that what you’re trying to do at the interview also? Right! You see that interviewer across the table is trying their best to get to know you over a relatively short period of time; even when there’s multiple interviews to go through. And because they don’t know you, anything you say is magnified. They can’t tell if a comment like, “I hate people like that” means you really do hate others or you just find them mildly annoying but can still get along.

People are generally considered the most important asset companies have. Put the right people in place and the company thrives. Hire the wrong people in key positions and the company will flounder and possibly fail. It is for this reason and this reason alone that picking the right candidate(s) from the many who apply for a job takes time and has to be done right – the first time.

So there sits the interviewer. Whether you started off with someone in Human Resources or not, eventually you end up sitting in front of someone who knows not only the job requirements but also the people with whom the successful job applicant will be working with. It’s as if all those people and their various personalities are the individual ingredients in some breathing recipe. Find the missing ingredient in a job applicant and the result is a winning combination. However, make the wrong choice, and you may upset the mix that was so close to what Management was close to achieving, and you’ll be out before the end of probation and the process will start anew.

Okay so that comment, “Oh I hate it when people are like that; I really do!” What the interview has likely done is precede the response the applicant gave with either a question or comment about someone with a strong personality not everyone can work with. Could be, and likely is, that there is someone on the team you would be working with, or in the organization you’d have to deal with who has that very personality, manner, style or trait. And if there isn’t, it’s a test to see how you would deal with an angry customer or someone who rubs you the wrong way.

Being careful, thinking before talking, and coming up with an answer that is honest but ends on a positive rather than on a negative is the key. And you should always be thinking to yourself, “What’s really behind this question? What is it that’s really being probed? If you think it’s a question or comment designed to provoke a response, taking a moment to re-think your automatic response may save the interview and keep yours going. So perhaps you might say, “The great thing about meeting people, whether it’s customers, clients or co-workers is that we’re all so different and yet we find ways to get along, even when our differences sometimes create personal challenges. Whenever I interact with someone who has behaviour I personally don’t appreciate, I can separate their behaviour from the person themselves.”

After making this kind of introductory statement, I’d cite an example from my past where someone has initially rubbed me the wrong way, but I was able to work with them and produce a positive result. You know, kind of, “To illustrate this, it was when I was with such and such company, and I was tasked with working on a project with a person who constantly interrupted my sentences and didn’t appear to be listening. I refrained from saying something that would be hurtful, and asked if we could just pause a moment and talk. I explained how I felt when he interrupted constantly, (which he said he knows he does but is working on) and he said he’d really make an effort not to do that and hear me out because he values my opinion. We then resumed the project and came to a successful conclusion.”

“Hate” is a word you might want to drop altogether anyhow. Save it for extreme situations where it’s required but leave it out of your everyday vocabulary. Dropping it will serve you well.

Think For Yourself

There’s some very interesting and important discussions that other people are having this week which are going to have a direct impact on my co-workers and me personally. On June 12 (Thursday of this week – tomorrow in fact), there’s a Provincial election going on. Today being the 11th, my Union is counting ballots to determine if they received a yes or no vote to move ahead with a strike mandate. And in nearby Toronto, they are electing a mayor and that could have financial impacts on all of us in the Province of Ontario.

I find that with respect to the municipal election, while I haven’t attended a single local meeting to hear the candidates, I have been reading their platforms in the local papers. And on a Provincial level, each one of these local candidates is part of a larger political party naturally. So do I vote for the local candidate I like the most or the provincial party that’s going to represent my wishes best?

While each one of the parties tells me to vote for them, I have to keep reminding myself to think for myself. What’s fundamentally intriguing to me is that parties seldom ask you to vote for them, they tell you. “Vote for me” instead of “Please vote for me”.

At work, there’s much discussion going on in the workplace about whether to strike or not, and whether the employer is creating fear and trying to divide us or is giving us useful information on their side of the equation so we have more information to base decisions on. I dislike anyone telling me what to think and how to vote and only portraying the other side as somehow sinister. Again, I’m returning to my mantra of, “Think for yourself” Kelly.

Turning on the car radio and listening to the CBC, (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), they are always at some point during my drive talking about an election issue, a mayoral candidate, or voter apathy. What I do like here, is that they are attempting to get the public to vote; not vote for any one person mind, just vote. It’s important. I believe some politicians actually count on lower voter turnout. Keep those opposition supporters at home if they can I suppose.

There’s a lot of good to come from discussions on issues that matter to us and impact us. Other people might raise points we hadn’t considered, give us information we otherwise would not acquire, and may even provide enough information that our opinions change from those we once held. I get that. What I find dangerous however is when there are people who ask, “what are the issues?” or “what’s it all about?” and one person or one party only presents their own point of view as the entire picture.

Last night, I went to cast my vote on whether I support my union in moving ahead with a strike mandate or not. Before I could do this however, I had to sit through a 30 minute talk from those at a head table; my bargaining committee. That time was spent portraying my employer as an entity that needs to be fought. I don’t want to fight my employer. In fact, I’m proud to work for my employer and think I’m treated very fairly. So while I sat there in silence and heard the pre-scripted message being delivered, I hoped and prayed my co-workers would also think for themselves. Vote either way, just think for yourself.

Do you know of situations when you haven’t thought for yourself and relied on the advice of others, than acted on it and it turned out good or bad? It could be that person in school that your friends said liked you a lot and told you to go up and ask out. They may have been right and you dated for a long time or married, but equally well it could be they were having you on and you looked a fool. What you wanted to believe made what they told you believable, and you trusted them. You didn’t think for yourself, you gave in to the pressure.

What about your home? There was a short window of opportunity to put in an offer on a house and while there wasn’t time to have a home inspection done, get your trusted family member in to help you make an informed decision, you nonetheless acted on the urging of a Real Estate Agent (who by the way would make a nice commission off the sale) and ended up with a money pit and regret the purchase. Sometimes the allure of a house or a shiny car and the ease of acquiring it (we’ll handle all the paperwork for you) sounds too good to be true. We act more on the advice of others than thinking clearly for ourselves.

Of course it’s good advice to take into consideration the advice of others who have expertise we lack, no immediately obvious gains to make from our decisions, and have our best interests at heart. All I encourage you to do is step back and think for yourself. Either way, you also assume the consequences and responsibility for your choices so you might as well do so after having thought clearly.

Do You Need To Work?

Some people need to work and some don’t. Some want to work and some don’t. Then there are those who both need and want to work. But is it possible that there are some who don’t need to and don’t want to?

I’ve worked with someone in this last category and maybe you have too. Odd though it is, the person in the case I know of, had a husband who brought in the bulk of their income. There was no financial reason for her to have to work therefore; a fact she made sure everyone was aware of, so it’s not just conjecture.

This woman had originally decided the work she performed was something she wanted to do. Her children were grown and out of the house, and the job was fulfilling more of a social function, allowing her to connect with other people and helping her of course feel useful and appreciated.

But then things changed. People change even if job responsibilities don’t, and in this case both she and the job she did changed. The new mix wasn’t a good one, and it was clear to more than a handful of people that she was no longer happy in the work she did. Too old to really seriously look at another job outside the company she worked for, there were only two real options; quit outright or apply for another job within the company – but there wasn’t one she was qualified to apply for. So quitting or hanging on were her two choices.

Sadly, she made a decision to stay instead of quitting. All the positive relationships she had established in the workplace started to turn sour. Voices started grumbling behind her back, wishing she’d leave, and only because she was turning quickly into that energy-sucking, negative person that few people want to be around. So in addition to the job being one she didn’t want to do, the ‘connecting with others’ part of the job she liked was slipping fast.

In the end, she did quit. And when she left, instead of a nice send-off with sincere best wishes for a productive and happy next chapter of life, people couldn’t wait to see the back of her. Like milk turned sour when past its due date, she’d overstayed her usefulness. And that was unfortunate too, because the time she had given was on the whole, apparently quite long and had much more good than bad.

If you don’t need to work and you really don’t want to work, shouldn’t you move on?

There are a number of people who benefit when a worker retires or quits. First of course the people themselves benefit because they find new stimulation in other activities. New stimulation is a good thing, and there are options such as another job, a return to school not only for higher education but to delve into a hobby or personal interest. And you meet like-minded people if you are taking up an interest such as photography, a musical instrument or a craft.

Secondly the co-workers left behind may initially find your departure leaves big shoes to fill, but with the arrival of a new person comes an opportunity to meet and work with someone new; and everyone moves up the seniority list by one! Existing workers may find a position opened up they themselves want to apply to, and that could stimulate some real enthusiasm for a new job in other people, and a ripple causes three or four job changes.

The employer benefits too, because sour workers are cancerous. It could well be that if a worker with a poor attitude doesn’t leave on their own, they might get shown the door. What a sad end to an otherwise long and productive career that would be. Then the employer looks bad to those outside the organization, but dead wood isn’t of much use other than for burning.

And most important of all is that the customer or clients of the company itself who may have dealt with the person will experience hopefully someone new in the job who wants to be at work, wants to provide good customer service and makes their experience a good one. Of course all that knowledge that left with the retiree is dearly missed, but in the case of someone who isn’t happy, it could well be the case that the person stopped using all that knowledge anyhow, not because they were a terrible person or anything, they just became burned out.

Customers want to interact with people who want to do well in their jobs and like what they do. Given a choice of two people who both know their stuff, but where one loves the job and one loathes it, I’d choose to deal with one who loves their job. Wouldn’t you too? Employers and supervisors also want employees who enjoy coming to work, put in extra effort, do their job with enthusiasm and make the workplace a happy place.

In fact, employers should consult with disgruntled workers to find out what’s going on. Has something happened in an employees personal life that’s having a negative impact at work? Is there some support the employer can lend to get through a difficult time outside work?

In the end, it’s up to you and me; up to all of us, to review why we work, where we’d be happiest, and make changes if and as necessary.

From Gardening To Networking

Don’t get me wrong; planning is highly recommended and when it comes to many things – like running a business for example – action without planning is planning to fail.

But sometimes being open to whatever comes your way can have positive results you might otherwise have missed. Let me give you an example of this past weekend and how a day doing something I hadn’t originally anticipated turned out to be a win-win situation.

I love gardening; you have to accept that premise. The home I moved into with my wife four years ago was new and the backyard a quagmire of earth, rocks and contractor fill. For the first summer, I remember digging through that mess and setting aside rocks and bricks from the land. When the sod was laid, I found myself with an emerald canvas upon which to do with as my wife and I chose.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the property is landscaped, water fall and pond, a couple of gazebos’ numerous flower gardens, a patio for eating and one for lounging, a vegetable garden, and a perimeter of emerald cedars, rocks, hanging flower baskets and shrubs. There’s a few trees, a shed, 5 bird feeders, 3 compost bins and 7 rain barrels. There’s a connecting walkway from front to back, armour stone, and more. In short, I’ve really loved the landscaping and gardening, but now; well, it’s just about all done. Aside from the maintenance part, the creation part is pretty much done.

Ah, but the neighbours have a blank canvas and they aren’t really gardeners. So my wife and I have been available to make little suggestions, offers of help and advice and inspiration. These are a nice couple with College/University kids that come and go.

When they first moved in, the guy next door graciously trimmed my two garage doors in metal matching the home. No more painting of wood surfaces – ever! And two years ago when they moved in, I offered gardening help in return. We blow the snow out of each others driveways, and lend a hand as need be.

And so it was that on Sunday morning, the neighbour invited the two of us; my wife and I, out to the garden centre to help pick out some plants. We ended up with bags of soil, peat, plant starter, bushes, flowers, shrubs, and mulch. It took five trips in total to get all the stuff they bought. And there I was, clearing away grass, digging holes, replacing terrible soil with the good stuff, planting shrubs and flowers, watering, transplanting some things, cleaning up and all with a smile on my face.
I loved the work and the creativity, making suggestions and seeing things go from their mind to reality.

I figure in the end they got 8 hours of my time. There was no lunch break. And what did they have to pay for that labour? Nothing. What it did cost them was a juice bottle, a water bottle, and a homemade dinner of filet mignon, potatoes and garden beans and corn. Oops, throw in a can of Coke. And during dinner, I was given a dagger – (no kidding a real dagger) because he had one lying around for years and I had mentioned having a few swords in my possession so he thought I’d like it. And I do.

Now my plans on Sunday morning were to go food shopping and relax a little, play the guitar a little, and unwind. By the end of the afternoon, I was dirty, sweaty, and entirely content working with both my neighbours and having laughs along the way. After we all took a shower (sorry, not together), we were clean, rejuvenated and able to stand back and enjoy looking out on what we had created together. They appreciated our suggestions for plants that were native and would grow in the conditions we have to contend with, and I was grateful for the activity and doing something that made them so happy.

Now what about a job searching connection? Well for starters, both of us (my neighbour and me) can now attest to what the other is like to work with. Our cooperative skills, work ethic, teamwork, listening skills, labour skills, stamina, endurance and creativity are now known to each other bound by the experience, not just the idle claims one makes to another. If he needs a reference, I can attest to what it’s like to both live next door to him and complete a project together.

So here’s how it’s gone: We gave them the history of their home the Real Estate agent hid before they bought. He installed steel flashing around my garage: free. I shovel out his drive and he mine when the chances arise: free. I donate my time helping him with his lawn and landscaping: free. We’ve even gone golfing once this year together, and that reminds me I’m losing one game to nil.

This is how you build relationships and friendships. It’s not so much what can I get out of the guy next door, but rather, what can I do for the guy next door. When you think more about the giving than the getting, the getting usually takes care of itself and you find you both benefit.

Networking works the same way. When you are networking and building relationships in job searching, start with what you offer to others and can do for them. You may find those same people remember you and ask how they can help you out in return.

How Colourful Are You?

This morning dawned beautifully around me today. I was showered and dressed early enough to have 15 minutes outdoors and took the opportunity to give the vegetable garden and the flowers a drink. All around me there were shades of green from bright vivid new growth to darker variations of perennials with mature boughs. There was a blue sky emerging from hues of pinks and reds mixed with tinges of yellows.

As I looked around it was silent other than for the sound of the droplets of water that was falling on the earth and the leaves of plants and petals of flowers. I took in the dark earth where I had saturated the ground and noticed how in areas I’d yet to water things were beige in comparison. The grass a uniform green with no signs of the brown which will eventually come when the hot dry days of summer become more frequent.

Around me there was the black fireplace, the chocolate-brown gazebo, the bright pink geraniums in the flower boxes, the glistening green leaves of the orange and pear trees. Violet Iris petals are in the stage of emerging from their variegated leaves of greens and whites.

And I soaked it all up.

The effect of this 15 minute time span I afforded myself was that I started the day much more at ease, and I counted myself fortunate to enjoy the efforts of a lot of hours of labour. I was alone, there was no one to share it with at 6:15 a.m. in the morning, and it was mine alone. I was not okay with this, I relished it.

And moments later as I got in the car to start my 1 hour commute to work, I was still content and rolling along with a good feeling inside. Sitting here in my office as I write this (for its odd that I’m doing it here at all as it normally gets done at home between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.) that feeling is lingering on still, but I feel it diminishing. There’s other people drifting in and saying, “Good morning” as they pass.

Maybe I’m just more aware of the colours today because of the time outside this morning. It strikes me that being Friday, a number of my co-workers will say things like, “Happy Friday!” (just heard one as I wrote this ironically), and very few will be ‘blue’ today.

Ever notice when you’re healthy you might say you’re feeling in the pink? Have a bad day you want to forget and it’s a white wash? Ever been in a dark mood? And if you’re in that dark mood but someone else is joyful you get ‘green’ with envy?

Colour and colourful phrases are all around us. I’ve even heard someone refer to another person who is a little down but still functioning as experiencing a ‘blown-out’. That’s quite the opposite as going around as if you are walking on sunshine. And I must confess every now and then when wishing someone a good day at the end of an email, I’ll wish them a rainbowlicious day. Not really a word of course; kind of a Kelly invention I suppose. But the intent there is to have the best of it all, the whole colour spectrum at once.

And speaking of rainbows, there’s those in our society that have adopted that icon as their own and it’s associated with people who are gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer etc. It’s just inclusive of all things and I suppose that’s the reason it’s been adopted by that population.

As for the world of job searching and career exploration, one of the best books I read many years ago that I found very helpful was a book called, “What colour is your parachute?” Never heard of it? You should look for it and give it a read. It comes very highly recommended by myself and others, as a good tool for trying to plot out some career direction, get to know yourself and what would be a good fit.

Let’s not forget too that there’s an entire program called, “Personality Dimensions”. This program gets participants to find out what ‘colour’ they are; green, gold, orange or blue based on completing several self-assessments. Without going into great detail, it even summarizes the entire process with the conclusion that we’re all plaid – no kilts required by the way.

Just now as I’m writing this, I wonder to myself about those who are colour blind, and I can’t really imagine what the world must look light in various shades of light and dark but with no colour. While I wonder at this literal blindness, I’m thinking to about those who are ‘blind’ to the idea of respecting other people’s ‘colours’, or don’t quite get how to interact with those who on the surface seem to interpret things so differently from how we see the world. That’s a huge piece of Personality Dimensions. While I’m not plugging that program, it could be very useful to your team.

So whether you’re blue, in the pink, see the world with rose-coloured glasses, your finances are in the red, hair is greying, or hue are a kaleidoscope of colour, enjoy your day. Look around you and appreciate what you see, consider adding some colour to your day be it through flowers, clothes, paintings, or conversation. May you get your day off to a good start too!

Job Hunting? Stick A Label On Yourself

Sometimes things which can be good or bad, (and by the way can therefore be neither inherently good nor bad) are usually associated with the negative. Take stress for example. Stress often is seen as a negative when in fact stress itself is neither good nor bad, but our personal experience with it, and how it often gets portrayed in the media can cause us to see stress as a bad thing.

The act of labelling someone is much the same as the word stress. Somehow sticking a word onto someone and labelling them is generally seen as a bad thing to do; a weakness in our own character. I for one freely admit to labelling people and I think it’s a good thing. And what’s more, I believe you do it all the time whether you like to admit it or not, and so do employers.

First however, I want to ensure you see the intrinsic value in labelling things. When you are ill and require some kind of medication, you might find yourself standing in the aisle of a pharmacy, where you are faced with row upon row of various bottles of pills. How do you know which one is right for you? You read the label on the product. The label will not only tell you the name of the product, but also the ingredients of what lies within. Based on your needs and what your individual body will or will not react to, you make an informed choice and purchase the product. You then expect the product to be able to perform as advertised. If it should cause an adverse reaction and do something other than what you expect, you will stop using it, and may go so far as to complain or sue if there was some mis-labelling of the contents.

The same is true of people. You’re favourite team is playing an important game and your hope is that the stars on the team play up to their potential – perform as advertised. In the workplace there’s an important project which needs some expertise and leadership given to it. Does the boss just pick any person to lead the project, or do they assess the possible people who are available and put it into the hands of the person they have labelled as right for the job with the highest chance of producing a satisfactory result. Thus people can labelled as leaders, creative, hustlers, go-getters, Management material, experts and so on.

However it’s noteworthy that while we would agree this kind of labelling of people is not only don all the time but useful, when we talk of labelling others, so often it’s seen as a bad thing to do and something many would prefer not to admit to doing. It’s as if labelling other people only means seeing them as lazy, unproductive, an idiot, a fool, a nut etc.

As for those job hunting, I’d suggest you label yourself, on the provision that you can and do live up to how you brand, market and label yourself. If you for example checked out my LinkedIn profile, you’d notice that I have added two key words to my current job title of Employment Counsellor. You’d see I’m labelling myself as, “Enthusiastic and Empowering Employment Counsellor”. These words were carefully chosen by me from the many others I might have selected because they best represent me to others. I am enthusiastic, love what I do and do it with a great deal of energy and joy. I also want anyone who might employ me or use my services to know that I also recognize and want to nurture the power they already have, rather than do things entirely for them, and rob them of the feelings of ownership and success.

So examine your own labelling and self-branding. There is no right or wrong in looking. Imagine yourself as one of those pill bottles on the shelf at the pharmacy. Further imagine that the person in need standing in the aisle is an employer looking for the right employee. They’ve got to the right aisle, where the choices are in front of them. Now from the 50 different bottles of pills in the right section, what do they do? They pick up the bottles and read the labelling. This is like reading the resumes after a brief scanning to eliminate the most obvious rejections.

The employer then narrows down their possible selections to a few people, in the same way the shopper gets down to a few bottles of pills. The shopper now looks at what’s promised, compares price, compares quantity of pills in the bottle, tablets or gel caps, taste or plain and eventually decides. They may even ask a Pharmacist for their opinion if they think it will help them make the right choice.

For the job applicant, attaching the right label to yourself can help ensure that you end up being selected by an employer which will in the end be the best fit. So you’re a Law Clerk wanting a job let’s say. Wouldn’t you find it helpful to identify the kind of law you studied in order to end up at the right law firm? Real Estate law or Family law? Huge difference.

I encourage you to think about your self-labelling. Pausing to do this well can save you much time and frustration by reducing the odds of getting hired, only to find out it’s a poor fit.

Technology, Job Searching And Effort

Technology has changed society in many ways, most of them beneficial. You can arrange to have your groceries delivered to your house, order clothing, have a pizza delivered, shop for a new car, even a home or research your next career and register for school, all without leaving your home. But there’s a downside to technology, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll find yourself withdrawn, having poor interpersonal skills, and feel anxious when you do think about getting out and meeting people and have to interact with them.

Job searching is obviously what I want to focus on here and technology has really fundamentally changed how we go about researching and applying for jobs. I suspect it might seem to the young like the dark ages, but think in a single generation how much has changed. In 2014 it’s normal to have the internet in your pocket on your phone, your watch, your tablet and at home on your PC or laptop. If you are out and about, you can pop into an internet cafe, a library, a resource centre, and your connected.

In 1980, no one carried the internet with them, there were no tablets, cell phones, laptops and personal computers. Computers themselves were huge and heavy, and price-wise they were out of reach of the vast majority. Even after 2000, people were still using floppy disks to store data, and if you went up to someone and said, “I-phone?” they might say, “No you’re not, you’re a person.”

Used to be conducting company research was more challenging too. You had to physically show up at a business, pick up literature, read their quarterly reports or annual meeting documents. If you knew someone at a company, you pretty much had a major advantage because getting real information you could use was difficult to get. It really did depend on who you knew.

So much for a history lesson. Fast-forward to 2014, (and we’re already half way through this now). We have the internet relatively inexpensively, and accessibility to it is easier than ever. If you don’t have a cell phone with the internet, you know you can pop into a library and use theirs or borrow some time from a friend or neighbour. Most of us however in the developed world have it and consider it pretty much a given. That’s how far we’ve come.

And with it, we can research companies in seconds, finding out things like how long the company has been around, what their values and beliefs are, the culture of the company, their mission statements. Even pictures of people on their websites give us strong clues about the kind of people they want to hire.

When it comes to applying, most websites have a, ‘Careers’ or ‘Join Us’ link that tells us what positions are open and often there is an application form to fill out electronically. Frustrating maybe to have to create some kind of profile complete with username and password for each company, but this does weed out those that don’t have the technological skills or the patience to even complete their application fully.

So there’s a lot of good in the application method that company’s now use. However, the drawback to all of this is there are a lot of people who seem to think that sitting behind a screen and in front of a keyboard is how you go about getting a job. It’s as if they really believe you just do everything on-line and you get a text or return email saying you start tomorrow. Why is this? Because the internet is all about speed. “I applied twenty minutes ago, why haven’t I heard something by now!!!!”

Some things DON’T change with the hiring process. A Hiring Manager is still in need of time to collect resumes from qualified candidates, still needs to review them, still needs to select those closest to what they are looking for, and still needs to arrange interviews, and still needs to then make a decision. Time to use an old-time skill….patience.

And so it is that I find myself listening to many young job seekers who after applying for six or seven jobs lament the fact that they haven’t had a response and are getting frustrated. Not to diminish their feelings, (because feelings are something everyone is entitled to), but a typical job search requires stamina and diligence.

A good job search requires two things when it comes to applications: 1) a quality application 2) a quantity of applications. In other words, you have to put some real effort into your application so it’s as strong as it can be and markets you as best you can, but you also typically have to repeat this process many times. If you are fortunate, a really good application results in an early return and you get interviewed and hired early in the job hunt. Bravo. If you are like most job seekers, it involves multiple applications to different employers, sometimes even in different lines of work.

The challenge then becomes to not get discouraged, even when you have your daily ups and downs (and that’s normal). Staying committed to a focused, determined job search in which you really put your best effort into applying is critical to gaining success. If you put only a slight bit of effort into applications and circulate hundreds of them, odds are you won’t be successful.

All the best in your job search!

Working And Child Support Obligations

Now more than ever, there are a growing number of people who have brought children into existence, but do not actively live with them or parent them. In many countries around the globe, these absent parents are expected to provide financial support for the upbringing of the child, usually through payments to the other natural parent.

On the surface it seems like a reasonable model. Where it breaks down often however, is when there is such animosity between the two adults who once coupled to create the child, that the one doesn’t want to pay the other. When voluntary payments in good faith don’t work, in steps the legal system, court orders are created, and now it’s not just one parent expecting funds for the upbringing of the child, it’s the court system representing a province, a territory, a country.

While I’m not always a fan of generalizations, for the purposes of this blog, I must say that the usual situation is that the female who delivered the child usually ends up with custody and child-rearing while the male usually ends up being the one ordered to provide child care support. Let’s go with that. And this blog isn’t about the males who live up to their responsibilities. I applaud them on behalf of their children who may be too young to fully express their thanks.

No it’s the absent parents who don’t make their financial obligations that I’m looking at here. You no longer get along with the woman who you had sex and a child with? Fine. Nobody says you have to live with her, like her even; but that child who came into the world because you got her pregnant still needs to be fed, diapered, raised, schooled, enrolled in sports and arts, clothed etc. You’re not paying the mother as much as you are financially raising the child.

Sadly I find there are some men who are out of work by choice because if they do take jobs, their financial obligations check in, and they either have to make payments or their wages are automatically deducted for child support. If the guy is bitter, sometimes he says he’d rather not work at all than pay the woman. This is sad because rather than a win-win situation, this is just lose-lose-lose.

For starters, you’re obviously are making it a lot tougher on the child who had no responsibility for the fact his two biological parents split. Then there’s the mom who could use the support payments to raise the child and would have their own income for their own needs rather than stretching one income to cover two people’s needs alone. But really guys, there’s the another big loser in all of this and it’s you if you’re the absent dad refusing to work so you don’t have to make payments.

Essentially you are throwing away years of your own life, putting lots of energy and effort into avoiding work altogether, or minimizing your own financial health by taking low paying cash under-the-table jobs to avoid payments. Sorry but I just don’t side with you on this one. Man up, get a job, make your support payments, and work to be as financially successful as you can to better your life and the life of your child.

Now I’ve heard many of these dads talk about the injustice of it all. There’s those who call the mother a baby factory who has multiple children with numerous men just in order to trick guys into paying her support so she’s well off and never has to work. So my response is who made you have sex with her in the first place? Did you get to know her first, date awhile, or perhaps not think that decision to have sex through? Any responsibility there for that decision and the long-term consequences that in this case, might produce a child?

Yes it seems to me that the guys who don’t apply for good paying jobs to avoid making payments are throwing their own lives away; lives that could be rich, productive and fulfilling ones. So if you’re one of those dads keeping score of which arguments you’ve won or lost, put a big fat zero beside your name and a check mark under her name. But don’t blame her, blame yourself, because you’re the one making your employment or non-employment decisions.

The guys I applaud the most are the ones who through no fault of their own find themselves separated or divorced when they never wanted to be and have been ordered to make child support payments and do so. This could be where the female leaves for someone else, or just leaves period and takes the kids. This situation is hardest of all for the dad because not only does he lose his partner, he loses the children and is confined to visits. So good for you for paying support.

I think in a just society, it would be nice if a mom could look at her son or daughter and one day say, “Your father and I love you very much, but we couldn’t live together. Your father wants you to have all the things you need and that’s why he gives you money every month which helps you sleep and eat better and have a great start in life.” And that’s why you work and pay your support.

What’s Your Minimum Wage?

Yesterday was June 1, 2014 and here in Ontario Canada, the minimum wage rose from $10.25 to $11.00 per hour. That wage is now at the top end of the minimum wage in Canada, as each province and territory sets their own minimum wage. So how does this wage compare to where you live and work?

Because I work with those on social assistance here in Ontario, I like to find out the equivalent someone on assistance makes when you look at the minimum wage for comparison sake. While the funds someone receives on assistance vary due to family size, I always take the single person who receives at this time, $626.00 per month as a measure. If you were working full-time, you’d work 7 hours per day, so let’s multiply that by 5 days per week, and then let’s multiply that number times 4 weeks in a month. That gives us the equation 7 x 5 x 4 which equals 140 hours. Therefore, let’s divide the $626.00 a single social assistance person receives by 140 hours, and we get $4.47 as an hourly wage equivalent.

Thus a person on assistance with no job is receiving $4.47 per hour, while a person with a minimum wage job is making $11.00 per hour. Okay, so what does this look like on a monthly basis? Well we started by using $626.00 as a monthly income for a social assistance recipient. For the minimum wage earner working a full-time job, we take the $11.00 per hour and multiply it by the 140 hours we arrived at earlier. (The 5 day a week, 7 hour per day job multiplied by 4 week scenario above.) So $11.00 x 140 hours = $1540.00 per month.

So what we’ve got here in Ontario as of June 1, 2014, is the following: If you have a full-time minimum wage job bringing in $1540.00 per month, you are $914.00 ahead of the person who has no job and only the social assistance rate of $626.00 per month.

Interesting to me are the people who will now state, “But hold on, you haven’t factored in transportation costs to get to work and child care.” Okay let’s look at that. First I want to pose a question however. How much does the government subsidize the wages of working people not on assistance for their transportation? Well, The answer is zero transportation funds. I’m expected – as are all working people – to pay for my personal or public transportation needs out of the salary that I earn. It’s only when I’m on social assistance that I may receive additional funds for transportation.

As for childcare? Well childcare subsidy is possible for any working person based on their wages, expenses, and overall family income. You do not for example have to be receiving social assistance to have some childcare subsidy eligibility. But again, most working people who have childcare costs, pay for that care out of their regular income.

The issue of having to pay entirely for things without any assistance from anyone else is something that those who have been on some form of government assistance for prolonged periods sometimes have a hard time of understanding. Not all mind you, just some. In fact, one of the other benefits that many on social assistance in this jurisdiction have difficulty adjusting to center on the topic of benefits. When you are in recipt of social assistance you may have dental, medical and optical coverage.

One of the misconceptions out there is that as soon as a person on social assistance obtains employment of any kind, their file is closed; and with that closure is a loss of benefits. However that’s not the case in the area I work in, while it may vary from place to place. Where I work, anyone on social assistance has their social assistance reduced and eventually finds themselves ineligible due to the income they receive. It’s like weaning off of assistance and learning to adjust to having full responsibility for your own expenses. One of the things that is really beneficial to those just starting new jobs is the possibility of still receiving medical benefits for 6 months or a year after starting a new job depending on whether or not the employer provides benefits, and even if they do, having to wait to receive them.

I’d personally like to remove the word, “minimum” when talking about minimum wage. After all, it evokes (for some anyhow) the idea that if you’re getting paid minimum wage, it only fair you perform minimum work. And that’s not the case by a long shot. I think you should do your best and put forth the best quality of work you can in order to not only feel better about yourself and the work you do, but to impress your employer enough to justify a higher wage.

Everything has a flip side though doesn’t it? After all, wouldn’t some employers figure if they are getting real production out of someone who is working for minimum wage, why pay more? This kind of thinking is small-minded are short-sighted in my view. So instead of an employer thinking this way, I’d hope they’d think to themselves, “I want this person to stick around, which they won’t if they have a great work ethic and I’ll be forced to go through the hiring process all over again.”

When you’re working for minimum wage, work with personal pride no matter the job; don’t work for the pay cheque, work for your dignity, your future and your present self-worth.