Not Seriously Job Hunting? You’re Not Fooling Anyone


“You have to want it more than I want it for you, and I want it pretty bad.”

That quote is one I put on the whiteboard in the room I use when I’m running an intensive two-week job finding program. I point it out on the first morning, and usually in the first half an hour. “It”, refers to a job and I challenge the people in the class right off by telling them that I’ll be available and supportive for that whole two-week timeframe, but they themselves have to do the work; and make no mistake, its work.

So imagine this scenario: you’re out of work and on social assistance. You’ve found it frustrating and somewhat depressing that your job search has not yet produced a job offer. Maybe you’ve had some interviews, but you’re still unemployed and wondering what you’ve got to do to change your situation. Then you get a phone call from me presenting you with the details of this job finding support program. You’re told you’ll get additional money for transportation to and from the class plus any additional transportation needed for job searching activities. Further, I’ll give you $80 for some clothes and grooming needs to spend as you see fit. Another $40 for networking fees – lunch money perhaps, or again whatever best suits you. Get a job and I’ll pass along funds to buy things you might need to start a job until you get your first pay cheque, perhaps up to $500.

Now in addition to the money, you get me; an experienced and enthusiastic Employment Counsellor, who will give you a USB stick for your computer or laptop, loaded with job searching tools, motivational pieces, tips on writing resumes, cover letters, rejection letters, how to make cold calls, follow-up calls, how to interview at your best and deal with tough questions.

Then there are discussions for 30 minutes each day about topics that matter to job seekers. They could be about targeting resumes and cover letters, dealing with the pros and cons of age, how to conduct research, network, stay positive and use a structured interview format style that will make your interviews better. And then there’s a mock interview to hone your skills, job leads, referrals to job fairs, notice of jobs in the hidden market, and much-needed support from others in the group who like you were feeling isolated and alone in their job search.

Wouldn’t you jump at that chance? This isn’t a program recipients can sign up for or choose to attend on their own. No, to get in they have to be referred by one of the other Employment staff where I work who, in the course of their dealings notice the ones that seem keen and serious about their job search. Even then, it takes a conversation with me before the invitation is actually extended. Then it’s 9:00a.m. sharp for two weeks, no jeans or t-shirts, no excuses.

The odd thing to me despite the number of times I’ve run this program, are the people who agree to attend, confirm their attendance a few days the program starts, and then don’t actually come. This time around I’ve four empty seats. Those four empty seats represent 1/3 of the group, and they’ve robbed four others of the opportunity to come.

Now to be fair, one woman who is looking for a Personal Support Worker job called two days before the class was to start and reported that she’d had a fall down some stairs and it resulted in a sprained wrist, slight concussion and bruised back. Ouch! Yep, that’s a good reason to miss the program, especially as she genuinely sounded disappointed and asked to attend in the future.

The second situation was a guy who left a message in the hours before sunrise of the first day stating he was heading off to the hospital with abdominal pains. But it took a phone call from me at the day’s end to do the follow-up. A suspended health card meant no care was given him, and he must now resolve that issue and get his health looked at. Good reason on the face of it too.

But then there were two others that are highly suspect. The first of these two had a staff refer him to the program some time ago. I spoke with him and he questioned how much I could really do for him because he’s pretty smart himself. He turned it down but later pressured the staff person to refer him again. This time he accepted but didn’t show up or call to report his absence until after 11:00 a.m. day one. He’s not coming because he had a phone interview the first morning, and is driving his sister and mother to the airport on two days during the program. He took on their problems as his obligations. Doesn’t want it bad enough.

And the final guy? “Family obligations” is his reason for non-attendance. Sorry, we all have these things in our lives, but we who work make different decisions. So I’m left again knowing that some job search intently and with purpose and some put far more effort into appearing to job search.

You’re not fooling anyone however. Your actions rather than your words, demonstrate your commitment and your focus. Some just want it more than others; and for two weeks I’m working with eight of those people.

Resume on Red Paper?


Remember high school? Go on, think back…for some of you, way back! Did you ever open your locker and find an envelope in it that smelled of perfume? I did. Back then I thought it was groovy, and it got my interest focused pretty quickly in wanting to open it up because I was sure the reading would be good. And back then, I was right.

Back before we had started dating, I recall my wife sending me an envelope with a hand-drawn picture of lips on the back with the words, “Sealed with a kiss” written on it too. It was not only groovy, it was totally out of sight, and I was hip to the trip.

Okay enough about my single days in high school and University. My point is nobody talks like that anymore, and I haven’t seen a perfumed envelope or got one with, ‘sealed with a kiss’ on it in decades. In both cases, those two envelopes stood out and got my attention, so is it a good idea in 2014 to send an unusual envelope to the company when you want to make sure they look at your resume and application if it’s arriving by post?

Generally the answer here is, ‘No’. Something as gimmicky as a red envelope may in fact get noticed as it stands out from the traditional white or brown envelope that’s true. But whose opening the mail? Likely not the person doing the short-listing of those to be interviewed or the Hiring Manager. No doubt it’s the Secretary or someone in Human Resources. And while you may think yourself creative with a flair for getting noticed, it may not have the intended results you want. You might be seen as unprofessional, wacky, a jokester and not to be taken seriously, and ultimately rejected.

The perfumed envelope will just show the company that you don’t know about their scent-free policy; you know, the one instituted because the Hiring Manager has allergic reactions to cologne and perfumes. Oops! Rejected. How could you possibly be expected to know about that scent-free policy? Oh it was clearly stated on their website.

Put yourself in the position of the people both receiving and reviewing resumes and applications. If you were reading a single resume, you might be up for reading something unusual. But don’t mistake the fact that they get many resumes to mean you should stand out visually with red paper. Stand out you should; but stand out with your content and writing style not some gimmick.

“But I know this guy who got an interview with some coloured paper” you say? Well it could be that the person was in the entertainment or acting field where being unconventional is encouraged. It could also be they just wanted to see who would actually show up. Did that guy get a job offer or just an interview?

Pictures on a resume or attached are good things if you are an actor, model, television personality etc. Pictures on most people’s resumes should be discouraged. If a company was making decisions on who to have in for interviews based in part on how the people looked who applied, they might be open to lawsuits and actually decline to read on even if you were qualified. This is exactly the case at one company I know. Send a picture and get rejected out of hand.

Go into some stores that sell packages of paper and you might find that there some with decorative borders and they might appeal to you. These might be appropriate for writing poetry on, making certificates on, but for a business resume – never.

Think about your personal branding and the message you send. Be a professional and be someone to be taken seriously. Sell your skills, pitch your personal value, demonstrate your abilities. You should stand out because you have accomplishments that interest others in having you as part of their workforce. Perhaps you’ve increased sales, obtained some level of education, worked abroad, been able to come in and clean up a mess. And if you are going for a job on an assembly line where it’s unlikely you’ve done incredible things elsewhere, maybe highlighting your perfect attendance record would stack up well in a company who stresses attendance, safety and performance.

Clues as to what a company values aren’t that hard to find. You can visit a website, read up on their values and mission statements, get copies of their financial documents and year-end reports that will give you facts on what health they are in financially, and if it’s not great but you’re good at turning thins around, there’s your edge.

Oh and the perfume? Many years ago now I knew of a woman who spritzed herself with a small quantity of perfume. At the interview, she noted that the person interviewing her seemed increasingly displeased and made facial expressions that told her things weren’t going well. She couldn’t understand why the interview was putting her chances in jeopardy because her answers were strong and her qualifications were solid. It was only at the end when the interview correctly guessed the perfume she was wearing, and made the comment, “That was my ex-wife’s favourite”, that she put two and two together and assumed it reminded him of her. She didn’t get the job, and always wondered if she’d not used perfume that day if things might have been different.

Cheers.

Sexually Exploited At Work?


Talking about being sexually exploited work is something that might trigger past memories for some readers. Might even be just what you need if you’re in this situation now.

I wonder first if we could agree on a basic premise that people, (that means you) are always much more intrinsically valuable than the work they perform. Just about all jobs can be performed by any number of people. While I might for example not be cut out to be a Lineman for the local hydro company, there are many others who would be more than qualified to take the place of a current employee should that person leave their job. Even the head of a country can and is replaced every so many years.

There are some people in jobs that we think no one else could do – people who invent things perhaps. But wouldn’t someone else eventually invent the great things they did eventually? Would we really be still in the dark if you-know-who didn’t invent the light bulb?

Okay so people are more valuable than the work they perform. As I write that statement I am mindful of a large number of people who will agree with this statement as long as I’m referring to other people, because they themselves have such a poor and low self-image. But we’ve got to stick with the word, “people” meaning everyone, and that includes you.

So you’ve got this job and you’re being or have been sexually exploited on the job. Maybe it’s a fellow employee or even your boss. It could be anything you don’t want, like what they deem a playful pat on the behind or squeezing up against you in a tight space when there’s a lot of room behind them. It could also be much more than that, having your pay withheld until you perform some sexual favour for them, or being coerced into doing something for a client in order to keep the boss happy.

It’s wrong and it’s illegal. If like some others, you know its wrong but feel you have no choice because you need the money from your job to pay rent and eat, you’re caught in a situation called a moral and ethical dilemma. More than that though, you’re at a high risk of things getting much more dangerous if you don’t take immediate action.

There are several things you should do. First and foremost tell the person clearly that whatever they are doing is not welcomed, and make it equally clear the behaviour is to stop immediately. If it’s someone other than your boss, don’t threaten to tell the boss, go and actually tell the boss. Lodging a complaint against someone who persists in sexually harassing you is not only going to hopefully get them to stop it with you, but maybe get them to stop repeating this with others now or in the future. In a union? Talk to a Steward.

Another thing that is a good idea is to limit your own exposure to the person as much as you can, especially avoiding situations where you may be alone with that person. Staying out of the stockroom when the other person is there, leaving the lunchroom when only that person and you would be left behind, etc. Unfortunate as it is, you may find that adjusting your behaviour on the job when that other person should be having to change their behaviour is what ultimately makes you feel safer and keeps you out of harms way.

There is no excuse for someone to sexually exploit another person. The victim in this case is certainly not encouraging or responsible in any way for egging on or encouraging the behaviour. No you’re not, “asking for it” as some perpetrators say to defend their actions.

Filing a complaint with the police is also something you should do. I guess it depends on if you’ve been initially successful in halting the unwanted touching immediately just by telling the person to stop, and how small or great you feel the intrusion to be. Squeezing a rear end, a breast, a crotch? Definitely not accidental. Backing up while carrying a box and touching their rear to yours because they were unaware you were there is highly more believable as accidental.

Quit the job and do it immediately if you feel physically at risk just by going in to work and the employer is doing nothing to curtail someone else’s behaviour. If it’s your boss and there’s no one else higher to appeal to, get out. It’s back to the original premise; you’re more important and valuable than any job.

Of course having another job to go to is preferable over quitting and being unemployed. If you are able, you might be in a position to job search while still working, and finding another job to replace the one you’ve got now, move on. This protects your income but removes the danger.

There are social service groups in your area that deal with victims of sexual assault. It’s not your fault. Contacting them for help and support is anonymous, confidential and will help. Know your rights, and know that no clothing choice you make, the way you style your hair, or the way you walk gives anyone the right to touch your body in ways you don’t want.

Protect yourself; no job is worth more than you. Please share this.

I Want It Bad; You’ve Got To Want It More


Next week I’ll be starting to work with a new group of job seekers. It’s a two-week intensive job hunting program where twelve people receiving social assistance get the dedicated support of an Employment Counsellor in their pursuit of tracking down job leads, coaching on interviews that hopefully lead to job offers.

When they walk in on Monday morning, instead of getting down to it immediately, I’ll take the better part of two and a half hours setting up expectations. One of the things I’ll stress very early is that I’m passionate about wanting to help them as much as I can. I sincerely do want to help them realize their employment goals and become financially independent. However, I’ll also tell them one key thing; you’ve got to want it more than I want it for you.

“Find me a job”, is one common response when I ask people in this group what their expectation is of me. Finding them a job actually would take me about forty-five seconds. Helping them track down the right job that they are both qualified for and would be successful at and enjoy doing requires more time and effort. Hence, every participant has to come into that class knowing the kind of work they intend to look for. Tell me you’re looking for, ‘anything’ and that’s enough to tell me you’re not ready for this group.

Frustrating as a job search is, that roller coaster ride of looking for a job has got to be anticipated. Hard to have ups in other words if you don’t have the downs with which to contrast the two. What I really like about this time of the program – a few days prior – is the hope and anticipation that it gives to those who will attend next week. A prolonged job search usually robs people of hope over time, and so the prospect of getting some support and guidance, the chance to perhaps find out what you may have been doing wrong and correcting it, are key parts to raising their hopes.

Okay so what exactly would someone looking for a job get in terms of content in an intensive two weeks? We’ll look of course at targeting resumes, writing directed and powerful cover letters. Learning how to interview so you become memorable is in here too, but only after we first examine what an interview actually is in and of itself, what you have control over (more than you’d imagine), and what you don’t. How to conduct research on companies, current employees, culture, the job itself are covered. Social media and how to exploit it to your advantage with a strong emphasis on LinkedIn, plus the more traditional methods of job searching such as job boards, job sites on the web, newspapers and networking are all covered.

There’s also segments on problem-solving, conflict resolution, maintaining a relationship with a job coach even after the job starts, building trusting relationships, what employers are looking for in 2014, the pros and cons of both age and using temporary agencies. We’ll look at how to address tough interview questions; “Why’d you leave your last job?”, “Explain this gap on your resume?” “Why should I hire you?” and the most often asked question, “Tell me about yourself.”

There’s time spent on gathering references, tracking your job search, learning from failure, determining the style of leadership you’d function best under, clothing choices, grooming, non-verbal communication and the whole before, during and after the interview routine. And if this sounds like a full two weeks already, consider that for the bulk of the days, clients are expected to job search. It’s the client who has to actually do the job of looking for a job. You see, when they get the call inviting them to an interview, I want them to feel good about having got it themselves. When they get offered the job and give me credit, I want to pay it back and tell them they got it themselves because I wasn’t there with them. You CAN build someone’s self-respect and self-esteem and then…look what they can accomplish!

But all of the above, (and there’s more content I assure you) is only going to eventually lead to securing a good job or career if the person wants it more than I want it for them. It starts with an attitude of hunger; you have to want work. It also means being open to honest feedback and having your shortcomings pointed out to you and then choosing to do something about them instead of becoming defensive. It’s about having a positive attitude in the wake of employer rejections, knowing that with each and every job you research and apply to you are learning and getting better at doing things for yourself in the best way possible.

That little voice of doubt that whispers in your ear that you’ll fail? Everybody who has ever lived has probably had that voice whisper to them from time to time. Small successes; one built on another, can build momentum and silence that voice, replacing it with a voice that speaks much louder, “NOT ONLY CAN I DO IT, I DID IT!”

But for now, wanting it bad is a good start. Next up; putting into action what wanting alone will not achieve.

Facing The Prospect Of A Very Long Day


As I start writing, it’s 4:43 a.m. but I woke up at 2:12 a.m. and have been awake ever since. Up until now I’ve made a hot cup of tea, watched an episode of, ‘Silk’ (British court drama series), and tried unsuccessfully to return to bed at 4:00 a.m. It’s the beginning of a very long day ahead.

So what could sharing this possibly do in any way to help you with respect to getting a job or performing well at the one you’ve got? In a word; plenty.

Generally speaking I’m the kind of person whose head hits the pillow and within two minutes is well on the way to full REM sleep. It’s a wonderful gift that I am very thankful for. And most nights, I’m sleeping soundly until the hour of 5 a.m. When you head to bed just after 10 p.m., well there’s my seven hours. Today though, it’s down to just over four.

You too will have days like this. You’ll wake up at some point maybe worrying about something about to happen; an interview, the big presentation, the prospect of meeting someone new either personally or professionally, giving a speech. Or like me, maybe you can’t quite determine exactly anything specifically that’s on your mind. It doesn’t really matter because reason or not, you’re wide awake.

And when you face the prospect of having to get up – oops, we’re already up – and get to work and put in a productive seven, eight or more hours, the prospect isn’t attractive. So you’ve got options; 1) call in sick when you’re just in need of some sleep. 2) take a sleeping pill or other sleep medication 3) distract your mind with some numbing television or a book you can delve into 4) pace about, sleep fitfully on the couch, get up, lie down and get more agitated, 5) repeatedly ask your spouse if they are awake until they actually are so you have someone to commiserate with your sleeplessness. I don’t recommend number 5; it doesn’t end well.

Now for me personally, calling in ill is rarely an option except when I am deathly ill. Being tired and up half the night doesn’t qualify; and that perfect attendance record I’m shooting for is still intact this late in September. There’s not a prize you understand, it’s just my own standard.

The sleep medication? Oh it might help me drift off to lullaby land, but boy would I find it hard to rise and shine with a spring in my step. The worry over then sleeping in and being rushed or late wouldn’t be a healthy relaxing combination. And driving to work for an hour feeling drugged and groggy isn’t appealing. Your welcome fellow drivers.

Oh and I did try the television show. Not a bad episode at all, but I was actually into it, and it didn’t do much therefore to numb me to sleep. I even tried returning to bed but lying there for a prolonged time usually only results in getting a headache; know thyself and avoid a second problem if possible.

No the solution that really works best is in this person’s opinion is to look ahead at your day. If nothing is on your calendar, do your best to keep your visibility low. After all, despite your little bursts of creative energy, it’s likely you won’t be at your very best. And as the day wears on, you might even find the last few hours of the day to be even more challenging. Although you yourself might not be entirely objective, others might observe behaviour or comments that isn’t in keeping with your usual performance.

By way of example, you may be irritable, quick to dismiss others comments, look strained, yawn, withdraw, be subdued, drink more caffeine-laced drinks like coffee or a Coke. Even your pace around the office might be slower as the day wears on, and you might be short with people on the phone.

If this kind of thing doesn’t happen often and is quite rare, you might even have the kind of job where you can walk in, announce you’ve had a rough night of it, and apologize in advance for not pulling your weight this one day. It might be more of a day to stay out of the limelight and do some background work. On the other hand, you might have the kind of job where for safety reasons, you owe it to your co-workers to step out at some point; say operating heavy machinery when you’re feeling groggy. Not a good combination.

But maybe you feel the pressure to excel and can’t get out of doing anything less than your very best. Could be you’re on probation at work and can’t call in ill and don’t want to make it appear this is a regular thing. Be self-aware as much as you can than throughout your day. Watch your words, bite your tongue, hold off on major decisions 24 hours so you’re clearer of mind.

Some cold water on your wrists actually gets the blood going and a splash on the face might help too. Some folks bring an alarm to work and head out to the car at noon for 30 minutes of sleep to come back more refreshed. Power naps.

Whatever you decide on, remember this day. When you find a fellow employee is having a day in the future you’re experiencing now, give them some slack if you can.

Unemployed In The Upper Echelon


You were at the top of your field. You were the person that everyone else looked up to and could be found at the top of the organizational chart. You were the top dog, the big enchilada; numero Uno. The keyword is, ‘were’.

As financially rewarding as it was, and good for your ego, its many years into the future before you are ready to hang them up entirely. So the big question now is, “What’s next?”

It’s hardly likely that you’re one of those people who says they are prepared to do anything; in fact, I think it far more likely that you’re only interested in an extremely small number of options. You may be considering a consultative role, parachuting in to lend your extensive expertise in matters you are well-versed in. You might be on the prowl for a position of similar stature and prestige. You might even be contemplating taking a year off to travel, reduce your overall stress level, spend time pursuing your personal interests and hobbies you never found the time for while working.

Sooner or later however, that pull will start to do something. And while the pull to do something is the same for anyone looking for work, your network and connections are in different circles than many other people, and you may be openly wary or doubtful that anyone in an Employment Counselling function has the necessary skills and expertise themselves to help you land that next career.

Like anyone looking for a service, I think it only prudent for you to prepare a number of questions and interview people before you invest your time and potentially your money with them. Questions you might want to pose have to do with their bottom-line success rate helping people who come from similar backgrounds as yourself. The kind of work they ended up obtaining, the time it took for them to achieve their goals and how best to launch yourself into this career search to reduce the time out of work are also good things to ask.

However, expecting your journey to be identical to others who have gone before you is not a fair expectation to put on yourself or transfer to someone helping you. Your past experiences are unique to you and as much as you want the person helping you to give it their all and help you out, you’re likely only one person they are dealing with.

Here’s another tip that may require a spoonful of sugar to help with the mental digestion: the sooner you realize you need to give your advisor the absolute truth the better they will be able to help you. So many people who have held positions at the top of organizations have been trained over a number of years to only reveal information on a need-to-know basis. And most personal information doesn’t need to be known.

However, being candid in a confidential environment with someone whom you are paying to advise and coach you is a huge step forward in reducing the time you will take looking for that next position. Most will only reveal a little here and there, and as the time draws out that they are looking, more and more gets divulged. After all, if you’re going to get a job in a matter of weeks or months, why be entirely forthcoming with information that you deem isn’t entirely necessary if it compromises you in your opinion or demonstrates a weakness?

What I’m referring to here are your own insecurities. Where are your weaknesses? What haven’t you kept up at that it is assumed otherwise you have? Are you genuinely insecure or frightened inside when your outside tells others you are calm and in control? That self insecurity if not bolstered can reveal itself otherwise in the most unlikely – and awkward of situations.

You were a long way up in the organization, and now you feel it’s a long way back up to where your mental expectations should meet with the physical reality. Truth is, with mergers, relocations, takeovers and new models of business delivery, some positions are just redundant. And if you were the poster child for an organization who is no longer viable and in business, by association, perhaps you too are no longer relevant and viable.

There are organizations and individuals out there whose clientele are ex-executives, CEO’s and business leaders. Their expertise, much like your own, is specific to a niche market; namely you! Oh you can waste an extensive amount of time if you want questioning and doubting their abilities to help you, but in the end you do or you don’t. Find the person, (and don’t waste time doing it) you want to work with and can trust to put as much enthusiasm into you as you do yourself.

One of the best things you can do is determine for yourself and then give anyone working with you a clear idea of what it is that you are now after. Finding out all your options might take a short time, but exploring those options more time. Exploring your choices so you move ahead with conviction and confidence is imperative. You know you could be in for a change in lifestyle. Are you and those around you ready for that possibility?

Frustrated People Only Bring You Their Troubles?


If you work in Social Services you’re likely inundated with people constantly telling you their problems. Not many people book an appointment just to say, “Nothing’s wrong at all, just thought I’d like to talk with you about some good things going on of late.”

People I know outside of my job who work in other lines of work sometimes say things like, “It must be depressing when all people do is bring you their troubles”. Funny how I’ve never agreed with them, and I usually go on to tell them what an actual privilege it is to be in this position where I can be of help to those in need.

The guy I share an office with at work and I were just discussing this yesterday. Last Christmas I made a present for him which is a 4′ x 2′ collage of inspirational quotes; all printed off with pictures reinforcing the quote. I turned to it and said that I recalled a quote on it somewhere that spoke to our discussion. I found it in a few seconds, and it went, “Never regret that people only bring you their troubles. Consider yourself the candle that people think of first when they’re in darkness.”

And I thought today that this concept was worth reminding us all about. In this field, (and there are others as well), we interact with a large population of the disadvantaged, the persecuted and the needy. In the case of my colleague and I, we work with people in receipt of social assistance. Many of them present multiple barriers to living happy successful, financially independent lives. Some present with issues of abuse, addictions, low self-esteem, dysfunctional families, failed relationships, depression, anger, criminal records, hygiene and grooming, poor communication skills, and the list goes on.

It’s humbling sometimes to pause and just consider how versatile, patient, skilled and compassionate one has to be in order to best listen to and then act to assist people presenting with various combinations of all the above. In only a few minutes, we’re expected by them to know enough about their plight in order to give them the help they need. This ability to quickly assess what the immediate need is and who we are dealing with, is an acquired skill just as is the way in which to best respond in kind.

There are dangers in this field when you work with such populations. It could be that you get numb to the position you are in, listening all day to these stories, and just as people are explaining themselves, you mentally jump ahead and categorize their problem and the most often correct solution. “Stop talking, because I’ve stopped listening; here’s how you solve your problem”. No one I hope would ever actually say that, but there is a danger that you may think it, and then your actions follow this course. You’ll be wrong more than right unfortunately and lose the relationship of trust with the person that’s so critical in this work.

Another danger is taking on their problems and issues as your very own. You can’t, ‘save them all’. You can’t take them home and turn their lives around. That’s condescending and playing God don’t you think? Oh my colleague was saying this about a client he had just worked with for 5 straight days, but of course neither of us would ever serious entertain the idea of suggesting such a thing. It’s unhealthy to take on all the problems you’ll encounter as your own, for otherwise you might end up with compassion fatigue; and that’ll make you less than effective.

The best of workplaces I really believe has a system in place whereby if you’ve personally just spent a significant amount of time dealing with someone in an extremely rough situation, you can call on colleagues to takeover and debrief if needed. This process gives you the opportunity to step back, share and deal with what you’ve gone through, and then return better prepared to cope with the rest of the day. I call it Mental Health Maintenance. It’s caring about each other enough that you do for them what you’d appreciate them doing for you in return if needed.

If you find yourself constantly frustrated; annoyed more often than you used to with people, ‘dumping’ their problems at your feet, look inward. What’s changed? Why does this frustrate you so much now when in the past you found it energizing, and looked forward to helping? For a variety of reasons you may yourself need either some time to pause and rekindle that mental stamina that’s been overtaxed, or it may actually be your inner self saying it’s time to move on.

Don’t get the idea I’m advising you to quit. There are many occupations where someone with your skills could be most effective; perhaps even within the organization you currently work for. In order for your clients to get the maximum help they need, someone in your position needs to be at their compassionate and caring best however. You’d be doing them and more importantly yourself a favour in either re-igniting your passion or finding it other places.

But I suspect you are pretty good at what you do. You’re here for the right reason. Whether it came as a calling, or it came as a job but you’ve discovered it’s a career, you make a difference in the lives of others. Go ahead, be a problem solver; it’s an honourable profession.