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.

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