All It Takes Is One Person To Believe

I want to think that everyone has had at least one person in their life who really believed in them. You know, that person who told you that you were a wonderful person. Maybe they said you had great things in store for you ahead, or that you meant a lot to them. Like I say, I hope everybody out there has had the good fortune of having at least one person believe in them. And here’s a positive way of looking at things if you haven’t had this experience; it just means that you’ve still got this one person who believes in you in your future.

Now this isn’t a blog about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, and I’m not talking about finding a soul mate or life-long partner. I’m talking here about one person who thought, (or thinks) you’ve got what it takes to become employed and do meaningful work.

One of the easiest things to do is put down or dismiss others. You’ve overheard no doubt in your lifetime people make comments like, “She’ll never amount to anything”, “He’ll never get a job” or “Who’d hire them?” These are the broad kind of statements that when on the receiving end, can demoralize even the most determined person. Think about it for a moment; imagine these kind of comments and others like them coming from your teachers early in life, your friends and their parents as a child, possibly even your own family and parents. Then this trend carries on to include employers who consistently reject or ignore your applications, and those who don’t hire you if you are lucky enough to finally land an interview. All that reinforcement of your low value and worth. That’s got to hurt.

One more extension of this could be that upon reaching out for help, you find yourself being told things similar to the above by various social agencies. While the words might come more gently, the message might be received as the same; you don’t have what it takes.

Fair enough, lets start rebuilding your self-esteem and hope for the future. What you are really in need of is that one single person who sees something in you that with some effort on your part, and some patience on theirs, can grow and flourish.

I do think it important to realize that you are going to need some coaching in order to be successful. No matter much an athlete believes in themselves, nor how much raw talent they have, it takes a coach; sometimes a team of coaches to take that raw talent and develop those skills to the level necessary to realize the athletes’ potential.

So the first thing you can do to help yourself is tell someone who’s offering to help you that you are open to listening to them and taking their ideas in. And this means being open to constructive criticism. To move forward and get a job might really mean not actually even applying for a job for a while. There may some foundation work needed first; work necessary so that when you do apply you not only have a good resume for example, but the proper interview skills to compete, and the job maintenance skills to keep a job once you land it.

In short, you might have it suggested to you that you work on things in stages; talk about what employers are really looking for in the people who hire them, what it takes to get along with co-workers and other people, how to deal with conflict professionally and effectively when it inevitably does come up, how to dress, talk, act, walk, speak and oh yes, get a better resume and interview skills.

Does this seem like an extensive amount of work just to get a job? Isn’t all you needed just a resume? If it seems like a lot of work to you, imagine the effort being put in by the person who thinks you’re worth investing all that time and work in. Somebody must think you’ve got what it takes to be successful if they are willing to work with you this much.

Can you walk away if you want at any time from this kind of pre-work training program? Sure you can. But thinking back to the athlete analogy, no professional athlete in any sport plays at an elite level without attending practices. In fact, the ones most successful and truly great are often the ones who show up before anyone else and stay after the rest leave. So how can you really expect long-term positive results if you aren’t willing to put in the work to work on things that you need to improve on?

You see having one person believe in you does not necessarily mean they say, “You’ve got what it takes to go get a job right now so go get ’em.” It may in fact mean they say, “Sure I can help you, but the plan will take some commitment on your part; perhaps some workshops, a haircut, some self-esteem and skill development seminars.

All it takes is that one person to believe in you, but do yourself the biggest favour and first give yourself some credit and believe in yourself. It can get better, you can be successful, you can reach your goals. It takes effort, it takes work and learning means replacing old ways with the new. Believe.

Take A Job But Want A Career? Good Idea; Maybe.

Generally people see careers as work done that lasts a significant number of years in a field that you have a strong interest in, and it generally follows some associated education. A job on the other hand is sometimes seen as a shorter term engagement, not necessarily in a field you are dedicated to over a long period of time, and it need not follow that you went to school to learn how to do it.

Working on this kind of premise, suppose you have a career in mind. Having spent two, three or four years in school, (or more), you’ve set out on the path to put that education to use and land a job in the field. So far so good. Your family and friends will see this as a logical and sensible process. So then why on earth would taking a job outside that field seem to be a good idea?

For starters, employment of any kind on a resume communicates to a perspective employer that you have recent work history. Aside from whatever you are specifically doing in that job, what is then inferred and understood is that you have a routine. That routine includes getting up and getting going, being dependable, developing a work ethic where others depend on you. In any job you will be familiar with taking direction, being accountable and probably working with others. These are transferable behaviours in that you take these to any job.

Of course taking a job while waiting to get your career on track also provides you with much-needed income. Jobs do generally pay less than careers, but any income will be an asset as you pay down education debt you incurred, pay the rent, buy the groceries and get around.

A job will also provide you with something your schooling just can’t give you and that is a work reference; assuming that is that you are a good employee. Many employers who have, ‘jobs’ available instead of, ‘careers’ expect a fairly continuous turnover. Very few people for example make a career out of waiting tables. The person that makes your burger isn’t likely to have worked there for 15 years or so, although I’m not saying that isn’t possible.

Another benefit to taking a job outside your career field is one not a lot of people think of at the outset. If on the off-chance the position you take doesn’t work out well, there is a very small probability that word will be spread to people who do the hiring in the field you want to make a career out of. In other words, if you want to break into Information Technology but are pumping gas in the short-term just to pay your living expenses while you job search for the career, if you ever got fired or quit, those that might consider you for that IT job will never know about it unless you tell them.

It could also happen that you take on a job outside your ideal career and find you like it. Maybe not forever, but I do know of a person who went to school and planned a career in Merchandising and Retail Management. They took a job as a cashier in a financial institution and found they liked it so much that they ended up making that job a ten-year position. Once employed, the doors within the organization to other opportunities opened up, and that person applied to and was successful in making first a lateral move and then moved up into a Management position.

A wise person sees the value in all types of employment. Should you take a job that doesn’t work out for example, it’s a good idea to think about what it was that you really didn’t like about it. This way you can move forward and avoid making a similar decision in the future that will bring you unhappiness. So too you should look at a job – any job – and think seriously about what you might find appealing about it.

Now me personally, I can’t see myself wanting to ever be a Personal Support Worker. Working with the elderly and frail by and large isn’t a strength of mine, especially when you add in declining health issues. I know that about myself. However, if I DID visualize myself in that job, I could see the benefits of being a Personal Support Worker because I’d be in the helping profession; and helping others who are vulnerable is something I do take great pleasure in doing.

You see, it’s not a bad thing to admit to yourself and others that there are some jobs you just aren’t cut out for. Does not wanting to work with the frail who are elderly make me a bad person? No. Being a, ‘bad’ person or a, ‘good’ person has nothing to do with it. It’s finding out what you like and don’t like, where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and taking jobs can identify that.

Employers like to hire people with recent work experience. If you are holding out only wishing to work in a career position that fits your field, you could be missing a very valuable job experience that can give you the ammunition you need in an interview to answer those questions that want you to provide answers drawing on real-life, recent job experience.

Something to consider.

Flux Caused By Job Changes

I’ve read over the years how many people will in their lifetime change jobs about 8 or 9 times, and change fields entirely 3 or 4 times. That’s quite comforting actually if you find yourself in that position not by choice but by necessity. The anxiety and stress that can come on in this period is ever so slightly mitigated when you come to the realization that this is a normal thing; not something specific to you alone.

You can perhaps draw on your own life experience, but for those just starting out in their careers, or those who got their current job right out of University or College and have yet to experience this, I’m happy to provide examples.

I’ve a friend who worked almost 20 years in retail. Starting out in an entry-level position, he rapidly rose in the retail world to the point where he was managing a national chain store. After having been in the position of Manager for years, the challenge was pretty non-existent on a daily basis. Living in a smaller community, he was in a position of needing a change for his mental stimulation, but his income was never going to be matched if he left to pursue another job. And after being in retail for all those years, what else could he possibly do outside of the retail field which had lost its lustre?

In this case, the decision was made for him as he found himself one day out of work and not of his own choice; change was wanted, savings found, and the easiest way to start that in Head Office’s view was to start at the top. Forced out of work, what to do? Where to go? The flux he was living was a period of transition from what was known to what could be.

A second example is the case of a respected fellow who actually made his own position redundant. He found himself also out of work after having been in the highest possible position in his field. Relieved of his duties he was close to retirement but still had 4 or 5 years before he could officially retire. Again, that what-to-do mentality was both exhilarating one the one hand and just a little unnerving on the other. Flux; change.

I too have experienced a great deal of this over my lifetime. I’ve been in Retail, Municipal Government, Non-Profit, For Profit, Provincial Government sectors as well as self-employed. While there was a time where I changed jobs every three years over the early part of my working life, it didn’t seem to lessen the anxiety I was feeling at the time while in the moment.

You know if you were reading a book and found that you didn’t like where the Protagonist was at any given moment, you could skip forward 20 or 30 pages and see if things were going to get better for him or her. Why you could even read reviews ahead of time that sum up the conclusion and then gain some reassurance. Real life on the other hand – your life – doesn’t work the same way. Life has to be lived. It’s like turning the page only to find blank pages that have yet to be written, and they only get filled in once each day is over. That wouldn’t be so bad until you realize that whether the story turns good or bad, you are entirely responsible for what happens.

That whole thought process around, “What do I do now?” is an opportunity. While some people would prefer others just tell them what to do, most of us are both excited and uneasy about where to begin. Because we are all so very different, some folks leave a job and immediately start looking for something else. They put out feelers everywhere and in short order are working somewhere else. Not spending much time on career exploration, they find a job quick and their mental energy is spent learning the new job and the procedures at the new company.

Others however, well they take their time. Could be these folks do nothing career-wise for months while they just process this period of change in their own minds. They think long about who they are, what’s happened to them, and turn their energy to doing house chores they’ve put off or travel a little. Then they eventually turn to looking for work doing whatever they’ve settled on obtaining. Neither approach is right or wrong, just different processes.

When transitioning from one job to another, whatever you are feeling is normal. You may be angry, confused, anxious, exhilarated and motivated or feel betrayed and let down. And if you are fuzzy on the whole, “Now what?” thing, that too is a typical reaction. You may find it helpful to have a guide or support person in place to help you deal with your feelings of the present.

If you are an older person, find an Employment Advisor or Counsellor who specializes in working with people of your age group. But if you end up with someone younger don’t fret. You may need a younger person’s enthusiasm and energy in addition to their youthful outlook. It could awaken something in you that’s been missing.

A period of flux is in the middle of two periods of stability. How long does it last? Sorry but that page is still blank in your book of life. You’ll get through it however, and that’s important to remember.

Rules To Get Hired And Work By

Agree or Disagree? Got a favourite? One that you love or loathe?

1. Be a few minutes early for job interviews.
2. Before any interview or meeting, brush your teeth, use some mouthwash.
3. Rather than telling no one, tell everybody you are looking for work. It works.
4. What day is the best day to start your job search? TODAY.
5. Contact people who might be willing to be a work reference for you now.
6. Inform your references when you are given an interview so they have a heads up and are prepared.
7. Use deodorant and wear clean clothes the with the same frequency; that’d be always.
8. Despite what you may see on the street, pants were designed to conceal all your underwear.
9. Even if you are a tradesperson, get yourself a button up shirt and a pair of khaki’s at the very least for interviews.
10. Got kids? Don’t just get a child care provider; get a back up to the childcare provider in the even of their illness.
11. Interview? Don’t talk about your kids, marital status, drug use, criminal record, religion or age.
12. Plan your route to the job interview ahead of time and have an alternate in mind.
13. While waiting for your interview, write down the name of the Receptionist and be friendly.
14. Don’t wing the interview. No, you’re not that good.
15. Know what’s on your resume, especially if someone else helped you make it.
16. References shouldn’t be: parents, siblings, religious leaders, Employment Counsellors or gang members.
17. “Are you bondable?” does not mean, “Do you have a criminal record?”
18. Do some company research before the interview…the other applicants will.
19. Your resume should be on good quality white paper.
20. Take 4 copies of your resume to the interview. One for you, three in case it’s a panel interview. 21. Interview don’ts: chew gum, play with your hair, bounce your leg continually, tap a pen, crack your knuckles.
22. Keep your health problems to yourself unless specifically asked and you need an accommodation.
23. Do reveal your minority, physically challenged or native status if the job advertisement is hiring those traits.
24. Don’t take your mom or dog to the interview. Not cool.
25. No swearing at the interview or on the job. Not cool.
26. Know what best qualifies you for a job.
27. Know what you’d have to work on if hired.
28. Have two or three questions ready to ask at the interview. Look interested in the answers!
29. When applying on-line, follow instructions on the website to the letter.
30. Good manners never go out of style.
31. Thank people. Often. (That means daily).
32. When you disagree, take issue with their words or position, but never the person.
33. Earn your reputation with purpose. What do you want to be known for?
34. Stay up with technology; at the very least learn how to use 8 fingers and both thumbs on the keyboard.
35. Asking for help is never a bad idea. (unless you do it 100% of the time and people see you as dead weight)
36. Before the interview, empty your bladder and fill your tummy.
37. Alcohol is never a good idea on the job. Even if it’s an interview over a meal, choose not to.
38. If you are offered a smoke, decline.
39. Clean up your social media pages.
40. Brand and market yourself.
41. When you ask for suggestions and help, be prepared and open to the feedback.
42. Know your learning style. Do you learn best by watching, hearing or doing? That can help your employer help you in the early days of employment.
43. ‘Smile’ has the word, ‘mile’ in it. Make yours wide and use it often.
44. Attract positive people to you by being a positive person to begin with. Like attracts like.
45. In both big and small ways, just be nice to other people. What goes around comes around.
46. Treat your current job like a very long interview for your next job. You might get a promotion.
47. Keep your brain active by learning new trends in your field.
48. Never be rude to anyone. Even the Bus Driver deserves your respect. Be rude, and they might need to just stop for a long coffee/washroom break.
49. Ball caps are for baseball games and personal time. Leave it at home the day of the interview.
50. Keep up on the daily news. You’ll sound knowledgeable and add to conversations around you.
51. Sit up straight in your chair. Posture isn’t only good for your health, it’s good for your career.
52. Keep your hair clean and well-groomed.
53. If you’ve got facial hair, keep it well-groomed.
54. No matter what cultural group your from, treat all people as your equal.
55. Stretch yourself a bit and take on work or assignments that will involve work on your part.
56. Get out at lunch time and walk about. Take in some fresh air, re-adjust your eyes and attitude.
57. Respect others personal space. Don’t pinch their paperclips or borrow their change without asking.
58. When you ask someone, “How are you today?”, actually listen to them.
59. Never assume advice you hear is meant for other people. Hello?
60. A person’s name is music to their ears. Make an effort to call people by their name.
61. Enthusiasm is one of the most desirable qualities employers look for.
62. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It gives you the energy you need.
63. “I haven’t had my coffee yet”, is not an acceptable reason to be miserable.
64. Be considerate of others time. You might be on break, but they may not.

The Ones Left Behind

It’s a safe bet you’ve had people come and go; in and out of your life. Be they personal friends, family, work colleagues, acquaintances, lovers or partners, all that coming and going is an ebb and flow of people coming and going.

Sometimes those in our past are easily remembered. You know your first boy or girlfriend, the spouse you lost after many years together; could be that one special teacher that you had in grade 10 who was the first person who really convinced you that you had something special and could move on to University or College. Now years later, even though they are no longer in your daily experience, you can easily recall their faces, their words of wisdom and their guidance and support.

Past work colleagues work the same way. In fact, you can still learn a great deal in the here and now by recalling those past experiences you’ve had; both the good and the bad. Now its human nature to fondly remember and try to hang on to the good feelings generated by positive memories of people and experiences that were good for us. And yes the opposite is equally true; it’s just as likely that negative experiences and people who weren’t good to us are memories we try our best to suppress and forget.

I think however, if you open your mind to the possibility that those who have done us wrong can help us in the present and our futures, you might just benefit tremendously. And wouldn’t it be some measure of victory to find a positive out of an unwanted memory that comes back to us from time to time?

By way of example, suppose you once worked alongside someone who was a bully. Their language was laced with cruel obscenities and put-downs. They never lost a chance to assert themselves by putting you down. And in the past, you hadn’t yet found your assertiveness to actually do much about it to their face, but you were physically ill at home just dreading the day that was dawning because it meant another 7 hour shift next to this negative person.

Now looking back on that experience, what have you – or possibly could you learn about your own behaviour that were the same situation to occur today you would do differently? Many workplaces have evolved to the degree that bullying behaviour is explicitly frowned upon and disciplinary action is taken against those who would bully others. So perhaps you have a clear answer to the question in that you would first ask them to stop and if it persisted, you’d report it to your supervisor and action would be taken.

Good for you! You’ve just demonstrated to yourself that you have grown from the person you once were to the person you are today. Your confidence is greater, your assertiveness stronger, and your ability to deal effectively with conflict is evolving. Those feelings you had so long ago, and now can probably recall quite clearly if you really allow yourself to, will now alert you to the danger presented by those you come into contact now in 2014.

Think too of past romantic relationships. Whether your mind went back to highschool, university, a romantic liaison with a co-worker or a previous marriage, if it didn’t work out, you’ve probably made a mental note to yourself to be more cautious, and in some ways avoid the possibility of another failed relationship because of the pain it caused. What you are doing really is a form of self-protection; where you promise yourself to not allow yourself to be in a vulnerable position or in this case, “get your heart-broken” again.

The workplace is no different. Maybe you take on too much and vow to never do so again and learn to say, “No” when asked. You might also lose your cool and ream out someone and later get asked to a meeting with your boss to discuss your loss of control only to find yourself saying, “Sorry, it won’t happen again”. And if you have ever worked for a boss you didn’t get along with, isn’t it a plan of yours to avoid people just like her or him in the future?

Yes the ones you’ve left behind in your past can teach you a lot and you can learn to try to avoid similar people to them or seek them out if you’ve had great experiences. What is important to remember however is that every person is unique and therefore finding someone exactly like the great boss you had, or the fabulous secretary is not likely. You can find people like them, but not exactly like them.

The sum of all our experiences, both good and bad is who we are to date. You too of course are influencing those around you. When you or them move on to another position or choose to retire, both you and them will be shaped in some way big or small. And if you missed the thought in this paragraph, you influence others just as they influence you. Maybe YOU are the one others have left behind. What influence – positive or negative have you had on others?

Why not leave a comment recalling a person from your past who has influenced you strongly in some way? Share what you will.

How Do You React To Trouble? (They Are Watching!)

Whether you want to call it trouble, adversity, problems or challenges, when something pops up that threatens the success of something needing done, employers as represented by Supervisors and Managers will notice the reactions of their employees.

How YOU personally react, and what you DO will define you in one way or another. Beyond that one time, if you consistently react a certain way – good or bad, positive or negative – you’ll have established your reputation. How would you like to be viewed in the face of problems and challenges? Are you the person who waits for others to deal with the trouble, the person who takes action and succeeds more often than not, or are you the reckless responder who throws themselves into every problem with a ton of energy but very little thought for alternative solutions?

Dealing with trouble is such an important issue, that it often comes up in job interviews. You know, that irksome question for some about how you’d deal with conflict or something that threatens production, team chemistry or customer frustrations. Employers would ideally like to know your typical reaction to past problems you’ve encountered in order to predict how you are most likely to react to challenges that will pop up should you be hired by them.

Suppose you’re the kind of person that jumps right in, takes control of situations and tells people what to do in order to get quick results. Is that the best reaction? Well I’d say you are the right person for the job if you happen to be around when a fire breaks out in the office. Barking out statements like, “Call 911! Seal that door, get out and meet in the north parking lot now!”, is probably the best thing everyone who is wondering what to do wants to hear.

However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to consider several possible courses of action prior to cautiously moving forward with a plan, you might just be the ideal employee to handle a delicate challenge with one of the company’s most valued clients. Perhaps gathering input from your peers, the customer, distributors and other stakeholders is what is needed to make a decision that will yield a course of action with the lowest risk and the greatest potential benefit.

Do you see how neither of those two types is right in both situations? If a fire breaks out and it’s spreading rapidly, someone who takes the time to consult with all their fellow employees on a course of action may not survive. Conversely, someone who takes charge and acts consistently without consulting others may come across as brash, impulsive and a loose cannon; high risk/high reward.

Then there’s the person who routinely sits and waits to be told by others what to do. This person may be unwilling to take leadership for fear of failure, and will happily work hard when told what to do, but is reluctant to suggest courses of action. It may be they wish to play things safe, but it could also be that they just lack the vision to foresee additional challenges and implications of choices.

Every employee has strengths and areas in which they could improve. Some positions in companies require people of action and an ability to trouble-shoot potential problems, and deal effectively with challenges when they do occur. Sometimes the trouble is relatively minor, as in the case of the supply cupboard is found to be empty of pens. Whoever notices that is likely to then be expected to notify whomever is responsible for ordering more, and that person does so, or has a backup stash to deal with just such an issue. Then again, there are situations like finding the in-house computer software program isn’t functioning, that can potentially cost the company sales, and drive customers to the competition perhaps never to return. That needs sending an alert to the IT department immediately.

Earlier I mentioned that the conflict or trouble-shooting question could arise in a job interview. So how then should you respond to come across in the best possible light? I’d suggest that instead of automatically telling the interviewer your particular problem-solving style, you preface your answer by stating you first determine the magnitude of the problem, the potential impact of a worse-case scenario, and then proceed with responding. In other words, your problem-solving style adapts and changes as a response to the challenge, rather than having a rigid, one-style-suits-all reaction.

Here’s another thing to consider. As a member of a team in my workplace, I am frequently in situations where leadership is called for to address a challenge. Sometimes it is my decision to actually hold back and allow others the opportunity to step up. This doesn’t mean I’m not capable of addressing an issue that’s facing the team, it just means that I want to give others a chance to excel. Not only is this good for them, but it also helps me understand what my teammates are capable of, and when facing trouble, it’s nice to know who has what skills and whom you can count on. Pretty unrealistic to expect a superior response to major issues if a person hasn’t had a chance to respond to increasingly significant challenges in the past.

You can do yourself a favour if you know the procedures to deal with the most likely troubles that will arise in your own workplace. Check what your boss wants you to notify them of immediately, and what you could tackle on your own.

“I Need A Job, But I Don’t Want To Work”

Ever met someone who told you they need a job but blatantly adds that they don’t really want a job where they actually have to work? Switch the title of this blog around and you’ve also got someone saying, “I don’t want to work but I need a job”; same thing.

At the root of this statement is really the implied statement, “I want the money but don’t want to put forth much effort to get it”. Hard to believe on the one hand that someone would be that open and honest, but as an Employment Counsellor, it’s actually extremely helpful to hear somebody say that if that’s their true feeling.

There’s a few different reactions to be had when you’re working with someone and they make a comment like that. The easiest is to think that if they aren’t willing to put forth the effort, why should I? But the easiest isn’t often the best or appropriate response, so best resist the urge and look at other choices.

Actually the best thing to do is stop and talk with the person. Finding out exactly what they mean could be the best thing you can do, because your initial assumption could be your own interpretation and not at all what they mean. Instead of being lazy, it could be that what they mean is that they are looking for a job they’ll love, and doing what you love isn’t work to some people. You know, there’s that saying that goes, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. If this is what they mean, you’ll be glad you didn’t look exasperated yourself and say something you’d now regret.

Another possibility is that the person is going to school full-time, and is looking for a job where they earn money but don’t have to put forth a lot of physical or mental effort because they are concentrating on school work. I remember years ago when my daughter was auditioning to get into a triple threat drama school. The host in addressing a crowd of parents and potential students advised us that if accepted, students would be acting, dancing and singing 5 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. and that outside jobs therefore were not encouraged unless the job was perhaps a parking attendant in a booth just taking in money where people parked their own cars. Minimal effort in other words and very little ‘work’, so the student could do homework on the job.

However, there is the very real possibility that despite giving someone the benefit of the doubt, the conversation really does in fact just confirm that the person is reluctant to actually want to do any real work, and really does just want the money. Okay so now you may be disappointed as the person working with them. Should you refuse to help them until such time as they face reality, grow up, or whatever you call the process of changing their attitude?

If you explore things a bit, you still might find out information that explains WHY the person feels this way. Perhaps they come from a family where they’ve had poor role models. Maybe their parents didn’t think much of work and spent most of their time unemployed and when they did work, it was in low-paying jobs where they were bossed around and undervalued, giving them their negative view of employment. And this could be the one person in the family whose even got this far; sitting down with an Employment Counsellor to get some meaningful work and they have no job search skills or real understanding of what’s required to get a decent job. Dismiss them outright and you might be perpetuating a cycle of dependence on others; the very thing you might be trying to turnaround.

Now it might take time; a lot of time. Changing someone’s view or attitude about work is not likely to be something you accomplish in an hour or less. Depending on the frequency of meetings you have with someone looking for work, it could be a process that occurs over days, weeks, months, or years. There’s another famous saying that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Your job seeker has to be receptive to at least hearing you out if your words are likely to have an impact. If their ears are closed to other possibilities, you may be talking more for your own benefit than theirs.

Changing attitudes about what work is, why anyone would want to work in the first place, and what benefits are derived from performing work should be tackled with care. If the person can’t see the relevance for themselves in improving their own life, there isn’t likely to be any buy-in. And so asking about what’s important to the person, their current happiness or lack of satisfaction with things the way they are and what the money they’d make would be used for could go a long way to giving you the helper clues to gather and build your plan around.

It is for this reason that when someone says, “I need a job”, the best thing you can often do is have a conversation and resist the immediate urge to point them in the direction of a job search website or employment board. A skilled Employment Counsellor will draw a person out in order to work at a future buy-in.

But What If The Other Person Isn’t Hearing Me?

I bet you’ve had this experience. You know, you’re talking to someone and they nod their head at the appropriate times, and from their facial expressions you gather that they are giving you their full attention. So far so good. Then at the conclusion of your point, they ask a question that baffles you because it would appear that while they were listening, they didn’t appear to hear you.

I’ll give you an example from my own experience by way of illustration. I often make it a point to introduce myself to job-seekers who are working independently on their resumes. From a quick look at the work they are doing on a computer, I can generally tell if the resume they are crafting is likely to produce the hoped for result of generating an interview for them or not. I often end up sitting down and explaining the things I’m recommending, and almost always they actually do realize that the suggestions I’ve made improve the overall document. Like I said, so far so good.

It’s at the conclusion of this process that I get surprised. After saying several times that the resume should be specifically made for a single job, and then revised each time a new job is applied to, they will often say something like, “That makes sense. So how many copies can I make?”

At this moment, I want to ask them why they want 20 copies of the resume if they just a few minutes earlier appeared to understand that a new revised resume would be required for each job they are applying to; but I don’t. After all, I figure that I may have just given them 20 or 30 new bits of advice and ways of marketing themselves that they previously hadn’t been aware of. To expect others to ‘get it’ entirely is not always a fair expectation on my part.

Truth be told, I can’t think of a specific example, but I’m willing to bet that there are some people I deal with who also wonder about my own comprehension when dispensing advice to me. In fact, my neighbour might speak to this. He’s a Roofer by trade and is a fast talker as well. He launches into stories about the various clients he deals with and almost all his stories deal with clients who just don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to their own roofing needs. While he’s talking he may name 10 people – many by first name only – and assumes I know who he’s talking about, but I don’t. Then later he figures I’ve got this fantastic memory for all the names of these people and recall their various parts in his stories. My memory isn’t that good either.

At work, I’ve had my colleagues debrief with me when finishing up with an especially challenging client. Sometimes I entirely understand the frustration my colleague is feeling. Other times though, I also see the exact moment in the retelling of the interaction when I myself would have ended the interaction, but my colleague didn’t give up.

I believe it’s critical to read your audience and check to see how much what you are saying is sinking in. At some point you’ll reach a saturation point. To continue providing new information; no matter how excited you are personally to provide it to them, well, it may just be a wasted exercise. The problem if you got to that point wouldn’t be the person’s ability to grasp what you are saying, but rather your own failure to say less and walk away satisfied that the other person learned something.

We all have different abilities, limitations, capabilities and attention spans. While you might have the capacity to take in a large amount of information and retain most of it, others you work with may have the ability to only retain a small amount. If you can figure out what someone is really after, what would be most helpful and walk away satisfied that they got what they needed most, be satisfied with that. After all, you can always invite them back to continue your conversation and give them more ideas and suggestions at another time. If they want it, they’ll come back.

Now of course, if you are fortunate enough to work in a setting where you see clients and customers on a continual basis, you can dispense information over a period of meetings. If the customer or client is likely to only interact with you once, or very infrequently, best to perhaps limit your investment in time to what might help them most in the here and now.

By way of example here, I’ve sometimes been asked to do up a resume for someone I’ve never met before who needs a resume immediately. If time allows, I do so and hope that as I go I can talk about why I recommend the things I do over other ways etc. But if that person isn’t interested in what I’m saying and their body language and words just screams that they don’t really care, why would I drone on? Not much chance of getting through that ambivalence.

So be patient and read your audience. Give them an opportunity to take in whatever they are capable of and check for their understanding and retention. Sometimes say less. And from time-to-time, take your own advice that you would give others.


Unemployed? You’re Still Entitled To Your Dignity

You may be unemployed at the moment. Or, if you are fortunate enough to be employed, perhaps you can recall a time in your life when you were out of work, between jobs, or the threat of unemployment hung over your life, like a dark cloud on an otherwise sunny day. You know then the feeling you’ve got just now? The anxiety, frustration, anger and possibly persecution?

Maybe just for a second you felt a stir of some memory of your unemployment you’d told yourself you never want to experience again. Just for a moment, thinking back to that period in your life you felt it there deep down; maybe the shame and embarrassment, the low self-esteem, the loss of dignity. And if as I started this off, you are currently unemployed, you may be experiencing this daily and wondering if it ever will get better.

For a large number of people, (I think it’s safe to say the majority of us) our employment status is closely associated with our personal dignity. If we have a good job and we do well in our job, we perceive ourselves as successful and that then is how we interact with others and thus become perceived by others; ie. he or she is successful. We hold our head high, feel good about ourselves.

The reverse is that if we have no job, we may perceive ourselves as failures, different from the norm, not measuring up or pulling our weight financially, and this too can affect how others see us. Hence, we are seen and perceived as unsuccessful, our heads drop, we shun gatherings, isolate ourselves and feel poorly about ourselves and lose our dignity.

Now while this may or may not be the case for everyone, it tends to be the case for a majority of people. But is it possible to distinguish the two things; unemployment and dignity, and see them as two different things that don’t impact on the other? In simple terms, can you be unemployed and out of work but still hang on to your personal dignity and truly convince yourself you are a person of worth? I believe you can.

For starters, a good exercise in rediscovering your dignity is to identify your strengths. What is it that you are good at? I’ve been fortunate to have a look at some of the past performance evaluations some of my clients have retained over the years when I’ve been working with them to find their next job. In those evaluations, while there have been areas in which to improve, there is always some reference to tasks the person performs well. It may be the case that in addition to tasks, other traits are evaluated; overall attitude, working with others, communication skills, attendance and punctuality etc.

These strengths are good to get down on paper. Even in a case where the same person whose name at the bottom of your evaluation is the one who released you from your job, this person was able to identify things you were good at and that they recognized in you.

One of the key things to understand is that your worth as an employee in one company doesn’t necessarily carry over to who you are to others. So even if you got fired as an Outbound Telemarketer with a large telecommunications company, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are a bad parent, a poor spouse, a disappointment as a son, or a poor influence on friends. It’s too often the case that this does in fact get into the head of the unemployed person; and it’s not a healthy thought process because it can unfairly lead a person to make poor decisions in those other roles, and what you think can be in turn what you become.

So in other words if you fail in a specific job with a company, you might succeed in the same job but with a different company, or you may determine that the job is not for you no matter what company you are with, but it doesn’t follow that you should see yourself as a failure in all jobs. Nor does it follow that you should be a failure in other parts of your life just because you failed in one job with one company.

I’ve known people who are actually very much relieved when they lose their job; jobs they couldn’t bring themselves to quit on their own, but the release they feel on being fired makes it a positive experience. One such person worked in a store selling Adult video’s and kinky sex items. She hated the job as it went against her personal morals but at the time needed the money. She was grateful after being fired as her heart wasn’t in the job and she underperformed. Her dignity rose as she walked out the door.

May I suggest that you acknowledge your work is only one part of who you are. Taking stock in all parts of your life, from the personal hobbies, your role in your family, with friends, in your community etc. are all small parts of who you are as a whole. It is unhealthy to allow your employment or rather lack of employment and the dignity you feel in this one area, to dominate the other parts of the person you are.

There are a lot of good people out there who just lack employment. Maybe your one of them?

“Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?”

If you find yourself asked some version of this question in a job interview, you should have a solid answer prepared in advance as it’s more than predictable. But in order to answer it well, as with all questions, it’s important to know what the person asking it is really hoping to hear.

For starters, the question is designed to see if you even have any plans for your future or not. You might be one of those many who don’t have any plan whatsoever and just drift along from day-to-day, from job to job, from place to place.

On the other hand, you might be one of those folks who has a master plan for their life, and if so, the interviewer is interested in knowing how the job you are applying for fits with your plan. Remember too that companies have short and long-range plans themselves; or at least they should. One of your own questions near the end of the interview might be to spin this question around and then ask the interviewer where the company is headed over the next 5 years, and this could provide you with information that you need to determine if your goals and the direction of the company over that period would best serve each other.

Before you answer the question however, don’t assume that the best answer is to say you see yourself progressing in the company you are applying to. Depending on the job, it could be a position where they are looking to hire someone on a short-term basis only; come in and clean things up and then move on. You could be being interviewed for a project that will be over in two years, and the expectation may be that unless your services are needed to address another project, your position is terminal right from day one. You should of course know this going in to the interview based on the job posting and the homework you’ve done in preparation.

However, let’s go on the assumption that the job has no predetermined expiration. The employer may well value you highly if they believe it is your intent to stay with the company 5 years and beyond. If they value that loyalty, and it fits with your plans, then you are both on the same page, and are seeking a longer term investment in one another. How your previous employment supports such intent or not might come into question. If you’ve worked 4 jobs in the last 3 years, you’d best be prepared to explain the reasons behind the moves to the satisfaction of the interviewer.

Were such a number of jobs in a short period of time your situation, maybe you intentionally were out to get various experiences, a company you believed you’d stay with suddenly shut down for reasons beyond your own control, or they relocated and you couldn’t move with them. What you might be most interested in is latching onto a company with stability and with plans to thrive and grow in your geographical location.

One thing to be cautious of is stating that you are interested in advancement, and hence you expect to see yourself in a different job with more responsibility but with the same company in 5 years. That sounds okay to some of you readers, but with some interviewers it’s a red flag. You see a company might be wanting stability themselves in a certain role within their operations. If you plan to move on, they might just not appreciate having to go through this process again in a 5 year window or less.

Many organizations are fluid; they move people around from job to job and they position themselves to adapt to the market, consider new ways of doing things, reconfigure themselves and as such, their needs constantly change. If you are interviewing for such a company, your adaptability and transferable skills plus your continual interest in ongoing learning and new challenges will be seen as an asset.

Recognize however that other businesses – and there are plenty of them – desire the status quo. Some companies brand themselves on producing the same things from year to year with little variation. They may therefore also value employees who if happy today, will be happy in 5 years doing the same job. Are you the kind of person who likes variety and needs the stimulation of change, or are the type that appreciates doing the same thing from year to year with little change in your own duties?

I personally think that depending on what you discover from your research, a safe way to go about answering the question is to stress that your first priority is to get a solid handle on the job you are currently applying to. It may take a year or more to truly master the job or it may be the kind of job that you can fully do with high proficiency in a short time. Then if you want to, you can also state as part of your answer that you would like to be in a position to compete internally for progressively challenging positions should they become available in the future.

The reply above reassure the interviewer they’ll get a return on their investment in hiring you, that you will be happy staying in the job you are applying to today, but that you have ambitions to grow with the company. Not always the right answer, but more than not.