What To Put In Those Resume Bullets

All to often people make a mistake on their resumes having to do with the content beneath their past or present jobs. Many sit down in front of the blank piece of paper and say to themselves, “Now what did I do in this job?” and they start to put down whatever they were responsible for starting with the most important things. This sounds logical to most people but this isn’t actually what you should be doing.

That might be what you put down as part of your content on a LinkedIn profile, but when it comes to your resume, it isn’t. The right question to ask yourself as you start with your bullets is, “What did I accomplish in this job that is relevant to the job I am applying for at the moment?”

Of course this means you need to have a job posting in front of you in order to know what the employer is looking for skill and experience-wise, for this specific job. Sitting down with no job posting to look at and guessing what an employer might want is one of the biggest single errors I see people make on a daily basis. They sit at a computer making a resume and use their best guesses to anticipate what an employer might want to see, instead of first finding a job to apply to and removing the guesswork.

Now you and I could take educated guesses about what job applicants would need in order to be interviewed, and we’d hit some accurately while missing the mark on others. However, all the correct requirements are laid out in a job advertisement, so it makes far greater sense to look at the ad as we go back and forth between it and the resume. Not only do employers tell job applicants what they are looking for as must-haves, they do so in the order of importance to the employer.

Okay so what does this mean to you who are making resumes? Good question; let’s look at that. Now suppose you are interested in going for a job as a Landscaper with a total lawn care company. After reading the ad, you see you’ll be working pretty much alone, assessing lawns, making recommendations to homeowners for treatment programs to get their lawns healthy and keep them looking beautiful.

You’re at the point in your resume where you are listing your past jobs, and one of them was a few years back when you raised funds for a charity going door to door asking for donations. If you’re going about your resume like many, you’d ask yourself the wrong question, “What did I do?” and you’d say something where the emphasis is on raising funds going door to door. Yes that’s what you did, but how is it relevant to the job you are going for at the moment?

What if you said instead that you worked independently, engaged in conversations with homeowners, assessed their objections, responded with knowledgeable information, and obtained financial commitments which wold improve the health of those the charity worked on behalf of? See how the words, ‘independently’, ‘assessing’ and ‘healthy’ are now both in the job ad and your bullets?

Take a job at a gas station by way of a second example. While you may have taken money from customers and filled up the windshield washer reservoirs, that’s not very impressive to the employer even though it is what you did. A better strategy would be, (in the case of the Landscaper job above) to talk about your friendly service while working alone and the conversations you initiated, the recommendations you made to keep their cars looking beautiful and worry-free. Again the words, ‘beautiful’, ‘recommendations’ and ‘working alone’ match up with the ad.

When you use this kind of strategy, the reader makes the connection between what you did in other jobs and what you’ll do in the job you are applying for far easier. If you focused on pumping gas, changing prices when told to, processing payments and thanking customers, – while very much true, they aren’t things the employer has indicated they are looking for.

See how we have two different ways of listing what was actually done in the job and what was accomplished. This is why sometimes you don’t even note the things which were the most important in jobs you’ve done because they aren’t relevant to the job you are going for now. No instead, you might just be putting down things where your transferable skills are obvious and are more easily viewed as relevant experience to the new employer.

So many job applicants get frustrated with employers who won’t give them an interview where they can sell themselves in person. However, were you the employer, you’d only want to spend your precious time sitting down with people who were the closest to what you were ideally looking for in the first place – and this is why they want a resume.

So do you have to make a single resume for EACH job you apply to? One resume that is uniquely positioned to respond to EACH ad – even when the job titles are exactly the same? Yes you do; and believe me; you’ll spend less time making resumes and more time at interviews which by the way, is the very purpose of making a resume in the first place.

LinkedIn, Are You There?

The folks at LinkedIn are making one of the most common errors businesses make, and I for one find it surprising. They are making numerous changes to how users experience using it without checking with their end-users first to determine if they’ll like those implemented changes.

Now I for one have come to embrace change in the most general sense. I’m not typically one who resists enhancements or laments, ‘the way things used to be’. No, change is generally good. When LinkedIn made the possibility of adding video, presentations, pictures etc. to each volunteer or employment positon on one’s profile, I imagined the possibilities. I think that option for those who want it is a good one. It will give others the opportunity to click on such media and delve a little deeper into someone’s experience and expertise in how they market themselves.

However, I noticed a big change in the groups I’m part of and how one goes about sharing a post. Suddenly what was pretty straight forward is confusing and poorly laid out. Well, that’s my opinion; but no one has asked what my thoughts are. Did they consult with you? I mean maybe they did in fact do a test run with selected LinkedIn users, but as far as I know they didn’t.

The end result; (perhaps ‘end’ is an inappropriate choice of words as things are constantly morphing these days it seems) something easy to use and easy to understand became awkward to use and hard to understand. Okay so maybe the justification they would throw out at us is that there are way too many LinkedIn users; that consulting with all of us would  only give them a broad range of responses so they went ahead with their, “we know what’s best for you and you’ll like it” mentality. If so, this recipe has been the very thing that killed all kinds of organizations and businesses in the past.

Do you have to constantly change to be relevant in this day in age? Are they fearful that by keeping some things static they will fall out of favour and see their users click away from them in droves?

Take a company that launches a new phone. Every broadcaster doing a story will lead with some version of, “So what’s new this time around and why should you trade in your old model?” That I get. There has to be enough new features in something new to stimulate end-users enough to ditch what they have for what they could have. But in this case, we already have LinkedIn.

I certainly don’t know everything, and it could well be that users were complaining to LinkedIn; making threats of going to other platforms, making suggestions of how to improve the group experience. Perhaps… This I can’t honestly comment on but I for one didn’t come across people griping about the service. If this is the case, I’m in the dark and yes this would explain a lot.

Up until recently when I made a post, I could then click on the various groups I’m part of and one by one copy and paste the links to a blog I penned and share it with those groups I’m part of. That’s getting harder to do, for yesterday when I went to share it, I clicked on the ‘share’ features but don’t know exactly with whom it got shared. Gone was the process of choosing which groups to send it to. In other words, I’m not sure if my targeted audiences received the post or not, and I’m not sure where it went at all. It’s like standing on a soapbox in the village square but having a blindfold on and not knowing who your audience is in front of you; or if you even have one!

So in your organization, when you are considering a change, isn’t the change you want to bring about generally in response to improving the experience of your customers or clients? Often we hear about situations where unwanted change occurs, and customers blame the folks in their ivory towers who think they know what’s best for the masses but are out of the loop. I certainly hope LinkedIn gurus don’t fall victim to this pitfall.

Technology is famous for its upgrades though isn’t it? When a publisher wanted to update a schoolbook with the latest information, they did so once a year and labeled it the new edition. Technology however changes throughout the day and night – 24/7, so the changes can and do happen with greater frequency. When things improve our experience, we applaud the quick response, the improved experience, the cutting edge technological response to our demands. Every so often though, the changes miss the mark and we end-users scratch our collective heads and stop cheering on the changes.

I’m not about to revoke my LinkedIn support; and believe me I think it’s fabulous in its potential. It’s that very potential however that maybe they are responding to in trying to remain relevant. Are they worried that we end users grow so complacent unless we see major develops on a daily basis we look for the next greatest thing so easily?

I shouldn’t worry I suppose come to think of it; likely they’ll morph the group experience again in the near future and maybe it will be a better experience. If they consult with you, let me know!

Invest Earned Income In Your Retirement

I can only speak for myself, but I when I was in my 20’s the last thing I wanted to do was sock away some cash for retirement. Come to think of it, I probably never thought that far into the future. I mean back then, retirement – even thinking about retiring wasn’t even on the radar screen.

However, one of the key mantras Financial Advisors preach is the benefits of compound interest. You know, invest money on a regular basis and not only does the interest build on your invested money, it also builds on the interest as well. Over 4 or 5 decades, that regular investment that you probably don’t miss much all along really adds up.

I am happy therefore that while I wasn’t much interested in the investing side of things, my wife  was and still is. Oh at the time I balked at the idea, just as I balked at the notion of needing a will all those years ago. Of course, I’m still living and the will could have waited, but as it gave her piece of mind…

Come to think of it, without a will or investing in our futures, I’d be looking at an unstable retirement. Now it’s not that I am a big spender by any stretch of the imagination, but when retired, it would be nice to still have funds in the bank to do things now wouldn’t it? I mean who knows what friends you’ll make along the way in life and how awkward it will be if you have to keep declining doing things together because you’re nervous about running out of money when the earnings stop.

Time certainly does fly by quickly. Can you clearly remember 5 or 10 years ago? What about those babies you snuggled in your arms that are now graduates of high school and post-secondary institutions? Time goes fast and so does the cash! Don’t catch yourself lamenting, “Where did the time go? Where did the money go?”

So what’s this got to do with employment? Good question and thanks for asking. When you get a job; your first real job or a job after lengthy unemployment, you’ll be relieved and thankful you have some money that’s going to make your present life more comfortable. You may either be so happy you spend it frequently, or you may want to store some away to guard against money troubles that might arise until you feel entirely secure in your job. Both are reasonable behaviours when money was scarce and is now coming in thankfully.

Give a little thought though to socking some of this money into your retirement. I’m not an investment guru, won’t make any money whatsoever from this post for giving this advice; it’s just prudent planning on your part for the inevitable future. Look barring a complete disaster in which your life is terminated, you do plan on getting older don’t you? I mean few people actually plan on dying before they retire unless they have a medical problem. So you’re going to retire, the money from employment will stop, your government pension could be there to some degree, but plan for yourself and anything you get from an employer or the government will add to your income, and not make you solely dependent on them.

Now in my case, it was my wife as I say that really got me moving. She announced one day that she’d contacted the bank we deal with and we had an evening appointment with one of their Investors. This was years ago mind, and at the time I probably rolled my eyes and like a child lamented, “Do I really have to go?” Well maybe I did and maybe I didn’t, but it wasn’t something I jumped at in any event. Still I went and am glad for it.

You can do the same thing; without rolling your eyeballs. Every financial institution has these investment types. They essentially find out what you envision your retirement to look like and then figure out how much money you’ll need to live that kind of life. Working backwards, they figure out how much money you’ll need to invest regularly in order to retire with the funds you want. I mean it makes perfect sense. The earlier you get this kind of investing going, the less you need to invest regularly. Do it in your 20’s and you’ll hardly notice the small bit of money that goes to your own retirement and it compounds to higher amounts. Wait until you’re in your 50’s and you have to set aside larger sums and the compounding interest doesn’t add up as much because you’re doing so over a smaller period.

We still meet with this Investor a minimum of once a year. We get these statements all along where my wife and I can see how much money we are accumulating, and because she started with greater amounts than I did, I’m playing catch up to her. I get it though; not her money, (and this would be where the wills come in I suppose), I understand the process.

So my advice to you is to get your own investments going for your retirement especially if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s. You can have it removed from your pay  automatically and won’t even miss it. Planning ahead makes you so responsible and you’ll thank yourself years from now.  

Career Undecided? What To ‘Be’…

“So, what do you want to be ?”

“I don’t know.”

Does this sound familiar? Many of us live in developed countries where our occupational choices seem boundless. In fact many people will tell us we can be anything we put our minds to. The people who say this mean only the best for us, hoping to inspire in us the possibility of becoming whatever it is that would make us happy. I wonder though if these kinds of statements don’t somehow handicap many of the very people they are designed to help.

Think about it… if you can be anything you put your mind to, is being a Cashier in a grocery store, a Roofer or a Bell Hop in a hotel going to be enough? Furthermore, if you can be anything in the world you put your mind to, how many occupations do you even know about, and do you know enough about them to make such a momentous decision?

For many of us, it’s during high school when we are about 14 or 15 years old that we start getting asked to seriously think about our long-term careers. We’re told we’ve got to choose between college and university level courses, and getting into one or the other is dependent on the marks we get, and our career choices will largely be determined on which of the two we choose to pursue. The third option of course is to go to neither college nor university and get out into the world and start working at 18 without that post-secondary education.

Two thoughts I have; do young teenagers have the wisdom and knowledge to even make intelligent choices given their limited exposure to occupations, and do high school faculty know enough of the individual student to really know how to best advise them?

I think it would be interesting to sit down with a class of teens and have them individually write down all the careers they have both heard of and believe they have a good understanding of what it is those people actually do in those jobs. How many – or how few would the jobs be that they could intelligently write down and therefore know enough about in order to decide if that job was a potential career choice for themselves?

One big advantage that young people have today over young people back in the 1980’s is the development of technology. The internet has done wonders for bringing young people into contact with a much broader exposure to jobs and the people who hold them both locally and around the world. So without knowing it, many teens may be lying on their beds surfing the net and without intending it, learning about various occupations around the globe when they check out their social media pages, read posts from others or browse items of interests. So you might envision some grandfather asking his teenaged daughter what she wants to do in life and get the reply, “I’m thinking a Marketing Specialist in the Experimental Film Industry sounds interesting.”

Of course, many middle-aged adults who are dissatisfied with their current occupations or whom are unemployed still haven’t figured it out. While a young teen may not know what they want to do in life, they have the great gift of time in order to do so. The older we get, the less time we have, and the biggest barrier to pursuing what we come to see as our dream jobs is the diminished time to get the education we’d need to compete for the job upon graduation. What a pity!

It’s true though isn’t it? I know if I met a 54 year-old who told me they finally figured out what would make them the happiest so they are heading back to school for 3 years, I’d be skeptical that an employer would hire a 57 year old applicant as their first choice in a field they have no direct experience in. Ah, but we can be whatever we want to be can’t we? Or is this sage advice reserved for the young or everyone else excluding ourselves? Is there some cut-off age where the advice changes to, “you can’t be anything you want anymore; you’re too old?”

One thing is absolutely true for young and old alike; if your dream job requires specialized education and training, the longer you delay getting that education and training, the less likely you will realize that dream. Or rather, the longer that dream will remain only a dream. If you want it bad enough, get out of your own way and go for it. The last thing you want to do is sit there in your rocker at 62 lamenting the dream you kept putting off that can no longer come true and spend the next 25 years living a regretful life.

If you’re not sure what you want to do, don’t sit on the sidelines and watch your life play out. Try some jobs, talk with people, browse the internet, read some biographies of people you admire open up a College or University website and check out careers. Take control of your life wherever you are in it and move from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat; adjust the mirrors and focus on the road ahead.

By the way, you’ll likely do a number of things over your lifetime, so give yourself a break and don’t worry about having a 45 year plan when you’re only 18!

Preparing Job Interview Answers

Job interviews tend to make most people nervous. That nervousness is usually depicted as a negative feeling, but to be honest, you can also feel nervous excitement because of the opportunity the job interview presents, especially when you’re prepared in advance and are ready for those questions.

If you knew the questions ahead of the interview itself, you might find the interview less of a traumatic experience. Your anxiety just might ratchet down a notch or two; perhaps to a level where you could – dare I say actually enjoy the interview experience! Well, even if you think there’s no way you’d actually enjoy the job interview, you certainly might be a tad more comfortable knowing the questions in advance. At least you’d have the chance to focus in on the things they are going to ask and prepare yourself for those specific questions.

Good news then; it is entirely possible for you to have this information in advance. Got you Interested? The answer of course lies in both the job posting and the company website. Job postings general tell you what the qualifications are you’ll need to get the job and what you’d be responsible to do. The company website adds to this and also provides the language the employer uses which if you adopt will make you sound like one of them while you answer.

So for example, suppose you are going for a job in a factory on an assembly line. A look at the job posting says you must have flexibility to work a variety of shifts and be cross-trained on different roles, teamwork is essential and you need to good at solving problems. In this scenario, it’s highly probable that you’re going to be asked to prove you have the following skills; teamwork, problem-solving, flexibility and the right attitude to be cross-trained in different areas. How you prove you have those skills is by giving examples from your previous or current experience.

As for the company website, it may reveal that they refer to their consumers as customers – not clients, but customers. It might also state that they place a high value on both safety and quality of workmanship.

If this preparation is new to you, a good idea is to take some paper and write down your current and previous jobs; one sheet for each job. Starting with one of those sheets, think about the work you did in that job. You’re looking for a very specific example of a time when you solved a problem. Got one? Okay so briefly note what the situation was leading up to the problem and the threat the problem represented. Next write down what you did to either anticipate, report or fix it. Now because of the action you took, write down what positive result happened. Did your actions save time and money? If someone said, “Good job, you saved our bacon!” write it down.

You now have the structure for your answer to the question, “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem”, or, “Describe your problem-solving skills.” Now don’t make the mistake of memorizing everything you wrote down because that’s just going to add to your stress. Instead, remember a key word that triggers your memory of the problem-solving story. Maybe it always struck you as funny that someone said, “You saved our bacon”, because in that job you were on an assembly line bottling pickles! If ‘bacon’ is associated with problem-solving, the word will bring to mind the story when asked in the interview. It will sound natural and fresh if you then describe the situation you were in, what had to be done and the threat to the production that arose. You’ll also remember what you did and the positive way things turned out. Finally, you’ll wrap up saying how important it is to you to work safely and take pride in the quality of the work you do.

On a second sheet, now you’re looking for proof of your flexibility. Perhaps you were the person they called in at a moment’s notice when someone didn’t report in. Instead of making that general statement and stopping, see it as just your opening remark. Now give them a specific time when this happened, mention the employer, how you adjusted your plans, re-arranged your priorities quickly and put the team ahead of yourself. Mention the pat on the back, the acknowledgement of thanks, and the, ‘get it done’ attitude you displayed that day and still have. The key trigger words might be, ‘Jim’s twins’ as he rushed his wife to the hospital instead of going to work that day and became a dad.

This process gets easier and easier the more you use it. Don’t skip the step of writing these things down as this process adds the structure to your answer and increases your confidence when it’s time to deliver. You can even make a small note to have in front of you such as, ‘Problem-solving = bacon’, ‘Flexibility – Jim’s twins’.

Anticipating the questions you’ll be asked based on the job requirements and employer’s needs, and using the same language they use themselves through their literature or website is a critical step in planning for a positive interview. Draw on your past experience and relate what you’ve done to what you will do for this new employer.

Beware The Refugee Employment Backlash

Canada and other countries around the world are opening their borders to refugees in war-torn countries, especially those fleeing Syria at the moment.

When we hear of people dodging bullets and grenades, witnessing beheadings, beatings and human suffering, it’s not difficult to understand the urgency they feel in fleeing with their families to reach safety. If their situation was yours; with armed invaders going door to door down the street only 7 houses away, how much time would you take grabbing your precious belongings?

So on the one hand, I would like to think that most of us can understand the need to flee and find people and places willing to assist them. Our humanitarian response kicks in borne out of compassion for others experiencing unspeakable horrors.

There are of course concerns that have been raised however by those residing in the countries where the refugees are headed. Some are concerned about terrorists assimilating into the refugees and wrecking havoc in the future in our relatively peaceful societies. Others are concerned about the sheer numbers and the capacity of the receiving cities and communities to bear the costs of housing, feeding and supporting them. Then there are the people concerned about the ongoing financial drain they may be if they don’t get jobs.

I wonder if all the adult refugees had guaranteed employment within 3 months of arrival, would the outcries from some would subside or not? I’m sure a number of people would then start voicing outrage or at least great concern that these refugees were getting jobs ahead of the existing unemployed who are native to the countries the refugees enter.

It would appear this becomes an ethical dilemma; provide a safe haven for refugees and invest in the social costs out of humanitarian compassion, or close the borders and wish them the best as they fend for themselves elsewhere. Do we or do we not have a compassionate society?

On the local scene, we may in the very near future meet face-to-face with at least some of these refugees. They may be in unemployment lines, English as a Second Language classes, riding the buses to get to doctors reception rooms, they might be applying for welfare or indeed they may be sitting a row over from you in a religious synagogue or mosque. Do they look different from us? Sure they might. Rather than thinking the difference is something to be afraid of, maybe it’s an opportunity for us to learn from.

Now if they are here but beaten down, repulsed, spat upon, ignored, humiliated or any other words you might want to substitute, how does that help any of us? If you’re concern is that they are stealing jobs and services away from the homeless or unemployed that you see on the way to work now, do you honestly think there will come a time when all who are homeless are sheltered and all who are unemployed are working? A refugee who gets a job will become a taxpayer immediately and if they open a business will soon hire other unemployed people therefore multiplying that independence.

An unemployed person needs help to become employed no matter which country they were born in. We all come from somewhere. How we respond to a human crisis defines who we are; our prejudices, values and beliefs come out in the process. Do we only value diversity and inclusion when the people we are talking about are so small in numbers that our own way of living isn’t inconvenienced?

When you wed someone, you change and compromise as you learn about the other persons likes, dislikes, beliefs and values. Sometimes you argue, disagree, give in or hold out – but if you are wise you always listen. Welcoming refugees into our societies and our workplaces is no different. They will not only be trying to learn a new job and meet a new employers expectations, they will be trying to assimilate into an entirely new community and country. Expecting an entire conversion to our religion, our foods, our language, our way of doing things is hardly realistic. Were you and I to emigrate to another country, we may not full immerse ourselves in new ways and abandon what to us has been the norm. Even if we had every wish to do so, it would take time, and dirty looks, rude comments and hostile attitudes wouldn’t help.

I’ll point out that some (not all) of the unemployed screaming the loudest about losing jobs to refugees are the same people who refuse help with their resumes, turn down attending interview preparation classes, refuse work outside of a 4 block area and lose jobs due to poor attendance and adherence to company policies. Don’t believe me? Ask the employers and you’ll get examples where people sabotaged their own jobs through bad behaviour and poor judgement. If you are struggling to find employment at the present time, the refugee factor isn’t a current issue for you; find out what is and address it.

Let’s not get into who deserves a job more than someone else. The sooner we embrace change; in this case an influx of refugees into our communities who will need employment in order to be self-sufficient as soon as possible, the better for us as a collective, inclusive community.

Treat others as you’d like to be treated. We learned this in kindergarten; or rather, we heard the phrase. Whether we learned it or not is soon to be seen.


Shy And Introverted? Not A People Person?

I meet with and listen to many unemployed people daily. Eventually they get around to sharing the jobs they are looking for, or the career which will require going back to school. It is noteworthy that many of those people who say they would be interested in working as a Librarian present as quiet, introverted or shy. Those who don’t enjoy being around people often say working with animals is their first choice.

These statements suggest to me that some broad generalizations are being made about the personalities and skills they associate with these two professions. It’s as if they are saying Librarians are introverted, shy and go about their business with little social interaction. Likewise the Veterinarian or Veterinarian Assistant prefers to deal with animals than people.

Now both these two professions actually required a significant amount of interaction with the public; readers or animal owners. Today, I’m looking at why the shy and introverted gravitate to these two professions, I’m not talking of the professions themselves. I hope if you comment at the end, your comments are more about choices rather than defending the two careers.

I think the answer to the question regarding why shy and introverted people often name these two careers is similar to what most of us experienced when we were young children. When at play with others, we may have been a Doctor, a mommy or a daddy. Sometimes we’d pretend to be a Fireman or a Teacher. The reason we played these roles had more to do with our limited exposure to other professions in our short lives than career aspirations we had. We couldn’t play at being an Engineer because we hadn’t met any, or if we had, we wouldn’t have observed what they did. Mommy and daddy, Doctors etc. we were exposed to, and we could ‘play’ at being these people with some accuracy.

As we grew, we came into contact with people who held jobs that were new to us, and we’d say, “You’re a Crossing Guard?”, and we’d observe what they did.  With every interaction, an observation or a series of questions, we learned. The more people we met or meet, the more we learned or learn and by association, the more possibilities we considered or consider for ourselves.

In 2015 we’ve got more jobs and careers to choose from than any other time in history. There are new job titles springing up all the time. It stands to reason that with all these occupations from which to choose, some are going to be excellent fits for some personality types and others not suited as well. To categorize any one job as exclusively reserved for the introvert or the extrovert, the outgoing or the shy would be a mistake. However, there are occupations and specific companies that attract people with similar personality traits and interests. Creative and innovative musicians may be drawn to jazz music or to employers like Google. Driving a long haul rig might be a job we find people doing who enjoy both the open road and solitude.

Those who are shy and/or introverted, may have a limited knowledge of possible careers or jobs other than Librarians and ‘jobs working with animals’, where their own traits would be a good fit. Perhaps their under-developed interpersonal skills or lack of self-confidence makes conducting research into other occupations highly stressful; because it would involve interacting with people to get that very information. So not knowing how to learn of other jobs that might be good fits, and not being willing or able to approach others for help to figure things out, they revert to what they know – the two careers they learned about when they were kids that seem like good fits.

Of course both jobs; Librarian and Veterinarian are about so much more than filing books and caring for animals. There is a lot of people contact; volunteering your assistance to find materials, explaining illnesses and treatment options. Both require some pretty intense schooling and education too, which is where many fail to move forward.

Being shy and/or introverted isn’t a bad thing by the way, although like the word, ‘stress’, the three tend to be thought of as undesirable and negative. Shy, introverted people hold down meaningful important jobs all over the world and those jobs exist beyond animal care and the libraries.

If you are one of the many, many people who see yourself as shy or introverted, I imagine it would be helpful to know what your options are. You could search online using, ‘jobs for shy introverted people’. You could also check out College websites and read about careers, talk with the people you do trust to go with you to an Employment office for help. It’s entirely okay to say to a Career Counsellor, “I’m shy, coming here is really hard for me, and I’d like to speak to someone who could help me look at career options.”

Shy folks or those who don’t have great people skills have many awesome qualities and strengths; there are good jobs out there which would be ideal fits for someone just like you! Oh and by the way, not knowing what you should ‘be’ or do is a common dilemma; a lot of outgoing confident people are trying to figure out their careers too.

Risk a little discomfort and you could learn of a job that really appeals.

Disrupting Behaviour Leads To Innovation

Innovative and creative people are also some of the most disruptive people in an organization. These are the people who appear to be rocking the boat, stirring things up, challenging the status quo and make some others around them anxious and unsure. And these are their good qualities!

There’s a saying I hear in various versions time and again that goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” The irony is that the people speaking these words are usually trying to get other people out of their comfort zones and open to trying something new. When they themselves are presented with new ways of doing their jobs, suddenly they can become defensive and resistant to change.

Some people don’t want to embrace change as a rule of thumb. These people are satisfied with the known and the idea of trying things that are unknown to them makes them uncomfortable. Imagine if you will a meter with a pendulum that swings left and right. When the pendulum swings a little out of position one way or the other, they are the kind of people who immediately take whatever steps possible to bring that pendulum back to the middle. The embrace the, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality. This philosophy is embraced by people who like to come to work each day with a high degree of certainty when it comes to what they’ll be doing and how they’ll be doing it.

Now on the other hand, innovators and creators are constantly challenging themselves. They look at what they’ve done and are seldom if ever entirely satisfied that the way they are doing things is the very best way. Rather than seeking change for the sake of change, they seek change for the betterment of processes that impact on users. They are always evaluating the experience people have – whether those people are co-workers, subordinates, customers, clients, supervisory personnel or the general public.

Take for example facilitating a workshop. Those people who facilitate workshops on a regular basis have two general options. One is to take a set workshop and deliver it again and again with no variation; use the same forms, tell the same jokes, have the same discussions. The presentation is packaged in such a way that the subject matter, the delivery, the handouts are consistently shared. The facilitator in this case is either completely satisfied that new audiences will benefit equally from the presentation, or has plateaued themselves, and is not motivated to create anew.

Another facilitator of a workshop may however continually re-vamp their handouts, add anecdotes from previous workshops participants have shared, and may replace content or how they deliver that content striving to get a higher level of engagement from their audiences. They become known for delivering unique workshops, where no two are identical even when the subject matter is the same. They seek out new material, new ways of presenting that material, have passed on PowerPoints and use Prezi’s.

Now disrupting behaviour is often portrayed as undesired behaviour, especially when the person doing the disrupting works under a person who is resistant to change and where the existing culture is to fall into line and do things as they have always been done.

Disrupting behaviour however is what has always sparked new inventions; why the very things which improve our quality of life on a daily basis were created by people who looked for something new. At one time people used horse-drawn carriages to move about and the automobile came along only because someone disrupted the norm. Instead of a faster horse, they rocked the establishment and created what we take now for granted.

Now what about you? Are you the kind of person that constantly challenges the known and is known by your peers as the creative one? Are you the innovative type that overhauls the workshops you lead, envisions new processes that reduce customer wait times, that isn’t just opening another childcare centre, but one that operates solely for children who are ill so their parents can work?

We are all different and have different strengths. Those that are innovative and creative also regularly experience many more ideas than they ever actually implement. They may think of an idea, try it out on a sample group, reject it or modify it, then try it anew. If it works they keep it and share it, and if it doesn’t work, they remain inspired and learn from the failure coming up with other ideas – some of which will still not work but some that will.

There’s nothing wrong with being the kind of person that works best with the status quo. Some people become receptive to new ideas not the first time they hear them, but perhaps the sixth or seventh time. They need to process the new information, mull over the impact on them personally and because it may mean doing things a new way, have to wrap their heads around new skills they will have to develop in order to transition from what they know to what they don’t.

It is equally bad form to force those who prefer the status quo to embrace change overnight as it is to stifle those who embrace change and innovation. You may find your workplace is made up of both types, and getting along together is essential.

Tolerance On The Job

If you were to say you are a tolerant person, would you be casting yourself in a positive light or unintentionally exposing a character flaw?

I don’t often come across this word on too many resumes, nor hear when I listen to most people describe themselves in interviews; particularly with the, “Tell me about yourself” question. However, I have come across this word several times in the last week when reading some LinkedIn profiles, and in correspondence I’ve received from job seekers. Each time I read the word, I became aware that I was conflicted reacting to the word. I knew the writers using it intended to be speaking positively about themselves, so why then was I unsettled with the choice of the word?

Tolerate: Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of things one does not necessarily like or agree with, such as opinions or behaviour, without interference.

So I started to imagine myself in my workplace; I imagined all sorts of people in their workplaces too. I conceived of situations we all might have where other people held opinions that we didn’t like or agree with, where people were behaving in ways we didn’t like or agree with. Finally I imagined myself allowing the existence and practice of those same behaviours and opinions.

Somehow, I find myself accepting of others opinions that I don’t necessarily agree with much easier to accept than I do behaviours. I’ve no right to impose my opinion on someone else with the expectation they change theirs to mirror my own, any more than that person has a right to expect me to change mine to match theirs. I have no qualms with this part of what it means to be tolerant. In fact, it is in differing opinions that I – that we – learn. When exposed to the differing views of others, we are afforded a chance to perceive something from a differing view, and with that new information re-evaluate our opinions or behaviours.

When we outright dismiss another person’s point of view, we run a risk of dismissing the person who holds it, and every experience in their past which has led them to hold the view they now have. Opinions we hold are after all, the summation of all our experiences to date. We shape our opinions based on what we’ve seen, read, heard, felt, tasted and experienced. With everything we experience we either solidify our opinions or we adjust them. So it stands to reason when someone or some group holds a differing opinion, we have a chance to hear why, learn and then choose to maintain our view or modify it.

Allowing the occurrence of behaviour I don’t necessarily like or agree with however, is something I find harder in some situations. Here I believe I’ve hit upon what rubs me the wrong way when I read others describe themselves as tolerant.

In most organizations, there is a person or group at the top that hold a common belief system. They refer to this as their values. It is their expressed objective to bring people on board who share or develop similar beliefs in order for those beliefs and values to be consistently experienced by end-users. When consumers experience the same behaviours with each interaction no matter the representative of the company, that consistency brands the company and reinforces the view the consumer has. They come to expect – be it positive or negative in their mind – to be treated a certain way, to experience service a certain way, and come to know therefore the company in the same consistent way. This is branding.

When an employee holds an opinion that varies from those of the larger company; they may choose or not to make that opinion known. However, behaviours and actions are observable, and when those behaviours appear to fly in the face of the values the company purports to uphold and believe, the consumer is conflicted, the brand weakened. This is one of the biggest fears organizations have. Too many people acting and behaving in ways that differ from the organizations expectations, and the brand loses its strength and becomes muddied.

When you observe a co-worker behaving or acting with a client or customer in a way you know contradicts the beliefs or values of your organization, tolerating such behaviour may not be best advised. Tolerance here may become a flaw. The real challenge is to correctly identify which differing behaviours and opinions to respect and leave unchallenged, and which behaviours and opinions to openly address and how.

Not all of us are comfortable addressing the opinions and behaviours of others any more than we are comfortable having our own opinions and behaviours discussed.

In the workplace, sound advice is to identify the behaviour (not the people themselves), that is at the crux of any discomfort you experience, and assess if it flies in the face of your own opinions and behaviours and/or those of the organization. It’s a fine line allowing individual expression; thought and behaviour while at the same time having everyone pull in the same direction.

Tolerating behaviour and opinions sometimes is the thing to do. Other times, those opinions and behaviours need to be challenged and discouraged; especially when those opinions and behaviours depart from the organization expectations, or when the people stating them demand your conversion to their views. Knowing which is the real test of good judgement.

It’s About Time

A day has 24 hours; that’s 60 seconds in a minute x 60 minutes in an hour, x 24 hours to arrive at 86, 400 seconds in a day. Of that number, you might spend 7 hours or 25, 200 seconds asleep, leaving you 17 hours or 61,400 seconds to consciously decide how to spend your time.

Extrapolating this over a lifetime, for argument’s sake let’s assume an average lifespan of 74 years. You can adjust this number based on where in the world you live at the moment and the average lifespan of people where you live. 74 years works out to 648,240 hours (24 hours per day x 365 days x 74 years). Not all those hours are spent awake, so again let’s deduct the time you spend sleeping and recharging. 7 hours per day of sleep x 365 days x 74 years’ means you will sleep 189,070 hours on average over that span. Therefore you’ve got 459,170 of waking hours over 74 years (648,240 total hours – 189,070 hours of sleep). That works out to 25,550,260 seconds in case you’re interested.

Seems like we have all the time in the world doesn’t it? I mean we’ve arrived at 25,550,260 seconds or 459,170 hours of time to spend when we’re awake. If we looked at things by the day, those 459,170 hours would translate into 65,595.71 days. Again that’s a huge number to contemplate!

We still have some factors eating into those numbers which we must account for. The first 5 years of our lives, we go from infancy to toddler and conclude the pre-school years. Our knowledge of the world goes from slipping of the womb into the lives of our parents (or single parent) then gradually being introduced to other family members, friends of our parents, etc. Again for argument’s sake, let’s remove 5 years (1,825 days or 157,680,000 seconds) as we can’t be entirely all that productive during this period. Therefore if we take 65,595.71 days and remove 1,825 days we’re down to 63,770.71 days.

Come to think of it, let’s remove the years from 6 to 20 too. While it’s true many people are working at 18 or 19, others are in school until their 25 or so, therefore let’s agree on the 14 years from 6 to 20 as I say and see what’s left. 14 years works out to 5,110 days (14 years x 365 days).  At our current equation, we have 63,770.71 days – 5,110 days and we’ve arrived at 58,660.71 days.

Now we look at the other end of our lifetime. We won’t be working when we’re 74 in all likelihood, so let’s deduct 11 years from the time we turn 65 until our demise at 74. Those 11 years represent 4,015 days. So 58,660.71 days minus 4,015 days brings us to 54,645.71 days. In seconds, that number is 3,278,742.6 which is still a large number to perceive.

At this point there are 54,645.71 days, or 3,278,742.6 seconds in which to change the world. Fabulous! Oh…wait…being human we have to account for eating, going to the bathroom (yes we do, if we’re to be accurate here). Shall we go with 3 meals a day, averaging in those who eat twice a day and those who eat late in the evening or snack throughout the day? Food preparation and actual consumption times will vary so let’s go with 1.5 hours a day. As for relieving yourself of waste; 15 actual minutes in total daily? Let’s not quibble too much about this one! So 1 hour and 45 minutes (105 minutes) per day x 365 days in a year x 74 years = 2,836,050 minutes, or 47,267.5 hours. That’s 6,752.5 days.

At last count we had 54,645.71 days so let’s remove the 6,752.5 washroom and eating days and we’re now at 47,893.21 days of time to be productive. In case you’re keeping track, this works out to 21.63 years of productivity time. But there’s still so many things that rob of us time to be productive. We take showers and bathe for example, get our hair cut, cut our nails, brush our teeth, spend time in dentist chairs and doctors’ offices. We have to buy the food we eat, the clothes we wear (naked no longer being acceptable or practical), the furniture we sit on sleep in eat at. We haven’t factored in traveling time either. Harder to quantify, but our huge number is dwindling down steadily from the astronomical numbers we started with.

Our 21.63 years of waking time to be productive is reduced by 5 years factoring in all the previous paragraphs activities as well as all the ones I haven’t covered. So we’ve got 16.63 years of time during our 20 years old-65 years old period to do with as we choose. Whether that seems like a lot of time or a small precious time to spend depends on your perspective.

Someone much with a higher degree of mathematical intelligence could no doubt subtract more accurately time spent on other activities of daily living. All of this time subtracted is aimed at finding out what are we typically left with to do whatever it is we choose to do with our lives in the world. It goes by so slowly at times and lightning fast at other periods to the point where we say, “Where did the time go?”

What’s important to you in how you spend what you have? What if we factored in couch time? Yikes!

I’ve no counsel as to what you do with the time you’ve got; just recognize your time is finite. Don’t regret the passage of time – whether it’s 74, 103, 34 or 16 years. You’ve got time now.  Do whatever you choose to do now so that you feel your time mattered; was time enjoyed and time well spent.