You Play Employment Counsellor


Want to be an Employment Counsellor? Try out my job in this scenario and see what you think. In the comment section, share what you’d do in my place.

He is at the same time one of the nicest and most frustrating people to work with as he struggles to find employment. He’s a puzzle of enormous complexity and I’m not sure after the 5 years I’ve known him if I’m any closer to even identifying the pieces that make up who he is and how he functions. Yesterday was yet again a stressful day for him as he laboured in the job application process. He walked in at 9:00 a.m. to the employment resource centre I work at, and he didn’t leave until 2:00 p.m. – 5 straight hours on the computer applying for jobs.

Here are some of the clues that he presents with:

Joe, (not his real name) is a big muscular man who stands about 6’ tall. He’s loud, bald (picture Mr. Clean and you’ve got him), and he speaks his mind with a simplistic view of the world – things are black and white, right and wrong. When he talks about people who make decisions he doesn’t agree with, he will use phrases like, “the guys an idiot”, “he’s stupid”, “well that’s just plain dumb.”  

Joe has a body odour problem despite the fact that from a distance he looks well-groomed and clean. When he came in at 9:00 a.m. yesterday, I pointed this out to him as he and I were 2 of only 3 people who were there that early. He was surprised and said he’d showered that morning, and he couldn’t smell himself. He says he cleans his clothes too, and that maybe it was his coat; it wasn’t.

Now the thing about Joe is that he’s likeable. He appreciates any and all help he gets; and he needs lots of it. He has difficulty remembering his email and password, and over the years my colleagues and I have helped him make many email addresses as he can’t remember his – or where the paper went that we wrote it down on for him to remember. Yesterday was a good day because he produced the email and password on a piece of paper; this is good! Joe couldn’t figure out or remember how to get to his email however; this is bad.

Knowing enough to click on the internet, he was seen typing the email address into the search engine one finger at a time. “What’s your email Joe? Hotmail? G-mail? Yahoo?” I asked. He replied it was “.com” which gives us a clue. After several questions and answers he said it was an Outlook account, and so with some guidance he got there and logged in successfully.

Joe then sighed in frustration; spoke out loud to himself saying, “For crying out loud, why do they move things around?” He was already exasperated in no time, feeling that the layout of his email had changed; which it hadn’t. Somehow however, his recollection of how things looked doesn’t meet how they look now. Even if things had changed, the average person would adapt and just move on in seconds.

On average and with no exaggeration, he asked for help, or complained so loudly to himself that an intervention was required – about every 3 minutes. Just to clarify, he was there from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – 5 hours – and he needed help about every 3 minutes! He’s lucky as it turns out that it was a quieter day than usual and he could get that kind of help. He’s taken a computer basics class – twice. He’s been shown how to job search 1:1 on several occasions.

I wonder about the connections in his brain that are faulty and not working. Like a lightbulb that flickers on and off, sometimes he gets things he later can’t remember. He knows he’s in for a frustrating day therefore each and every time he comes in to look for work in front of a computer. He can’t remember the most simplistic of steps on a consistent basis. But boy does the man try.

Now he’s not interested in being classified as ‘Disabled’. Smart enough to know he’s got major learning problems, ironically he doesn’t want to undergo that process of being assessed and labelled; even though it could mean getting help that could bring about real change.

When Joe finds employment – which he does – it’s usually a pretty menial job which takes advantage of his strength and size. It seldom lasts long, as Joe speaks his mind and can only hold his tongue for so long before telling people what he really thinks. For some reason people don’t always agree with or appreciate Joe’s perspective.

 Another clue? When attaching his resume to an email, I noted the resume he was attaching was called, “Tires”. He told me he called it this so he’d remember his most recent resume and not confuse it with earlier ones. So whether he’d applied for a Bus Driver, Furniture Mover or Warehouse Labourer, the resume the employers receive will be called, “Tires”. Yes, we talked about this too which only increased his frustration when he understood the implications.

So, there you are. When you work in such a Centre, you deal with whoever walks in and their circumstances. You’re me remember. So what would you do?

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