You’ve Got It Wrong Pizza Hut

One thing that seems to be a constant is change itself. Change can be good or bad and is often one or the other depending on the perspective you bring to the situation and your role in the change process. Recently my wife and I experienced a change in the service we received and neither one of us were impacted for the better.

After a day in which we were hundreds of kilometers from home, we were traveling home and talking about where to stop for dinner. We made a decision to find a restaurant where we could sit down, rest and enjoy a relaxing meal, but at the same time, we weren’t dressed for, nor desired a fancy experience. Having had burgers earlier, we chose to eliminate those restaurants and opted for pasta.

We were in Barrie and as we drove south along what appeared to be restaurant alley, we were almost at the end of our options when we spotted a Pizza Hut sign and we settled on it. We’d soon regret that choice as it turned out, but at the time, the combination of food choices, location, time to stop and price seemed right.

The parking lot was pretty empty even though it was on a major highway so that was a bonus but maybe in retrospect could have been an omen.

When we walked in there was a small reception area and some bench seating, presumably for those who order and wait to take their meals with them or who show up early for their pick up food and who must wait. We stood there; my wife and I, waiting to be seated as is the proper etiquette for the same restaurant in our own town. From what I could see, there were two young women working in the kitchen and two groups of people eating in the restaurant itself.

One of the women from behind the cash register gave us a pleasant hello and I returned the greeting and told said, “Two please.” Right up to this point everything had happened the way I’d experienced eating in the past at this chain. Change however, as I said at the outset is inevitable, and this is right where change jumped up and caught me off guard. The employee said to us, “Oh we’ve changed things recently. We have no servers or wait staff. You order your food here and we’ll call you when it’s ready.”

Gone was the promise of a relaxing experience where we’d be seated, have a drink, order, eat, be checked in on and have our bill delivered and leave. The shift in their practice meant we had to stand there at a cash register and quickly choose from a menu instead of having time to read the menu and talk between us on what we might want to share or order individually. It kind of felt like, “C’mon, make your choice quick or you’ll create a bottleneck for other customers who come in behind you and we don’t want that!”

Well we should have said that we were looking for a different experience and walked out, but we stayed, ordered quickly and went to find our seats. We’re evolved my wife and I; yes we can find our own seats without being guided to a table. However, it was clear to me that with two staff in the kitchen and zero staff in the dining area, there was another problem and that was maintaining cleanliness. Every table it seemed needed cleaning and at no time did anyone come out during our stay to do so. That’s a turn off. However, we’d paid when we ordered so we stayed.

When I looked up at a wall-mounted television in the dining area, I expected they had it set to some sports channel like successful sports bars, but I was mistaken. There on the screen was a listing of names – mine included – and a countdown telling everyone when the food ordered would be ready. Kelly would have his food in 8 minutes and those before me must have been phone orders, because no one else was seated and waiting.

Looking around, even the plates, napkins and utensils were self-serve so we grabbed what we needed there. I wondered if I should tip my wife or myself but not being a big tipper the point seemed moot. Apparently the restaurant is saving money on salaried staff acting as wait staff and hostess staff.

For the two of us, they missed the mark completely on this new practice by neglecting to provide the customer service that diners want. The price didn’t reflect a drop in overhead and salary, so that isn’t being passed on to the consumer. It appears that you pay the same and get less of the experience you once had. Bottom line, we’re never going back there, and here I am sharing a poor experience with you the reader. Did they factor poor reviews in to their budget?

I wonder too if – horror of horrors – other chains may or already are going this way. Let’s hope not for the sake of us customers and those staff they’ll let go on the race to the bottom of the customer service experience. This is one change I wish they’d put down to a bad idea and reverse.

Reacting To Your Own Mistakes

When you mess up, fess up.

As children, many of us were told by our parents and the other adults in our lives that we would make mistakes; and when we did so the thing to do was admit them and learn from them. Unfortunately not everybody heard this advice and a few more heard it but ignored it.

It’s important that you get this message now whether from reading this first-hand or perhaps someone who cares about you will have brought this to your attention and told you to read. Either way, good thing you’re reading now.

The first thing you need to understand is that messing up and making a mistake is something we all do; even the best of us. Yes, it’s true. Now some mistakes are bigger than others, and the fallout from those mistakes varies a great deal but making errors isn’t limited to just some of us. As you mature, you learn that it’s not the mistakes made that those around us typically judge us by but how we both learn from them and take responsibility for them.

Remember when you were a little kid and you’d do something that would annoy your parents like colouring the walls with crayons. Whether you knew it was wrong or not you could tell quickly it was a bad thing when you’d hear your mom cry out, “Ah! Who’s been doodling on the walls?” Instantly your defence mechanisms would kick in and in an effort of self-preservation you’d say, “Not me!” Despite the fact you were an only child and the crayons themselves surrounded you on the floor, you’d somehow look to shift the blame to someone; anyone else. You could be forgiven for colouring where you shouldn’t but not for lying about it and attempting to ditch the responsibility.

As a growing teenager, you probably made all kinds of screw ups in what many refer to as the awkward years. Whether it was doing things you shouldn’t, or not doing things you should have, those years were full of blundering along and not always fessing up when things went wrong. The unexplained scratch on the family car, the broken window by the driveway where the hockey net sat, the muddy footprints in the hallway; all done and denied as being done by you.

Now the funny thing about mistakes is that the more we deny making them, the less it becomes about the error in the first place and the more it becomes about our inability to accept responsibility and be accountable. Being accountable is one trait that employers value highly. If you make mistakes – and you will – take responsibility for reporting it and learning from it so it’s less likely to happen again. If you fail to take responsibility for your errors, you’re a bigger problem for the employer to deal with as now they have to not only show you where you went wrong, but now they wonder about your honesty; and your character and reputation suffer as a result. In other words, you’re compounding the issue.

Here’s the thing about confessing to mistakes. If you say right up front, “That’s my fault and I’m sorry about that”, it makes it hard for others to make a big deal out of your error; you’ve taken the wind right out of their sails. They may have actually wanted you to argue about things, defend yourself until they eventual proved you wrong and won some argument, and here you’ve taken all that joy away from them by immediately apologizing. Do it really well, and anyone who lashes out at you over the initially error may later apologize to you for their reaction to your mistake!

Of course the bigger the error the harder it is for some to take responsibility. However, the bigger the mistake, the more a person’s character is revealed in how they react to their mistake and accept or decline the accountability.

Some mistakes we make are innocent ones because we truly didn’t know better. We made a decision based on the information we had at the time and it turned out to be the wrong one if we’d known about company practices, policies and procedures. Oh well, we know now. Other mistakes however are where we should have known better; in fact we did. Our moral compass screamed that what we were about to do was wrong but we did it anyway, hoping not to get caught in the process. We’re seldom that smart however, so sooner or later the mistake is noted, the search is on for the culprit and we only make things worse by initially denying any knowledge of the situation. Later, we’ll end up apologizing for both the mistake and the denial.

It may seem the harder thing to do, but the best advice you can get is to take ownership for your actions. WHEN not IF you mess up, stand up and fess up. Often you’ll gain a lot of respect from your co-workers and management for what happens after the mistake.

So whether it’s, “Who took my pen?”, “Who gave out my home number to a customer?” or “Who left the shop door unlocked last night?” be accountable for your actions. It may not always work out in your favour I admit. A boss might say they admire your honesty but they’ll have to discipline you or even let you go if it’s serious. But you’ll still have your integrity intact.

Get Yourself A Counsellor

Today I’d like to make a case for seeking out professional counselling help; and with an opening like this, it’s more than possible I’ve already lost a significant number of readers. Why? I feel it’s because some readers may not want to read about the topic as it would force them to think of their own challenges. Other readers will feel they’ve got no issues to share; and certainly not with a Mental Health Counsellor. Then there’s the stigma isn’t there; some readers wouldn’t want someone to walk by and catch them reading an article urging people to visit a Counsellor. In short, people have various reasons for not seeing or speaking with a Counsellor to unload.

If you’re still reading, I congratulate you and I thank you. I thank you not so much for reading my piece, but more for reading what may be helpful to you. It could be that this is the piece that gets you thinking for the first time about seeing a Counsellor, or perhaps this is the piece that finally gets you to take action after having thought about it and read about it for a long time. Either way or for any other reason, thanks for reading on.

First of all, I’m not a Mental Health Counsellor; I’m an Employment Counsellor so I’m not drumming up business for myself. Whereas I help guide people to finding employment, a Mental Health, Family or Individual Counsellor provides help to those who are experiencing a wide range of issues that keep them from moving forward; who struggle dealing with things arising from everyday living.

If you feel weighed down dealing with what’s on your mind; you find it increasingly difficult to fit in when it comes to family, work or social situations or you’re just not coping with things the way you once did, it might be a good idea to speak with someone and work through things so you can get on with life and enjoy things as you perhaps once did.

Counselling is confidential and that’s an important thing to know and remember. When you share what’s on your mind, what you talk about goes nowhere beyond you and the Counsellor. If you decide what you’re sharing should in fact be shared with someone else in whole or in part, you make that call. Ethically, morally and contractually, Counsellors don’t tell others what you say, so the more you open up, the more they can help. You can start by sharing the smaller stuff on your mind or delve right into the major things that you’re trying to cope with.

You may imagine as you go about your day that you alone have somehow come to the point where you’ve got more than your share of problems. How did it get to this point? Why does everyone I talk to seem to have it together except me? What did I do to deserve this? Why only me? Why can’t I handle things anymore? Why am I so sad all the time or suddenly start crying for no apparent reason?

These questions – and many more like them – are examples of the kind of questions other people are asking of themselves; questions you may believe you alone are struggling to answer. You’re not alone in asking these however, you’re surrounded by people throughout your day that may be thinking and asking themselves the exact same things. As you look at other people and think to yourself, “not them”, they might be surprised to learn of your struggling too.

Still reading? Good. If you decide to give a Counsellor a try, you should know you can seek out a male or female Counsellor. Depending on what you want to talk about, you might be best with a specialist such as an Addictions Counsellor, or you might look for a Mental Health Counsellor and see if they recommend someone highly trained in what you disclose or meet with you on an ongoing basis.

One thing you should definitely know is that the stigma about seeing a Counsellor has changed and continues to change. While there will always be naysayers who look down on people who see a Counsellor, more and more people have come to view those who seek out support and help  from a Counsellor as courageous, strong and wise. It’s true! When you need your brakes looked at you go to a professional; if you suspect you’ve got a cavity, you see a professional. Seeing a Counsellor to regain and improve your mental health and talk about things that are troubling you is no different.

So how long does it take and how much will it cost? Good questions. It takes as long as it takes because you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to counselling services. You’ll know when you’re once again comfortable and able to deal with things alone. As for cost, these services could actually be entirely free. Many organizations have counselling fees and services built right into their benefit plans. If you’re on social assistance and money is an issue, you should consider asking for the availability of counselling from the person you interact with there. Finally, if you do pay for services, view this as an investment in yourself the way you would anything else you do to feel good.

Counselling may be what you need both personally and professionally to get or hold onto employment.

Invest Yourself In The New Hire

Every organization experiences turnovers in their staff contingent as part of their natural aging process. People retire, take leave, are fired, have their hours reduced or positions eliminated. Similarly new applicants are hired, temps fill in on short assignments, positions are created, expansion plans are implemented, new locations needing staffing spring up.

Once upon a time you yourself were the newest hire; the fresh blood, the one people wondered about and made a point of welcoming on board and getting to know. You yourself in those early days hoped you’d be accepted and welcomed; you’d survive the first few awkward days and then make it past probation until you were eventually hired on permanently and became a fixture.

I’ve worked in both unionized and non-unionized environments and in both scenarios a common practice is for the newly hired to breathe a little easier when others are hired after them. When others are hired later, it means there’s a little more perceived job security if things got slow and someone had to be cut loose. The faster you made it up the seniority ladder, the faster you could stop worrying and stressing about the possibility of having your job taken away as it would usually fall to someone hired after you.

Do you remember what it was like when you were hired? How about your first day or first week? What was going through your head as you headed out your front door on those earliest of days?

It’s likely that any new employee is wondering about much the same things as you did. Will they like me? Where will I sit? What kind of boss will I have? Will anyone invite me to lunch this week? Should I brown bag it or take along some lunch money just in case? Will the job be what they said it would be or turn into something I didn’t expect?

Yes, new employees often think about the same kind of issues, have the same concerns and hope the same kind of good things happen to them. A new job is a brand new chapter to write; a fresh start where you can put any past problems behind you. Sure there’s new stresses and challenges but this is what drives many of us to excel and grow.

Now move ahead to the present day. Here you are with your reputation established and no longer one of the new employees by a longshot. You’ve carved out your place, forged those relationships and know your environment and how to thrive in it. New employees pop up from time to time of course; some staying for the long haul and some gone before you really get to know them.

There’s a lot of upside in taking the time to warmly greet and welcome new staff to the organization in general and your department specifically. Your reputation is closely aligned with the reputation of the company you work for, and so it follows that employees – all employees – impact on that company reputation by default and on you by association. As a seasoned or senior employee, you can influence new staff in how they think and act when they are relatively new.

Even when a new employee comes in with a wealth of knowledge and experience gathered elsewhere, you can impact how they settle in and what they learn and need to know about how to act while working in your workplace. Could be that how you and your fellow employees go about their work is unique and different from what the new employee has experienced. Changing their mindset, ensuring their practices match those of your organization could be critical before they make mistakes or do things the way they’ve always done them elsewhere.

Another benefit of speaking with someone early in their new jobs could be sharing your own philosophy in the hopes that they may adopt yours completely or at least accept your philosophy as yours and respect it when interacting with you. Now I don’t mean you scheduled a time to talk and tell them you’re going to lay out your philosophy; you might do this in fact or you may just lead by example.

When I have had new staff start where I work, I make a point of setting aside some time to work together with them; offering to share some of my resources and my time should they need any advice, direction or support. Sometimes I like to ask new employees what their philosophy of service is. The most common reaction I get is an initially stunned look; as though they’ve never pondered the question or articulated an answer. That’s a good thing because now they’re thinking big picture.

You see to me, how I  and my colleagues deliver services is important. I like knowing who among those on my team thinks like me, who has a different take on things and how small or large is the difference in approach between us. I encourage new employees to listen to the opinions of others, watch, learn and soak up all the various ways we each do our jobs. The new person brings their own skills, ideas and philosophy with them of course, and this is always interesting for me working to learn from them too.

Make you new employees welcome and embrace what they bring as the chemistry changes on your team or in your workplace.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Drop The Job Search

Most people I would guess walk around each day with at least one thing on their mind beyond what they are doing at the moment. Could be the family pet is in rough shape, there’s some house repairs that should be looked into and actioned, a close friend doesn’t seem the same etc. Fortunately, we have within us the ability to function at the same level of performance when we need to during the day, and we can manage to set aside the time to address those personal issues we have.

However for some people, it’s not just one or two things that are going on but rather many things going on; could be 10 – 15 issues all at the same time and of varying degrees of importance. In addition for example to the pet problems, there’s a friend with cancer, children that need attention, a spouse that mentioned off-hand wanting some ironing done, dinner plans with the neighbours, a car that is stalling all of a sudden, an unexpected bill that arrived yesterday with ‘past due’ on the envelope, floors that need cleaning and dishes in the sink from two nights ago. Then there’s an issue at work that’s becoming bigger than it should, a boss that is asking for a commitment to doing some overtime and it’s a busy time of the month; oh and it’s soccer night and gymnastics night for the kids.

You’d think that this is a lot of its own but on top of all this throw in the prevailing thought the person has that in some way they are failing both those around them and themselves. Great! Let’s add guilt, anxiety and a growing sadness or depression. All this does is lead to falling asleep unexpectedly at 7:20 p.m. and then have a sleepless night when the brain won’t turn off, until exhausted, sleep comes an hour before its time to rise in the morning to let out the dog and wake up the kids.

Does this ring a bell with you? Even if it’s not you, I think it safe to say someone in your circle of friends, co-workers or family just might have a life that looks like this one. You may or may not be aware of what’s going on of course, as some people are working hard to cover up these issues lest they be perceived as weak or unable to cope.

Wow, that’s a lot to be coping with and at the same time trying to be productive and a real team player at work, or worse yet, trying to find employment when focusing on a job search and putting out 100% effort is expected. Of course if you can’t maintain that energy to job search for 6 or 7 hours a day, somebody somewhere is wondering if you’re really serious or not about getting a job. That’s rich; if they only knew!

Somehow in 2016, it seems that we’ve got more to manage and less time or resources to do so. Some would say technology is to blame, others would argue that in the past one family member stayed home to handle all the domestic chores and family or that we just have more on the go now than people had to manage in the past.

What of you though? How are YOU coping? If you’re sailing along happy and managing everything in stride, well good for you and your family. What if however, you’re not doing so well, you’re not coping at the level you feel you should, and things seem to be getting more out of hand instead of more under control?

Maybe, just maybe of course, dropping the job search for a month or two would be healthy. Concentrating on taking care of some of the things that are bugging you might give you a sense of accomplishment and achievement; thereby lifting your spirits a little. Ironically, the best way to get and keep a job might be to hold off even looking for one until you really can devote the time necessary to find the right job. Lurching into a job you don’t really want but feel you have no choice but to take could be disastrous if the things going on outside work cause you to be late, call in absent or underperform. Then you’d have a failed job to add to your list of worries. Yes it’s true; putting off looking for work while you sort out some issues may be the best job search strategy you can gift yourself with.

One thing you might find hard to believe is that you’re far from being alone. There are a growing number of people who aren’t coping well with all their outside and personal issues. Like you however, they may be doing their very best to put on a happy face at work and keep busy. Like you too though, it could be a fragile outer shell or façade that you see as they go about their day.

Juggling one or two items is far easier than juggling many, so do your best to juggle only what you can reasonably be expected to handle. So put off the job search and get the pet down to the vets. Spend an afternoon with your friend, pay the overdue bill, do some ironing while watching a television show that will make you laugh.

Don’t Be Surprised At An Interview

As an Employment Counsellor, I often work with people who are looking for employment. My job also entails meeting people in a drop-in resource centre who I’m not working with on a one-to-one basis but rather on a spontaneous one. In both cases, I often catch up with people after they’ve had a job interview and it always intrigues me when people tell me how surprised they were with some of the questions they got asked.

Now sure they might get an interviewer who threw out some odd question to test their ability to think on their feet. You know, “If you could choose the sense you’d lose which one would it be and why?” or “What’s your second favourite colour and why it isn’t number one?”

These seemingly bizarre questions have their purpose, but honestly, I wouldn’t put much time aside in preparation for a job interview in trying to anticipate such questions. These questions are intentionally meant to catch you off guard and get you to think on the spot. Therefore, think on the spot as they are asked but never lose sight of the job you are interviewing for and try to connect your answer back to the role you’re interviewing for and the company you’ll be working for.

However, let’s focus on what you can likely predict with some degree of confidence in the job interview so that you aren’t surprised. Shame on you actually if you are surprised at what you could have reasonably predicted would have been asked of you

Let’s look at a posting shall we so we can see how to predict with great success the kind of questions asked.

Wanted: Customer Service Representative


  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution experience
  • Experience using POS systems
  • Teamwork
  • Good with people, 1-2 years’ experience
  • Shift work required including weekends, holidays and evenings

Okay so play along here whether you’re looking for this kind of job or not; the job isn’t important but the process is critical and applies no matter what job or career you’re out to get. For now, you’re out for a Customer Service job in a retail store setting.

Here’s what we can get from this job posting:

  • Always refer to the job you are applying for –whether in writing or verbally as a Customer Service Representative position. Don’t error and call this a Sales job, Salesperson or any other title. Call it what the employer calls it.
  • Same goes for the people the company sells to. These are customers as the first bullet states not clients, so always call the end-users and the people you’ll sell to as customers.
  • The second bullet mentions both problem solving and conflict resolution so this must be a fairly common issue and in both ways they’ve phrased it, they want solutions from the people they hire, not just people who can pass on the problems to the Supervisor.
  • Don’t know what ‘POS’ means in bullet 3? Look it up on a search engine like Bing or Google. It means, “Point of Sale’; in other words a cash register or computer terminal where customers check out. If there’s some words in your job posting you don’t get, look them up!
  • Teamwork is a required skill in the job; you’ll be working with other Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s), your Supervisor(s) and you will be expected to work cooperatively in order to be productive and hit sales targets.
  • The second last bullet says you need 1-2 years’ experience and you must be good with people. The 1-2 years simply interpreted means they want you to have some basic experience in the past doing this kind of work but they want you to be open to their training and be trainable, not set in your ways and hard to change. You’d best have some enthusiasm for connecting with people around you too – show some personality in other words.
  • The last bullet is about flexibility and being willing to work what some people won’t; right up front you know weekends and holidays are involved so don’t apply if you want a Monday to Friday 9-5 job.

Okay, so in this scenario, you should expect to be asked questions that focus on the above. These questions might start off, “Describe your experience with…”, “Tell me about a time when you…” or “What do you enjoy…”

The questions you get asked in this hypothetical interview would likely focus on problem solving, customer service, teamwork, previous experience, people skills and flexibility. To prepare properly, it would be best to think back on jobs you’ve had in the past – both paid and unpaid – and come up with examples you could give that would prove you’ve dealt with these things. For each of the items beginning this paragraph, have a story or two ready to share.

Now to you personally and the job you are after. Do the same exercise but use the job posting you’ve got before you. What skills and qualifications are they looking for? What stories or examples do you have from your past that demonstrates your personal experience, proving to the interviewer you’ve got what they are looking for?

Be prepared to tell them who you are, why you want to work with them and do a little research on the company itself so you know who they are.

When you can anticipate the questions ahead of time, you’ll be more confident when they ask them in the interview.



Think You Can’t Help The Poor? Yes You Can

Let’s face facts okay? Some of us are socially conscious and empathetic to the plight of those in need and others (I’m hoping a small percentage) wish the poor would just disappear completely from view.

One of the things I’ve come to understand and realize is that as we age, Life has a way of changing the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and we get multiple opportunities to change our outlook. Eventually, many people shift their opinions away from their previous held viewpoints, and adopt new ways of thinking; it’s called growing and maturing. Not everyone changes their attitude or outlook of course, but I can bet that most people as they grow, think differently on many subjects as they spend more time on the planet and interact with people on it.

So, the poor. Well, they’re not invisible; you can spot them on the streets in cities, you can see them at food banks, cooling centres on days when there are heat alerts. You can see them hanging around shelters, rooming houses, lining up for jobs outside temporary agencies, in discount stores, cheque-cashing outlets, and sometimes outside coffee shops. Look for the soup kitchens and you’ll find them there, the clothing giveaways and of course the social assistance buildings in communities all over. You might even note the odd person standing at a set of lights with a coffee cup in their hand asking for a handout of whatever you can afford.

Well like I said, some of us are socially conscious, or at least empathetic. One thing you can do that would be appreciated by many is to think about the clothes you own that you’re never going to get back into. Whether too big or too small, that clothing is only taking up space in your closet. I call these, ‘someday clothes’. Someday you might fit into them again so they hang around – literally and figuratively. Do yourself and the less fortunate a favour and bundle these up and donate them to a second-hand clothing store, a charitable organization or give them to the next organization who phones you at home and asks if you have clothing to donate – like the Diabetes Association. You’ll feel good and do good at the same time.

Another thing you can do that doesn’t involve making a donation of any kind is think about the words you use in general conversations about those marginalized folks living in poverty. Be mindful of putting them down, nodding your head when a buddy makes some wisecrack about the bum blocking the sidewalk or who says to someone panhandling, “Just get a job!” Maybe you can start a conversation just by saying in return, “Hey man give the guy a break. Not cool.” Sometimes just a short comment will be enough to get someone else thinking about their own words.

Now of course you can make a donation – or donations. It needn’t be big to make a difference. In fact, you can start small. See someone on the sidewalk either sleeping or living rough? Walk up and put down a bottle of water or a piece of fruit. You don’t even have to stop and talk or say anything. Even if you don’t get a thanks, that gesture will be appreciated more than not. And if you’re an animal lover and the person has a dog with them, some dry dog food could be more appreciated by the person than food for themselves.

So all my columns and blogs focus on job searching, getting ahead and tips for getting and keeping work. Why a blog about the poor? Good question. Poor people are often people who have either been born into poverty and through no fault of their own didn’t benefit from good parenting, and weren’t supported in their schoolwork; their parents beliefs about education and what is important in life passed on through them as children. Poor people can also be those who have had circumstances in life happen to them which were beyond their control and they haven’t got the skills to overcome those barriers.

Either way you look at things, poor people are – well – people first and foremost; they just don’t have the financials resources to support themselves. Sure, I’d go so far as to say the decisions we make also impact our futures; and some people do make repeated questionable decisions and fail to learn from the consequences of those choices.

There are many however who just need a small break. Some kindness that comes unexpected can re-inspire a distrustful soul, or provide some measure of hope to a disgruntled job seeker. Pass on some clothing, makeup, the donation of your haircutting skills – even a smile instead of a scowl; it’s all in the little things we can do that can make a difference between giving up on looking for work or being encouraged enough to stick at it or start again.

A special word for employers too; think beyond your bottom line. No seriously. If you set out to use and abuse poor folks who don’t know their rights, you may get by paying minimum wage to people and regularly firing them just before the pass probation and starting all over again. Please remember you’re dealing with real people who often do their best just to learn simple routines having not had structure employers look for in their recent past.

Any kindness you can do makes us all better.

Making Resumes? Save Yourself Time

You’re not still making a single resume and then photocopying it 50 times planning on handing it out to every job you want to apply to are you? Good for you if you know better. If you are unfortunately going about your job search by doing this, I really hope you’ll stop wasting your paper and your time and start targeting each job you apply to with a uniquely made resume.

Now for those who are in fact targeting your resume to each job, I have a question for you. Have you made a single resume for each KIND of job you are applying to, and then handing this resume out for each job you apply to? You know, a standard resume for Welder jobs and a standard resume for Material Handler jobs and say a standard resume for Forklift Driver jobs? In other words, in this scenario, do you have three resumes and then depending on the job you are applying to, you simply send one of the three versions? Oh no; to coin a phrase, “You’re doing it wrong.”

Unfortunately you misinterpreted what targeting a resume to each job actually means. Targeting your resume to each job means each actual job you apply to even when the job titles may be identical. You make a resume and apply for a job, then when you find another job you want to apply to – even as I say with the identical job title, you apply with a resume that is unique from the last one you used. One job = one resume.

Most job seekers have come to accept this premise with other job seekers dig in their heels at the suggestion and argue that to use this strategy would mean far too much time making resumes and much less time actually applying for the jobs. They envision themselves handing out their resumes all over town while their competition is stuck behind a computer monitor making resumes. Surely, they say, the sheer volume of resumes they are spreading around must have better results than sending out fewer resumes even if they are more specific to the job postings; and they’d be wrong.

Here’s what I’d suggest you try. Go to a job board in some employment centre, or better yet, go online to your preferred job search website. Look for a job you are interested in and once you’ve located one, look for a second with the same title. Lay both job postings on the desk in front of you or pull them both up on the screen of your computer side by side. Now look for at the qualifications that each employer has cited as mandatory and desired. Use a highlighter or if you haven’t got one, just underline in pen the qualifications that are identical in both ads. No doubt you’ll find some words that exactly match on each and that’s great. If you made two separate resumes; one for each job posting, you’d have whatever you’ve highlighted or underlined on each resume.

However, going back to the two job ads, I’m confident you’ll find there are some qualifications that only appear on one of the two job postings – and these you didn’t highlight or underline because they are specific to one ad but don’t appear in the other. Am I right?

These key qualifications set out by each of the two employers have been identified by the employers as required skills or qualifications that are essential if you the job seeker want to get an interview. Sometimes the qualifications are close to each other, like one employer wants someone who can safely lift 40 pounds and another wants someone who can safely lift 50 pounds. If you figure these are pretty much the same and I’m just nick picking, you’d be wrong.

Don’t assume I mean you need to start from scratch with every resume you produce because I agree with you that this would be very time-consuming. Once you lay down a resume and save it, the next resume you produce could be one you produce by tweaking the first resume; making revisions rather than an entire re-write. Editing the amount of weight you can safely carry would mean changing the 4 to a 5 and the meaning from 40 pounds to 50 pounds. A single digit change on the keyboard that aligns what you offer to what the employer needs.

You’ll also find that looking at your one completed resume and a second job that you have qualifications on your resume that the second employer has not stated at all. May be you’ve got down that you’re hardworking, honest and dependable and while these are good traits, the second employer stated what they are looking for is someone with a valid driver’s licence who can read inventory orders and can work a variety of shifts.

In the above paragraph, you can see that it would be preferable to replace what is on your first resume with the things the second employer is asking for if you want to come across on paper as the better qualified person to interview.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe me or not by the way. What you should know however is that some of the people you are competing with are taking this advice and using it with every application. Could be one reason you find job searching a frustrating experience with few results if you don’t.

When The Mind Is Willing But The Body Is Done

Are you one of those people who has got to the point in life where your body is no longer able to keep up with what your job requirements demand, yet that job is all you really know how to do? If so, this can be a stressful, even scary time for you as you ponder what job or career you will pursue now.

This kind of situation is actually very common, especially in positions requiring manual labour skills such as the construction field. I’ve listened to many a person tell me their stories and they share a similar theme; the person started working early in life out of necessity, often not completing high school. The money early on was good and they were young, strong, enjoyed the physical demands of the job and how it kept them in good shape. Then as time passed, they felt the aches and pains lingered on longer when the job was done and eventually they were in constant pain reaching the point where they had to quit because of back and joint pain.

The situation above is very real; the mind is still willing but the body can’t take the physical demands of the job anymore and there are younger and stronger people coming onto the job sites who will work for less money and these combine to push the person out of work. Now in their late 40’s and early 50’s, here is the person left wondering what else they could possibly be qualified to do. The resume doesn’t look all that impressive with less than high school education and a ton of experience doing construction or general labour work which they can no longer do hence the dilemma.

So is this you and your situation? Someone you know perhaps? This is a tough one isn’t it and no one knows better than you the struggle to figure out what you’re going to do with the years you still want to be productively working doing something. At your point in life going back to school to get your grade 12 diploma is scary too; after all you’ve only got your long ago memories of high school to go on and if it was difficult to finish school when you were in your teens, you imagine it can’t be easier now that your 50ish!

Well let’s look at some options shall we?  First of all, getting your grade 12 completed is an option. It doesn’t mean you have to do this, but it is an option isn’t it? What you might not know is that if you’ve only completed grade 9 or 10 and figure you haven’t got 2 or 3 years to spend in a classroom at this point in life, relax; you don’t. You’ll find that adult education schools in your area likely have programs in place that will recognize your life experience and give you credit for this. Could be you only need to take 3 or 4 courses to get that grade 12 diploma and your classmates will be adults just like you, not 17 year olds. As employers often see grade 12 as a basic requirement, getting yours could be the right move to start with.

The next thing to figure out is what exactly you’re going to do now career-wise. For some people, this is a crippling problem; all you’re qualified to do is what you’ve done and you haven’t got the ability to do that anymore. First of all, do you want to work in the same field of work anymore? If you could take your knowledge and move into a leadership role or teach younger workers what you know, would you take that kind of job? Or do you want or need to get right out of that line of work altogether?

Here’s some good advice; take one or two computer classes for people who know very little or nothing about computers. In 2016, you have to have basic computer skills to even apply for jobs. Don’t plan on just walking in and introducing yourself and asking for a chance to work. Yeah this kind of disappeared in the 90’s and except for the odd place, it’s never coming back. Today, you have to apply online or use email. You should head on down to an employment centre in your community as well as adult education schools and look into adult computer classes for beginners. You likely won’t be a computer expert, but you need more skills than you have at the moment for sure.

My final piece of advice – just to keep things short and cut to the key things – get some help from an Employment Centre where will find Job Coaches, Employment Counsellors or Career Advisors. I’m one of them but this isn’t about self-promotion. (If it was I’d name my own Centre or give you my contact details). Look, you’re an expert at what you’ve done all your life, and these career professionals are experts at what they do which is helping people like you figure out what to do next in life. You may just find their services are free anyhow.

You and I both know you want to be productive and useful. Getting the above help will keep you relevant, help you realize what you’ve got to offer and craft your resume to positions you’d genuinely be interested in.

Don’t put off getting the help you need from people who deal with people just like you every day!

Get That Job Search Going

Are you one of those people who, being unemployed decided nonetheless to give yourself a vacation? You know, you promised yourself that after August was over, you’d get serious again about looking for a job? Well, if this is you, I implore you to start now and not wait until September officially arrives because if you wait until the end of August, you’ll likely miss opportunities that others will have seized.

Now many people I’m sure are puzzled at the idea of unemployed people taking a vacation in the first place. Re-allocating time from job searching to not searching perhaps, but ‘vacation’ somehow seems to be the wrong word. Yes to many, a vacation means a break from paid employment where the employee is still getting paid from the employer. Hence in this definition, the unemployed person giving themselves a vacation doesn’t fit.

Of course, the unemployed person might state that they are indeed getting paid; either through employment insurance or being in receipt of some kind of social assistance benefits. They may inadvertently offend the wrong person by laughing about being in receipt of government benefits and taking a vacation; making the mistake of essentially telling the wrong person who sees themselves as paying in part for this persons vacation as a taxpayer. Well let’s leave that whole discussion for another time as it alone could fill several blogs.

Let’s get back to getting going again on that job search. Mid-August to mid-September is here in Canada the 2nd best time to get hired, second only to the March to April months. If you look at sheer numbers, you’ll see there are a lot of employers who take on new employees during these periods. So based on the hiring trends of employers – at least here in North America, you’d best get going now.

A second reason to get going now is that you are likely similar to most people who move from one state of mind to another gradually. The state of mind of someone who has essentially given themselves a break from job searching for a month or two isn’t likely to kick into high gear without some sputtering and false starts. What I’m saying is that if you last looked seriously for work in June, you’re not likely to go from zero job searching over the summer to a full-time, 7 hour daily job search in a day. No, you’ll likely fall to the temptation of just another day at a beach, another ice cream cone with some friends or another day of sleeping later than you know you should if you’re committed to a job search.

Given the above, you might find that by starting now on your job search, you’ll be far more likely to hit September at full speed than you will if you fully ignore the job search until August 31. Just as a teacher can tell on the first day of class the child who has done some reading or review over the summer from the child who hasn’t, Employment Counsellors and employers can tell who has been focused on job searching and who hasn’t when they meet them. Unlike children however who are in class from September to June the following year, you as a job seeker are only looking for work as long as it takes to get a job offer.  

There’s a lot to job searching; if you’re being honest and upfront. There’s cover letter writing, scanning job boards, doing research on potential jobs, employers, employees and hiring trends. There’s resumes to craft, references to find and keep updated, thank you notes to pen, computer skills to upgrade, job search logs to update every day, rejection letters to send, phone calls to make; including cold calls. There’s the fall wardrobe to think about and possibly add to. After a summer of not job searching and indulging in guilt-free meals and ice cream cones, there are the existing clothes in the closet to go through and find what no longer fits and needs replacing.

More important than any one or in fact all the items in the previous paragraph, there is the state of mind – what you’re thinking between the ears – that needs some attention. You can’t just switch on and off the necessary toughness and commitment to job search like you can a light switch. Job searching is tough; if it was easy, you’d be employed by now after all and wouldn’t have quit over the vacation period in the first place. If you don’t think finding a job is hard, I suspect you haven’t really looked for one in a while. Well either this or you aren’t looking for a challenging job that matches your skills and interests.

Look, there are a lot of people just like you who aren’t looking for work full-time. Some have removed themselves from looking out of frustration; others may have just taken the summer off. Get going now and you can get a small but important advantage over these people. The longer you put off looking for work, the more you help your competition who’d love nothing better than you just continue to spend your days at beaches or in front of computer gaming screens; such activities only help their chances at getting job offers that would interest you.

You’re choice of course, but the smart folks are already looking.