Empowerment


One thing I try to do for those I help with finding, maintaining or exploring employment opportunities is give them the gift of empowerment. Whether that’s mine to give in the first place I acknowledge could be a point of irony as it turns out for some readers.

However that aside, it’s empowerment that’s up for discussion and pondering. Empowerment is less about what you can do for someone and more about what you can help them learn to do for themselves. This is usually accomplished by sharing skills, supporting the person through their first attempts and weaning yourself off as a dependency. Eventually the person gets to the point where they master the skill or skills you’ve shared and they can readily call upon them themselves with confidence and critically, competence.

Now of course, not everybody wants to be empowered. If you stop and think about this, you will possibly be able to think of situations in which you yourself would rather employ and pay for the services someone else has mastered rather than invest the time, energy and money required to gain the skill. Need help thinking of some? You may take your car in to change over your tires from All – seasons to Winter and back again rather than doing it yourself. You might call in a Plumber, an Electrician or a Painter when their services are required. For even though you could do a little research and learn how to change your tires yourself, get advice at a paint store or learn how to install that new kitchen faucet yourself, many leave the jobs to the professionals.

And how often does the Plumber or the Mechanic call you over and ask if you’d like to watch them work and they’ll tell you how to do this yourself in the future? Probably never; they’d eventually lose many of their customers and might lose their own incomes.

It seems to me however, that when it comes to job searching, writing resumes and cover letters and going to job interviews, that many people who haven’t mastered these skills tend to think they have nonetheless. I couldn’t tell you the number of times someone puts a poorly written document in my hands and does so feeling I’ll give it a passing grade.

There are really two kinds of people who I help in the end; the ones who say, “Just do it for me”, and those that are really interested in knowing the reasons behind my suggestions because they are sincerely invested in wanting to be able to produce good documents on their own. And what makes a good document? One that gets results often, not just once for every 50 handed out. That too is interesting; when someone defends with attitude the poor resume they have which got them to the interview stage once back in 2004. Sometimes it’s best to tell someone you’re available if they open themselves up to your help, do it for them and leave it for now.

So what’s in it for me personally when I’m consistently the Employment Counsellor where I work who always takes the longest when working with someone? It’s true of course. Sit the entire team down, each lending a hand to craft a resume and I’ll take the longest every time; you could win money if you bet on that; it’s just how I work. Don’t get me wrong by the way about my peers; good people and they get results too.

I derive happiness out of passing on the knowledge I have and so whenever I’m assisting someone, not only is my brain occupied in the resume construction but it’s also acutely engaged in passing on what I know to the extent the person themselves is both interested and able to take in. After all, even the most invested person can have other things on their mind and only be able to retain so much at one sitting.

My goal as stated earlier is to empower the person to the point where they can make the modifications necessary when targeting their resume to multiple jobs – jobs that may have the exact same job title by the way. As for job interviews, my goal is to help label a persons skills who may not recognize them for what they are, give them some structure to follow so their words use skill-based language and best market their strengths.

Eventually, the bittersweet moment comes when someone knows enough that they no longer need help. I mean it’s obviously the main goal and this is a moment of great personal satisfaction for me as well as them; I’m thrilled for them. Selfishly though, yes there is a part of me that thinks back and really enjoyed all those moments along the way when they internalized and mastered one skill that made learning the next possible.

Empowerment isn’t for everybody when it comes to job searching. Many remain dependent on others to do the work for them and they may get lucky at an early job interview or it may take many interviews to eventually succeed. When a person is receptive to learning, hopefully they seek out the right person to share what they know.

Now what about you? If you’re looking for work, know whether you want to be empowered or not and sharing this with whomever you approach for help is an excellent beginning.

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