Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?

When I’m facilitating workshops on improving one’s performance in job interviews, I often begin by asking those participating to share with me any questions they find difficult to answer. Among the questions which often come up is, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

In coming up with your answer for this question; and every other question you will be asked by the way, do your best to understand the purpose of the question. While you are doing your best to impress the interviewers and get a job offer, from their side of the table, they are looking for reasons to rule candidates out and hire the last person remaining. In other words, answering this question well can leave you in the hunt, answering it poorly can leave you out of the running.

So, what’s behind the question? They might be checking to see if you’ve got ambition and see yourself having been promoted within the organization. While this strikes most people as surely a positive thing, it could trigger an area to be concerned about in the mind of the interviewer. Why? If they see you’ve already got your eyes on a more senior role in the organization, they could be going through this same hiring process in a short time; something they don’t want to do. Hiring and training people takes time and money, and in return for that investment in hiring new people, they want and expect to get a return on that investment. When it’s all about you and your career advancement, that doesn’t show an understanding and empathy for the employer’s situation.

Now on the other hand, some employer’s hope and expect you’ll outgrow an entry-level position, and if you stay with the company, they’d like you to advance having spent some time on the front-line. This way you’ve got an appreciation and first-hand experience of what it’s like to work at the bottom and this can shape your work as you move up. If you show no ambition beyond the job after 5 years, they may look at you as stagnating and dead weight.

I have found a combination of the two above positions to be ideal for most people in most job interviews. Doing research into an organization and the people who work in the role you’re after should reveal some insights that will aid you with the question. If however, you fail to unearth any clues about how long people typically stay in the job you’re after, you still need an answer. See what you think of this:

Let me assure you my focus at this time is securing this position and investing myself in the job; ensuring you in turn get a return on your investment in hiring me. That being said, I’d like to take part in any courses, cross-training or collaborative projects which will put me in a position to compete successfully for opportunities which may present themselves in the future.

You see a lot can happen in 5 years. While you and the interviewer might both have ideas of how things will look in that time, you both are looking at the future armed only with what you know in the present with respect to the future. As time evolves, opportunities may present themselves for an organization to launch new products, expand or contract, re-brand themselves entirely, move or perhaps stay largely exactly as they are. All kinds of factors may impact your personal direction and ambition.

Now there are some answers which effectively take you right out of the running in the mind of some interviewers. Suppose you shared that you and your partner plan on starting your family and having a couple of children over the next 5 years. Doing the math, this could mean you’re off for 2 of those 5 years on maternity leave, and your attendance and performance may become concerning both during pregnancy and once the children are born. Yes you’ve a right to start a family, but the interviewer knows there’ll still be work needing doing, and if they have to hire short-term help to cover your position, well, if they can avoid it, they just might choose someone who doesn’t raise this issue. Best to keep these plans to yourself.

Another possible problem answer is at the other end of the age spectrum. If see yourself as fully retired in 2-3 years, you could take yourself out of the running if they are wanting to hire someone they can make a long-term investment in. You might be perfect however if they are looking to hire someone for only 2-3 years while they restructure their workforce to compete better down the road. Getting what they can out of you for those few years might be pretty appealing and you part ways happily. Just don’t make this answer all about you. Sure you’ll get your pay for a few years and ride off into the sunset, but organizations aren’t entirely charitable. What’s in it for them? Productivity and someone who is totally invested in this single job and not looking beyond it to advance.

Some jobs have a high turnover precisely because they are entry-level, minimum wage jobs and employers expect if you have any ambition you’ll move on. Not everybody wants to climb the ladder though and that’s not a bad thing. Being consistently productive in a job is a wonderful quality; a win-win.

It’s Easier To Get A Job When You Have A Job?

cantappropriateYou’ve heard I suppose that it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job I suppose. Why exactly is this so? I mean, if you’re already working, surely it’s more of a challenge to come up with the time to find a job to apply to, do the application and then go to the interviews. Wouldn’t it make sense to say that it’s easier to get a job when you’re unemployed and have all the time you’d like to apply?

The truth of things is that it’s easier to get a job when you already have one in two key respects. One is that you’re more attractive to employers when you’re working, and the second is you’re likely in more of a ‘drive’ mode yourself. So let’s look at these two.

Employer’s like to hire people who are already working because as a working person, you’re in a desirable routine of getting up and getting going. You’ve got positive work habits, you’re likely dependable, you’ve got a, ‘working’ mindset and your skills are currently being utilized and developed. You’re likely more up on latest trends in your field, and your current experience is something they feel they can harness. Any personal equipment you own which you might need for the job is in working order, and you’re probably connected to customers or clients in some cases which you might sway over to the new employer with you.

The second reason you’re more attractive to employer’s is because you’re more in ‘drive mode’ yourself. Having a job to go each day and the responsibilities that go with it has you minding all the good habits that go with being employed. For example, we all have those days when upon waking, we think, “Ugh! I don’t want to go to work today! This bed is so comfortable I just want to stay here.” Working people get up more often than unemployed people solely because they are being counted on to be somewhere. So get up they do; get going they do.

It’s also the case that you’re using many of the skills job seekers need everyday in the course of your job. You use your teamwork skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills and your job-specific skills daily. As you do this, the energy you are contributing to your workplace is returned to you in the form of positive feedback from customers and teammates; sometimes from employer’s themselves.

The one thing that has many scratching their heads though is the issue of time. You’d think that someone who is out of work, has an abundance of time to job search; certainly much more than a person who is working full-time at any rate. Time though, is not the sole issue but rather, what one does with the time they have.

Working people who are after another job are more productive when looking for work because when they do set aside some time to job search, they use it as the precious resource it is. They make the little time they have outside of their working hours focused and the outcome is strong applications. Unemployed people – as a rule – see the abundance of time they have to job search and tend to go at things on a more leisurely pace. Rarely does an unemployed person put in a 7 hour day, 5 days a week seriously job searching. This isn’t a knock against them, it’s just a reality for the majority.

Now when you do land an interview as an unemployed person, you should be expecting some question directed at the current gap on your resume. If you’ve been using the time productively and improving yourself, this is something to share which most employers will appreciate. If on the other hand, you’ve done very little or absolutely nothing with your time to keep up with your field, employer’s will seriously call in question your work ethic, your drive, your relevance when compared to other applicants and also how much drive you’ll have when you’re called upon to go from zero work to 35 hours or more a week. Saying, “trust me, I’ll be here” isn’t as good as saying, “look at my track record of attendance where I work now; trust me, I’ll be here.”

So, if this is the case; employer’s preferring people who already hold down jobs, maybe before going after a job you really want, you might want to consider going after a job to get something current on the resume. A job – no matter the job – will get you back in a routine of being responsible and depended upon. Just working alongside others, you’ll be using your people skills as you communicate and work with others and interact with customers.

The benefits of a short-term position also mean you’ve got some income coming in, you can quit without repercussions in your industry or field, you’ll have a reference from this employer to move forward with, the gap is gone off the resume and your attitude improves because you’re wanted and you feel better about yourself.

Small gaps are of less a concern than long ones to both the job seeker and the employer. If yours is getting to the point where you think it’s a problem, only you can actually do something about it. So, big breath; it’s going to be work to find work, but let’s get going.



Self-Marketing: The Teamwork Question


Okay let’s set the scene. You’re about 4 questions into this job interview for a position you’re quite interested in. You’ve got the qualifications including: experience, skills and your resume obviously promoted your background well enough because you got the interview. From the many people who applied for this job, you’re feeling the odds are pretty good at this point because it’s down to you and possibly two or three others.

The question the interviewers just asked you is to provide an example from your past job where you worked in a team and overcame some challenge. I suggest you pause at this point before reading more and write out your own answer to this question. If you do this, you’ll benefit more from this read as you’ll be able to see the strengths and areas for improvement in your answer from the interviewers perspective. Pause and do this now.

Got your answer? Ready to move on? Great. The first and most important thing is to ensure you heard the question correctly. You’ve been asked to provide AN EXAMPLE from YOUR PAST JOB where you worked IN A TEAM and OVERCAME A CHALLENGE. Those 4 elements must be in your answer.

An example by definition means a single occurrence or time when we experienced something, and in this case it involves teamwork. So in looking at your own answer, did you actually write about one specific time you worked in a team or did you generalize and talk about how you typically work in a team. If you generalized or summed up how you work with others, you failed to share an example of one specific time when you worked in a team environment. “I recall this one time …” is one way to start your answer.

Now the second thing we were asked was to provide the example from our past job. So, in your answer did you share your past job title and employer or did you leave this information out, assuming they’d know from your resume what your last job was? One major error many people make in job interviews is to keep referring to their resume, assuming that what’s on paper there speaks for them. Wrong. You’re getting scored on what comes out of your mouth. You’d be well-advised to say, “I recall this one time while working in my last job as (job title) with (previous employer) …” You’ve now set up the context for the example you’re about to provide; the interviewers know where on your resume you’re drawing the example from.

Now in sharing this example of teamwork you’re about to provide, please look at your written answer. After you referenced the team, did you use the word, “we” or “I” in talking about how things got done? So did you write, “We had to do this, we worked together, we solved the problem”, or did you say, “Our goal as a team was to do this, and I contributed …, I suggested we…, so what I did was …,” When you use the word, ‘we’, you fail to demonstrate what you did as opposed to others in the team, and for all the interviewer knows, you may have been dead weight on the team and while the job got done in the end, you played a very small part in accomplishing the goal. If you used the word, “I”, then you’ve demonstrated the part you played and how your individual actions in this team setting contributed to the outcome.

The last part of this answer is about overcoming a challenge. So the key is to share the positive (yes it must be a positive) outcome that resulted based in large part because of what YOU did in this ONE-TIME event you’re speaking of.

Here’s why specific examples are so much more effective than generalized statements about how you typically work. When you recall and share specific example from your past, what you say sounds believable first and foremost and secondly it gives the interviewer the best insights into predicting how you’ll act in the future if/when they hire you. Simply saying how you would generally act without a specific example makes it harder for them to truly believe you because anyone can tell the interviewer what they think the interviewer wants to hear. But an example is proof you’ve done what you claim.

By the way, to really nail this question and all others asked of you, it’s critically important that in concluding your answer, you go back to the point of the question and relate it to the job you’re interviewing for. In other words, that great example you just provided about teamwork and overcoming challenges could be finished off by saying: “When working here at (name of employer) you can rely on me to bring a cooperative attitude, communicate effectively with my co-workers, and contribute to solutions which achieve team goals.”

In the above statement, you’ll note the words, cooperative attitude’, communicate, contribute solutions, and team goals. These words would mirror the same words from the job posting. In other words, what you need is what I bring. I’ll be an excellent fit for your needs.

So, how did your answer stack up? Did you find this helpful?

If you find it awkward to promote yourself, consider sharing what others have said about you. “My co-workers appreciated my ideas”, “the boss later thanked me for showing leadership”.




At Times, It’s Just About Holding On

woman with curly hair and eyeglasses extending her arms
Photo by Bia Sousa on Pexels.com

Have you been getting a lot of advice on how to move forward lately? Does it seem like your best isn’t good enough if you aren’t getting ahead? And when you do make some progress and want to pause to celebrate or catch your breath, do you feel pushed or pressured to get back up and keep scratching and clawing for more?

Hang on. Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay just to be where you are. It’s even better than just okay, it’s exactly what you need; just…holding…on. Now maybe this comes as a refreshing change of commentary; you know, that somebody is actually validating what you’ve been feeling for days, weeks, month’s; that just holding on is the best thing you can do. So why then, why oh why does everyone you listen to seem to be urging you to do more?

Good question! There may be many reasons of course. Some well-intended people might feel they know you better than you know yourself and want you to experience more of the good things in life. They’ve heard you express at times your hopes and ambitions, what you’d like to have or what you’d like to do in the future. Seeing where you are and where you’ve said you’d like to be, they actually believe they are helping you along if they point out you’re not going to achieve those goals if you pause and stop pushing forward. They see themselves as cheerleaders when you actually see them as taskmasters.

And that message of getting ahead, of doing more, being better, striving for improvement is everywhere. Buy this truck and you can haul more, drink this beverage and you’ll be surrounded by cooler people, get in better shape and you’ll feel better, buy my book and you’ll be wealthier or have greater self-esteem and a better self-image etc. No matter which direction you turn, not matter what part of your life you examine, somebody is giving you the advice to push for something better. The unintended message they are sending is that your present life is lacking; you should want more. You’re not happy are you? Wouldn’t you like more house, a better relationship, a healthier you, a more fulfilled life, a safer neighbourhood, a brighter kitchen, a better job?

Wait. Hold on. If all you’re really capable of at the moment is hanging on so you don’t slip and fall, do exactly that. Hold on. Nobody else truly knows where you’re at, both in body and in mind. Yes, other people may have experienced similar situations as the ones you’ve experienced or are experiencing at the moment. Yes, they might be in a very good position to empathize with you because of that shared experience and if you asked for their advice or help, they might just be in the best position to help you out. However, you are uniquely you; you’re the one person going through your life with a past that’s uniquely yours. Nobody can truly appreciate how your past and present has shaped and continues to shape your interpretation of all those experiences.

When someone ahead of you or higher than you reaches back or down to lend you a hand and offer you support as you move ahead or up, they aren’t exactly where you are at the moment are they? No. They’ve moved a step ahead or a step up. They are no longer exactly where you are. This gives them perhaps some advantage which you could benefit from in avoiding a future pitfall, but their path out of where you are may or may not be the path that you end up seeing as right for you. Their way up, forward or out of a jam might not be the only one you have as an option; their solution might have worked for them but not be right for you.

Now let’s say you’re out of work and you may have expressed to people you meet that you want to find a job; one you’d enjoy doing that is stable and pays a decent wage. Not too much to ask is it? Of course not. You want such a job and you deserve it too. Given your expressed wish to get a job, those you talk with and listen to may naturally start urging you forward; get some help with that resume, improve your interview skills, write stronger cover letters, follow up, give it 100% and buckle down, roll up your sleeves and focus! Focus! Focus!

But hold on. Maybe…just maybe… you’re not ready – yet. A little more conversation would reveal your landlord wants you out at month’s end, you’re in overdraft at the bank, you left your purse on the bus and just lost all your ID, your surviving parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, your daughter just called and asked to move back in temporarily and your glasses are misplaced. Is now the best time to focus 100% on a job search? Yes you want and need work but first things first, there’s much more going on.

Hey, the above isn’t some far-fetched stretch of reality. Many readers are nodding their head saying, “That’s me!”

Sometimes the best thing to do is dig in, gain traction and deal as best you can with the limited energy you’ve got on what you have to do. There is nothing wrong with that.

Using Bad Experiences For Good

woman holding hair in close up photo
Photo by Grisha Stern on Pexels.com

If you’re like most people, you’ve experienced both the good and the bad in your past. While the good experiences are great to recall and replay over and over in your mind, as part of your self-defence, you may be intentionally blocking out the negative ones from your past, feeling it difficult or impossible to find anything good in the aftermath of a bad experience.

There are a lot of coaches in sports who encourage their athletes to have a short memory if something bad happens; like a goalie giving up a soft goal, or a team losing a crucial match. You’ll hear them say things like, “we’re only focused on the next game”, or “I have to focus on the next shot and forget about the one that got by”. Yet when they practice between games, they turn to what went wrong and they make adjustments, so that the bad experience isn’t repeated. It’s not therefore that they just relive the experience, but they work hard to get better so that they don’t experience a second time the disappointment of giving up a goal or losing when it matters most.

Sometimes the bad things we’ve experienced are significantly personal and traumatic. The last thing we want to do is get in touch with the emotions and feelings that we experienced when those experiences were fresh and our current reality. Finding something redeemable or useful in our present life from such a negative event or series of events from the past just doesn’t seem remotely possible.

It is precisely because they’ve experienced negative events in the past however, that many people discover a passion for wanting to help others going through similar – but uniquely personal – experiences. Hence an ex-addict wants to become an Addictions Counsellor or a person experiencing anxiety and depression writes about their experiences in a blog, supporting others who may be similarly impacted.

Here is something you may draw great strength and encouragement from. While the good experiences in our past are helpful in rewarding us for what we did well, the bad experiences have the potential to be of more value to us moving forward. This is no reason to want to have bad experiences – and I don’t make light of them in the least – but the hurt we’ve experienced, the shame, the vulnerability, the helplessness we may have felt; all of these things have the potential as I say, to be useful to us.

When for example we get fired from a job, we may want to hide that fact from others, feeling embarrassed and not wishing to have to explain why to everyone who asks why we’re not working.  We can use that bad experience however, moving forward and being more aware of avoiding toxic workplaces, bullying bosses, fragile employers with shaky finances, or being put into jobs with high personal exposure to a lot of responsibility without the tools to be effective. Or if we were harassed on the job by customers – physically or sexually – and our employer’s did little to support us causing us to quit, we might learn to avoid that type of environment altogether in the future.

Yes our past negative experiences can be very helpful in steering us both away from similar situations in the future, or / and draw us into roles we’d have otherwise not considered. Experience alone however, doesn’t qualify us to suddenly become teachers in that subject matter. A recovering or former addict isn’t qualified to work as an Addictions Counsellor just because they have a desire to help others who have experiences similar to their own. No, they have realize there’s a further investment to be made in schooling and education which, when paired with their own personal experience, will uniquely qualify them to work successfully in such a role.

This is precisely where many who want to help others come to a dead stop in their career ambition. Or, worse yet, they set themselves up as business owners and provide their experiences to others – well-intended of course (let’s not forget this) but, they lack the formal training and only have their lived experience to offer. That lived experience isn’t enough.

The irony of these good intentions is too many people to choose from by the very people who need the help and want to reach out but don’t know who is qualified and who isn’t. This is precisely why so many people will say they tried getting help but it wasn’t very helpful and they then are cautious at best or refuse help altogether from people. This is an unintended and unfortunate reality for many.

So yes, you can turn your own negative experiences into learning experiences for yourself moving forward. You can learn from the past and avoid similar situations, improving your odds of having more good and fewer negatives as you go. If you’ve got the inclination and desire to help others, you can also channel this goodwill and use it to benefit others but, you really do need to consider getting the formal training that for many, gives you the credentials you’ll need to get hired. Credentials plus past personal experience is a winning combination.

If you’re thinking it’s too hard to go back to school; it’s too much of a struggle mentally or financially, think about the people you want to help most who may find it too much of a struggle and too hard to free themselves of where you were.


How Can I Take A Job If There’s No Bus?

i-was-assaulted-on-the-street-but-i-still-walk-home-alone-at-night-408-1428519902Owning your own vehicle is a privilege that not everyone has. Oh sure it comes with its share of costs; oil and gas, repairs and insurance, but for many who drive, it makes getting around so much easier.

Let’s suppose though that you don’t have a vehicle and you rely on public transit for all your transportation needs. When it comes to employment, one of your first considerations is whether the job is on a bus route, or even if it is, you have to ensure that there’s a bus running whenever it is that you finish your work shifts. With no bus option, you can’t possibly consider taking a job right?

Well, not necessarily. While it’s only being responsible to look at how you’ll get to and from a job from wherever it is you live, I would advise you not to categorically rule out a job if the only problem you see is this. You are right though to realize this barrier to employment exists, and it now becomes a challenge for you to put your problem-solving skills to work; the same problem-solving skills you’re marketing on your resume!

Here’s a few things to consider as possible solutions to the, ‘no car’ issue. With no bus route, every other employee with no vehicle who currently works where you’re considering working has had or continues to have, the same problem. Planning on asking how they’ve addressed this problem might reveal a carpool you can join. Or perhaps the usual practice is for 3 or 4 people to jointly call and share a cab just far enough to get to a bus stop and from there they go their separate ways. What you assumed might be a $25 cab ride every day might in such a case only be a $5.00 ride.

Another possibility is that there is a bus that gets you to work, but the bus no longer runs when you get off at 1 a.m. for example. Okay that’s a problem, and for reasons of safety, you sure don’t want to be walking alone at night from some isolated industrial location. This only makes sense and I entirely empathize as I wouldn’t want that walk either. However, there’s still options. First of all, the transit problem is only one way; you can get there on the bus during the times it runs. You might ask in advance of applying if the company has made arrangements you are presently unaware of to safeguard their employees. There could be a practice of leaving in pairs, some provision for company-assisted cabs rides, and yes, maybe calling Uber or some ride share program.

There is another thing you can do and that is to ascertain how many employees are getting to and from work who rely on transit. If you were to lobby the Transit Company, would they see the profit in extending their route or the hours of an existing route to pick you all up at the end of your shifts? If you don’t ask, the status quo remains.

Another option is the combination of a bus ride and your bicycle. There are many buses running now that have storage racks for bikes at the front. Is it possible then to travel on the bus and when it gets to its closest destination, you can depart and ride your bike the final kilometre or two? Maybe this doesn’t work year-round, but for 8 month’s or more of the year, it could be your solution. Fresh air and some exercise benefits you won’t get on a bus alone. Maybe you can borrow the car of a friend or family member too.

Finally, another solution is perhaps the one that most people actually report is how they solved their own issues. Have you guessed already? Talking to your co-workers and asking if someone goes your way and might be willing to drop you off. Offering to share the costs of getting a lift might be the answer and you’ll only be able to do this once you start working and talking to co-workers.

The point I am making here is that there are essentially 3 reactions you can have when you realize there is no transit option for a job posting you’d love to apply to.

  1. You can immediately dismiss the job as an option
  2. You can look at transit as a problem to solve and the degree to which you really want the job will determine how little or great the effort is to solve it.
  3. You can inquire of the employer if there is another shift you’re unaware of that better aligns with when buses do run if it’s a case of being on a bus route but no buses run when you start or end a shift.

Like all problems and personal weaknesses or challenges, it’s not so much having them but what you’re doing to actively work on them that is important. How long have you had this travel problem? Have you made any progress in fixing it? So for example how much money have you saved up in a dedicated fund to buy your first car? You might only need $500 or $1000 to get a used car, insure it and get it on the road. Dream car? No. But, this starter car might allow you to get that good paying job and from there work on getting a better one down the road. Down the road…. ha! I made a funny.


Goodbye Old Job, I’m Moving On

high-angle-view-of-man-giving-resignation-letter-to-businesswoman-at-office-889570084-5a6a601d0e23d90036e277e6Sooner or later, its likely that you’ll shift from one employer to another, and hopefully on your own terms. While you’ll be excited at the prospect of a new job, perhaps with greater income, more hours or just a fresh start, there’s the business of how to break the news to your present employer to think about.

Let’s get the worse thing you could possibly do out-of-the-way; just stop showing up, ignore phone messages wondering where you are and figure eventually they’ll stop calling. I’ve actually had people tell me they do this when they leave because they want to avoid conflict of any kind at all costs. This is not a good strategy because you’re leaving on a real sour note and honestly, it’s uncanny how life brings us back into contact with past employers, co-workers and people remember. It’s also incredibly empowering to be in the position of announcing your departure.

Let’s remember that this employer has shown confidence in hiring you in the first place. That faith in having brought you on board needs to be respected. Also to be respected is the fact that they’ll need some kind of transition plan to fill the position you’re vacating. How they do that is their business, but you demonstrate your own personal values when you provide the courtesy of giving appropriate notice. The more they get from you, the better they are able to address the situation.

It’s probable that for any number of reasons, where you’re headed is preferable to you over where you have been. There’s a wave of relief for some in leaving a deteriorating situation or toxic atmosphere. For others it’s a fresh start in a different role entirely, a move up in seniority, a move right out of the community to another city or country, etc. There are a lot of reasons why you could be moving on, but what they all have in common is typically going to something you want more than you’re getting now; a positive change.

When you’ve only been in a job a few days or even up to three month’s, your replacement value to the organization is not as great. The fact that the employer or you can just walk away from each other with no notice required over this period confirms this. So sure, have the good grace to let the employer know in-person you’ve accepted a position elsewhere, thank them for their confidence in hiring you, turn in any items the company provided you with as an employee and do your best to leave on good terms. While the news is likely disappointing, you’re hardly irreplaceable in these early days, and they may go right to the people they almost hired and present them with a job offer.

When your tenure is longer, you’re departure probably creates a larger hole to fill. This is still their issue not yours, so don’t take on the guilt of improving your lot in life at their expense; that’s not helpful. They’ve got a decent return on your employment if you’ve been there a long time right? Sure they have. This move is more about your own job satisfaction, improving your financial health, maybe even your mental health.

Sometimes a conversation is what’s needed and in some places a letter of resignation is the expectation. This letter if you write one should be brief. The content includes the statement you’re resigning from your position, the effective date and typically a few words of appreciation for the opportunity to have worked for the organization. Leave out any remorse for the disruption, apologies for the trouble you’ll cause in leaving, snarky remarks about getting out while the getting is good, or anything in fact that is vengeful or mean-spirited. It might be witty and satisfying to tell them what you really think, but it’s unprofessional; take the high road.

Of course you might be leaving your current job for retirement. Even though the employer might have an inkling it’s coming in the near future, when you actually provide notice, it can still come as unexpected. You might want to consult with your boss or the Human Resources Department where you work as to how to ensure you use your vacation or in fact any time you’re due as part of your notice. So you might actually provide notice you’re leaving but be on 5 weeks vacation technically before the ‘last day’ kicks in. Worth thinking about and checking out.

Where you are on the organizational chart, how long you’ve been in a role or with a company all play a part in how much notice is appropriate. When you do give notice, be prepared for various reactions. You might be asked to train a replacement or you might be asked to turn in your ID badge on the spot and walked out on the spot. Maybe you have some examples from others who gave notice to draw on in terms of the organization’s response to guide you.

When you resign, your focus is really on where you’re headed. For many, it’s important to share your news with your co-workers, say your goodbye’s and get the well-wishes and congratulations. You should likely have a word with the Boss, as they might like some control over how the message gets communicated. It’s likely they’ll want to be the first to know.


Age Discrimination And Employment


One of my readers asked me this week for my thoughts on handling age discrimination. While this is a topic I’ve covered in past blogs and articles, (and you can read all my blogs on my website at https://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/ ) I believe there’s value in returning to this subject yet again.

As it applies to the job selection process, the issue of age generally comes up as:

  1. You’re viewed as too young.
  2. You’re age isn’t an issue.
  3. You’re viewed as too old.

My advice begins with doing an honest self-assessment before you even apply to work. Please note the words, ‘honest assessment’. There’s no point to talking about this age issue if you won’t or can’t see yourself through an objective lens. To assess yourself, you’ve got your chronological age which you can’t ignore or alter. Some jobs require by law employees to be of legal age. If you scream discrimination because you’re 16 and can’t get a job as a Driving Instructor or Bartender, there are laws that prohibit hiring you.

Look at yourself. Are you 22 but look and act like you’re 17? Or are you 54 but look and act 68? In other words, think about how you are marketing yourself to potential employers when they see and hear you. Do you have good posture both sitting and standing, walk with energy, speak with vitality and enthusiasm? Conversely, do you slouch, walk slowly and bent over, shuffling along and talk with a raspy, laboured tone and sound completely disinterested?

Think about your appearance. Whatever you’re wearing, is it appropriate for the interview? How’s your hair? What about your complexion? No matter your gender, give your face a critical look because interviewers sure will. Could you do with trimming those busy eyebrows, what about the hairs that might be peeking out of your ears or nose? Not the best image to present but in the privacy of your own home, you can do something about these before presenting yourself to the world. Maybe a little concealer or foundation – no matter your gender by the way, would smooth out some telling lines.

One thing you must do is understand and BELIEVE your age to be an asset or strength. If you don’t, you’ll actually say damaging things about yourself that point to your age as a liability. If you think you’re too young, you’ll say, “I know I don’t have much experience but…”. If you feel old, you’ll say, “Of course that was when computers were just coming out and …” Yikes!

If I may, wherever you are – young or old, get in sync with the general pros and cons of people your age – AS SEEN BY EMPLOYERS. Here’s a sampling:


Pros: energetic, healthy, eager and quick to learn, technically savvy, recently educated, mobile, vitality, no bad work habits from other employers, potentially long work period

Cons: lack of experience (work and life), less committed and loyal, underdeveloped work ethics, punctuality (especially early mornings), easily distracted (cell phones), childcare


Pros: life and work experience, problem-solving and negotiation skills, perspective, stable, committed, beyond childcare, responsible and punctual

Cons: set in ways, you graduated when?, failing health, fatigued easily, less invested, not into technology or social media, stubborn, retirement looming

Don’t get defensive if you don’t think that summary is fair of you personally; these are stereotypes of two groups as seen by some employers. They are what they are. Your job is to stress your positives and perhaps even address head-on how you don’t have the perceived liabilities of your peers.

The best way to deal with the issue of age however is to turn your age into a benefit to the employer. So for example, you walk through the office on the way to the interview room and from a glance around you notice every employee seems to be under 35. You realize you’re old enough to be their mother or father or worse, you could end up with the affectionate name of ‘Grandpa’ or ‘Grandma’ around the water cooler. Oh right, water coolers disappeared in the 90’s!

If things seem to be wrapping up too quickly and you feel somewhat dismissed because of your age, you worry that you this interviewer might see you as a poor fit, out-of-touch, etc. So it’s not really your age that’s a problem, it’s what that age represents to them. 

So go on the offensive without being offensive. Do the exact opposite of conventional advice and lay out your age. Explain that you noticed the general age of your potential co-workers would appear younger and you’ve recognized there’s an opportunity here for both you and the organization. Many customers prefer to be served by people of their own age; they feel better understood. While you can benefit from the help of your new co-workers in picking up technology, you offer in return your maturity, stability, life experience and this could help mentor younger and aspiring co-workers. Speak to your good health and downplay any negatives associated with your general age group.

In the end, you can only do your best to ensure you’re giving yourself the best possible shot at a job and you’re doing what you can to avoid being negatively viewed because of your age – young or old. If you can’t convince them of yourself as an asset, it might not even be your age that’s the issue. Don’t jump to age discrimination if you don’t meet the job requirements or just aren’t the chosen candidate as there’s a lot of good, qualified people out there.


A Success Story Shared

women s white and black button up collared shirt
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Carol wanted out. As a single mom with a couple of children however, she knew she had to get another job before quitting the one had.

She had the kind of boss who kept changing the rules on the fly, so she never knew from one day to the next if the things she did and how she went about doing them would be appreciated or not. In this small family run business, she’d get criticized daily over something or the other whether it was her fault or not, and when the boss would realize it was herself who had made an error, no apology ever passed her lips.

The last straw happened recently when suddenly the boss introduced a new employee; a new full-time, inexperienced family member employee no less. For the past 6 month’s Carol had been asking for and denied full-time hours because apparently they weren’t available to be had.

The first thing Carol did was ask a co-worker she trusted if he knew of someone who could help her find a better job. He understood her motives to move on and that’s how Carol and I got connected with one another. This co-worker just happens to be someone I’ve advised before.

I worked in partnership with Carol after having an initial get-to-know each other talk. She ended up with an updated and reformatted resume plus a cover letter for a position she identified as being local, full-time and better income. The day after she submitted it to the potential employer, she got a call setting up an interview.

Carol happily shared her success with me via email right away, and accepted an invitation to get together a second time to go over her interview skills. This second meeting was a 2 1/2 hour chat that covered a lot of territory. We looked at what an interview actually is versus what she perceived it to be for starters. By the time she’d left, she knew what to bring with her, how to dress for success, how to market herself to the specific needs of this employer, and most importantly how to predict and answer the questions.

The credit for her success is Carol’s alone. You see she got the job, beating out other candidates soundly and performed so strongly, she got hired on the same day she got interviewed. From an initial inquiry to getting hired took her about three weeks. This is a real story by the way, only her name is changed to protect her identity.

So what did she do right?

  1. She recognized the time had come to move on.
  2. She asked someone she trusted for a referral.
  3. She followed through on the referral and reached out for help.
  4. She identified potential jobs she was interested in.
  5. She presented as open and receptive to change.
  6. She learned how to craft a resume/cover letter targeted to a single job.
  7. She shared her success in landing an interview.
  8. She accepted an invitation to work on her interview skills.
  9. She presented a 2nd time as open and receptive to change.
  10. She let go of how she had done things in the past.
  11. She invested herself in improving her interview skills.
  12. She put what she learned into action.
  13. She shared her ultimate success.

As you can see from the above, Carol made many good decisions, each one building on the previous. At any point along the way, she might have made a different decision, such as passing up on the offer of interview help and going with how she interviewed in past situations. Whether it would have worked out had she done that to her complete satisfaction we’ll never know, but if you ask her, she’d say she was glad to have invested herself in this process. She not only learned what to do to get this job, she’s now got all the tools to apply herself in the future when the time comes to seek out yet another job.

What of you and your needs however. Have you been growing discontent with your present situation; either underemployed or out of work altogether? Maybe you know you need the very kind of help described here but you still haven’t taken that step to ask people around you that you trust for a referral. Or having done that, you’ve failed to reach out for help – not just to me personally of course, but perhaps to someone closer to where you live.

Depending on the job you’re after and your level of commitment in investing yourself in what may be a completely new way of doing things,  you might not have the rather quick success of Carol. You’ll benefit immensely nonetheless in improving your chances and ultimately realizing your career or employment goal. You’ll definitely make forward progress; and if you’re feeling like you’re just treading water and going nowhere, you know moving forward is exactly what’s needed.

By the way, Carol not only got another job, she landed a job moving up in seniority too. I just love success stories because behind every one is a real person, and to have played a small part in helping them achieve their goal is extremely gratifying and humbling. If you really think this story is just a pat on the back for me personally, you’ve missed the point of this piece entirely. The focus is where it belongs; the good decisions Carol made.

Who’s next?



A Better Job Search

photo of woman looking at the mirror
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Many who have been unemployed will tell you that it was one of the more difficult times in their lives. The prolonged job search, more lows than highs, mounting stress and the pervasive feeling of lower self-worth as you get rejected or even worse just plain ignored again and again. I empathize with all of you who have found the process mentally tough to go through; and yes, I speak from experience.

Take heart though, it need not be this way. Today I want to share some old and new ideas to help you get working faster. As you look at the ideas here, it’s likely you’ll find some you’re doing and some you haven’t thought of or are resistant to try. If you feel so inclined, add an idea or two of your own in the comments area. Hey, you can spare a few moments to help out another job seeker right? Great. Let’s begin.

  1. Diversify Your Day. Incorporate phone calls, face-to-face conversations, work on your on-line presence, research, apply for work, talk to your references and schedule some time to be physically active.
  2. Phone People. It’s ironic that people carry cell phones everywhere they go these days and yet when it comes to looking for work, they are so reluctant to actually call people. Use the phone to get the name of people to apply to, introduce yourself and showcase the energy of your voice to demonstrate your enthusiasm.
  3. Get Out. The last thing you want is for your castle to become your prison. Please don’t isolate yourself and in so doing, increase the anxiety you’ll feel at meeting people. Yes, you’re unemployed. This is but one part of the larger person you are. You’re value doesn’t change just because you’re out of work.
  4. Educate Your References. Send your updated resume to your references so that when they do get a call from an employer they can quickly put it in hand and talk better about you. If they come across someone who just might be hiring, they can share it with them without the delay of contacting you and getting you to contact the lead.
  5. Thank People. Gratitude is worth its weight in gold. Send a note of thanks to anyone who has helped or may help you along. Certainly include a note to your references, interviewers and if you’re working with them, possibly a job coach. When you thank people on a regular basis and in your daily life, it makes you realize just how grateful you can be for all the people who do things large and small that make your life just a little nicer.
  6. Target Your Resume. A unique resume IS mandatory for the jobs you apply to. Stop photocopying or running multiple prints of your resume to hand out. If you haven’t got this message in the past, it is likely one of the top reasons your job search is taking so long. You resume has to hit each of the qualifications employer’s list in their ads, not just a lot of them. Seems like more work but ironically, it’s not because you get more interviews, and they lead to job offers.
  7. Spruce Up. Ever heard sayings like, “Clothes make the man”, or “Dress for success”? Get a few outfits together that you feel good in and look good in. Don’t stop there though. Every time you walk out that door, tell yourself you might run into someone or be introduced to someone influential. If you’re used to wearing your pyjamas or sweat pants on the street, please stop. The one thing you always have control over is your appearance and the attention you take or don’t.
  8. Smile. Our faces communicate so much to others long before our mouths open to speak. Look friendly, approachable; even warm and inviting just by the look on your face. People like to work with, help and be around others who smile. It’s true.
  9. Know Yourself. Know your strengths, areas needing improving, why you are a good fit where you apply, your worth and HOW you’re going to benefit the companies you apply to work at. If you haven’t done a self-inventory of your skills, interests, liabilities, education, motivators etc., why not?
  10. Reach Out. Asking for help is a strength and everybody else is doing it; especially your competition. Get over your pride if it’s holding you back, have a piece of humble pie and get some professional advice and work through some job search barriers.
  11. Invest Yourself. Okay so you’re unemployed and have time on your hands. What are you doing with that time? Take an online course, go to night school or day school, get SMART SERVE, First Aid or Health and Safety training. Get a police check. The worst thing you can do is … nothing.
  12. Be Healthy. Go for a walk everyday, get the unhealthy snacks out of the house and stop buying them. Fruits, vegetables, smaller portions, ride the bike etc. You know this is all good for you and so do I for that matter. Why we don’t do a better job is beyond me but we should – start now.
  13. Stop The Excuses. Take some personal responsibility. It’s your life here and whatever happened in the past is – well – exactly that…in the past. Commit to a better future by doing more of the things now your future self will thank you for.