Understanding Teamwork


“Must be a team player.”

“Must be able to work independently and in teams.”

Some version of the above appears consistently in job posts these days. So much so in fact, that I’m getting kind of numb to reading over and over again in the resumes I start with a line that reads, “Can work independently or in teams.” I shudder just writing it there myself. Oh my goodness please don’t put this on your own resume and look exactly like 95% of all the other applicants you’re up against. B O R I N G !

Like any job requirement listed by an employer, it is imperative that you understand what the employer is asking for and why the position requires that particular skill set. When you understand the, ‘why’, you’ll find you suddenly have a much better grasp of their need, and so, when you include that skill or ability on your resume, you’ll do a much better job of presenting it, rather than just looking like you used copy and paste to get it on your page. How unimaginative!

I mean just think of the people on the receiving end, going over all those resumes they received. Imagine yourself in their shoes, and objectively ask yourself whether your own resume would stand out when yours, like most of them have the exact same words in that one line; “Work well independently or in teams”.

So what does it MEAN to work a team? Depending on the job, it could mean you listen to others, cooperate, share ideas, show flexibility, cover when co-workers are off, pitch in, collaborate, cooperate, support, encourage, engage, initiate, share resources, accommodate, etc. For a job involving teamwork you have to have excellent communication skills and sound interpersonal skills. Your team might be made up of people at your same level of seniority, but your team could also include interns, junior partners, senior management, front-line workers, administrative support staff. The folks on your team will not necessarily work in the same physical location if you think about it too. Could be they work in another department in the same building, on another floor, or across the city, in another province or state, or even on another continent.

Depending on the above, your teamwork might happen when you work face-to-face, over the phone, teleconferencing, face-timing over the internet, via email or fax, maybe even working collaboratively in a team with people you’ll only ever communicate with using a keyboard. Of course, for many of you reading this, your team will be comprised of your closest co-workers; the ones you physically engage with every day.

So first off, understand what the team looks like in the job you’re applying for. And there’s something not everyone thinks of when they do envision the type of team they’ll work with. Every team has a set of values, and it’s these values that they demonstrate as they go about their work. If you don’t know what the values are a team holds in high regard, it’s going to be hit and miss when you’re in an interview and trying to demonstrate what a great fit you are. If on the other hand you’ve done some advance work finding out what the team you’ll potential join holds dear, you can align yourself with that same set of values and you’ll then talk and act in such a way that it makes it easier for the employer to see you fitting in.

On the team I’m on for example, flexibility, creativity, and collaboration are values we hold. Anyone joining our team might show up at work and suddenly find that due to the absence of a co-worker on the team, their assigned role for the day is changing. That means in turn you’d have to be or learn quickly to be, flexible, adaptable to change. All the workshops we do involve working either alone or with a co-facilitator. Hence, collaboration and accepting the ideas of others is a job requirement. Positive interpersonal skills are essential because you’re not always in agreement with how a day will pan out, and when you’re making adjustments on the fly before an audience, they will be watching to see how you both interact with each other, consult and amend everything from switching the order of your lessons, shortening or lengthening a topic, adjusting break or lunch periods etc. And when the day is done and you’re tidying up, you need to work together to make adjustments, evaluate how things are progressing and turn to preparing for the next day.

Armed with all of that, it feels so inadequate to just say on my own resume, “Work well in teams.” How badly I would be marketing my abilities!

I might however say,

  •  Collaborate and work productively in team environments where flexibility, creativity, leadership and strong interpersonal skills are highly valued

Now I’m packing a lot more into the teamwork angle. I’ve included 4 traits that fit with what I’ve read or learned the employer values. Now imagine my every bullet was enhanced and strengthened in a similar way. Or rather, imagine YOUR resume was strengthened in a similar way.

What’s important to is to prove through your accomplishments which you document on the resume that you’ve actually had these collaborative team experiences. Just making an idle claim that you work well in teams isn’t good enough; it might not be true.

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Would You Remove Them From Class?


I’ll put my position right up front; never. Nope, I’ll never remove someone from any class I lead with one exception. (Drat! There’s always one exception; and if there’s one exception I can hardly say I’d never remove someone now can I?)

Seriously, the only time I’ll remove someone from a class I lead is when it is clearly in THEIR best interests. I’ve known a lot of people over the years who kick people out of their classes simply for their own personal benefit. Oh they may say it’s for the good of the other participants but in reality, well, we know better!

Now you might not agree with my position on refraining from removing people from a class for sporadic attendance as an example. Well, here’s how I see things. Perfect attendance is ideal; after all you can’t learn what you miss hearing, seeing and experiencing. When you’re in a class where success is achieved by building on what was learned the previous day, missing class is a huge barrier.  However, the way I see things, when referring to adult participants, treating them like adults means the accountability lies with them rather than me. In other words, they get out what they put in. I’m here, I’m sharing and instructing to those who show up, and if you come and go, you have to assume the responsibility for both what you learn and what you miss.

I know unemployed people have more than just the job hunt taking up their precious thoughts. I’ve met a vast number of people who earnestly want to get a job. All they can control however – and make note of this point – is what they can control. That sounds trite but my point is unemployed people never just have the lack of a job to focus on; no, not ever, and they may lack resources to solve problems too.

Right off the top, the lack of a job often means the person lacks an identity. Instead of saying, “I’m a Carpenter and I work for ________”, they can only say, “I’m a Carpenter by trade”, leaving out the shared identity with an employer. Coupled with this loss of identity as employed is a huge hit to self-esteem. Why after all do you think people hide their unemployed status from family and friends as long as they can? And when was the last time you asked someone what they do for a living and they responded with a confidently delivered, “Why I’m unemployed and in receipt of government financial assistance. Thank you for asking.” Yep; never.

So lack of status, self-esteem and obviously financial income. No job, no money. No money, mounting bills. Mounting bills, increased debt. Increased debt, poor credit score. Poor credit score, no job in some organizations. All of these lead to soaring stress, anxiety, confusion; a trip along the rollercoaster of applying for jobs with high hopes, crushing defeats of being ignored completely, rising hopes when interviewed, dashed dreams of success when rejected..

Now let’s add the stuff that isn’t shared by everyone. You know, the specific problems a person has. Here you can choose from dysfunctional families, homelessness, threats of eviction, physical ailments, concerns with being too young or too old to be taken seriously. Literacy issues, isolation, depression, single-parent status with no childcare, lack of appropriate clothing for interviews, transportation, gaps on the resume, lack of current education and/or expired licences and certificates. Take a breath. How about rent payments due, lost bus passes to agonize over, mislaid identification, court proceedings with the ex to discuss support payments and visitation access. Let’s round things out with the parents who fret and worry about you being so vulnerable and who keep saying you just need someone to take care of you; totally undermining your long held belief that you are independent, strong and quite able to take care of yourself.

Yes, so with all the above going on – or if not all the above then certainly a lot of the above going on with those looking for a job, it borders on cruelty to misread someone’s sporadic attendance as entirely their responsibility or fault and penalize them by removing them. All this accomplishes is adding another failure to their growing list of things to feel bad about.

So when someone doesn’t attend the way you’d like in your class, demonstrate empathy and allow them to continue. Don’t ask why they can’t commit because honestly, they may not be able to articulate all the reasons. As for the others in the class who do show up daily and do contribute and do their best to succeed, praise them for doing so.  You might tell them that you’re taking notice of their good behaviours and that their actions are all contributing to their future success. You might even go so far as to remind them that the stresses they are experiencing may be similar to what others are going through, only the others have fewer resources than they do to cope.

The gift you give your participants is a new perspective; empathy for their fellow classmates. You are suddenly not just teaching people about job hunting or career exploration etc., you’ve just added a life skill; a human element that came as an added bonus not mentioned in the promotional brochure that enticed them to attend.

Well done!

Giving 100% Might Still Not Be Enough


Has this happened to you? You’ve just sat down to eat and you reach for the salt and start shaking it only to find all you get is a few grains of salt. While you did get every last grain you could out of the container, it was still inadequate. So you got up and grabbed a second salt shaker and got the quantity you wanted.

Whenever a group of people come together to learn, you’ll find those in attendance have varying abilities to receive, comprehend, internalize and then use the new information in the way it was intended by whomever gave it to them. Just like that first salt shaker, one person might give it all they’ve got, but it’s clearly not enough to term their experience successful. Others in the group might be more like the second in that they don’t need to invest 100% of themselves to grasp the lesson; they’ve got so much more to give and aren’t taxed to their limits.

This is something that you should remind yourself if and when you find yourself instructing any group. It’s easy to misread someone in attendance and openly question their level of commitment, their self-investment and how bad they want to learn whatever they’ve signed up for. It could be that other things going on in their lives have robbed them of what they would have otherwise loved to pour into your instruction. Yet, the multiple things that are occurring around them outside of your own awareness has them distracted, consumed with worry. As a consequence, they find it difficult to process what you’re sharing and then demonstrate they have mastered the learning.

This is true whether we’re talking about children, teens or adult learners. The major difference experienced by those in these three groups is only the things they worry or stress about; but the experience of being distracted itself is shared. So you may see a child unable to focus or pay attention in elementary school and make the error of assuming they are a daydreamer or assume they just wont’ concentrate. A teenager might walk into a class and look sullen, withdrawn, unmotivated etc. but really they are fixated on something they are experiencing in an all-consuming way. As for an adult, it’s not hard to now understand that while a person might tell us they are committed 100% to learning, what we might observe is skipped classes to work on solving outside issues that they feel take priority.

I suppose then it’s ourselves we have to look at when at the start of a class we tell the those before us to give 100% of their focus to the materials. While we assume our meaning is clear and direct, upon reflection, we might be failing to lay out what’s required in order for each person to ultimately be successful. Why? Life gets in the way is how I put it.

Let me use my own experience this week and last as an example. I started with the expectation I’d have 12 unemployed people and over the course of two weeks I’d share with them much of what it takes to successfully land a job. Cover letters and resumes, interview preparation and job applications, all crammed heavily into 10 consecutive days of 9:00a.m. sharp to 2:30 p.m. Before being accepted into the class, I spoke individually with each of the 12, going over their expectations and mine; specifically asking them if they were prepared to commit to these days and times. All 12 told me what I wanted to hear and accepted the invitation.

What I’ve observed is not all 12 have the capacity to keep to that commitment. It’s not that they are lazy, combative or don’t want to get the most out of time together; it’s that not all 12 are actually capable of being present for the 12 days. So what’s got in the way? Life. What does Life look like? It’s mental fatigue, mental illness, a threat of eviction, a bad decision to stay home and await a phone call with a job offer when they could have attended with their cell phone in hand. For some, it’s the trigger of something raised in class that’s brought back a haunting memory from the past of failure, shame and the need to, ‘take a day or two to work things out’.

What we can’t tell just from looking at someone, is how much they’ve got inside themselves to give. If I could line the 12 up and see them like 12 salt shakers, I could easily see how much they each have to start with, and I could also see how close they are to emptying everything they’ve got. The expectation I have for how much they need to invest in the first place to succeed and perhaps their own ability to accurately self-assess themselves may be unrealistic.

Maybe I should get a few salt shakers of various quantities and sizes and illustrate this point to the group. Perhaps it might save someone from feeling bad about not meeting my expectations or those of the course. Hey, when you give it all you have, it doesn’t matter how much is expected of you, you’ve emptied the tank. Demanding more of someone who has nothing less to give is unrealistic and does them a disservice as they are set up to fail.

Hmm… maybe this would be a good read for anyone who helps people.

Why Would I Want A Mock Interview?


I can just imagine many of you reading today’s blog about the benefits of a mock interview. You of whom I envision are thinking to yourselves, “I don’t like interviews, they’re so stressful! So why, when I don’t like them in the first place, would I voluntarily want to do more interviews? Especially when they aren’t even real! No thanks; interviews are painful, nerve-wracking and overall a negative experience to be avoided as much a possible. So a mock interview? No thank you!”

That’s a pretty strong reaction, but for many I’ve met over the years, it accurately sums up their feelings. They see choosing to ask for a mock interview like asking to have a root canal when there’s no need for one – just to be ready for the real thing if/when needed. Yep, a big NO.

The unfortunate reality of those who avoid the mock or practice interview is this: without practice, there’s no opportunity to get feedback and improve on their performance, so the outcome is performing poorly in the real thing. Poor interview performance of course leads to one thing; an unsuccessful outcome and having therefore to apply for more jobs and go to more interviews. Yet somehow, it seems preferable to some people to avoid all the research, practice, feedback, adjustments to delivery and just wing it. Not to sound trite but I ask you, “How’s that working out?”

Now there’s three possible outcomes you can arrive at when you typically go about interviewing by just winging it.

  • You succeed and get a job offer
  • You fail and keep on going about things the same way
  • You fail and decide to get help and improve your odds of success

It’s that first one; that belief that despite the odds, you could succeed without ever having to go through practice interviews, that keeps people from seeking out help. It’s very much like a lottery; the odds are heavily stacked against you succeeding if you interview poorly, but there is that slim chance of success and you’ll hang on to that if it means avoiding practice interviewing. The irony is that the people who avoid mock interviews are typically the ones who could benefit the most.

So what goes on in a mock interview? Let me just say to be clear here, I’m not talking about a couple of questions you give your partner or close friend to ask here. The problem with these willing and well-intentioned people taking you through the mock interview is their reluctance to point out areas to improve because of your potential negative and volatile reaction to their feedback. And if we’re honest, you’re likely to dismiss what you don’t want to hear anyhow and tell them they don’t know what they are talking about because they aren’t an expert!

If the mock interview with friends or family works for you however, great. It’s a start and who knows, they might just observe and hit on some things that turn the experience around, helping you land that job offer. If so, well done everyone!

However, if you really want to maximize your odds of success, it’s good advice to seek out the support and feedback from a professional. Employment Coaches, Employment Counsellors and others who provide job search coaching are the people you’re after here. Many of these people can be contracted with at no charge through community social service organizations. If you’ve got the desire and the funds, you can also contract with a professional privately too.

Now, some of you I’m sure are raising the argument that if you’re out of work already and funds are tight, why on earth would you lay out your money and pay someone to put you through the mock interview? The answer of course is one you instinctively know already; if it increases your odds of success and getting offered a job, that’s money well spent. But I don’t want to appear to be just writing an ad for buying services people like me provide.

So what would a mock interview look like? Well, depending on the person you’re getting help from, it could look like this:

You meet and discuss how you’ve prepared in the past. Maybe a couple of questions get tossed out just to determine what you’ve been saying to date. From these, a baseline is established. An Employment Counsellor / Job Coach will provide feedback on:

  •  First Impressions (Clothing, Body Language, Handshake, Hygiene, Posture, Tone of   Voice, Eye Contact)
  •  Answers (Quality, Length, Sticking To A Format Or Winging It, Are You Answering The Questions? Using Examples?)
  •  Suggestions For Improvement (Some Quick Improvements and Some Longer To Master)
  •  Final Impressions (Ideas On How To Wrap Up The Interview On A Positive)

Now of course this doesn’t include how to prepare for and follow up on your interviews; both of which are extremely important and both of which you’d get a lot of help with from a professional.

Interviewing methods evolve over time and how you may have succeeded in the past could no longer be working. I suppose the real question here is whether or not you are performing well enough in your job interviews to land job offers. If you’re getting a high percentage of interviews for those you apply to, and if those same interviews are resulting in job offers, you don’t need help.

If on the other hand, you seldom get interviews at all, and the ones you do get don’t result in job offers, do yourself a favour and think seriously about getting help – and that includes mock interviews and feedback.

 

 

 

 

“I Wish We’d Met Years Ago”


Once again, I find myself in the fortunate position of working in partnership with a small group of unemployed people for a couple of weeks. We are collectively putting in the necessary effort composing cover letters, crafting targeted resumes, preparing for upcoming and anticipated job interviews; all with the expectation – rather than just the hope of -imminent employment.

One gentleman only yesterday revealed to me that just a week before we’d started, he’d actually received a job offer. Him being 62 years old, I was understandably curious why he’d turned it down and not informed me that he’d accepted the job offer and withdrawn his participation in my job search group. Well apparently one of my colleagues had done such a good job marketing my program and me in particular, that he felt he’d get much further ahead in the long run by choosing to participate rather than accepting that job.

He then went on to say several times in the one hour 1:1 meeting we were having that he was learning so much in the short time we’d been together already and while grateful for having met me, he wished he’d met me years ago, as it would have been so helpful and saved him years of going without much success.

Now I share his comments with you for a few reasons; one of which is NOT to boast about how great I am. No, because if you stop reading and only believe the thrust of my blog today is to toot my own horn, you’re missing the points I’m going to make.

First of all; and the most important take away message here which I want you to understand, is that the gentleman only now understands the benefits of collaborating with an expert in the job search field because he’s working with one. Prior to doing so, he’d assumed that there wasn’t a great deal he would learn that he didn’t already know. It’s not that he’s arrogant and believes he’s above receiving help. No, actually he’d already sought out the advice of another professional in another community agency and thought he actually had a pretty good resume because they told him it was so. He however hadn’t really thought it all that great because it hadn’t generated the results he’d wanted. As for my thoughts on resume? It was the fact he had 1978 screaming on his resume that was a huge red flag for me. I mean why not go all the way and include his home address at the local historical museum if you’re going to market him as a fossilized dinosaur!

Like any profession, the field of Employment Counsellors and Coaches is made up of people, some of whom are extremely up on best practices, current trends and those who only believe they are. Unfortunately, my 62 year old job seeking participant met with one of the latter it appears. It’s not that their work was horrendous, it’s just the way they went about helping him really didn’t market him in the best possible way to employer’s; in fact just before meeting me, I’d learned from a colleague that his application was quickly rejected solely because of the 1978 job on his resume. It conjured up an image of the man being in questionable physical health, lacking the stamina for the requirements of the job and no doubt drawing heavily on health benefits and needing a great deal of time off. How unfortunate!

Okay, so he regrets not having met me years ago. Well, the past is called the past for a reason; there’s nothing that can be done to change that. There’s a saying that goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.” He’s here now, so make the most of it – and he is.

For you my reader, do more than just read HIS story and miss the most important point for you personally. If you’re looking for a job, trying to get your career on track, feeling confused and anxious about even what direction to move ahead in as you wonder aloud, “What should I be?”, don’t waste more time without engaging the services of someone (and no not necessarily me), who can and will provide you with some much needed support and guidance. Now, not everyone immediately finds someone with whom they have an instant chemistry and moves forward with. You might have to introduce yourself to a few professionals before you click with the one person who is going to boost your confidence and who helps generate the results you’ve got in mind. Don’t use this as a reason to stop looking.

I felt immensely grateful I must say when he said more than once, “Everything you’re suggesting just makes so much sense to me, and I understand it.” Again, far from self-congratulatory, I share this with you because I’m happy he’s becoming empowered; learning to do for himself what in the past, he’d relied on others to do for him. And what this has translated into is a man I see as invigorated, enlightened, enthusiastic and yes, empowered. I feel the change in him and it’s even manifested in the way he walks with more purpose, the smile that’s appeared more often on his face and the better posture with which he sits and stands. There’s a transformation underway and he’s suddenly so much more ’employable!’

What Don’t You Like About Your Job?


The majority of people, I believe, would say there are pros and cons to the job they hold. While we all want jobs that bring us fulfillment, happiness and positives, here today, I want to explore the not-so-good things about the work we do.

First off, I think it’s fair to say that when the negatives in a job build up to the point where they outnumber the good, it’s definitely time to strongly consider looking for a change. Well, honestly, if it were me, I’d have started to look for a change long before I let the negatives grow to such a point where they outweighed the negative. But that’s me.

Now the negatives in a job generally fall into two categories; things we can change and things over which we have no control. Take a job where you’re working outside in all weather conditions and you have no control over the rise or drop in temperatures, you can’t control hail, rain, sleet or blazing sun, but you can of course control what you wear in such conditions to mitigate the impact of the weather on you., Then there’s the length of time you may be exposed to such conditions, and in some situations and depending on the importance of the work or whether there are deadlines to be met or not, you might not even be compelled to work until conditions improve.

For many, it’s the people that we come into contact with each day that either make or break our jobs. Work for a supportive and encouraging supervisor and you might express your thanks by willingly putting in extra effort as you go about things. On the other hand, when there’s friction between you and the boss, that heightened negative stress may be so severe you get to the point where you realize your mental and physical health aren’t worth risking any further, and you walk away.

Here’s something to think about which you may or may not have already realized; the things that you find frustrating as you go about your day may actually be the things that keep you growing, improving and keep you stimulated. Huh? How can that be? And if this is how you grow and improve yourself, maybe you’d rather not!

Ah but it’s true. Sometimes we can coast along in our jobs, doing what we’ve always done and doing them well. We don’t stretch ourselves, we’re stable and reliable. What we do is what we’ve always done and others around us have come to see us as trustworthy, capable, competent and someone they can rely on. That sounds good right? Yes, of course it does.

But then adversity hits. Something or rather some things, come along and cause a wrinkle in how we go about our job. New technology, a new policy, some additional training we’re required to undergo, some personal health concern that impacts on our stamina, or anything which puts our performance in jeopardy. Yes, it could also be a change in your supervisor, new expectations, a shake up to the team, relocation or a move by your competition that changes how you’ll go about things moving forward if you’re to survive and thrive.

It is these things with which we can become frustrated. It begins to feel like we have to invest energy coping with whatever this new annoyance is; energy that we’d rather pour into the work we’ve done, doing it the way it’s been successful for us in the past. If and when whatever is causing this frustration is confined to us alone, we might also start to worry what others might think of us; will they question our abilities to adapt and succeed? It’s different for sure when frustrations are shared by others; as in an entire organization having to overhaul and redefine their place in the market.

The key is to identify correctly what your source of frustration is and secondly identify what you might do as options to work through things and get past these frustrating days. When you’ve identified possible solutions to implement, you move to action; actually putting into place one or more of the ideas you’ve brainstormed. If your actions reduce or eliminate what you find frustrating, you carry on. If on the other hand, the frustration remains or has escalated, you go back to the ideas you brainstormed and implement another. And don’t underestimate the value of sharing what your source of frustration is with others. You might find your solution is one that has worked for others and they are only too happy to share it with you.

You may end up stronger and have added a new skill to your repertoire as you look back on the frustration of the past when it’s behind you. And if there’s truly nothing you can do to eliminate this frustration that’s affecting your health and happiness, walking away is often not a sign of your failure, but rather your intelligence in preserving your dignity, self-respect, future happiness and good health. The wisdom in knowing how much to invest as you combat your work frustrations, and when it’s time to remove yourself from the situation altogether is what it’s all about.

Go ahead then. It’s good to share! What are you finding frustrating at the moment? Or if you’d rather, what did you use to find frustrating and how did you move past it?

The Benefits Of Having Had Many Jobs


I see a lot of resumes; it comes with the job as have as an Employment Counsellor. In addition to the resumes I’m privileged to see, I listen to more people as they talk about their work history. Some have long careers working for a single employer while others have an abundance of shorter term jobs, seemingly changing from one to another every couple of years.

It’s of interest to me that most of the time, those who have spent much of their life in a job, two at the most – tend to be proud of their long tenures. I can hear it in their voice when they talk about their work, and that pride increases if the reason they are no longer working for a company was beyond both their control and the control of people around them such as their boss. If they lost their employment because of a decision far up the chain of command to down-size or relocate, the now unemployed person still feels good about their longevity and all it implies about their work ethic.

On the other hand, those who have worked in many jobs where each was for a relatively short duration don’t come across as confident and proud. Most often, when they talk about their work history, they apologize flat-out for having such a seemingly bad-looking resume. Their resume they fear looks like they can’t hold down a job as they move quickly from one to another. In short, they get defensive.

If your own resume has quite a few jobs on it and they are for only a few years at most and many much less than that, let me give you some positive ways to look at it. Why? Simple really. How you perceive your work history will be communicated to those you talk with it about, and if some of those you talk to are potential employers, you want to come across in a positive way, not presenting yourself as a short-term liability, hired only to be replaced in short order.

The most obvious benefit of having held many jobs is that numerous employers have had the confidence to hire you. Never forget this. This fact should confirm in your mind that you perform well enough in those interviews to sell your abilities and potential value to more than just a few employers. Where some job seekers would love for just a single employer to hire them, you’ve got the evidence that several employer’s see benefits in bringing you onboard.

The best thing about having worked in many jobs, especially when those jobs have been in different lines of work altogether, is the fact that you have diversified experience. In other words, it is exactly because your work history crosses many fields that you’ve got both the experience and an appreciation for what it’s like to work in those various employment sectors. This isn’t a liability but rather a strength. Of course, if you believe it to be a bad thing, you’ll send this message to everyone you talk to and they’ll be inclined to see it the way you see it. Ah but the opposite is also true! See this history of various jobs in different sectors as your strength and those you tell will consider this perspective and believe it the more you sell it.

Suppose you’ve worked in the fast-food industry as a Cook for a couple of years. From there, you moved to being a Sales Associate in a mall, then after chatting over time with the Security Guard, you went and got your licence and did that job for two years. To increase your earnings, you quit and took on a job in a food warehouse and just shy of a year you left the job to work as a Landscaper with a friend.  So you’ve held 5 positions over 6 or 7 years. How do you view that? Can’t keep a job? Lack of direction? Not likely to stay in any job? Drifting and a poor bet to hang around long if/when hired again? See it that way, you’ll sell it that way.

But what if as I say we spun that around? You’ve worked as a Cook in the Hospitality Sector, Sales Representative in Retail, a Guard in Security, Labourer in a Warehouse and Landscaper in the Property Beautification sector. Suppose you pitched this summary as having gone out with the goal of gaining experiences; intentionally working in various sectors to gain an appreciation for various lines of work; discovering not only what the jobs entailed, but discovering more about yourself as you determined your preferences and things you wished to avoid. This accumulated work history has provided you with a way to connect with people in various lines of work, and having acquired this skill, now you’re focused on making a commitment to a longer-term position. One where your well-developed people skills and accumulated experiences working in teams, and of course your resiliency and ability to reinvent yourself will contribute to your success.

Read that paragraph again; maybe twice more. When you turn how you see your work history into a strength, you suddenly feel a confidence in defending your career journey. It can then translate into a benefit for a potential employer as they size you up.

Many jobs have one thing in common; interacting with people. Your diverse experience is suddenly an asset.