Control What You Can; Namely Yourself


I suspect that you have had times in your work life where things were going on around you that you had very little if any control over. Perhaps the company you worked for was experiencing a hostile takeover, some new software program was being rolled out that you didn’t see the need for or your job itself was being made redundant and you were being reassigned to another department. Things as I say you had no input into or could not stop from happening.

Now while the above represent some pretty strong changes, your own experience might be something such as being told your shifting from one desk to another; from that spot with a window to the outside world to a cubicle in the middle of the floor where no natural light penetrates.

Whenever these kind of situations present themselves, many people have an immediate urge to push back, resist the change and fight it with all the energy they have.  Like an animal being backed into a corner, this is when some people are at their most dangerous. Employees who quietly go about doing their jobs suddenly become vocal opponents, charged with energy and committed utterly to maintaining things as they are.

What’s at the heart of things for many people is the perception that the changes around them are being done to them.  They haven’t been in on the discussions that went on in the background and so when the announcement is made announcing changes, it comes as a shock. So much so that their shock is manifested through questions like, “Why weren’t we consulted?” “Is there anything I can do – we can do – to fight this change?”

Most of the time, the energy put into resisting change would be better applied to getting on board with the change. In fact, the faster you accept the news – whatever it is – and adapt to the changes big or small, the healthier it will be for your mental state of being. I admit though, for many its a hard thing to do. I mean it’s one thing to know on an intellectual basis that change is inevitable and quite another thing to experience it on an emotional level and react calmly and be accepting of change right away. For some people it takes a great deal of time to accept and adjust to new changes, especially if they are sweeping.

It may be that people who have experienced a lot of change in their personal and professional lives adjust to new changes faster and better than others. So yes, perhaps if your family moved many times growing up, you find it easier to adjust to changes in being moved from one desk to another or one department to another than say, a co-worker who has a long history of staying in one place. Likely too, if you find the new place has a positive in it, such as being closer to the lunchroom or further away from someone you don’t work that well with personally, you can find reasons to ease the transition.

The one thing you and I always have complete control over when it comes to dealing with changes is our reaction to those changes. Make no mistake, it’s control and the clear loss of it that most often causes the emotional disruption. “Don’t I have a say in things?” Doesn’t my view have any importance?” These are the kind of expressed feelings that display a lack of control; no one consulted us and asked us about the pending impact the changes would have on us.

The best time to think about how we will react to any news of sweeping changes is when changes are not occurring; when things are fairly normal. This is when we can rationally think about how we’d respond, how we’d react in some hypothetical situation. Like planning for some disaster at work and putting into place our emergency response procedures on a dry run, it’s all about preparing for shocking news and knowing how to best gain a measure of control in what might be otherwise a debilitating situation. Control what we can and gain some traction.

One of the most immediate things we can do is consciously let new information sink in when we hear it without reacting. Make sure what we think we hear is what was actually said. Hearing the news – whether it’s covering for a workers unexpected absence for the day or relocating to the other side of the office permanently, making sure we received the news accurately is essential.

Secondly, we have to decide if the news is huge or small, and be aware of not over reacting. We’re being pulled for the day and covering someone’s workload, it wasn’t expected when we walked into work first thing but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small disruption. The faster we accept the change and put energy into complying, the better for all concerned.

Big news and big changes understandably cause more disruption. However, the same principle applies. The sooner we accept the news and keep or regain our composure and control the better; we’ll be better equipped to respond appropriately and get on with things.

If you want to learn to adapt better for your own mental health, start with a conscious pause when you hear news affecting your work.

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Job Interview First Impressions


In my experience as an Employment Counsellor, I’ve come to note that those who make good, positive first impressions don’t mind for a minute accepting that other people form opinions of them spanning the first 30 seconds to a minute when they meet. Equally, those who tend to make poor first impressions feel that its entirely unfair that others judge them in such a short time. Well, honestly, whether you like or dislike it when others form first impressions in such short timelines, the reality is, that’s…well…reality.

It’s not just employers and interviewers that form these quick first impressions, and quite frankly, as a species, humans have done it for centuries. It’s survival 101 you know; this innate ability we have to quickly take in whatever sensory information that’s available to us and then in mere seconds, assimilate all that data and form an immediate impression that then guides if or how we interact with others.

Walking on a sidewalk we look ahead and see a stranger approaching us. Based on extremely limited information, we might continue on with a smile and nod as we pass, or we might see a swagger in their walk, a scowl on their face, see their eyes set on us and with all this we choose to duck into a store or cross the street. We judged the situation to be uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worse, and best to be safe and not sorry. Were our actions justified?

Similarly in a subway if every time we look up we notice a person looking at us with a smile and fleeting eyes that look away and we see them bite their lips, we might interpret this as a shy, embarrassed, “you caught me looking at you, and I’d like to meet you but I’m too shy to start a conversation” look. Maybe we’re right and maybe we’re not; maybe we introduce ourselves on the off-chance they are interested in us, or maybe we bury our heads in a book because we might be wrong.

It’s in these everyday interactions with others that we form impressions of others while they of course are doing the same thing with respect to us. The data we take in might include someone’s choice of clothing, it’s cleanliness, their grooming, body odour or fragrance/cologne, their height, weight, shape, health of their teeth, colour of their eyes, posture etc. All in mere seconds mind you – our brains process all this data and we form opinions from which we judge them to be safe to approach, intimidating and to be avoided, etc.

In a job interview situation, take heart! For starters, always remember that this first meeting you’re about to have with some company representative is one you know is going to happen. In fact, you’ve got the time and place as two knowns, so it’s not going to catch you off guard. If you ask the right questions when offered the interview, you also know how many will be interviewing you, their names and their titles. This information can be of comfort, especially if you use social media to look them up and get a visual on their appearance and read their bios in advance of meeting them face-to-face.

You have the further advantage of choosing your outfit for this first encounter, deciding which clothing will be likely to make the best impression on them; be it formal, business casual, etc. The things in your control continue as you can make sure your hair is clean and brushed, your deodorant working, your teeth brushed and a swig of mouthwash will ensure any lingering offensive smells are absent. You can shine your shoes, choose your accessories with care as well.

In addition, when you arrive is in your control. Sure you might run into unexpected delays – that’s why their called unexpected! – but, you can almost guarantee your arrival time will be appreciated by leaving early and planning your route. A dry run on another day will likely give you a good measure of the time you’ll need.

Whether you bow, shake hands or not, smile or not, maintain eye contact or not when actually meeting during the first 2 seconds; again in your control. Even the way you sit or pace back and forth in reception, your posture as you wait and then your body language as you get up to introduce yourself to the interviewer(s); all this within your control and therefore up to you to choose how you wish to act.

These first few seconds are critical as those you meet form first impressions of you just as you are of them. The thing is though that you might be feeling so much pressure on yourself to do well and get a job offer that in the moment you aren’t thinking a great deal about them – being so worried about yourself and what you’re communicating.

Positive or negative, that first impression is the initial point from which all further interaction either reinforces or works to change one’s first impression. The more you put some effort into ensuring the first two minutes shows you as you’d like, the more you can feel confident done your best to get off on a good note. A poor start and you’ll feel the pressure to alter their view of you.

First impressions; vitally important and worth paying attention to. Oh and on the subway? Just go up and introduce yourself!

No Job Interviews? Here’s Your Problem


So the assumption here is that you’re applying for jobs and you’re not getting anywhere; no interviews. Without being invited to the job interview, you’re not getting offers, and so you feel increasingly frustrated and discouraged. It would seem to make no sense at all to just keep on plugging away doing the same thing and expecting different results. To see a change in things – the result being you land interviews and do well enough to get offered a job – you’re going to need a change in how you go about things.

If you don’t like the idea of doing things differently from what you’re doing now, stop reading. So we’re clear here, a change in things means putting in the work to get the outcome you’re after. Hence, if you’re not ready to put in that effort, again, stop reading here.

To begin with, you need an independent and objective look at how you’re going about applying for jobs. If you’re mass producing a single resume and submitting it to all the jobs you apply to, the good news is we’ve quickly discovered one major thing you need to change. That was how you applied for jobs back in the 90’s when there were more jobs and fewer people to compete with for them. Today you need a résumé that differs each and every time you submit it. No more photocopying; no more mass printings.

As I’ve said time and time again, employers are generous enough to give away most if not all the job requirements in the job postings you’ll find these days. Any résumé they receive and check must therefore clearly communicate that the applicant has the qualifications, experience and soft skills they are looking for. It’s no mystery; a targeted resume (one that is made specifically for the single job you are applying to and never duplicated for another) will advance your chances.

Now are you writing a cover letter? This is something you’ll get differing perspectives on from Employment Coaches, Recruiters, Company Executives and Employment Counsellors. Some will say you should include them while others say the cover letter is dead. Unless the employer specifically asks you NOT to include one, my vote goes with including one. Why? The cover letter sets up the résumé, shows your ability to communicate effectively, tells the reader both why you are interested in the job with the organization, what you’ll bring, how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity and why you’re uniquely qualified.

Whether or not you go with the cover letter, please make sure you get your résumé and / or cover letter proofread by someone who has the skills to pick out improper spelling and poor grammar. Also, even if the grammar and spelling are correct, it might not be communicating what you really want to say. Unfortunately then, it could be doing you more harm than good; especially when applying for employment in positions where you’d be creating correspondence yourself, such as an Office Administrative professional.

Once you have applied for employment, what else – if anything – are you doing to stand out from the other applicants you’re up against? If your answer is nothing; that you wait by the phone for them to call if they are interested in you, well then you’ve just identified another area you need to up your game. Following through with employers indicates a sincere personal motivation to land that interview. After the interview, further follow-up is advised to again separate yourself from those who do nothing. In other words, how bad do you want it?

Recently, someone I know applied for a job and then took the steps of actually job shadowing someone in the role with a different organization so they could gain first-hand experience themselves. While this is a great idea, they failed to communicate this to the employer they were actually hoping to work for. So this initiative went unknown, as did their sincere interest in landing the job. In short, they just looked like every other applicant; applying and then sitting at home waiting.

Look, there are a lot of people who will claim to be resume experts, cover letter writers extraordinaire and so it’s difficult for the average person to know the real professionals from the pretenders. Just because someone works with a reputable organization doesn’t make them immediately credible. Some pros charge for their investment of time working on your behalf while others offer their services free of charge as their paid via the organizations they work for. You don’t always get what you pay for as I’ve seen some $500 resumes that had spelling errors and layout issues that won’t pass software designed to edit them out of the process.

Do your homework. More important than anyone you might enlist to help you out is the effort you yourself are ready to invest. If you’re happy to pay someone to do your résumé and you don’t have an interest in sitting down with them to give advice yourself and learn from the process, don’t be surprised if you still don’t get the results you want. Should you actually get an interview, with no time invested in learning how to best interview, you’ll likely fall short of actually getting the offer.

Applying for employment today takes time and effort, but the payoff is the job you want. Make the effort; put in the work.

Thinking Career Change?


Are you considering a major change in the kind of work you do? That’s a good thing, whether you end up continuing to do what you’ve done for some time or yes, you do indeed choose to venture off in a new direction. The process of evaluating where you are and where you’d like to be, what you’d like to do is healthy.

Resist the urge to put down your feelings and musings about a new line of work or career change as a sign something is wrong. Acknowledging these feelings and doing some exploring of what you’re feeling and where these feelings are coming from can be quite illuminating.

Typically, thoughts about a career move go through stages where we become aware of our feelings, then we might share these with a significant person or partner and then move to share with the rest of our immediate and extended family, friends, co-workers and employer that we’re moving on. That is of course if we make that decision to move on at all. If after some time of reflection we choose to continue in what we’re doing, then it’s possible that we share our musings with no one whatsoever. The key here is to realize that mulling over a big career move can be a very private experience; we have full control over who knows what’s going on in our thoughts.

There are a many reasons we might consider a drastic career move. Boredom, needing a new challenge, health concerns, being burned out, declining performance, aging, taking early retirement, a company buyout, relocating to another area, a lifestyle change are just some reasons that could prompt these thoughts.

“What could I do that would make use of my skills and that I’d enjoy doing?” Some version of this question is what you may be thinking yourself. Given where you live and where you are in your life, you might also entertain the notion of a return to school to stimulate your brain, acquire some new knowledge or hands-on skills which could take you in a completely different line of work. You may not even mind starting in an entry-level job in a new line of work and be quite content to do so, having no interest in moving up to greater responsibilities; something you might have felt you needed to do 20 or 25 years ago.

So the clock is ticking, days and month’s are rolling past and you’re looking ahead at Life with a capital ‘L’. What do I want to do with the remaining time I’ve got with respect to my work life? We’re not talking your time beyond complete retirement. We live with the assumption and belief we’ll have some time of an undetermined length beyond the day we retire. So we’re looking at the time between where you are now and say, 65 or 68 perhaps as a ballpark figure. How many years is this in your case?

Depending on the number you have after answering that question, you might have a few or many years. You might only have time for one career move or have several years meaning you could have a few career moves left to ponder.

Sometimes what’s needed isn’t a change in career at all, but rather, a change in employer. A fresh start bringing your accumulated skills, experience and education to a new employer. The attraction might be a start-up, where you’re highly valued and your leadership and expertise is drawn on for guidance in some early period where the company is set on just establishing a reputation. Or conversely, a big organization is undergoing a thorough clear-cut; moving in a whole new direction, and the attraction to get on board is exciting. Another scenario is a big organization provides some stability and job security which appeals to you over the stress you feel in the fledgling organization you’re with now. There are so many possible scenarios!

Your financial security – or lack of it – also plays a big part in what you can afford to do or not do. We should also acknowledge some people are risk-takers and gamblers and others less so, hence it’s vital you have a clear and accurate picture of your financial status and know the risks you may be entertaining in making a move. Then again, what might you risk with your mental health by sticking with the status quo?

Some questions to ponder then…

Am I doing work that I find meaning in and is this important to me or not?

Am I secure in exploring other options, including reinventing myself?

Who other than myself, might my final decision to change careers impact?

What is the status of my financial health?

How comfortable am I dealing with uncertainty? For a move seldom if ever comes with guarantees of success.

Do I need to take time off my current job to explore these thoughts or am I able to give them their due while continuing in my present line of work?

What are my commitments ie. mortgage, children, spouse, credit repayments, loans etc. and what weight do I give these things in arriving at some decision?

Of course there are other questions to pose and you’re welcome to throw in some of your own to the comment section below. If you’ve been through or are going through this process now, I urge you to share some of your thoughts.

Leaving Your Mark In The Workplace


Eventually we all leave the employer we’re working with now, be it retiring, quitting outright, taking a leave of absence that turns into moving on, getting laid off or yes, even terminated. What if anything, will you leave behind that would mark your contribution?

I suppose one key question is whether or not leaving behind anything of a lasting nature is even important to you. It’s kind of like when you and I – all of us – pass away in life really. Well it is isn’t it? I mean, do we want to leave behind some sign of our passing? The big difference here is that we’re not actually dead and so yes, we can look around us while we’re still in our workplace and point to things we’ve had a hand in creating. Conversely, we can just walk away, never look back and not give it a moment’s thought.

Consider though the number of hours, days, weeks, months and years you give to an organization. When it all adds up, you’ve invested a great deal of your life sitting at that desk, standing on that line, traveling in that vehicle etc. You’ll have a lot of mixed memories no doubt when you move on, perhaps all the way from great ones to ones you’d rather forget. Those memories are important not just now but in the years to come because they mark the time you put in and they’ve had a hand in shaping who you are.

Not unlike the impact the experiences have in shaping you, your time in an organization contributes to it. Maybe you’ve affected a policy or procedural change. Perhaps you mentored some others who in turn went about their business differently because of your influence. Perchance there are things you’ve created like manuals, filing systems, software designs, physical spaces, programs etc.

Here’s something to think about. If you were to go back now and visit the places where you put in time in your past, what would you find? Depending on how large the organizations are that you worked for and how long ago we’re talking, they may or may not even remember you. Maybe your co-workers and the management of the day have all moved on themselves. No one even recalls your name. It’s different I suppose if your name adorns some oil painting in a hall of founders.

So how would it make you feel to go back and discover its as if all your years working for an organization never even occurred? That no one remembers you? If you couldn’t point to a single thing you’ve done that had any lasting impact, would you care? I’m not suggesting you should of course, but it’s an interesting thing to contemplate. Again, you may or may not be concerned one way or the other; comfortable in the knowledge that you contributed while there and the only lasting memories you want could be the day you walked out the door.

Still, you were there for a chunk of time weren’t you? Yes when you add up the time you worked for this place and that place and oh yes, that place too, you’ve put in a significant amount of energy. Hopefully those places appreciated your contributions. Then again perhaps the organizations themselves have ceased to even exist; they went under, relocated, disbanded or dissolved. No wondering then if you’re remembered!

Maybe – just perhaps – the real key then for some of us is not to put much energy and time into making a mark on an organization; the physical bricks and mortar. Maybe the real key for at least some of us is to make our mark on the people we worked with. While they too will eventually pass and move on, if we influence others by the way we work, the things we say, the actions we take, the training and advice we pass on, maybe what happens is they are shaped by us in part no matter where they go. So it’s not a physical building, a policy manual or a plaque on a wall that we seek to leave behind to mark our time, but rather the interaction we had with those we worked with.

So, can you look around where you work now and honestly see any influence you’ve had on others? What of yourself? Can you see how what you do  is because someone in your past or present passed on something to you? Maybe you work smarter, act kinder, put in more effort, smile more etc. because somebody you admire passed on something that affected you.

Here’s the thing reader. Unlike when we die, you’re still alive and have the time if you choose, to make your mark. Whether you use the time you’ve got to positively or negatively impact on others, your workplace itself or not, you’ve got the luxury of having the choice. You can therefore choose to consciously contribute to your workplace in such a way that you do make your mark, or you can opt just to do the minimum, take your pay and move on.

Where you work now, I bet you can think of at least a few people who have retired or moved on in some other way. Do you recall their faces and names as well as their legacy or do you struggle to even recall what’s-his-name?

Either way, it’s a life.

 

Can You Answer These Job Interview Questions?


There are many questions that you might be asked in a job interview. While the questions themselves will vary, the thrust or point of the questions asked is identical; get to know you enough to find if you’re the best candidate. The best candidate in their mind might be the one who fits in with the existing team chemistry, the one who will be able to do the job with the least amount of training or perhaps the one who will bring creativity and innovation.

As the job applicant, you may say this is exactly why job interviews are so stressful; you’re not sure what they’re looking for which makes it impossible to present yourself in the best possible way; and you know you could if you could just figure that out.

So the questions I’m putting down here are not guaranteed to be the ones you’ll get asked. There’s no way someone could guarantee such a list. These will give you a good sense though of what you might be asked. If you can answer these strongly with examples from your past to provide proof of your skills and experience, you’ll be well prepared.

So, can you? Here goes:

Tell me about yourself.

What is your understanding of the job functions for the position you are applying to?

How does your combination of education and experience uniquely qualify you for this job?

In what area(s) would you need training and support to become fully productive if hired?

Impress me.

How would you define customer service excellence and give an example from your past when you’ve provided it.

Share a weakness of yours as it relates to the job and what have you done to improve on this?

Share with us two local and two international stories in the news at the moment.

Describe your experience working productively in a group or team setting.

How would your previous supervisor describe your performance?

Please explain this 3 year gap on your résumé.

Do you have a criminal record? (Sure it’s illegal to ask, but if it is, you’ve got to say something!)

What are your salary expectations?

Tell us about an experience you’ve had working with a co-worker who was difficult to get along with.

Describe the steps you’ve taken to resolve a conflict.

Describe your filing system.

Which is more important, a clock or a compass?

Describe your ideal supervisor.

You’ve got 45 minutes to convince me you’re the right person to hire. Go!

It’s 10 minutes to quitting time and someone has just arrived who will need at least 20 to serve. What do you say and do?

What are the qualities you’d ideally look for in a co-worker?

What qualities annoy you most in others?

Tell us about a time when you made a mistake. What did you do?

What comes to mind when I ask you to share your proudest moment?

Describe your personal availability and willingness to work a variety of shifts.

When I call your references, what will I learn about you that might surprise me?

Are you bondable?

Give me an example of a conflict you’ve had with a co-worker or supervisor and the steps you took to resolve the situation.

Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?

What are your future plans education-wise?

What are you reading at the moment?

Where do you stand on the issue of __________?

When can you start?

Describe a recent experience in which your patience was severely tested.

So how did you do? I suppose you may have wondered at some of the questions; why they’d ask this one or is that one even legal? If you can figure out the purpose of the question asked; what the question is designed to get at, it makes it easier to respond in such a way that the interviewer(s) are impressed. If on the other hand you’re stumped and can’t figure out the purpose or reason they’d ask, you might flounder a bit which could shake your confidence.

These are of course only a small sample of what you might be asked. The best way to prepare for the real questions you’ll actually be asked is to go over the job posting or ad. Highlight exactly what skills and  experience as well as look at the job responsibilities, (what you’d be doing) and you’ll predict with some certainty what they’ll ask.

If you read over the list here and don’t understand the purpose of a question, feel free to comment and ask. While there may be an odd one asked of you, my advice is not to dwell on the one weird question; focus on answering the questions you can prepare for, and do your best with the off-the-wall one you couldn’t have predicted. That question is really designed to see you think on your feet. So for example, “Tell me a story.” You might think, “About what?” The point of the question though is to see how quickly you get your brain in gear and just do it, and what does it show or say about you in terms of what you share.

Oh and please, feel free to share questions you’ve had asked of you or that you ask of applicants if you interview. Each of the questions I’ve provided here have actually been asked in the real world. So come on, share a little!

Have You Failed By Taking A Short-Term Anything Job?


Suppose you’re one of those people – and there’s a lot of them out there these days – who have some education beyond High School. You’ve planned all along on pursuing a job that makes use of that education. However, with a widening gap of unemployment on your résumé matching your growing frustration at not working, you’ve found yourself finding the idea of just taking a job – any job – more and more appealing; something you thought you never would. There’s this nagging notion that you’ve failed though that keeps you from actually applying for work outside your field of education. So have you?

The short answer is no, you haven’t. Exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. Do that a few times and read on.

There’s a lot of common sense involved in doing exactly what you’ve contemplated and like I pointed out in the beginning, you’re one of many who are well-educated and unemployed. It is not only understandable that you’d be looking at broadening your job search at some point – perhaps where you are at the moment – it’s also a very good idea.

So how come? I mean, Employment Coaches and Counsellors often say you should stick to your career plan and never give up on what you really want. Doing anything else is just settling isn’t it? What happened to finding your passion and not letting any setbacks get in your way of going after what’s going to make you truly happy? Flipping burgers, selling clothes, walking school kids across busy intersections: these aren’t the kind of jobs you thought you’d give more than a passing glance at. Could you ever imagine you’d actually be seriously thinking of going after one of these jobs at this point having finished College or University?

Hang on and settle down. We’re not talking forever here. No one is suggesting that you start your first day down at the fast food outlet and pump your first shouting, “Yes! I’ve arrived!”

The jobs we’re discussing here have been in the past called survival jobs. More and more they are also called transition jobs; work that bridges the gap of time and space between the present and a job in the future. These are typically short-term positions outside your field of training and education.

When you find yourself browsing these ads more and more and seriously thinking about actually applying, may I suggest you change your line of perception. Instead of thinking that you’ve failed; that your post-secondary education was a waste of both time and money, consider the positives of these transition jobs.

First and foremost, the income from a job – any entry-level job – will stem some financial bleeding. Admittedly while likely minimum wage, money is money and some is better than none. Perhaps more important than money however is the inclusion factor. Right now you’re outside the workforce; remember feeling that everyone has a job but you? That so many people you see from your window seem to have somewhere to go, something to do, while you sit and grow despondent, frustrated and perhaps depressed? Uh huh. Yep, getting up, showered, dressed and out the door with a purpose is always good. That routine you’ve been missing is more important than you might have thought.

Now if you’ve looked at that School Crossing Guard advertised on some Municipality’s website and scoffed at it, think again. First of all those hours; before school, at noon and late afternoon leave you two chunks of time – mid-morning and mid-afternoon – to continue your targeted job search. Of even more significance perhaps is that once you land a Crossing Guard job, even though you’re working outside, you’ve at the same time become an internal employee. Had you considered that? Yes, you’re now able to see and apply for the internal jobs with that Municipality; jobs that up until now you had no access to. Full-time jobs that pay much better and perhaps come with benefits too.

That Crossing Guard job might be one you have to take for 3 or 6 months before you’re eligible to apply for anther internal job. Okay so be it. Do the job at present and do it with a positive attitude. You’ve got this job so you might as well enjoy it and keep telling yourself you’re in transition from this to your next job – the one you really want.

Remember you don’t have to add a short-term job on your résumé, but consider doing so because it does bridge a gap. In your cover letter or at an interview you can certainly state with confidence that you took the short-term job where you are working to pay the bills but you’re highly motivated to seek work in your field as this is where your passion and strong interest are.

A failure? Far from it. You’re wise enough not to let pride get in the way and perhaps it even demonstrates your belief that no job, and certainly not the people doing them, should be looked down on. Perhaps it’s helped you learn humility and an appreciation for the hard work involved which you’d previously overlooked. Perhaps too you’re actually better for the experience and will be all the more grateful for the opportunity to work in the field of your choice doing what you love.

Suddenly, you might be more attractive to your employer of choice.