What Hopes Do You Have For 2020?


Start thinking about January 2020 and what you’d like to see happen for you personally in the new year. It’s the 13th of December today, so we’ve got 18 days left in this year to come up with a few things.

So what are you after? A job perhaps? Perhaps a better job. Maybe you’re considering a return to school in order to finish your high school diploma or launch yourself into a new career by attending College or University. Could be a change in your diet is in mind; getting healthier, being kinder, showing more patience and forgiveness or even getting around to popping THE question to your special someone. There’s any number of things you might be hoping will happen in 2020.

Okay so have you something that came to mind? Something you’re hoping for in the coming year? Let’s go with whatever came to mind. Of course, we’re only in the third paragraph here, and you might need a few more hours or days to come up with what you really want to see happen next year. But even in this short time since you first started reading, think for a second about what DID come into your mind first and foremost. Hmm… why did that surface? Could be that whatever it was came to mind for good reason.

Now hoping for something is always good. Hope is a wonderful thing, because it can keep us going in tough times and it can sustain us when things look bleakest. I’m a big believer in hope. However, while hope is a good thing to have, you’ll likely find that hope alone doesn’t always bring about the things we hope for. Confused? Okay, I can understand that.

Hope often needs a plan and action to bring about the realization of whatever it is we’ve hoped for. You can hope to play a musical instrument, but the odds of picking up a trumpet and playing it instantly or sitting before a piano and bringing your favourite song to life are minute as best. You’d agree I think that planning to take some lessons, finding someone to instruct you and putting in the practice to actually learn how to play is increasing your odds of success. Hoping to play an instrument in 2020? Find a teacher, rent, borrow, buy or get gifted an instrument and you’re giving your hopes a fighting chance.

Now supposing that you’re hoping to find a job in the new year. That’s a good thing. You feel mentally up for it and 2020 is going to be your year. Congratulations on coming up with a commendable ambition for the new year. So the question now is what has to happen in order for your hopes of employment to come about?

These days you typically need a resume, computer skills to apply online, interview skills to perform well when meeting with someone from an organization, and a little self-confidence and self-esteem thrown in would be a big help too. I’m simplifying things here for the sake of illustration, but let’s go with that list: basic computer skills, a resume, interview skills and practice and some self-confidence.

By listing the things above that you’ll need to successfully find work, you can then move to the next phase which is turning to the community in which you live and the people you know in it, seeking to find the help in acquiring the skills to check off each need. You may believe you have a good resume – well, good enough at any rate – but having someone look at it who can make some helpful and intelligent suggestions for improvement would confirm your belief. If it’s good, that’s great. If however it’s not as good as you believe it is, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment by learning how to improve it and then doing so.

As for the computer skills? Well, basic skills needed to compete for jobs these days means you have to be able to send and receive emails, attach your resume and cover letters, know how to upload a resume to a job site online, and of course being able to sit down and type out that resume and cover letter is required too. Can you do these things? If so, again, great! If not, a basic computer class is all you need to learn these essentials.

Okay so on to the interview skills. Mom or dad might be okay to practice with, but I would guess they aren’t up on using the STAR interview method or know much about behaviour based interviewing. For interview help, you’ll want to tap into someone perhaps at a local employment centre, maybe even going so far as to hire the services of a self-employed Employment Specialist or Recruiter. These are options you might want to look into.

Hope as I say is really good to have. Hope alone however usually doesn’t bring about whatever it is you’re hoping for. Action is what you’ll need, and your action is best put into place only after you first settle on a plan. With no plan, your actions might give you the illusion of doing something to move toward your goal but in reality just be one step forward and two back. Plan your work, work your plan.

A job, a relationship, a purchase. Whatever you hope for in 2020, here’s to hoping it comes true.

Don’t Apply For Jobs In December


There are many job seekers who see a lot of logic in not bothering to apply for work in the month of December. They’ve determined that companies are soon shutting down for the holidays and the people responsible for receiving all those resumes and selecting candidates to hire are really looking at taking time off.

If you’re one of the job seekers who holds this belief; that it’s pointless to job search in December, you’re making a huge mistake. But please! By all means yes, continue to avoid applying for work this month! You’re making it so much easier for the people I’m partnering with in their job search. In fact, let me extend a sincere thank you for reducing the size of the competition.

As you know, applying for work is a very competitive endeavour. There are more people applying for various positions than ever. Apparently, from the information I’ve gathered from employers, for every job advertised, there are approximately 150 – 175 applications received. The fact that you’re doing your part to reduce that number and increase the odds of those I’m supporting to land interviews and get hired is most appreciated!

Next week I’m holding a two week job search group; that’s December 9th – 20th on the calendar. Yikes! What  tough time of year to job search right? There’s the Christmas traffic, the Christmas hustle and bustle, the kids Christmas concerts in school, people to buy or make Christmas presents for, the house or apartment to decorate for Christmas, the shopping for the Christmas ham or turkey. Why you’re likely exhausted just thinking about it. Best you put your feet up and recline in the lazy boy. Add a job search to all that? No, of course not; you best take it easy.

Still, my little group and I will be at work, researching opportunities, writing cover letters and resumes, practicing our interview skills, and above all else, applying for jobs. While there’s every possibility that we might land a hire or two in these two weeks, it’s probable that the interviewing and hiring won’t actually take place until the new year. That’s absolutely fine with us; we’ll be ready.

Look, any job seeker will tell you how difficult it is to land work and that any advantage they can see they’ll seize. So, when the competition starts to falter for lack of enthusiasm, that’s the very time to ramp up the effort. The same goes for rainy days, extreme cold or heat periods, and Mondays. You see the same folks who have stopped job searching in December are likely the kind who wake up, see the clouds pouring down on them and choose to roll over and go back to sleep. Again, thank you if that’s you!

Job searching IS work. It takes sustained energy and focus to successfully job search. You’ve got to have a willingness to carry on in the face of what appears to be indifference or rejection by some employer’s. All that work researching companies, targeting resumes, writing cover letters, completing online profiles and repeating this process again and again. It can certainly get discouraging. I think this is why the people who have accepted my invitation to join my group are so looking forward to the experience. You see, they’ll partner up with me; someone they believe will motivate them when they feel the urge to slow down. They’ll also be supported by their fellow job seekers, and enthusiasm my reader is contagious!

If it’s true that attitude determines your altitude, we’re aiming high. We aren’t hoping to get interviews and jobs; we’re EXPECTING to get interviews and jobs! You see, the belief I plan to share and instil is the same belief I’ve always held; if we create strong resumes, quality resumes and improve upon our interview skills, the chances of success rise – substantially. If we then work to improve on our quantity of quality applications, our chances of success rise substantially again. Quality first, followed by quantity.

But you can do your part to help us along. If you’re a job seeker yourself, take the month off; nobody is hiring anyway right? If you’re an Employment Coach or Counsellor, suggest your clients ease back on the job search and conserve their energy for the new year; nobody is hiring anyway right?

Of course this advice is entirely tongue in cheek. If nobody is hiring, why then are there jobs being advertised? Do you think companies advertise just to falsely get people’s hopes up? That they have too much time on their hands and want to conduct interviews for jobs that don’t exist just to meet people? No of course not! They are advertising jobs because they have a need for qualified and enthusiastic employees.

Remember this basic truth; if they advertise a job, THEY have a need. Sure you need a job, but they need an employee. It’s not all desperation on your part and no stress at their end. They have to find someone and it can’t be just anybody. They are looking at hiring the right someone, and this is where your research comes in. Present yourself as the right candidate.

Of course, if you were looking for a sign that you shouldn’t bother looking for work until 2020, take this blog as your sign. Pack it in, put on, “White Christmas” and cover yourself up with that warm throw.

Teamwork: Co-Worker Care


It’s at the core of what teamwork is all about; first and foremost. Caring for others on your team with whom you work from the time you greet each other until you part for home.

Teamwork is so essential to working productively and successfully that it’s almost a given in every job posting you’ll read these days. Oddly enough however, when it comes to providing an interviewer with concrete, specific examples of teamwork, many people I speak with struggle. Many tell me that they don’t really have experiences working on major projects, taking the lead on initiatives where they delegated responsibilities etc. While those are examples of working on teams, they are but two ways to demonstrate teamwork. However, there are other, and I will argue much more significant ways to demonstrate your effectiveness as a valued team member.

Just yesterday, one of my colleagues was off work unexpectedly. In addition to her absence, our team had two people on vacation, one working at a second location and we’re currently short one person on our team until a replacement is hired. With our supervisor off for the day, it fell to those of us working to shore things up. As it happened, another colleague and I had a scheduled meeting in the morning on-site, which meant for us both to attend, we’d need a co-worker to staff our Resource Centre for an hour or two with our placement student alongside.

So up stepped one of my valued colleagues; happily and willingly able to set aside the time she’d counted on to do some planning. After our meeting was over, I returned to take my place. While the meeting had kept me away for an hour and half, all had gone smoothly for my colleague. Except, honestly…we’re all stretched a little thin these days, and we’ve been over-extending ourselves for quite some time. As it turned out, that time she gave up to cover was really needed to regain a measure of control and feel prepared for what she had going on later in the afternoon.

As it happened, my colleague started sharing with me just how stretched to the limit she feels. Not only was she stretched thin at work, but a prolonged home renovation is also going on, and I immediately knew that this meant there was no place for her to relax and recharge; what home should be. As she talked, I could see the visible signs of stress; talking rapidly, nervous laughter mixed with big gestures and just venting. This is good; this is healthy, this is sharing a burden and reality with a listener that cares.

Aside from listening, I could really empathize with her because as I say, we’re all feeling stretched and I’ve been through reno’s at home. Throw in the emergence of the Christmas season, decorating a home, taking on a responsibility at work I’m aware of, and I could immediately get a feel for what she was feeling. By allowing her to share, she actually started to feel better. Then she did something I found intelligent and kind. She asked if I wouldn’t mind allowing her to go to lunch when I’d planned to, meaning my own lunch would be set back an hour. How is this kind? It gave me a chance to do something tangible to help.

While gone, I spoke with our placement student; a smart, aspiring young woman who has her own sights set on working in the field and with whom I can see myself working alongside. Here was a teachable moment. Having seen and overheard much of this interaction, I pointed out that this is exactly how to demonstrate care for one another as teammates. It’s funny how many of us are comfortable saying we love our jobs, we love our work, but the thought of saying we love our co-workers sounds odd if not just plain wrong. Well, it’s little things we do like letting each other vent, putting the needs of another ahead of our own etc. that demonstrate care and love for one another. It was important to put a label on this. “Loving” your co-workers isn’t likely on the University curriculum.

While sitting there awaiting her return so I myself could go for lunch, I got a text from my colleague. It was a picture of her lunch, with the words, “Feeling relaxed. Thank you”. I grinned and felt a measure of happiness for her. That’s all it took to bring control back. When she returned, she brought a tea for me, a coffee for our student and I even got a hug of thanks. That too is love and care reciprocated.

Now this isn’t monumental teamwork that saved the company thousands of dollars or brought some new client onboard. This is an example of everyday, small but significant interactions where you can either step up and support one another with genuine care for your coworkers, or you can say, “Not my problem – I’ve got my own problems. I’m going for my lunch now. See you in an hour.”

It’s the little things we do – you and I – throughout a day that over time become our reputation. When you pitch in, cover, listen, empathize, extend help, support each other, encourage each other – these I argue are the testaments of your teamwork.

On every team, some will get it and some won’t. Be one who does.

Unemployed And Feeling Bitter?


Bitterness is a personal characteristic which most people don’t find attractive in others. It’s evident in the sneer or scowl, a smirk, the tight lips set in a smile of sarcasm. Bitterness is also one of the least desired qualities for anyone in the position of choosing applicants to extend job offers to.

While you’ve every right to feel what you feel, it’s equally true that employer’s have the right to choose the applicants they feel will add rather than detract from the chemistry and culture they wish to establish and maintain in the workplace. It’s hard to imagine any organization going out of their way to hire bitter people. Would you agree?

So yes, while I acknowledge your entitlement to feel bitter if you so choose about what’s happened in your past, it seems only logical to me that if you want to impress someone enough to have them welcome you onboard, you’d best either lose the bitterness or at the very least, conceal it.

Now if I were working closely with you and found you gave off this air of bitterness, I’d point it out. Further, I’d share with you what exactly it is you’re doing that I’m observing and interpreting as signs of bitterness. For only if you’re aware of this and you’ve some awareness of what it is that sends this message to others have you the chance to do something about it if you choose to do so. This is an important thing for anyone who works with a job seeker to do. So if you should enlist the services of a professional to help you out with your job search, let me suggest you extend permission so you’ll get honest feedback. What you do with that feedback is up to you, but allowing them to share has to be on the table.

Honestly, there are some professionals who are loathe to be entirely honest with the people they work with. It’s fine of course when there’s positives to comment on, but when there’s something unattractive and personal, not everyone is comfortable sharing their observation. This becomes what people call the elephant in the room; whatever it is, well it’s big enough everyone can see it but no one wants to acknowledge and talk about it. This can be out of a fear of confrontation, fearing an argument. It can be for fear of hurting the person’s feelings, not wanting to make them feel worse than they already do.

Here’s the thing though; whatever it is – in this case observable bitterness – it’s plainly visible, it’s a job search barrier, and until it gets addressed, it remains an obstacle to getting hired.

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘one bad apple can spoil the bunch’? This nicely sums up exactly why employer’s are fairly united in steering clear of bringing any new employee into their workforce who carries overt bitterness with them. Why would they want to introduce this person with a chip on their shoulder to a group of positive and productive employees? The fear that this one person might taint one or more (maybe everyone?) is too great to risk. The chance that the whole positive group might turn this bitter person around isn’t worth it. So it is that virtually all employer’s would rather settle on the person who will come in with a positive attitude, as demonstrated by the smile on their face.

Consider however this likely truth: You’re bitter because you’re getting nowhere with your job search; no calls, no interviews – well there was that one – but it went nowhere. It’s been some time and you’re disillusioned. Your optimism departed long ago and now you’re expecting the rejection that ultimately comes. With this belief, your body language and facial expressions reflect this prevailing mood. When you meet potential employer’s, it takes a lot of energy and mental focus to keep your predetermined presumption of failure to yourself. Over the course of a 30 – 60 minute interview, while your thoughts move from question to question and coming up with answers, your focus on concealing what has become your natural bitterness slips once – maybe twice. Those visual clues are likely to get picked up and send off warning signals to the interviewer. “Something isn’t right with this applicant…intuition…the experience of having interviewed many in the past…there’s just this something I caught briefly in a look…”

While you haven’t had any previous dealings with the person interviewing you now, your pent up bitterness from past experiences is nonetheless coming out and on display. The interviewer works under one assumption every time; this is you at your best. Well, if you’re at your best and your bitterness is on display, they can only imagine what it will be like when you’re hired and working there as your, ‘normal self’. It’s likely to be magnified and worse.

If you don’t care of course and want to showcase your bitterness that’s your call. Be prepared for a lot of rejection and as a consequence you’ll have many more reasons to justify your bitterness. Entirely your call. But that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s within your control, you’re the one in charge of how you feel and you’re the one – the only one I’ll add – with the power to change how you feel and how you come across – if you so choose.

It might make you feel better to blame others but ongoing bitterness is a choice you make.

Ah Those Mystery Job Ads


Last week one of the people I was supporting in their job search brought to my attention a job posting where the employer had specifically requested no contact. That in itself isn’t anything new, as job ads have been instructing applicants to not place calls for quite some time. This one was different though, because it read, “No follow up phone calls please.”

This puzzles me honestly. I mean, yes, I understand that with the growing number of people competing for jobs, the organization would indeed have to devote a lot of someone’s time to respond to all the calls they’d get. On the other hand, I have always believed that employer’s are looking for people who show initiative, who have personal drive and genuine enthusiasm or passion for the jobs they apply to. So if no one follows up on their applications with a call, it would appear more difficult for an employer to separate those who really want the job from those who apply and then are content to just wait and see what happens.

Another reason that this puzzled me upon seeing it was that I’ve heard from some employers who have told me they value calls from applicants. Some have even told me that they built in a few days following an application deadline to determine who calls and who doesn’t; with the one’s that call getting additional marks for taking such initiative. Times change however, and whether this one ad becomes a trend or not we’ll see.

There are other tactics employer’s use that discourages applicants contacting them too. For a long time now, employers have been using Recruiters and temporary agencies to pre-screen their applicants. In the job postings that produce applications, the identity of the hiring company and their location is carefully omitted. While this makes it easier on the organization in that they don’t get walk-in traffic and phone calls following up on their job applications, it also has problems.

One such problem the omission of a company name and location has is that applicants can’t do their homework when it comes to researching company culture, values and see if their own aligns with this employer. This can waste both the time of an applicant and an employer if a well-qualified applicant applies in good faith for a position but upon learning the identity of the employer, pulls their application from the hiring process based on their own experience or that of others.

Dependability and reliability are two of the key qualities just about every employer desires in their workforce. For a majority of those who rely on public transit to get to and from work, knowing where they’d have to travel before applying would be helpful. Again, when an employer conceals their name and location, just as an applicant conceals their own address, a situation is created whereby wasted time is spent on both ends by both parties. Ironic isn’t it when an employer who refuses to identify their location makes an applicant’s address a mandatory field on an online application; we’re not telling you where we are but you have to tell us where you are!

Some job ads would almost be better thought of as a blind date. Sure there might be a face-to-face meeting or interview eventually, but the first contact will be one party (the employer), gathering as much information as they can about the other party (you) without revealing much about themselves. Yes they make the first step in getting the job posting out there via a temp agency but at the same time there is a vagueness to the actual posts sometimes that means an applicant can’t really get excited about the prospect of getting the job until they know the organization and along with that organization their reputation.

I’m looking at the way many employers are going about their hiring and seeing a disturbing trend developing. While it’s all good to remove potential bias, (heavens knows this is nothing but a good thing and needed for ages), employer’s who keep their identities known until personal interviews are set up unintentionally make things harder on themselves. Seeing applications with names removed, addresses removed, names of educational institutions removed (all by HR departments) contribute to a level playing field but can make selection of great candidates more challenging. If an applicant lives in their opinion too far away, they won’t know until they meet. If they organization has a distinct preference for a long-standing school with a solid reputation, they may feel they wasted their time seeing people from an upstart school struggling to gain credibility.

There are pros and cons to all hiring processes and I can usually see the good and the bad from each. As an Employment Counsellor working with the unemployed however, one of the things I’ve always encouraged people to develop and show is enthusiasm for the jobs they apply to. Hard to advise someone to get excited about an opportunity when two of the first things they ask is the name of the employer and where they’d work.

Oh and these long online applications they make applicants fill out? I’ve seen people with very little drive and sincere motivation sit for ages filling them out, getting help from others on what to say. Little drive and little interest.

Be careful employers…how you attract applicants does indeed determine the quality of applicants from which to hire.

Pick 5 To Interview


Imagine for a moment that you’re the person responsible for looking at some job applications. You’ve got to pick some to invite into the interview process. If you’ve already applied the ATS software (Applicant Tracking System), the reduced pile in front of you already meet your stated qualifications. In other words, the key words you and Human Resources identified as must haves and preferences are already checked off. You’ve got a nice pile of winners here.

So having a pile of 10 before you on your right and 60 the ATS passed over on your left, you begin. Hang on a second, what are you looking for? If you’ve never had to actually go through this process of choosing people to interview, it’s not as easy as it sounds. If after all, each of these 10 applications have already surfaced as the cream of the crop, why not just interview the 4 or 5 on the top of the pile; random selection?

Well, I’m sure some employers do. I mean, it’s possible isn’t it? No one has to know what the person narrowing these candidates down actually did to select them. But for the majority of situations, what does that person do behind closed doors to pick their next potential employee?

Quick question before proceeding; how many readers don’t like the idea of some computer-generated software creating these two piles in the first place; the potential winners and the losers? I’ll bet a fair number of people would rather a human being look over their application rather than having their potential employment governed by a digital scan.

Here’s the thing about that software though; it’s programmed by humans to select the applications which on paper at least, most closely match the stated needs of the employer. That software selects and rejects solely based on what it was instructed to look for. If you didn’t know this technology existed before, you do now. Oh, and it’s not so expensive that only the big organizations can afford it. Like a lot of technology out there today, its come down in price, it’s affordable and it sure helps the employer when the alternative is having to set aside a huge amount of time going through more resumes and cover letters than they’ve ever received in the past.

Okay, so now the impartial and unbiased computer program has put these 10 applications before you. The next phase is choosing from the 10, the ones you’ll meet and make your interview list from. Most organizations set aside time for this process, and they might have to coordinate the schedules of the Supervisor, Human Resources staff, and a second person in Management. Just coordinating the schedules of these three people might take some doing, and they’ll need a couple of days perhaps to clear their schedules. Meanwhile applicants are waiting.

So whether it’s just you or you and one or two others, you’ve got these 10 from which to choose 5 to interview, as this is all time allows. So half of these will move on and half will join the larger pile of passed over/rejected applicants. By the way, no one in that pile will be contacted yet (if ever) to advise them they’ve been passed over. After all, you might end up going back to at least one of those who almost made it if none of these 5 you end up interviewing work out.

So now that human eyeballs are finally involved in the interview selection process, you and I need to understand one other thing. In addition to your eyes, you’re filtering these 10 resumes with some other things too. You’re applying your biases, preferences, assumptions, stereotypes, past experiences, gut feelings and knowledge. Still don’t like computer software? It doesn’t bring any of these to the selection process.

In the mind of the person selecting people to hire, they know the chemistry of the existing team this potential employee is going to join or lead. They have in their mind the personal characteristics they see as needed or desired. They might have a preference for someone who went to a particular school or who worked for a certain employer in the past. They might grimace at an incorrectly placed comma or run-on sentence. Then again, they may overlook grammatic errors and take that as a sign of authenticity, especially if the job doesn’t call for written communication skills as a top priority.

If the names are on the resumes before them, (some companies remove these from the applications so they eliminate human bias), these alone can potentially sway a person to choose or pass by an application. The presumption of gender too might be present. Is this a good thing or not? Perhaps an organization is intentionally hopeful they might hire someone from a specific segment of the population to better reflect the communities in which they operate. How could a gender, ethnic, age, or other characteristic dominated workforce become more balanced if such factors of applicants remain unknown?

You see it’s more complicated than just randomly picking a few or going through every single application received. This process takes time and expertise to do it well. While all this is going on, each applicant is wondering why they haven’t heard from the employer. What’s taking so long you might wonder?

After selecting those to interview and conducting those interviews, more narrowing done happens until one is remaining. May that person be you!

 

My Advice: Hold Off Job Searching


Sounds like odd advice from an Employment Counsellor to give on the surface of it doesn’t it; putting your search for a job on hold. Yet quite often, that’s the advice I give some of the people I meet with.

Now if you’re employed and see yourself first and foremost as a taxpayer and believe that everyone in receipt of social assistance should be completely investing 100% of their time looking to work, my apologies. There are some situations in which I believe looking for a job is not only ill-advised, it can set someone back tremendously from finding employment in the long haul.

Take yesterday as an example. For two weeks, I instructed a dozen people in the basics of using the computer. I’m talking basics here; using it to make an email, learning how to access the internet, find employment opportunities, make a resume, apply for work with that resume. We did more as well, but I like to instruct with practicality in mind, so as most were unemployed, why not learn the basics of the digital world and at the same time, showing them how competing for employment these days requires computer skills? Anyhow, there I was yesterday, seated with one of the participants from that class, doing a follow up appointment.

Typically, I plan on giving someone feedback on what I observed over those two weeks, encourage them and point out moments of success and accomplishment. However, I threw all that out the window yesterday when this one woman came in and we sat down in my office. She was 15 minutes late, and said she had almost decided not to come in for the scheduled meeting. Two developments on the day before our meeting occurred; she was contacted by her Doctor who said she must meet immediately with her to share results of some medical tests and her 13 year old daughter was committed to a hospital for a few days after telling her own Doctor that she was thinking about killing herself.

Suddenly, giving feedback on computer skills and talking about using these new skills to job search seemed entirely inappropriate. Of greater importance in that moment was listening, supporting and responding to her disclosure, her fears of what her Doctor knows and must share in person immediately and her own daughter’s thoughts of ending her life. At a time like this, the focus on receiving, comprehending and processing these two major life events supersedes any encouragement to get out and get a job.

Besides, if you believe that she’d be able to effectively job search at the present moment, I’d venture you’re views are based in ideology and not practical reality. Do I think governments always get this? No. I suspect when they look at stats, they focus solely on how many people start a program, how many finish and how long it takes someone to find employment after taking a program to determine its effectiveness. Numbers don’t tell the whole story; not by a long shot.

“Will I get in trouble for not looking for a job though?” she asked. So I took an hourglass from my desk and flipped it over, letting the blue sand fall. “You only have so much energy. Right now, your focus and energy is on receiving your own diagnosis and whatever implications that holds. As a caring mom who has a daughter in crisis, the two of you have a lot to work through, you’re probably blaming yourself and you’re scared. You just got two extremely upsetting events on the same day. Forget the job search for now; you won’t be in trouble.” She looked at that blue sand accumulating in the bottom half and said seeing how the top was emptying was how she felt.

Near the end of our meeting, she told me how glad she was that she’d decided to come because she’d considered staying at home. There she was, expressing gratitude to me for making her feel better. It’s pretty humbling to hear someone in the midst of heightened anxiety and trauma be so genuinely kind and thoughtful. When she left she hugged me; we hugged each other. Somewhere in that simple act, some of her fear melted into me, and some compassion for her suffering flowed from me to her.

Do you really believe she should be focusing 100% on looking for work? Do you really think I – anyone for that matter – who counsels and supports people looking for work should pressure her into making a job search her first priority? And where I now wonder does any government making funding decisions and program cut decisions factor in this kind of experience?

I tell you this, were I that woman, receiving these two pieces of information, I’d sure be grateful to meet with a compassionate, understanding and patient person. Yesterday I was fortunate to be that guy, but this is not about me. I believe there are people with equally, even better responses everywhere, having similar experiences daily.

Something as simple as removing an expectation of finding work and assuring them they won’t have their benefits suspended, can do far more good in the long run by building a trusting, human connection. For who is equipped to deal with either of these situations let alone two on the same day?

So yes, put aside the job search; there are times when it’s not priority #1.

And your thoughts?