Depression And, “Hello. How Are You?”


“Hello. How are you?”

Could you ask a more innocent, well-intentioned question? It’s almost automatic; typical of how we greet each other. Oddly enough, those who ask don’t always want to actually know how you’re doing, and those who answer don’t answer truthfully much of the time. Yet, again and again, for lack of a better, well-thought out form of greeting its used time and time again.

It’s true you know. Just pay attention and listen when you’re greeted by someone for one or two days as an experiment. Today being Monday, most of your co-workers will today say, “Hi, so how was your weekend?” Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, they’ll say, “Hi, how are you?”

A couple of days ago I sat down with someone suffering – and suffering is the right word by the way – with depression and poor mental health. He’s been out of work for over a year now, and his life-long depression is getting much worse. He told me that one of the things that bothers him more and more is the constant question of how he’s doing; especially from people he knows don’t want to really know.

Are you guilty of this? I know I am and I imagine you are too. I’m not naïve enough to actually believe that 95% of the people around me are fine or good; even though they say so. Sure many of us are good and doing well. However, it must be painful as this fellow says, to be living with depression and constantly asked how you are. He then told me how much his life was being affected. His favourite time of day is when he goes to bed – at 11:00p.m. usually. After lying awake for 2 hours, he sleeps until 11:00a.m., gets up and eats, then sits in front of the television almost the entire day, not going out unless he has to.

Now he’s cut back on family gatherings because so many of those extended family members are going to naturally ask him, “How are you?” and while he could tell them the truth, he knows they really don’t want to know, nor could they help him if they wanted to. Well, aside from stopping the asking of how he’s doing in the first place! So it’s a cycle of feeling ashamed of doing nothing day after day, seeing Life go by without improvement.

This depression has affected his memory too. He’s positive that he can’t be trusted to remember things he’s told, and so for now, work is out of the question. Not to mention the depression has left him little patience in some situations he might meet with the public. All this passive living is affecting his physical as well as mental health too. A lack of exercise has led to weight gain, lower self-esteem, poor stamina.

Yet, to meet with him you’d see a happy fellow, quick to laugh, friendly and knowledgeable about topics of the day. Kind of an Eleanor Rigby type, “wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door. Ah look at all the lonely people!”

Now how many people I wonder will you – and I – come into contact today who are similarly suffering from depression? Let’s make that Depression with a capital, “D”. When living with this mental illness, it can affect energy, focus, judgement, motivation, self-perception and it’s not just a quick visit to the doctor to get a quick fix. We’re talking long-term implications.

Sometimes there are medications to help change the chemical make-up of the brain and attempts to stimulate connections through electro-therapy. I’m certainly no expert in treatments although I’ve friends and co-workers as well as many clients and people who use my support and advice in the course of my job. While it’s helpful to listen without judgement, providing reassurance that talking about one’s mental health is okay with me and not a topic I find uncomfortable, it’s frustrating knowing that waiting lists for treatment are long, treatments aren’t always effective, and other than listening, what can I do?

While it’s not necessary to experience what another person is experiencing to be empathetic, sometimes I feel being an empathic listener just falls short really. I suppose though this one’s not about me – or you for that matter. This one is about the person with Depression. If listening with empathy helps them feel understood and helped, maybe that’s something.

Think how difficult it must be on a daily basis for someone living with Depression; post-traumatic or ongoing, anxiety, psychotic or personality disorders, etc. It must be and is for many, debilitating. So maybe when we see some person who appears to be lazy or worse yet able to do fun things but not work, maybe extending some compassion and erring on the side of considering they may have a mental health issue would be preferable to believing them to be sponging off others generosity or tax dollars when their perfectly capable of contributing.

I suppose we might choose to hold our tongue and check our thoughts; for truly, we have no idea to what degree someone might be suffering with and already feeling ashamed of themselves for not being more productive.

So today, instead of, “Hi. How are you doing?” maybe we might say, “Hi. What are you up to today?” or if you do ask how someone is doing, look them in the eye and pause long enough to hear and care what they answer.

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My 5 Cents On Minimum Wage Increases


Here in Ontario Canada, our Provincial Government has in its wisdom, raised the minimum wage to $14.00 per hour as of January 1, 2018. This move resulted in a significant increase for minimum wage earners from the earlier $11.60 per hour they were earning. Come January 1, 2019, the minimum wage will rise to $15.00 per hour.

Now here’s a comparative of these numbers, (the 140 hours by the way is calculated on a 7 hour day x 5 days per week x 4 weeks per month)

$11.60 p/hr x 140 hours = $1,624 month x 12 months = $19,488 per year.

$14.00 p/hr x 140 hours = $1,960 month x 12 months = $23,520 per year.

$15.00 p/hr x 140 hours = $2,100 month x 12 months =$25,200 per year.

Now you have to truly be a recipient of the minimum wage to feel the impact of these increases on your overall quality of life. There are other voices to be heard from on this issue – such as the business owners paying these wages, the Provincial Government officials about what they intended to bring about as they enacted this legislative change, the general populace in Ontario whose votes put this government in place, and yes even those with no income beyond social services. There are no shortages of opinion to be gathered on this issue.

Well, certainly I believe anyone and everyone would agree that earning $19,488 per year is not as satisfactory as receiving $23,520 per year. After all, that’s another $4,032 to spend as one chooses. That breaks down to $336 more a month if you’re keeping track of such things, or $84 per week. With an extra $84.00 per week, that’s healthier food in your shopping cart, a little extra set aside in the bank account for something you might not have been able to afford down the road, or perhaps at $336.00 per month, a nicer apartment unit in a better part of town. In short, life is better.

However, (yes here comes the bit that you’ve been waiting for and hoping you’d read), this isn’t the whole story. First of all, my numbers for illustrative purposes are based on 140 hours a month; in other words full-time. How many minimum wage earners are there out there getting full-time hours versus minimum wage earners getting part-time hours? For every hour you deduct from the above equations at the head of this article, there is a corresponding drop in income. If you are only getting 25 hours a week, that $14.00 per hour means you’re bringing in $350 a week, up from $290; an extra $60 a week. Still, a raise is a raise and when you don’t make much, every bit helps right?

Ah, but then we’ve got other things to factor in here. You don’t suppose that their buying power has increased with everything they buy remaining at previous levels do you? Oh naïve little you! Unfortunately for many low-income earners, their expenses have dramatically increased, and are about to jump more as well. Being low-income earners, most are renters vs. home or condo owners, so they are subject to paying monthly rent. Not surprisingly, many renters are telling me that their rents suddenly went up on January 1st of this year, and some others tell me they’ve recently come home to find notice of rent increases stuck under their doors for, ‘building improvements’. Legitimate or not, the timing is something to note.

Now, I noticed something of interest myself. This past week my wife and I had dinner out at Boston Pizza and noted they’d done over the restaurant, and the menus were updated too. We were impressed with the improvement in tables and chairs and couldn’t help but notice the price of their standard food items have increased too. Just under $50 for two adults to order an entrée each including a juice and a soft drink; no alcohol, no dessert, no appetizer, no tip factored in. How many times are people going to opt out for dinner? That might have explained the extra parking available when we arrived. Gone I suppose were the 10 items for $10 they once had just last year. Sigh…

Groceries, rent, transportation, clothing, recreation, property maintenance fees, contractors, manufacturers, goods and services; it’s all going up. One would be very naïve indeed to assume prices don’t rise in general due to inflation, but the minimum wage increase is also being used by some employers to justify increases.

Interestingly, I see at Boston Pizza they are hiring a Front of House Manager. This position has quite the number of additional requirements and expectations over the minimum wage servers and kitchen staff. The wage advertised for this Management position? $17.00 per hour. Break down that $2.00 hourly disparity between this position and minimum wage earning staff there and one might wonder why someone would bother to take on the additional responsibilities. Still, you get to put a title on your résumé and an identifying badge on your shirt that advertises your status.

It remains to be seen if this move wins the Liberal government in power another term as we’re in a voting year. Any incoming government if there is a change, would be hard-pressed to repeal such increases even if they wanted to and come out looking good.

We have to realize that every deserves a living wage; one that provides enough to lead life with dignity. Not everyone has the skills, aptitude and ability to advance and move from minimum wage jobs to middle-income and middle class; nor do all want to. It’s finding the balance that is the challenge.

Must Work Be Meaningful? To Whom?


I wonder if you’ve ever been advised to find a line of work where you can really find a strong sense of meaning in the work you’ll do? This advice typically is followed up with the promise that finding meaning in the work you’ll do will make whatever you’re doing rewarding; and in it being rewarding and meaningful, you’ll enjoy it  and life in general more.

It’s not bad advice really. There are many people who’d agree, if for no other reason than we spend a lot of our waking hours at work, and as all those hours add up, we’d best all be doing something meaningful to justify the investment of time.

However, the downside of this advice is that there are many people who don’t look to find meaning in the work they do, they just happily go in day in and day to work. Telling such people they’ll be happier searching for work they find real meaning in doing might just result in giving them something to worry or stress about. And who is to say that the meaning you might derive from one job over another would be similarly felt by someone else; say your daughter or son? How many mothers or fathers have hoped that their children would follow in their footsteps and have the same career as themselves, only to have their children choose other lines of work?

If you’re so inclined, you might realize too that people change. The job we found meaning in when we were 20 something might hold that meaning for 5 or so years, and then we suddenly realize one day that it’s been awhile since we really felt it as truly rewarding and meaningful. If this is the case, how do we go about finding a career in our late teens and early 20’s that we’ll find genuinely meaningful for the next 45 or 50 years?

Well, don’t fret about it. First of all it’s highly probable and natural that as you become exposed to different jobs and careers over the course of your life, you’ll find some of those jobs intriguing; perhaps enough to go after them. Changing jobs within our field is something many of us do, changing our field of interest entirely is also something not all that uncommon. It’s called evolution; becoming exposed to something new, finding real interest in it, doing what it takes to qualify yourself and working a plan to one day be in that new role.

Yet, while it’s natural then for many to want to do work that they find meaning in, is there anything wrong with doing work that one doesn’t find meaningful? Do you know anyone who when asked why they do what they do replies, “It’s a pay cheque”? I mean there has to be a number of people who are doing jobs quite competently; but for whom the concept of doing meaningful work isn’t important. And because we are all so very different on this planet, it’s impossible to take a career – any career – as an example of a job that no one finds meaning in.

You might think a Cashier, a Waiter/Waitress, Server etc. might not find any meaning in the work they do; that it’s got to be just a job until a career comes along. You’d be wrong though. There are obviously more people than you’d guess who do find great meaning in these jobs, and what’s more, their not deluding themselves; they see themselves as providing a service to others. Further, they wouldn’t want it any other way. Maybe they could make more income doing other things, but perhaps they don’t take home excessive worries and stresses that go with some jobs you’d tout as more meaningful.

Whose perspective are we talking about here anyhow? Yours or theirs? Projecting our own ideals and values onto others, saying that one job is more meaningful than another is something we should be careful of. When we tell our son or daughter that a Teacher’s job is meaningful; more meaningful than say a Crossing Guards, we transfer our own value system. If they go on to be a Teacher we’re happy. If however, they happily become a Crossing Guard and find meaning and happiness in that role, have we now sent that message that somehow their choice of career is a disappointment to us? Is that what we want or intended to do?

Conversely, if they get ulcers and migraines – growing old before their time – fighting with and climbing over others on the way to some career which robs them of much of their personal time; missing family occasions because of work, will we find it okay to console ourselves by saying, “but the work is meaningful and important.”

Important… maybe that’s it. Could it be that when we say find work that’s meaningful, what we’re really doing is saying, find work that’s important, and then by association you’ll be important too? If that’s the case, what message are we sending if the work isn’t important in our eyes? Do we really mean that they are only important if what they do is important?

So what’s the goal? Find work that is meaningful and if so to whom? Happiness? Sufficient income? Security? Challenge and reward? There are a lot of different values we could and do place on jobs and the people who do them. Something to think about.

 

What I Think While Interviewing You


First of all you may not even care what I’m thinking when I’m sitting down across from you in this job interview; but you should. After all, you’re hoping I offer you the job we’re talking about. So it stands to reason that if you know what I’m thinking, you have a chance to either let me go ahead with those same thoughts or you’ve got time to change my mind before we’re done.

So let’s begin with my first impression.

When we met the reception area, I quickly looked you up and down and I started with your clothing.  I’m giving you top marks if the clothes are clean, fit with our company dress code and I’m evaluating your judgement in not just what you’re wearing, but how your clothes fit, the coordination and the appropriateness of what you selected to wear.

At the same time – and we’re talking about 3-4 seconds here – I’m taking in your hygiene and personal grooming, your facial expression, noting any obvious piercings or visible tattoos, and noting how you looked just before you realized I was the interviewer. That’s a lot to take in over 3 or 4 seconds, but I do this for a living you understand. Actually you do it too; you’re looking me over I believe and sizing me up as we meet.

I’m offering you my hand by the way as a traditional form of greeting, and how you react to this is also information I’m gathering to assess your suitability. After all, you’ll be meeting many people should I hire you, and your comfort level in how you greet them reflects on us as an organization. I’m impressed most with a firm but not overpowering handshake in return.

Now I understand you’re likely nervous and that’s to be expected. Some nervous excitement given what’s at stake is a good thing actually, but I’m checking as we begin hoping you haven’t got extreme nervousness to the point where I don’t get to see the real you. I’m actually hoping to put you at ease to the extent I can so that I can assess the person you’ll be on a daily basis. Telling me you’re extremely nervous and not yourself isn’t helping your cause. How can I really see you fitting in with my other staff if the real you isn’t present?

Now that we’re seated, I’m noting your posture and like the fact you sit slightly forward and you’re making great eye contact. The smile I’m giving you as we begin is hopefully reminding you to smile yourself – there it is! I’m now wondering if that smile looks natural or forced; because a natural smile is welcoming and appealing to customers and makes for a friendlier workplace. I know not everyone walks around smiling all day, but what I really want to avoid is hiring someone with that brooding, all-too-serious face that seems set in a constant frown. That’s not going to be a good fit here.

Now as we begin the questions and I listen to you speak, I’m sizing up how much you know about the job you’re interviewing for. A question asking what you know about our company, the job itself or why you’ve applied is designed to give you the chance to tell me how much – if any – research you’ve done. If you’re really interested and invested this opportunity you’ll do well in this. If you don’t answer well, I’m unimpressed and guessing we’re just one of 50 places you’re applying, hoping somebody hires you.

I’m really liking the fact that you answer the questions I’m asking. You obviously know yourself well, and the examples you’re giving me are backing up your claims  when it comes to your experience. How you handled situations in past jobs gives me a really good idea of how you’ll behave and act if I bring you onboard here.

You know what I’m also thinking? I hear energy in your voice; you really sound enthused about the job and you’re convincing me that you’re really looking forward to the work. This seems like more than just a job to you; I like that. This is after all, a company I’ve put a lot of hours and dedication into. I’m in a place to select an applicant who will bring some real energy and be a positive addition; because let’s face it, I’m going to work with whomever I hire.

Another thing I’ve noticed as you’re talking is that you look like you’re using your brain. I mean, you’re answers show you’ve thought about the questions asked, and the answers don’t sound rehearsed and fake. Your facial expressions are moving between serious and thoughtful to smiling – the odd laugh added which shows a natural side. You’ve prepared some questions too I see, and bringing along your résumé, the job posting, a pen and having it all organized in front of you tells me you’re ready. I like that because you’re not just saying you are organized, this proves it.

Having wrapped up with a handshake again and walked you out, I noticed you also stopped just long enough to shake the hand of the Receptionist and gave her a quick word of thanks. Full marks for that.

I’ve got other people to interview, but I’m impressed. I’m thinking at this moment you’re making a strong case to be hired. Well done!

Swearing And Social Media


In the fall of 2017 I joined with some other community members to put on a production of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Amateur theatre you understand; something I’ve done in neighbouring communities with several theatrical groups for some 25 years.

More and more often, the cast stays in communication with each other via social media, with the Directors typically setting up a private Facebook group and inviting all the members to join to be kept up-to-date with rehearsals and other related information. This then sparks a number of people to then go ahead and send out friend requests to other cast members. It’s likely that even if you are not involved in a community theatre group, you’ve had a similar experience perhaps with some other group centred around your hobbies or interests.

Now with us being in the middle of winter and 2018, the show is long over and yet the online friendships remain. Sometimes I’ve gone ahead and deleted people immediately who I will have no further interaction with unless a future show brings us together again. This time around however, I let things remain largely unchanged after the show and of consequence I’m ‘friends’ with people I wouldn’t really give that title to in any other context – referring to them more commonly as an acquaintance.

I’ve got a problem though. It’s easily remedied on my end, but I fear it’s damaging for another. The issue as the title suggests is this person’s frequent use of swearing in his posts. It’s, ‘f’ this and ‘f’ that, and ‘f-ing’ something else…

The easy thing to do is unfriend the person, who quite honestly I’d never met before and am not likely to act with again but yes, it is conceivable. He’s not quite 20, I’m 58, he’s in another city than I am, and I’m not so unsure of my self that I have a problem just doing so.

Yet, there’s part of me that wanted to reach out to him and if he’s open to hearing it, let him know that I find his choice to include such language offensive. Not only is this my point of view, he could well be hurting his future chances of employment; acting or otherwise, by his frequent use of such language. Call me a prude if you will, old-fashioned, etc. I really don’t mind. I know what I enjoy reading and what I don’t.

Now it’s his right as it is anyone’s right, to speak ones mind, and part of that freedom comes with the right to say it HOW you’d like to do so. But, there are consequences to our choices, and there’s a responsibility that comes with those same rights. Not everybody gets this. Seems to me a lot of people go about claiming they know their rights, but few go about toting that they know their responsibilities.

In any event, I opted this time to do something different; I’ve taken the approach of reaching out to him via a private message and let him know how his frequent use of foul language has our tenuous friendship at risk of being ‘unfriended’ on Facebook. I’ve also advised him if he’s open to hearing it, that his posts are there in the public domain for future employers, Directors etc. to read and in so doing, form their opinions of him as suitable for their places of employment or shows.

No I’m not trying to be more saintly, or holier than thou as it were. I’m simply taking a more caring way of helping him along and not the easy way out of just unfriending him with no explanation. I’m sure this happens all the time and I’ve done it myself. Maybe this once though, something good could come of it. Even if he chooses to ignore my suggestion or advice, he is at least aware of the impact his writing has on one person and that alone could be helpful.

You see, he’s young, troubled, and – well yes – overly dramatic. However, being a young under 20, it’s not uncommon that one’s problems seem like the only problems in the universe. With maturity comes the realization that ones problems are not so unique, and everyone has things they deal with; some of us better or more privately than others. I hope he’ll get that over time and in fact I’m sure of it.

The thing I’d point out is would he, (or you) talk to your boss, your mom or dad, your friends etc. using the same language you use online? That is of course exactly what happens when all those people see what you write and how you choose to say it online. If you wouldn’t talk a certain way in-person, why talk that way online? If of course that’s who you are whether online or in-person, that’s your choice and your free to be authentically you. Just think about it.

So there it is. Feel free to give me your thoughts on the use or excessive use of swearing in social media public posts. Okay or not okay in your opinion? Helpful in expressing yourself or hurtful and self-damaging to getting on in the world? Feel free to agree or disagree as is of course your own right. This could be good people; where do you stand? Would you talk this way face-to-face with your friends; with your boss?

 

“Job? I Just Need A Resume”


Yesterday I stood facing and talking with 5 people who had shown up at a résumé workshop. Before we really got started, I engaged them in some small talk, asking each person what job or career they were looking for. Here’s who was in the room:

  • A late 40’s woman with 20 years experience working with the homeless who stated she had no formal degree or diploma in the field, but did have a certificate in the hairdressing industry.
  • A 60-year-old man who said he could no longer do what he’d done much of his life and didn’t really have any idea what he wanted to do for the next 5-8 years of his life in terms of work.
  • A couple in their 40’s who looked like they’d lived a rough life; him with no computer skills at all, her with grade 8 education. They’d both lost their jobs as a Superintendent couple due to some negligence on their part. They too had no idea what they wanted to do – they just needed resumes though to get work.
  • A late 20’s year old guy who wanted a factory job – for now. He had no idea of a long-term goal, but was somewhere between no longer wanting to wash dishes and whatever he’d eventually do.

Okay, so of the 5 people above, the fellow in his 20’s is the only one who knows what job he’s after. He’s the one who you could sit with one-to-one and start looking for factory or warehouse jobs and build a targeted resume. In doing so, it  becomes necessary to take his past experiences and highlight his transferable skills, emphasize his physical stamina, good health, work ethic etc.; the qualities needed by the employers in the job ads we looked at. Good on him for at least knowing what he’d like to do in the short-term while he figures out what to do long-term. He will be at the least, earning some income, learning and improving upon some job skills, and these will keep him attractive to future employers.

The woman who showed up with 20 year’s experience working with the homeless said that she wanted to work with the disadvantaged; be they teens, young adults etc. however, she admitted with no formal training over the past 20 year’s, she was finding it tough. I applauded her for having a pretty accurate picture of her circumstances. She’d be pretty hard-pressed to compete with the competition in her field who would present Child and Youth Worker or Social Service Worker Diploma’s. Her 20 year’s experience might even work against her not for her in the view of some employer’s who want to mold and shape their newest hire without having to have someone leave behind how they’ve done things elsewhere.

To her credit, she’d been thinking of a return to school to get the formal education that would compliment her experience, and vastly improve her employment opportunities. I think what she really needed was the validation of someone in the field agreeing with her that this was a good plan.

Now the 60-year-old man was new to the area, devoid of contacts, resources and knowledge of the community in which he now finds himself. I felt for him; here he was with an active, intelligent mind but a body that no longer let him to do the physical work he’d done his whole life. Reinventing himself at 60 was scary; where to begin? What to do? Time slipping by each day he delayed in moving ahead but not having any idea what direction to move in. Hard to do a résumé when the desired goal is so clouded, so for him the answer wasn’t a resume at all but rather a career exploration class with a healthy number of self-assessments to get a better handle on his skills, interests and abilities.

The couple? They were the most challenging to me. Insistent on just needing a résumé for each of them but again no idea of what the résumé was made for. With no interest in taking the time to better understand themselves, their interests etc., they were just focused on getting a résumé – any résumé it seemed. When I hear this from people, I believe there is a motive existing I’m unaware of. Who needs the résumé really? The person themselves or someone else; like a Caseworker, a government agency, someone providing them with help – provided they show up with a résumé. Hey I might be wrong but….

In each case, I didn’t make a résumé at all. Rather, I booked each of them  in for a personal resume consultation of an hour and a half. Between the first meeting yesterday and their appointed times, I’ve asked them to look at what’s available and come with a better idea of what they might like to do. A specific job posting makes crafting a résumé so much more beneficial.

“But if I bring you an ad”, began the guy with the spouse, “and you make me a résumé for that job, then I’ll need another one when I apply for another job.” I guess I’d got my point across after all; one resume for one job and a separate resume for each job application. He gets it. I know it sounds daunting – especially for someone with no computer skills. A class on basic computer skills is a good idea to get started.

Don’t Let Your Past Taint Others First Impressions Of You


When you’ve had a run of bad experiences such as being let down by others, denied opportunities for advancement you felt you deserved, or flat-out been rejected for jobs you feel you were perfectly suited for, you can start to feel cheated, robbed and hard-done by. Unfortunately, not only can you feel these emotions, but try as you may, they can start to manifest themselves in your behaviour, facial expressions and comments. In short, you can become unattractive to others.

Now this is extremely unfortunate when you meet others for the first time; others who may just be in a place immediately or shortly afterwards to help you out. However, you can well imagine that if their first impression of you is a brooding, negative, all-too serious kind of person with a permanently furrowed brow and constant look of exasperation, you likely aren’t going to be at the top of their list when openings arise.

Sadly, this my dear reader, might just be something you are blissfully ignorant of. It’s true! Now I can’t say for certain of course not having met you, but do yourself a favour and without noticeably relaxing your facial muscles or attempting to consciously smile, grab a mirror and look at yourself. Imagine you were meeting someone for the first time now and what would they see? Of course you might argue that if you were in fact meeting someone for the first time, you’d definitely put on a smile. Ah but wait; that facial expression and overall impression staring back at you in the mirror is the face you’re projecting to people everyday when you’re at your normal self; just walking or sitting around. This is what others see all the time when you’re being your authentic self.

There are clues of course that something is amiss. Could be that people are asking you if everything is okay, or if anything is wrong. Puzzled, you might say things are fine and ask them why they ask, only to be told that you looked troubled or upset. If you are just being your, ‘normal self’, and you’ve not had these kind of comments in the past, something has changed in how you present yourself to others.

Now again, you might have cause to feel the way you do; let down, perhaps kept down, held back from promotions, denied interviews for jobs you wanted or interviewed and rejected far too often. These setbacks are certainly frustrating and it’s hard not to take them as personally as they are after all happening to you. However, taken on their own as individual not connected events, these disappointments may well be not so much indicative of your qualifications or experience but rather the outcomes of a very competitive job market. In other words, more people are applying and competing for single jobs these days and many of those are highly qualified. So if you are applying for jobs, you’ve got a lot of competition.

Of great importance is to make sure the jobs you apply to in the first place are jobs you are truly competitively fit for. Ensuring you meet the stated qualifications – from an objective point of view mind – is integral to your success. Applying for jobs well outside your area of ability on the hopes that someone will take a flyer on you just isn’t going to meet with a lot of success. So if you do, you set yourself up to fail with a high degree of regularity.

Look, have you heard it said that many Recruiters and interviewers decide in the first few minutes of a first meeting if they like you or not? Sure you have. That first few minutes is nowhere near the time it takes to accurately check your education, experience, qualifications and overall fit. So what are they using to make these appraisals? They – just like you and I and everyone else by the way – use our first impressions. How you look, the tone of your voice, your facial expression, mood, dress, posture, personal hygiene and yes your attitude – these come together to create that first impression. After those first 2 – 5 minutes, the rest of the interview is really all about confirming or changing that first impression.

This is why it is so highly important that you don’t allow your past to affect your present if your past is a growing number of poor experiences. Yes, you do have to be authentic and real, not some phony, all-positive and artificially smiling person. Being ‘real’ is important. However, it could well be that given a chance to prove yourself in a job, or getting that promotion would see your old positive self return; the self you truly are most of the time.

Like I said, you might not be fully aware of how your body language and facial expressions have changed; what you think you’re covering up well may be very transparent to others. If you wonder just how things are, and you’re up for some honest feedback, ask people who’ve known you for some time and give them permission to tell you the truth. Could be they’ve noticed a change – and not for the better – but they’ve been reluctant to say anything out of concern for not wanting to hurt your feelings and strain a relationship.

Your first impression is one thing you have complete control over.