Awake The Giant!


Many people, maybe you perhaps, go through much of life living their days in a relatively state of complacency and routine. Each morning is a regular routine, the trip in to work is essentially the same route, taking approximately the same amount of time to travel. The work day might vary every so often with training or a unique encounter with a customer, but as you look back at the past month’s or years in a job, the days blend pretty much in a sea of normalcy.

At the close of the work day, the trek back home is made, another meal prepared and consumed, an evening spent and the cycle repeats itself. This life you’re living isn’t bad; it’s far from it perhaps. Your happy in fact, and generally content. Sure you have your moments with problems, challenges, frustrations and setbacks – we all do. However, you’ve also got your moments of challenges overcome, tasks completed, successes realized. Nothing is really wrong at all.

So if all this is true, if nothing is really wrong, why is it that from somewhere deep down inside, you occasionally feel this tremor; this stirring of something slumbering? Physically there may be nothing going on; it’s not indigestion, nor is it your last meal breaking down into nutrients and waste. No, something else is stirring restlessly from within; something far from physical – much more metaphysical. It might be hard to put into words beyond what I’ve done here but if you’ve felt it you know what I refer to.

It starts with a general awareness you get that something is stirring. That stirring is in response to what’s going on around you; your stimulated in some way with your environment or maybe someone you’re interacting with. If you fail to tune in to that deep inner feeling, it passes. There’s no harm done, you return to the life you’re leading and it subsides. It never really goes away completely, but it slumbers again for a period. Ah, but if you’re dialed in, attuned to the stirring; if you really live that moment in full self-awareness, you my friend, have the opportunity to awake the giant!

Some of you will never know what I’m referring to here. For you, this will be simply a romanticized post of whimsy and theatrics; a poetic rambling of nonsense to be dismissed. Might actually be the majority of you come to think of it. No matter. There are only so many Harry Potter’s, Frodo Baggins, Christopher Columbus’ and Sir Edmund Hilary’s in our world.

Or is that a falsehood? After all, don’t each of us star as the leading character in our own life stories? We are the ones that compose our lives, write our tales and no one else. So what kind of story are you writing? Is it a story filled with highs and lows, repeated defeats, struggles of mental health, loved one’s lost, and interjected moments of triumph and victory? Or is it a huge volume of mundane, commonplace, daily routines; where your decisions are which cereal to have at the start of your day?

What makes you come alive? What shakes the Giant within and gets you feeling invigorated? Have you found that yet? If you’ve had that feeling why aren’t you doing more to feed that feeling more often? And for each of us it’s different isn’t it? For we are on a quest of sorts. We’re on a journey from our present to our future self. In the stories that make good adventures such as Treasure Island or The Lord Of The Rings, hero’s don’t always recognize themselves as such. They start expecting life to be ordered and highly predictable and then some event comes along that changes all that.

If you’re waiting for pirates to abscond with you or some dwarves to come knocking at your door to take you on a quest, you might be waiting a rather long time – waiting your life away. Your stimulus; your calling, might just be internal and not external – the giant within. If you feed it, it grows. If you ignore it, it diminishes until it’s such a far cry from itself it’s barely recognizable.

For there are many adventures still to be found in 2018. While some are thousands of miles away, some are right where we live – where you live – all around you. There are tyrants and victims, the oppressed and the hungry, lives to be saved and people to be helped up. There are those to advocate for, some to be rescued, and the hero to do all these things and more isn’t charging in on some distant horizon. The hero my friend is – perhaps – the giant that slumbers within Y-O-U.

Sure, go on and nod your head in disbelief. Jim Hawkins didn’t believe it, nor did Frodo when talking to Gandalf. Most hero’s at some point say, “But I am only one! What can I do?” Ah, but there is a slumbering giant within us all my friend. Imagine how powerful we might be if we not only awoke the giant within us but stirred the giant in others to join us; to work with us, to journey with us! Then what could we not do collectively together?

Now the next time you feel this stirring from within, pay heed my friend. Ask not where it comes from but rather what is it in response to around you that stirs it?

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Not Feeling As Grateful As You Should?


If you count yourself among those in the workforce, think back for a moment to the last time you were unemployed . If it was a brief period where you were out of work you might not have felt any desperation, but if it was a prolonged period, you’ll appreciate the state you emerged from. Appreciate not from any endearment of course, but appreciate from the point of having great respect for what it felt like.

If you go back in your memories, you might remember the anxiety and worry; the fear of not knowing how long it would be until you found a new job. Maybe you can recall the constant mental energy that your unemployment consumed. Any time you took a break from your job search to do something else, you felt like you should be job searching, so things that typically brought you joy failed to do so. Even if you did escape the concerted thought required to job search successfully, it was for the briefest of times, and then you’d be right back consumed with your unemployment.

At some point, I wonder if you thought to yourself, “When I do get my next job, I’m going to be so grateful; I’m going to do my best to work hard at rewarding the trust somebody will show in hiring me.” Did you think something along these lines? Maybe you even went so far as to make a promise down on your knees in a prayer? “Help me find a job and I’ll (fill in the blanks)”.

Okay now back to the present. Here you are and yes your thankful you’re back among the working. So about that prayer where you promised something in return for a job…? So about that gratitude you’d feel and hard work you’d show everyday once you were working…? How are you doing?

Have you slipped back by any chance into the old, comfortable you? Has your status as a working person and the income it provides that offsets your expenses lulled you back into old habits that might have been responsible in part for your previous unemployment? If so, why is that? Did you or didn’t you promise yourself that things would be different if and when you found your next job? So what happened?

One explanation might be that the job you ended up getting is a far cry from the job you’d imagined at the time you made those promises and had those feelings of future gratitude. Had you known you’d end up where you are now, you wouldn’t have been so grateful or desperate. Really? If that’s the case, you wouldn’t mind returning to being out of work? Think on that. You don’t really want to be back there again do you? I mean, thinking all day long about finding a job, watching what you spend, doing without and the only things rising are your worry, anxiety, fear, desperation, debt and depression.

Human nature being what it is, maybe you have slipped back into the old you – behaving the same way, as your actions are products of your thoughts, and your thoughts are similar to pre-unemployed days. There’s a saying that goes, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Does this saying in this respect apply to you?

Okay so grudgingly you admit you’re not as thankful as you were when you got that call that offered you the job. That’s a day you don’t mind remembering at all. Oh it was good! So were the moments you told someone close to you that you’d been hired and of course the first pay.

Of course this job you have now might not be your dream job. Yes, it could be that you took this job you’ve got now as a transition job – just to curb the financial bleeding of money out. The thing is, it’s taking longer to find the right job than you’d ever have imagined, and there is a part of you that resents this current job,  as it seems to be a reminder some days of the difference between were you thought you’d be and where you are. Is that however, any justification for taking your own feelings of poor self-worth with you into your current workplace and spreading that disappointment and negativity around? Is this how you show gratitude for their faith in hiring you back when you were feeling desperate?

If we’re completely objective here, or if we look at things from the perspective of the employer, no it’s not fair. The baggage you’re carrying with you about your career aspirations and how things have worked out is yours and yours alone. This employer who brought you aboard by hiring you doesn’t deserve anything but your best. If you’re moving on to something better soon (well that’s the plan anyhow), that’s fine, but while you’re in the here and now, you’ve got a job to do.

In other words, as you go through your day, make sure your invested in the work you’re getting paid to do. Don’t let your thoughts wander too far into the future, thinking about what you’d rather be doing. These thoughts can, if not checked, make you miserable in the present and miserable workers aren’t attractive to employers. The last thing you want is to be let go.

Gratitude is best shown in the attitude you bring and the value you add.

Want To Get Past Probation At Work?


Hooray! You’ve landed yourself a new job! If you were unemployed, all that stress of looking for work is behind you now. If you left one job for this one, you’ve got a lot to look forward to, presumably this opportunity has more for you than where you worked last. Congratulations either way!

Your goal has actually shifted in any event, from finding a job to maintaining this job. So how long is your probationary period? 3 months is a good guess, but it might be longer. Oh, and if it’s a contract job, you’ll be hoping perhaps to perform so well they’ll keep you on. The same is true for many of you out there who land yourself a seasonal job for the holiday season approaching. Unless of course you’re the new Mall Santa; your job has a definite end date just before Christmas day!

Here then are some things to do to maintain that new job. Again, congratulations!

  1. Show up when you’re scheduled. It sounds completely obvious I know, but I’m continually surprised by the number of people who upon taking a job, think it is well within their rights to show up late or not at all. When your name is on the schedule, you’re being counted on to be at work. You might have good reasons to be absent or running late, but just the same, your new employer has a business to run and needs employees there to do the work.
  2. Get your childcare in place now. This isn’t exclusive to single parents. Get childcare arranged now – before you start a job – and work on getting a back up on call if your primary source of childcare isn’t available. In other words, a private sitter won’t watch your child if they are ill, or on vacation, have an accident; maybe even if they have medical appointments of their own one day – and they will. Don’t plan on figuring this out after you accept a job; you’ll be too busy.
  3. Dress the part. You want to last don’t you? Okay then, fit in. Now I know that individualism counts, that it’s your right to express yourself as you see fit, and yes, if people don’t accept you for who you are then that’s their problem. Sure, this all sounds noble and under many circumstances I’d agree entirely. It’s also just a tad self-serving too. If the job calls for safety equipment to be worn, wear it as it’s designed, not how you think looks most fashionable. If you interact with the public, keep in mind it’s not just your right to express yourself that’s on display, so is the reputation of the employer who hired you. Keeping up that desired image is expected of you.
  4. Be positive. Be friendly and accentuate the positive. People generally like being around people who are optimistic, personable and yes the odd smile goes a long way. Try a little experiment today – smile and see how many people smile automatically back at you. It’s a reflex motion!
  5. Stay until your shift is over. Cutting out early gets noticed. If you expect to get paid right up until your shift ends, you are expected to work until your shift ends. When you’re off at 5 p.m., that doesn’t mean you start putting on your coat and heading out the door 10 minutes early so you get to your car at 5 p.m.
  6. Pitch In. When appropriate, lend a hand to others. By appropriate, I mean make sure your own job gets completed and helping others doesn’t distract you from doing what’s expected of you. Where possible, a simple, “Hey can I help?” might win you some goodwill, get you noticed and signal to others that you’re a team player.
  7. Be careful who you listen to. At the start of your job, you haven’t any idea who the gossips are, the idle workers, the ones Management has targeted as in line to be let go. Be wary of comments, advice or conversations that just feel wrong, paint the employer in a bad light, or taint anyone badly.
  8. Focus on the work. Make sure the job you were hired to do is actually your focus. While you want to get along, you’re under the microscope more than the other long-standing employees. You’re being evaluated and if you can’t hit targets, seem to be standing around more than working etc., they’ll cut you loose and hire someone else.
  9. Ask for feedback. If you’ve got a 3 month probation period, ask how you’re doing long before you get surprised with being released. It’s too late to say, “What? Why?” You should have been told any concerns so you could improve in any areas they identified as needing attention, but it’s still your responsibility to find out how you’re performing. Ask your Supervisor this one, not a co-worker.
  10. Show some enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is my mantra; it’s the number one quality employer’s want in their employees. It’s no longer enough just to, ‘do the job for a pay cheque’. Employers look for workers with some passion, some investment in what they are doing; people who understand WHY they do what they do and HOW what they do contributes to the overall success of the organization.

I’m happy for you! Yeah! Follow the above and I you’ll hopefully keep your job long past your probationary period. Getting hired and staying employed are two different skills; don’t start coasting now.

Inclusivity


The practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups. Source: Oxford dictionary.

Who doesn’t like to feel included? Whether we’re talking about children having fun on a playground, being invited to a high school party or being successfully hired, we all like to feel both included and welcomed.

Many organizations have looked at themselves with an objective eye and found a discrepancy in their hiring preferences; preferences which have over time favoured some people over others.  That this should occur should not perhaps be inherently surprising in itself; like attracts like in a broad sense. In any particular country, you may find those whom hire, tend to select candidates who speak a similar language, share common beliefs, have a common educational background, perhaps even share a skin tone. However, as population demographics change, one would expect that an organization would gradually reflect the communities around them through their hiring practices.

Historically, an available pool of candidates vying for work tended to be homogenized; of a similar or uniform composition. An interviewer might peer out to see all 6 candidates in a reception area to be of the same skin colour, gender and to the eye all appeared to be physically fit. This may have been the norm in days past – and may still be the norm depending upon where in the world you’re living – but times change, demographics change.  Now an interview might look out to find 6 candidates with very little in common upon first glance.

Some companies have consciously gone about making adjustments to their hiring practices. They have developed policies which have created more diversity in the workplace so that the organizations better reflect those in the communities they serve. In short, they want to look representative of those who consume their services. They’d like you to walk in and find people from various racial backgrounds and cultures, who speak more than a single language, who have physical, gender and age differences.

Yes great strides have been consciously taken in many workplaces to better visually represent the full spectrum of the general population. However, we’re a long way from achieving that goal of full inclusivity. Biases and preferences still exist, and sometimes those biases go so far as to be prejudices. Unfortunately prejudice does rear its head; that conscious decision to exclude segments of a population, leaving those in some groups marginalized and excluded.

Keep in mind as you read that some companies have made great strides; that they have consciously taken steps to be more inclusive is indeed commendable. I don’t believe there should be an award for doing so, but it is worthy of a, ‘good for you’ when an organization breaks with traditional practices and evolves to better diversify its workforce.

I said earlier that when an interviewer looks into reception, they tend to see more diversification in the interviewees; a good thing. However, we have not yet evolved sufficiently to always include what we can’t see; mental health and income as two examples. There exists unfortunately a preference (if you want to emphasize a positive) or a prejudice (if you want to emphasize a negative) against hiring people who receive welfare or social assistance. Some jurisdictions have even changed the wording of such benefits to fend off such discrimination or bias.

To be fair, organizations don’t typically have written polices that discriminate against the poor. Yet every so often I see an employment application that requires an applicant to provide the source of their current income or their combined family income level. When you’re out of work and living in poverty, you tend to feel the hurt and pain of providing such information, and you can’t help but wonder how that information is going to help them decide whether you’re the right candidate.

The thing about poverty is that it isn’t always visible – similar to mental health. Poverty might just limit the ability of a person to impress however. A job interview held over lunch or dinner might severely restrict the financial ability of a candidate to compete, as might their lack of transportation funds nullify their ability to get to all the interviews they’d otherwise choose to attend.

Poverty can also force a person to make tough choices between paying rent and eating versus getting teeth taken care of, staying well-dressed if their wardrobe needs updating etc. Poverty itself might be invisible, but it can explain why a candidate might not quite fit in. Hire them and give them the income that comes with the job however and you would see an improvement in those areas now that they can address things their lack of income prevented them from doing so.

Inclusivity is gaining momentum and I applaud it. This accounts for more women in the workforce, older workers having legitimate shots at getting hired, gives hope to the people who want to financially support themselves and not sit on the sidelines as “disabled”. It allows people with gender differences to stand and compete based solely on their ability to do the work at hand.

If your job has you in the position of hiring, be honest with yourself and look at your hiring biases, preferences and practices. If you look at your workforce and it’s not representative of the larger community, perhaps it’s time to change.

The Hand-Written Thank You Note


How many of you have recently wrote a hand-written thank you note? Hands up out there. Hmm… not many; no not many indeed.

Okay, another question if I may. The last time you received a note of thanks from someone expressing their gratitude, how did it make you feel?

Interesting isn’t it? You enjoy receiving but aren’t doing the giving. Now of course many of you out there might just be the kind of people who are very thankful and gracious with your words of thanks, it’s just that your saying them face-to-face or in an email. After all email is so convenient, accessible and immediate. You can dash off an email expresses thanks in the same time it would take to put on your coat and find your car keys. That trip to the stationery store to buy a card just seems so unnecessary.

I admit the card of thanks takes more effort. Yes, you have to go to the store, pick out a card or a set of cards that expresses thanks but doesn’t communicate the wrong message with some flowery verse on the inside. Then there’s paying for the cards, (because email is free), and if you misspell a word as you write in pen, there’s no delete button to quickly erase your error. Then there’s the exorbitant cost of a postage stamp, addressing the envelope, the trip to a mailbox. Just too much effort!

Or is it?

Think for a moment what someone has done for you in the first place for which you might be contemplating issuing words of thanks. I suspect what they’ve done, or what they continue to do is worth a bit more than the total cost of an envelope, card, postage stamp and your time. In fact, I’d wager your effort and words of thanks pale mightily in comparison. Too much effort on your part? How unfortunate if you feel this way.

The thank you card could be composed and presented to any number of people and for many reasons. Here’s a few to inspire some action on your part:

  • An interviewer after a job interview
  • A co-worker who has your back when work piles up
  • Your Administrative Clerk; the one who ‘does everything’ for you
  • Your job search references; those who back your credentials
  • The Barista who makes your every morning must-have
  • The Teacher who instructs your child
  • The Child Care Provider who nurtures your child
  • Your neighbour who looks out for you in your absence
  • The Receptionist who greeted you on interview day

That’s a lot of people you COULD be thanking. Better get a stack of cards when you’re out and save yourself a lot of return trips. If you look over that list by the way, you’ll note I hope that not a single note of thanks requires postage at all. Nope, each one can be hand-delivered.

The thing about a note of thanks is that it is short and yet powerful; so powerful in fact that many people will hang on to notes of thanks long after they’ve been received. An email of thanks by comparison may be read and deleted in the same day, or immediately after the person replies with a ‘Thanks’.  Then they switch gears and get on with their day.

I give my job seekers with 5 cards of thanks – blank on the inside – and 5 envelopes. I recommend they make use of them and there’s more available if they need them. Sadly, many don’t even issue one. Those that do however, find them surprisingly effective. Oddly enough, they feel better too when the person expresses thanks and a little shock at having received one.

Take your references as an example of people to thank. These are the people you provide to a potential employer as those who will attest to your work ethic, accomplishments, personality, teamwork, etc. After you’ve done your best to wow an employer, they are the ones who will either close the deal or raise some doubt on your application. Suddenly I think your protest that a card of thanks being too much work is failing miserably.

“Just  a few words of appreciation for standing with me as a valued reference. As I transition to a new place, I’m grateful to have your support.”

Now honestly, how long do you think that would take for you to write? Time surely then, can’t be your argument for not writing one, and we’ve already talked about the cost.

So if time and money aren’t the real reasons, we’re left with you don’t know what to say – see example above – or you just can’t be bothered – which means you truly aren’t that grateful. You could have literacy issues I suppose, which I grant.

Need another example? Okay…

Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon. I found our interview informative and enlightening. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work together and look forward to this with enthusiasm. I am excited about the next step in the hiring process.

Short and to the point. Come on people, you can do this. You’re looking for an edge over your competition aren’t you? Don’t be the candidate who just goes home and waits for the phone to ring. You can pen this one sitting in reception and hand it in right after the interview to the Receptionist.

Or not.

“Fake It ‘Til You Make It” = Lying?


One of my colleagues at work is often heard advising those who attend her workshops to, ‘Fake it ’til you make it’. This advice when taken out of context can sound like she’s giving people the green light to outright lie – lie about their experience, education, skills etc. Wow, such advice could really land someone in hot water, not to mention put a company in jeopardy if what the person is faking is serious enough.

Now me personally, I don’t like this phrase at all, and for the very point I just made above. The message intended may be quite different from the message received by listeners and unless clarified, they could walk away telling others that Kelly says it’s okay to lie on the résumé, at the interview or on the job.

As an Employment Counsellor imparting knowledge, opinions and suggesting actions, it’s not always clear that the information we pass on is understood by those receiving the messages although we often assume exactly that.

Last evening I was talking with a friend and she suddenly said she’d had a tough day at work but, “I’ll fake it ’til I make it’. What she was referring to was that she hadn’t had the time she’d planned on to prepare for the evenings play practice. We are both involved in a production of, ‘The Little Mermaid’ and were scheduled for choreography of a musical number.

We had a chat – albeit brief – conversation about this phrase, and she used a great example. As an experienced Nurse, she often mentors some new to the profession, and every so often one will say they are afraid of injecting a needle and taking blood from a patient for the first time. “Fake it ’til you make it” is her advice. In other words, she’s advising that the Nurse act like she’s done this many times and that it’s not a big deal. By faking her own comfort level when in fact she might be squeamish or unsure of herself, she’ll make things easier by comforting the patient and eventually she will find the process routine. Were she to say that this was her first time taking blood and let her nervousness show, that lack of confidence might stress the patient and the combination of a nervous Nurse with a needle and a worried patient could go badly.

In this scenario, it is clear that the, ‘fake it ’til you make it’ advice is appropriate.

However, with some people, faking something is often synonymous with lying. Faking that you’re of legal drinking age by producing a modified birth certificate isn’t acceptable. Neither is telling a Police Officer that you left your driver’s licence at home by mistake when you don’t have one, but are going for the test in a month or two. Faking and lying aren’t the same in this context.

So here’s the essential flaw in the imparting of any advice quite frankly; we don’t always have a shared understanding with those we are speaking with. We may all speak the same language and understand how words are pronounced, but the context of how we use our words and our own past experiences will often dictate how we interpret the things we hear.

Now if we were to check each time we said something to those within earshot to make sure they understood things the way we intended, our conversations would be very long and drawn out and we’d communicate much less than we do now. It would be a huge outlay of energy to constantly ask people to paraphrase what we’ve just said each and every time to ensure complete understanding.

As for job searching, faking that we have a diploma, degree or specific certification required by an employer is never okay under any circumstance. If you don’t have a certificate but you’re planning on taking the course within a few days, your advised to state that clearly and upfront. Sure you expect to pass that First Aid or Health and Safety course, but what if your plans are derailed with a family emergency and you can’t even attend? Then what? You didn’t attend, you don’t have the certificate and the next opportunity to take it isn’t for some time but you told the employer you’d be happy to present your certificate to them the next day. You’re off to a bad start in this new relationship if  you’ve misled them on your credentials. Suddenly everything you’ve said comes under suspicion.

As for employer’s themselves, they’ve been burned too many times to just take the good word of applicants and extend them the full trust they’d like to. They ask for proof of credentials like hard copies of education and call up your references solely because they need to verify the claims you make. Past candidates have been, ‘faking’ credentials and exposed companies to risk and unfortunately this practice seems still in vogue by some job seekers.

Don’t fake that you know how to run some dangerous machinery and count on learning on the job to figure it out. You might injure someone, possibly kill someone (no exaggeration), shut down a plant and throw people out of work, all because you tried to ‘fake it ’til you made it’.

In the right context I get it; however, use clearer ways of expressing the idea behind the phrase for a mutual and therefore better understanding of your intended message.

 

Employment And The Age Paradox


One’s age is an interesting factor when it comes to finding employment. It can help you or hurt you; disqualify you or land you in the running.  Ironically, it’s something that’s never supposed to be revealed or inquired about in an interview – unless of course age is a legal requirement such as a position serving alcohol.

While age isn’t supposed to be raised verbally, it sure is taken into consideration by the person or people conducting interviews. I mean, it has to be doesn’t it? As soon as you come into visual contact with a representative of the company you are about to interview with, you’re being assessed. That brief look as you move towards each other is taking in all kinds of information; hair colour, skin tone, muscle/fat proportions, walking gait, how hard or easy it seems for you to stand, the speed of your walk, the purity or blotches of your skin, your smile, the health of your teeth, bags or lack thereof under your eyes, thickness or thinning hair, stooping or straight up posture. Whew! That’s a lot to take in over the course of 10 seconds!

Notice how all the above are observations made based completely on non-verbal signals you’ve put out there to the interviewer. Once you open your mouth and speak, more information is available such as the tone, power and volume of your voice, the clarity or not of your words, your vocabulary; your overall energy.

In another 10 seconds, all this information – and more – is sent by you and picked up on by the interviewer. At this point, you’ve now given them enough information – and it’s been about 20 seconds mind – that they’ve formed an opinion of you and compared that to what they’ve settled on as the kind of person they are after. That opening impression if good is something for you to build upon. If that opening impression is a miss, you’ve got the rest of your time together to alter it, and believe me, altering someone’s first impression of you when you only have one meeting with them is much harder than you’d like it to be.

There are many people both young and old who lament the age discrimination. Some who are young feel their age suggests a total lack of work experience, immaturity, little life experience, and a future full of mistakes, errors, poor judgement, lack of responsibility and commitment to a solid work ethic. Older workers worry they are discriminated against because they are judged as set in their ways, slowing down, drawing on health benefits to the extreme, out of date with developments and not interested in any personal development. Oh and let’s not even talk about technology.

The paradox re. age is that younger people sometimes wish they came across as more mature while older workers wish they presented as 10 or 15 years younger. Both groups recognize the advantages of the other. Younger people if we buy in to the stereotypes, are healthier, more energetic, technologically tuned in, are open vessels to teach and they look more vibrant and enthusiastic. Older workers have experience the young lack; both life and work. Older workers also have the benefit of having learned from their mistakes and they make less of them.

Here’s the thing though…we are who we are. If you’re 22, you’re 22. If you’re 56, you’re 56; it’s a given. However, as we all know, there are some 22 year olds who act like their 17 and some who act like they are 28. There are some 56 year olds with the energy and vitality of those in their mid-forties and some 56 year olds who move as if they are picking out their coffins on the weekend. Age alone then, isn’t the definitive factor that we might at first believe it to be. What is essential to recognize what we can control which will in turn help create the first impression we want others to formulate when meeting us.

The clothes we choose to wear send signals. Do the clothes fit properly and are they right for the conversation we are about to have. While it might not be flattering to think about, we have to also take a good look at our bodies because others will. Are you willing to lose or gain weight if you’d appear healthier or your clothes would fit better? Or would maintaining your weight but shifting some fat to muscles create a more vibrant you? If you’re an older fellow with a scruffy beard maybe shaving everyday would immediately take off 5 years? Maybe, maybe not.

This isn’t about pretending to be someone you’re not. This is about projecting a desirable image so that you become attractive to the interviewer – professionally attractive; so they can visualize you as a positive addition to the organization. Lest you think you are somehow selling out to change-up who you are just to impress someone, think again. You’d likely put some effort into your appearance if you knew you were having a date with someone, and if it was at the end of the month, you might do all you could between now and then to come across in the best possible way.

Of course you can ignore all of this advice and just say, “I am who I am and if they don’t like me that’s their problem.” But then again, you’re not investing yourself in this potential relationship now are you?