When Did You Give Up On Your Dream?

Hang on a second. If you think I’m going to admonish you for giving up on something which at one point at least, you really wanted, well, that’s not going to happen. Why would I do that? There’s no gain in it for me and as for the reasons why you gave up on something, well that’s entirely your business. Your reasons are your reasons and the life you’re leading is entirely yours to live as you choose. I for one, hope it’s going well.

But it’s likely that you did give up on some – and here’s the word we have to substitute to fit your circumstances – thing, where, or body. Okay to spell it out, it’s likely that you did give up on something, somewhere or somebody. It’s just straight mathematical probability. After all, you’ve been on this earth how long? And considering that length of time, it’s probable that you believed in something you held dear, somewhere you promised yourself you’d like to get to for a visit or to live. And it’s likely that during all this time you’ve been on this planet, you believed in somebody; someone you may have eventually come to doubt, somebody you no longer believe in. That somebody might even just be you.

Oh we’ve all got reasons you know; responsibilities came along, we had to grow up, we had to settle down, people told us to be practical. We might have failed a few times in whatever we were aspiring for, or saw the frailty of human spirit in those we’d once held high.

When you had that dream of roaming around the country with that free spirt of yours it was a different time. Man, you were young back then and had a lot fewer things to hold you down when you think of it. You had the whole world in your hands – well – that’s what people told you. “You can do anything my boy!” “Why young lady, just dream and make it happen!” Ironically much of this kind of advice came from people who felt similarly at one point in their own lives but never quite lived up to their own dreams and visions. But you, well, back then they looked at you through envious eyes and tried to merge their acquired wisdom with your youthfulness and hoped it would set a fire to your ambitions, whatever they may be.

And dream you did. For some it was a job as an Astronomer, traveling the world for others or a big house with a wrought iron black fence and electronic entry gate. Maybe it was believing in your own children, your parents as ideal role models, a political candidate you honestly believed was going to revolutionize the free market. You believed! But; and it’s a huge but, you evolved and grew up and as you grew, you felt entlightenment and wisdom to put away your previous dreams and replace them with new ones. The new ones weren’t like the old ones though. These new dreams were more sensible, obtainable, rational and achieveable. By reducing the magnitude of what they were and the difficulty in making them come true, your own sense of accomplishment came naturally.

Yet every so often, something you hear, see, feel, touch or taste reminds you of those past things you gave up on. Just a gentle prod mind you; not enough of a push to get you all riled up and making a major life change to recapture that urge to make your dreams of past days come true. No, just a delicate brush of remembrance so you know what’s past.

We do evolve and grow. As we interact with more people, see new things and experience the world in new ways for the first time it is only natural to move on and make different choices. When we look back, it’s not with regret all the time. No, sometimes we just realize that in those moments of decision, we made choices which we deemed the best, given the knowledge we had in those moments.

When we first dreamed of what we wanted to be in life, we were in our infancy, playing Fireman, Doctor and Teacher. No child of two ever happily played at being Arborist or Meterologist. Those play figures just don’t exist and those occupations have yet to even come into such a childs’ consciousness. To give up on those career aspirations of Fireman, Doctor and Teacher is normal as they become replaced with others. No guilt felt in replacing those dreams by the majority.

Dreams can be sources of inspiration, give us hope and motivate us to movement. The one thing I hope you never come to give up on of course is yourself.

I encourage you to live not in the present bemoaning the choices and unrealized dreams of the past, but rather live in the present moving towards your future dreams. If you’ve got some dreams, well good for you! Go for them. If people say you should get your head out of the clouds and come down to earth, giving up on your dreams, it’s really up to you whether you follow that advice or your heart.

Some thing, some place, some one or yourself. Don’t give up on them lightly. But of course if you do, you’ve got your reasons.


When Change Is Here

Throughout your professional and personal life, you’ll often experience change. Whether or not you adapt, and the rate of speed at which you do, goes a long way to determining your successful transition from what was to what is.

Just like any other skill, the ability to deal with change is something some of us are better prepared and able to deal with than others. While one person might embrace change immediately, another might take longer, needing time to process new information; work through in their mind what they are being asked to do, consider the ramifications and eventually get on board. Still others will hold on with everything they’ve got to what they’ve known out of their personal need for security and familiarity; especially if they’ve liked doing things a certain way.

Not all people who resist change are similar, although to casual observer they may appear to be so. While there may indeed be people so resistent they actively go out of their way to thrawt change, others just need time to process new information. This is particularly the case if the size and rate of change is large and quick.

Back in 2019, a lot of businesses and employees worked in ways which were very familiar to them. 2019 looked a lot like 2018, 2017 etc. But then, a world-wide pandemic arrived and for many individuals and businesses, the unexpected pandemicvirus forced people to change and adapt or risk business and job loss. Transforming how business would be done meant many people had to suddenly learn new skills, merge home and work environments, affecting their personal and professional lives.

One key determinent to how quickly we commit to change is whether it’s us that’s envisioned the change or we are having to react and adapt to change envisioned by others. When we initiate change, we are involved with the entire process; having a spark of an idea, mulling it over, considering pros and cons, weighing ramifications of when to change and the rate at which we do so and then finally introducing change when we feel confident and committed to it. When someone else brings about change, it depends at what point we are introduced to the process and its impact on us personally when it comes to how quickly we’re able to move from what was to some new way of working.

When change is large, such as working remotely from home rather than going to a workplace, one thing which makes this easier is a pack mentality. Everyone is in the same situation during the pandemic and this common, external threat unifies staff and gets people supporting each other; everyone starting from a common point of having to learn new skills.

When major change is initiated by some in the organization and there isn’t a shared belief that change is required, resistance can be predicted and expected. Consider a new delivery model of the services you provide, a new set of policies and procedures, a realignment of departments and personnel. When these kinds of changes are brought about, you may be asked to trust senior management is making changes for the betterment of the company and is making decisions based on information they have, which you at your level do not.

While you will be expected to get onboard with implemented changes, I submit that ‘getting onboard’ isn’t enough. In navigating an organization through some new uncharted waters, some onboard might choose not to paddle – at least not while being observed; the result being they don’t help move the rest forward. While they don’t actively impede progress, forward movement isn’t as unified and quick as it would be if they pulled in the same direction. Everyone moves faster when given the tools required and uses their oar to pull. Things progress best not only when everyone works together, but also matches the effort of those who move with enthusiasm and energy.

Good advice if you generally don’t do well with change is to give yourself time to receive and process information before digging in and coming across as opposed. Sometimes 24 hours and a good sleep is all that’s needed to process information and see things differently. It’s also helpful in some circumstances to ask questions that help you better understand the reasons behind change. What is it these changes are a reaction to? How will they better posiiton your company, department or you personally to better deliver your products and services? What’s at risk if you keep the status quo?

Of course there are times when you’ll be expected to embrace change without access to all this information because the distance between your posiiton and the people envisioning change is great.

If change is severe, you might find it healthier to look for work elsewhere or retire. You might also find that seeking out a Counsellor to talk through your fears, concerns and anxiety helpful too. Not everyone deals well with change but change happens nonetheless.

I personally have improved my adaptability to change and it’s now a strength. For me, the faster I change my mindset, (which I control), the better I am to embrace change itself, over which I often have little control.

Resistence to change is often how it might look to others when actually you just need time to learn new methods.

Investing In The Relationship

The best relationships are the ones in which both partners not only make initial investments in each other, but do so on an ongoing basis. The initial investments come easily to most people; going out of your way to show through your actions that this person means a lot to you. In the early stages of a relationship, there’s a lot to discover about this other person you’re drawn to. You’re on the lookout for the things that please your partner, you put effort into the relationship and you do little things that pay off with a smile brought to their face.

Strong relationships stand the test of time when partners continue to invest in each other. It’s important to realize that as the relationship evolves, so too do the two individuals which make up this partnership. Sometimes couples come to realize that their individual priorities have changed, along with their interests and needs. While each individual person may very well be a good person at heart, this evolution of the individuals involved can divide a relationship to the point where each person moves on in separate directions apart from on another. There’s no issue of blame, no wronged partner; just a parting of the ways, each with a healthy view of the other.

The relationship which exists between employers and employees works much the same. In the beginning, an applicant does their best to get to know a potential employer by doing their research. Then the applicant makes an approach, does their best to capture the employer’s attention and present themselves as a good match. The employer is also doing their best to present themselves as a good partner; dangling benefits, wages, work environment, culture and future growth to woo the applicant.

Once the two come together in an agreement, both employer and employee begin in the honeymoon phase where each invest in the partnership; the employee grateful for the opportunity is on their best behaviour. Employers are doing their best to welcome the new hire into the fold, making introductions all round, providing training opportunities and protecting the new hire from a full workload in the first early days. Both employee and employer check in with each other to see how the relationship is progressing and both want this partnership to be productive and lasting.

Now there’s no specific timeframe for the transition to the post-honeymoon period. A sign of the transition however, is when the newness has rubbed off, the routine of daily tasks is known, the employee has settled in and the employer stops checking in to see how the newbie is doing as a regular thing. Protecting the new hire from a full workload is over and expectations of full performance begin. This doesn’t mean the relationship has soured, it just means the 2nd phase has begun.

Employers show their continued investment in their employees by providing ongoing training, making sure staff have opportunities to develop professionally and acknowledge achievements employees make which enhance the end-user experience. They provide feedback on how they see the relationship, talk about where they as an entity are headed and why, hoping by this transparency, to avoid surprising their staff by moving in any direction that would catch their employees off guard and unawares. In short, the best relationships between employers and employees is where employers demonstrate great care for the staff they employ.

Employees too have a responsibility in this relationship. For the the partnership to continue to be a good one, employees need to pull in the same direction; work with each of their colleagues in order to be collaborative and productive. This can mean learning new procedures, taking on additional training with enthusiasm and continuing to develop as individuals so their skills remain competitive.

Frequently, as employees and employers evolve, the time comes when one of the two realizes that things just aren’t working as well as they once did or could, and a parting of the ways is in each partners best interests. It does not mean that either partner is necessarily to blame or at fault, but rather that they have grown and evolved in different ways, have different needs and their futures will continue to evolve down different paths. In parting, each actually does the other a favour. Only poor employees or poor employers belittle and demean the other – sometimes done from a place of hurt or feeling wronged. Smart employers and employees part on the best of terms which leaves reconciliation a possibility and intersecting in the future in different roles something to look forward to, such as moving to another organization in the same field.

When either partner ceases to invest in the relationship, things stagnate and what can set in is complacency. Employees stop stretching themselves and developing their skills, employers expect to stay competitive in their industry but fail to invest in ongoing training of their greatest assets – the people they employ.

If you apply yourself and do your best, you increase the odds of finding a great partner to build a relationship with. It takes effort, investment in each other and understanding that if you take care of your partner’s needs, you often find they take of yours.

Whatever your role where you work, may you be in a great partnership and get as much as you give.



“I Need A Job Not A Conversation”

When I meet people for the first time in my line of work, one of our first interactions starts with me asking how I can be of help and getting the  response, “I need a job.” That makes sense, because supporting people in their quest for a job or career is what I do.

Like you’d expect, I ask a few questions about what they’re looking for, whether or not they have a resume and if so, I ask for a once over which is the quickest ways to see their career path to date. What you might not expect however, is the direction I steer the conversation in. Sometimes the biggest mistake I could make is pulling up a website and looking for a job for them to apply to. This is exactly what they hope and expect I’ll do, followed by sending off their resume and then saying goodbye while they go home and wait for the phone to ring.

What I have found far more effective however, is having a conversation; some meaningful dialogue that gives me information I’m after in order to make the most of our time together. The odd thing is were I to ask directly the questions to get at what I want to know, they’d likely shut down the conversation with the response, “Look I just want a job. Are you going to help me or not?”

The conversations I work to develop are my way of getting insights into a person’s backstory. Knowing the backstory might not seem to you to be any of my business; like them, you might agree that I should, “just get them a job.” Well-meaning rookies in the employment field do that, and that’s no slight to their intelligence, they just lack the experiential awareness that comes with having tried that approach and learning it doesn’t work.

While I’m looking at a resume for example, I’m not just looking at their work history. I’m wondering about the decisions that prompted changes in jobs, looking for promotions that suggest competence, an employer’s belief that they were ready for increased responsibilities. I note gaps and want to hear those so I can hear first-hand how they might similarly explain these to an interviewer. The spelling and grammar, the simplicity or well-developed vocabulary they have gives me clues as to their literacy and written communication skills. The education they have completed gives me insight into their academic achievements and whether I see additional courses and certificates or not gives me clues to their belief in the value of continuing self-development. But the only way to verify all my assumptions is to respect the person enough to ask. And rather than ask direct questions that would come across as an interrogation, the kinder thing to do is have a focused conversation.

The positives I’m listening for in this chat are the good decisions they’ve made, achievements, acquired skills and I’m watching their face and listening to the tone of their voice so I don’t miss what they are proud of and what recalls good memories.

On the other hand, I’m alert to anything which causes their eyes to drop, their head to turn away, the things they skip or skim over, drops in the volume of their voice. These are clues to current employment barriers, problems in past jobs which if not fully addressed could be repeated in future ones. The more we talk, the more trust is established, the deeper we go and the better I get at responding to their initial request to help them find not just a job, but the right job.

Not all the time of course, but it happens where a person pops in expecting to leave in an hour with a shiny new resume and all we’ve done to the casual observer is talk, having accomplished nothing. A second meeting is needed to do what could and should have been done in the first meeting. Stats-driven governments and organizations that put numbers ahead of people encourage that approach. Not a single person ever went into the employment counselling and coaching profession with the goal of being a churner of impressive statistical data. Every single one of us without exception put helping and serving people first.

It’s conversations; human connections from which we learn best of others. These are where we connect with people and in the job seekers situation, where we can have a significant impact and accelerate their job search. What this translates into is not just finding them their next job, but partnering with them to better help them know themselves, find a good match with an employer, and increase their chances of finding lasting, meaningful work.

Looking at conversations this way, the investment of time in people pays off. It might look to outsiders like a nice conversation with very little productivity to show for it. I suppose however it depends on your currency – what you see as a productive outcome.

These conversations are what true professionals long for and rebel against most strongly when they are threatened by short-sighted people who see them as luxuries we can’t afford. If you really want to pump up your stats and get people jobs which last, you’ll be wise to help job seekers with a healthy conversation.


Who Have You Got On Your Team?

One of the biggest benefits to having a job is also one of the most seldom talked about; being surrounded by and connecting with other people. Even when you work independently most of the time, you’re still connected to an organization and all the people you call co-workers. If and when you want or need advice, suggestions or just plain conversation, people are there.

Looking for a job on the other hand can be extremely isolating. While a workplace provides a central gathering place for co-workers to convene, when you’re out of work altogether, there is no hub to bring people together. Only once you’ve had a job in the past and are on your own looking do you realize how important those relationships with past co-workers were.

On top of all this, the Covid-19 world-wide pandemic comes along. If you think you’ve got it bad having to connect to fellow employees and customers via video calls, amplify your feelings of isolation and have some empathy for the job seeker doing their best to maintain their mental health alone.

My opinion might differ from others, but I feel it of vital importance to assemble a team of people when you’re looking for work rather than going it entirely solo. And who should make up that team? Good question! Let’s have a look.


More important than any other team member, Cheerleaders are the people who are pulling for you, the one’s who touch base and not only ask how it’s going, they continually remind you of your skills, talents and abilities. These are the people who recall to your mind the good works you’ve done, the positive impact you’ve had on others and sometimes how you’ve helped them personally be better themselves at what they do. In short, they make you feel good about yourself in the past, the present and how your not done yet. You’re going to be successful in your job hunt. Mom, Sherry, Bella, Terri, Finuzza, Dave and Rochelle are just some of my personal cheerleaders; nobody bigger than mom.


You’ll recognize these folks better as references. In the past, they only came into play when you’d interviewed and put forward their names as people wiling to testify to your good works. These days, their powerfully kind words are found on your LinkedIn profile for all to read anytime. These are the people who back up your claims of being influential, hard-working, impactful, tireless, resourceful; whatever it is that they want to celebrate and share about you. Along with 36 others, I’m grateful for Trevor, (alias Wonder Boy who always had my back), Dawn, Adam and Jeff.


These are the people who significantly share and feel the impact of your job search journey. Yes, your life partner, your children, your parents in some cases, siblings and immediate nuclear family; the ones you live with. Your financial status affects them, your mood be it stable or swinging from good to bad to great to mellow to good etc. These are the ones who keep their own fears for you suppressed so they don’t add to your stress while they bear their own. They’ll celebrate your good fortune more intensely precisely because they’ve been and will continue to be, a team member more than any of the others. Janine and Shannon get clear recognition here; thanks for never doubting.


Not all of us tap into these people, but we should source them out and seek their counsel. These are those we tap into for advice when we’re stuck at the worst and unsure at the best. When we wonder how best to proceed, what course of action will get us the results we’re after, or wish to check on what’s the latest thing in our line of work. They might be Employment Counsellors, Job Coaches, Employment Advisors, Mentors, Guides, Trainers, Mental Health Counsellors and Guru’s. I know the critical importance of these precisely because I myself have never had one; which is my strongest motivator to be a good one.


These are the people – and I hope we all have them – who have tangibly benefited from our influence in their lives. They can best attest to our good works. They remind us of the best in us. They are better for having met us. They have products we’ve made or services we’ve provided that helped them along a little or enriched their lives in a bigger way. When it gets dark in our lives, we are reminded of these people – and sometimes by them – of how we’ve had an influence for good and we’re humbled. We know instinctively that when all the world seems to say we can’t, these people remind us that in fact, we have! Among many others, Rosiland, Rupert, Alan, Lorraine and Lisamaria.

Suddenly it’s not such a lonely road when you’re job searching. These people aren’t in our homes and physically beside us as we look for our next role. They’ve shaped us however just as we’ve shaped them; we do well to remind ourselves of their influence, their continued presence and we’re better for knowing them.

May your own job search journey be filled with cheerleaders, backers, beneficiaries, advisors and stakeholders.

We are all successful. Who are the people who make up your team?


Delivering Honesty With Kindness

One of the kindest things I do every now and then is tell someone I’ve just met that they don’t have a realistic shot at getting an interview for the job they want to apply to.

On the surface, that would appear to go against one of my key goals which is establishing and nurturing a partnership between myself as an Employment Counsellor and them as a job seeker. I mean, at a first meeting, you’d think I’d be going out of my way to have them see me as a nice fellow who leaves them feeling inspired and full of confidence. That would be nice, and for a lot of people I meet for the first time, this is exactly how they perceive me when they walk away.

Here’s the thing though; I’d rather a jobseeker come to see me as authentic, helpful and sincere in my desire to see them ultimately succeed. That ultimate success means taking the time to find the right job, the right employer, the right match for their skills, experience, interests and their needs. And in fairness to the employers I am working with to find talent, it also means sending them job applicants who are qualified; of the right character fit with authentic skills and experience.

Recently I was introduced to a person looking to make a career shift from the job they have now to another. On the upside, I give credit to this job seeker for several things: 1) seeking out the professional services of an employment agency 2) realizing the need for a better resume and 3) having the resiliency and courage to move from a position they are performing at well to a new position where there will be a steep learning curve.

However, on the downside, the person not only lacks a specific software knowledge the employer has described as a strong asset, they lack required experience in basic computer skills. Further, they have no experience in the environment which the employer has stated is expected.

It was evident to me within 5 minutes of meeting them that there was a gulf between the employers stated needs and this applicants experience and skills. It wasn’t going to be fair to send them off with a shiny new resume, full of false confidence and have them compete against applicants with years of experience and education to match. In the field they were considering, it is well-known that the labour market is flooded with highly-qualified candidates.

What I did do was gently but nonetheless clearly, tell them that without the mandatory skills required, they didn’t have a shot at the position. Had I stopped talking and left things there, it wouldn’t have been a good conclusion. They walked in for help after all, and I was determined to provide it; albeit different from what they had expected.

Well, we constructed a resume together that promoted the transferable skills they have, focused on their character and personal qualities that would be a desirable fit, and printed it off. The wording on the resume had them sitting up straighter, feeling really good at how they came across on paper, promoting skills and qualities they hadn’t verbalized but yet I had discerned and labeled from listening to them describe their current and past work.

But what really has them feeling better is a promise I made to them which they hadn’t expected when they came in the door. While I provided a resume for them to take to the job fair they were heading out to, I told them that I or one of my colleagues would like to work with them to better explore their skills and abilities and find a position for which they would compete as a strong candidate.

This offer of unexpected help to better get to know them and find the right fit, more than anything else, had this job seeker leave expressing gratitude for the honesty and willingness to help. They remarked as they left that they didn’t expect to get the job anymore and if they did somehow it would be a nice surprise. But this person wasn’t disappointed and thanked me for sharing the truth.

Employment Counsellors are good at what we do. We read people and do our best to meet people where they are in life and support them on their career journey with the goal of setting them up for success. We recognize that you as the job seeker are the expert of you; you know yourself better than we ever will. The key is to work in true partnership together; you knowing you and we knowing how to draw out your accomplishments, rich experiences, achievements and then marketing these in language that not only appeals to employers, it just makes you feel empowered.

It’s a risk to tell a person you’ve just met that they aren’t in the running for a job when you know the needs of an employer and what an applicant lacks. However, the risk/reward almost always pays off with a relationship they can trust in; knowing they’ve partnered with an Employment Counsellor who has their best interests in mind. The goal therefore is to deliver honesty with kindness out of a deep set respect for the person, rather than only telling someone what you believe they wish to hear.


The Impact Of Positivity

Over the course of our lives, a lot of things come into our consciousness and some of them stick. These become the foundations for what we believe, and we use the total of these experiences to guide us as we encounter new situations. In short, they become our personal and preferred way of seeing and interacting with the world we live in.

One such thing I have found has to do with positivity. You might call it cheerfulness, being upbeat or just plain choosing to be in a good frame of mind. But to really appreciate its value, you have to see and experience people who have it and those who don’t. For only then do you get in touch with your feelings being in the company of each, and come to have a preference.

It sounds simple enough to say you’d much rather be around positive people. I mean, it sounds obvious and you’d assume no one would choose otherwise. And yet, like me, I’m guessing you know at least one person who would call on dark clouds to rain on everyone they met if they could.

What I have found is that for me personally, I feel better when I’m surrounded by others who are generally positive as they go about their work and play. I understand that unfortunate events happen to us all that can cause us to feel sad, sometimes angry or upset. These feelings do come to us all and we are actually fortunate to experience them so we can better relate to others in our lives, having developed true empathy. But generally positive people choose to get back to being positive sooner because it’s truer to who they are and how they like themselves to be.

Now, think about positive people you know in the workplace. As you think about them, do they come across as energetic? This is one of the things I myself found of such people early in my working life. In fact, not only were they energetic, but when they were around me, I found myself energized too. When their smile came out, mine did too. I found myself happier, more optimistic and sometimes laughing. My mood was improved.

And what of the contrasting experience? Well, when I found myself working with people who were generally less positive, I found my energy drained. Far from bringing a smile to my face, their lack of enthusiasm for positivity sucked what energy I had; even conversations seemed more guarded and terse. By the time one of us walked away, I felt drained. My mood was not improved.

This wasn’t a one-off experience. As I interacted with more people, I found the impact they had on my mood and feelings was repeated in much the same way. The positive people lifted me up and the negative types brought me down. Just as some people are affected positively by working in natural light and negatively affected when deprived of it (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I was being influenced by the people around me.

With the passing of years and a variety of work locations and various jobs and careers, I’ve experience this as a truth – again, for me personally. My internal compass has always steered me to positive people and when I’m paying attention, my radar sounds that I’m in need of a change in direction when I’m around negative types longer than I want to be.

What this acquired knowledge did for me – and continues to do for me – is provide me with information on how I feel interacting with others. With that information, I then have a conscious decision to make. I can choose to generally be a positive or negative person. I can choose to feel good about things I have control over or I can choose not to. The same is true of you.

Words we use reveal our thoughts. Ever met someone who, when you say, “Good morning!”, they reply, “What’s good about it?” Isn’t it the same person who when you ask, “How was your weekend?” they reply, “Not long enough.”  These aren’t bad people. In fact, they can be intelligent, helpful, well-meaning and very successful. They can be kind and laugh of course; they can smile and be positive too – but it requires more effort on their part and isn’t something they sustain. Eeyore from Winnie-The-Poo tales is such a person. Loveable and well-liked, but not a positive creature by nature.

Like I mentioned earlier, I feel myself more energized and cheerful when I’m surrounded by positive people. I like how I feel in those moments. But the real benefit of having met these people comes with the realization that I (and therefore you), can make the conscious choice to likewise be positive. In so doing, not only do I feel better, but I have noticed that my outlook has drawn some remarkably good people to me. Enthusiasm for positivity is contagious.

I strongly suspect that when employers recruit new staff, they evaluate the fit of those they interview for the impact they will have on the chemistry of their existing workforce. Look at job ads and you’ll see qualifications such as team player, strong interpersonal and communication skills, friendly, customer service etc.

Want to impress? Consider being positive and radiate enthusiasm!


Older Job Seekers

Older…hmm… how old is old? Actually, it’s not necessary for us to agree on a shared definition of ‘older’ when it comes to looking for work. Hey, if YOU feel you’re old, it’s become your truth; your reality. In other words, if you think you’re old, you’ll easily find a lot of people to agree with you. It’s simple enough; if you feel old, you act old and when you act old, people perceive you as old.

I believe it isn’t the actual number of years those candles represent that defines us. Surely you’ve met people who look and act years beyond their chronological age and likewise you’ve met people with a ton of energy and vitality who look and act much younger than they actually are.

So when someone tells me that their age is a barrier to finding work, I know what they really mean is they believe employers are branding them too old to work. However, I feel these same job seekers are really betraying their own perception of their status as ‘old’. And guess what? When that self-perception is deep-rooted in a person’s psyche, it’s the single biggest obstacle to that individuals job search success. I know this to be factual. You see, I’ve had personal experience of working closely with a great number of people over the years, many of whom have felt too old. But of that number, there are those who have reprogrammed how they view themselves, and gone on to productively work for years.

Now think about why it is that some employers might view someone’s age as a barrier to hiring. Well, there’s retirement and leaving the organization. However isn’t it equally true that someone in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s might equally leave? The reasons are different but the result the same. Moving to a new community, deciding to stay home and start a family, taking a higher paying job elsewhere, changing their line of work altogether. There’s a myriad of reasons. People at all ages leave organizations with equal frequency and predictability.

Employers also see older people as having higher absenteeism for medical issues. They’ve bought into the fallacy that older bodies start breaking down and are in the repair shop longer than younger models when they do.  To combat and counter this myth, supply the employer with evidence of your reliability with documentation of your attendance record, either through awards and commendations or written testimonials on your public profiles to back you up. Oh and stop talking about your ailments; old people do that.

Older folks aren’t into technology and will kick and scream in the face of innovation and change is another assumption an employer might have. Well, what are you doing to defy this? If you don’t have a social media platform of your own, it seems to me you’re feeding right into that belief. Sit down, create yourself an online presence, do some online learning and put this on your resume with ONLINE LEARNING in caps. Here I am by the way with a personal blog, a LinkedIn presence, in a new job learning several new computer software programs and this past June I celebrated my 61st birthday.

Did you notice I said I ‘celebrated’ my birthday? I do every year. My age has become my asset and not a weakness. I’m not 39 or 49 every year, nor am I “none of your business”. I’m 61 and further, I’m now in my 62nd year! Yippee! How I see my age is that it’s a tremendous asset to bring to my workplace as I inspire older job seekers to achieve their own success. Initially older job seekers want me to commiserate with them, hunch my shoulders forward, hunch slightly and say, “I hear you.” Rubbish. I won’t do that.

Which brings me to appearance. Look in the mirror and see yourself as others see you. Baggy, ill-fitting clothes aren’t reserved only for the likes of some youth. If your pants are too tight or too loose, if you consistently miss one of the belt loops and never notice, if you’re still putting a pocket protector in your shirt pocket, it’s like you’re going out of your way to confirm their view as aged and outdated. Get in shape and get in fashion. Simple things. I’m not advocating putting on 30 pounds or dropping 40 pounds to regain your youthful physique. Just pay attention and don’t let yourself go, then expect others to see you as vibrant and having the necessary stamina to work long shifts with energy.

Look, I’ve witnessed people who felt their age a problem transform themselves and in so doing, change how others perceive them. Where it started for them and where it starts for you, is between the ears. What you believe is what you become.

There’s no magic pill. It starts with your thinking. Make some changes. Shoulders back, head up, a brisk pace to your walk, an authentic smile. Enthusiasm for who you are and believing that all your rich and diverse life experiences – work and personal – are your greatest strength. These you lay before an employer, and if you do it well, you change their perception of your value to them.

But remember, if say you’re old, well… they’ll agree.


Feel At Your Lowest? Take Heart; Have Hope

Some people apply for and win a job, only to find a short time into the role there’s a voice inside that says, “Well, this is it. This is what my education and experience has brought me to unless I make another change”. These are not words of comfort. These are words expressing dissatisfaction, perhaps bitterness and resentment.

One wonders then why someone would even apply and further accept, a position which was far below what they want; far below what they would otherwise consider. Maybe if you’re identifying with this situation, you’re reflecting back yourself at this very moment on a time in your own life when you took a job that if truth be told, you felt beneath you. You know your reasons at the time.

It’s fair to say that the reasons behind making such a move must be powerful enough or otherwise no one would do so. I’ve met more people than you might guess who have done exactly this; taken a job and worked in it for a time when it’s not made use of their full set of skills and not brought them happiness or fulfillment.

Sometimes it’s a case of having exhausted all their savings and needing a job to survive. Sometimes it’s an older worker in their late 50’s or early 60’s who has been rejected over and over again; their self-confidence obliterated and yet still feeling the need to contribute. In other words, desperation sometimes can cause us to make decisions and do things we would never have thought possible of ourselves.

So yes, you might be a well-educated person with some impressive work history on your resume, finding yourself in an entry-level position making minimum wage, all the while answering to a Supervisor who has another couple of month’s to go before getting their high school diploma. That voice inside has verbalized more than once, “This is it? This is where we are?”

You can have many reactions to the voice in your head. You can accept the voice as a truth and agree that yes, this is where you’ve landed. But even then, you can continue with, “This is where I belong and I’m here forever”, or “This is where I am but this is only the first of many steps I’ll be taking on my way back up.”

This shouldn’t be confused with the person who reinvents themselves and moves from success in one industry to rock bottom in another but gains joy in the new job. A Business Executive might chuck it all for a potters wheel, but they might have made this move by calculation and design. I’m looking more at the person who has lost it all; who never thought they’d be where they are today and is struggling with their self-perception, their mental health and their self-worth.

When you’re in that dark and lowly place, then suddenly find yourself employed on the bottom rung of a footstool rather than a long ladder with no prospects of advancing anywhere soon, that voice in your head will likely start whispering.

Take heart my reader. You remain, as you always have been, a person of worth. Sometimes, in order to be reshaped and repurposed, people – as well as things – are broken down and remade. You may yet be destined to do things from which you’ll take great pride and personal satisfaction. You, who may have measured yourself and others primarily by job title and salary, are in a period of flux; change. It’s unsettling, disruptive, chaotic and turbulent and at the same time an unwanted period of long, drawn out days with little to do.

And then along comes this job you’ve successfully obtained. It doesn’t compensate you as jobs have in the past. It doesn’t tap into your rich and diverse skills. It does fulfill your most immediate needs for the present however. It gives you a purpose, a place to be with expectations of performance. It puts you back on a clock and in a routine. It forces some new thought patterns in your brain, it stimulates thinking and reintegrates people to your daily life. And yes, it does provide some compensation, giving you perhaps a whole new appreciation for jobs and the people in them that you previously took for granted.

You may find your mental health somewhat improved and your self-worth slowly rebuilding. Gratitude might be coming to mean so much more to you than in times past, and if there are people standing with you to help you through this low point in your life, you might find yourself humble enough to tell them just how much they mean to you. You might be emotionally charged and quick to tears.

You can be sure I’m recalling the stories, faces and anguish of many people over the years I’ve met and worked with in the lowest parts of their lives as I write this. But take heart and have hope! Yesterday I received a short note of thanks from just such a person. In 3 short years, he’s resurrected a career, paid off school and car loans and is saving $2,000 a month. Wow!

Yes, there is hope. You are deserving of happiness and fulfillment. You are so much more than the person that voice would have you believe.

Launching Yourself From A Career Rut

It doesn’t happen to everyone of course, but if it should happen to you, well, you’ll appreciate the paralysis it can bring on. I’m speaking of the dreaded Career Rut.

This is the phenomenon that occurs when you feel trapped in your job; mired in the routine of going in day after day, week after week with an absence of true passion or satisfaction in your work. It’s more than just annoying. Left unchecked, it can fester and grow, robbing you of happiness in how you spend the majority of your working day and soon becoming your prevailing worry outside of working hours. It brings on apathy and feelings of hopelessness. It steals self-esteem as you feel annoyed with yourself for not doing something about it and changes how others view you too. And physically? Make no mistake, you’ll feel aches and pains, headaches, feel overtired and sleep more to ‘turn off’.

Have you found yourself wondering more and more often, “Is this all there is?” “I don’t  know what to do with the rest of my life but it sure isn’t this.” As the days go by without a plan for change, tension rises at about the same rate your patience with others around you drops.

It’s important to get what’s at the source of the problem and accurately define it.  I mean you have to separate going through a short phase of needing some additional stimulation in your work versus that persistent, all-encompassing feeling of being stuck; unfulfilled.

Give yourself credit for one positive; there’s a problem and you’re consciously aware of it. That’s the good news. Now a question to ask of you – and it might sound trite – are you happy? Oddly enough, there are some who are quite happy to carry on going in to jobs they no longer have the least bit of satisfaction doing. They’re willing to trade personal happiness for money, benefits, seniority or vacation time. The trade off is one they rationalize as worth it and they do their best to convince themselves that this is just the reality of work; that it’s called work for a reason, that feeling motivation during your work is a joke.

Okay so if you’re not happy. The next thing to ask yourself is whether you’re willing to do more than just long for change; for change is what’s required. You can hardly expect to carry on in the same job with the same behaviour day after day and magically come to feel better about yourself. Change in such a situation is critical.

Change of course can be scary. There’s an element of risk as you move from what you know intimately to something new, and with anything new comes uncertainty. This however is about YOU; this single life you’ve got to live and spend. Maybe you’re feeling out of control; bound to carry on with your ‘responsibilities’, your ‘commitments’ and your ‘obligations’. Congratulations on being accountable.

Your choices when you’re in such a state are:

  1. Do something completely different with a new organization
  2. Do something similar but with a new organization
  3. Do something different in the same organization
  4. Quit and retire from work altogether

Doing something similar elsewhere from where you work now is fine if you determine that the role itself has appeal but the organization is what’s robbing you of your happiness. You might even take on a mentor or leadership role if you bring a great deal of experience and insight into a startup.

Quitting outright might be the answer if you’re on the cusp of retiring. However, when you’re in your 40’s, that short-term satisfaction of walking away may prove to be a delusion as you still find yourself pondering, “What to do now?”

Thinking you’re happiness might be rekindled in a new role where you work now? This is dependent on whether the company is large enough that the opportunities exist and whether or not your education and experience actually qualifies you in some other role.

So you’re left pondering the leap to another role completely and making a fresh start with another firm. Let me tell you, this is invigorating and stimulating; like jumping off the security of a dock into chilly waters. It can wake you up, jolt you out of your lethargic state and energize you.

To make a leap such as this, you’ll need to take stock of your skills, experience, interests and courage. Practically speaking, access your financial security, your comfort with risk and the impact on others where there’s family involved. Have conversations and you may find your ‘old’ self is missed and they’ll stand behind the change you’re contemplating if it brings you happiness.

As soon as possible, complete a self-inventory of likes, interests, education, experience, transferable skills and start looking with fresh eyes on jobs out there. Tap into your LinkedIn and personal network for advice and leverage these folks as a sounding board.

What you do is up to you. If and when you change and embrace the risk or remain securely locked in the rut is yours and yours alone to choose. We all evolve over time and our interests change. It’s not truly uncommon to feel the rut; but it is uncommon to actually take the initiative to do something great and save your mental health.