Staying When You’re No Longer In It


I can’t help but wonder how many readers of this piece are themselves stuck in a job they really don’t enjoy or worse, have come to truly hate; and hate my dear reader, is a very strong word. But that’s it isn’t it? I mean, knowing you don’t enjoy the work, the people who surround you, the company, the commute; and nonetheless hanging on and holding on, going in day after day, week after week, just living for the day when you retire. Oh what sweet release awaits you!

You might think this is an extreme comparison, but haven’t I rather described a prison sentence? Wow, that’s something to think on. Is it worse or only slightly better to realize that unlike my prison analogy, in this case you’re walking around with the means to your release in your possession. After all, you only need walk in and resign and you’re free.  At least in prison you get time off for good behaviour!

The reasons for staying may be well documented elsewhere, but for the record, it could be you’re feeling too old to be hired elsewhere, the vacation you’ve accumulated would be reset at two weeks if you moved; your benefits are just too good. Could be you’ve built up too much of a dependence on your current income to pay for a mortgage, cottage, vacations, kids education, your wardrobe etc.

Somewhat ironic that you might feel trapped in a job in part because of the benefits you’re receiving when you are no longer benefitting from the work you’re doing where you’re doing it day after day. What price are you paying with your mental health when you grudgingly drag yourself into your workplace 5 days a week and loathe both the trip there and clock gaze the entire day. This just has to be affecting your personality, your good-nature, your self-esteem and most importantly your self-worth.

Self-worth is ironic in and of itself. Look on the internet and you’ll find articles about how much some well-know figure is worth. That’s dollars and cents; a financial commodity. Were we to ask that same person, (presuming we could even get their attention to ask), how much value they put on the life they are leading, we might get a much lower evaluation.

Don’t you think it’s rather disappointing to know that you’ve only got this one life and you’re spending a great deal of your waking hours surrounded by a place and people you don’t really want to be with, doing work that you find no happiness in? Supposing it wasn’t you in this situation but rather your child or grandchild, wouldn’t you strongly suggest and hope that they’d chuck it in and find something that makes they truly happier? It would make you sad knowing the one you love and care for so much continues to do this.

It ultimately comes down to choice doesn’t it? Sure it does. It may not be what you want to hear, and you might stop reading right about here, but it is your conscious choice to stay where you are, just as it’s an option to walk away. Don’t say you’ve got no choice in this, that you have to stay, for that’s not true. What is true is that the reason you’ve stayed and not quit already is because it’s going to need some courage and a struggle of a different kind to actually walk away.

Quitting is going to mean job searching, curtailing your expenses until you find another source of income. It might mean you’ll get less time off each year for some time. Can you picture how the six weeks off a year vs. the two weeks off a year in a new job, might not be that big of a deal if you enjoy going to work 50 weeks a year instead of loathing the 46 weeks a year as you do now?

I mean if you’re popping painkillers or self-medicating just to get through your days, are you factoring these things into your decision-making when you look at how you’re doing? How much you make a year isn’t the only bottom line here; how much you’re paying each year to make that money is far more significant.

Come on, this isn’t the life you dreamed; this isn’t how they drew it up for you back in high school or the family home. And by chance if someone did envision this life for you, it is still within YOUR power and control to pack it in. The hardest part is just deciding you’re going. Then there is a release; freedom. You’ll likely get some package of sorts, and if you don’t, it’s still more valuable to know you’re rekindling your self-esteem than sacrificing it to stay.

If you do walk away from this kind of situation, give yourself time – perhaps a month – to decompress. This is a big change after all, and transitioning from that job to the rest of your life is a stage to refocus and indulge in some healing time.

Sorry if you decide to stay; really I am. I understand your decision though; even if I’d recommend leaving. I do hope you make it to retirement in relative good health – physically and mentally. For many though, the view of retirement and time to do what they want is actually dictated by the health with which they arrive at it.

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Feel Like You’re Failing? Consider This


Failing and the fear of failing (two very different things) can keep you from eventually getting where you want to be, or having what you most want.

Now let’s be honest with each other here; failing at some things is much more significant and personal than with others. Failing to tie our shoes tight enough could mean for most of us that we simply look down and seeing they are yet again untied, we bend down and tie them again. Not a major issue, we just had to do it twice.

However, I acknowledge that failing at other things can be devastating and have severe consequences. In the very worst of scenarios, life or lives could be lost if a driver fails to stay on their side of the highway, we fail to wear a life jacket and our canoe overturns in open water or our parachute fails to open. These are just a few examples I say of the worst that could happen.

For job seekers, the issue of failing typically is described as putting in the time to apply and interview for a job and ultimately not being successful. The feeling is you’ve failed in the attempt to get hired. However, the feeling that you experience in such a situation is not shared in the same way by every person rejected as you might initially suspect.

No, some people will be devastated while others don’t seem negatively affected at all; and all the feelings in between the two extremes will be experienced by others. While the rejection itself is delivered the same to each applicant, the message received is experienced very differently. Why is this?

The answer in part is the importance each person assigns to the job opportunity in the first place. So the person who already has a job and is applying just to test the waters and see if they can advance might be only slightly affected. On the other hand, the unemployed person who’s pinned all their hopes on getting that job to stave off having their car or home repossessed by the Bank and their spouse give up on them could feel ruined.

Similarly, the stage at which you’re at in your job search has an impact. How many times have you applied and not been successfully offered the job? Are you just starting out and this is rejection number one or is this your 43rd in a row? Yikes!

Now there’s another reason that plays into how you feel and that’s what you’ve experienced beyond the job application process. Some people have the good fortune of having supportive people behind and around them. They see themselves as successful parents, worthy as an individual and their spouses, friends and family love them and encourage them in so many other ways, this failure is only one small blemish in one area of their life.

Most unfortunate however, is the person who has been told repeatedly that they will never amount to much, that their life is a series of failures in every regard. Victims of abusive relationships are often rebuked, put down, made to feel small and are often told they are nothing without the abuser. When they try and fail in their attempt to get a job, in their mind they really believe this is yet one more example of the truth they’ve been told; it is they who is a failure, not the job application.

I must tell you though that we all fail. Failing is a sign first that we’ve tried something; and trying is a good thing. Presumably it was trying to better ourselves, to get something we desired for whatever reason. Recognizing that we’ve tried is significant, so good for you.

Now, although unpleasant perhaps, it’s important to pause and think about why we were not ultimately successful. Yes this means thinking about an experience that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, but there’s a good reason for this; learning.

If we can learn some things about why we failed, we can then attempt to drop those same things in the future. So perhaps we need a stronger resume or add a cover letter. Maybe we need coaching or professional advice in terms of our interview skills. Why? Well, we might be saying something in an interview that seems okay to us but in fact is sending a different message entirely when heard by an interviewer.

I really don’t expect that you’ll smile and feel great when you’ve failed at getting a job in the future. No, you’re perfectly right to feel whatever you feel, be it sad, disappointment, short-term anger etc. Your feelings are valid because – well – they are YOUR feelings. Don’t apologize for how you feel.

After you’ve gone through what happened, look for some feedback and be genuine in your request, not defensive or argumentative as you listen to someone give you this feedback. You are after all attempting to learn so you increase your future chance of success.

Some of the most successful people you’ll meet have failed in the past and continue to fail as they learn new things. Remember you only need to succeed once – to get that job offer you want – and all those failures will diminish in comparison.

You my friend; yes you reading this, you are not defined by your failures.

How Have You Grown; What’s Changed?


If you’ve been in the same position for any length of time, it’s probable you’ve done some degree of learning along the way. That learning has in turn likely caused you to go about your job differently.

You’ve no doubt learned some shortcuts, ways to do things better, got your favourite stories and catch phrases down pat. In some areas you’ve made subtle changes and in others maybe it’s a complete overhaul of your message or your methods. How does the 2018 you differ from the same you, say, 5 or 10 years ago?

Working with people and helping them find employment, I can recall my approach many years ago where I started all my interactions on the premise that the person just needed to follow my well-thought-out plan of action and they’d be employed in no time. After all, it has always worked for me, so why wouldn’t it work for them?

However, I noticed in those early days that more often than not, there was a lack of follow through for many of these people. Not only did they not move forward much, they were often sincerely contrite and apologetic for not doing so. It was very much like they were sorry for letting ME down. Ah well, I’d say something like at least they wouldn’t make the same mistakes again, and I’d map out another great strategy to reach their goal; all they had to do was follow my revised plan. Tic-tac-toe and you reach your goal!

Sometimes it takes time to realize your approach isn’t working; that it’s not THEM, it’s YOU – or in this case, me. If I could see myself both in the present and in the past sitting side by side as I worked with someone, I’d see tangible differences in my approach, language, goals and yes, results.

I believe one of the most important things I learned over the years is the value in first establishing a real relationship with the person before me. This is sometimes easy and at other times challenging. While some people open up immediately and share pretty serious and personal issues, others come in with bitterness, anger, frustration and all that pent-up hostility towards anyone in a position of authority is directed at whoever is convenient and nearby; namely me. Thing is, it would be you or him or her were someone else in front of them, so it’s not me personally they have issues with, it’s everyone.

When you form a solid, trusting relationship with someone, they tell you what’s really going on more often than not. When you know what’s going on in their life, you can better strategize together some plan to move the person forward; but it may not be that the end goal you have in mind – a job – is the goal they are working on. That goal might be 5 goals away, and expecting them to hurdle the necessary steps they have to take to get there only sets them up to fail to meet your expectations.

So building a trusting relationship; how do you do that? Well, for starters, I’ve come to start most interactions by sincerely asking the person what they’d like to talk about; what’s on their mind. Most aren’t ready for this simple question. No, they’ve been used to being told what the purpose of the meeting is for and asked how their job search is coming. So do you want to hear what’s really going on that you need to consider or do you want them to tell you what you want to hear?

While I don’t recommend setting the bar so low that meeting all their goals still doesn’t do much for them, having lofty expectations of what they are to carry out before your next meeting might set them up to fail. Failure you may know, is not always the greatest motivator, especially with people for whom failure is a familiar presence. Sure failure can be a great teacher, and you have to fail many times often before you become successful. It’s equally or more important however to realize people may be very fragile before you, and without knowing how many times they’ve failed up to the present, you’ve no way of knowing how many more failures they can tolerate before giving up completely.

So what about you though? How have you grown or changed over the years? What is it about your personal philosophy or your approach that’s developed for the better? How you go about your daily job now vs. then might be something you see in others just starting out in their own careers. As much as you can pass on advice and suggestions, wouldn’t you agree that people need to ‘get there’ on their own to a large degree? The changes in approaches they’ll take they might learn from observing you.

Things like Servant Leadership, backwards planning, listening skills; these are but three things I’ve come to value, use and show over the years. When I started out, I didn’t even know what Servant Leadership was, and backwards planning; what’s that?

One thing I’ve really come to see the benefit in is providing a label for others strengths and positive qualities. Telling a struggling single parent that you admire their resiliency and showing them how they prove they have it can be a conversation stopper as they pause and consider that.

 

How Your Seating Sets Up Says A Lot


Have a peek at the office furniture where you work and pause to think about how you feel if you’re not the primary occupant of that space, but rather a visitor. Does the layout have you seated across whoever works in that space, separated by a desk? If so, do you think that’s because it’s the only layout that will work in that space or has it been set up like that on purpose and if so, why?

Typically, people who want to convey a sense of power and control often sit behind a desk, with visitors sitting directly across from them with a desk between. On their side they’ve got the computer monitors, keyboard, access to drawers, filing cabinets and if anything is needed during a meeting, it’s totally accessible from their side. On the side of the visitor, there’s the chair to be occupied and that’s it. Comfortable?

Now, there are alternatives. If the space is large enough, some people will have space for a second desk; this one might be off to the side and have a couple of chairs at it and the user of the office will routinely move to sit in one of these seats with open space between themselves and another. The message here is that both people have something to write on, put a drink down on, etc., but the open space sends the message, we are equals. This you can see, may be precisely why some would like it and others would refuse the very idea. Yes, for some, it is about communicating authority, power, control – any way and every way they can.

When space doesn’t permit a second desk or seating area, intelligent people can still move themselves into positions which communicate openness. You might find that upon entering an office for a meeting, the owner of that space will physically move their chair into a place off to the side of their desk, so they are removed from sitting directly across from you with the desk between. Sitting to the side changes the dynamic of the meeting, without ever having to say a word. It’s like the person is sending the message, “I have power and control, but I don’t need to use it here, so let’s get comfortable.”

This is an example of non-verbal communication and doesn’t happen by accident. Office arrangements are either dictated by the organization and standard designs to consistently send the same message to all employees and customers/clients, or where office furniture and layouts vary, it’s a clearer sign of the preference of the occupant.

Ever notice how some meetings are held in different spaces, even when the meeting may be just between two people? Every heard the phrases, “Come to my office”, or, “Can I see you in my office? There’s something I want to talk with you about.” The choice of seeing you in their space and advising you of that preference can – all by itself – get you anxious.

Sometimes of course that’s the point. There are some who love to wield with that sense of being the big boss, the enforcer. Sometimes people aspire to get their own office because it is for them a recognition of passage. They’ve gone from the office cubicle to their own space with a door. It’s their office, their desk, they’ve got walls to put up their certificates and achievements for all to see and perhaps shelves to personalize. They’ve arrived!

Now of course not all people are enforcers or love to wield the power and control just because they have a desk separating them from visitors. How the person sits and the posture they assume says a lot, as does the tone of their voice, the smile or lack of it. All these and more go into making a trip to that office a welcoming, comforting experience or one to be cautious of.

Oh and what about that door? Is it routinely left open or deliberately closed by the office occupant after you’ve entered? Maybe it’s only closed for certain types of conversations and left open for others? Having a door closed could be for your own privacy and benefit by a caring and thoughtful Supervisor. On the other hand, it could be yet another form of intimidation believe it or not; you’re physically cut-off from everyone else; it’s just you and them, one-on-one. That door doesn’t open again until the person who called you in chooses to open it and release you.

Now as an employee, we don’t often get to choose our furniture; its standard issue. Our seating arrangements are fixed, right down to the chair we sit on, the chair we offer visitors, the workspace we use and the table or desk we sit at.

You might not like the set up you’ve been assigned and the message it conveys to your own visitors. There might be something you could change for the asking but it’s probable there are financial considerations and limitations which will prevent change. If so, how you use the space you have and the atmosphere or mood you choose to create will need some thought and effort on your part.

Could be that you meet the public in specific areas beyond your personal desk. You and the others who may share that space may want to think about the tone that space sets.

A Newborn And The Helping Hands


On Thursday March 29th, I became a Grandfather. That’s Grandfather with a capital, ‘G’ whether it’s grammatically correct or not. It’s my latest job title, though I’ve decided my LinkedIn profile will not be updated to show this new role just as I’ve neglected to add Spouse or Father. Still, these are my 3 most significant job titles I’ve ever held.

He’s a beautiful boy and healthy too. The day I met him with my wife and in the ensuing few days at the hospital, I started thinking about all the various people who were connected professionally with this little guy and his parents. Yes I was thinking about the occupations connected with giving him a good start in the world; and of course, he’s but a single baby. Extrapolate the numbers that follow over thousands upon thousands of births worldwide and you’ve got a whole host of people employed!

There’s the nursing team which is so much more than the single Nurse who I happened to see. He was after all in the hospital 4 days, and so exactly how many came and went I’ve no idea, but let’s conservatively say he had 5. If I took the time to ask, I’d likely find that these Nurses were slightly different in their roles too. I observed there were cleaning staff there too, who ensured vacated rooms next to my daughter and son-in-laws were disinfected, bed made anew and ready for the next expectant mom.

All the furniture in that room, including the bed, table and two chairs, the technical equipment, buzzers, lighting, floor tiles, drywall, plaster, paint, toilet, shower, plumbing, electrical wiring – these don’t appear by magic. There are people we never see and seldom think to thank who make all these things.

There’s the medical team expanding beyond the Nurses I saw. Doctors of course, Lab Technicians, people who take and test blood samples as well as others who read and relay results. In this birth, there was the Midwife too, and she played a role both before, during and post-delivery – visiting the mom and baby in their home 3x too.

Given that we spent some time at that hospital, I wandered the halls and found to my surprise that the main floor might be mistaken for a shopping mall. There was a Tim Horton’s, Subway, Fresshi, plus 4 or 5 other eating places I can’t recall. There was a florist, a gift shop, an information centre, security and all these stores were buzzing with activity requiring multiple employees.

Now my daughter and son-in-law have landed themselves in a caring neighbourhood. One day I sat holding my grandson and noticed someone walking up to their front door. There was no knock, and then I saw the person turn around and walk away. Turns out a neighbour dropped off a brown bag of groceries including a bottle of wine and a speciality bread plus some other goodies. So there are merchants benefitting from these extra purchases. Included was a card of congratulations, so again, another merchant benefitted. Somebody produced that card, wrote the message inside and made the artwork on front. Somebody made the glass bottle for the wine, another person grew the grapes etc.

Now me? I was sent out to buy formula which hadn’t been planned on needing. Good luck finding an open store on Easter Sunday that carried the specific brand, size and type requested. Three stores later I came home with the right stuff. The next day I returned it as it was a bigger size than asked for, and again off to yet another store to get the right product. Sigh… Still, more people making and selling products.

Coming in at 11 pounds, the ‘little’ guy was too big for many of the clothes and receiving blankets at the ready. So off my wife and I went yet again to buy bigger outfits and blankets. “And say dad while you’re out, would you mind doing the grocery shopping? There’s a list on the table of stuff we’d like and some extra items to buy if on sale. Thanks. We really appreciate it.” Ah, nice to be useful and of help, and more people connected with this birth from the clothes manufacturers, Farmers, Grocers, Cashiers, Stockers, Truck Drivers to deliver the goods, Border Agents to screen them entering Ontario.

There’s an endless list it seems. After all, who made the crib, car seat, bassinet, mattress, blankets, toys, books, stuffed animals, recliner, dresser, bureau etc. that make up the baby’s room? There’s the monitor – you get the idea.

So far the little guy is what, 8 days old? He’s already helped keep an army of people employed and will continue to do so as he grows, goes to daycare, school, joins groups and perhaps the band, sports teams, a choir, who knows?

Indulge me here, I’m a proud Father and proud Grandfather. It’s been a rough go for my daughter and my son-in-law. Lots of sleepless nights getting up for feedings and dealing with this major surgery. They’ll get through it though I’m sure. We all figure it out don’t we?

Let me close with a big thank you to all involved not just in helping make entering this world safer and easier for my grandson, but for all the little ones born elsewhere. Oh and the Butcher that gave my daughter an extra slice of meat when she came in and was obviously expecting, thanks to you too!

The Importance Of Shifting The Agenda


I was really looking forward to our one-on-one resume appointment; after all, she’d been smiling and engaged all through the group presentation just a few days before. Adding to that positive first impression, she’d called ahead to advise me of a slight conflict with another appointment and respectfully asked to make a small change in our appointment time. (This kind of respect for other people’s schedules goes a long way). Finally, she’d also mentioned that she had, on her own, taken efforts to use the ideas I’d shared with the group; full marks on initiative and personal accountability!

So as I say, I was really looking forward to our meeting.

It started off well enough as she was on time, nicely dressed and there of course was the nice smile I’d remembered. As requested, she’d come prepared with a job she was interested in applying for too; a part-time Receptionist position with a local funeral home as it turned out. While she didn’t have a résumé and we were starting from scratch, she had obviously put pen to paper and with this data, it would be quicker to take what she’d put down and re-work and re-word things to fit the posting.

Ah, this was going to be a nice time together…probably just an hour I’d imagined.

After we had reviewed the job requirements from the posting, highlighting each one to make sure we’d note these somewhere on the résumé, I remarked that her last employment was some 7 years ago. “Why the gap?” I wondered to myself; so I asked.

“I took time off to start and raise a family…and I got a divorce.” Everything had been normal until she mentioned the word, ‘divorce’. In a seconds she was fighting for tears, looking expectedly around for a tissue, and not seeing the box behind her, was wiping away the tears from her eyes and apologizing profusely.

Instantly I realized the résumé could and would have to wait. This kind of thing happens more often than people might think. Years of working with people have taught me a number of things, and one is that for someone to break down so quickly at the mere mention of divorce suggested to me it was fresh, the rawness still very new, and yes, there was the distinct possibility she’d been on the receiving end of some kind of abuse.

As it turned out, it was a case of past abuse, for when asked if she had someone she might talk to about her experience, she mentioned she was seeing a Counsellor provided through a local women’s shelter. The mere mention of the shelter told me enough, as I wasn’t the right person nor was this the right time to have a counselling session. Still, it costs nothing to give someone your full attention and pause, assuring them that its okay to express their feelings.

I wondered if this woman was ready to work. I mean, it’s extremely probable that she’s going to be asked about the 7 year employment gap on her résumé in an interview, and would she share to them what she shared with me, and would this repeat itself anew?

When I very gently asked if she was ready to work, she said that she had original been thinking about volunteering to get going again, but the part-time job appealed to her as she hoped it would be through the day so she could still take care of and see her 3 children. “How silly of me though! I think I should just forget the job and look at volunteering somewhere.”

This could be a classic response of someone who was told things like, “No one will ever hire you” or, “You’ll never make it without me” etc., so it was really important to point out a couple of things to boost her fragile self-esteem. First of all, she was still sitting with me and wanted to do a résumé, which while she had broken down, she hadn’t gathered up  her things and bolted for the door. So it was important to her. Secondly, she had the skills required for the posting; and if granted an interview, she’d feel good knowing the résumé worked. If she got a job through the interview, it would bring added stress – but good stress, and if she didn’t get the job, she’d be no worse off for the experience.

Well we finished that resume together, and near the end, I again pointed out some positives. The smile was back on the face for the world to see, and she genuinely liked how we had marketed herself on the résumé which made her happy.

When you work with people in this field, it’s key to remember that the agenda you have all nicely laid out shouldn’t be so rigid that its importance outweighs the people sitting before you. While not a formal counselling session, this had been more than a résumé appointment.

This interaction highlights the difference between working solely with a résumé expert and a resume expert who works in the context of serving people first and foremost. Total cost for the 1 1/2 hour resume/listening/support/self-esteem repairing session? Zip.

For the record, I share not to get any praise or accolade. I share to highlight and remind us who work with people that establishing and nurturing a trusting relationship will take you places while remaining detached will have you wondering why your resumes don’t turn into jobs.

The Purpose Of A Job Interview


As I regularly speak to groups of unemployed people, I often ask them how they feel about job interviews. While a few look forward to them with genuine enthusiasm, most tell me they dread them. Given that an interview of some kind takes place before hiring, let’s look at what an interview is, the purpose it serves and of course how you can perform best.

So what is an interview? Do you see it as a mandatory meeting called where you’re to be drilled, interrogated, the truth sweated out, then evaluated, judged and ultimately rejected as undesirable; sometimes with no explanation whatsoever provided where you went wrong? Gee, no wonder you dread the interview process!

A job interview is really conversation between two or more people, where everyone agrees the discussion will be focused on an opportunity. It is an opportunity for both you the applicant and the employer to see if you’ll be a good fit for the job and equally if the job and the employer are a good fit for you. Sure they’re offering a job, but you’re offering yourself as a solution to their needs. If they had no needs, there’d be no job to apply to.

The purpose of the job interview then is to find the fit. To have received the offer of an interview, you must have impressed them enough with your résumé and/or cover letter. So this meeting is really about finding out what’s not on the résumé. Your attitude, personality, beliefs etc. are all of interest to the employer to decide how you’ll impact on the chemistry in their workplace and with the team of people you’ll potentially work with. It’s also a chance to elaborate on your experiences, so the employer can gauge how you’ll do in the future.

If you want to improve on your interview performance, do your homework. Research the company, find out who the interviewers will be ahead of time and look them up on the company website and/or their LinkedIn profiles. Find out how the organization is performing, current challenges, recent successes and something of their culture – what it’s like to actually work there.

Now this is going to put some people off because this sounds like a lot of work with no guarantee of a positive result. Consider however that if you do put in this effort, you’re ahead of those who don’t bother and it will show in the interview answers you give, and the comments and questions you pose yourself. Imagine putting a lot of time into researching ahead of 4 job applications/interviews; 3 of which don’t turn into a job offer, while the 4th one does. You’ve had fail, fail, fail followed by success. This investment of your time sure beats the energy and time you’ll put into applying for 40 jobs, doing no research and wondering why no one will give you an interview. That’s fail x 40.

Now you can improve your chances of performing well in a job interview if you go into it ahead of time having prepared yourself with specific examples that respond to the questions you’ll be asked. You CAN predict with a high degree of accuracy what you’ll be asked before you even step in the interview room. How? Read the job posting, highlight what it is they are looking for, what you’ll actually do in the job and especially look for anything that is repeated in the posting. If problem solving comes up 3x in a posting, it stands to reason that’s a significant part of the job.

Okay so you’ve highlighted what they want. Great start! Now, to prepare yourself, start writing down the details about times in your past work experiences where you’ve actually done the things this new employer is looking for. In other words, write out a specific time when you solved a problem, making sure you include how you sized up the situation, what you actually did and include the positive outcome such as keeping an angry customer, getting praise from the boss or selling something in addition to the original purchase. Don’t generalize how you usually do things; specific examples are so much more believable.

Of course your answers are huge, but don’t overlook the importance of making a strong visual presentation. In other words, let’s not overlook your appearance. Do what you can NOW to improve on your looks. Get a haircut, shave, get into proper fitting clothes, the type of which would be a step up from what you’d wear to the job. Your choice of clothes tells the interview at a first glance how seriously you take the interview and a degree of your intelligence and respect for the process.

Walk with purpose, stand with both feet equally planted on the floor, not off-balanced on one leg. Sit slightly forward, show interest and enthusiasm for what’s being discussed, smile, look people in the eye, extend your hand and be friendly. Basics for sure, but not to be overlooked and assumed as common sense.

A conversation with an employer about an opportunity is again how I suggest you go into the interview. This should be a positive exchange of information. You’ve got more control in this whole process than you might imagine, right up to deciding if you want the job or not. Your performance influences the outcome, and in a nutshell, that’s the point of this meeting.