Bad Employer; A Decision To Make


Roughly two months ago I was introduced to an unemployed Photographer with a long-term goal of owning her own business and studio. After 4 days of working together, she was offered and accepted a job as a Manager of a Photography studio; the kind of place you’d find in a big box store where you and the family might go for some portraits or to have your passport photos taken.

Now this job wasn’t her dream job, but it was in her field, it would put employment on her résumé, and it would certainly bring in some immediate income; albeit not the amount she’d want down the road. Setting aside some of her wages for that long-term dream studio and getting a job offer after a frustrating long job search did wonders for her self-esteem.

Well as happens occasionally, the experience has backfired; she’s feeling used and abused, the position was immediately clarified as employee not Manager, and the wages aren’t consistent with others in the same role. She’s continued to be poorly trained, she hasn’t even got one person she primarily reports to, and if you can believe it, she only interacts with these Supervisors by text; she never sees them in person and works on her own. In this odd setup, she is monitored by cameras, and is told she isn’t selling enough to hit her daily targets, but when asking for guidance and training, she’s told to phone other locations and ask for tips and tricks! Another employee told her she’s on the ‘fire’ list too.

So we sat down together face-to-face yesterday afternoon. My inclination as I listened was to tell her clearly that I believed she should quit. However, professionally, I know it would be better for her to come to her own decision. In other words, my goal was to hear her out, take what she was feeling emotionally and physically, work with that and give it back to her in such a way that she’d have the clarity to make her own choice. What she wanted I felt, was validation of her circumstances, and to understand the impact if any, on her social assistance status were she to quit.

I admired her desire to keep the job until she found a better one. It’s not in her nature to give up on a job. In was here that I drew a parallel where she had in the past been in a relationship where she didn’t want to give up on her abusive partner. Back then, she’d thought she could ‘fix’ him; make him better. That didn’t work, and she eventually removed herself from that abusive relationship and is the better for it, now with someone who treats her better. This was similar; not in her nature to quit, trying to make the situation work because she really enjoys working with customers, but at the same time, being shuffled to and from 4 locations to fill in staff absences. She’s been scheduled to work every weekend so far; despite having asked for one off to celebrate her own birthday, and the schedule changes without her being told herself until another employee calls to tell her. Oh and I saw the texts on her mobile; very inappropriate language and very poor communication.

In the end I made sure first and foremost that she knew there would be no sanctions, suspension of benefits or other penalties for quitting. Sure, we in Social Services generally want people to keep jobs until they find better ones, but this isn’t healthy; it’s someone in a position of being mentally abused. We discussed of course the pros and cons of staying and quitting, and should quitting be her decision, how to go about it a few different ways.

I think what helped her the most was realizing that this minimum wage job, while yes in her field of photography, could be easily replaced by any job with no loss in wages, but where she would likely be much better treated. Perhaps a little wiser, her mental health and self-esteem are worth more than keeping this job and trying to fix it.

By the way, if YOU are in a similar position, I empathize with you. You need the income I understand, but bad employers and being mistreated on a regular basis come with a cost. Is the income you’re getting enough to really offset the cost to your own mental and physical health?

Being August and rolling into September, we’re in the second best time for getting hired. Now – right now – is the best time to ramp up your job search and go at it with renewed energy. You’re worth more than staying in a job where you’re poorly trained and supported, make minimum wage or well below what you’re experience and education qualify you for. It’s definitely up to you and you alone whether you stay or go.

Now if you do quit a job, the worse thing an employer can do is not pay you for some of the wages you’re entitled to, which is illegal, but they might threaten that. You might fight this or just walk away and report them to the Ministry of Labour in your area. You don’t need to put a short-term job even on your résumé, so it won’t haunt you into your next job either.

Bad employer? Is it worth it to stay?

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.

Abused? In A Shelter? Trying To Work?


Here’s your situation…

You’re unemployed, the car needs $450 of work to even get back on the road. You’ve know a few people but none well enough to really call close friends, and certainly no one to really confide in and tell how you feel. You’ve had three failed relationships with men who’ve abused you verbally, emotionally and occasionally physically, but they were always smart enough to never leave evidence. Now you find yourself living in the shelter system, safe but removed from most of your belongings. Your family blames you for the choices you’ve made and your not even notified or invited to family functions; weddings, funerals and holidays included.

On top of the above, you’ve got no job, your references are weak at best, you’ve got little experience or it’s in a field you no longer want to work in because the jobs you have had in the past only put you in vulnerable situations, attracting the kind of people who only brought you trouble.

Now you find yourself receiving social assistance, a nice name for welfare. As your housed temporarily in a safe house for abused women, you’re only getting some funds for food and transportation. You’re safe for the time being but the stay isn’t indefinite, and you’ve got to find a place to move to within a looming deadline. Where you’re staying you’re surrounded by other women with similar stories, and while the humanity in you makes you open to feeling their pain, in another way you don’t feel it’s doing you good to be constantly hearing others talk about their situations. It’s all still kind of raw and open.

There’s the courts to deal with too, and that means you’re dealing with law offices and lawyers; yours and his. It’s not a world you ever thought you’d have to deal with and your out of your depths. So much paperwork, so many things to send by email and post, other things to record and organize, meetings to be kept and names and contact numbers to store.

Personally, you’re worried. Your decision-making skills seem pretty poor, your more confused than you remember ever being, little things seem like major problems, your self-esteem is fragile and no matter how much you try you just can’t seem to turn off your brain. Even reading a book or a magazine isn’t possible. After 20 minutes you find you’re still on the same page of a book and you suddenly realize you can’t recall what you’ve read anyhow. You’d go out for a walk to clear your head except it’s the evening and you feel more vulnerable as night descends and the house gets locked down for security reasons anyhow.

On top of all of this, you want to get a job. A job after all will bring you some immediate income. You worry though if you can handle it. After all, how many balls can you juggle at once?

For those of you that think I’m laying it on rather thick; that this might be an extremely rare situation for a woman to be in – maybe one in a million, I wish you were right. Unfortunately you’re not right and I’m not laying it on rather thick. This is reality for far too many women.

Having visited just such a residence and being a man, I’m a bit of a rarity. Men as a pretty hard rule aren’t allowed in women’s shelters. Even the nicest and best of men can trigger fear in those in residence there – being the one place they are assured they are completely safe. Having been in one on a professional basis, it’s given me some experiential insights I wouldn’t have otherwise. But even having made a visit to the inside, I’m not naïve enough to think I understand what it’s like to stay in residence there. I would never presume to feel that.

Can you understand perhaps even a little how difficult it must be to then go about rebuilding your life and trying to get a job? Whether you’re a Job Coach, Employment Counsellor, Temp Agency, Recruiter or Employer, you can’t ever know the story behind the woman who appears totally employable but for some odd reason is having problems moving ahead.

On the outside, this woman before you might seem pretty together. Perhaps she’s well-groomed, dressed appropriately, arrived on time for the interview and even interviewed well. Sure there’s the issue of very few references or little job experience but she seems to have the right personality and attitude for the work. Yet, why when you offered them the job did they decline? Or if they did take the job, why did they have to go and quit on you after just two days on the job?

It’s what you don’t know, and what they just can’t share with you that’s behind their apparent lack of respect for the trust you placed in them. At the moment their emotionally messed up to put it bluntly. There’s a gulf between what they want to do and what they are capable of doing. They know it, and now they feel guilt for having to decline a job offer they thought they could do.

If you knew their story, you’d get it. You might even Champion their efforts. Something to bear in mind if you find yourself puzzled with some woman’s behaviour.

Yes You Are A Person Of Value


In my line of work I come into contact on a daily basis with people who have poor or fragile self-esteem. In fact, if you were listening in on the conversations we have you’d hear many of them state unequivocally that they have zero self-esteem, no personal pride and feel they have nothing to offer any decent employer out there. As a consequence, many feel that all the bad things that happen to them in their lives come because they deserve them.

It is truly heart-breaking to see people who are broken and resigned to lives where they’ve given up; given up just trying to lead what they see as a normal life. They want a steady job, to feel appreciated and valued, to earn their way in this world and most of all to shed feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, low-self image and fatigue.

Unfortunately they’ve been negatively influenced by key people in their lives on a long-term regular basis. Isn’t it a sad commentary that there are so many others who actually seek out those with poor self-image and low self-esteem in order to ultimately control these people by dominating them for their own gain?

Sometimes it starts with members of ones own family with verbal abuse. Comments like, “Why can’t you be successful like your big sister?” or “You’ll never amount to much you know” are hurtful and can become ingrained in the person’s mind when on the receiving end. Not doing well in school or in those awkward teenage years (which many of us experienced) is magnified and only acts as further proof when the verbally bashing is going on at home.

Take this into early adulthood and predatory people who look to target others and victimize them appear on the one hand to take care of them, but on the other hand treat them poorly. Oddly enough, some victims think how they are being treated is normal; that in some perverted way they deserve what they get. Sad.

Ideas of financial independence, self-reliance, self-governance and respect are alien and ideas of long-term planning, setting and reaching personal goals and being successful aren’t even on their radar.

Here’s the good news. Everyone is a person of value; yes you too. You might not believe it at the moment and think  everyone ELSE is a person of value, but I believe that there’s value in you.

While you might have a lot of difficulty identifying useful skills and the kind of work that you’d be good at and more to the point enjoy, you’d be wrong if you think nobody out there would hire a person like you. This is essential to realize because you might have someone in your life who continues to put you down, tells you you’re worthless and you’re best just to continue to do what they tell you.

These kind of people aren’t healthy to be around because of the way in which they exploit others. These folks would rather seek out and dominate others rather than struggle to advance themselves in society. But back to you rather than wasting more time speaking of them.

Let’s suppose you’re living on a fixed income; social support. Have you ever considered that you’re an expert on stretching your resources in order to put food on the table? A lot of the folks who work in government and decide how much a person on assistance gets couldn’t themselves navigate the systems they create but you do every day. In other words, if many employed people lost their jobs today, they wouldn’t thrive as well as you do and they’d be looking to you for guidance.

I bet you’re resilient; you thrive by adapting to the situations in which you find yourself. You’ve got stamina and I suspect you also have a good eye for bargains; you know where to shop for the best deals, you’ve got a network of contacts in the community you can rely on and maybe you even know the places to go for food, clothing and other kinds of help.

Are you someone who others dump their troubles on? Could be others see you as a good listener and someone they can trust with their secrets. You’re adaptable for sure.

A good idea is to write down what you’re good at and how others see you; the good people not those controlling negative types. If you have problems, that makes you normal; human. We all have issues of one kind or another and some of us have multiple issues; some people who look together would surprise you.

Before you can hunt down the kind of work that’s right for you, it’s a good first step to get to know yourself and what makes you tick. Contact community services in your community and ask about Life Management classes, personal improvement workshops and self-help or development programs. Each community will be able to support you with help depending on what they offer.

I’m proud of you for having put up with all the negativity you’ve had to over your life time. Now is your time however; let’s do something about it and break free so you can have the life you deserve!

Not you I’m talking about? Do someone a favour and consider sharing  this online or posting this in your workplace where someone might see it and start a conversation.