Maybe You’re The Roadblock


That isn’t what you want to hear, but it might be what you need to hear.

Unfortunately, some of those that need to hear they may be the problem are no longer reading after that first line and some others didn’t even open the article because quite frankly, they figure they don’t need anybody telling them anything. They know it all.

Ah but here’s you! You chose to read! Congratulations! I appreciate your willingness to read and let some of what you read sink in perhaps and consider. The good news for you is that you might be open to changing a few things after reading; getting on track to have a better future than both your past and present.

Roadblocks to our goals fall into two categories; they can come from within or come from our environment. The ones that come from within are entirely ours to impose on ourselves or change. That’s the good news. The bad news, (well at least for some) is that this means the responsibility is 100% ours and ours alone to do something about this internal roadblocks. If you remove them, you deserve all the praise for doing so! If you not only refuse to move these internal roadblocks, you go about your life building more roadblocks to success, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. What I have always found to be sad and unfortunate is that there are a lot of people who set up roadblocks for themselves – barriers to their own success – and yet they say it’s Life being unfair to them; there’s other people out to get them, and society in general is holding them back.

Look, when you’re not having success finding the right jobs, getting interviews, getting hired or keeping jobs once you get them, it is a fool who refuses to consider that they themselves might be the problem. When your trying and trying and your success rate is 3%, you HAVE to at least consider that doing things your way isn’t working. If your way is the only way you know, then doesn’t it sound reasonable to do more listening than talking, heed some advice from someone who knows more than you do and benefit from their knowledge?

Acknowledging that others know more than you do in something doesn’t mean you’re inferior as a person and that you know less than they do in everything. In fact, seeking out people who are wiser than you are, especially in something you really want to become better at is a sign of intelligence! Smart people are always open to learning from others. And smart people do more listening than talking.

Listening is good but it isn’t enough however. To remove a roadblock, here’s what’s needed:

  1. Show a receptive attitude to learning which invites people to share with you
  2. Listen and give them 100% of your attention
  3. Think about or reflect on what you’ve heard (mouth closed)
  4. Be willing to consider and implement some or all suggested ideas
  5. Demonstrate your ability to actually implement the new ideas in the manner they were shared with you
  6. Check back and ask for feedback

Many who are their own biggest problem refuse to even do the first step. They fail to appreciate opportunities when they arise; they discourage those who have knowledge from sharing it with them.

Here’s a quick example. Yesterday I met a woman job searching on a popular job search website. She showed me how she’d cleverly set the distance field to only display jobs close to where she lived – and that’s good. I asked her what job she was after and she said, “anything but it has to pay well.” I asked her what skills she wanted to use in her next job and she said, “baking, customer service and stamina”. So I suggested a company I know where they are in need of Bakers but she shut that down by telling me they weren’t really Bakers there. She told me to tell her of any jobs that would get her money though, and in our conversation, her face never left the monitor as she scrolled quickly down a list of jobs which included Landscapers, Office Administrator’s, Medical Transcriptionists, Telemarketers etc. – all over the map.

Our conversation went on for about 10 minutes. Of the 6 steps above, she did zero. She didn’t show a receptive attitude despite the words she used, didn’t listen, never paused for thought on anything I said, shut down the ideas given to her, failed to implement anything and therefore couldn’t ask for feedback after having tried some. The impression she gave off was that although she said she was open to getting help finding a job, her actions, attitude and behaviour screamed, “I know what I’m doing, it’s not me. Had you been there, you’d have thought as I did, “Actually it’s you.”

There’s a saying that goes, “When the student is ready the Teacher will appear.” What this means is that sooner or later when someone finally is ready to listen and learn, they’ll find help is right in front of them. Yesterday wasn’t her day. Although the Teacher stood before her, she failed to recognize the opportunity for learning. You can’t learn and master any skill you believe you already have.

So my advice on this? Print and cut out those 6 steps above. Stick them in your wallet. Live by them.

 

Getting Over Hurdles In Life


It may sound like an odd way to begin, but visualize a roller coaster at a theme park. It starts off level with the ground, then goes through some ups and downs, there’s twists and turns and possibly one or two huge climbs followed by plummeting falls and eventually it all levels out and you get off. Some are excited to repeat the ride, others look a little worse for wear. Most have hearts pounding after the exhilaration of the ride, some have to fix their hair, and a few are ill; vowing never to go through that again!

I asked you to visualize a roller coaster, not Life, but the parallels are just about as real as the tracks on that coaster.

Most of us perhaps would be happy to sit beside our children or grandchildren on the coaster in kiddie land that goes around in an oval with smooth rises and smooth rolling downs. There’s happiness on the faces of the children, they love the ride and it’s so calm we can carry on a conversation with them and enjoy the experience.

That adult coaster though? It’s death-defying drops, blood-curdling screams as gravity is stripped away and white-knuckled terror; not for the faint of heart.

Where the roller coaster image fails to imitate Life however is that we all stand and size up the coaster. We get to watch it from the ground, then make a decision to ride it or not, we know what’s coming and we voluntarily participate having made a choice to undergo it. While exciting, terrible or utterly fantastic, it only lasts minutes and then we’re back to where we started. It’s over. It’s done. We move on.

Life on the other hand, that’s different. We do our best to map out where we’re going based on all the information we can gather. Whether it’s a road trip, choosing a career, getting into a relationship, or making a major purchase, we do our best to plan our moves and take positive steps forward. We build up momentum when we have some small successes and we have obstacles to overcome which, for the most part, we do so using our past experiences; taking advice from our peers and drawing on our skills.

But as is the case for many; perhaps everyone at some point, along comes some major hill to climb; a crisis. Unlike the coaster, we didn’t anticipate this; we can’t stand back and see how it’s going to end up, we can’t see all the twists and turns ahead of us and no, we don’t know it’s going to all end up with us safe. Most of all, we don’t know how long we’re going to be on this, ‘ride’ we didn’t sign up for.

There are many folks who, lacking the necessary life skills and failing to learn from their experiences, go from one crisis to the next. At any one time, they’ve got 2 or 3 major challenges happening and 4 or 6 smaller problems which if they fail to address will grow and become major hurdles. That roller coaster track on the other hand is solid steel; fixed and rigid. The tracks on the roller coaster of Life seem to have life of their own, undulating, hovering, fluidly moving uncontrollably up and down, responding to our ability or lack of ability to control.

Back to the kiddie land coaster. The child who is nervous about going on the ride is comforted and encouraged by the older sibling or trusted parent alongside. They stand and watch it together, mom points out all the happy kids; dad shows the child the exit door where the kids are bouncing out, excited and safe. The sibling takes the younger sister or brother by the hand and says, “C’mon, it’ll be fun and I’ll be there with you.”

But now as an adult facing your real-life challenges, where’s your support coming from? Does it feel like your standing alone, with no one to hold your hand, go through it with you, assure you it will all end up okay? Yep, it sure can feel that way and yes, you’re entitled to feel what you feel; it’s normal and it’s perfectly right to feel anxiety, anxiousness, rising fear, stress and perhaps panic.

That ride in kiddie land is fun on its own for a child, but it’s also getting that youngster ready for the bigger rides later in life. Get on the ride, have some fun, laugh and then get off. Do it again. Do it once more. Eventually, the child says they want to go on another ride, and they point at something a little bigger, then much bigger, and looking back at the kiddie land alligator ride, they say, “Ah, that’s for small kids.” Forgotten was the day they clung to the leg of a parent, heels dug in the grass and fear written all over their face.

Life is like that. We face new challenges and crises using the skills we’ve developed over time. Sometimes we fail and things don’t turn out great. We don’t always land safely. The learning that goes with the failure however? Hopefully that prepares us for a future hurdle to overcome. We can use that experience, as bad as it was, to avoid repeating it.

It’s called Life for a reason you know; we live it.

So c’mon, take my hand and let’s go!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Beautiful


Physically beautiful is nice; inner beauty is always better. It takes some people years to accept and believe this, while others get it right from the start. Let’s not start with the assumption that the all the physically beautiful people of the world have a flawed inner self; that’s an erroneous assumption and gets us off on the wrong point. Inner beauty is something we have full control over and this is where it differs dramatically from natural outer beauty.

I write as you may know with a purpose of helping people find and keep employment. So you may or may not immediately get what writing about being beautiful has to do with finding a job or getting ahead.

Inner beauty is all about being nice; attracting to you the good in others by shining brightly with your own good attitude and good works. You know these people of whom I speak. No doubt you have some in your workplace; you may well be one yourself and if you are, I applaud you.

The folks with inner beauty are the ones who always lend you help when you need it if it is in their power to do so. They say hello when they see you and ask how you are and most importantly you feel they really mean it. They smile and laugh easily and while this doesn’t mean they don’t have their ‘days’, they don’t have many of them and they certainly don’t seek misery and sympathy. They just get on with what they have to do the best they can.

Those who shine their inner beauty are good folks to have around. They lift you up, make you feel better just by having them around. They can be at any level in an organization too. Yes, right from the CEO at the top, they can be in the mailroom, the service desk, hold the keys to the office supplies, sit at reception or if you’re lucky, share an office with you or if you’re extremely lucky they could be your boss.

Inner beauty is something you can cultivate and nurture or you can shut it down and refuse adamantly to bring out. Be careful I warn you because you’ll recall how I’ve said many times in the past that once people have their view of you it’s tough to change how you are perceived. It’s not impossible of course, but well, you know about first impressions right?

Radiating goodness is what inner beauty is all about. A sincere willingness to help others and looking for opportunities to do just that is how inner beauty manifests itself. “Let me help you with that”, “Really it’s no problem; it’s my pleasure” and “You’re good at what you do” are the kind of comments you’ll hear them say and others like them. They are helpful, they do delight in being of assistance and they pass out compliments to others often but always with sincerity.

They look for the good in others too. In fact the one thing that might annoy them most is when they interact with other people who are not just indifferent but who are actually negative, mean or mean-spirited. Those with inner beauty will many times even in these situations kindly point out to the person concerned that they could be more pleasant – and they’ll do it in a way that isn’t a condemnation or value judgement. They just do it naturally.

Now think about where you work and see if you aren’t thinking of someone or some people who fit this description.  If you’re out of work, think of places you’ve worked in the past or somewhere you volunteer your time. Think of people you know in your personal life, maybe a good friend or family member. These kind of good people aren’t rare (thankfully) and they may be all around you.

Two things I offer by way of suggestion; for one, thank them. Thank them while you have a chance because showing your appreciation encourages them to continue to be the beautiful people they are. It costs you nothing to do so too. They probably would love a card or flowers but a word of genuine thanks is what they’d most like. Secondly, I’d suggest you do more to bring out your own inner beauty.

Guys can be beautiful too you know. Why not? The beautiful is not reserved for the women of this world. “He was just a beautiful guy” is a statement I’ve read again and again when a man passes away who others admired. Why not share your admiration with the living while they are in your presence? Even better however is why not choose to be a beautiful person now – now – while you have the power to decide and be whomever you want?

Go about your day with some positivity; encourage others, do good work, work with integrity and be on the lookout for others doing things you can applaud. Imagine if you did so and soon their were two or three others doing the same. Then it caught on and the  atmosphere in your workplace changed for the better; the ‘like attracts like’ syndrome starting happening. Your workplace culture would shift, the work environment would improve and a happier place would emerge to work. The cost? Nothing but a little effort. What’s the cost of suppressing inner beauty?

 

On A Career Journey? Learn From Tracey


On March 1 I received a message via LinkedIn from a woman who had read one of my blog posts and was touched by it enough that she reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to meet with her face-to-face to hear first-hand about my career path. On her own career journey, she respectfully asked for 20 minutes of my time over a coffee, and even then said if not, she’d understand and wished me well in my passionate endeavors.

First thing I did was look up her profile on LinkedIn and read up on who this person was and what she’d done to date. We exchanged a couple of messages and the short of it is that we agreed to meet last evening in a public café. I mean here was someone doing exactly what I and many others so often suggest doing; reach out and network, ask for 20 minutes and see what you can learn. I was impressed.

So last evening we met at our agreed time and after introducing ourselves, Tracey made good on her offer of buying me a tea. In exchange for that small investment and the cost of the gas to get to and from the meeting, what she got was more than 20 minutes. We sat there and had a great conversation for…are you ready?…..3 hours. Yep, 3 hours.

When did you last meet someone for the first time and not only found yourself happily immersed in talking but found this interest reciprocated for so long? This was special. The conversation had a nice flow back and forth, both of us sharing experiences, and how those experiences have us where we are in the present. There was something in that post of mine that prompted Tracey to feel she could benefit from meeting; perhaps gaining some insight into what she herself might do with her own career moving forward.

So I shared my working philosophy, the significant characteristics I believe are essential in this line of work, the benefits I derive, what I actually do and what I learn in return. As I spoke I observed Tracey and noted many positive qualities which we’d all do well to replicate in similar situations should we initiate such meetings ourselves.

She listened attentively, made excellent eye contact, smiled, commented on what she heard,  added her own experiences to the conversation so it was a two-way exchange. She was well dressed, came prepared with some written questions and had a pen and paper at hand. Now ironically, the questions she’d prepared didn’t play much of a part in the meeting, as our conversation went back and forth at a comfortable pace and apparently satisfied her questions.

I was interested to hear that in addition to myself, she was meeting with others too; people she had been referred to by others. She said it this meeting was the first time she’d reached out on her own to someone she didn’t know, and we laughed a bit at that. It’s prudent to be cautious when doing so of course, but we were meeting in a public space and sometimes that courage provides new perspectives; hearing from others actually doing the kind of work you might be considering yourself.

I found it interesting that she’d spent 4 years teaching abroad, has recently invested in upgrading her education in Social Sciences and has experience working as a Researcher. More significant to me was hearing her speak about her own love for helping others, having a need for innovation and creativity and how much she enjoys interacting one-to-one. Like attracts like, and so being innovative myself, connecting with others one-on-one, loving helping others and being creative I envisioned her as a professional colleague in the same line of work. Having just met, I don’t know her inside and out, but still, I started to read her and see if she had what it would take to be in this field and succeed. No question about it.

What struck me was her dilemma. What to do? Look for work in the field she just upgraded her education in or possibly pursue a career in something else. Now as I said to her, if her heart was in the work she’d just went to school for, she likely wouldn’t be sitting in a café having a conversation like the one we were having; she’d be enthusiastically out there applying for jobs. Yet here she was. That is a most telling reality; seems to me she’s looking for some work to do with passion herself; helping others in some capacity and looking to feel fulfilled. That apparently hasn’t manifested itself where she is right now.

In the end, it will be Tracey who makes up her mind as to where she goes from here and what she does next in her career journey. She’s an intelligent woman gathering information and others perspectives, and I’m very interested myself to stay in touch and hear what transpires. I’ve made myself available in any way that she might find helpful too, be it further conversations in-person or otherwise.

Now as for you and me, this is yet another example where connecting via social media is a good start, but leveraging these connections into actual conversations and truly networking is what we could do more of. 3 hours you might not get I acknowledge, but asking for 20 minutes…priceless. Happy networking!

 

Take The Advice Of Professionals


There’s a black t-shirt that keeps showing up on my Facebook page with writing on it that says, “If at first you don’t succeed do what your Employment Counsellor told you to do in the first place.” Yes those brainy folks at FB have found a way to send me a feed that fits perfectly with my line work – lo and behold I am an Employment Counsellor and yes many a time my colleagues and I say to each other, “If they would just do what we suggest things would be so much better!”

Maybe you’ve got something similar showing up on your social media pages and the job title is specific to what it is you do too? I wonder. It does go to show how the information we provide online helps others target us directly with their marketing all the way from products we can buy to ads we view on our pages. Be careful what you search for online. Am I buying myself one of these t-shirts? No, but I do kind of want one even though I wouldn’t wear it to work!

Think about the message though and you can view it two ways; the first is of course to see ourselves as the expert; the all-knowing wise ones who hold all the secrets to happiness and success. It can come across as sanctimonious, smug, cocky, perhaps even arrogant. On the other hand there’s a lot of truth in that message. After all, anyone who is an expert in their field and has been in it for a period of time has to know more than the average dabbler into the field.

When the brakes need fixing on our cars we typically head out and seek the services of a brake professional; it’s just too important when you’re driving down the road at 90 km and have to stop suddenly to put your life and the lives of others in the hands of anyone else. I know I certainly wouldn’t go to my neighbour who happens to work at a cemetery and expect him to knowledgeably and expertly fix my breaks. I could of course, but I might find my family needing his professional services for my own funeral and the last thing they would do is leave my burial and final send off to a brake professional. That’s ludicrous.

Yes I am often perplexed and amazed when, in my line of work, I encounter numerous people who have trusted their job search tactics and specifically resume and interview help to friends, family and friends of family. “Who did your resume?” I sometimes ask at the outset to see if the person did it themselves or got assistance – and this before even looking at it. “Oh I got help from my sister”, is the kind of response I often hear. “And what does she do for a living?” I might ask only to be told any number of jobs – all of which I trust the sisters of this world are pretty good if not great at – but alas, resume construction and crafting is not numbered upon the areas in which they have expertise.

What gets more interesting is that as the critiquing starts when doing a resume consultation, the owner of the resume often gives up all ownership and responsibility for the content and design, blaming the person who made it for them. In fact many are quite happy and ready to tell me that some other, “professional” did it for them. Well, as I point out to them at this point, no matter who did or does a person’s resume, if your name is at the top of the page, you have to take full responsibility for content, design and how it markets you overall.

Just like in any profession, some people are better at it than others. You’ll find the professional who is on top of their game, using best practices, changing with the times who updates their skills and is the go-to person getting top results. You’ll find the professional who used to be engrossed with striving for the best but who is now coasting on their record and riding into retirement no matter how many years off. You can find the young professional who has all the right intentions and knows some of the latest and greatest but who lacks life experience and who’s gusto and energy outmatches their actual skills.

So getting help from a professional doesn’t guarantee the result you might hope for. Good advice is to ask professionals – no matter the field – about their credentials. How long have they been doing what they do? What’s their track record for success? Can they provide references you could contact? How do their fees stack up against others doing the same work? Not all professionals are the same nor are they…ahem…professional.

I have had two people in the last two weeks tell me they paid a professional $500 for their resumes. $500?! They looked slick and shiny and hadn’t in either case yielded the hoped for interviews for jobs applied to. Both resumes had mistakes; not things I personally prefer but outright errors. $500? In both cases I offered to revise what they had – no charge. I wish my brake specialist would do my brakes for free – even once!

Seek out and listen to professionals no matter the trade is good general advice; they, (we) know our stuff.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Drop The Job Search


Most people I would guess walk around each day with at least one thing on their mind beyond what they are doing at the moment. Could be the family pet is in rough shape, there’s some house repairs that should be looked into and actioned, a close friend doesn’t seem the same etc. Fortunately, we have within us the ability to function at the same level of performance when we need to during the day, and we can manage to set aside the time to address those personal issues we have.

However for some people, it’s not just one or two things that are going on but rather many things going on; could be 10 – 15 issues all at the same time and of varying degrees of importance. In addition for example to the pet problems, there’s a friend with cancer, children that need attention, a spouse that mentioned off-hand wanting some ironing done, dinner plans with the neighbours, a car that is stalling all of a sudden, an unexpected bill that arrived yesterday with ‘past due’ on the envelope, floors that need cleaning and dishes in the sink from two nights ago. Then there’s an issue at work that’s becoming bigger than it should, a boss that is asking for a commitment to doing some overtime and it’s a busy time of the month; oh and it’s soccer night and gymnastics night for the kids.

You’d think that this is a lot of its own but on top of all this throw in the prevailing thought the person has that in some way they are failing both those around them and themselves. Great! Let’s add guilt, anxiety and a growing sadness or depression. All this does is lead to falling asleep unexpectedly at 7:20 p.m. and then have a sleepless night when the brain won’t turn off, until exhausted, sleep comes an hour before its time to rise in the morning to let out the dog and wake up the kids.

Does this ring a bell with you? Even if it’s not you, I think it safe to say someone in your circle of friends, co-workers or family just might have a life that looks like this one. You may or may not be aware of what’s going on of course, as some people are working hard to cover up these issues lest they be perceived as weak or unable to cope.

Wow, that’s a lot to be coping with and at the same time trying to be productive and a real team player at work, or worse yet, trying to find employment when focusing on a job search and putting out 100% effort is expected. Of course if you can’t maintain that energy to job search for 6 or 7 hours a day, somebody somewhere is wondering if you’re really serious or not about getting a job. That’s rich; if they only knew!

Somehow in 2016, it seems that we’ve got more to manage and less time or resources to do so. Some would say technology is to blame, others would argue that in the past one family member stayed home to handle all the domestic chores and family or that we just have more on the go now than people had to manage in the past.

What of you though? How are YOU coping? If you’re sailing along happy and managing everything in stride, well good for you and your family. What if however, you’re not doing so well, you’re not coping at the level you feel you should, and things seem to be getting more out of hand instead of more under control?

Maybe, just maybe of course, dropping the job search for a month or two would be healthy. Concentrating on taking care of some of the things that are bugging you might give you a sense of accomplishment and achievement; thereby lifting your spirits a little. Ironically, the best way to get and keep a job might be to hold off even looking for one until you really can devote the time necessary to find the right job. Lurching into a job you don’t really want but feel you have no choice but to take could be disastrous if the things going on outside work cause you to be late, call in absent or underperform. Then you’d have a failed job to add to your list of worries. Yes it’s true; putting off looking for work while you sort out some issues may be the best job search strategy you can gift yourself with.

One thing you might find hard to believe is that you’re far from being alone. There are a growing number of people who aren’t coping well with all their outside and personal issues. Like you however, they may be doing their very best to put on a happy face at work and keep busy. Like you too though, it could be a fragile outer shell or façade that you see as they go about their day.

Juggling one or two items is far easier than juggling many, so do your best to juggle only what you can reasonably be expected to handle. So put off the job search and get the pet down to the vets. Spend an afternoon with your friend, pay the overdue bill, do some ironing while watching a television show that will make you laugh.

Job Search? Just Give Up


Are you one of the many people who has grown so frustrated with the job search process that you’ve given up entirely on looking for work? If you have, there are a lot of other job seekers out there who would like to thank you for making it easier for them; so cheers on their behalf. Oh and let’s not forget the employers who are grateful that you’ve stopped wasting their time as well. They raise a glass and toast you as well.

So now that you’ve made it easier for others to get jobs and you’ve made life easier on the employers who have one less resume and cover letter to look over and reject in the end, how do you feel? I suspect you’re feeling relief and can finally relax now that the stress of the job search is over. Yes sir, you can finally put your feet up and settle in to that seat on the couch you always favoured at the end of your work day. This will give you time after all to put up your feel on the coffee table or ottoman,  pick up your favourite book and disappear into some world of espionage, fantasy landscape or romantic paradise.

Is it really like that? Sure maybe for a few moments, days or even weeks. We’re all different after all so maybe you can sustain that illusion of a stress-free life. Ah but for the vast majority, it’s not stress-free whatsoever. Your creditors don’t look at your new-found decision favourably; they still want their money. They may appear to be giving you a break by only asking for minimum payments, but that interest is adding up – and not in your favour.

Bills, school loans, borrowing on credit, it’s all adding up. Are you one of the people who ignores the envelopes from creditors and doesn’t pick up the phone when you just know it’s them on the other end demanding payments? Are you wondering how long it will be until you wake up to the sound of your car being towed away and a repossession order put into  your hands as a replacement? Sure this is the stress-free life you envisioned when you gave up the job search?

I rather doubt this is what you had in mind. If only the world would stop turning for a bit and you could play catch up. But it doesn’t stop does it? No, life goes on and the pressure never seems to stop. You see commercials for the things you want on the television and on billboard screens. You hear radio ads and long for things that are out of reach to you but seem to be available to just about anyone else? Life is so unfair!

Sooner or later you’ll probably come to a point where living this kind of life loses its appeal too; and looking for work will seem more desirable. You’ll admit in the future that you should never have stopped looking in the first place; but by then you’ll have new barriers to employment. You’ll find your references have dried up, your skills are rusty, your confidence to work is shot; self-esteem is in the toilet and you’ll tire easily with minimum effort because you aren’t use to putting in a strong 7 hour day of both physical and mental work.

Here’s another reality you won’t like; from the day you stopped actively looking for work right up until you change your mind, the number of people looking for work has steadily increased. Suddenly you’ll have not just more people to compete with, but you’ll compete with more people who have more recent work experience and who have current education trumping your then dated experience.

In other words, as hard as it appears now, if you put your job search into hibernation, it’s going to be substantially harder when you decide to re-enter the job search market.

That being said, another truism is that however you are going about your job search now is obviously not working. You need a different approach, probably some employment counselling or coaching, and most people who have asked for and received help in finding work have found the support they received beneficial.

If you’ve lost your enthusiasm for looking for work, it’s pretty hard to just light a switch and burn anew with the energy job searching demands. Even if you believe you’re on fire again, that fire is going to need some stoking and some fresh source of fuel to fan the flames. This is where seeking out someone where you live to support you in your job search can be the difference between a successful start and going through a number of false starts.

Employment Counsellors and Consultants, Job Coaches and Mentors can walk that fine line between pointing out what you’re doing poorly and at the same time believing in you during a time when you’ve lost confidence in yourself.

Please don’t read this blog as an advertisement for business. I’d like you to look up and get 1:1 help in your local area; it may be that you walk in and set up an appointment with a professional at no cost whatsoever depending on the service you have available. What you learn on the other hand might be priceless.

Give up or get going; your choice; always has been and always will be.

“Proofread My Resume Please?”


If you ask someone to proofread your resume, you have to be open and receptive to the possibility that they will find mistakes. If you’re going to argue and defend your errors instead of correcting them, you’re not only wasting the time of the person doing the proofreading, you’re also risking their willingness to provide you with honesty.

Yesterday I had two very different experiences with two different people in the drop in Employment Resource Centre where I work. The first was with a fellow who was applying for employment with the Province of Ontario; which meant there were very specific instructions on how to submit an application; not only in terms of the resume, but also with respect to his cover letter and how to apply.

This gentleman approached me with his initial resume and to be honest it was extremely poorly constructed. It contained irregular spacing, multiple fonts; the content was weak and didn’t relate to the job he was applying for at all. Had he submitted this version of his resume it wouldn’t even have got more than a glance let alone led to the offer of an interview.

During the course of what was a fairly busy morning for me personally assisting a number of people, he would make revisions based on my suggestions and then approach me again for further feedback. He did this five times, and with every presentation, he was getting closer to a stronger application; not to mention his basic understanding of how to make a resume in general was becoming stronger. It was precisely because he was genuinely appreciative of the feedback that he was offered more and more. In short, he took the advice he sought out and implemented the changes; never getting frustrated but learning from the experience and implementing the ideas he received.

Now I contrast his experience with another person who approached me much later in the day. This woman approached me and said she was applying for a job and would I like to read over her cover letter, resume and list of references. I looked at the cover letter first only because it was on top of the resume. The initial sentence began, “I am submitting my Resume…”

I stopped reading and pointed out that the capital letter ‘R’ in the word resume should be lower case not a capital, and she said to me, “Well I’m not going to change it now. I’ve gone back to this cover letter that worked for me years ago so we’ll see.” I stopped proofreading the cover letter right there and looked at the resume.

The resume wasn’t a disaster at first glance, but it was missing the most recent two years on it. When I asked about that she said, “Oh this is a resume from two years ago, I’m just sending it the way it is.” I shuffled the papers and moved to the list of references. Now this document looked fine. It only contained three names instead of a standard four, but there were titles and contact information so it looked appropriate. However, just as I was about to say it was fine, she voluntarily said, “The first guy is dead but I’m leaving him on there.”

I put all three sheets down and said, “You’re intentionally leaving a dead person on your list of references instead of replacing him with someone else who can actually be contacted and speak to your experience?” She told me that she was indeed, because – and you guessed it – it worked years ago so she was using it again.

So what’s the point of asking someone for their feedback if you aren’t open to hearing what they’ve got to say, or are going to actually implement any of the changes they recommend? I told her in summing things up that there were problems with all three documents and that she really should make some changes to them if she wanted to improve her odds of getting an interview. I added however that it didn’t appear she was ready to make any changes at this time, so I wasn’t going to get into identifying all the corrections needed.

Now ironically, the woman might get further with her resume than the fellow. There is the possibility that because he is applying for a government position, the competition will be fierce and others extremely qualified. Sheer numbers could keep him from advancing to the interview stage. The woman may get an interview as she’s applying for a job through a mutual friend. The scrutiny that each application is going under is very different. While the employer may look over her resume and have her in for an interview as a favour to her friend, the fellow has no such connection, and if he gets an interview, he earned it entirely.

Look, the bottom line is that it’s wise to ask for others to proofread your work, and both get full marks for asking. However, it’s equally essential that you stay open to the help you get and consider the advice of people who are doing you a favour. Otherwise you are wasting your time and theirs; showing little respect for the time and opinions of others.

Can you get an interview with flawed documents full of grammar and spelling errors? Sure you can; it is possible. Is it likely? No. Act on advice and improve your odds.

Does Your Job Make Life Better?


What purpose does your work serve? I mean, does it improve the quality of your life? What about the lives of others? I put it out there that if your work is not making your life better, you should be looking for something else – and fast!

This idea of making your life better in some way isn’t new. Whether it was the Industrial Age, The Crusades, why even all the way back to the early days of human civilization, people have always engaged in work activities that improved their quality of life. Going to war to preserve their lifestyle or freedom, creating some invention that would improve on whatever people currently had – it all made their lives better.

Okay so let’s look at us; you and me. We’ve got this general pattern where we depend entirely on others early in life and then develop into young people with hopes and dreams, testing our independence until we fly the nest and start relying on ourselves. We  make our own choices, and with each choice there are consequences great or small. Every choice we make seemed like a good idea at the time, and we made those choices to make our lives better; for the moment or long-term.

So is this why we become unhappy if we realize that our daily jobs don’t bring us the satisfaction and some sense of pleasure? The job itself may not be a fun one, but we justify continuing with it if what we get out of it improves our lives in some other way. Hence the money factor. Take a job not many would willingly do for the work alone, and attaching money to it will at some point attract enough people to perform the work you want done. Offer too little and you won’t attract the skilled people to do the work and the quality of the work will suffer.

Some Career Coaches or Employment Counsellors will inevitably ask the people they work with, “What would make you happy?” You see we get it. If you could share with us the work, job or career (substitute your word of choice) that would make your life better, then we could help you define the steps required to take you from your present situation to the reality of having the dream job you want. With the attainment of the job, you’ll be happy; your life would be better. So goes the theory.

The problem for many is they can’t answer the question, “What’s your dream job?” They honestly don’t know. It’s for this reason many people feel conflicted, confused, anxiety and ultimately voice this in statements like, “What’s wrong with me? I should know by now!” or the classic, “Everybody’s telling me to just get a job but I don’t know what I want to do.” Figuring out the, ‘want’ is really trying to figure out what would make life better.

After all, if you and I are going to invest 7 or so hours a day in some activity 5 days a week, presumably that investment of time should make our lives better. If the job we take doesn’t make life better, why are we still doing the work? Ah but then maybe it’s how we define a better life that is the real crux of the matter. If we hate the actual work we do with a passion – the exact opposite of what an employer typically asks for, but the job provides us with money that we then use to pay for rent, food, possessions and our lives improve on our personal time, some of us can then justifiably state that the job we hate makes life better.

Not all of us feel this way however. Some believe that the work they do is such a big part of their waking lives that it had better not only pay well, but the work itself has to bring them joy. The job has to be one they’d find fulfilling. However while some get out and try job after job trying to find  the right fit to improve their lives, others don’t. The ones that don’t make a decision not to do any work at all until they are fairly certain the job will bring them happiness. Not having ever done the work, they use their imagination to visualize themselves in a job, and with this limited knowledge or perception of what they believe the job to be, they make a decision to work or not in that job; usually deciding not to.

Researching a job or a profession is good advice to give you data you may find helpful in making a better informed decision on whether the job will make you happy or improve your life. All the research in the world can’t tell you how you’ll really experience that job however until you plunge into it. There are many variables like the supervision style of the person you report to, the comings and goings of co-workers that will affect the atmosphere, culture, location, hours of work etc.

If life is the best it can be keep doing what you’re doing – job or no job. If life isn’t as good as it could be with the work you currently do, and presuming you want it to be better, get going; you’ve only got so much time to improve your life through your work.

What do you think people?