Thanks For The Social Services Caseworker

If you’re fortunate to live in a community that provides financial and social assistance to its most vulnerable citizens, then you’ve also got a number of people tasked with providing that same service. These people may have varying titles, but for the purposes of identification, let’s call them Caseworkers. More about that name later, but for now, Caseworkers it is.

It may well be that your own upbringing never brought you into contact with any Social Service organization; you may have no personal contact with or real understanding of the role these people play. This would mean you’ve been raised in a self-supporting family and never required the support the social services safety net provides. From an economic point of view, the fewer people who turn to these supports the better; the resources are more readily available for those who truly need them, for those unable to financially support themselves.

Administering these benefits are the Caseworkers; working within and under the legislative guidelines set out by governments. But if you leave it at that, you’ve got a very limited view of what a Caseworker does. Caseworkers you see, are in the people business. This is a role of privilege and responsibility; one that most Caseworkers carry out with gratitude for the opportunity. It may not have occurred to you should you outside the field, but the people who work in these roles are a special bunch.

You see as much as we know the role is a privilege, it’s disheartening to hear that same word used in a derogatory way when people say, “Oh those government workers are a privileged bunch!” A government worker is a public servant, and serve we do.

The Caseworker is tasked with ensuring that people initially meet the established standards in qualifying for financial help, and then ensuring each month that they continue to do so. While the number of people and families served by any one person varies, it would not be atypical for a Caseworker to have 175 files representing some 325 people at any given time. That’s a lot of people to serve on a monthly basis! Given each day the Caseworker might see 3 or 4 in-person for an update, talk on the phone to 15 – 20, respond to letters and faxes and the odd person who drops in unannounced, there’s a need to be highly organized, efficient and time-management conscious. Now add in some ongoing training, team meetings, breaks and a lunch and suddenly you get an idea of how their day goes. You might understand how frustrating it is then to have people then complain to the Caseworker, “You never pick up the phone when I call. What are you doing all day?”

The job also comes with expectations from top down too. There are Supervisors monitoring caseload management, doing random file reviews, following up on client contact with Caseworkers, reports that tell how on top of things a Caseworker is, the various benefits each Caseworker has issued, where they might have some updates overdue. Then the legislation that dictates how the job is done changes periodically, and more training is scheduled. Every so often the technology itself is overhauled and like it or not, there’s another entire computer software system to learn.

And you know what? Caseworkers didn’t choose to get into the job to do any of the above. What they did sign up for when they went to University or College was to help people. What they envisioned was sitting down, listening to people express their challenges and then providing support and encouragement; helping people help themselves. With this job there’s an unexpected emotional toll too. The Caseworker hears and feels the worse in human nature; rape, abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, zero financial literacy, loss of self-esteem, growing anxieties and depression, shame, guilt and yes despair. Caseworkers have to both steel themselves against taking on the suffering heard yet empathizing enough to fully appreciate the hardships of those served. It’s a fine balance.

Yet, for all the troubles and challenges, administration and tight timelines, the Caseworkers are a positive bunch; some of the most caring and wonderful people you could hope to meet. They are often the first people who come to mind by those on their caseload when there’s trouble; this is the privilege. Caseworkers see the breakthroughs, the changing attitudes, hear the joy of landing job interviews and announcing new jobs! We congratulate those moving to financially supporting themselves because we know just what it’s taken for many to make it.

Like any field, sure there will be some employees who are better at the job than others. You may hear someone complain about their own Caseworker but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the objective story. Besides, go ahead and name any job where every single person who holds it is identically excellent in every way. You can’t, and Casework is no different.

A big thank you to Caseworkers everywhere; be they anywhere on this planet of ours. While you may not expect or ask to be thanked by those you serve, may you who hold it always be blessed with some who express their sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you do. It might only be a handshake and a nod or maybe you’ll get a personal note to be treasured expressing words of thanks.

Keep up the good work, for even we only get a glimpse of what life is really like for those we serve.

For Us In Social Services

Social Services Workers; we’re supposedly the compassionate ones right? We are the ones who are drawn in life to work with the marginalized people in our communities. It is we, who work with troubled youth, the abused, homeless, abandoned, illiterate, physically and mentally challenged. Yes we were drawn here by the desire to care for others, to advocate on their behalf, to guide and support; to lend a hand to the vulnerable.

We’re nowhere near perfect I fear however. No, some of who are the very epitome of everything we value most in the good work we do, are ourselves looking for answers and workable solutions sometimes within our own families. We may have estranged relationships with those we should be closest to. We might have ongoing and escalating battles with our children, parents, siblings or members of our spouse’s families. We are in the end, human beings ourselves coping and dealing as best we can with what life brings our way on a daily basis.

I’m sure that in the middle of the family arguments we have been in for example, we’ve engaged in the process with the same passion, energy and conviction that anyone and everyone else do. It is only after the heat of the moments pass that we step back and reflect on what we might have done differently had we applied the same excellent advice we share with those we work on behalf of in our professional lives. Ah but it seems different at the time doesn’t it?

You’ll see excellent Social Services Workers who are divorced, separated, stressed, anxious, depressed, isolated, poor and chemically dependent. You’ll see among our number the wealthy, introverted, assertive, shy, lonely, both the beautiful and the quite ordinary; the disabled, tattooed and yes even the convicted. We are a collective group in society who goes about doing the work we do looking and acting for the most part human.

We don’t wear capes and have super human powers that make us recognizable heroes on comic book covers. Yet nonetheless there are those out there who admire us and see us as their real life heroes notwithstanding. Some among us do save lives, but not from fiery infernos, evil scientists and arch villains. Hold on check that; there are scientists creating and distributing chemicals that put those we work with at risk of dying, and sometimes we do get people moved into better basic housing that reduces the risk of being killed in some dubious shelter where there are no fire alarms or sprinklers. So maybe we do save people from fiery infernos just waiting to happen.

Yes if you were to assemble all us Social Service Workers in a large room and you looked among us, you’d find a pretty healthy cross-section of the general populations we serve. We’d look pretty ordinary, like the crowd you might see in an underground waiting to board a subway. We’re decidedly nondescript. We’ve no badge that identifies us like a Police Officer, nor a coat of distinction that you’d point to like the Concierge at a Hotel. We are in the end, just a collection of citizens, representative of the people in the communities we work in.

Mistakes we make by the truckload too. Just because we fall prey to the occasional bad choice or poor decision shouldn’t be taken as the personal justification others might cite for ignoring the sage advice we implore them to take. We make so many decisions over the course of a day that it is ridiculous to assume all those decisions will be the right ones. Why on earth would we suspect that we are impervious to error? We actually embrace these moments however; embrace I say because we intuitively know that it is our mistakes that are our greatest opportunities for learning and therefore growth. Some of the wisest among us are the biggest foul ups out there!

Our critics – and there are many of them – point to our very mistakes and say, “How can you claim to be this fabulous Social Services Worker when your own life is littered with mistakes, your personal life is a testament to your inability to make the proper big decisions etc.?” It’s true too; we’re human. We error and we do it often. Hopefully we learn and don’t repeat those mistakes but even in this we find we are human too.

We interact daily with people who sometimes are literally hanging on to a fragment of their sanity; balancing that fine line between living and carrying on versus ending it all and leaving their struggles behind them. The advice, help, suggestions and prompts we give after listening to their individual struggles that torment their souls is always well-intended to help. Still, we’ll lose a significant number of those we work with; some will move, others will succeed, some will just disappear and some will die. Irrespective of the titles we hold, the organizations we work in or the geographic locations in which we find ourselves, we will be fresh and ready with each sunrise to repeat our good work and give it our best again.

So why do we do it? We do it for the very reason we began it of course; we are the compassionate ones. We are the givers; our rewards don’t come with medals, huge salaries and bonuses but with the occasional, “Thanks for keeping it real.”

Thank YOU.

Thank You My Peers; This One’s For You

I want to pass on my sincere thank you to you, my colleagues who work on a daily basis advocating for those who are on social assistance. This article is specifically directed to you; as it’s all about you and the great work you do. If you like what you read, share it –not necessarily on the net; maybe with your co-workers who might miss it otherwise. Share it with your family if they wonder what it is you really do all day; your kids if you suspect they don’t have a clue about the impact you have and the tremendously important work you do.

What this isn’t is a self-serving post slapping us on the back broadcasting, “How great we are!” for anybody to hear. You know as well as I do however in the value of receiving encouragement and acknowledgement.  We dole that out all day long! So allow me to extend my 900 words of thanks and for a few moments this day, allow yourself to just read and be acknowledged.

Don’t you love those ‘light bulb’ scenarios where you see that exact moment on the face of someone you are working with who suddenly grasps what it is you’re sharing? Of course you do! It is precisely because of your intervention that they suddenly ‘get it’; ‘it’ being something that helps them move forward. Because of you, they not only know something intellectually, they understand it and own it when that moment happens; learning just transferred from you to them. Well done!

These are pretty great people we work with and for aren’t they? They have the survival skills to get by on what amounts to less than minimum wage in many jurisdictions. While many people in the general population wouldn’t remotely consider working for less than half the minimum wage; you and I know that the people we serve have no choice but to accept less than half those wages. Not only do some in society begrudge them this meagre amount to live on, those same people expect social assistance recipients to smile, be in good health, get around and look for work, get an education – but not if they can get off assistance without it of course – and keep themselves dressed and groomed smartly. Best they are thankful and don’t have a poor attitude or show discouragement either.

We however are the sensitive ones; the compassionate ones. We aren’t just bleeding hearts. We are wise enough to know holding other people in judgement for how they live their lives and the choices they make is wrong. We’ve come to understand that these social assistance recipients are… well… people. We know how intrinsically essential we become in their lives because they tell us don’t they? Not all of them of course, but many do express their gratitude and thanks. They know we are in positions of power and can help move them forward or make things more difficult. The best of us, – you of course – take that responsibility on each day with each person you interact with and sometimes we do it so naturally we think it’s no big thing. It’s huge!

We are their role models; we may be the sole person in their lives who treats them with respect and dignity. We may be the lone person who actually sees something of value in them and most importantly believes in them. I don’t exaggerate. We know how fragile some of these people are, growing up in broken homes and enduring abusive relationships. We have to walk that fine line between caring enough to be helpful and not over-caring to the point where we suffer compassion fatigue and burn out.

How many decisions do you make in a day? Now how many of those decisions impact directly on someone whose situation is so fragile that holding their assistance or releasing it means the difference between being housed or on the street? We know only a fraction of how stressful it must surely be to constantly live fraught with the worry of whether or not the cheque will arrive in time to pay the rent.

You do tremendously important work and are in a noble profession. You are simultaneously a source of finance, a figure of authority, role model, teacher, mentor, advisor, guide and helper. And sometimes – in the moments when you’ve got a pile of work on your desk and numerous phone calls to return, there you are just listening on your end of the phone to someone who just needs your ear. Frustrating at times? Absolutely when there’s so much to do and a computer system that demands your attention. But you do it nonetheless.

You and I, we’re pretty fortunate to be in such a position. Were it you and I on the other side of the table needing help and being ignorant of all the help available, we’d be so grateful to have an empathetic and caring person to help us.

A humble and sincere thank you wherever you work on this globe of ours when you toil on behalf of those who often don’t have a voice of their own; or rather their voices speak but are not heard. You are doing great work and the impact you’re having is cumulative; you may not see the progress at first, but its building. Think of how many lives you make better every day!

Job Interview Help

Many people I listen to when discussing employment interviews, raise the issue of having difficulty coming up with real life examples from their past when responding to interview questions at job interviews. They are searching for extreme situations they have been in that highlight extreme responses and in many cases, they draw blanks.

Situations that require our skills to resolve, organize, lead, cooperate or meet targets probably happen much more frequently than we first imagine. Equally, we succeed in achieving successes on an ongoing daily basis much of the time but fail to recognize these moments and therefore fail to recall them when we wish to.

Let’s start with a very simple example; one I’m not suggesting would be interview worthy but an example nonetheless. Have you ever gone to get a drink on your break at work and after ordering found you are a tad short on the change in your pocket? That quarter you thought you had turns out to be a nickel? How did you resolve the problem? Did you decline the drink? Offer to run right back with the missing 20 cents? Borrow the 20 cents from a person you went with? Ask if you could pay them later the same day the missing 20 cents? Any of these work as an example of how you resolved the problem.

Interview worthy? No. An example of being in a stressful situation where there is a problem and you have to resolve it somehow, yes. Or have you woke up ill and had a full day of meetings planned with clients? What did you do to resolve that? Go in ill? Call in and tell the boss you wouldn’t be in and where he or she would find the names of people to be called and rescheduled? Just went back to bed and did nothing?

This gets closer to something you could use in an interview, but neither is some major hurdle that resulted in newspaper reporters banging on your door to get an exclusive interview with you because of the extreme skills you displayed in overcoming the issue at hand. Both do however show your judgment in action, your quick thinking or your ability to follow established procedures and level of personal responsibility.

You can find examples of your skills not only in the world of paid employment but also in the realm of volunteerism. If you are donating your time and giving of yourself with a non-profit organization, you are still required to have a level of accountability and punctuality. You are still showcasing your organizational skills, interpersonal skills, perhaps your computer proficiencies. Is your work – and truer to the point – are you yourself – valued and depended upon where you volunteer? That could be shared and score you points.

One of the key difficulties I often hear from people preparing for job interviews is that they fell ill-prepared for the questions they’ll face precisely because they don’t know what questions they’ll be faced with. Like I’ve said in my blogs before, you can anticipate with fairly good accuracy what many of those questions will be however. Yes, you can predict with a high degree of probability the questions in advance of the interview, and that in turn should guide you in coming up with some examples of your past performance to respond in kind to the questions.

If you are going for an IT job where the job posting specifically states you need problem identification skills and problem-solving skills, it’s a safe bet you’ll be asked to give examples from your past that clearly prove your accounting skills. Wouldn’t you agree? Oh you wouldn’t? Good for you. Yes I am being smart here. Sorry. You wouldn’t be asked to give examples of your accounting skills because the job you are applying for doesn’t require that skill set. It does however seem likely you’d best have a couple of situations in mind that prove or demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

So the smart thing to do in the example above would be to sit down now ahead of the interview, and recall some concrete, very specific examples from your past. Examples in which you were faced with a conflict or problem, and then next compose an answer that shows how you identified it, step-by-step worked on it, and then the positive outcome. Voila, you’re on your way to a good interview.

If the job you are going calls for leadership, be prepared for that question and pull out examples that show leadership. Whether in a time of crisis, a project with others, a sales competition, even a medical emergency on the street, situations that you’ve been in which demonstrate your skills and performance and match the qualifications the question is looking for are all good.

If you have difficulty coming up with your skills and stories from your past, I can assure you that a good Employment Counsellor can in a conversation, draw out your skills and name them just from hearing you talk about your past. This kind of skill identification will increase your self-esteem, your confidence and reduce your interview anxiety when it comes to answering questions if you feel anxious, unsure or don’t believe you are truly qualified somehow.

Starting today, look for moments in your daily life AS THEY OCCUR which show how you to respond to situations. Note them. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.




What Shape Is Your Armour In?

Ah those knights from the days of King Arthur…do you remember the castle Camelot and the round table which provided a spot for each one of the knights, yet by its very design meant no one sat at the head of the table? Now there was an idea!

In other stories involving knights, there was often colours associated with the various knight; the green knight, the notorious black knight, and the white knight. Each often bore his colours on standards representing their family history. And sometimes there would appear a hero in his suit of shining armour.

Shining armour sounds good, but in reality those knights had their metal exposed to the many weather conditions in which they found themselves, from rain to baking sun. That metal often became rusted, and the price of battle often meant nicks, scratches, holes even, and smiths would be called upon to weld pieces over those larger gaps to protect the knight in future battle. The suits were so heavy, that once a knight fell in battle, he was often quite alive and yet unable to raise himself. An unarmed man literally could go from fallen knight to fallen knight, lift the plating and run the man through with a sword while he lay defenceless. Check the history books, not the story books and you’ll see it’s true!

So ironically, the knight in shining armour was a knight whose armour had yet to be tested in battle. The very best of the bunch often was in tarnished, battered armour. And so I ask you, what shape is your armour in?

When you are looking for work for example, you often have to steel yourself against a myriad of rejections, doubts about your abilities, having your skills questioned, your applications ignored. How you respond to these assaults says volumes about how you are winning or losing the battle as you either move toward or retreat from the employment war.

There’s an old saying that goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” As in anything else worth obtaining, there are obstacles to overcome and move past. If you were able to step onto the employment battlefield and walk up to the employer in his ivory castle without being challenged and obtain the job, your appreciation for the effort it took to obtain it would be low. Conversely, your pride and appreciation for what it takes to reach the castle doors and have them opened for you is heightened by the individual assaults you overcome and turn away as you move toward your goal.

And understand the analogy completely. Even those who ultimately succeed at some point in the beginning look out on the obstacles between them and their goal and have moments of doubt. But what they do is devise a plan, and then share that plan with their stakeholders, and then together they put the plan into action. While suggestions are welcomed, ultimately the person most invested in the success or failure of the quest makes a decision, and from that moment on, only surrounds himself or herself with those who will not further question the goal.

Similarly in your job search, you have to put on your armour every day, taking the criticism from others; some of it constructive and some of it raw. If you are going it alone, you might find it more helpful and ultimately allow yourself to reach your target faster if you get others to stand with you. So entreat an Employment Advisor to provide strategies and polish up your resume. Arm yourself with a cover letter forged to stand apart from the others. Train to be uniquely positioned and the last one standing when the interviews are over in order to claim the prized position.

And a Career Advisor who can help you determine exactly what job would be the best fit for someone with your skills, values and interests, is akin to making sure after the battlefield is crossed, that you are standing at the right castle. This can save you the disappointment of accepting a job after putting in so much effort, and then being dismissed by the CEO of the castle for being a poor fit, and exposed as a squire masquerading as a knight.

The other people standing behind you and urging you on as you deal with the assaults upon you may be members of your family, your closest friends and neighbours. And isn’t it our friends who should stand closest to us when the call goes out for aid? Don’t make the poor decision to keep your need for support to yourself at a time when you need most those around you who believe in you!

And know your enemy. So who is it that stands before you on the field of employment battle? As you look out, you’ll easily see self-doubt smiling wickedly from behind his pale armour. The yellow knight before you is cowardice tempting you to feel it’s all for naught and urging you to just surrender. In his hands, he doesn’t hold a sword and shield, he holds a t.v. remote, and a game controller; far easier he pleads to just relax and give in. There too you’ll see a shining knight, whose armour mirrors back your own reflection. Do you see yourself as one who diminishes or finishes with a flourish?

What lies within that castle on the other side of the battlefield is your future. Test your armour and engage with enthusiasm! Claim your right to work, your added value, and ultimately your victory!

New Social Services Workers Please Read

Congratulations and thank you. I don’t know what led you to choose this career, or for some of you it may be a job; but here you are today and I for one want to thank you for stepping up.

As you work daily with the population you are hired to assist, you’re going to be sneered at, resented, envied, respected, thanked, ignored, forgotten, remembered; and all these things will both test and define you. I do hope you are strong enough. Don’t be a knight in shining armour; for that only means your metal hasn’t been tested.

If you are in it for only the pay or the job security, I pray your exposure to and impact on people is minimal; for if you didn’t already realize it, every single day of your working life you now have the power to influence people and your words may raise someone’s hopes, or at the extreme, you may literally bring about someone’s death. With this job, comes immense responsibility. Take it, but not yourself, seriously.

However, let’s go on the assumption that your heart is one that cares. What I’d like to pass on is my advice being a peer in your field. For starters, be enthusiastic. I don’t mean animated and crazy, but throw yourself into your work with vigor and energy; people are watching and modeling what you do, how you act, what you say, if you do what you preach.

Learn to actively listen. You can learn so much by saying far less than you’d like to, and when you say less, others fill the void with the space you leave. In this space, what often comes out is their truths and realities, and the more you are trusted, the more people will reveal. The more they reveal, the better your understanding and ability to respond effectively to their needs.

Develop a personal philosophy, and every now and then examine what you believe, and be open to admitting that what you previously believed might need an adjustment, or an entire overhaul. It’s called growing. Think about your values, beliefs, thoughts and core priorities. Ask your peers what their working philosophies are, what they value, and put their answers in perspective with where they are in life. Take from others what works for you.

When you are just starting out, do something peculiar and imagine your retirement party. Suppose the top person is giving a speech thanking you for your years of service. What characteristics would you most like them to cite and be remembered for? Now start acting consistently in every way to deliver upon those characteristics. Choose your own of course, but it’s hard to go wrong with compassion, adaptability, genuine caring, love and giving others your full attention.

Learn from your peers and supervisors, books and training events for sure, but learn more from your clients and those beneath you on the organizational chart. When you demonstrate interest, you validate others. You may never know the full impact of your influence on another person. Your attention, or your lack of interest could be the best part of someone’s day, or the final straw that breaks someone’s spirit. As a new colleague of mine always signs off in his communications, ‘be awesome’.

You might question openly or in secret older workers on your team. While they may move slower, appear to think slower, or be resistant to new ideas, they may be conserving energy, letting new ideas bounce around in their brain, or be thinking about how your new ideas haven’t worked when tried in the past. These people have life and work experience, wisdom, insight, reputations and feelings. Is it fair to have compassion for your clientele but not for the apparent shortcomings of your peers? Hold your tongue.

Be dependable always. Social work is demanding and can take an emotional and physical toll on you. Every time you are absent or unable to fully do your job, others have to stretch a little bit more, give a little bit more, and you’d be wise to make sure they get a word of appreciation when you return. If you can’t be reliable for reasons beyond your capacity, think long and hard about your future here.

You cannot satisfy every single client nor save them all. You can’t take them home and let them experience your better quality of life, nor can you live their lives for them. That’s arrogance and ignorance. You can provide an ear, give them your time, hope and advice if they are open. The responsibility is theirs to do what they choose with their lives, so don’t impose your values, your expectations and your goals on them. Whatever they set for themselves may be small or great compared to you but it’s their life.

This is a career where work/life balance is critical. If you give and give and don’t take time to replenish yourself, not only will you burn out, but your capacity and ability to aid others will be exhausted. Give yourself permission to have fun, shop and spend without guilt. And while you shouldn’t flaunt your life, don’t hide it either. Your life may be what they aspire to have for themselves, and those that have forgotten the dreams and hopes they once held might do well to be reminded of what could be.

Ours is a wonderful profession. It is an honour to serve; it’s humbling. Empower those you can, and do it all with enthusiasm!


Companies Rejecting You Might Be Right

Because I’m an Employer Counsellor, I deal with people who are seeking employment on a daily basis. In addition to success stories where people get interviews and employment, again and again I also hear job seekers blaming interviewers and companies in general for rejecting them. However, if truth be told, I completely understand the employers point of view, and not only understand it, agree with their decision.

I have just met a client I’m working with in a group who is in his mid-twenties. He’s well-groomed, in good physical condition, has no transportation difficulties and has a decent resume. However, he is a most intense guy. He seldom smiles; his eyes seem to bore right through people he talks to, and his answers to mock interview questions demonstrate an articulate and wide vocabulary, but also are delivered with an arrogance and intensity that is unsettling. That intensity is never turned off and instead of coming off as self-motivated and serious about job searching, his self-portrayal is that of possibly being a walking time bomb.

Another person I am working with is a young man who claims he only owns and wears jeans. He’s (no pun intended) attached to his facial hair which he doesn’t keep trimmed but rather has let grow wild and patchy, and he’s resistant to making a change in either. Now while the job he’s going to eventually land is one in which he’ll probably be allowed to wear jeans to the workplace, the jeans he’s wearing daily aren’t even presentable in an interview situation. But as is the case with so many young people – and we’ve all been there – he knows best of course. I wouldn’t be interested in hiring him upon first impression, and an employer’s mind might be made up before he even takes a step forward to shake their hand.

Sometimes it takes rejection upon rejection for some people to realize maybe they don’t have the right answer, and that what’s really required is an attitudinal adjustment between the ears. Sometimes it’s not them….sometimes it’s you. Now don’t get me wrong. There are many people out there doing all the things right and still not getting interviews and employment. So how does a person know whether it’s them or not? Sadly, sometimes the people doing all the things right doubt themselves first and try new things when they should carry on while those that should definitely change their attitude and appearance or behaviour assume it’s not them that needs to change.

If you are working with the aid of someone who is trained professionally to provide employment assistance and is prepared to give you personal feedback, it would seem too obvious to state but you really should listen to all the advice you are given. Yes it’s true that some of that feedback will be flattering and reinforce your ego and your self-esteem. However, it is equally true that some of the feedback you may get is perhaps not what you want to hear, challenges you to change in ways that you may not have expected or don’t even agree with. To what extent you are willing to hear the advice and act on it, will determine the willingness of the person to give you further help too.

So what exactly does that mean? Well suppose you were given a major re-write of your resume which the person you were working with suggested. Rather than being appreciative, if you get defensive and revert to carrying on with your original resume because you think you can do a better job than the professional, why would they be interested in providing you with further suggestions on other aspects of the job search?

Remember that in trying to get an interview, it’s all about marketing yourself with your resume; your resume is therefore a marketing tool that presents you in the best way possible. The best way possible means that you come the closest to what the company is looking for. How you know what they are looking for is by reading job posting requirements, researching websites, reading company publications, meeting with company employees and asking questions. Read newspapers, listen to the radio, ask some of the companies clients and customers what they like or dislike about a company. If there are enough people telling you common dislikes, that may be an opportunity for you to fix that problem by presenting yourself as someone who can turn things around in that area.

When at an interview, give solid well-thought-out answers that show some interest and enthusiasm for the possibility of working there. Be aware of your posture and sit up and slightly forward in your seat. Look like you actually care about the prospect of being hired rather than the interview is an inconvenience and the interviewer doesn’t measure up to your intellect. This too is what another person I was doing a mock interview with tended to do; he looked totally exasperated and frustrated that he was being made to ‘make believe’. He thought he should just be able to walk in and tell them he could do the job and get hired. The chip on his shoulder is enormous.

Employment Counsellors and Career Advisors aren’t always right. Any of us that might say, “Do it my way and you are guaranteed to get a job”, are people to be cautious of because I don’t think we can ever make that claim. What we as professionals can do however, is increase your odds of getting interviews and job offers. Of course, that is if you are open to hearing and acting on the advice you receive.