Re-Inventing Yourself?


Whether by choice or necessity, have you ever, or are you now in a place where you’re re-inventing yourself? You know, moving in a completely new direction from what you’ve typically done work-wise in the past. Depending on your circumstances, this can be an exhilarating time of hope, possibilities and uncharted exploration, or it can be fraught with stress, desperation, anxiety and worry.

So, is it starting to sound like I’m speaking to you directly? There’s actually a good chance that this resonates with you to some degree because all of us have times in our lives where we assume new roles. This is important to both hear and comprehend; all of us go through this.

It’s true you know… becoming a teenager then an adult, being a parent or grandparent, the first job where we joined the ranks of the employed, leaving one job for another. There are all kinds of moments in our lives when we transitioned from one role to another. But somehow, changing your career at this particular time in your life seems markedly different from all those other transitions. This is magnified when you feel forced to make the change instead of initiating change out of a personal desire.

For a lot of folks, the anxiety is stirred up wondering what to actually do. It’s like that year in high school where you had to make a decision on what you wanted to be when you grew up. As awkward as that period might have felt way back then, it pales in comparison to the present where you’re no longer 17 or 18 years old with your entire work life in front of you. No, now you’re looking at yourself and wondering, “what am I going to do at my age?”

For the men and women who have been in positions of labour their whole lives, this idea of needing a new vocation could be brought about because their bodies are no longer able to take the physical demands of their trade. While the body is refusing to do what it’s always done, the brain is fully capable and stress is caused because the work they’ve done is only what they know. It’s like laying bricks for 37 years and then the back and knees give out, so the Bricklayer struggles trying to figure out what else they could do.

Sometimes the body isn’t the problem though. Sometimes the prevailing problem is of a mental rather than physical issue; the need to change careers is however just as valid. For many, there is still the notion – completely wrong in my opinion – that a mental health issue needs to be concealed, while a physical issue can be more easily shared and understood. So the person with two bad knees and a back issue gets empathy and understanding while the person with anxiety and depression draws more skepticism and doubt. As a result, some people hide their mental health challenges as long as they can, thereby making it difficult if not impossible to get the very support and help they need to move forward.

A good place to start when you have to re-invent yourself is taking stock of what you have on hand. Imagine yourself on a ship with your destination fully known and suddenly waking up one day to find yourself shipwrecked on an island. You need to survive so you take stock of what resources you have. You don’t go off exploring your surroundings without first taking your bearings and assessing your needs and your resources.

Using that analogy, you’ve gone through – or are going through – the shock of an abrupt change in your work life. The future is going to be very different from your past and while you understand this on an intellectual level, you’re at that crossroads trying to figure out in what direction to move. You’re worried perhaps that with the limited time and resources you have available, you can’t afford to just move in any old direction in case you choose wrong. If only you could look ahead and see the rewards and pitfalls in all directions and then decide. Life doesn’t always work this way though; as you more than anyone has just found out because you didn’t foresee where you are now in your future just a few years ago.

So take stock of your skills, experiences both paid and volunteer. What did you like and dislike about the work you’ve done in the past. What are you physically capable of and mentally able to take on? It may be that the very best thing you can do is give yourself the gift of a short break. Yes money might be tight but if you can free up funds for a short trip to somewhere you feel good in, you may do wonders for your mental health.

Getting a booklet on courses from a community college or university might enlighten you  to jobs you haven’t considered; and you might discover funding assistance at the same time to go back to school if you wish.

This crossroads you’re in could be a blessing too. You’ve got time now to really think about what to do with your life; something some people who dislike their current jobs would envy you for. When you’re ready, and definitely not before, reach out and share your thoughts with someone you who’ll listen with an open mind.

All the very best as always!

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Behavioural Change Brought On With Unemployment


I feel a lot of empathy for you if you’re unemployed and really motivated to find work. Having had times in my life when I’ve been out of work I know personally the ups and downs of job searching with little success until that moment of euphoria comes when you hear the words, “We’re offering you a position”.

The interesting thing about being unemployed is that it’s both the lack of employment and the lack of income that while related, force us to make changes in behaviour; to do things differently than we’ve done. It’s these changes in behaviour that elevate our stress levels. Understanding this can and does help immensely.

For starters, very few people actually look for employment when they are employed. If you are the exception, I’ll still bet you don’t go about looking for another job with the same level of intensity that you would were you entirely out of work. After all, your motivation for wanting a different job than the one you have at the moment is more for personal satisfaction or happiness, wanting to accelerate your career or to build on your current income. The work you do in your current job provides some level of income however, and so if you feel tired when you can finally turn to looking for work, you feel no hesitation to put off seriously looking for another day without guilt. There is much less urgency.

When you’re out of work completely, things change out of necessity. Suddenly you find yourself having no choice but to engage skills that might be rusty or completely foreign to you. Writing cover letters, thank you notes, lining up references, networking for leads, composing resumes, marketing yourself. You may not have had to do these things for a while and you might not find these things pleasant, so you haven’t invested any real-time in keeping up with latest trends in job searching or what employers want.

Secondly there’s the change in income or rather your change in behaviour that has to happen when your income changes. You can either keep spending like you’ve been used to and you’ll increase your personal debt, or you have to cut back and save where you can. Saving money and spending only what you have to is a change in behaviour that can add to your stress. Maybe you drop the social dinners out on Friday nights, start clipping coupons, drop the 3 coffees a day at your local café and only use the car when it’s necessary to save on fuel.

These two changes regarding your spending and having to engage in job search activities are both necessary and both things you’d typically like to avoid having to do. Here then is the reason for the stress; unwanted but necessary activity you begin to engage in.

While I acknowledge that we are unique in many ways, it is also fair to say that in many ways, most of us share similar feelings when out of work. We might feel embarrassment, shame, a lack of pride etc. and want to keep our unemployed status from friends and extended family. If we could only get a new job in a week or so we could then tell people that we’ve changed jobs. We do this of course because we want to save face, protect our ego, avoid worrying over what others might think of us and wanting to keep our relationships as they are. We worry they might re-evaluate us, think poorer of us, maybe even disassociate themselves from us. Ironic then that while worrying about possibly being disassociated with us many unemployed isolate themselves from social contact.

But I get it. When you’re unexpectedly out of work, you have really two options; get job searching immediately with intensity or give yourself a reasonable period in the form of a mental health break. This time might be good for grieving the loss of your job, venting the anger and bitterness until you can focus better on looking forward not back. You don’t want a trigger of some sort to suddenly have you spewing out venom towards a previous employer in a job interview after all.

When you’re ready to focus on looking for a new role, ask yourself as objectively as you can if you have the necessary skills to job search successfully. You might be good in your field of work, but are you as highly skilled as you need to be in marketing yourself? How are your interview skills ? Are you in uncharted waters or have you kept your résumé up-to-date?

I understand that job searching ranks pretty low on most people’s list of enjoyable activities. It’s understandable then that if you too don’t love job searching, you’ve done little to invest any time or money in honing your skills in this area. Suddenly of course, you hope the skills you do have will see you through.

You’re in a period of transition and you’ll feel a range of emotions. You’ll get frustrated, maybe even educated on how things have changed since you last looked for a job. You’ll feel demoralized perhaps and hopefully encouraged at times too. It’s the broad swings of emotions, raw and real that can catch you unprepared. These are normal when you are forced to deal with change out of necessity.

 

 

 

Juggling Too Much? Overwhelmed?


How are you handling all the things that are going on in your life? Imagine yourself as a Juggler and each of the things you’re dealing with at the moment are represented by one of the items you’ve got in the air. Oh and each item you’re juggling is the same size as the source of the stress it represents.

For some that image is inconceivable. There is no way anyone could possibly have that many items in the air without some or all of them falling beyond what you could juggle. There’s a word for that and it’s, ‘overwhelmed’.

Now you know what you’re carrying around with you more than anyone. If you’ve ever actually watched a Juggler, it’s important to think now about how he or she gets to the point in their act where all those items are in the air at once. And come to think of it, it’s equally or more important to keep watching until the end where you can see how they finish the act.

Most of the time, The Juggler always has to start with one item, perhaps a ball, being tossed in the air. One item only; now doesn’t that make you envious! As the ball is in the air and second and then a third are added to the mix. At this point, a really good Juggler can still smile at the crowd of people assembled, even take their eyes off the objects ever so briefly and maybe do a little talking too. In other words, they can multi-task and the balls are still being successfully juggled; things are well under control.

For many people, this is what real life is like. There’s a few things that have us concerned at any one time and we’re successfully juggling them. To others, we are smiling and talking and we look in control of things.  In fact, as we juggle these few things, we might grow in confidence and think we can handle some additional items.

The best Jugglers didn’t become the Jugglers they are without dropping a few things though did they? Actually truth be told the very best Jugglers have dropped more balls over time than others with less skills to handle heavy loads. Those who are really good practice and practice; they are at it daily and for hours and in that time they drop countless items in an effort to both get better and to stay well-practiced with those more complicated loads.

The real problem with using a Juggler as an analogy for whatever you’ve personally got in the air yourself is that the Juggler’s act only lasts for a limited time and then she or he gets to stop juggling. They face the crowd assembled with their hands spread out from their sides, smile and bow as the crowds applaud their skill at handling all the things they’ve just witnessed.

You and I though; does it ever feel like you can’t put some things down; like you’re juggling 24 hours a day. You go to sleep to escape your worries and find that you can’t turn off your brain; then when you do wake from your restless on and off sleep, you’re assaulted with all those thoughts of what you’ve got in the air? And where’s the crowd of people who would be so impressed with the phenomenal number of items you’ve got going anyway? There should at least be a crowd!

Complicating things and increasing the degree of difficulty is that what you’ve got in the air aren’t all nice little balls of the same size. Ever watched a Juggler who starts with small balls then near the climax has a knife or two, a flaming torch and a bowling ball up there too? I’ve witnessed that. Impressive for sure; and better them than me!

Okay so here’s what’s really impressive; you! You may not think so but you’ve got so many things going on in your life and unlike that Juggler, you didn’t consciously decide to go out of your way to learn to juggle for a living. You certainly didn’t train for it, wish these things upon yourself and you’d love to drop a few things never to pick them up again.

Every so often when you watch some Juggler though, a second Juggler comes on stage. This second person or Assistant Juggler starts accepting some of the items the original Juggler starts tossing their way. The new Juggler takes what’s thrown his or her way, shifts it to their other hand and then passes it back to the first, and so the overall number of things in the air remain the same but the load is lightened.

Hmmm… could be something in this illustration that you could benefit from. What if you had someone who could listen to some of your issues, accept them and perhaps shift them around, reframe them for you and then give them back to you with ideas that might make those things a little easier to handle? Could be they not only get easier to handle when you receive them back but eventually you might be able to stop juggling a few of those things entirely. That would make the other things you’ve got in the air manageable.

Sharing is a good and healthy my friends. Consider adding an expert; a professional Counsellor or even a best friend or two to lighten your load.

 

“Depressed? Get In The Mood Will Ya?”


Easier said then done isn’t it? Do they really think it’s as easy as just deciding to change your mood and, “Shazam!” everything is changed? It doesn’t work this way; you know it and honestly they know it too. Oh perhaps you can make a fleeting and momentary change to whatever it is other people expect you to become, but really that change is superficial and short-lived.

Now we could be talking about all kinds of different situations here; anything from feeling depressed around Christmas time, feeling out of sorts on a double date or maybe even having little enthusiasm for looking seriously for work.

For many people who deal with anxiety and depression – or those dealing with some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, they are already aware they don’t quite fit in with those around them. This knowledge only seems to make things worse too because not only are they feeling the way they do to start with, they feel guilty if they are “ruining it for others” or ” being a downer”.  What they wouldn’t give to just seamlessly slide into the fun and be invisible rather than sticking out because of their singularity of mood. Yes but it isn’t that easy.

And the job interview? Well you can imagine your own feelings heading into a job interview can’t you? The pressure to perform; to come across as confident, positive, highly skilled and on top of that have the personality that’s going to be sought after by the best of employers. Well, add to this some level of additional anxiety, dread, fear and depression. Imagine how much psychological effort it’s going to take for anyone suffering in this way to perform well enough that the interviewer – a person specifically trained to read people – is going to pick you for the job.

The thing about mental illness, anxiety, depression,  etc. is that it’s not immediately obvious to the naked eye that there is something going on. I mean we see a broken arm, a wheelchair or a severe limp and we instinctively see there is an issue. Doors get opened, people say, “let me help you with that”, and folks ask with the best of intentions about your injury, how it happened etc.

A mental health issue however is almost invisible on the outside. Many people struggling with their mental health put on a brave face to those they see around them. They smile at the shopkeeper, put their lipstick on when heading out the door, adjust the tie properly and keep good hours at work. They are doing the best they can to give the appearance that they are ‘normal’; nothing is wrong – and nothing could be further than the truth. “Maybe if I just ride things out these feelings will go away and I don’t want to show any kind of weakness at work. I need my job.”

Now if you don’t have anxiety or depression it can be hard to truly be empathetic; to feel what it’s like for someone in that position. We can be sympathetic of course but truly empathetic? It’s hard for some of us to find experiences in our own lives that are similar enough to what this person is experiencing themselves so we can understand what it is like to be them. Saying, “Gee I know how you feel” or “I get it” might be well-intended but you may not know how they feel and quite honestly don’t get it.

Most of us are understanding too; well up to a point. Yes there does come a point for many if we’re honest, when despite all the empathy and understanding there is work to be done and picking up the work undone that someone else is responsible for starts to wear thin. Sometimes it’s grumbling around the office cooler, that penetrating look of puzzlement you spy on the face of a co-worker across the shop floor, or the confrontational but direct, “Hey, we’re all getting paid to do a job so get your act together!”

Well if it was easy to fix whatever someone is experiencing, the people themselves would do so don’t you think? And gladly!

Look I’m not expert in the field of mental health but I’ve spoken with numerous people who suffer from anxiety and depression. It helps them in their words to acknowledge what they are experiencing without laying on pity and repeatedly inquiring as to how they are doing. While sometimes you might think you’re helping by excusing them from some task at work or giving them extra things to do to keep them busy; the best thing you can do is actually ask them what they would find helpful. After all, the person is probably the expert when it comes to what they themselves would find helpful and therefore appreciate.

As I wrap up my piece, I’m wondering if this is where you yourself would like to jump in and comment on your own experience? Would you be willing to share what it’s been like for you going through your own anxiety and / or depression? Perhaps you work with someone like this and how does it affect your own job on a daily basis? What kind of accommodations have  you found work for both of you?

Someone might be reading this (you perhaps?) who could really benefit from your comments, your thoughts, your coping mechanisms and some encouragement.

Still Debating A Career? Beware!


It’s often been my experience that those people who have no idea what they are looking for in terms of employment are among the hardest people to help find work. You’d be forgiven if you think that a person who answers, “Anything” to the question, “What kind of work are you looking for?” would actually be among the easiest to help because they’ve said they’re looking for anything and therefore will do anything.

The problem of course is that once you suggest a job that they wouldn’t likely enjoy to test their assertion their typical reaction is, “No, I’m not doing that!” Another classic response to suggesting a job they are clearly not qualified for just to show them that they aren’t in fact looking for anything is, “Sure, as long as they train me.” Why oh why would they train you from scratch when there is a multitude of people in the marketplace who have the education, training and experience right now?

I’ve yet to meet a single person in all my years of employment counselling who is actually prepared to do, “anything.” When they look at potential jobs, their reasons for not applying are often any combination of the following: low pay, hard work, demeaning role, boring, too far away, don’t like the employer, someone they know didn’t work out at that company or the hours don’t agree with them.

So if people aren’t in fact prepared to do just any job, why is that so many actually say they are looking for anything in the first place?

I’ve come to believe that this willingness to do anything is really a person expressing their frustration at not having found work they’d be good at, have the skills to do and which they’d enjoy doing.

It’s possible that we’ve done too good at getting out the message that you should be passionate about your job; only do work you love, and that you should be paid well for doing it. While finding real meaning in the work we do each day and loving the job is certainly a great thing to strive for, not every successful person necessarily feels passionately about their job or career.

Pose the question, “Are you passionate about your work?” to a Letter Carrier, a Bank Teller, a dollar store Cashier or a recycling truck Driver and you might get an odd, bewildering look. Because we are so very different and perceive different values in work performed, you just might find a mixture of people who go about their day with passion and those that don’t in all professions. So while you and I might not work with passion if we were Telemarketers, there would certainly be some among the staff who do – and the same goes with any other job.

The problem for many however is trying to discover and ignite personal passion. How to find the single job that’s right for me personally; the one you I am destined to thrive in and find fulfillment in. As a matter of fact, this dilemma can paralyze a person into doing nothing for fear of choosing the wrong job or the wrong company fit and so they do nothing.

Sometimes the best advice is to throw yourself into a job and pay attention to what you like and dislike in the work you do, the people around you and give it a real chance by investing in yourself while working. There is no actual single job you were destined for in my belief; I think it quite possible that there are many jobs that would bring any one person fulfillment and happiness.

In my own case, I certainly never considered the job of an Employment Counsellor when I was in my late teens or early 20’s. I didn’t know they even existed as I’d had no exposure to them or the work they did back then. Over my lifetime I’ve worked in retail, recreation and social services; been self-employed, worked for a provincial government, non-profit and private for profit organizations. I’ve worked with children, teenagers, adults, seniors and those who deal with physical / mental health challenges and those that don’t. It took me a long time to discover the role I have now and all those past experiences of mine make me a more complete Employment Counsellor now. I’m where I needed to be but had I been waiting for the ‘passion’ light to be illuminated, I might still be unemployed myself.

No matter the jobs I’ve held, I did what I believed was my best in each one of them. I worked with the attitude that every job had something to teach me if I was open to the learning. No job was too demeaning but that didn’t mean I stayed content – but I did stay working.

My advice therefore if you’re searching to discover your own passion is to throw yourself into the workforce and gain experiences – plural intended. Reinvent yourself if you choose to put in the effort required to do so. Yes of course you want to ideally be in a job that pays well, you’re good at and one that makes use of your talents.

Find the line between taking the time to choose wisely and taking too long to make the perfect decision. You don’t need to commit to any one job or career forever; you owe it to yourself.

 

Me, Diabetes And The Workplace


Just a few weeks ago I learned I’m a diabetic. That came as a surprise I can tell you and it’s largely for this reason that I haven’t written a blog in a week. Let me if you will share how it’s affecting me in the workplace and what I’ve done in the early days of diagnosis as maybe you can find something in my experience to help you should you or someone in your own place of work go through something akin to this.

I wouldn’t even know to this day I had diabetes had I not taken it upon myself to visit my doctor. I had started 2016 at 220 pounds you see and had made a conscious effort to lose weight and had come down to 177; a drop of 43 pounds over 7 months. I felt great and was proud of my commitment to my goal and the results.

The problem? People at work that once congratulated me and told me I looked great started to say things like, “Oh but you don’t have cancer do you?” or, “I’m concerned about you.” So my motivation in seeing the doctor wasn’t about feeling terrible or having symptoms I could recognize but more to get the good word that all was well so I could assure both co-workers and the people I serve that I’m fine.

The doctor congratulated me on the weight loss but did some blood work as a routine check. That’s when I discovered that instead of a blood reading between 4 and 7, I’d hit 14. It even went as high as 20 over the next few days.

Now diabetes is manageable and perhaps not the big scare for you that it is for me. You see at 57 years of age, I’ve had little more than the odd cold every couple of years and I’ve certainly never been on any medications. I’ve never smoked, done drugs and the only alcohol I’ve ever had pass my lips is in mouthwash. I’ve never even had a sip of coffee either. There’s no history of diabetes in my family either; so it has hit me rather hard.  I can’t help but ask, why me?

I’ve set out immediately with the mindset that I can beat this thing. I’m going to repair this damaged machine called my body and I’m certainly going to have a healthy retirement in the years to come not hampered by illness. Maybe I’m naïve in thinking I can eliminate diabetes from my life but that’s the thinking.

In addition to changing my eating habits, I made the decision last week to tell everybody I work with rather than hide it. Now my diabetes is type 2; no needles, just some pills in the morning and with dinner, cut out the sugar intake and test the blood sugar throughout the day.

My co-workers now know I don’t have cancer; see things could have been worse. I’m glad I told them because I’ve eliminated you see their urgings to have the sweets they bring in from time-to-time. So hopefully they won’t push me to try a bite of cake, share a doughnut etc. We don’t have these sweets all the time, but we do have cakes in the workplace to celebrate the end of our classes and other staff have dangled such treats within my earshot.

I also know that whenever I’m at a conference or meeting where food is provided, I have to alert those ahead of time that I’m diabetic and have them make whatever provisions for a substitute meal that they can. Oh and if I’m off in the staff washroom I might be testing my blood levels once or twice a day.

As for the people I serve, I haven’t told them yet but I will as I see doing so might help them in some way. As I work with people on social assistance; many of whom have mental and physical health issues, it might be good for some of them to hear of my diabetes and how I manage it. Some of them might find my situation and my own ability to empathize with their own circumstances a positive thing.

I’ve yet to meet with a Dietician or Nutritionist, so working on my own with just some changes in diet have brought my scores from the 14’s and 20’s down to a few 9’s and even a 7 and a 6. That’s extremely encouraging and it’s only been three weeks.

Now that I’ve disclosed my diabetes (and I did it at a conference with 150 employees in attendance from the podium while presenting on a topic), I’ve had good support. One fellow came up and shared his own diagnosis which he got two months ago. It was good for him to hear me and I certainly appreciated his words of being surprised with his diagnosis and so it wasn’t only me.

If you have a health issue, I certainly encourage you to share it with your boss, co-workers and of course your family and friends. It’s a load off the mind to do so. These are the people I hope you can trust to hear your story and support you as you deal with it moving forward.

I hadn’t written my blog in a week as I was a jumble of feelings and knew the words I wrote wouldn’t convey what I wanted. So here I am, sharing the real stuff; hope it helps you in some way to know.

Job Interview Help: Features And Benefits


So you’ve got to the job interview stage again and you’re feeling the typical nerves you always feel. If only they would look at your resume and hire you based on that, but instead they want to meet you and conduct a job interview. Ah well so be it.

During the interview you just know they’ll likely ask you about your strengths, why they should hire you, why you’re the right person for the job or something similar. Why is it that for some reason you feel you never do a good job selling yourself? Maybe it’s that you were brought up to believe you shouldn’t brag about yourself. Possibly your just not comfortable doing so, and honestly, you wonder how you could possibly convince them you’re the best person for the job when you’ve never met let alone talked to the competition. Maybe you’re not the best person for the job in the end.

I can help you with an exercise so that you can talk with confidence about yourself without feeling boastful. For this exercise you’ll need a pen; just a standard ordinary pen you’ve got no doubt nearby. Please go get one now and then resume reading.

Okay let’s look at this pen you’ve got before you. First I want you to name some of the features of the pen; it’s construction. Hold it in your hand and you may notice its light weight. Perhaps there’s a clip on the pen, the ink is black, and it may be slim or have a soft spot near the end that your thumb and index finger hold onto. The pen might have a retractable tip that appears and disappears with a click or twist. Finally you surmise that another feature of the pen is that it’s relatively cheap to buy.

Now that you’ve identified the features of the pen, I want you to go back and identify a benefit for each feature. So as its light weight, you can use it longer without fatigue. The benefit of the clip is you can attach it to a pocket or notebook thus freeing up your hands and reducing the chance of losing it. The benefit of the black ink is that it’s a standard for many contracts. Being slim, it’s easy to grip, and the soft spot to hold onto makes it comfortable to hold for long periods. The benefit of the retractable tip is that there is no cap to misplace, and when you put it in your pocket, you’ll avoid staining your clothes. Finally, the price feature means if you lose it, it will be easily replaced at a low or fair price you can afford.

Now, you’ve completed the exercise in identifying features and benefits of the pen. You should have a good idea of not only what goes into the pen but the benefit of ownership. The next thing to do at this point is to turn and think about yourself and the job opportunity before you.

Consider your features and your benefits. Look first at your academic qualifications; your masters, degrees, diplomas and certificates. Once you name them, consider of each of these of benefit to you; how they will enable you to do this job you are considering better than had you not received them. They have provided you with knowledge and a perspective you would not otherwise have.

Think too of your soft skills; personality, overall demeanor, your philosophy as you go about your day. How do these features that make up who you are, translate into a benefit the employer would realize should they hire you? Perhaps your positive attitude would be a breath of fresh air in the organization, especially when interacting with clients and customers.

This is also where you can look at a topic most people are coached to avoid talking about at all costs; your age. Your age is your feature. How I put it to you, would your age benefit the employer? As an older person, perhaps your age would approximate your target customer base; and older customers might identify with older employees. Maybe your age has brought you wisdom, an appreciation for diverse ideas, the experience and maturity that translates into a solid attendance record. Maybe the employer will benefit from your stability on the team and your ability to mentor its younger employees.

Should you be young and find you’re not taken seriously by employers, your youth is your feature, and the benefit to the employer might be your up-to-date knowledge and use of technology. Your employer will benefit from your experience with social media; you’ll have the energy to work productively the entire day without a letdown in the afternoon. The employer will also benefit from your enthusiasm and good health; for you won’t have declining health issues for years.

Okay so back in the interview, the key to this exercise is to highlight for the interviewer exactly how the employer will benefit from hiring you. This isn’t boasting but rather marketing. Market yourself to the employer’s needs; here are my features and here’s the benefit of each feature.  So don’t just say in answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself” that you have a degree. Instead say you’ve got a degree and the benefit of this is that you’ve acquired a deep appreciation for the field of work, and that translates into better performance.