Feel Just Like You Did Last Year?

In every household around the world, the calendars flipped on January 1st, marking not only a new year, but a new decade. The internet is full of people posting about the new hope that this brings, the fresh starts, the opportunities that await and it would seem all we have to do is jump on board the bus and we’re on our way with an overly enthusiastic and energetic group of positive people. How can we not have a grand time?

Yet, something is wrong. Today seems just like yesterday and yesterday felt pretty much like previous days before that. While the calendar turned over, your life seems pretty much unchanged otherwise. So you’re starting to wonder, “With everyone I read about touting the arrival of 2020 as a reason to celebrate, why do I feel left out? If anything, these overly happy and positive people have me feeling more depressed than I was before.”

Let’s be clear about one thing shall we? The turning over a calendar alone hasn’t brought about magical change for ANYONE. Having said that, it’s what flipping the calendar represents that has people excited and optimistic. Take reading a story in a book. The chapter you’re reading seems rather long and is really moving a little slower than you’d like. It’s You flip the pages just to see how long it will be until you reach a new chapter and you see there’s another 12 pages. You could skip the 12 pages of a book but you can’t do so with life. The arrival of 2020 is like the first few words on that next chapter; the one you hope will speed up the action, draw you fully in to the plot and get you wanting to read more; really caring about the protagonist and wondering how they’ll fare in the end. So this is what 2020 is and why so many are excited.

But here’s the catch; you and I – them too for that matter – we all have to work to put ourselves into the positions we need to be in for us to take advantage of the opportunities 2020 is going to bring. If we don’t invest ourselves in the work it will take, the phone won’t ring nor will we get that single email that we dream of that leads to an employment offer. 2020 can be the year that we look back on and believe was the moment our lives were forever changed for the better, but we have to do things that bring about such change.

Ah change. It’s what you want isn’t it. That’s not a typo because it’s not a question but rather a statement. You want change. But change doesn’t happen when you sit and do nothing and the chance of change happening for the better is only marginally better when you keep doing whatever it is you’ve done in the past. Real, significant change occurs most often to people who do things differently and with applied energy.

Whether you’re job hunting, looking for a promotion – hey maybe even looking for Mr. or Miss Right, two things are needed; 1) a change in how you’re going about things and 2) a lot of work on your part. The thing about the work first; it is work to find work or to land a promotion or to be discovered by the person who is hoping to meet you this year. Work though in this sense is something you should relish; after all you’re going after something you really want, so your motivation should be heightened. As for a change in how you’re going about things, it stands to reason that if you keep doing things as you’ve always done them, it’s likely the results you get will be similarly the same.

Okay, so it’s January 6th today, we’re about a week into the new year and you’re feeling down because you’re standing alone with your 2020 party hat on, the streamers are on the ground and the noisemaker in your hand just seems so phony.

Avoid looking for company so you can be miserable and disillusioned together. Misery might like company, but this isn’t the company you want. If you really want to feel alive and celebrate success, what is it going to take to get you personally motivated? Again, might be talking a job, losing weight, repairing a family issue, buying a car, improving your mental health, being more assertive etc.

My suggestion is to consult an expert in the area you want to obtain success. What they’ll want from you is a commitment to your end goal and this means you’ll have to put in the work necessary on your end if you want their help to be truly beneficial. Otherwise, you’re just giving away your time and money.

If you are genuinely and honestly wanting to improve some aspect of your life, there are all kinds of people who want to work with you and support you. Be prepared however to do things that will require stamina; both physical and mental. If you want it bad enough however, I’ll guarantee – that’s right I’ll guarantee – that you’ll achieve your goal. Why? Because when you want it bad enough, you discover that putting in the work takes less effort as you build on your own momentum. Getting started and building that momentum is the hardest part.

If you feel nothings changed, maybe it hasn’t – yet. But it can and it will if you really want it.


Pick 5 To Interview

Imagine for a moment that you’re the person responsible for looking at some job applications. You’ve got to pick some to invite into the interview process. If you’ve already applied the ATS software (Applicant Tracking System), the reduced pile in front of you already meet your stated qualifications. In other words, the key words you and Human Resources identified as must haves and preferences are already checked off. You’ve got a nice pile of winners here.

So having a pile of 10 before you on your right and 60 the ATS passed over on your left, you begin. Hang on a second, what are you looking for? If you’ve never had to actually go through this process of choosing people to interview, it’s not as easy as it sounds. If after all, each of these 10 applications have already surfaced as the cream of the crop, why not just interview the 4 or 5 on the top of the pile; random selection?

Well, I’m sure some employers do. I mean, it’s possible isn’t it? No one has to know what the person narrowing these candidates down actually did to select them. But for the majority of situations, what does that person do behind closed doors to pick their next potential employee?

Quick question before proceeding; how many readers don’t like the idea of some computer-generated software creating these two piles in the first place; the potential winners and the losers? I’ll bet a fair number of people would rather a human being look over their application rather than having their potential employment governed by a digital scan.

Here’s the thing about that software though; it’s programmed by humans to select the applications which on paper at least, most closely match the stated needs of the employer. That software selects and rejects solely based on what it was instructed to look for. If you didn’t know this technology existed before, you do now. Oh, and it’s not so expensive that only the big organizations can afford it. Like a lot of technology out there today, its come down in price, it’s affordable and it sure helps the employer when the alternative is having to set aside a huge amount of time going through more resumes and cover letters than they’ve ever received in the past.

Okay, so now the impartial and unbiased computer program has put these 10 applications before you. The next phase is choosing from the 10, the ones you’ll meet and make your interview list from. Most organizations set aside time for this process, and they might have to coordinate the schedules of the Supervisor, Human Resources staff, and a second person in Management. Just coordinating the schedules of these three people might take some doing, and they’ll need a couple of days perhaps to clear their schedules. Meanwhile applicants are waiting.

So whether it’s just you or you and one or two others, you’ve got these 10 from which to choose 5 to interview, as this is all time allows. So half of these will move on and half will join the larger pile of passed over/rejected applicants. By the way, no one in that pile will be contacted yet (if ever) to advise them they’ve been passed over. After all, you might end up going back to at least one of those who almost made it if none of these 5 you end up interviewing work out.

So now that human eyeballs are finally involved in the interview selection process, you and I need to understand one other thing. In addition to your eyes, you’re filtering these 10 resumes with some other things too. You’re applying your biases, preferences, assumptions, stereotypes, past experiences, gut feelings and knowledge. Still don’t like computer software? It doesn’t bring any of these to the selection process.

In the mind of the person selecting people to hire, they know the chemistry of the existing team this potential employee is going to join or lead. They have in their mind the personal characteristics they see as needed or desired. They might have a preference for someone who went to a particular school or who worked for a certain employer in the past. They might grimace at an incorrectly placed comma or run-on sentence. Then again, they may overlook grammatic errors and take that as a sign of authenticity, especially if the job doesn’t call for written communication skills as a top priority.

If the names are on the resumes before them, (some companies remove these from the applications so they eliminate human bias), these alone can potentially sway a person to choose or pass by an application. The presumption of gender too might be present. Is this a good thing or not? Perhaps an organization is intentionally hopeful they might hire someone from a specific segment of the population to better reflect the communities in which they operate. How could a gender, ethnic, age, or other characteristic dominated workforce become more balanced if such factors of applicants remain unknown?

You see it’s more complicated than just randomly picking a few or going through every single application received. This process takes time and expertise to do it well. While all this is going on, each applicant is wondering why they haven’t heard from the employer. What’s taking so long you might wonder?

After selecting those to interview and conducting those interviews, more narrowing done happens until one is remaining. May that person be you!


Finding The Right Fit

I meet a great many people who are dissatisfied with the jobs they have. I also listen to an equal number of people who are unemployed completely and stuck deciding what it is they really want to do. That great job or career that everyone else seems to have, continues to elude them.

When I do talk to people who are by their own definition successful and happy, I’ve generally noticed that they’ve found an occupation that combines three key elements; it pays them well, they’re good at what they do and yes, they like what they do.

I’ll bet you can easily bring to mind people you know – perhaps even yourself – who are good at what they do, enjoy the work but aren’t paid sufficiently well in their opinion. Such people tend to look at other organizations where they might do similar work but be compensated better. Money may not be everything, but money does give the means to live life on one’s own terms and without enough of it, there can be a gap between how one lives and how one wishes to.

Then there are people who are paid well and are good at what they do, but they hunger for work that is more challenging, more rewarding. The work has either never really satisfied them or they’ve come to want to do something more meaningful and rewarding.  These people will often surprise those they know by quitting good paying jobs to pursue other interests, leaving co-workers shaking their heads and wondering.

Finally, there are those who are paid well, like what they do but they aren’t good at it. A lot of the time they don’t last long in the job before being let go, but if they are in positions of influence and seniority, they can last a surprisingly long time in an organization; perhaps even resulting in the organization shutting down in the extreme over mismanagement and bad decision-making.

When all three factors align; being paid well, enjoying the work and being good at what one does, it would seem the fit is right and it’s this we call success.

Now while a lot of people I’ve shared this idea with like the simplicity of the above, I find it interesting of note that most immediately pose some variation of the same problem time and time again. “I’m still left needing help to figure out what it is I should do job-wise.”

The two are related of course, but they are different; finding the right fit and finding the right job or career. Let me explain. As an Employment Counsellor, I like the work I do, I feel I’m paid well and I can say I’m good at what I do. Were I to pick up and move to another organization but in a similar role as an Employment Counsellor, I might get paid less, or find that the scope of my job changed significantly. Hence I might have the right job but the other factors changed; in this case compensation for my work or the real work I’d be doing.

This could be where a lot of people go wrong; both job seekers and those who help people find employment. We broadly state the functions and responsibilities of a job – saying a Nurse does this or that, a Carpenter does this kind of work, a Labourer on an assembly line performs this or that, but really the experience of any one of these people will be different from others in the same roles but in different organizations.

The Carpenter might find a great fit in a small, rural community doing precision craftwork, where his talents are highly sought out and another might be happier doing restoration work in large cities working on a team of restoration carpenters. The job title might be the same, but the work done might need very different skill requirements and the environment the work is done in might mean the difference between liking the job or not. This is a factor only the person can decide.

I have for years felt the best place to start a job search is in fact not to look around at jobs on a job board, but to look inside one’s self. What makes you tick? That simple question requires a lot of thought and self-awareness. In other words, get to know yourself; your likes and dislikes, preferences for working alone or in groups and under what circumstances for each. Determine the work environment, the kind of supervision you need and want. Skills you can generally acquire and work to improve if you choose. Learning about yourself first isn’t a waste of time or stalling your career development. It’s putting yourself in a place to ultimately succeed as you’ve never succeeded in the past in finding the right fit.

The good news is that you can find the right fit by design or chance. The bad news is you can go through a lot of jobs and yes even careers attempting to find what’s the right fit for you if you don’t pay attention to learning about yourself first.

Maybe it’s because we think we know ourselves well that we overlook the obvious; but it’s been my experience we don’t know ourselves as well as we assume. And over time, yes, we change and so do our preferences.

May you find the right fit for you.

There Will Always Be Somebody…

Faster, stronger, taller, leaner, smarter, richer, quicker, etc.

Any or all the above and more; there will always be somebody somewhere who you’ll find has an advantage over you in those regards. Some of you will say, “So what’s the point?”, with respect to trying to be better and give up.  Others will say, “That’s exactly the point!” and they’ll give up too. A third group of responders will say, “I see that person as a source of inspiration of what could be, but I’m not competing with them in the first place – and that’s the point!”

Are you out to be better than everybody you know or are you out to be the best you can be – just measuring your self against your own history? You don’t after all have any control over someone else’s training schedule, diet, study habits, stamina, investments, etc. In fact, you only have control over what you do yourself; and over this you have full control.

It’s you that drives change dependent upon how much effort you’re willing to invest in making what you want to come about in your own future. Commit to improving and you set a mentality in motion. Give in, give up, give out and you stay the course, possibly even degrade and diminish.

So exactly what are we looking at here? Self-improvement I suppose. You could opt to be the best you can be or you could opt to be a better you than you are at the moment. Quite often seeking to be a better you in whatever area of your life you are looking at is a preferred option. After all, the absolute best you could be sounds like it requires maximum effort; perhaps an unwavering effort because no matter how much you improve, you could always be better than that new level of improvement.

Seeking to better yourself on the other hand means putting in more effort, not the most effort, and if you’re stuck at the moment frustrated with yourself that you’re just not making ANY effort, some seems more obtainable than expecting yourself to make a complete 180 and go at change with 100% commitment.

If you’re looking to lose weight and you want to shed a sizable number of pounds, motivating yourself to cut your weight little by little, a few pounds a week can be very motivating. Expecting 10 pounds a week by crash dieting, working out with extreme intensity when you haven’t worked out for 25 years is just a recipe for extreme disappointment and letdown. Not to mention of course it puts you in danger.

Now job searching? Ah again with the hunt for employment! It works the same way. A lot of people have spent years trying to decide, “what to be.” They think about careers, worry themselves sick (literally) with worry. Ironically trying to, ‘be’ like everyone else who know their purpose in life, have found meaningful work to do, and who make it all seem so easy. Why are they comparing themselves to others in the first place? They live their lives, you live yours. Your path is unique to you, as is theirs to them.

Improving your own fortunes might be what you’re after in a job. Maybe its financial independence, getting the money to buy a cottage and boat. Maybe for you it’s about making a difference in the lives of others; finding fame and glory, owning your own business and calling the shots. Or maybe it’s really just about finding something you don’t hate; that ‘loving’ your job seems too extreme. You’d be happy just finding steady income and having someplace to get to in the morning when you rise.

My advice is to look around at what others do for sources of inspiration. Ask people what they do, if they like their jobs or careers, how long it took them to land in the jobs they have, what they did before they found what their doing today. Sure, as I say, look around for inspiration and get ideas about what’s out there. However, you’re unique from everyone else is everyone you know. What’s seemingly right and a great fit for others may not be right and the best fit for you.

I’m glad you want to be better; that you want more for yourself in the future than you have at this moment. Being a better you is really a good and healthy personal choice. Being the best you can possibly be might sound impressive – and it truly does – but that comes with extreme personal accountability and responsibility that you probably aren’t ready to commit to given where you are at the moment. In other words, you’re setting yourself up for setbacks, disappointment and increased stress brought on yourself by no one other than you.

Being better means you’re committing to being better but not being infallible. You’ll have days where you blow the diet, fail to job search or lose money on an investment. The key is you know these will happen but overall you have days with more effort than you’re putting out at the present. You’re overall movement is forward; you’re improving and getting better.

Being the best you can be might sound good at first thought but be out of reach. Being a better you is extremely commendable and far more realistic. Absolutely nothing wrong with setting your sights on personal improvement.



Job Searching: Jean And Sarah’s Journey

Today I’d like to share the stories of two women I’ve been working with of late, both of whom have been looking for employment. While it may appear to the casual observer that both are job searching in a similar fashion, in reality they are taking very different ways to obtain work which will bring them happiness and security. While I’m telling you their stories, I’ve taking the liberty of changing up their names to respect and safeguard their confidentiality.

Interestingly I met both women for the first time when they accepted an invitation to participate in an intensive job search program I run. They’d both been searching unsuccessfully prior to our meeting and both seemed eager to find work. During the two weeks we spent together on a daily basis, both revamped their resumes, strengthened their cover letters and interviewing skills and both were encouraged to target their applications to specific employers rather than send out generalized applications. In other words, both got the same message and advice on how to ultimately land the jobs they were after.

Jean is pretty clear about her ultimate employment goal as she’s after a position in a Human Resources role. She’s got recent education, a positive outlook and while she has experience, it’s rather limited to her placements through school. Of course she has other work history to draw on, just not in her field of choice. Hey, everybody has to start somewhere right?

Sarah by contrast isn’t committed to any one employment goal. She’s got a wealth of experience in Office Administration but finds the routine familiarity of the job wears on her and she needs more stimulation and variety. She’s got great interpersonal skills, a positive friendly attitude and is also open to retail sales and working in a call centre, but if she had her way she’d love to make a living as a Singer. She’s got talent I will say, but whether it’s enough to pay the bills and earn a livelihood? That’s debatable.

As the two went about their job search, I noticed that both women got on well together and shared enthusiasm for the work involved which is always a good sign. They were both applying for jobs they felt they had qualifications for, and both got several interviews and job offers. Only one of the two however actually accepted a job while the other turned down opportunities and is still looking. Why you ask? Let’s look at that.

Jean is the lady who accepted a job. Remember she was the one looking for an HR job and she had little experience in this role beyond what she learned in school coupled with a co-op placement. Jean realized that she was competing for jobs not only with others like her who have recently graduated with little experience but also with the many other people out there who have the experience she lacks and are working in other roles just waiting for HR job postings. That as it turns out is a lot of people.

While she kept applying to jobs which popped up for HR positions, she turned her attention away from just scouring the internet for these jobs alone. She realized that all companies have people performing HR roles, so she started looking for a large organization that is well-respected, stable and in her community. She shifted her thinking from finding an HR job to finding employment with a company of choice in any capacity to get inside. Once hired, she could then learn about internal postings and have an edge over those on the outside which would reduce the competition and at the same time provide her with an income.

Sarah on the other hand, for all her skills, remained torn between the Office Administration jobs she had the skills and experience for but didn’t love, the retail sales jobs she finds a lack of satisfaction in, and the call center jobs she can do but doesn’t get to use her creativity in. Of course there’s a music career that would bring the creativity and passion but is less stable and takes a lot to launch.

In a recent conversation Sarah said she had 7 interviews of late and 3 job offers but she turned them down. Why? Well one job was going to be 12 hour shifts which she felt too long. I pointed out that the 4 days she’d be working those shifts would give her 1 weekday to do whatever she was truly passionate about but it didn’t appeal.

While both Jean and Sarah applied for different kinds of jobs, to date it is Jean who is employed. She works for a large big box home improvement employer in their lighting department. She’s working to get past probation and ultimately has her eye on an HR job down the road working off the sales floor. She’s happy and still focused on her long-term goal which makes her sales job more than bearable.

Sarah’s main issue is not having yet decided what she ultimately wants. This  has left her conflicted, for when she moves towards something she likes, part of her realizes she’s moving away from something else she also likes and she gets nervous. So what happens? She retreats back to the middle for fear of making the wrong move and is paralyzed.

My advice? Settle on what you want and stay focused.


Thinking Jobs

How comfortable would you be interacting with and assisting people who approach you for help if your role was a customer service / reception function? I suppose it would depend on the organization you were employed by correct? The organization and what the people in the organization do would largely impact the kind of people who might approach you each day.

So for example, if you worked at a reception counter in a financial institution, the people who would enter and approach you would presumably be coming to you announcing themselves as present for meetings with Financial Advisors, Loan Agents, Senior Banking officials etc. Your role might in this scenario be to direct them to a seat to wait and then contact the employee they are meeting and advise them that the person they are meeting has arrived. Job done.

However, let me give you another scenario. Suppose your job wasn’t just simply reception but also to interact with and fully serve the person who stands before you or sits down across from you. Let’s further suppose that the person is what we both might call needy; takes a long time to explain what they’re after or doesn’t appear to fully grasp the information you do provide for them. Now let’s multiply this person by say, 50 and your job is to deal with these people day after day.

This job might be right up your alley if you’re a people person; working in social services and you got into the field because you wanted to help others. Conversely, you might dislike this job and see it as the last thing you’d want to do because you lack tolerance, patience and haven’t got the time for dealing with ‘these’ people.

Often it’s not only important to know what we want to do in life but also the things we dislike and want to avoid doing. Knowing what we dislike and therefore rule out can narrow down our search for meaningful work through the process of elimination.

Take working in confined spaces, working from heights, underground, deep water or shift work. Think about outdoor or indoor jobs, desk jobs, physical labour or dangerous jobs that involve explosives, weapons, radiation, diseases or disasters. There are all kinds of jobs that, while we are glad to know other people work in these roles, we ourselves wouldn’t want to do for any amount of money.

If you think of a job you aren’t comfortable with, instead of just saying, “No I don’t want that job”, stop and identify WHAT it is ABOUT that job that is unappealing. Is it the hours of work, the working conditions, the danger or does it play on your psyche such as working in tight confined spaces underground? If you note these things, you’ll perhaps see patterns that link undesired jobs with others.

So what’s the benefit of this you ask? Well, in short, you can find work that is meaningful and rewarding often by trying different kinds of jobs or reading job postings and eliminating those you find undesirable.

By the way, the jobs you find distasteful or reject don’t have to be necessarily dangerous or high-risk. Could be you find some every day common jobs boring, tedious, mind-numbingly repetitive or they pay less than what you’re willing to work for. Money however is best left out of this process because your enjoyment of a specific job shouldn’t decrease or increase based on the dollars attached to it. There are people who do work for less than they’d like and some who will turn down jobs that pay much more because they don’t find the work itself fulfilling.

One good strategy is to talk with people; a lot of people. Ask they what they do, what they like and don’t like about their jobs. While you will get that persons take on the job they do, you may find what they like is something you wouldn’t and vice-versa, but the questioning is still helpful and illuminating.

In addition to speaking with people you know well, don’t overlook the people you interact with or could interact with on a daily basis. There’s the Crossing Guard, Hot Dog Vendor, Bus Driver, Courier, Police Officer, Parking Lot Attendant, Bank Teller, Salesperson, Security Guard, Casino Dealer, Hair Dresser.

While you may know you don’t want to sell hot dogs for a living, the Vendor might be thrilled with the job as they work independently, love the outdoors, laugh with the regular customers, meet people from all walks of life and every so often get free tickets to a hockey game from the people they serve. You might also be very surprised with the income they take home.

Some pessimistic types will tell you that finding a job period is what it’s all about in 2016 and forget about finding a job that is fulfilling; you take what you can get. I don’t subscribe to that and I don’t think you should either. Don’t be embittered, caught up in others views of the world. Find what makes you happy, rewarded, challenged, intrigued etc.

You’ve got one shot at this life in this world so why not spend your time working productively and satisfactorily? You’ll have many jobs over your lifetime so don’t worry about finding a job for the next 40 years.

That’s how I see it anyhow.

Gambling At The Job Board

There are many people who go about job searching by standing in front of a job board and scanning the wall for employment. There are far more people pulling up job search websites on the computer and essentially doing the same thing; scrolling through screen after screen of various jobs. I find this perplexing and a huge waste of time, but surprisingly this is exactly the behaviour many people exhibit when they look for work. Stop doing this! It’s not a good way to find the right job!

When you stop and think about it, it’s like gambling or visiting a fortune teller isn’t it? In the few seconds immediately before you hit the job board, you had no idea what job you would find. After standing at a job board for 30 seconds or so, you really believe you’re suddenly going to have your eyes drawn to your dream job; that one job that is not only something you can do but will be with the perfect employer, paying a fair wage you’ll be comfortable with, and you’ll work in an atmosphere that matches your needs – all within a reasonable commute? Yeah, good luck with that one. It just doesn’t happen like this.

What really happens is people find jobs they could tolerate, and with no research into the company, the culture or the working conditions, they apply. Even if they get interviewed and get the job, it seldom lasts long; the reason being that once employed, the person says, “Okay I’ve gone from no job to a job that’s a poor fit for me personally, so now I start looking for a better job.” The other result I see time and time again is that the person is fired because they don’t perform well, or the person quits the second they feel they are being manipulated and asked to do things they didn’t expect. Then what do they do? They repeat the entire process and stand again in front of a job board having learned nothing. Sigh….

Don’t start your job search scanning a job board. That’s as blunt as I can make it.

One of your first steps in finding meaningful work that you’ll actually enjoy doing and which you’ll do well is to evaluate your skills, education and work preferences. It’s like taking an inventory of you. Don’t scoff and say, “I don’t need to waste time doing this – nobody knows me better than me.” Without even knowing you personally, I will suggest you actually don’t know yourself as much as you claim; you should of course, but I suspect you don’t. For example, what’s your problem-solving style? What are your key work values? What style of leadership do you best function under? Give me your three top transferable skills.

So, did the answers just roll off your tongue or did you just read the questions above without really stopping to think and answer them intelligently? Is this a defensive mechanism of yours you use when you get asked questions you don’t know the answers to but don’t want to admit you don’t?

Look, if you’re used to randomly picking a job off a website or job board and sending them your standard generic resume, let me ask you how successful this has been for you in the past in getting a job that you were good at, paid you well for your time, and which you stayed at for longer than a couple of years? If it’s working for you, then by all means you’re right to continue with this strategy. On the other hand, if this method isn’t working for you, if you’re frustrated just randomly hoping the clouds will part and a sunbeam will illuminate your dream job while the sound of angels reach your ears, do something different. If you keep doing the same thing, the results you get will likewise be the same.

Write down your skills. What are the things you enjoy doing? Write them down. On a map, draw a circle of the area you are willing to work in. Would you move to take a job? If so, how attractive would the job have to be to get you to pick up and relocate? What’s your education level? Would you consider going back to school to upgrade your education if it meant you’d be better qualified to compete for jobs you really want? What would your ideal supervisor be like; hands-on or hands-off? What’s the perfect environment for you; surrounded by creative types, techies, labourers or number crunchers?

These are just some of the many questions you could and should ask yourself long before you actually start looking at jobs on a board or website. If you don’t really know who you are; your strengths, weaknesses, interests and passions, you’re going to find yourself in the wrong jobs more often than not. You really are gambling; playing hit and miss and wasting much of your life in the process, making it all the harder to find the right job by taking the time to assess yourself first.

If you’re young, do a variety of things and find out what you like and don’t like; what you’re good at and what you need to work on. No experience is wasted if you learn from it. If you’re older, take stock of what you’ve done.

Need help? Ask for it.

Many Are Doing Jobs They Don’t Love

There are a great many people who are strongly advocating that people without a job should take the time to figure out what they’d love doing and then go for it. On the surface of things, it sounds like good advice. There is an inherent danger in those words being misunderstood however.

I’m going to run the risk of over-generalizing but in previous generations, it appears that many young adults found work any way they could get it. The idea of finding work you were passionate about for the working class just wasn’t in. Today, more young adults are being told, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Make no mistake however; all jobs are hard work if you really want to be successful. Physical jobs require physical strain and it’s hard work requiring strength and endurance. Some jobs require work of a cerebral nature; they can be mentally exhausting; a different kind of work to be sure but work nonetheless.

If you loathe your job, you’ll have to work at psyching yourself up just to go to work, and work at getting through your day. You’ll equally find in a job you love that you work hard to produce things better, more creatively, keeping things fresh, innovative and wanting to stay on the cutting edge of your field.

Work requires work. However, some people today – predominately transitioning from school to those first few years of full-time employment, have received or misinterpreted the, “you can be anyone and do anything” message.

When family and friends say that you can do anything you put your mind to and to find work you love, they don’t mean that you should ONLY do work you are infatuated with and at all cost avoid hard work. There are in fact many people – some would say the majority – who don’t love everything about their work but do it anyhow.

Some in previous generations had to quit school to support their families during a depression. Work was scarce, employment lines long. You took whatever work was offered to you and you were happy to have it because it meant you had money for food and rent. The kinds of jobs you could actually hope to hold were fewer.

In 2015 first-world countries, the standards of living we enjoy mean there are thousands of jobs out there which didn’t even exist 20, 10 even 5 years ago. Much of that credit goes to technology and innovation. With so many new careers springing up, it isn’t any real surprise that people have more options for work. Older generations who didn’t have all these opportunities and who know the drudgery of doing work they didn’t love, want to ensure that the young people in their lives find work they really are passionate about and love. Hence the advice to find a job you love.

However, if you think that this means, never do any job you are flat-out bonkers over, you’re making a mistake in my opinion. Unless you actually do a job, you can’t possibly know what aspects of the job you don’t enjoy, and you might find part or all of the work you thought you’d hate, you actually don’t.

Many work at jobs they wouldn’t define as their dream job. I can tell you there are some who do work at their dream job and it’s not quite as beautiful and attractive as it sounded when they didn’t have it. So the University grad who is going to set young minds on fire gets disillusioned when they can’t ignite students in their classes who find the teacher and learning boring. The young theatre school grad who dreams of the accolades of a full house raining down applause on them suddenly realizes the parts are few and far between and being an usher or running the bar in the lobby is as close to the stage as they might ever get. It takes work.

You may know of someone who will help you along, get you in the front door, even lobby for you to get that job you want so very much. That’s great. You will however, have to work hard to keep that job, and may find you must work harder than others to keep it once you have it.

The worst job of all? Again it’s my opinion, but the worst jobs are the ones where things come easy with no effort exerted to be successful. I’ll not name any specific job as that might insult those in it, but imagine a job where you use few brain cells or physical strength; you learn little because things come so easily so you don’t know what your limits are. Now imagine yourself doing that job until retirement. That would be a poor existence indeed; that would take work of a different nature.

My advice is to do a variety of things early. As you work, note what you like and love, just as you should note what you don’t. If you find work you love and get paid well to do – fantastic! If you find work you love that doesn’t pay overly well, you’ll be happy but never well off perhaps. Remember what someone loves, another dislikes. We’re built differently and think differently. So just because someone says, you’d love their job and should follow their footsteps doesn’t mean it will turn out the same for you as it did them.



Many Ways To Job Search

Looking for work? Not getting the kind of results you’d like? It could be that how you are going about job searching is part of the issue. One of the questions you might be asked by someone like myself when you first talk is how you are currently going about your job search.

Now many will of course use the computer. Sitting down and calling up job postings on a website is going to give you many jobs you can apply to. It’s important to realize however that the ease in which you have found all those jobs makes it equally easy for you competition to find the same jobs. So you’ve got lots of jobs and lots of competition for those jobs; the pros and the cons of conventional well-known websites.

Here’s something else you should know and remind yourself about; the more work required to dig and find job and career postings, the less people you have to compete with. Why? Simple really for three reasons; 1) not everyone knows how to go about unearthing those so-called, ‘hidden’ jobs, 2) some job seekers are too lazy to put in the effort required when there is no promise of return and 3) some job seekers who were once full of enthusiasm in their job search have become so frustrated they’ve eased up.

Now before you get too critical of number 2 above where I identify some job seekers as lazy, I want to tell you that the job seekers themselves are the ones who often tell me they’ve grown lazy; their words then, not mine. And hey, if they call themselves lazy, who am I to disagree with their own self-assessment?

Now employer research is often cited as an integral part of a job search strategy, but what does that really involve? Well, the easiest thing to do is once again sit at a computer and check out a company website. Look for the, “about us” tab or something similar. Take note of basic information like how they got started and when, what are their products and services, their values, mission statement, core beliefs, culture and size. Ask yourself if all that information jives with your own outlook.

Another way to go about job searching is connecting with people who either hold down the same kind of employment you are after or who work in the companies you have identified as ones you would ideally like to join. Doesn’t it stand to reason that if you could talk with these people, you’d get a good first-hand account of what it’s really like to work there? You could find out the good and the bad about jobs from people in those roles. And while one person isn’t enough to necessarily give you an accurate portrayal of what you would experience perhaps, the more people you speak to, the more you can sift through the feedback you get and land at an informed perspective.

This business of connecting is also potentially going to give you insights into job openings you’re never going to get any other way. Ever seen a job posting that gives you the skinny on the boss you’ll be reporting to or the dynamics of the team you might be part of? Of course not. However a current employee of an organization could reveal some key needs on a given team, and yes maybe something about the reputation of the person who supervises that group.

Two of the oldest ways about going about a job search are to walk in to businesses and hope to meet hiring personnel in person, and pick up the phone and engage people via a cold call. So let’s look at these briefly. In retail for example, many large companies have moved to on-line recruitment methods. So if you walk in resume in hand and ask to apply, they might turn you around and tell you to head for the nearest computer and apply on their website. However, even in these cases, if the person you spoke with is the Hiring Manager, they still saw you, how you dressed, watched your body language, and maybe what you had to say in those few precious moments. They might therefore write your name down when you leave and look for your application to have you in.

There is a good chance too that you might just land an on-the-spot interview because the person is impressed with your first impression and many employers are always on the lookout for people who understand service excellence.

The cold call goes in and out of favour. It’s more than just phoning up an employer and saying, “Are you hiring? No? Oh, okay then, well thanks anyway.” Cold calls could be to determine openings, but they could also be to set up a face-to-face meeting to introduce yourself in person and gather information.

You might also hook up with a temp. agency as many companies now use these organizations to pre-screen applicants and save them from being bombarded with phone calls, drop-ins, emails and faxes. Going through a temp. agency might not sit well with you, but it could be a short-term solution to getting in. Signing on with a Recruiter or Head-hunter is another strategy for many these days. They gather a pool of talent and link the talent to employers’ needs.

The best way to job search? Using many of the above ideas simultaneously.

Why No One Will Hire You

“Why can’t I get an interview? I know I can do the jobs I apply for.”

Sometimes; okay quite often, I’m asked that question in my job as an Employment Counsellor. With rare exception, I’ve got a pretty accurate idea of exactly why the person I’m working with isn’t getting hired, or often even interviewed.

It’s usually at this point that I pause for a few seconds and look squarely at the person whose just asked the question. In these few seconds, what I’m really doing is making a quick assessment of how to answer the person in such a way so that I’m truthful, but address them in a way where I’ll get through to them. In other words I’m trying to speak to them at a level they’ll understand and in words that they understand. It’s reading your audience 101.

Now this might remind you of your own experiences when dealing with others. Take a child who asks, “Where do babies come from?” Don’t you immediately think to yourself, “Oh my…uh….” and then quickly assess the age of the child asking and what their brain might be thinking and what they are capable of understanding? Not very likely you take a 4-year-old and start telling them about the human reproduction experience and the usually nine month gestation period. Have a version of that question posed in a medical student course, and you’d get an answer from a health care professional instructing his audience on what’s going on inside including the journey of the sperm and it’s going to deal more with anatomy and biology and a powerful microscope or two will be introduced. Different audience, different levels of understanding.

So in that few seconds when someone says, “Why can’t I get an interview?”, I start assessing the person’s age, how well or little I know them, whether they have a sense of humour or not, how fragile or strong their ability to handle constructive criticism might be, and is this a public or private setting in which the person is about to receive the information.

For some people, it’s just the resume. Their resume isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on quite frankly. Other than their name at the top, there isn’t one thing – one thing mind – that doesn’t need an overhaul or adjustment. Spelling errors, grammatical errors, improper wording, false information, misleading and tired phrases repeated over and over, entire sections missing and the order of the resume confusing etc. With others, the resume is only needing small revisions.

Ah but the resume itself is but one part of the application process. Maybe the person has never heard of a cover letter, can’t be bothered to write one, doesn’t possess the vocabulary to properly compose one, or has one but it’s actually better if they didn’t use one at all because it’s so atrocious.

Oh and in that few seconds I’m looking at the client, I’m checking out their posture, their clothing, personal grooming, cleanliness and listening to their voice. Everything from their language skills, slang, accent, eye contact and mannerisms is sized up. I even quickly look at how disorganized or neat the table they are working at is arranged. Are they sitting there alone working with focus and I was in the area, or did they bring along their mom, a friend, a spouse or their children while working on finding a job?

Yep. All that goes on in the few seconds that it takes for the person to ask the question and then take a breath or two and decide how to respond. Now please don’t think that I’m under some illusion that I’m playing God and have some superiority complex where I’m treating this person like the 4-year-old I mentioned earlier. If you’re thinking that, you’d be off.

The quick assessment is something developed over a long period of time and interacting with people on a continuous basis; years. I and others who work in this field get better at it with every interaction and while we might assess incorrectly sometimes, most of the time the approach settled on is the best one because it’s worked well on others of similar presentation.

So here’s why no one will hire you. Rarely is it one single thing. It’s several individual things that when compiled together, form the overall impression your creating. That overall impression is not attractive to the companies you’ve been applying to. If you go about job searching and applying for jobs in the same way you’ve been doing things unsuccessfully, the results are likely to be the same only a small possibility of success.

Being open to doing things differently is the first and most significant thing a person can do in the short-term to increase the probability of being successful in the future. Yes it’s like saying, “It’s not working your way; try another way.” Be warned; the other way usually doesn’t mean just a re-written resume. Like I say, it’s likely you might actually benefit from learning how to interview better, maybe an honest chat about looking and acting like the people who work where you want to get a job. Doing some research on the job and the company too might be suggested.

All of the ideas and suggestions you might get are meant to be helpful. They just have to be given in a way that doesn’t offend the person but rather starts a relationship that will eventually produce desired results.