It’s Probable You’re In The Wrong Job


It’s a huge world we live in, with everything from densely populated urban areas to rural districts and places of relative isolation. There’s mountainous regions, prairies and wetlands, coasts, deserts, wastelands and watersheds. Out of the billions of places you might have entered the world, chance plopped you into it where it did. Where you entered this game of Life is one of the key determinants to what you’ll do job/career-wise.

Speaking of jobs and careers, there’s an abundance of these world-wide too. If you attempted to list all the jobs that exist in the world, how do you think you’d fare? My guess is you’d do poorly – and so too would I for that matter. There are those jobs we’d readily find in many populous areas world-wide like Servers, Teachers, Factory Workers, Drivers etc. and we’d likely have these pop to mind. However would you also have Dolly Grip, Actuarial Analyst, Pet Insurance Agent, Bung Hole Borer or Brand Evangelist on your list? No, not likely.

The thing is, there are more jobs we don’t know exist than those we do. So what are the odds that you’re in the single perfect job – I mean, THE one you were put on this planet to excel at? Doesn’t it appear rather unlikely that of all the places you could be in the world, somehow you occupy the one city block you were meant to occupy, and that the one job – that single, perfect role you were meant to aspire to and succeed at is within an easy commute? While we’re at it, if you believe soulmates and partners are a one in a million catch, what are the odds they live nearby too? You’re odds of having the perfect job, in the perfect community, living happily with the person you were put on this earth to love for all eternity is astronomical!

Hang on a moment, let’s not get carried away. As we look around, we do see people – and plenty of them – who are happily engaged in the work they do, they’re in healthy, loving relationships and they fit in with the environment they live in. So how did they beat such incredible odds? More importantly, if they did it, how can we duplicate that happiness and success?

It begins with discarding the notion that there is only a single job in existence that will bring us satisfaction. This notion that we have to find that one job we were meant to do is the delusion that keeps many from finding job satisfaction. You can travel to other cities, countries, continents even, and end up doing a job that had you looked, you’d have found nearby in your own community, or in dozens of communities around the globe. So if you’re born in the city but dig a mining career (hope you enjoyed that one), yes you might find yourself relocating to a mining town, but there are lots of those to choose from.

The truth in my opinion is that we’re a multi-talented creature we humans, and as such, there are many jobs that will stimulate our need for job satisfaction. If being around people and helping others is our thing, we can fulfill this desire in many professions; any one of which will bring us happiness and have us feel satisfied at the end of a day. If we’re more inclined to like work that we do in relative isolation, we don’t have to be a Forest Ranger in a lookout tower or even leave the cities we find ourselves in. There exist jobs right in the heart of densely populated cities that people do in isolating roles.

One thing I’d encourage you to do, and do with periodic regularity, is find a quiet space and listen to yourself. It sounds trite, it sounds corny, it might sound downright silly and a right eyerolling, “you’ve got to be kidding?” moment, but listen to your inner voice. If you don’t go to work happily on most days, if you don’t find satisfaction in your work and find yourself clock-watching every fifteen minutes, what are you doing there? You’ve got this one life and time is ticking. As time goes on, options you once had start disappearing. The prison you might find yourself in, chained to a job you come to loathe is one of your own design. Get out into the world and move on before you close the door on yourself. If you don’t, blame yourself, not the world.

If you don’t hear that inner voice pulling you in some other direction, excellent! However, if something keeps nagging at you that there has to be something better, something different, more fulfilling; shouldn’t you be paying attention to that pull? I mean at least explore the possibility of whatever it is that suggests there’s something else you could and probably should be doing? The price you pay to look around is cheaper than the fortune it’ll cost you to lock yourself into a job that brings you nothing but money.

Sure, there’s the usual snags to this thinking: “I have bills, responsibilities, people depend on me, I have to play it safe, my time has come and gone.” Seriously? That’s sad isn’t it? You’re hearts still beating right? Oh good, because it sounded like you were already dead.

A stimulating job or career is nearby; open your mind and your eyes to the possibilities and do something great!

Tired Of Finishing Second?


While some of you are trying to figure out why you aren’t landing job interviews, there’s other folks who can’t figure out where they are going wrong who not only get interviews, but apparently perform really well. Not only are they getting short-listed and interviewed, they perform well enough to have second and third interviews. All these interviews boost their confidence, have them thinking they are so close to landing a position and then, again and again they get informed that the job has been offered to and accepted by another candidate.

The enthusiasm required for a sustained job search is indeed bolstered by initial success, but when the job offer is just beyond one’s fingertips and gets snatched away, it’s a tough experience to go through. Now repeat that several times over a period of six months to a year and you begin to sense how frustrating that must be for the people concerned. To add to this frustration, not only are they not getting hired, but when following up with employers to get feedback, it’s hard to hear that they think the candidate performed really well and there’s no tangible piece of advice they can pass back to improve on future interviews.

In other words, in attempting to figure out how to improve or where they are falling short, they get nothing to work on, nothing to adjust. So if they can’t figure out where they are going wrong, the feeling arises that they are likely doomed to repeat the experience. They’ll fall short again and again because they’ll go on acting as they’ve always acted, saying what they’ve always said, and hoping for a different outcome.

It’s not like they want to hear about some fatal flaw in their approach, but at the same time, they’d actually rather have someone find something to address rather than hear a sympathetic, “You did great. Don’t change a thing.” Sure it’s affirming and validates all the effort they put in to perform at their best, but the end result is the same, no job offer.

For a moment, let’s de-personalize the application process. Instead of talking about you specifically, let’s look at a reality. In any competition; for a job, a race, a trophy etc., there has to be a number of entrants for it to truly be a competition. The bigger the prize, the stronger the competition. Each individual or team competing trains and competes to the best of their ability and in the end, wants to feel they’ve given it their best shot. Some know they are longshots to win and others feel they’ve got a legitimate chance of winning it all, seeing themselves as a favourite to win. The one thing all of the competitors know without a doubt though is that there can only be one winner. The longshots who finish eighth often cite pride in doing their best and acknowledge that those who finished first and second are just that much better; they are at a different level of compete. The second place finisher? For them it stings. They were so close they could taste it. Next time around they vow to get hungrier, so they work harder, they make adjustments, but they also acknowledge they did their best, they just came up short to a competitor who on that day, performed better.

The competition for a job is much the same. You know when you apply that there will be others doing likewise. A reality is there’s one job to be had and therefore there’s going to be one successful candidate and everyone else who will fall short. This is a reality you have to accept when choosing to apply. Your job is to position yourself so you come across as the best candidate. What’s meant by, ‘best’, is responding to the needs of the employer. If you succeed in addressing all their needs, (this you can control), it’s going to come down to their preferences in the intangibles, (this you can’t control).

In other words, there isn’t a shortcoming in you. You are doing nothing wrong. There’s nothing to fix, there’s nothing to change in your performance. You did the best you could, you stayed authentic and genuine in your delivery and represented yourself to the very best of your abilities. In the end, they made their choice and this is their prerogative. It stings absolutely. If you still want it bad, let them know. Those hired don’t always work out, or new needs arise and you might be considered a month or two after this disappointment.

But all competitor’s for a race or a trophy have one thing you may not have; a Coach. Someone who they listen to, take advice from, someone who will give them honest feedback and push them to find that elusive next level of compete.

So who’s your Coach? Excellent advice is to find someone you can establish some chemistry with. It’s no guarantee, but perhaps they can indeed give you some single piece of advice to consider that in the end makes a difference. Whereas an employer might not feel comfortable sharing how to improve, a professional Coach, someone experienced and with a track record of partnering successfully with others will. I’m not talking about your girlfriend or sister’s friend here, I’m talking about a professional Employment Coach.

It’s not the answer for everyone, but it just might be the answer for you.

 

Maybe You’re The Roadblock


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What Don’t You Like About Your Job?


The majority of people, I believe, would say there are pros and cons to the job they hold. While we all want jobs that bring us fulfillment, happiness and positives, here today, I want to explore the not-so-good things about the work we do.

First off, I think it’s fair to say that when the negatives in a job build up to the point where they outnumber the good, it’s definitely time to strongly consider looking for a change. Well, honestly, if it were me, I’d have started to look for a change long before I let the negatives grow to such a point where they outweighed the negative. But that’s me.

Now the negatives in a job generally fall into two categories; things we can change and things over which we have no control. Take a job where you’re working outside in all weather conditions and you have no control over the rise or drop in temperatures, you can’t control hail, rain, sleet or blazing sun, but you can of course control what you wear in such conditions to mitigate the impact of the weather on you., Then there’s the length of time you may be exposed to such conditions, and in some situations and depending on the importance of the work or whether there are deadlines to be met or not, you might not even be compelled to work until conditions improve.

For many, it’s the people that we come into contact with each day that either make or break our jobs. Work for a supportive and encouraging supervisor and you might express your thanks by willingly putting in extra effort as you go about things. On the other hand, when there’s friction between you and the boss, that heightened negative stress may be so severe you get to the point where you realize your mental and physical health aren’t worth risking any further, and you walk away.

Here’s something to think about which you may or may not have already realized; the things that you find frustrating as you go about your day may actually be the things that keep you growing, improving and keep you stimulated. Huh? How can that be? And if this is how you grow and improve yourself, maybe you’d rather not!

Ah but it’s true. Sometimes we can coast along in our jobs, doing what we’ve always done and doing them well. We don’t stretch ourselves, we’re stable and reliable. What we do is what we’ve always done and others around us have come to see us as trustworthy, capable, competent and someone they can rely on. That sounds good right? Yes, of course it does.

But then adversity hits. Something or rather some things, come along and cause a wrinkle in how we go about our job. New technology, a new policy, some additional training we’re required to undergo, some personal health concern that impacts on our stamina, or anything which puts our performance in jeopardy. Yes, it could also be a change in your supervisor, new expectations, a shake up to the team, relocation or a move by your competition that changes how you’ll go about things moving forward if you’re to survive and thrive.

It is these things with which we can become frustrated. It begins to feel like we have to invest energy coping with whatever this new annoyance is; energy that we’d rather pour into the work we’ve done, doing it the way it’s been successful for us in the past. If and when whatever is causing this frustration is confined to us alone, we might also start to worry what others might think of us; will they question our abilities to adapt and succeed? It’s different for sure when frustrations are shared by others; as in an entire organization having to overhaul and redefine their place in the market.

The key is to identify correctly what your source of frustration is and secondly identify what you might do as options to work through things and get past these frustrating days. When you’ve identified possible solutions to implement, you move to action; actually putting into place one or more of the ideas you’ve brainstormed. If your actions reduce or eliminate what you find frustrating, you carry on. If on the other hand, the frustration remains or has escalated, you go back to the ideas you brainstormed and implement another. And don’t underestimate the value of sharing what your source of frustration is with others. You might find your solution is one that has worked for others and they are only too happy to share it with you.

You may end up stronger and have added a new skill to your repertoire as you look back on the frustration of the past when it’s behind you. And if there’s truly nothing you can do to eliminate this frustration that’s affecting your health and happiness, walking away is often not a sign of your failure, but rather your intelligence in preserving your dignity, self-respect, future happiness and good health. The wisdom in knowing how much to invest as you combat your work frustrations, and when it’s time to remove yourself from the situation altogether is what it’s all about.

Go ahead then. It’s good to share! What are you finding frustrating at the moment? Or if you’d rather, what did you use to find frustrating and how did you move past it?

 

 

Not Getting Many Interviews?


Wouldn’t it be nice if you were granted an interview each and every time you applied for a job? Obviously employer’s can’t grant every single applicant an interview; there just isn’t the time for them to interview everyone that sends them a resume. In only deciding to interview a small number of those who actually apply, it’s highly probable they fail to interview some excellent candidates.

On your side of table, that’s of little comfort if you’re among those passed over and not granted an interview. In fact, it’s hard to know whether the employer thought you were good enough to interview but there were just too many to meet with, or you didn’t measure up at all to what they were looking for.

Given the effort you go to in the entire application process, it would seem only fair that the company you apply to would at the very least acknowledge your application. I mean, even an automatic reply just verifying they received your application is exciting to someone just learning how to apply to online jobs. To someone more experienced, it means little; they’re after a human response, and to other applicants, only an interview will do as their measure of success. And then there are those who only consider actually being offered the job as being worth their time and effort.

So for the applicant, I guess it really comes down to the things you can control and leaving what you can’t aside. You can’t for example limit the number of people who are competing with you for the job, nor can you control the preferences and biases of those who might interview. The salary offered, the actual job responsibilities and the location of the job are other things you typically can’t control; nor the format preferred by the company for the interview itself; a panel, one-to-one, second or third interviews etc. Like I said, don’t fret about that over which you have no control.

What you can control however is the quality and quantity of job applications you submit. I can personally recall a time in the past when I got an interview each and every time I applied for a job. I suspect that had more to do with the times and the relatively low number of people applying for jobs as opposed to taking credit for the quality of my applications. I don’t hear many people these days claiming to get interviews every single time they apply for a job. There’s just too many other people applying for and competing for every single job out there.

Don’t get discouraged with that picture. You’re only out of the running for a job if you fail to apply at all. There’s an old saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that applies to job searching and putting your name forth as an applicant. Sadly, I still see people every week standing in front of a photocopier churning out 20 resumes at a time and submitting that one document to multiple jobs. This is quantity for sure, but it’s definitely not quality. The only way this is likely to be successful is if that generic resume just happens to include what the employer is looking for, or they are so desperate for anyone to do the work they’ll interview anyone breathing regardless of how qualified they are.

To be interviewed means you need the following in your resume:

  • skills and qualifications that match the employer’s needs
  • no spelling or grammar errors
  • proof that you’ve got experience that matches their requirements

That doesn’t sound like to much to need does it? Yet, it’s surprising how many resumes fail to have all three of these things. When an employer for example says they want someone with 6 month’s to a year’s experience, someone with 10 years will often say exactly that; figuring that they’ve got so much experience, the employer will be impressed and interview them for sure. Not always is that the case. 6 month’s to a year’s experience is really code for, “we want you to know enough that we don’t have to teach you everything, but we want you to also be green enough we can mould you and train you to do things our way.” Someone with 10 years experience might come across as experienced yes, but possibly they’ll bring bad habits and a narrow mind with them and be resistant to doing things the way this employer wants them done.

As for grammar and spelling, most employer’s figure your resume is a pretty important document in your eyes, so this represents you at your best. If it’s sloppy and full of mistakes, they fear you’ll be even worse when you work for them on things that are important to them but less so to you. This is of critical importance if you are seeking work where you will make correspondence in the course of your work, such as working in an office, but it’s important to every person no matter the job.

Look, the bottom line is this; you want interviews, and if you’re not getting many whatsoever, you’ve got to increase the odds in your favour. The only way to do this is get better at applying. If you know what you’re doing wrong, fix it. If you don’t know however, you must get help from someone who can point out some areas for improvement.

How Long Should I Wait After Applying?


One question I often get asked by job seekers I work with is how long should I wait to follow up with an employer after applying for a job.  So today, let’s look at this question from both your point of view as the applicant, and the employers point of view.

First however, let me ask you to honestly think about your own comfort level in general with picking up the phone and making the follow up call. Are you comfortable doing this and just want to know when, or are you uncomfortable making the call no matter when the time is right? You see, there are many applicants I’ve worked with who don’t really want to make that call and would put it off indefinitely unless I sat right next to them and gently pushed them to make the call. Okay, so you know deep down whether you’re likely to make the call in the end. Good.

As to when is the right time to make the call, I’m sorry to disappoint you but the answer is a very unclear, “it depends”.  Oh keep reading though, I’ll give you more guidance than that!

Looking at the job ad, are there any indicators of a deadline date? When you know the closing date to apply to a job, you have to assess how close it is coming up or indeed if it’s past. Knowing where you stand on the calendar with respect to this date guides you as to what to say when you make the call. If the deadline date is another two weeks in the future, you can still call to confirm they received your application and you can go further and ask if you might be able to pick up a more detailed job description, additional information on the organization or perhaps an annual report. The smart thing of course would be to inquire about the more detailed job description prior to submitting your application so you can include more relevant information on your resume that others will not. Just a hint.

Should the deadline have passed just recently, you should definitely make the call now. You may not have ever been someone who hires for a company, but I have and I talk with others who do. Many employers receive resumes up to the deadline date and then wait a couple of days or more. Why are they waiting when there’s a position to fill you ask? While they sift through the applicants to determine possible candidates, they also heed who calls and who doesn’t. Their assumption is that the go-getters, the ones who are really hungry and want the job the most are the ones who will call. Not desperate you understand, but they are viewed as determined, professional, show initiative and the employers are then also able to hear the applicant’s voice, their ability to express themselves and now they have additional information which they don’t on those who just sit home and hope for a call.

I bet you’re argument however is that today many job postings clearly state no calls; that only certain applicants will be contacted. This is one frustrating thing for those who are good at following up and it’s the best argument possible for those who hate picking up the phone and talking to an employer. It levels the playing field for those who are glad not to have to call. Well, guess what? Do an experiment and call some employer’s anyhow. What!? Seriously? Fly in the face of the employer’s wishes and call when they ask you not to?

Here’s a strategy to try. (And after all, if your current way of going about things isn’t working, continuing to go about things the way you are up to now just might continue to end in no positive results.)

Determine that you’re going to call. When you do, don’t just say, “Did I make the cut?” and then hang up. That’s what the employer asked you not to do. Try this:

Hello, my name is ______ and I’m competing for the position of _____. I understand and respect your wishes not to be contacted for an interview, so I’m calling just to introduce myself so I stand out from the competition, and want to expressing how grateful I’d be for the opportunity to demonstrate my strong interest in person. If there’s any additional information you’d like, I’m only too happy to deliver that to you.

So, you haven’t actually called with the lame, “So, are you going to interview me?”, and you acknowledge you’re aware of their instructions not to bother them. Is it a gamble? Sure it is. So is applying for a job in the first place. You might like it and you might not; the whole application is a gamble. You will succeed with some employers in showing them how polite and professional you are – determined to succeed where others are not. Or you will turn off an employer who doesn’t want anyone to show initiative, tenacity, determination or resolve.

Keep track of the jobs you apply to and which ones you follow up with a phone call and which you don’t. Look for patterns and what works over what doesn’t. Do more of what works.

When you do call, be in a quiet place, resume in front of you, pen and paper ready, know your calendar. Good luck!

Been Out Of Work For Some Time?


One of the challenges for someone who has been unemployed for a growing period is when, at an interview, they are posed a question that asks them to give a recent example of their time management, organization and/or prioritization skills.  Now come to think of it, it’s a challenge to come up with a recent example of any skill if you’ve been out of work for some time.

And here we’ve hit upon one of the key reasons employers most often cite when they say they have a preference for hiring people who are currently working or have a small employment gap versus those with long-term unemployment. Recent experience using the skills you’ll be using in this new job is attractive to employer’s because your skills are likely more polished. When you’re trying to convince an employer you have the skills required but can’t back that claim up with recent history, you’re asking them to take a leap of faith.

Now, for a moment, let’s sit on the other side of the table; we’re the employer. From the many who have applied, our interviews have brought us down to three candidates. Of the three, one is currently working, one recently laid off due to downsizing of the company, and the third hasn’t worked in 4 years. As the interviewer, we know our own Supervisors have high expectations that we’ll select the right candidate; typically one with experience, skills, the right attitude and work ethic.

If we’re being honest here, that third candidate; the one who hasn’t worked in 4 years? That applicant has to have something, or some things,  that set them significantly apart from the others. It’s just too easy to eliminate them from the running as the other two have more recent experience; they have proven examples of recent work history. When making a recommendation to management that the third person be hired over the other two, their own credibility is on the line. If they work out, the interviewer looks great. If the third candidate is hired and is a bust however, fingers will start pointing and whispers about their lack of good judgement are going to start. Playing it safe seems the better way to go.

But hold on. Okay, now back on our side of the table. So, we’ve got this shot at a job, and for the moment, we’re still in the running. Walking into an interview in such a situation, it’s a good idea to imagine your up against people with recent experience; using the skills on a daily basis that you know you’ll need everyday. Imagine this because it’s highly likely the case.

We have preparation on our side though. We should be ready for the interviewer to ask about that gap. To stay in the competition, we need to not only convince them our skills aren’t rusty, we need to demonstrate that as a person, we’re the right fit. The things we can control have to shine through; our eagerness, friendliness, likeability, appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity, our ability to get along and be productive with co-workers.

There’s a shift in hiring going on at the moment which is growing in momentum. More companies are coming to understand that hiring the right people is the best option. The best people aren’t necessarily the ones who have more experience, more education, more proven work history. Sometimes the right person has less experience, but their attitude and how they go about things gives the employer the belief that they are highly trainable. Train the right person and you may have a long-term winner. Hire someone with a questionable attitude or work ethic based solely on their year’s of work and you may regret your choice.

Now, if you are currently unemployed and that gap is growing daily, this comes as good news. Still, consider taking some action now to address things. Volunteering, taking an online course, or even some free online training will put things on your resume. A Health and Safety course or First Aid training are two examples of transferable assets you could easily take and add as well.

Anyone who is unemployed for long will tell you it’s a mental struggle more than a physical one to stay competitively at a job search. It’s mentally fatiguing to constantly strive for work with an upbeat, all-in philosophy. Self-doubt, frustration, let-downs, flat-out rejections; all of these come at you and yet still you’re expected to be positive and optimistic. We’re talking stamina, focus, resiliency and tenacity. Say…. stamina, focus, resiliency and tenacity; those are some of the very qualities an employer might be impressed with, and these are the SKILLS you are using over this employment gap.

Now, whatever has happened in your personal situation that has you were you are today, you’ve got this chance to start a new chapter; and there’s no time better than now. It’s up to you of course, but why not get going on things here and now?

If you’ve been stuck and not done much, honestly it will take effort to get going. Do it. Momentum can’t be built on if you don’t start. When you get moving, you can build on the little things you do each day. String together some of those little things and you’ll start creating behaviours that lead to better results.

You can do this.

Bang Away Or Find The Right Fit


Have you ever left a job under poor circumstances and vowed to make a fresh start with another employer; one where no one knows you – only to find that things turn out pretty much the same in a short time?

Despite the change in scenery, co-workers, supervisor and job, things just haven’t changed all that much. You’re starting to wonder if every job is going to be like this? You’re questioning how all these people you work with can like going in day after day with a smile on their face? When it goes wrong in multiple places, in various kinds of jobs, the common denominator keeps coming up… well, you.

Now wait! That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘THE PROBLEM’. Nor does it always have to be this way.

Recall the toddler toy where there’s a bunch of wooden or plastic, brightly coloured shapes, and there’s a corresponding cut out of a shape into which the piece fits. Watch a child at place and try all they want, that red triangle won’t go into the yellow square or the blue circle hole. Eventually, the toddler figures it out and looks up with a big smile at what they’ve both achieved and learned in the process.

As you continue to watch, when all the pieces are removed again, the toy becomes a little easier to play and takes less time to solve. The child also will look around and call attention to their success by saying, “Watch me!” In so doing, they want to show off what they’ve learned and get rewarded with a, “Good for you!”

If you haven’t taken the necessary time to get to know yourself fully – and people evolve and change with the passing of time – you might not be a problem, you just haven’t found the right fit yet. Now that single block is easy to figure out; it’s shape and colour. There’s an easily recognized corresponding shape and colour slot too. Assessing your strengths, preferences, skills, experience, education, attitude, areas for improvement, learning style – these are some of the things which make you who you are. Networking, online research, investigating company culture, reading job postings, interviewing people in the jobs you find interesting, checking out the commute, the dress code, the vision, mission statement etc. of companies as well as their reputations; these make up the research which provides the information you need to assess the likelihood of a good fit.

Here’s the problem; most people assume they know themselves and don’t want to bother putting out a lot of effort in researching companies they might not even apply to. That seems like a lot of work and with very little reward; a waste of time. But what’s a greater waste of time is not bothering with these two critical steps and going through a cycle of applying, getting hired, fired, applying again, getting rejected, finally getting interviews, rejected, still applying, finally getting another interview, getting hired and quitting, or leaving under poor circumstances. It’s like that toddler just banging pieces into the wrong slots and expecting the piece to go in. It’s not the toy that’s at fault, it’s just that reasoning things out hasn’t happened yet at the child’s end. There will always be a perfect fit for each piece.

Likewise, there will always be a perfect fit for you with respect to a job and an employer. Sure you can jump from job to job and hope the fit is good, but more often than not, it will appear that way at first and soon become obvious to the company you’re not the right person for the job, or to you that the job isn’t the right fit for you.

So how much time do you have to invest just randomly moving from job to job? With each bad fit and failure, are you learning anything or just writing off bad experiences and taking nothing away you can learn next time? Be cautious! These series of failures can lead you to develop a short fuse; a bad attitude; a ‘me against the world’ attitude. The person you turn out to be could be very different from the person you were meant to be; a darker, less attractive soul who others want to be around less and less. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When a child struggles to understand how the pieces get inside, another child or adult who has mastered the concept will take a piece and slowly slide it in the corresponding hole and not letting go, move it back and forth then drop it. The child watching may have to be shown a few times, but they’ll get it. The new learning is shortly mastered and the toy eventually becomes a, ‘Time how long it takes me to do this!” challenge; it’s easier.

This is no different from getting help figuring out the self-assessment piece of who you really are in the here and now. You can also get help learning how to do employer research too. When you know yourself fully and seek out the best fits, you actually speed up the time between where you are now and being employed where you should be. In the right situation, you’re not a problem at all; you’re a success with a big smile on your face. Soon you’ll want everyone around you to view your achievements too.

3 Key Components To All Interview Answers


Many of the job seeking people I’ve met are totally confused and frustrated with the lack of success they’ve had in trying to land employment. While some aren’t getting interviews in the first place, there are a large number who get their share of interviews but always seem to finish 2nd or worse when it actually comes to getting a job offer. “What am I doing wrong?” they ask.

The short answer is they’ve failed to market themselves to the needs of the employer. In fact, if you’re an Employment Counsellor or Job Coach and you’re having a hard time figuring out why the people you’re working with aren’t getting job offers, I suggest you interview them as an employer would. Of course, you have to know both what you’re listening for and how it’s delivered to knowledgeably give the job seeker useful and relevant interview feedback.

Let me highlight what I’m speaking of with a concrete example. Suppose the job posting indicates that teamwork is one of the key requirements for the job. A lot of interviewees will pick up on this and be sure to mention in the interview that teamwork is one of their strengths. They might bring this up right at the beginning when asked to tell the interview a little about themselves or possibly later when asked about their strengths. While this sounds good, is it enough? No.

Granted it’s a start, but simply naming an attribute falls short. Perhaps you’re thinking that where I’m headed and what I’m about to say is you need to offer an example to prove your teamwork claim. Well, only in part. Yes of course you must have a real example that proves you’ve worked successfully in a team setting in the past to make your claim believable. So is this good enough? Again, No.

You’re only two-thirds of the way to the best answer. So, you’ve made a claim of teamwork and you’ve provided an example from your past that demonstrates your teamwork. Fine. Now, if you really want to stand apart from the competition, you simply have to answer the implied question, “So how does that help me?” In this case, the, ‘me’ being the company, employer or specifically the supervisor considering you for the job.

So in the teamwork example, you could close your answer by noting how working cooperatively with your colleagues creates a seamless experience for customers; supporting one another on the work or sales floor improves morale, picking up the slack when a co-worker isn’t at their best or is off ill results in clients still being served well, resulting in an improved client experience. As a result, their impression of your organization improves, they spread that reputation, and your business profitability grows as a result. Bingo! You’ve now made a clear connection between your past teamwork accomplished elsewhere and how what you’ve done there will translate into the employment opportunity being discussed here.

Unfortunately, too often when I first meet people and do a mock interview, they’ll say something like this:

“I’d be happy to tell you about myself. I’m organized, detail-oriented, work hard and enjoy working in a team.”

Even if all 4 things above are pulled right from a job posting, this alone isn’t good enough. Many people will be smart enough to name what they should tell the employer. Many of the same people will even be coached well enough to give examples from their past demonstrating one or more of the skills. Few however as I say – and this is THE key to successful interviewing – answer the implied but ever-present question, “So how does that help me?”

I’ve essentially repeated my point now twice. Why? Simple. IT”S IMPORTANT! I know the tendency of readers to read quickly and skim. When done, many might feel it was a good read and yet 3 minutes later revert right back to doing what they’ve always done; that’s human nature.

But you – yes you…

You might be one of the few who does more than just pass the time reading this with your favourite beverage in hand. You might actually re-read the above and do more than say, “Well that was interesting.” You could be one of the few who will actually approach your interview preparation differently. Whether you’re a job seeker or someone who assists and supports those looking for work, you might opt to assure all three steps are in the interview answers you provide in the future. The three steps again are:

  1. State the desired skill the employer has identified as a need.
  2. Provide an example demonstrating your use of that skill in the past.
  3. Relate how that skill benefits the potential employer here in the present.

When you do the 3rd and last step as part of your interview answers on a regular basis, you accomplish one major thing successful interviewees do; you show clearly that you get it. You understand WHY the skill is integral to the job. Employees who cognitively get it, don’t let that skill ebb and flow on the job, or just do teamwork because the boss says so. They do it because they’ve bought in to the critical importance of the skill on the job and they share a high premium on the value of the skill.

Please pass this on; it’s important! Your kindness in sharing is appreciated at my end but more importantly may greatly help another.

This Job Search Should Be Exciting!


The people who come to me for help getting a job hardly ever describe this point in their lives as exciting. No, to be honest, it’s typically a time of frustration and heightened stress. The majority of people I’ve assisted come to me only after they’ve attempted to gain employment themselves or with the help of others and had little to zero success at even getting interviews let alone job offers. So yes, by the time they reach out to me personally, their pretty frustrated with the job search process.

So you can easily imagine that when I talk about the search as a time which should be exciting, it would be a pretty hard sell. After all, it’s pretty hard to work up a lot of enthusiasm, energy and excitement for something that’s sucking the very life out of a person’s day-to-day living. When you think about it though, it can and should be a time to ramp up the motivation and that should bring some positive energy. Let me explain.

For starters, you’re at a juncture in your life where you have the availability of time to decide what it is you want to do next. Many working people who are not happy in their current jobs want to look for something they’ll find more rewarding, but their current job and the hours it requires them to work don’t give them any time to explore what other options they have. After they’ve put in the hours they do, there’s not much energy and enthusiasm for doing extra work on their personal time. So ironically what do they do? They continue to go in day after day to the job they don’t want to do anymore, and envy those – like you perhaps – who have the luxury of personal time to figure out your next move.

Here’s a second point that should be positive; skill identification. We all have them you know; a multitude of skills and abilities which we don’t often give ourselves credit for. What are you good at? What qualities do you have that you’ve come to recognize yourself – or had pointed out by others – as having competence or excellence in? There’s no time for modesty here and this isn’t about boasting and massaging your self-ego. This is about objectively naming the things you do well. Having a list of things – and written by the way – of the things you excel at is good for how you perceive yourself. If you’re feeling fragile and vulnerable being out of work, this exercise is a really good step to take to rebuild that confidence.

Now you have a list of the things that other people have recognized as your strengths, as well as thing you believe you’re good at. Look it over a few times, dwelling on each quality or word and letting each one sink in for a bit before looking at the next one. Don’t gloss over this list with a quick scan: this is you we’re talking about after all!

Now, all those jobs you’ve held in the past; let’s think about them individually. Put down in writing things you liked and disliked about each one. Consider the things you generally did in the job, the boss you worked for, the people who surrounded you (or didn’t as the case may be). Think about the environment you worked in, the commute, the hours, the pay and your level of customer contact. What did you enjoy or dislike in each position? What did you learn or come to appreciate? Having done this for each job you’ve held, now look at all the jobs you’ve done and look for trends and what comes up again and again.

At this point, you should know pretty well the things you’re good at (strengths), the things that appeal to you and the things you’d like to avoid in your next position.

Now time to turn to what jobs are out there. This is where the excitement really ramps up. Having the attitude and belief that you’re in full control is critical. Your attitude is essential for making this job search a positive experience. You could choose to work nearby or at a distance; do something new or do what you’ve always done. You could choose a return to school to learn something new or upgrade existing skills via a course – online or in person. You can choose to go at this job search full-time or put in part-time hours. Work from home or work on the employer’s site, etc.

Yes you may be in a period of flux; change and chaos, where regular routines are in turmoil and upheaval, where your finances and patience are both tested. Out of this chaos however, REAL change is not only possible but probable – if you want it to the degree where your thoughts and actions bring it about.

You are the sole person – for good or bad my friend – who ultimately will decide your destiny; how long or short the job search will be, what you’ll end up doing. This can be a time of excitement and opportunities to seize, or it can be a low point in your life full of negatively, setbacks and disappointments.

Yes, you didn’t think you’d be here at this time. But here you are. How you look at things can determine how you look to employers. Think on things!