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!

Finding Career Direction Can Be Emotional


Today is the 7th and final day of a  career exploration class I’ve been facilitating. During this time, the participants have been learning about themselves; examining their skills, values, beliefs and then looking at possible jobs and careers that fit best.

For some, it’s been a confirmation that the direction they’re heading in is the right one for them at this time. For others, something new has emerged. There’s a several that have actually had multiple occupations come up and that’s left them with some decisions to make. Finally, there are 3 for whom the course has left their future unclear; they’ve yet to get the clarity and direction they’d hoped for on the first day. Failure? Absolutely not!

Now you might wonder about those last 3. After all, if they came with the expectation of gaining insight into a career they could pursue and that’s yet to emerge, why not consider their time a bust? Fair enough. Well, you see it’s not a question of these 3 finding no job that interests them, it’s more a question of still deciding upon an occupation that will best bring them overall happiness; a combination of what they do well, peaks their passion and returns financial reward for their labour.

Everyone in the class has in my estimation, entirely invested themselves in the process; giving thought to the questions asked of them and completing a number of assessments with a sincere trust in the process. Having conducted this class many times over the course of my career, I can spot a special kind of person; the one that takes this career exploration seriously and pins their hopes on an outcome that they’ll then find meaningful; and this class was full of this kind of person.

And so yesterday, as we came to one of the exercises that starts the process of narrowing down which direction to move in for each person, it hit one person particularly hard when they realized the clarity and direction they’d hoped for hasn’t yet materialized. Tears came, and they removed themselves for a few minutes twice in order to collect themselves. If you think people on social assistance are lazy, unmotivated and are happy to sit back and not work, you’d have a very different view had you sat in on the group yesterday at this moment.

When tears come out, it’s embarrassing for the person much of the time, but it’s actually a clear sign of how much things matter. If the person didn’t care; they’d just taken the class because they were made to or saw it as something to do for awhile, there’d be no tears because their was no emotional investment. Because the tears came out, that’s a clear indication to me that this career / self exploration stuff matters; that the person still believes THEY matter.

We all have barriers to success. That’s not a question but rather a statement. Whether we share them or keep them private, there are things that stand in our way; education we lack, skills that are rusty or not improved upon, experience that we lack, a criminal record we don’t have the funds to erase, an inability to decide between very different jobs and careers. We might lack transportation, have child care issues, anxiety, low self-esteem, fear of making another poor choice and ending up in an unsatisfying job, perhaps a disability; physical or mental.

And as long as were talking barriers, most of us have more than one. In fact, some of us have multiple barriers and they are the invisible kind. While others look at us and can’t see them immediately, they are so very real and huge to us that we feel everybody knows ours. Truth is, most other people are concerned with their own issues they don’t really see the ones we feel are on display for all to see.

For those still struggling to gain some direction, the feelings can be so intense, they see themselves as a failure – again. With the pressure they may be under in the other parts of their lives, this they’d believed, would turn out better. Well, it will. Really, I believe this. There is no prescribed 7 day fix that a course magically promises everyone. On day 1, I actually warned people I wouldn’t stand before them and tell them what they’d be. That is for everyone to find for themselves and while it may take 7 days for many, more time is needed for others.

What of you? Do you know where you’re headed job-wise, career-wise? Are you satisfied with that direction? Are you confused, anxious, afraid of moving in the wrong direction so you put off making a decision altogether?

There’s a cost to being indecisive and time passing will rob you of your current references, the benefits of your experience as your skills sit idle. Your confidence will ebb with a lengthening unemployed gap on your resume. And which is better for you, a job or a career? Both have value and both are the right choice depending on where you’re at.

Knowing yourself better is a great start. Look at your assets; skills, experience, education, contacts, likes, dislikes, problem-solving and learning style, just to name a few things. Knowing who you are is a key.

Looking at jobs and careers that match and working through your barriers will get you where you want to be.

YOU matter.

Must A Short-Term Job Be In Your Career Field?


I had the opportunity yesterday to listen as a 22 year-old woman explained to her fellow classmates what job or career she was after. She cited her long-term objective in Policy Development and went on to say that in the short-term she would do just about anything but it absolutely had to be related to her long-term objective or she’d feel it was a waste of her time.

So how do you feel about that statement? Would you agree that short-term jobs should be related to your own long-term goals in order to be a valuable use of your time?

It’s commendable of course that she’s got a long-term career objective. While it’s not mandatory in order to have a rewarding career, having a vision of what you want and knowing how you’re going to achieve it is one way to successfully move forward. It is, and I say with personal experience, not the only recipe for success.

This I hope comes as good news if you feel anxious about what your future holds. If you should be undecided about what you want to do on a long-term basis, it can feel paralyzing as well in the short-term should you feel you can’t apply for jobs not knowing if they’ll help you or not in the long run.

Allow me to share a little of my own experience in the hopes you might find it comforting. It wasn’t until 13 years ago, back in 2006 that I became an Employment Counsellor. That would put me at 46 years old as I embarked on what has been a rewarding, successful and fulfilling career. Prior to this I’d held a variety of different positions; some of them careers and others I’d call jobs. Whichever they were at the time didn’t really concern me as much as enjoying each I had, finding the pros and cons of each once in them and moving on when the cons outweighed the pros.

I didn’t have a long-term goal to work towards. I didn’t in my early twenties, even know that Employment Counsellors existed, so it was impossible therefore for me to have aspired to be one. Further, I suspect that had I graduated out of University and immediately had the fortune to be hired as an Employment Counsellor, my effectiveness would be very different without my life experiences to draw on.

Looking back in no particular order, I ran my own New and Cooperative Games business for 16 years after a year-long position working for the Province of Ontario; sold shoes and clothes; worked at a bowling alley; a video store; worked as a Programme Manger for a Boys and Girls Club; have been an Executive Director for a Social Services agency; worked for two municipalities as a Social Services Caseworker, and another for years in the field of Recreation. I have also worked in the private sector as an Area Supervisor, leading those who provided care in schools before, between and after classes. I’ve sold photography equipment in a mall, worked in a toy department of a major retailer, even spent one day filling in for a friend in a hot plastics factory. I’ve got summer residential camp experience, sat on volunteer boards and committees too. One year I was asked to lead an International Drug Awareness team in St. Lucia.

Whew! All over the map and one of the best examples I can think of where there sure doesn’t appear to be a linear history of progressive experience in the same field. I’ve worked for a province, two municipalities, the private and non-profit sectors as well as having been self-employed. My work has been in Retail, Recreation, Social Services and the Education sectors. I’ve also been on the front-line, middle management and senior management. I’ve had employment ended, quit, been promoted, been on strike, had to reinvent myself, and build up skills I didn’t know I had, use transferable skills and learn job-specific skills. In short, I’ve become resilient.

Now, here’s the best part. If you can believe it, all of these experiences have shaped who I am, how I think and act, given me empathy and understanding for a wide diversity of people with whom I partner. In short, I’m a decent Employment Counsellor today at 59 years-old BECAUSE of the path I took to get here.

My 22 year-old woman will likely change careers and jobs over the course of her lifetime. Jobs she eventually holds and loves might not even exist in 2019; maybe they’ll appear in 2032. Who knows?

Advice I believe to be sound is to gain experiences; paid and unpaid. Learn from what you do not just about the work, but how you feel as you do it. Always do your best to reward those who hired you and best serve those you call customers, clients, etc. You never know where life will take you; which job you may return to having left once (as I did). Treat employees and your Supervisors well for these are your future references.

All of the combined experiences I’ve had – just as you are collecting your own – are the things that are going to uniquely position us for jobs moving forward. “Why should I hire you?” is my favourite interview question. I can draw on all my past experiences; both the pros and the cons. Nobody out there has the same path as me. Or you for that matter!

Career Planning Isn’t Mandatory


So here’s something that might surprise you; long-term career planning and mapping is NOT a mandatory requirement for career happiness and success. Well, that statement certainly flies in the face of the advice some very well-meaning professionals will give. And quite frankly, even the ones that acknowledge it isn’t absolutely mandatory will be wrong if they believe that only a small percentage of people reach career happiness without long-term planning.

Here’s why I believe the majority of people need not stress about the lack of some grand long-term plan.

First of all, when you’re in your teens and making choices about what courses to take in high school in order to eventually end up in college, university or a trade, you’re only basing these choices on the very limited exposure you’ve had in life to the world around you. You’re in your early teens and the people you’ve interacted with, the jobs you’ve acquired knowledge of are extremely confined to the ones you’re going to learn of in the next decade of your life. In other words, excepting some of course, it’s highly likely that with all the jobs that exist in the world – and will emerge in your future that don’t even exist in your teen years – the odds that what you want to do at 15 and 16 years of age will be what you’ll want to do until you’re 65 is very low.

In fact many high school graduates will take a year off before deciding what to do or what school to attend, simply to give themselves a year to make a better choice career-wise. Some will even do what they call a victory lap; another year of high school classes after graduating.

Further evidence are the people in first year university classes who take 5 very different subjects, just praying and hoping the light bulb goes on in that first year, and something grabs their interest. Maybe the first year classes include World Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, British Literature, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology. Oh by the way, these 5 were my own in year one. As it turns out, Sociology caught fire and so I loaded up with future courses to eventually graduate with a degree in Sociology.

In transitioning from a teen into a young adult, it is normal to expand your knowledge of various jobs and careers. As you start interacting independently with the world, responsible more often for things yourself, it only stands to reason that every so often some job catches your interest. Learning about the world around you and the people who live in it, many find themselves attracted to what others do. It follows naturally then that every so often you pause and think, “I could do that!”

Now of course we don’t act on every whim we get, but if we’re unsatisfied, curious, searching for something better or different, open to possibilities etc., we live consciously observing and then assessing pros and cons of various occupations. Sometimes we’ll also have conversations with folks in these jobs, asking them what they do, what skills and education it takes, how long they took to get started, the highs and lows, the good and the bad aspects of the work. Then we look and assess ourselves, what we both have and need if we wanted to head down some career path branching out from the path we’re on now.

This is normal by the way. To stay completely rigid, never varying from the path we imagined and set out on at 15 years old in this light seems the more peculiar. And yet, when we do decide to change our direction, for many it seems so hard to tell our parents, family and friends that we’ve had a change in what we want to do. Yes, we fear they’ll somehow think less of us; they’ll worry and think we’re indecisive and making an ill-informed choice. However, these family and friends haven’t been privy to the thoughts we’ve had – the deep, inner thoughts and feelings we’ve been experiencing for some time. It’s precisely these thoughts and feelings by the way that have acted as our guidance system. The more they cause us unease, the more we believe there has to be something else.

Even into our late 20’s and all the way into our 30’s and 40’s, it’s not uncommon for us to re-examine what it is we want to do with the rest of our lives. And why stop there? People in their 50’s and 60’s often take stock of where they are and what they want in their remaining working days often causing a job change.

When people near the end of their working life, it’s the norm – not the exception – that they’ll have amassed a varied career with several jobs and some career changes. Rather than meaning they fluttered from job to job aimlessly, it means they were wise enough to seize opportunities for change as they came along in life; and in the end they’ve had a diversified career. They may have in fact been very happy overall, where staying in one line of work may have caused them to feel trapped and less stimulated.

Now of course, one can be happy with one long-term career or several careers over a lifetime; even people with many jobs but no single career. Yes, you can win in the world of work any number of ways.

 

Stuck On What To Do; What To Be


Still trying to figure out what your purpose in life is? You know, that ONE thing you were put here on Earth to do? This certainly is one of the big ones; one of those questions that has a lot of implications.

When asked how they’ll know when they’ve found the right job or career, some reply, “I’ll just know”, while others will say, “It will just feel right.” However, what if – and it’s just a possibility of course – what if you were actually meant to dislike the job or career you’re meant to do? What if you’re supposed to struggle with it, fight against it, coming to appreciate the hard work involved, (mental or physical) required to do it well? What if in the end, it’s all the effort that goes into the job that makes the work more meaningful? Maybe for these people, it would never have, “just felt right” in the beginning at all?

Of course to many people, they want to discover THE job; the one they were destined for. Here’s something though to ponder… When we look back at history and talk of people of note, we in the present day brand these people for the occupations they held when they became famous. So we talk about Shakespeare the bard, Churchill the Prime Minister, Charlie Chaplin the actor or Roberta Bondar the astronaut. What we don’t talk of is the job or jobs these same people held earlier in their lives. Why? Because those jobs were of less significance to the masses. Were Churchill a Newspaper Boy or Shakespeare a farmer for a stint, we neither know nor care. But isn’t it true that the people they became were in fact shaped by who they once were? What they once did?

Take me for a current day example. Meet me as an Employment Counsellor and you might imagine this is all I’ve ever done. If I have a positive impact on you and you admire me for what I’m able to share with you or you appreciate my ability to support you as you move forward, you’ll always recall me as Kelly Mitchell the Employment Counsellor. However, I’ve sold shoes, worked in a bowling alley, been a Cooperative and New Games Trainer, and more. Those weren’t the jobs that made me a person of note in your own life; but I’ve been shaped by those jobs nonetheless.

The same is true of you. Wherever you ultimately end up, when you look back at your career or collection of jobs, you’ll see value in all the things you’ve done that shaped you along the way. This includes the positive experiences and yes, the ones which at the time were hard to go through, didn’t work out at all, or you performed well at but just had to change. We are all the sum of our experiences.

Trying to figure out what’s next so that you move in the direction you were always destined to go in and finally, “get it together” may or may not be possible. It could be that yes, you’ve been sufficiently stimulated to move in a direction that will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment. If so, great for you!

On the other hand, you might still be in a period of flux; that is, a time of confusion and change. Maybe all this struggle you’re having in trying to figure it out isn’t over. This doesn’t sound very encouraging or hopeful does it? I mean, if you’ve tried to figure it out for years and you feel no closer to doing so, what kind of hope or optimism can you have for the future? Will it always be a mental struggle to find that thing that makes you happy?

What if we accepted for a moment that there wasn’t one thing and one thing only after all? What if there isn’t just a single career that we were meant to do or someone we were meant to become? Maybe what’s right for us, what we were destined to do all along is a collection of various jobs and different types of work. Perhaps it’s a collection of experiences that taken together makes us the people we’ll become.

So when I was happy selling shoes, maybe I was in the right job at the time, although it’s not a good fit for me here in the present. For all I know, I might find that selling shoes is right for me in the future by the way. Maybe running my business for 16 years was the ideal thing for the Kelly of the 80’s and 90’s. But Kelly in 2018? I’m happy and stimulated being the best Employment Counsellor I can be. In fact, it’s that whole collection of earlier jobs and work that benefits those I help in my current job!

Now you. YOU! Feeling anxiety and pressure – maybe even depression or that feeling of being paralyzed as you try to figure it out? Understandable – completely. You’re feelings are valid. This is after all, one of the BIG ones – “What should I do?”

While you may not know yet what you should do, what is obvious is that it’s NOT what you’re currently doing. So if you’re stuck and doing nothing, continuing to do nothing isn’t going to get you closer to it. Do something. Act. Talk. Invest yourself. Work. Experience the value of experience.

A Newborn And The Helping Hands


On Thursday March 29th, I became a Grandfather. That’s Grandfather with a capital, ‘G’ whether it’s grammatically correct or not. It’s my latest job title, though I’ve decided my LinkedIn profile will not be updated to show this new role just as I’ve neglected to add Spouse or Father. Still, these are my 3 most significant job titles I’ve ever held.

He’s a beautiful boy and healthy too. The day I met him with my wife and in the ensuing few days at the hospital, I started thinking about all the various people who were connected professionally with this little guy and his parents. Yes I was thinking about the occupations connected with giving him a good start in the world; and of course, he’s but a single baby. Extrapolate the numbers that follow over thousands upon thousands of births worldwide and you’ve got a whole host of people employed!

There’s the nursing team which is so much more than the single Nurse who I happened to see. He was after all in the hospital 4 days, and so exactly how many came and went I’ve no idea, but let’s conservatively say he had 5. If I took the time to ask, I’d likely find that these Nurses were slightly different in their roles too. I observed there were cleaning staff there too, who ensured vacated rooms next to my daughter and son-in-laws were disinfected, bed made anew and ready for the next expectant mom.

All the furniture in that room, including the bed, table and two chairs, the technical equipment, buzzers, lighting, floor tiles, drywall, plaster, paint, toilet, shower, plumbing, electrical wiring – these don’t appear by magic. There are people we never see and seldom think to thank who make all these things.

There’s the medical team expanding beyond the Nurses I saw. Doctors of course, Lab Technicians, people who take and test blood samples as well as others who read and relay results. In this birth, there was the Midwife too, and she played a role both before, during and post-delivery – visiting the mom and baby in their home 3x too.

Given that we spent some time at that hospital, I wandered the halls and found to my surprise that the main floor might be mistaken for a shopping mall. There was a Tim Horton’s, Subway, Fresshi, plus 4 or 5 other eating places I can’t recall. There was a florist, a gift shop, an information centre, security and all these stores were buzzing with activity requiring multiple employees.

Now my daughter and son-in-law have landed themselves in a caring neighbourhood. One day I sat holding my grandson and noticed someone walking up to their front door. There was no knock, and then I saw the person turn around and walk away. Turns out a neighbour dropped off a brown bag of groceries including a bottle of wine and a speciality bread plus some other goodies. So there are merchants benefitting from these extra purchases. Included was a card of congratulations, so again, another merchant benefitted. Somebody produced that card, wrote the message inside and made the artwork on front. Somebody made the glass bottle for the wine, another person grew the grapes etc.

Now me? I was sent out to buy formula which hadn’t been planned on needing. Good luck finding an open store on Easter Sunday that carried the specific brand, size and type requested. Three stores later I came home with the right stuff. The next day I returned it as it was a bigger size than asked for, and again off to yet another store to get the right product. Sigh… Still, more people making and selling products.

Coming in at 11 pounds, the ‘little’ guy was too big for many of the clothes and receiving blankets at the ready. So off my wife and I went yet again to buy bigger outfits and blankets. “And say dad while you’re out, would you mind doing the grocery shopping? There’s a list on the table of stuff we’d like and some extra items to buy if on sale. Thanks. We really appreciate it.” Ah, nice to be useful and of help, and more people connected with this birth from the clothes manufacturers, Farmers, Grocers, Cashiers, Stockers, Truck Drivers to deliver the goods, Border Agents to screen them entering Ontario.

There’s an endless list it seems. After all, who made the crib, car seat, bassinet, mattress, blankets, toys, books, stuffed animals, recliner, dresser, bureau etc. that make up the baby’s room? There’s the monitor – you get the idea.

So far the little guy is what, 8 days old? He’s already helped keep an army of people employed and will continue to do so as he grows, goes to daycare, school, joins groups and perhaps the band, sports teams, a choir, who knows?

Indulge me here, I’m a proud Father and proud Grandfather. It’s been a rough go for my daughter and my son-in-law. Lots of sleepless nights getting up for feedings and dealing with this major surgery. They’ll get through it though I’m sure. We all figure it out don’t we?

Let me close with a big thank you to all involved not just in helping make entering this world safer and easier for my grandson, but for all the little ones born elsewhere. Oh and the Butcher that gave my daughter an extra slice of meat when she came in and was obviously expecting, thanks to you too!

The Purpose Of A Job Interview


As I regularly speak to groups of unemployed people, I often ask them how they feel about job interviews. While a few look forward to them with genuine enthusiasm, most tell me they dread them. Given that an interview of some kind takes place before hiring, let’s look at what an interview is, the purpose it serves and of course how you can perform best.

So what is an interview? Do you see it as a mandatory meeting called where you’re to be drilled, interrogated, the truth sweated out, then evaluated, judged and ultimately rejected as undesirable; sometimes with no explanation whatsoever provided where you went wrong? Gee, no wonder you dread the interview process!

A job interview is really conversation between two or more people, where everyone agrees the discussion will be focused on an opportunity. It is an opportunity for both you the applicant and the employer to see if you’ll be a good fit for the job and equally if the job and the employer are a good fit for you. Sure they’re offering a job, but you’re offering yourself as a solution to their needs. If they had no needs, there’d be no job to apply to.

The purpose of the job interview then is to find the fit. To have received the offer of an interview, you must have impressed them enough with your résumé and/or cover letter. So this meeting is really about finding out what’s not on the résumé. Your attitude, personality, beliefs etc. are all of interest to the employer to decide how you’ll impact on the chemistry in their workplace and with the team of people you’ll potentially work with. It’s also a chance to elaborate on your experiences, so the employer can gauge how you’ll do in the future.

If you want to improve on your interview performance, do your homework. Research the company, find out who the interviewers will be ahead of time and look them up on the company website and/or their LinkedIn profiles. Find out how the organization is performing, current challenges, recent successes and something of their culture – what it’s like to actually work there.

Now this is going to put some people off because this sounds like a lot of work with no guarantee of a positive result. Consider however that if you do put in this effort, you’re ahead of those who don’t bother and it will show in the interview answers you give, and the comments and questions you pose yourself. Imagine putting a lot of time into researching ahead of 4 job applications/interviews; 3 of which don’t turn into a job offer, while the 4th one does. You’ve had fail, fail, fail followed by success. This investment of your time sure beats the energy and time you’ll put into applying for 40 jobs, doing no research and wondering why no one will give you an interview. That’s fail x 40.

Now you can improve your chances of performing well in a job interview if you go into it ahead of time having prepared yourself with specific examples that respond to the questions you’ll be asked. You CAN predict with a high degree of accuracy what you’ll be asked before you even step in the interview room. How? Read the job posting, highlight what it is they are looking for, what you’ll actually do in the job and especially look for anything that is repeated in the posting. If problem solving comes up 3x in a posting, it stands to reason that’s a significant part of the job.

Okay so you’ve highlighted what they want. Great start! Now, to prepare yourself, start writing down the details about times in your past work experiences where you’ve actually done the things this new employer is looking for. In other words, write out a specific time when you solved a problem, making sure you include how you sized up the situation, what you actually did and include the positive outcome such as keeping an angry customer, getting praise from the boss or selling something in addition to the original purchase. Don’t generalize how you usually do things; specific examples are so much more believable.

Of course your answers are huge, but don’t overlook the importance of making a strong visual presentation. In other words, let’s not overlook your appearance. Do what you can NOW to improve on your looks. Get a haircut, shave, get into proper fitting clothes, the type of which would be a step up from what you’d wear to the job. Your choice of clothes tells the interview at a first glance how seriously you take the interview and a degree of your intelligence and respect for the process.

Walk with purpose, stand with both feet equally planted on the floor, not off-balanced on one leg. Sit slightly forward, show interest and enthusiasm for what’s being discussed, smile, look people in the eye, extend your hand and be friendly. Basics for sure, but not to be overlooked and assumed as common sense.

A conversation with an employer about an opportunity is again how I suggest you go into the interview. This should be a positive exchange of information. You’ve got more control in this whole process than you might imagine, right up to deciding if you want the job or not. Your performance influences the outcome, and in a nutshell, that’s the point of this meeting.