For A Successful Job Search

What’s the first thing to do when you want to find work?

a) Look at jobs posted on a job search board

b) Update your resume

c) Tell your friends and connections you’re looking

The correct answer to the above? It’s not a, b or c. No, while all of them are good things to do when you’re looking for work, none of them should be the first thing you do if you want to be successful.

Yes, I’ll admit that dusting off a resume and updating your phone number, making a dozen copies and dropping them off in person to some employers just might get you a job. I’ll further admit that as long as it gets you the job you’re after, you’re not likely take advice from me or anyone else – until how you go about finding work doesn’t work – and neither do you. Then, and only then, might you be open to other ideas and suggestions.

No, the first step to successfully finding your next job or launching your career is to do a full self-assessment. Know yourself, and be able to articulate or clearly share all the many things that collectively make you who you are. It’s only when you really know who you are and what makes you tick that you have the best chance to find work that will really bring you job satisfaction and happiness.

So, do you know the following:

  1. Your work values
  2.  The style of supervision you work best under
  3.  Your learning style
  4.  The things which motivate you
  5.  Why you want / need to work
  6.  Your financial needs (how much you need to earn)
  7.  Your financial value in the marketplace
  8.  Your problem solving style
  9.  Your liabilities, weaknesses and challenges
  10.  Your strengths and competitive advantages
  11.  Your leadership style
  12.  Your work ethic
  13.  How long you plan to work in your next role
  14.  Your openness to shift work, overtime, part-time, full-time, permanent,    contract or seasonal work
  15.  The extent to which you’ll travel to get to your next job
  16.  Your own philosophy with respect to work
  17.  Your comfort and ease with, and integration to teamwork
  18.  The state of your listening skills
  19.  The validity of any certificates and licences you’ve held
  20.  Which skills you wish to use moving forward in your next job
  21.  Your own personal idea of happiness and success
  22.  Your preference for working with things, data, people or information
  23.  Your personality traits and how they fit with various environments
  24.  Your receptiveness and willingness to learn
  25.  Your personal employment barriers

So, come on, let’s be honest. When have you ever started your job search by first looking at all – not just some – of the things above BEFORE looking at a job board?

I tell you this – if you want to be successful; and I mean long-term successful, start your job search differently than you ever have before and look at the above. While you might point out that you’ve never done this in the past and have managed to find jobs before (than you very much), how happy have you been in those jobs and haven’t you felt there had to be something better?

Successful people are generally the ones who, in the course of their work, find great personal job satisfaction and happiness. They are grateful for the opportunity to do what they do, and they look forward to going in because they find fulfillment and purpose throughout their days. When they leave work, they know they’ve done their best, made a difference, contributed their skills and experience and made their time worthwhile to their employer. These people don’t find such jobs by chance and luck.

Knowing what you like and don’t like, your strengths and areas for improvement is only a start. In all likelihood, you may not be able to answer all 25 questions I’ve posed here without some guided support, help that you’ll later appreciate. When you know yourself fully, you not only end up in the right kind of work, you end up tracking down the right employer for you; the one that has the specific environment where you’ll thrive.

Don’t think that this process is reserved only for the rich and those going for high paying jobs. That would be a huge assumption and mistake on your part. Sometimes the ones who get the most out of doing these full self-assessments are your everyday Labourer, blue-collar or middle class worker.

Look, I don’t like all-encompassing statements because honestly they seldom actually apply to everybody, but perhaps it’s safe to say we all want a career or job that will bring us a measure of happiness and decent pay for the work we do. Happiness; have you really sat down and defined what happiness looks like for you personally though? So many factors go in to being happy at work; it’s not just the job itself.

I know many people – a large number of people, who now in their fifties, say they’ve never had a job that they can honestly say they were truly passionate about. Some paid well, others brought them some happy moments, but many were ones they’d rather have avoided looking back. The idea of doing a personal inventory or assessment is something they never considered but now wish they’d done a long time ago. The thing about a self-assessment is that you and me; we should all do one every few years because we change.

Job search step one? Self assessment.

Job Search; You’re Doing It Wrong

Well, okay, I admit I don’t know how you personally go about finding work, but from what I see on a daily basis, the majority are going about it the wrong way.

Yes, I watch people come in to our resource centre and they either go right to the physical job board or call up a job search site online and look at an electronic job board. They visually scan the jobs there and then I see them pick one and fire off their resume. So, does that sound like you? If so, then consider yourself in the majority I referenced in the opening paragraph who may just be going about things in the wrong way.

There are 4 steps to the process of finding work; work that’s a great fit and that you’ll keep for some time at any rate. Most people who sit down and start scanning jobs to see what’s available and then immediately apply are actually only doing the 4th and final step – the application. I know this, because in addition to watching them, I go a step further and engage in conversation with them and when I do, I’m gathering information myself to determine if they’ve done any or all of the previous 3 steps and most haven’t.

So to be clear, yes I agree you can find a job by only doing the 4th step – applying. However, it’s likely that what you’ll get is a job that doesn’t last for long because the personal fit isn’t as good as you’d hope it will be. The result may indeed have you believing that a job is a job, work is work, and the idea of finding a job you’ll love is a luxury or pure luck rather than the norm. That’s rather unfortunate if this becomes your belief.

So, what the first three steps to a successful job search that ends with a satisfying conclusion? Interested in knowing? Great!

Step 1. Clarify

Know yourself well enough that you are able to quickly identify and label your strengths, values, accomplishments, preferences, skills and abilities. Don’t just assume that you can bypass this first critical step. Do you know what your work values are for example? Companies sure do; you see it on their websites all the time reflected through they mottos, mission statements and ‘about us’ pages, They clearly tell you what they believe, and believe me when I say they’ll expect you to tell them the same about yourself. They are determining the fit of the next person just as you should be determining the fit of an employer to you.

Step 2. Research

The extent to the research some job seekers do is limited to the information on the job posting they picked off a job board. Seriously? That’s it? You get what you deserve if this is all you do, and I don’t mean that in a mean way but as a statement of reality. You’ll get out of a job what you put in and if you don’t look into the people, the organization and what the environment is like that you’re considering walking into, well, don’t be surprised if it’s not what you expected.

By the way, you should only conduct research into an organization or a possible career or job after having assessed who you are and what makes you tick in step 1. If you neglect to assess yourself first, all that information you gather in your research still won’t tell you if the fit is going to be a good one or not for how you go about your day, and whether the role itself you research will bring you satisfaction.

Step 3. Decide

After clarifying your strengths, interests, accomplishments and what you want out of a future job, you did some research and looked at occupations and organizations that have a high probability of working in with great success. Good. Now the challenge is to make a decision between the choices before you. You may have 2 – 4 jobs before you; all of which will bring you a measure of happiness and in which you will contribute to the success of the organizations that may hire you. A decision is in order, so make one after some careful consideration but don’t get paralyzed putting off deciding.

Step 4. Act

Okay, now go ahead and actively apply for the jobs you want. Bolstered with knowing yourself well, knowing what you’re after and why what you’re after is the best fit, you’ll compete with greater confidence. That confidence is going to come across as an attractive quality.

Look, there’s a lot of people competing for jobs these days. Employers have the luxury of many people to choose from. Some job seekers put very little thought and effort into their applications; applying day after day and just hoping that something sticks and they get a job. Employer’s who interview and hire these people get what they deserve too.

The happiest people, the ones who have shorter unemployment, get hired quicker and stay longer, are the ones who step back, assess themselves, do their homework and apply to jobs they’ve landed on after careful consideration.

You might not agree with me though and that’s your choice. You might just accelerate to the job boards and fire off your resume to a job you just discovered 3 minutes ago and figure you can do. If this is your wish, all the best. Hope it works out.

The Workplace Workforce Inventory

As an individual, you should know your strengths and areas for improvement. These become essential when it comes to applying for a new job, making your case for a raise, competing for advancement or making your case for a lateral move into a new role. If you don’t know yourself well enough to accurately articulate your core assets, this my friend, is a major liability to which you are possibly unaware.

Now think beyond yourself; think of the broader workplace in which you contribute your skills, education and experience. Think of the other employees; your co-workers, and the talents they bring. If you look objectively at those around you, you’ll likely identify certain employees who are standouts in certain areas; people generally known to be the on-site experts in certain aspects of the organization. These are the ‘go-to’ people when specific problems and challenges arise. These are the ones recognized by most as having special skills, knowledge and advanced expertise.

In addition to skills, experience and education, there are other assets which people have in varying quantities. Softer skills such as attitude, work ethic, punctuality and attendance, genuine affinity for teamwork, leaders in action if not title and interpersonal skills. As you read each of these, perhaps certain people in your organization come to mind as the best examples; maybe you even see yourself has being at the forefront in a few areas.

Okay, now it’s not my job or yours in fact to actually put together a summary of the workforce in the organizations we work for. However, this is precisely what great organizations do, and they do it on a continuous basis. When an employer intimately knows the strengths of their workforce on an everyday basis, this knowledge positions them well to add whatever dimensions they believe they both want and lack when the individual pieces – you and I – move on or move out. Organizations that don’t assess the status of their workforces on a continuous basis are more reactionary when staffing needs arise, having then to make decisions about what they are lacking and need when time is pressing.

So how does this impact on you when you’re working as one of the front-line employees? Excellent question to ask and in answer let me ask you a question. How closely does how you perceive yourself align with how you are perceived by Senior Management? If the way you see yourself is mirrored by how decision-makers see you AND this is an overly positive assessment, you’re in good shape.

However, when the way you perceive yourself is not a shared view by others who are in decision-making roles with respect to staffing, you’d be wise to give this matter some attention now while you’ve the time to address things.

Suppose you see yourself as a team player. You can cite many examples from your experience where you have been involved in committees, projects and even covered the workload of absent co-workers. You assess yourself as I say, as a team player. Perhaps you’d find it surprising to learn however that your employer has been approached by several of your co-workers over the past year who have voiced concerns that while your part of these committees and projects, you actually contribute very little. Some might go so far as to say you’re more concerned with having your name attached to successful teams than actually putting in the work contributing to that team’s success. You’ve really been identified as more of a coat-tail rider. This causes the employer to recall the times when you’ve been asked to cover for absent co-workers and while you do it in the end, there’s always an unwelcome discussion to be had getting you to pitch in.

Now honestly, very few people who would benefit from checking in with how they are perceived by others actually ask for such feedback. Some don’t care what others think of them (as long as they get paid to work), and some are perceptive enough to guess that they aren’t going to like what they might hear.

Here’s the thing though: whether you check on how you are perceived or you don’t, you’re still being evaluated and assessed for your attitude, work ethic, strengths you bring to the team, shortcomings, etc. You are assessed by co-workers, Supervisors and/or Upper Management just as you assess their strengths and areas you see for improvement in them.

You can help yourself to keep the job you have now as well as position yourself for your next challenge in an organization if you give these matters some serious attention. Starting with a co-worker you feel will give you some honest feedback and generally be positive, ask them to share how they see you. Don’t get defensive, be a listener and express appreciation for their opinion. Now repeat this with some others, and include the boss.

What you don’t want to do is put this off until how others see you is cemented in any kind of negative way. If enough people tell you they see you in ways you don’t, you’ve got a choice to either carry on and not care, or make the necessary changes to how you go about your work day to alter their perception, bringing theirs more in line with how you wish to be seen.

May your work days be good days.

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.

Do You Have These Essential Skills?

One thing that seems certain today and into the foreseeable future is that you’re going to be changing jobs more often than generations past. This has emerged and continues to do so because both employers and workers have realized the value in change. Younger workers are tending to want the experience of moving from one organization to another with a higher degree of mobility even from city to city, and employers are more comfortable introducing new people into their workforces, realizing the benefits of hiring people on a frequent basis with the latest skills and industry-leading training.

To stay relevant and continually place yourself to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, smart people hold common attributes and skills that take them from job to job, thus keeping themselves attractive to those doing the hiring. What are these you ask? Here’s a few:

Embrace Change: Nothing it is said, is as constant as change. Change is inevitable and those who realize this and welcome change adapt better than those who fight change and embrace things as they are. New technologies, relocating businesses, new business models, virtual workers, etc. Getting onboard with change quickly makes you adaptable, vital, and thus attractive.

Stay Positive: It seems like such a given doesn’t it? So obvious that it doesn’t need saying, yet it does. A positive workplace is a productive workplace, and productivity and profitability go hand in hand. If you want to do well and stay valued, develop a visible, positive attitude. Encourage others around you, smile, see the upside and carry that, ‘yes we can’ attitude. Consciously go about surrounding yourself with others who also work with the same attitude and you’ll not only be more productive, you’ll be happier too.

Self-Invested: Fading quickly are the days when employers looked out for their employees with respect to carrying benefit packages. With more people working part-time or moving from contract to contract, you need to get your own benefit package including retirement although that might seem too far into the future to worry about now. Investing in your own future and safeguarding yourself from injuries and illness with drug, dental and optical plans is a necessity. Start with your Chamber of Commerce or an Insurance Broker and shop around.

Self-Defined: Almost everyone in years past defined themselves in part by the employers they worked for. When asked what they do for a living, the answer most gave included naming an employer. Now more and more, the answer is what service a person provides, not for whom they provide it. That subtle and small shift illuminates a new way of thinking. People see themselves not as representatives of companies but as providers of service. “I’m an Electrician, a Customer Service Rep, I’m a Financial Portfolio Manager”, and not, “I work for (name a company).

Adaptable: This is it in a nutshell. Moving on quickly from job to job, contract to contract, temporary position to contract to contract again. Learning to adapt to changes in shifts, hours, jobs and locations is a big key to being successful. The more you can adapt to the circumstances around you, the less stress you’ll feel and like embracing change noted above, the quicker you’ll move from what was to what is coming. In the end, your mental health will be enhanced.

Developed Interpersonal Skills: As your reality is to move from job to job, from organization to organization and from city to city perhaps, you’ll be expanding the number of people you know. Whether online or in-person, you’re going to get to work with and know more people than your parents generation ever did. It stands to reason that you’d best get on well with those you meet, grow a level of comfort introducing yourself and working cooperatively with many and not expecting long-lasting working relationships that span 35 years or more.

Self-Preservation: It’s not you against the world, so don’t carry that belief; the world doesn’t owe you a living. There’s not likely to be a gold watch when you retire and a large company investment retirement plan for you to count on. Be prudent and take responsibility for your own circumstances. Rather than counting on others to save you when you falter, be ready to pick yourself up and be accountable for your own success. Beware bitterness; it’s highly unattractive.

Diversify: Learn new things and pick up skills outside your immediate job; a few here and there. Yes maybe some night class at a College, maybe a second language. Learn some basic accounting, ask a co-worker to show you something they do exceptionally well that isn’t part of your own existing skill set. As you may be reinventing yourself several times in your lifetime, having a diverse set of skills and past experiences will serve you better than you might now realize.

So how do you stand up? This isn’t an exhaustive list but if you’ve got the above, you’re on the way to positioning yourself well for whatever comes. That after all is what being prepared is all about; putting things in place now so that when things arise in the future, you’re better able to cope quickly and move with relatively less stress than others and respond positively. Yes, your future self might be thankful your current you took heed way back in 2017!

Define Yourself

Who are you? You are on one level I suppose a product of your past; everything from where you were born and brought up, the schools you attended, the people who surrounded you in your earliest formative years. Yet it’s more than this or people would be very much like their brothers and sisters, and very alike their neighbours and friends. But you, you’re unique.

No one knows you better than yourself or would you disagree with this premise? There are sometimes we might say to someone, “You know me better than I know myself”, but I suspect even when we say it we’re really indicating only a certain aspect of ourselves is known well by another rather than our complete make up.

Knowing ourselves; why is that so important? What’s that remotely have to do with employment, finding a job, landing a career? If that’s what we’re after shouldn’t we just run out and get a job; any job? Some people actually do make this critical mistake – but the number is very low. Even someone who says they are looking for and will do ‘anything’ usually draws the line at some point between what they’ll really do and what they won’t – and this is a good thing!

When you know yourself well you can identify and label the things you enjoy vs. those you don’t. You have an awareness of things you can do well, others you need help completing and yes other things you haven’t mastered and perform poorly at. Put together, you’ve got a pretty good idea of your skill set. To be successful and happy, it would seem logical then to perform work that gives you pleasure and that you perform well. The more you do this kind of work, you may increase your abilities from performing well to mastering.

The amazing thing about as humans however is that we grow. We grow and change over time. We take a job and at some point early on or at a later date we evolve and look for new challenges and new stimulation. While some of us could perform the same job for years or even decades, others opt to pursue different challenges that make use of some of our other skills. We may even choose to shift our employment into occupations where we haven’t mastered skills in order to develop skills we identify as needing and wanting to grow.

We are more than an accumulation of our skills though aren’t we? Sure we are. Our thoughts, needs, wants; things we see as beautiful, desirable. Let’s not forget too the things that limit us, impede us or just make the learning or living more of a challenge. We may have a physical or mental health issue that is part of our make up; and it may or may not be visible to the naked eye.

With respect to employment, is it the case that there is but a single job in this wide world that is meant for us and it is only that one single job that we were put on this earth to do? I certainly don’t think that for a second. However to listen to some speak, they are out searching endlessly for that perfect job, the one that will give their life meaning and define who they are and give them purpose. This belief can actually be a huge hindrance in landing employment because a person that believes there is but a single job they were meant to do often turns down many jobs fearing to choose wrong.

There is, is their not a certain prestige or value that we assign to jobs and employment too. If as some do we place a low value on a particular job vs. another, it might make us feel good to pursue a job of high common value feeling that is the job we were meant to do. But then what of the person who makes pipe cleaners for a living, bubble gum wrappers or toothpicks for a living. Is it likely that they identify there work as the one purpose they were put here on this earth and they do their work with passion, finding high value in it as meaningful and fulfilling. Who is to say, perhaps they do.

When you assess yourself; likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, etc. you still don’t have the complete picture of what defines you. It’s elusive, and just when you think you’ve got it, you realize what you used to find great joy in has become somewhat stale and less than completely satisfactory; well sometimes. We evolve, grow, regress, alter, morph and every so often we note the changes. We overcome tragedies and tests of our endurance.

It is the sum of all we experience and how we interact with those experiences that defines who we are and who we become. We can shift and make different choices in life intentionally and of course much in life happens to us unexpectedly for good or bad. We get hurt, we find elation, we crawl, we fly. We are the sum of all our experiences and truly unique.

There are many kinds of work in this world that you will perform well and enjoy. With every thing you do, take stock of what you do well and what you find both enjoyable and would rather avoid in the future.

When you define yourself, you find yourself.


R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What It Means

Okay so how many of you read the title of the blog and how many of you sang the title of the blog in Aretha Franklin style? If you did sing it, I bet you added the words, “to me” at the end of it. Notice however that I stopped short of adding those two words. Why? Well because it’s not important you find out what respect means to me, but rather you find out what it means for yourself.

Is respect something that is automatically given or is it something earned? Is it initially given until lost? You may find that your answer to these questions puts you in agreement or conflict when you interact with other people who either hold your view or take a differing perspective.

Respect is an acknowledgement of what is rather than what could be, and an acceptance of that. So you may well disagree with someone else’s point of view, but you can still respect the person. You can appreciate for example how they conduct themselves, how they argue their point with passion and conviction, but ultimately you don’t have to agree with them in order to respect them. One of the most common examples of this in action would be hearing politicians debate issues in parliament. Well, sometimes there’s not a lot of respect shown for each other come to think of it!

Respect is also something you can have for other people, rules, things, property and most importantly yourself. As for property, you may for example be taking a walk around the neighbourhood and notice that the sidewalk goes along the front of a home then makes a 90 degree turn and runs down the other side of the home. Do you follow the sidewalk or cut across the lawn of the homeowner because it’s the shortest route? If you do, you’re not respecting the property of the people who live there as you wear down a path which may cause them to erect a fence to discourage people from following your lead.

In a game, there are rules established so all the players know in advance the conditions they will play under. Break those rules, and you may be penalized in some fashion. This is true too if you have a dress code at work and don’t follow it. You might find yourself being told to leave and return when your clothing adheres to the rules.

But of all the things you can respect in your lifetime, the single most thing you should have respect for is yourself. And so it is unfortunate when someone presents with such low self-esteem that they have no self-respect. I’ve run across people like this; people who don’t see themselves as people of value. And without seeing themselves as a person of value, they consciously allow themselves to be used by others in ways that only reinforces in their own mind that they aren’t worth much.

Such lack of respect for themselves can be very self-destructive, and what’s equally worse is their own aspirations and confidence are low. When they engage in activities where success isn’t guaranteed, they assume from the start that they will fail; fail because it is after all – them. And they feel they don’t deserve to succeed. What a very sad sense of self-perception and lack of self-respect.

Am I describing you or someone you know or work with? If I am, you know how difficult it is to bring about change and learn to respect yourself. It isn’t as easy as just waking up one day and saying to yourself, “I guess I’ll respect myself today.” If this has been ingrained in the person over years, it takes some time to learn how to respect oneself, and to believe that you are really worthy.

So how to start? Start small. Little things for some are huge for others. Think about personal grooming you do daily. When you wake up do you shower or clean yourself? Brushing your teeth and hair, washing your face, putting on clean clothes; these are things that show you have respect for your appearance, even when you aren’t going out and don’t anticipate seeing anyone or having anyone see you. This isn’t about being pretty or handsome, good-looking etc., this is about personal hygiene and in the case of your teeth, it also preserves your oral health.

In the workplace, you often have to have respect for people in other roles, such as your boss. By acknowledging their role as your supervisor, you demonstrate respect for them when you hand in reports requested and in the timeframe given you, or by taking their direction and carrying out assigned tasks. If you are chronically late, take extended breaks, leave early without permission and spend your time doing personal things on the computer, you don’t demonstrate respect for company property and for the job you have. Eventually, this lack of respect could cost you your job.

You are a person of worth and a person to be valued. Whether you have to earn respect from others or find they respect you right from the beginning, I hope more than anything you come to respect yourself. And respect yourself not for what you accomplish necessarily, but just for being you. Yep, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means…

Questions To Ask Of Yourself

One of the key ways people learn is by asking questions. Children are asking questions all the time, not so much to be annoying, but rather to learn and define their own world. Following this idea, it’s important to re-visit some questions you may have asked yourself at some point along your career path, or if you are just setting out, consider some questions posed here to get you going. No matter the point of your career, I invite you to ponder your own response to the following:

“What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

Unless the rest of your life is a year or two, or you own a crystal ball, throw this question out. Too many times it’s the wrong question to ask. It suggests you can foresee future events and thus set yourself on a career path that will bring you everything you want. Events along your life path will spring up and provide forks in the road. How dull if your entire life was mapped out at 19 so avoid the stress of this question by refusing to get trapped in having to have an answer.

“What would make me happy in the next couple of years?”

Great question to ask yourself. If you think just a couple of years – three at the very most – down the road, you might find the answer is re-training, education, a job rather than a career, or even time to raise a family. Feeling good about yourself, enjoying life and enjoying things that later on will give you experience or further your education will set you up for future career possibilities.

“Better to have many jobs or just one career?”

You’ll get a different answer to this depending on who you are and who you ask if you ask someone else for an opinion. There is tremendous benefit later on in your career if you have diversity of experience. It will give you perspective that only doing one thing your entire career will not; and that will be your strength. On the other hand, doing only one thing much of your life will make you the Specialist, and you’ll have unique insights and wisdom that others with less experience in your field will admire.

“How do I know what career will be right for me?”

Truth is you don’t. Realize that this is a blessing not a curse. Try things out by volunteering, talking with people in those jobs now, do career research, look at the characteristics of people who succeed, and just as important, those who are miserable. Learn from all this, and if you take a job that makes you unhappy, you’re in control of your life and can change your career path at any time.

“Should I stay for the benefits or make a career change now?”

The trap that way too many people fall into is becoming financially dependent on jobs and careers they no longer find interesting and fulfilling. The commitment to mortgages, families, car loans and the like get people thinking their happiness at work is forfeit moving forward when they no longer are happy at work. So talk with your spouse, keep your car longer after the payments are made, downsize the house etc.; it’s all on the table if your priorities are your happiness. Do you own your house, or does your house own you?

“How can I justify the debt of more education?”

Isn’t it ironic that people will sooner go into a bank and borrow $300,000.00 and buy a house, but the thought of going into debt for say, $20,000.00 and improving their education that will last them a lifetime worries them more financially? You are THE only person you can guarantee you will be with at all times while on this planet. Others will enter and exit your life daily. Why not improve your imagination, your knowledge, your experience and expose yourself to thinkers and other learners?

“How long should I stay in one job or field?”

The answer is really as long as you continue to enjoy it. Some jobs I caution take time to fully appreciate and too many are looking for immediate gratification. Be prepared to work hard, struggle a little to get a hang of a career or job, but always evaluate your overall happiness. Few people rise in companies because they were handed everything. Appreciate the determination and work that others put in to get where they are.

“How do I get ahead?”

Define success and happiness for you on a personal level. If your answer is a promotion, sit down with HR or you Supervisor and talk about the skills you have and the skills you need to acquire to be considered for upward progression or lateral movement. Find out what you need to learn and start today while you love the job you have instead of waiting until it grows stagnant or you come to resent your current job. Look at the turnover rate of those above you and find out how often those jobs come open; this is positioning yourself.

“Is there something wrong with me if I don’t want to change careers?”

NO! You might find work that provides life-long satisfaction. Why should it matter if others change jobs from time-to-time and wonder how you can do the same thing day after day? If your work brings you contentment, challenge, happiness and is financially rewarding enough to house and feed you, then good for you. There is no one-size-fits-all career or job path that works for everyone!

Taking Inventory

How well do you know yourself? If you are like most people, you’ve got a fairly good idea of things you do well and things you need to improve on. In other words, you could answer the question regarding your strengths and weaknesses in an interview. I wonder though, if you could accurately label the leadership style you thrive best under.

Many job seekers ignore taking stock of all their qualities, strengths, weaknesses, preferences etc. because they just want to get a job. Sometimes what occurs is the person gets a job only to find that while the money is now taken care of, the old happiness meter is pointing at, ‘low’ and their looking for a better job in no time. So what went wrong?

People change throughout their lives; the things that once satisfied us no longer do, or the skills we once wished we had, we’ve acquired over time. Perhaps as we grew up, our needs changed, and we developed expertise in certain things. So it’s not enough to simply tell yourself that taking an inventory is a waste of time because you know yourself well. In an interview, understand that the interviewer is doing their best to assess what you’ll bring to the company if hired. If you cannot articulate your own qualifications, attributes, areas in which to improve, problem-solving style, and work ethic, you might be in trouble.

Remember that old saying, “Know thyself”? Knowing  who you are, what motivates you to excel, and what exactly makes you happy will go a long way to knowing what kind of career or job would be a good fit for someone with your personality, likes, dislikes, skills, and personal characteristics. Without this knowledge, you may find yourself thinking that jobs are only thought of as a source of money and not as something anybody should actually like doing; it’s work after all.

Work however should be something that is meaningful to you, something you derive pleasure from and at the end of the day, you really look forward to repeating. It may or may not matter that you are surrounded by other people or largely left alone. You might work best in a setting where your boss leaves you to work independently or you might actually enjoy and work best where your work is closely monitored like in a call centre.

So when was the last time you took an actual inventory of yourself? For most people it might be all the way back in Guidance class in high school! Give yourself some credit and admit you’ve grown a great deal since then. So how do you get started? Check out a Career Advisor in your neighbourhood. Start with an Employment Centre or if you don’t want to use the services of a professional, (which I recommend) you could surf the web for things like, Multiple Intelligences, Self-Inventory, Preferred Supervision styles etc. The real danger in doing things entirely yourself is that it’s not always everyone’s skill to interpret correctly the results. I’ve had clients do some self-assessments in classes I run, and the conclusion they draw from the work isn’t even close to what the data really means.

When you know yourself better, there is a greater likelihood that you will search for employment opportunities that are possible good fits with yourself. The result could be that you are happier, work better, stay longer and your personal life improves as a result as well. You come home happier at the end of the day and go to work looking forward to whatever it is you’ll be doing. Who wouldn’t want that?

Every season, many of us do things like go through our clothes and toss out the things we once wore but just don’t fit anymore or we’ve outgrown. Your characteristics, skills and qualifications, likes and dislikes are exactly the same. Like clothes, you can get new ones, toss out old ones, and some you might keep but don’t use very often.

If you are unemployed, pause long enough to think about doing your own inventory to find out who you are at the start of 2013 and what makes you tick. If you do this exercise, you’ll feel so much more confident going into an interview when they say, “So tell me about yourself”.