Let Go The Bitterness And Resentment

Are you or is someone you know carrying around resentment and bitterness; directed perhaps at a former employer or someone who you feel betrayed you? If  you are, I imagine they’ve changed you in ways you are both aware of and yes in some ways you are oblivious to.

The significant thing about carrying around these negative feelings towards others is that it’s unhealthy for you; you the person who feels wronged. Ironically, doesn’t it always seem that the person who our bitterness and anger is directed towards seems entirely to have moved on themselves, which as a result only fuels more resentment on our part? Yeah, that can sting and cause the bitterness to linger and fester.

I was talking recently to someone who was fired from their job about 7 months ago now. When we began talking, I was unaware of the fact she’d been fired and therefore eventually asked her what happened in her last job. Just as the words left my lips, I noticed a physical change in her appearance and my ears picked up a change in both the words she was using and the volume in her voice. The fact that she was fired in her last job is to this day still so fresh and the experience so personal that it was clear in seconds she hasn’t found a way to deal with the experience and resolve it in her own mind. The rawness of what happened 7 months ago obviously lies just below the surface of her otherwise calm and professional exterior and just asking triggered the emotional response I experienced first hand sitting across from her.

Like I said earlier, are you yourself or is someone you know similarly affected? If so, it’s essential to eventually come to accept what’s happened, deal with it and move on. Sounds easy to do right? Well, if it’s never happened to you personally it might be hard to understand why someone can’t just pick themselves up, put it down to a bad experience and forget about it. The thing is however, it’s like you’ve been wronged and as a victim you want some measure of retribution, maybe a little karma to come to the person who fired you. There’s the devilish but perhaps immature side of us that might not be all that upset if the person’s car got a mysterious scratch all down one side of it, or if the person themselves was fired. Yes, that would be lovely but don’t go scratching any cars, setting fire to businesses or anything else that will make things worse for you than they already are.

When you first get fired you probably feel some measure of shock. “What just happened?” There’s a kind of paralysis where you just got some news that confuses your sense of order and you stop to process what you just heard. Feeling anger is normal; after all you’re probably fearful of how to cover financial commitments, you’re worried about how to get the next job; wondering how long it will take to work again, and you’ve never been fired before so it’s normal to feel out of your league, confused and disoriented. This is often why it’s best not to say much because you might say things you later regret and wouldn’t otherwise say.

No doubt you might also feel some measure of embarrassment and shame. You may have always thought to yourself that when other people got fired they were either somewhat or totally responsible; they stole, lied, showed up late too often, missed too many days of work, mouthed off etc. and you yourself did none of it. What will your family and friends think of you? What will potential employers think of you? How will you convince them this firing was beyond your control or if you did do something you now regret, how can you convince the employer you learned from the experience and it won’t be repeated?

It’s not uncommon to eventually feel some measure of despair if you’re not hired as quickly as you first thought. Eventually though, you want to arrive at a point where you can acknowledge the termination happened without overtly showing or revealing bitterness and anger. After all, while you are entirely allowed to feel hurt by the process, you don’t want this potential employer you are sitting in front of to experience your negativity first hand. This could be an unpleasant side of you they don’t ever want to have in their workplace and they’ll wonder if this isn’t you on a regular basis; which of course it typically isn’t right?

If the job you were fired from was a short-term position, you may wish to leave it off your resume entirely. It isn’t mandatory to have it on your resume so the question of why did you leave doesn’t even come up. It will create a gap which you will need to address if asked, but with some coaching you can come up with a much more positive response.

Let go of the bitterness and anger because it just isn’t healthy or worth it to carry it around. You may find that others (especially those closest to you) will notice and appreciate your change in attitude, behaviour and you’ll be nice to be around.

In other words, you’ve grown and risen above the experience. Well done. You’ll get there.



Should I Add Short-Term Experiences On My Resume?

When you have a short-term experience, you might be wondering whether to put it on your resume or not. The answer to this question isn’t a straight yes or no but rather depends greatly on a few things.

The basic question you need to ask yourself is will it be a positive or negative for the people deciding whether or not to have you in for an interview in the jobs you apply to. Now, while you can’t know for certain one way or the other, there are some key things that will give you a pretty accurate guess as to which way they’ll view the addition or omission of the experience.

First of all what was the nature of the experience itself? Was it a one-time volunteer experience such as being a helper in a local Terry Fox Walk For A Cure For Cancer fundraiser? The benefit of this experience or one like it is that it demonstrates your community involvement, your willingness to donate your time and the cause itself is one just about everyone can get behind. If you are out of work, it also shows you’ve done something productive with your time. A one day donation of your time doesn’t detract from your real goal which is finding paid employment and could translate into part of a good answer as to how you’ve been using your time since your last job in a future interview.

On the other hand, a one day volunteer experience may seem trivial and really stretching things if you try to make it out to be something bigger than what it is; especially if the experience is unrelated to the job you’re going for now. Volunteering for a few hours at a local charity car wash won’t likely win you much credit if you’re competing to get an interview for a job on a construction site. It depends also on the person deciding on who to have in for interviews doesn’t it? Do they themselves support the causes you do or see the merit in volunteering at all or not?

Be cautious about short-term jobs that end badly. Getting dismissed from a job that only lasted two months because you couldn’t meet the job requirements may be a big risk and do you more harm than good on a resume. The question, “Why did you leave your last job” could have you fumbling and revealing more than you think leading to an overall negative impression on the potential employer. I lean toward dropping the experience from the resume and eliminating the need to reveal anything about the poor ending.

Suppose however you’ve taken a seasonal contract job working in retail at the local mall; or you’re one of Santa’s elves in a photo session for Christmas. The end of the job is a foregone conclusion and has nothing to do with performance. This on a resume is often a positive as it demonstrates your ability to obtain work and the good habits that go with working (punctuality, responsibility and routine). You can make the case that this experience was one you took to pay some bills and tide you over as a short-term activity but you’ve turned to focus on your true passion; and you follow this statement by naming the position you’re applying for now.

The downside of leaving a position off your resume – volunteer or paid – is that it creates a gap. “How do I explain this gap on my resume?” is the concern you may have. Depending on the length of that gap, you could say you took some time to detach yourself from the workforce to figure out what you really want to do with your life. Yes you could have gone out and got just any old job but you decided instead your next job wasn’t going to be a job at all but rather THE job for you. Of course you have to know why this job is such a great fit.

If a job ended positively and you have good references you’re likely less concerned about short-term jobs on the resume. However, drawbacks to even good experiences could include both the salary of the job and the level of responsibility you had. If a job was 6 months or less and you were paid a minimum wage, you might be concerned about the interviewer assuming you’ll work for less. You might also think about them having a simplistic understanding of what the role you did and if you’re overselling the complexity of the job, they might wonder if you’re up to doing a job with considerable more responsibility with them.

Short-term experiences do keep you connected to people, maintain good work habits and in some cases bring in money. They can also be a way to rebuild self-worth, feel good about yourself after a negative experience and get some current experience on a resume complete with references. Therefore they can be good for the mind and the body making you more attractive to other employers.

If you’re still concerned about whether or not to include short-term experiences on your resume, have a personal, no-cost conversation with an Employment Counsellor or Job Coach.  Not only will they help you decide whether it’s in or out, but they should be able to help you with the wording on the resume and draw out the transferable skills you acquired in that experience.



New Job? Here’s To Passing Probation

When you’ve been unemployed, passing the interview and receiving a job offer is a rewarding experience. Whether it’s a fist pump, a call to you mom, dinner out with the spouse/partner, or celebrating with a drink raised to you by friends, you’re bound to be excited.

You should feel good of course, and sharing this moment of triumph with the people closest to you who know what it’s taken to get to this point makes sense. These people are happy for you but also relieved themselves of the stress your past unemployment placed on them.

You may be so grateful for this latest opportunity that you plan on never being out of work again; never wanting to feel the shock of being fired, the shame of being walked out of the building and the embarrassment of coming home early and explaining why you’re there. Well good for you. However, before you throw out your resumes and job search materials, thinking you’ll never need them again, make a really good decision and that’s to hang on to it all. Store it safely away where it’s near at hand if and when you need it.

In almost every job you’re facing a period of probation; that period of time when you or the employer can walk away from the relationship with no explanation required. That sounds like a good thing unless of course you want to stay and the employer says, “It’s just not working out here.” While that sounds like it could be something you hear early in a personal relationship, the employer usually goes on to say one more thing that separates them from the dating scenario; “It’s definitely you not us.”

If you want to pass probation, (let’s assume this is a given shall we?), here’s a few pointers:

1. Show Up. You’re now accountable for your time and even if you have valid excuses for running late or being absent, the company still has work to be performed and customers to serve. Some people who have been out of work for an extended period find it difficult to get the body and mind back into a committed routine; don’t be one of them!

2. Re-think Social Media. Now that the company has brought you into the family, your actions and behaviours are going to reflect positively or negatively on not only you but also their reputation. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or co-workers to see or read. A rant on the internet about your idiotic boss will likely find its way to their attention.

3. Be Reliable. Consider the fellow who tells all his co-workers about the wild times he has getting loaded every weekend and then calls in regularly on Mondays with various reasons for his absence. This is a sure way to lose your job fast. Remember that probation is presumably you on your best behaviour. If this is you at your best, what will you be like after probation? You might not get the opportunity to show them how bad you can really get.

4. Be Friendly. Now whether you’re outgoing, shy, timid or an introvert, everyone can go about their day being courteous and friendly. You don’t need to meet workers after the job for drinks, hang out with those having personalities which overwhelm you or smile all day long if that’s unnatural for you; but do be friendly. It’s not just your qualifications and skills being evaluated, it’s the chemistry you’re making with those around you and how everyone performs with you in the workplace.

5. Take Direction.  You’re not the boss; well, unless of course you are the boss. Listen. There is likely a reason why things are done the way they are. If you’re asked for your suggestions that’s fine but pay close attention to how your ideas are received. Learn quickly to hold off on your brilliant suggestions and watch your words as you suggest the things you do. A sure-fire way to find yourself unemployed is to say on your 5th day, “Who’s the idiot who came up with this policy?”

6. Be Helpful. You just might find that while your own job takes top priority; and it should, there may be moments here and there to be helpful to others in completing theirs. Small things like picking up papers someone has dropped, holding the door for colleagues no matter their gender and learning as quickly as you can so your trainer can get back to doing their own job full-time.

7. Listen. You’re the newbie and your knowledge of the organization, their practices, policies, organizational structure, and workplace dynamics is the worst not the best in the organization. Listen with a goal of reducing the number of times someone needs to repeat themselves during your training.

8. Dress The Part. You may be tempted to thrown on your ACDC t-shirt and cords after the first few days on the job because you noted one other employee standing in line in the cafeteria was wearing something similar. Don’t do it! Dress with care and attention each day. You’re not trying to show up your co-workers but rather demonstrate that you understand the dress code and respect both it and those around you with whom you interact. If you’re not sure, ask.

There are lots of things you can do to hasten your termination or pass probation with flying colours. What would you add to the list?

Job Loss; A Sad Story

Yesterday I had an unscheduled meeting with someone I’d been working closely with about two months ago as she went about looking for work. As she approached me I could quickly surmise that she had bad news to share from both the surprise of her visit and her body language.

Only seconds after she dropped into the chair across from me, she began welling up and then crying as she had lost her job as a Housekeeper with a large hotel chain. Now you might dismiss her situation as not all that big of a deal; after all, there are many hotel chains to work with and she lost an entry level job. Give this a second thought; it is a big deal.

You see prior to working together, she had been unemployed for about 10 years. The prospect at that time of finding employment didn’t seem very good to her; after all, ‘who would want me?’, she used to say. After working together for only 5 days she got not 1 but 4 job offers and was ecstatic. However that was then and this is now, so what happened?

In brief, it appears that the employer decided that after having had a complaint lodged against her, it was far easier to terminate her employment while in the probation period than it was to hear her side of the story at all and deliberate on whether to retain her services or not. That is telling of this chain and their commitment to their staff.

I get ahead of things though. The hotel guest was a frequent one; staying for days at a time when he took a room. Upon meeting up with him in the hotel hallway while performing her job, she inquired if he would like cleaning services one day as he had declined services on the day before. While he indicated that he would indeed like his room cleaned, he himself did not vacate the room. Now between you and me, I don’t remain in the room when service is being completed. For one, I’m in the way. As for the employee, I’m not only a nuisance for them to work around, I’m also putting the two of us in an awkward position by being there together so I ensure I’m always out of my room.

The guest apparently asked of her some inappropriate questions that should have been red flags; asking about whether prostitutes still frequented the hotel and whether she’d like to party with him sometime. These are entirely inappropriate and very suggestive and leading questions from which you can draw your own conclusions. As she was finishing up the room she excused herself hurriedly saying she had only two more rooms to go and then she’d get off early for the day. To this the guest replied that as she was off early, maybe they could party after she was done.

As she left for the day she and he made visual contact which communicated to him that she wasn’t in fact going to be partying with him and she returned home. Late in the evening, police showed up at her home stating the guest was accusing her of stealing $10,000.00 from his room which threw her into a state of panic, confusion and shock. She called her employer immediately and relayed what had happened and asserted her innocence.

Next came the notice of dismissal; no chance of an explanation, no ‘we stand behind our employees’ moment, and bottom line no job. While unionized and paying union dues, no union representation as she hadn’t got past probation yet. Great situation right?

Can you imagine her anger against losing her job and having no recourse to explain or defend herself? The shame of being fired from a job which while maybe not YOUR dream job, was one she was good at and really enjoyed. In fact, she had previously told me how much she loved working with the other Housekeepers and had been told she was doing a great job.

Well, at this point she was telling me how much effort it had taken her to come in and tell me face-to-face because she didn’t want to let me down. What? Really? On top of a bad experience, here she was not wanting to disappoint her mentor and coach. Amazing! Anyhow, I assured her I believed her and believed in her; that she had got 4 job offers after applying the ideas I’d shared with her and that she could do so again.

She was also so anger about how easily someone could make an allegation and ruin another person’s life; that maybe legal action was necessary to prove her innocence and make sure this didn’t happen again to someone else. Was the $10,000.00 just a ruse because she had not taken him up on his advances? Was there ever any $10,000.00 at all or had he gambled it away at some nearby casino and needed an excuse? Who knows? My advice was forget any lawsuit and move on.

With only 2 months spent in the job, best keep it off the resume altogether so the, ‘Why did you leave your last job?” question isn’t asked and start fresh.

Too bad these kind of situations come up and are real but they do. Hopefully together we can get her back working soon. Be careful out there people.


The Stigma Of Being Fired

You’ve been fired. Why is it that the word, “fired” hits like nothing else. It’s like being on the receiving end of a baseball right between the eyes. It can knock you back or knock you out. The word itself is only 5 letters long but if you’re the one who has been fired, it cuts us to the core; the more we valued or loved our job from which we got fired, the more intense the pain.

Getting fired is so much worse than getting laid off or quitting isn’t it? I mean if we quit, we were in full control of the situation and it was us that made the decision to walk away. We had time to think about whether we’d quit or not, we chose the timing and we had alternatives ready to put into place so the leaving wasn’t so bad; things were on our terms.

Being laid off isn’t as positive as quitting, because we are out of work when we’d rather be working and joining the ranks of job searchers wasn’t in our plans. However, a layoff is beyond our control, the employer made a decision to downsize; there was a shortage of work, the company relocated etc. In any event, we wanted to work and by all accounts were doing a good job but the situation was in the hands of those in higher authority than us, and they decided to reduce the workforce. Whether we were the only one let go or there were others let go, our performance isn’t necessarily an issue, it could be the economy, a change in the owner’s finances or lifestyle, a political move or the company just shut down.

Getting fired however; that’s a whole different thing. There’s the stigma that comes attached to it which we feel compelled to explain to anyone – and everyone – that we tell we were fired. We want to scream, “It wasn’t my fault! Listen! Just listen to me and hear me out and you’ll see I’m not such a bad employee (translation I’m not a bad person). It’s exhausting isn’t it? We tell our spouse, our kids, then our parents, then the closest of friends and we hope everyone will understand and not think the worse of us. We can only tell our side of the story but we want everyone we tell to believe us entirely when we say we had a mean boss that was out to get us, or we really were doing a good job and don’t know why they fired us.

Deep down inside though, we wonder if we are really being believed. Would we automatically believe our closest friends and still think the very best of them if they told us they were fired? Might we wonder about how much of the situation was indeed their fault? Maybe that strong attitude they have got them into trouble or now you wonder about their actual skills and abilities…just a little anyhow. So now you wonder; what are they thinking about me?

We get angry too. We’re out of work, have lost an income, feel shamed with this label of being fired, and the people we worked for weren’t the best. Maybe they cut corners, did shady deals, favoured some staff over others (and we obviously weren’t in favour!), didn’t even know the business as well as we did, or they used us for our knowledge then cut us loose when they had got everything they could from us; we were just used and abused. Maybe too we were fired because we couldn’t or wouldn’t bend the rules or take advantage of our customers.

When you’re fired, it’s frustrating too because we have to move on and get a job, but we can’t vent in a job interview and tell the interviewer how we are really feeling. No, we have to take the high road and speak well of the employer who sacked us for fear of coming across as someone to stay away from and not hire.

It makes getting any kind of employment insurance harder to get if we can get any at all after being fired too. It all just seems so unfair and things are stacked against us! Hey, what YOUR feeling is normal; sad as that is to say, you’re feeling what most people feel when fired. Although small consolation, know that more and more people these days get terminated so the stigma attached to it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

Before you go job searching, make sure you are prepared to answer the interview question, “So why did you leave your last job?” or the, “What would your previous employer say about you?” question. You will have to master the ability to address both these questions without anger and bitterness surfacing which will hurt your chances.

Maybe one strategy is to get an entry-level job beneath or outside your career goal, just so THAT job becomes your LAST job in terms of answering these questions in an interview. You could also bite the bullet and contact the employer who fired you and ask that if contacted they provide only your start and end date and give no reference beyond that positive or negative. If you had good performance appraisals you could use these as proof you did well in the last job – so take yours home now if you’re still working and don’t keep them in the office.

Unemployed: The Emotional Toll

Let’s dive right in. You’re growing increasingly isolated from your friends, bills aren’t getting paid in full, savings are a thing of the past, skills are outdated, references are becoming harder to get, and you’re cutting both cable and the land line while eating a lot less healthy foods. Your psyche is becoming more fragile, your swagger like your clothes has long since stopped being trendy, your self-respect betrayed by a conscious decision to hide the weigh scale in the rear of the bathroom cabinet. Yes, there’s a lot of baggage you’re carrying around with this unemployment.

When it first happened, whether you walked away, were laid off or were terminated, you couldn’t have predicted you’d be out of work so long. “Not me”, you asserted with confidence; “I’ll be working soon. In fact, I’m going to actually give myself a little well-deserved break from work before rushing into my next job.” That ‘well-deserved break’ has long since gone from a break to what seems like a permanent reality. Things are different than they used to be when you’d be able to get yourself a job anytime you felt like it.

The television, once a source of entertainment and relaxation is now a diversion. It’s become a way to escape the prevailing thoughts of failure that are more and more prevalent, day in and day out. All the canned laugh tracks in those sitcoms that once got you laughing along now seem less funny as if they mock your idleness. Even the couch that you loved to lounge on no longer provides the comfort it once did, as you feel the guilt of inactivity every time you sit down for more than 20 minutes. So you stand and pace with nowhere to go, nothing to do – except feel so tired you just want to lay down on the couch again.

Being out of work does much more than drain the bank account. In fact, when you first find yourself out of work there are usually financial support systems already put in place to stave off financial hardship such as severance, employment insurance and if need be, government social assistance. The same is not necessarily true however for the emotional and mental strain of being unemployed. It’s this assault on your mental health that often goes unattended to, and failing to recognize the impact on your mental stability that arises from being out of work for a prolonged period of time, or failing to do anything about it can take an emotional toll with life-long implications.

There are for example some people who, having been out of work for an extended period, eventually regain employment and to all accounts have regained mastery over their mental health. The same individuals however may upon having those memories triggered, re-experience the stress without the loss of work. Being called into the office of the boss or an average performance review could set into motion some fears that the person thought they had left behind but in reality have just been dormant. Even hearing of others who are out of work; a relative of a co-worker who is struggling – any such reminder can bring the past crashing back to the present depending on how severe the person experienced their own unemployment.

On the positive side, we change jobs more frequently than in the lives of past generations. No longer is it common for people to retire from the job they started in their 20’s. So with more people experiencing the transition from one job to the next, the stigma of being out of work is not as rampant as it used to be. It’s still personal when it happens to you of course, and this doesn’t diminish or make light of your own experience, but unemployment is an experience that many around you have shared. Talking openly then about your unemployment will have more empathetic ears than in years past. In other words, if you talk about it, you’ll find understanding instead of condemnation.

Another good thing is that because more people are experiencing job loss, there are more supports in your community than in the past to help in the transition from your past job to your next job. There’s employment coaching, mental health counselling, financial planning, debt consolidation and restructuring and more services to help you deal proactively with your specific predicament. Look, you can’t be expected to be an expert in all areas of life. You’re good at what you do, and it stands to reason there are other people who are specialists in their work. Getting professional help to stabilize things at a time when you may not make the best decisions due to the strain you are under is a good move.

There is for many, a natural tendency to cocoon themselves from the world; hide unemployment and its impact from others, deal with it alone and then emerge transformed into something anew. This can work for some people. However, sharing what you’re experiencing could also lead to opportunities, job offers, leads, contacts; all of which could reduce your time out of work. This isn’t a time to let your pride rule the day. If a friend offers to pay for lunch, let them; they may not have any other way to be helpful. You’re going to get through this, and you’re not alone; help is out there.

Giving Your Best Vs. Being The Best

Only one person can truly be called the best. The term, “the best”, is actually losing it’s meaning in everyday conversation when you overhear someone saying things like, “Oh you’re the best friend ever”, or “This is the best ice cream ever”. Those people don’t really mean they’ve compared friends and ice creams and are making it official. They simply mean the friend is a really good friend; the ice cream tastes really good.

However, in the world of business and employment, there are ways to measure who is the top Salesperson, the team with the most consecutive days worked without an accident or the employee who produces the greatest number of defect-free products. These are examples where one person can truly be said to be the best and there is evidence to back up those statements.

However, giving your best may mean that while you don’t sell the most, or you still have an accident or produce products with defects, you improved on your performance and have had better results than previously. So yes your best resulted in an increase of 7% over last months totals; still short of the actual sales numbers of the top Salesperson, but your numbers when compared to your past numbers are higher.

It is the norm in some organizations to ensure that each person has an individual target for performance that is measurable and achievable for that one person. If the top Salesperson in a company is regularly selling 20 cars a month, surely 20 cars a month is unrealistic for someone who is just starting out. They might be given an initially target of 3 cars the entire month, and that number would be adjusted as their experience and skills improve.

Other companies do give the same targets to every employee no matter how long you’ve been there. When it comes to safety on an assembly line, all employees might be collectively working towards days with zero accidents. Telling one team to work accident-free and telling another team of relatively newer employees that 4 accidents a month is okay for them isn’t likely. They all work accident-free or they all start at day one again the day following an accident. It’s a collective target.

Now giving your best is something that everyone can achieve and be recognized for. The targets vary for performance, and each person is compared not to others in the workplace, but to their past performance. You sold 3 cars last month, your new target is 5. What other people are achieving isn’t factored in to your performance. You’re expected to give it your best, and if your best fails to result in targets the company sets, you can still be released, it’s just a case of your best falls short of their needs.

Take a Call Centre. They may have expectations that the length of your calls be a certain length, that you answer a certain volume of calls, sell a number of products or services on those calls. Your performance may be better than any other employee for the month – making you the best. Your performance numbers may actually be quite a bit lower than those at the top, but your best might show an improvement over the previous week, and you’re improving; your best is getting better.

Giving it your best may mean improving on your attendance, working with more focus and fewer distractions, investing in the training opportunities you are provided with, and generally putting more energy into your job.

You find in some organizations where all staff in a job classification receive identical pay each week that there is a noted difference nonetheless in the actual performance of employees. Some are truly invested in their work, strive to do better than they have in the past, etc. Others in that same role might not be as committed to working beyond what they have to do to keep their jobs. They all get the same pay, but some are giving it their best and some are not. One of the most frustrating things for Management might be getting the best out of each employee when pay is identical regardless of experience and skills.

If you want to find value in what you do, go home happier at the end of the day, and enjoy your work more when you are at your workplace, giving it your best is recommended There are many who sleep better and longer, nodding off with a smile on their face content with knowing their best was achieved that day. When we don’t give our best the obvious question to ask is, “Why aren’t we giving our best?”

My point here has not to do with that question, but more with encouraging us – yes I include myself here) to give our collective best each day. While some of us are motivated to win the title of, “The Best _______ ever”, I think a far greater number of people are better off being recognized for giving it their best.

If giving it your best is less than what an employer needs, being terminated and released means your fit with that kind of work or that specific employer was wrong. If you find yourself released or terminated and you know you didn’t give it your best, you should own up to that too and learn from the experience.

Strive to be your best – perhaps starting today and see where it takes you.



Be Honest On The Resume

I was reading last week an article that was providing results from a survey of Canadian employers, and what they looked for on a resume, the formatting choice, the desired length etc. One of the key results was employers overwhelming desire that applicants be honest on their resume and indicate why they left employment positions.

That information struck me in two ways. On the one hand, I could definitely see why an employer would want to know the circumstances under which an applicant for a job they were posting left other employers. There could be patterns of quitting or being fired, or a string of contract jobs, or things beyond the applicants control.

Yet, for the applicant themselves, they may have extenuating circumstances that preceded their decisions to move on. If indeed they were fired from a job, their last job; they might be better off gaining the interview by leaving this out on a resume, and hoping to win the employer over in a face-to-face interview. The resume after all is only designed to get you in the interview chair, but it does become the center attraction in the interview and the point of reference both parties should be referring to.

A long time ago, I can remember the days where each job did have a, “reason for leaving” line by each job. When you left one job for another, as in the case of a promotion, or to re-enter work in your field of academic education, it was never a sore point with applicants. But for the person who was fired or terminated with cause, it was like putting a rope around your own neck and simply asking the interview to please kick out the chair you were offered in the interview upon which to sit.

To be clear here, you could hardly give reasons for leaving some jobs and not others. That would only look like you were covering something up (which you were), or you had terrible attention to detail and were inconsistent. No, the advice you’d likely get would be to leave all the reasons for leaving off your resume.

There’s another kind of applicant that could benefit possibly from giving reasons for departing employers on their resume, or even in the cover letter. This is the applicant who has had numerous jobs, often referred to as the job-hopper. While on the negative side it might look like a person is in front of you who can’t hold a job for very long, it could also be that their plan up to now has been to accumulate varied experiences, and they’ve settled on a long-term career and plan on making just such a commitment to you if hired.

Now is leaving out reasons for leaving any job dishonest? I for one don’t see it that way. In my own cover letter, and those I help others write, I almost always make a statement about WHY I want to work for an employer, and why I’d be a good fit. That, ‘good fit’ usually draws on my past experience, and that experience is specific to me and makes me unique.

Up for discussion are the reasons behind the past decisions I’ve made to leave employment; and it could be that some of those departures were for reasons beyond my control; lay-offs, closures, re-locations, changing requirements of employers etc. So knowing that I haven’t included such information on a resume should have me ready to answer such questions in an interview.

Surprisingly, I often sit down when working 1:1 with a job seeker, and when I ask them why they no longer stayed employed with various employers, and it’s telling to either hear them give a short and confident answer, or look uncomfortable and stumble along in the answer. Can you tell from that observation which jobs they left on good terms and which they left on poor terms? Sure you could; and if you were an employer you could then too.

So right off the bat, make sure you have a good solid answer to the question, “Why did you leave your last job”? heading into an interview. If you left on poor terms, (you were fired), you would really benefit from sitting down with an Employment Counsellor and telling them the complete truth – no omissions. Then together, construct an answer that is truthful, but concludes with a positive; what you learned from the experience, how it was a bad fit right from the start outside your traditional field of work etc.

I once had for example a guy I was working with to prepare for employment. “Why did you leave your last job?”, I asked. “Went to jail.” That was his entire answer. In that instance, we looked at what he’d done, why he’d done it, the circumstances surrounding the situation he was in, and the likelihood of repeat offending. Then we ended up with an answer that was truthful, but instead of a 3 word blunt statement with nothing positive, he gave an answer that was honest but ended on a positive and repaired damage from the initial statement. He was also given multiple options for answering the question; it being his decision on how to answer based on the interviewer.

Sure, be honest on your resume; especially if you have, ‘honest’ as one of your strengths on it! But understand that you have control over what you share and don’t on the resume, and what you leave out doesn’t make you dishonest.

Yes You Need To Talk To The Person Who Fired You

Okay so you’ve been fired. Let’s call it what it is even though it stings.

If it’s just happened, your feeling shock and now is not the best time to really talk with your ex-employer because you’re probably more emotional than rational. But you do need to talk to the person soon, say after a week or two when the reality of your situation has sunk in.

And the reason for needing to talk to that disgustingly small-minded idiot who doesn’t know anything about how to run a company? WAIT! Okay maybe you need an additional few days before you have a little chat because you just don’t seem quite ready for that yet!

Now that you’re more in control of your words and your behaviour, let’s look at what’s to be gained from talking with your past employer. It’s not to get your old job back, nor is it to defend yourself against their decision or get them to change the reason you are no longer working there on your Record of Employment form so you can collect Employment Insurance or whatever the benefits are called in your country.

One of the things you are looking to do is move on and move ahead with as little damage to your reputation as you can salvage. In the future, you might find yourself in a position to need a reference from the person who directly supervised you in your last job, and it could be this is the person who sacked you. But be warned, companies and employers often want you to just go away and leave them alone. They are cautious about giving you any feedback or even talking to you because you may be launching action against them for wrongful dismissal.

With respect to a reference, of course you aren’t going to get a hearty endorsement. No, if you were fired because of performance issues, what you are really looking for in this respect is confirmation from your employer to a perspective employer of your work history; first day and last day. Yes you really did work there. Some companies actually have this as a policy now whether you left on bad terms or excellent terms. They just protect themselves from action in the future for either referring on a bad apple or a gem who doesn’t work out in their next job but was hired based in part on their recommendation.

The next thing you should find out is how your termination is going to affect you if you plan on continuing to look for work in the same industry and in the same general area. How well-connected is your employer with other companies? If your boss meets bi-weekly with his peers from other companies, you can guess that one of their discussions may get around to you if you are applying to work somewhere else. And while you can’t be there to defend yourself, you can minimize the damage by having a conversation.

So what would you say? Well for starters, you’d want to assure your former boss you aren’t hoping to win back your job, you’re sorry things didn’t work out and you take responsibility for your actions. This may come to them as a pleasant relief, instead of having you rant and rave about how you were entirely blameless. Next you bring up the subject of needing to find employment to support yourself, and then you ask if the person would be willing to confirm your employment dates. You aren’t looking for a glowing reference, but the sooner you find employment the better things will be for both you and the ex-employer, because people will stop calling them for a reference on you.

Note in the last sentence the appeal for the ex-employer. You get a job and people stop calling them about you and you yourself stop calling. They of course just want you in the rear view mirror, and honestly, that will be good advice for your mental health as well.

And here’s the thing. If your employer chuckles and says anything suggesting they’ve got you right where they want you and they’ll do nothing of the sort and bad mouth you to anyone who will listen, you need this information too. Politely indicate you’re sorry they feel that way and end the call. Now armed with that information, you’ll need to carefully compose a good answer to the anticipated interview question, “Why did you leave your last job?” or, “How would your previous boss describe you?”

If you have had good performance reviews in the past and have copies of these documents at home, you have some ammunition to demonstrate your good performance. In an interview, you may have to acknowledge you were terminated in your last job and briefly state why to demonstrate your honesty and integrity. It’s equally important to pass on what you learned from the experience, and not show your anger or bitterness. Turn the answer back to your strengths and skills and don’t dwell overly on your termination. Be in control of your emotions!

Being sacked is tough; talking to your ex-employer may be tougher. But doing it with dignity shows your maturity, wisdom and if you need a boost to your self-esteem, you can demonstrate to yourself and them how you won’t be baited into over-reacting, and can conduct yourself with class in a sensitive and raw time of your life.

Losing Employment In December

Losing employment is rough no matter when it happens, unless of course whatever you are falling back on is better than the employment you had. Losing a job in December however can magnify the grief, depression and sometimes humiliation. In the blog today, I want to tackle this situation and offer some perspective.

Of course not everyone celebrates Christmas, and whether you do or you don’t, you will still likely encounter all kinds of people around you who are more upbeat, happy, optimistic and walking around whistling or singing jolly Christmas songs. You’ll hear the happiness on the radio where some stations are only playing Christmas tunes, you’ll find your regular television shows replaced for Christmas specials, and you’ll have people wishing you a merry Christmas in shopping excursions.

All this merriment at a time when you are feeling vulnerable due to recent unemployment can create such anxiety and heighten feelings of failure to such degrees that people sometimes feel no option but to resort to all kinds of poor coping behaviours. Some will drink to forget, take drugs to mask emotions, closet themselves away from family and friends, cancel any house parties they were giving, and some unfortunately will go so far as to commit or attempt suicide; an extreme and final choice of avoidance. Movies such as A Wonderful Life have tackled this issue too.

It’s normal to feel negative and down after losing employment, and it’s common to just about anyone who experiences job loss. What can make the situation appear magnified of course is that at this time of year, people are encouraged to be merrier, friendlier, more giving and happy than at any other. Amid all this merriment and happiness, you might be dealing with some pretty dark feelings including anger, fear, lack of self-worth, shock, depression, and denial if it’s happened recently.

What troubles many too of course is the expense of Christmas on top of everything else; trying to keep things as normal as any other year, especially in the case where children are concerned. I’ve known some people to return presents purchased for others to try and get money back, go without a Christmas tree, and sell furnishings and household items to make a buck or two. Understandable in some situations as people try hard to cope and normalize their experience.

One way to look at things is to realize that the year is ending, and while the new year might find you unemployed, if the job you had wasn’t your dream job anyhow, perhaps it might be a good thing in the long run to have been fired from a job you hated but wouldn’t have left on your own until forced out. You may not realize or accept this until you start another job, or look back in a few years. You might years from now say, “Remember that Christmas of 2012 when I got sacked during the holidays? I thought the world was ending but you and me…we’re survivor’s. Now look at us”.

While your personal situation has temporarily turned bad, objectively you should remember that businesses go on 12 months a year; meaning there are hires and fires happening all the time. Some industries shut down over the holidays and others gear up, some fields continue to need people year-round as in the Medical profession, Social Services or Education, while for others like Retail, Construction and Campground Operator’s the lay-offs are high.

December and early January might mentally be a good time to take stock. Do an inventory of your skills, your interests and your contacts. Rather than rushing out to just get a job, perhaps a short break would help you take larger steps forward next month. Don’t stop everything of course; but getting your resume up-to-date and lining up references is sound advice at any time of the year. Meet an Employment Advisor, maybe your Doctor too just to ensure you haven’t got anything happening you can’t manage. Make it your goal to end 2013 better than 2012. Think about the luxury of time you now have to do some upgrading, take a course, meet with a Financial Advisor to get your money situation stabilized.

Losing a job that defined you isn’t likely something to celebrate or feel good about. Please do your best to stay connected to those around you rather than pulling away. Share your situation with your friends and family if possible and be open to offers of help, even if for a short while. Allowing others to help you and your family out when you really could use some help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of wisdom on your part. Be grateful and appreciative. Think of it like giving your friends a chance to good for others, namely you.

Losing employment in December is not something I’d wish on anyone, but then again, when would I wish unemployment on anyone at all? Doing an inventory of your skills, strengths, positive qualities, interests, values and beliefs may help remind you just how rich you are.

Remember too that if you know someone else in this situation, why not pick up the phone and see how they are doing? Maybe offer to meet over lunch or on the weekend if they are family and lend a hand or make a gift of some money to help them along. Do for others what you’d imagine you’d like done for you if the situation was reversed. It’s caring and being willing to reach out to someone in need, and that’s a wonderful thing to share with your own family.