Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year, New You, New Job

New Year, New You, New Job!!!!!

Well the New Year is upon us and there are a few last minute things I wanted to share for the upcoming year. The time to make New Year’s resolutions is upon us so what are yours? Will it be to go on another diet? Maybe go to the gym? Eat healthier or maybe quit smoking. No matter what you have planned for your resolution make sure that you resolve to kick that job search into higher gear. There are numerous things that you can do to rekindle your motivation in your job search.

  1. A new year means new and exciting opportunities for everyone. The economy shows slow turn around but that does not mean there are not opportunities in the employment world. Now is the time to re-think how you have been looking for employment. Maybe you were just looking on job boards and not networking. Since 80% of jobs are not posted on job sites that tells you that more can be made networking. Dust off that personality, practice that handshake and make a resolution to get out and network more.
  2. Taking time to make a new and improved you is another feature that you can do to have more opportunities. If your resolution is to join a diet club, or a gym, why not take the time to meet others at these activities, talk work with them, get to know them and add them to your network. Taking the time to spruce yourself up with a hair cut or style, some new (newer) clothes, and working on that confidence that every employer wants to see walking into their establishment can help you gain better opportunities.
  3. Seeing someone like a counselor can also help bring back the motivation to continue the job search. With the confidence that counseling can provide the new and improved you can help you succeed. Looking at every resume that was never answered, all the doors that were closed even after an interview or all the “we have decided to go with another applicant as an opportunity rather than an obstacle can help you stay motivated.
  4. Find your cheerleader in life. Everyone has or knows that one person who can turn lemons into lemonade that can see only the best even when the worst is going on. Talk to this person on a daily basis and listen to the positives they share. In this job market I know it is hard to stay positive, but taking the time to list the pro’s and con’s in your personal life will show you that you do have more going for you.
  5. Do not take no for an answer has been something I have heard for years, it shows determination, dedication and a standard of ethics. If an employer says no, then you see on the job board the exact position again, apply for it again then if they say no and it appears again keep trying. If it continues try and network your way in by contact the CEO on LinkedIn or other social networking sites, ask for an informational interview and show them what you know of their company.
  6. Setting daily goals helps individuals to see the good strides they have made daily. Often times we overlook the small steps and daily things that we achieve, because we are to stressed to see the small picture because the “gigantic” picture of being between jobs is clouding our ability to see the small successes we have daily.

Just remember that in this New Year, you can have a new and excitedly improved you, to secure that new job. It is up to you to see if today is going to be the last start you will have to make for bettering yourself and your situation. Happy Motivation!!!! Oh and Happy New Year and New Career.

Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Steps to get Santa to bring you a job during the Holidays

Holiday Job hunting can be a task that some individuals think should not happen. There are 5 tremendous and necessary things to remember while in the holiday season that can help you with employment. Many individuals will tell you that hiring is low during the holidays, or that employers already have their employees for the season. This is not necessarily true. Take these 5 things to heart and you might be pleasantly surprised with an offer by the new year.
  1. Holidays mean parties. Work parties, networking parties and a time to get out and meet people parties. Just because the holiday season is upon us does not mean the job search should stop. Going to events with a friend or spouse will open the doors to new faces and maybe new employment opportunities. Just remember that during these work functions either your work function or a close friends to not hit the open bar and get intoxicated. Remember these individuals are either co-workers or co-workers of someone you know.
  2. Employers had a tendency to look at the road ahead. They may have almost enough staff but if it is a place that hires college students for the season, they will lose that employee after the season and they return to school. Take the time to network with those individuals even if it is a coffee house. Grab a cup and let the networking light shine.
  3. Family gatherings are another great place to find out about opportunities. Remember your family knows the most about you and what you can do. Many people want to keep their pride when at a family gathering and not talk about being between jobs (unemployed). Remember your family pretty much already knows and are there to support you. So when you are asked how the hunt is going, do not try and quickly change the subject but use that opportunity to engage them with any possibilities they might know.
  4. Job sites are being updated daily with new positions and just because it is the holidays does not mean that you cannot score an interview. Make sure you spend the same amount of work hours looking through job sites, networking on LinkedIn, Twitter and even Face book as long as you have a professional Facebook, not a personal one with all the games. Employers do take some days off, but that does not mean on December 26th when they return to the office that they cannot see your resume in response to their ad.
  5. Putting your face in front of a prospective employer is always a good thing. If you find a place you want to work, make sure you go in, find out the slow times of the day, return at the slow time and ask to sit down with the manager, or even just ask to schedule an appointment to speak with them at their convenience. Never try to talk with a hiring manager when it is the busiest time of the day, which will throw their day off.

Taking the time to keep looking for employment over the holidays will show initiative, drive and the go getter attitude that many places look for. If you stop looking over the holidays you might be sabotaging your self and missing out on some great opportunities. The holiday brings out the spirit of giving, so when an employer sees what you can give them it might make it where you get something in return. The elves are not taking a break from working and neither should you. If anything now is the time to hit the search even harder.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

5 Important things to remember after an interview.

You have put in an application, received the call for an interview, put on your best interview outfit, and aced the interview so now what? There are many important things to remember to do after the interview.
  1. The first thing to remember is a Thank you note that should be sent the day you had the interview. This is one part that many do not do. It is extremely important to hand write a thank you note, unless your communication has been through email, but I would still send a snail mail thank you note anyway. It is important to try and personalize it to the interviewer and remember to shine your skills. If there were 2 or 3 interviewers you must send a thank you note to each individual involved in the interview.
  2. It is important that you keep sending out resumes either online, attending job fairs or networking events. The job search should not stop just because you had an interview. In today’s market it could be a month before you hear back from the interview if you hear back at all. Keeping up with the search is vital to your gaining even more possibilities in the job market and even the “problem” of having two possibilities to choose from.
  3. While continuing the employment search it is important to set up mock interviews. Have someone you know will be honest with you to go over the harder questions to see how you respond. This way you will get feedback on how well or badly you answer these tough questions that are thrown at you during the interview. If you were fired from your last job you need to figure a way to put a positive swing to it. I know some might feel strange asking a friend or loved one to interview them, but this way you will have practiced.
  4. Check your resume and references. The worst thing in the world is to put someone down as a reference and have them give you a negative reference. If you left on a positive note ask and see if the employer or co-worker will write a letter of reference. If you left on a bad note inquire with the individual what kind of reference you can expect from them. Do not put family members down as a reference that does not look good.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice. There are multitudes of sites on the internet to help you practice interview questions, formulate cover letters, and be able to see the commonly asked interview questions. Google something like Interview questions or answering the tough interview questions and you will have a world of information at your finger tips. To practice makes perfect right?
 Just remember that even though the interview went well this does not guarantee you a job, keep up the motivation, do not give up hope, and remember things can and will get better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Communication in the work place

Communication in the work place is something that happens every day, but does that mean we know how to communicate with co-workers?  There are several ways that we communicate at work and how many of us are great at these?

  1. Phone etiquette is important. This is normally the first line of communication. It is important to answer the phone professionally. “Stating your name and May I help you” gives the caller a warming reception. Do not answer the phone while chewing food, or taking a drink of something. Make sure you speak in a clear and concise voice. Do not answer the phone in a frustrated tone for that will come across to the caller.
  2. Email is the next line of communication. The problem with Email is that tone cannot be detected and often times words can be misunderstood.  As with the phone write emails professionally. It is difficult if not impossible to type humor into an email. Chain letters and other forwards are not professional at all and can begin to break down the communication between you and your fellow co-workers. It is difficult to write an email with the proper tone, but make sure before you hit send to look it over and see if it is something you would want to receive.
  3. Beware of how you talk to someone in person, knowing how they hear things is very important. If you have friends that you work with and feel that you can talk with on a less professional level you need to remember that you are at work not at home. Watch your tone and language in and around the office. Learn to censor yourself no matter who you are working with. It is also important to learn to speak to your boss in a professional manner. If you are the boss it is important that you speak to your employees with class and dignity.  No one likes to have a boss who yells, does not listen and put’s them down. Remember it is not what you say but how you say it.
  4. Most places of employment have meetings, some places have meetings on top of meetings. To have better communication in these meetings, I suggest having a typed agenda to follow. If it is going to be a “stressful” meeting then know this going in and remember to allow the person speaking to finish before jumping in. There is nothing worse than a meeting where everyone is talking over each other, no one is listening to anyone else and the agenda is not followed. Never verbally attack or put down something a co-worker has done in a meeting. Watch out that you do not get defensive during the meetings.
  5. The most important style of communication is Non-Verbal communication. We all have non verbal communication. Whether it is rolling of the eyes, looking away when someone is talking to you, or speaking to someone else when you are involved in a conversation. These are clues given to the other person that you are not interested in what they are saying. Watch what your body tells others in your day to day interactions.
 What do you say to others on a daily basis, do you communicate professionally or do you complain to other co-workers in a way that can be over heard. When you are frustrated do you show this with your body language, if you are stressed does this show? Make sure you pick up the phone as a professional, do not send “joke” emails, and make sure you give people talking to you the proper respect they deserve and if you do not have time, let them know that you will get back to them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Toxicity in the work place

Toxicity in the work place is becoming more and more common. Personalities click and often times clash. How do you handle working with other employees, co-workers or even a boss who is a toxic part of the work place? When you wake up in the morning and think about going to work do you have a sense of dread because the next eight hours are going to be “horrible”? Can you picture the face or faces of those you hope call in sick just so you do not have to deal with them? Then you might be working in a toxic environment. Learning to deal with your own emotions and trying some tricks to not be effected by the toxicity can help you stress less in this environment. 

  1. The toxic boss can make everyday a horrible experience for some people. The boss who is never happy with the work, or the amount of time put into something can make a work day long. There are examples on blogs all over the world where people discuss the mean things that bosses say to them each day. One way of handling this type of boss is to try and find out where they are coming from with their demands. Take extra time to prepare before sitting down with them. Maybe they are under a lot of stress and the only outlet is you. Maybe they have something going on that you are not privy to because you are “just an employee”.  Maybe they are burned out of their job and might need to move on. No matter what or why if you work to reduce your stress then you can succeed even if the boss is never happy.  It is hard to do but toughen up the skin and try not to take things personally.
  2. The toxic employees are the ones who have been at the workplace for years or decades who feel that nothing is good or that there are a lot of different injustices that happen because they want their way to be the way. You run into them at the water cooler, outside in the smoking area, or in the next cube. You get to hear about all the “crappy” things that the upper echelon is doing to make their lives and jobs harder. These individuals are often hard to deal with because of the years they have with the company and you do not work directly with them. The best thing to do here is not join in on the workplace bashing but just sit quietly and let them rant. The last thing you want to happen is have you grouped in with these individuals and become a problem child like them. This makes a very toxic environment because it can drain the positive aspects of where you work right out of the company.
  3. The toxic co-worker is the hardest to deal with. Whether they are trying to sabotage you or others at the job, saying one thing to your boss and another thing to you, or flat out lying about things, this can make an unsafe and toxic environment. This kind of personality is very difficult to deal with because they are very good at manipulating the supervisor or manager, convincing others that they are great, but leaving others to deal with the aftermath. How does one deal with having a co-worker who is toxic especially if you are working closely with them and cannot get away. The first thing to do is “your job”, and not to allow them to get in the way of that. Do what you can to minimize the interactions with this individual and when they try and sabotage you, set boundaries and let them know it will not work. Even if they lie to the manager about you they will look like the fool in the end.
  4. The last of the toxic possibilities is the toxic self. If you have become frustrated and want to complain about work, you tell everyone who will listen, the horrible aspects of where you work, and have lost that dedication and excitement felt on the first day of work then you might be bringing the toxicity to your place of work. If you want to remain employed there you have to make sure that you change your attitude and do not act out while you are on the clock. Remember every job is not guaranteed to continue from the point you accepted it. If you get fired because of you then you only have you to blame.  Toxicity at work can also create a toxic home life. Be cautious…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Behind the Employment Mask

What is behind the mask of the employment world? I have been thinking about this question for quite a while. I attended the monthly Louisville Metro Re-Entry Task Force Meeting again yesterday and we were discussing how to get more employers involved in hiring ex-offenders.  The discussion was formed around why is it so difficult to help an ex-offender who is trying to rehabilitate but society keeps them down. I have come up with some ideas on why I think that is.

  1. Bias about the offender has to be the number one spot. When most people hear ex-offender they think the worst crime has been committed. They think all ex-offenders are murders, rapists, child molesters and others. It was asked in a class of local social work students if they would “want an ex-offender to move in next to them”. 2 individuals raised their hand because they did not have a problem with it. 1. Was doing an internship with a program that helps ex-offenders and the other was an ex-offender. It surprises me that in the social work field there was that bias. I am not expecting that the ex-offenders I help will be taking the jobs from the non-ex-offenders who are also struggling in communities all around America, but most of those are not looking for warehouse, landscaping, forklift, or janitorial jobs. If we want to help individuals return to society and not return to jail then we must provide some kind of hope for them.
  2. Fear is most likely the second attribute that keeps individuals returning to jail due to not being able to gain work. I have worked with individuals who grew up in abusive homes and homes that selling drugs was almost demanded to keep a roof over their heads, and food on the table. There are a number of individuals who don’t just wake up one day when they are 8 and say “I think I want to be a drug dealer”.  That does not happen, but often times the fear and bias of an individual who is going to do anything to survive that is what their life turns into.  The individuals I work with will tell you, it is not a glamorous life like portrayed on Television, there is a lot of fear, looking over their shoulders all the time, no health benefits.  It is strange that businesses who say they are equal opportunity employers fail to see this. There have been numerous news reports past and present that talk about the church secretary who steals from the books, the CEO of a company who has been skimming off the top for years, Martha Stewart, need I say more.
  3. Thought patterns of the ex-offender also come into play.  There seems to be this idea that if an ex-offender is hired at a place of business that they will commit some crime there. In all reality the ex-offender knows what they have to lose and do not really want to return to jail, it is the individuals at the place of employment who are committing the crimes but have not been caught …Yet… Someone who has been to jail really does not want to return, but it seems society has made it even more difficult for someone who made a grave error in judgment, usually because of drug addiction yes, but given the right to get treatment while incarcerated would help. I challenge any who read this to think about one question. “Have you ever made a mistake?  I am sure the answer is yes. Were you given the opportunity to make that mistake or error in judgment right? Were you forgiven?  Now think if that mistake followed you for the rest of your life and you were shunned because of it, not given a chance to find a job to take care of your family.  Would you do whatever it took to make sure your family survives and has a place to sleep and food to eat?
  4. Discrimination has to be thrown in here. It seems to be an idea that color plays a major part in this. If the white CEO is caught stealing then a trial is given and the public takes sides on deciding the guilt and punishment, usually sending him to Club Jail with golf courses. If a black male is forced to sell drugs to put food in his children’s mouth, then it seems the book is thrown at him. The difference they are both ex-offenders when they get out but which one do you think will have the best chance of gaining employment?

I am not saying that those who commit crimes should not be punished, but once they have paid their debt to society, why must they continue to keep being punished. I heard one person yesterday saying that a national campaign should be started with the idea stating “If you do not want your stuff stolen, then hire and ex-offender so they do not return to the life they had, then return to jail. It costs a lot of tax money to keep placing individuals back in jail. There are tax benefits for hiring ex-offenders, but even that does not seems to help.

Now, back to the question given to the social work students. I bet there are already ex-offenders living in your neighborhood, you just do not know them, or you might know them just not know what they did. Remember crime goes from the ghetto to the upper class neighborhood.

  Last Question for you. “If this were you, how would you want to be treated”?

Monday, October 11, 2010

5 mistakes made on networking sites

5 Social Networking mistakes that are commonly found.

In the world of social networking everyone is online and trying to connect. Many connect from the days of high school, others with their personal group of friends, and some find new friends in the games they play. Social networking is alive and well, connections formed nearly every day. There are 5 mistakes that social networkers make while trying to get their name out there.

  1. Profiles are set up to give people a glance at you, hear the music you like and give an all around connection to things happening in their life. One major mistake people make is to set up that profile and then uploading pictures from the weekend, doing keg stands or just doing something embarrassing. The going trend now is for recruiters and employers to check the social networking sites to see what information comes up about a prospective employee. This is one sure fire way to not be receiving employment calls.
  2. Pictures are another way to set yourself up for failure in the job search world. Having a profile picture that a company would be embarrassed about is a major problem. In every state there are rival football and basketball teams, Why would you want your professional profile to stop you if the employer likes the opposing team. Nothing like an employer seeing an inappropriate picture of you, or even pictures of your children on your site.
  3. Everyone loves friends, we all want to have them and on some sites you can have as many friends as you want. There is one common mistake when it comes to friends. People trying to friend their boss or co-workers. The best way to keep a separation from personal and work life is to keep them separate. It is never a good idea to mix your work life and your personal life. It might not even be your page that can offend a person at work, but the page from another one of your friends. You never know when that one work friend might get mad at you and use something from your page against you.
  4. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows individuals to grow their employment network, learn from recruiters, and hopefully connect with others who can help them find a job. The one issue I have with this is if you try to connect with someone and you do not know them, they will mostly write you off and not accept the invite. The problem with this is if you get reported as not being known by the other individual then the site states" However, recipients can indicate that they don’t know you. If they do, you’ll be asked to enter an email address with each future invitation.” I find this to be a problem on sites where networking is so important. I even set a group up for any and all who wish to join each others network can do so.
  5. The last mistake is not joining discussions or groups to stay up on the latest trends and employment news. I find that not joining in discussions or try to help others in their job search is a huge mistake. To gain help one must first be willing to help. I join as many groups and forums as I can to make sure I have the latest information. I am also up to adding anyone to my network.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

5 Deadly sins of employment

5 “Sins” of job seekers or employees
By Chris Parker

When it comes to job searching or employment there are 5 different wrongs that individuals do to themselves that have a major impact on their success. Think about how often a day you think about work, focus on work or obsess about work. I bet the answer is nearly 12-16 hours a day. Yes that is 8 hours while actually at work or looking for work and 4-8 hours after.

The “Sins” that can break a job and our own success are:

  1. Detachment- The first “Sin” has to do with not being able to detach from the job or job search and have it make its way into your personal life. Maybe you deal with work all day, then have drinks with friends and then the mood of the relaxing drink is flooded with the negative things going on at work or the negative statements about work.
  2. Negative Self Talk- The next “Sin” is the one where the mind becomes our own worst enemy. The mind does not know the difference in what is real or what we repeat to ourselves over and over again to make it real. If there is negative self talk involved in your mind, then the behavior’s will follow and the job can become less fun and exciting
  3. Self Doubt- This is a “Sin” mainly used by job seekers and sometimes used with employees. Self Doubt and negative self esteem has a way of turning our possibilities into failures. It is often found that individuals who do not even try are afraid of failure and success; I believe that not even trying is already a failure. If an individual tells themselves “I am not going to get this job.” “I am not good enough for this job.” “I do not have the skills for this job.”, then they are already making that job outside of their reach.
  4. Dumbing –Down your skills- I have heard of many people who commit this “Sin” to get a job that is below their skill level and not a job they would even want. I know that stress levels are high today due to the economy and many people just want a “job”, but it might not be the right fit.
  5. Gossip- Joining the “cool” crowd is always a persons dream dating back to high school, but sometimes the “cool” crowd is the ones who are being watched at work, spreading gossip and false facts about the business or just unhappy with their responsibilities. These individuals have the way of worming into your mind until one day you find yourself talking negatively about your job, then feeling negatively about it. To avoid this make sure you use positive self talk and remember that every day can be your last day of employment.

I realize that sometimes it is hard to remain positive even in the face of unemployment but remember “things can always get better”.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Are you what you do?

Are you what you do? That is a question that has been asked in many ways. One of the things that we do when we meet someone is ask “What do you do?” As a child people are usually interested in things like “What do you like to do?” “Where did you grow up?” and “What kinds of things are you interested in?” It seems the older we get we begin to live by labels and not by the other aspects of our lives. We grow up being a brother, sister, teenager, graduate, husband, wife, employee, and then somewhere we become the label of what our job title is. When did we become the people who, when we meet someone, the first thing we want to know is “What do you do for a living?” I know that due to employment being scarce and jobs not falling out of the sky, the latest trend is to network, go to networking events and meet other professionals, but even then the other professionals we meet are not receiving the true picture of who we are.

Growing up our friends learned as much about us as they could, probably even knew more about us than our families, but one day we become the label of the job. I think we are the only country that worries about someone’s job title, and maybe that has to do with the concept of “Keeping up with the Jones’s”. Or maybe it has to do with our own ego’s that tell us we are what we do. I find it strange that as a general rule we do spend more time at work, or even doing work from home trying to keep up that good worker status we hand ourselves, when in all reality we are missing out on the rest of our lives. I know work is about money, and money is about affording things, but neither of those can go with you in the end.

For years I was a counselor and was always amazed when meeting with a new client, doing an assessment to find where I could help them and asking them the question “Tell me about your self?” The answers would start flooding in packed full of the labels they have been carrying around with them. I would hear their birth order, who they are married to, and it always ended with “well I am a _____________ worker, or I do _____________ for my job. I can remember numerous times I would ask the question again and request them not use any labels, just to share with me who they are.  I found it staggering the number of people could not tell me anything about themselves. I would ask what sorts of things do they like doing and the number one answer was “well I enjoy my work”

 To have a job is great, to be looking for a job is like a full time job, but where have the labels come from. If you are unemployed and you meet someone, what is your response to the question “What do you do?” I will bet it is “I am unemployed and looking at the moment. Although this is probably correct, I would say I am seeking the perfect fit for me and my skills at the moment. Same answer but a completely different label. People tend to forget that the job will be there after they leave it either by choice or being terminated, so I encourage everyone to find a label less understanding of who they are so that they will be better “employees” in the future. To have a personal life is great just remember to leave personal at home and work life at work and try not to let the two cross.

We are who we are, that was the idea when we were teenagers, and somehow some where we lost that mind set and became a label. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Personal Life vs. Work Life

Having just returned from a short vacation I found myself thinking about a concept to share. I call it Personal Life vs. Work life. There is not a lot of advice in the career world about how to separate your personal life and your work life. Often times an individual will set themselves up either at work or while searching for work by mixing the two lives. There are so many things that can blur the lines and make either finding or maintaining gainful employment. I will be going over some of the major ones (in my opinion of course)

  1. Substance abuse and work performance. There are millions of people who have some sort of substance abuse related issue in the working world. Most if not all employers do require a drug screen before an offer will be made for a job so if you use and illegal drug or over use a prescription drug you might not get out of the starting gate for a job. If you go out and tie a good one on the night before you go to work then your performance might be effected on that job.
  2. Family issues are another major halting point for success on the job or in the job search. Whether you have children and have to make decisions based on their school schedule, not having a sitter, or after school activities you might be limiting yourself to be successful at a job. Yes, most employers listen as you talk about the cute thing that your child did or said, but realistically that is something that should be shared with family and friends. Remember your employer is not your friend, they are your employer.
  3. Elderly relatives’ healthcare related issues are another way to blur the lines of work and home.  As the baby boomers are aging there are a number of health related issues that families have to face. It might be physical health related or mental health related issues. There is the FMLA which helps with certain types of family related issues but it does not generally make an employer happy if you have to take a lot of time off to make appointments, or have to miss work all together.
  4. Personal phone calls at work are generally a bad idea also. When one is at work that is where they need to be and be focused on. If you had an argument with your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbor, child or other family member and they want to keep calling to make their point while you are at work they need to be reminded you are at work. I realize emergencies might arise where one might need to be reached, but a standard rule should be, unless it is an emergency please do not contact me while at work.
  5. Personal email sites are becoming more and more blocked at most job sites, because to many people are trying to check their personal email, sending all those forwards and chain letters and just mainly wasting time allotted for work. I know individuals that cannot seem to live without their Facebook, Myspace, or other social site, but checking these when it is against company policy should be avoided
  6. Dating a co-worker is the largest way to mix work and personal and that is why most employers frown on interoffice dating. If you have an argument at home, and on your way to work, nothing good will come of being in the same office or building because most of the time you need that separation.

A method I developed years ago to keep personal life personal and work life workable was to walk up to the front door of the business, imaging my work/personal time clock and I would imagine I clocked in at work and left personal life outside, then when I left work I clocked out of work and back into personal life. I have known many people who have lost their job because work life and personal life have mixed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Overcoming barriers to have success

Searching for a job is a job within itself. It takes long hours and a lot of patience. People often feel that they are not getting the results they want. They feel more like a failure than a success. I find that success is more about overcoming the barriers that get in our way more so than just having the success handed to us.  I often discuss that if jobs were handed to us like our first car they would be wrecked in no time.  Think about that first car you had, was it given to you, or did you work for it?  If it was given to you what were the chances that you would keep it clean, oil in the engine and not being driven into a ditch.  If you worked long and hard to find that car then you washed it, kept it up, and treated it like new for a long time.

Jobs are a lot like our cars, they help motivate us in many ways. They help us by the things we need, and afford the things we want. So what happens when that job is not there? We have to begin making sure that we work harder to find that job. I hear a question all the time. “How can I stay motivated and find the barriers that are preventing me from getting a job”?

There are several barriers that can get in the way of gaining the “dream” Job we want.

  1. Having a criminal record can be a barrier. It is not one that cannot be overcome, but it will take more time to find the right employer to give you a second chance.  They do exist and do believe in equal opportunity employment.
  2. Pride is one of the biggest barriers in employment we can run into. If you have been unemployed for longer than 6 months to a year, I would have to ask why? Pride becomes our own worst enemy. I know the answers I get mostly. “ I am to good to work” in fast food, customer service, in an entry level job, etc. It might not be the job you want right now, but it might be the job you need to work your way up in the company.
  3. Having gaps in employment or no work history at all can hold you back. I know there are millions of graduates from colleges and universities who have a degree and no experience. The question I get a lot is “Where are the jobs for us”? The answer they are out there but you have to get into the right networking area. It is about who you know, because they know someone else. Gaps in employment might lead an employer to think that you are lazy. I always suggest that if there is a place you want to work and just cannot get employed with, then volunteer. Having volunteer experience looks great on a resume, and might even lead to employment.
  4. Not having the education or training to do the “dream” job or job you want can hold you back. There are multiple ways to gain the training. Numerous accredited schools offer classes online, at night or on a flex schedule so the students can still attend and gain the education. Funding is available in the way of loans or scholarships, and even funds for the non-traditional student (who I think is anyone over the age of 25, but that is my thought).
 These are just 4 out of many, many barriers that we can run into when facing the job market, the economy, or ourselves. Remember to overcome the barriers we have to be ready to jump a few hurdles.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Every job is a temporary job

I was watching an informative video on how to help individuals maintain careers today. It was presented by J.T O’Donnell with and the one major point that stuck out in my mind was hearing “every job is a temporary job”. So this got me thinking about the state of employment today. The United States is an entire nation of temporary workers. Other countries have a much better idea on employee retention. They live in a world of employment contracts. The United States believes that every job is temporary, every employee can be replaced and they can get more out of less people. This mindset proves that not only with temporary employment agencies, but with every employer that retention is not important. Living in an “at will” employment country makes it more difficult to maintain employment. “At Will Employment” means at any time one can be fired for any reason. Now the individual who is fired might never know the reason, they might just walk into work happy as a lark, grab that cup of coffee, and then get the call into the boss’s office just to be told you are terminated.

It seems to be a belief that instead of working with the employee they can just be replaced. I have a few ideas to help the state of the working world that I would like to suggest.
  1. Go to an employment contract state. When a worker signs this agreement the expectations are understood, the rules for management are understood and the employee feels safer with this employer. I think it is more important for an employer to help the employee succeed so the employee can further help the employer succeed.
  2. Remember the time it takes away from others when an employee is fired. HR has to complete a lot of paperwork, they have to send out the job announcement, receive hundreds of resumes to review and dozens of interviews just to replace that individual.
  3. Reach out to the employees and manage them with a more hands on technique. Even if you spent an hour a week just checking in, giving feedback, and helping them train more, the better an employee they will become.
  4. Make sure the employers expectations are known and the job duties desired are being followed.
  5. I would think that employees become less secure and the spider senses begin to tingle when the employee sees and senses that there are secrets being held, or seeing more “secret” meetings between department heads and that just breeds paranoia in the work place.
  6. Give positive feedback when something is done correctly. Giving compliments help an employer get more of that behavior. If you want a child to do something positive reinforcement will get it done faster than negative reinforcement.
  7. Employers, I think that taking 5 minutes out of your day to join the get to work chit chat first thing in the morning or the first coffee break in the break room will show your employees that you see them as people and they can see you as a person.

Even in this economy we can all survive as long as we work together for personal and professional growth.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dress for Success, the old fashioned way

There are several things that go into making a good work ethic. Things that over time individuals learn to either do well or not do at all. One of the major aspects that is often over looked is dressing for success. On the day of the interview everyone dresses in their Sunday finest. The suit is pressed; the tie matches, the dress, hose and appropriate shoes are worn.  Why is it that one the day of the interview people can remember to look their best but on the first days after the dress code slips? I know that often times there are businesses that are business casual, or that are business attire all the time or even that are jeans and polo’s.

It is important to read the policy and procedure manual, ask the bosses, manager or supervisor what the style of dress is for the business. I tell my participants that it is imperative that they know how they are required to dress, even though I still get the ones who have their pants below their cheeks, and the halter tops are out in full force due to the heat. There are a few simple rules to dress like you are a professional:

  1. Suits are often necessary in a business world. It is important to remember that the suit jacket and tie must be worn, no short sleeve shirts under that jacket. Make sure the suit is pressed, cleaned and not smelly from anything. If sweat is a problem then carry a bottle of Febreeze with you.
  2. Business Casual means nice pressed khaki’s and a button down shirt. It might also include a tie but that is for the manager to decide. It means dress shoes and not sneakers. It means dressing down but not sloppy or exposing.
  3. Dresses, skirts and tops are another place to pay attention. Ladies if the shirt is to small and the buttons are going to pop, then that is not the shirt to wear. If it is low cut or close to exposing anything that also is not a shirt to be worn to a job. If it is a shirt you would wear out to the club, I am sure that is not work appropriate. Lastly here is a skirt suggestion.    Sit on the bed or in a chair or anything in front of a full length mirror, look into the mirror and see if you can see anything that others do not need to see. It is not appropriate to wear something that shows your undergarments.
  4. Casual dress even has it’s rules. Casual Friday might mean you can wear jeans, but only on that Friday. On the first day of the job make sure you walk in if not business casual then professional. Let the boss tell you that you can wear jeans and sneakers daily. Do not assume, find out the rules.

If you are an intern at a business and you are hoping for a job at that company I would suggest either professional or business casual only, even if everyone else is wearing jeans. It shows you as a professional and that you are dressing for the job that you want. Remember that when you interview for a job, you can sort of tell what the dress code is in the business but it is more important to ask the boss what the code is so you do not come into work when all the corporate clients are there in their suits and you show in jeans.

Dress for success means dressing at or above the norm, Dress for the job you want not necessarily for the job you have, this will only help you succeed in the long run. To be a professional you first have to look and act like one.

Monday, July 19, 2010

3 P's for job search Success

I heard a quote from, I believe Henry Ford, that said “if you say you can or can’t either way you are right”. I think this holds true for nearly all of us. In looking for jobs, the Job Seeker often begins to doubt themselves. It is a long hard struggle that is often grueling and thankless. Every day, a job seeker spends hours looking to find that one good break on a job, that one perfect job, but often times they become discouraged. Well there are several things one can do to keep up that motivation and keep focusing on the can.

1. Power in people is a good motto to go with. People in our network have others in their network and so on. Finding the right people through that network can help one succeed. I am not saying call all your friends and ask them for the numbers of their friends so you can call them, but I am saying an ear to the ground catches a lot of information.

2. Positivity can only make the hunt better. When we fail to see all the good things that we do on a daily basis, we tend to forget that we are great people with the ability to do anything. I can remember hearing the story about the train that could, that stuck with me, If we continue to say “I think I can, I think I can", you will find out that you can. It just takes drive and determination.

3. Persistence is a major key factor that goes into any job search. If you do not realize that a job search is a full time job then you might be underestimating the world of employment search. So often the individuals I help with job readiness skills tell me that they drop off an application and wait to hear back from the employer. I will ask them what else they do and get the “wait by the phone” answer. Just like the money tree there is not an invisible job tree that grows, waiting for someone to come along and pluck the job from its limb.

The negative mentality that everything is impossible to do will just make it where you prove that right. If I were to agree with a person that a job is below them and they might not be able to do it, then I would be doing them and myself a great injustice. You can do anything you put your mind to, it might take more schooling, it might take more training, it might take learning more skills in that field, but you can do anything you set your mind to.

Our own minds hold us back from succeeding and having the great things we deserve. It is like living in a world blanketed by fear. “You never know until you try” to succeed. It is like looking across a crowded room and spotting a nice looking individual that you might want to talk with, but fear of rejection prevents you from approaching. If we live under that black, ominous cloud of doubt, waiting through life for something to happen to help us succeed, then we will be waiting a long time.

Come up with a game plan, set the goals both short and long, brainstorm like a hurricane blowing in your mind, and take control of the job search, seek and you will obtain the job of your passions, the one you dream about, and the one where every day would be like the first day. Fill the job search with friends and other positive people and remember to never surrender to the negative thoughts. If you think you can you will. If you think you can’t you will never know if you could.

Friday, July 9, 2010

7 Rules to ease the job search woes!!!

Job search woes happen to everyone from one time to another. It is the inevitable dread that one feels when either looking for a job while employed or looking for a job due to being unemployed. The fear and frustration sometimes will set in and then the productivity of the search is compromised. The number one rule is to not have this happen. Do not let it get you down! There are several things to do that can help keep this from happening.

First: Make sure you communicate with those who are supportive. Often times when an individual is dealing with their own stress and fear they produce “tunnel” thinking. That is where they tend to live in their heads and worry. Having a loved one, church, support group or close friend can help make all the difference in ones ability to cope with the search.

Second: Make sure you have a plan set. The way to prevent more added stress and worry is to sit down and come up with a goal list which can be checked off as these minor or major success are completed. Having a plan and even a back up plan can make a world of difference when it comes to figuring out the next steps to the search.

Third: Sit down at the computer and make the first day just finding all the job sites you will be searching for jobs on, and have them bookmarked or written down. Then take a step back and do nothing else for that day but gather your thoughts and brainstorm with those close to you.

Fourth: Ask around to find out any and all networking events or groups that might be happening. Being around others, even those who are experiencing the same dilemma can make the support well received. Now do not get around the angry, “this is not fair” and it was their fault people. That will only drive the negative thoughts deeper into your mind. Only seek out supportive and motivated people.

Fifth: Remember this one mantra, it will get better, nothing but death is permanent. Knowing that you are having a setback take time to realize it is only temporary. Most of the time, we jump into fear mode and have to fix it right then and there. That is not helpful if you do not get yourself in the right frame of mind and that could take 2 days or more. Every positive step you take will only increase the chances of the new job, and lessen the strength of the worry.

Sixth: Take time to make sure everything is completely prepared. Have the Resume nice, neat, up to date, and ready to go. Make sure you have a cover letter that you can change at a moment’s notice to fit the job that you are applying.

Seventh: Make sure you have a little fun during this time. Laughter and friends help center you and prepare you for the upcoming hunt.

Having rules for your upcoming hunt, some fun and a lot of support on top of a plan will help make the transition to a new job or the transition out of unemployment so much easier.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Great E-Book Opportunity

I think that helping out a friend is always important. I know I usually write articles here but here is a great resource to help anyone who wants to see a cover letter and resume book. Go to this link and download this. The individual who wrote it asked for it to be shared.

I hope you enjoy it

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Success or Failure in Job Searching

Success or failure with a job or job search is really up to the individual. There are some do’s and don’ts that go in to being successful both on the job and in the search for employment. Job searching can be a long and drawn out process, even turning into a fulltime job itself. One of the major do’s in searching for a job/career is:

1. Make sure that time is spent smartly. Search both in the morning and in the evening for that next opportunity.

2. Make sure you have all the relevant job sites up and ready to go if you are searching online. I personally have between 60-80 different job sites open all the time when I am searching for a job.

3. Make sure that you have the resume and cover letters tailored to the position and not apply for something that is not even close to your skill set.

4. Make sure you network when not searching for a job online. It is important to get out of the house and away from the computer to reach out to others.

5. Join a local community task force or networking event to further your career.

These are just a few examples of things to do to make your job search more successful. Make sure that you also look into what you are passionate about. It is difficult in today’s economy to find that fit, and the pressure is on to just get a job, any old job, but that can be worse than you think. Just taking a job to get that income and not really being invested in the job can come back to haunt you. If you just accept that job for the check how invested will you be in making that job succeed? I will say not very.

Success is actually in slowing down the emotional turmoil that you are experiencing and making sure you take the time to really find where your passion lies. On a personal note I just found out that the program that I built in 6 weeks, under the Justice Administration Grant, will not be gaining the funding from the grant again for next year. The problem solving skills have already kicked in for me, looking to find another program to join/build or where the next step will lead.

Just because there are not hundreds of offers coming in, does not mean that the search has not been successful. Each time you submit a resume, make a contact, or even are told no, look at these as successes and opportunities. If you do not even try, do not keep that confidence up, then you could be on the road to failure. The choice is up to you. Success or failure is a state of mind that is driven by emotions and feelings. Often times when a resume is submitted there is no response, no call back no nothing even after that one week later follow-up. I just add that to the opportunity pile and keep going.

To be successful one really needs to look at every “No” as an opportunity, it helps you re-evaluate how the resume is put together, look at a better way of branding yourself, which according to Careerealism is Branding , or to make sure that the drive is still there. It is hard to submit hundreds of resumes, go on multiple interviews and not be offered a job, but the higher you hold your head up the better the chances the next opportunity will get you employed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bad Attitudes, Bad work values

Attitudes and values help us see how we will be in the working world. Not many people think that it is their values learned long ago that proves them to be a hard worker or lazy worker sort of person. First off, values are beliefs that a person has about what is right and wrong. They are also something that individuals have an emotional investment in.

The difference between right and wrong is something that is instilled in all of us from a very early age. You can probably remember hearing “you should not have done that, that was not very nice.” This is an example of learning about our behavior and how it fits into the world. Our values are determined by attitudes and expectations which stems from our own ideas on how we think things should be.

We have thoughts about how things should be, but at times reality and how we think things should be are quiet different. I hear a lot that some participants feel “it is not fair that this happened” or that “this is not the way it is supposed to be.”  Well, when you break down the reality it did. Once we allow our own expectations and thoughts of how things “should be” get involved we begin to alter our behavior.

It is easy to lose a job due to allowing our behavior to make us resentful of something at work. It is easy to fall into the group of gossipers and complainers when we become angry at work. The fact of the matter is, in today’s economy, with jobs even more difficult to obtain each day, a person needs to treat each day like it is their first day of work. In your mind, go back to the first day on the job excitement, the looking and learning everything, because if we take the job for granted we might not have it anymore.

We place a lot of emotional investment into finding a job or career and we can put just as much energy into losing it also. I know that there will be some hectic days, some bad days and some stressful days, but I like to carry with me one thought. You can start your day over at any point. Now I do not mean that you can have the “Groundhog Day” type of experience, but if you are stressed, or hectic and it is starting to grate on your last nerve, you can take 5 minutes to do some breathing and re-center yourself. Even if those 5 minutes has to happen on a bathroom break just to get away from the phone/email and those coworkers who might be needing more of your time that you can afford at the moment.

If the employee does not keep an eye on their mental state, their productivity can go down, their mood can go sour and they might find their behavior helping them out of a job. To return to that first day love for the job one needs to remember that every job can end today and nothing is permanent in the world of work. It helps keep one refreshed and excited and ready to grow, learn and change.  If you go to a job just for a check then your behavior will show it, if you are unhappy at the job your behavior will show it also. We have the right to expect some things, but when you have unrealistic expectations on how things “should be” or the way you want them to be, that can be a recipe for disaster. Yes we can expect to be respected at work, not be harassed, intimidated or belittled by our co-workers, but the fact is that often times there might be one or two who want to sabotage you and see you fail. Is that right, fair, or the way things should be?... No it is not right or fair but it does happen. Remember your attitudes will determine how good of a fit you are for the job and how good of a fit the job is for you.

Remember one thing it is easier to lose a job than to find one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Networking like a Pro

Networking in many forms can help an individual find employment. I have read and heard a lot about the importance of networking. Networking both online and in the community. It has been said that 80% of the jobs out there are not posted and that only insiders in a company know what is being interviewed for. I guess it is the old saying it is not what you know but who you know. Having contacts at a business where you would love to work can be immeasurable in helping you get the first contact needed to sell yourself.

How does one find an insider to help? Well there are a lot of different ways to locate these individuals. First, depending on the company one can research the business, find if there are community based meetings and attend those. There are opportunities for networking during conferences or in my case gaining CEU’s (Continuing Education Credits). Having a certification that requires one to keep attending educational classes provides workers from various different centers and community resources to come together to learn and network.

There are numerous other places that networking can happen. I know in the town I work in there is a reentry task force that meets monthly. This is an organization that has people from all walks of life come together to help ex-offenders in a variety of ways. There are housing, treatment centers, probation and parole, community based non-profits, police, social workers and numerous other facilities that come together to provide a task force of help.

I have told many of my participants who suffer from chemical dependency that they have the largest networking opportunity at their fingertips. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is an excellent place to network. It is the number one support group in the world that not only the participants know what it is like to make a mistake in life and survive, but how it feels to have a strike against you when seeking employment. The “been there, done that” mentality is the best support for an individual who needs to find those who understand their troubles. I have found several online communities where there are individuals who are unemployed and people whose job it is to help unemployed find work. Going to the various sites and join discussions increases networking much like other support groups.

There is a huge networking opportunity on the internet. Places like Facebook, CareerealismLinkedIn, Twitter and a new one I found All of these places provide employment information, a network, and great individuals who want to grow, help and learn together.

When it comes to networking online, there are things to keep in mind. Make sure you have a professional picture, professional resume or “about me” section and, if you use Facebook, make sure your profile is professional, have nothing there that would turn off a potential employer or networking individual. I have heard of some people setting up a personal Facebook and a professional Facebook. Just make sure you do not friend yourself from the professional to the personal. Employers now days are searching online to see what your presence looks like in case there is anything that would be a strike against you at the employment stage.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Professional Appearance

Professional Appearance is a concept that I feel is important to understand. There are numerous parts to this that some tend to over look. The way one dresses, the first part of the interview process, thank you notes, and following up are the most missed factors.

Working in Workforce Development helps me help others who are having a difficult time gaining employment. I have found it shocking to see that when some people are filling out applications they are going in either jeans that are half way down their rear, low cut shirts that are close to exposing the chest, or shorts. I have tried to impart on the participants that you dress in business casual or dress one level above the job they are seeking. They way you dress is the first thing that the interviewer sees and this is the first impression that needs to be set. Walking in with confidence and a strong handshake does not help if you look wrinkled, disheveled, or are wearing inappropriate application or interview attire. I tell the participants to come dressed ready to be sent to a business to put in an application and yet there are still days I would not send any of them out.

Most individuals feel the interview process starts when the hiring manager retrieves the interviewee. That is not true. It actually starts when you walk into the facility. Your first interaction with the individual that is behind the desk labeled reception is where the interview starts. The receptionist is the first line of eyes and ears for the hiring manager. There are often times that people show for an interview, sit in reception and talk on their cell phone, or are just rude to the receptionist. What individuals fail to know is that often the receptionist will report the behaviors to the hiring manager. I have noticed the Vice President of our company sitting behind the desk answering the phone and transferring calls. When you walk in for an interview, you have no idea if the individual answering the phone is the one who is going to interview you or even someone higher up.

Another part of this is individuals think it is o.k. to show up 30 minutes to an hour early. I keep reminding the participants that 10 minutes is appropriate, maybe 15 would be o.k.. I remind them that the interviewer set the time because they have a busy schedule and do not need to have that schedule interrupted due to their showing an hour early.  Although showing up late is just as bad.

In today’s society, it seems that the words "Thank You" have fallen off the grid. Someone opens the door for you and often times you just walk through and do not acknowledge that nice gesture. I grew up in a family that made it a must to say please and thank you. So why is it hard to send a thank you note to the individuals that spent their time and energy to help you and to interview you. The one way to stand out in the mind of an interviewer is to send a “personalized” thank you note. When I say personalized, I mean that if you heard the interviewer say something like, “oh I notice you are from Colorado, I love Colorado, I love to ski” Then in the thank you note make sure you mention that connection and wish them happy skiing. It is also important that if you had a pleasant conversation with the receptionist, or if they were helpful in giving you some of the low down of the company, or just giving you information, it is impressive and well noticed to send that individual a thank you note also.

The final piece to this professional appearance is the follow up. Most people go to an interview and then sit by the phone waiting to hear. There is an ethic that goes with following up. The first follow up is the thank you note, then one should wait a week and either place a call or send an email (which ever is the form of communication previously established) and here is an example of one that I sent via email.

“It was very enjoyable meeting with you about the Counselor position with ‘Insert Company name here’. The job seems to be an excellent match for my skills and interests. The family atmosphere you described confirmed my desire to work for company. In addition to my enthusiasm, I will bring to the position strong detail oriented writing skills, assertiveness and the ability to encourage others.

I appreciate the time you took to interview me. If there is anything else you might need from me please do not hesitate to ask. I enjoyed meeting with you and look forward to hearing from you regarding this position.”

Signed Name

Waiting for the phone to ring and not being proactive in the follow up and job search is one thing that is often overlooked. I would suggest a week after an interview make one last contact, then move on to the next interview.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Co-workers that sabotage

Part 2

Co-workers that sabotage others, or at least try to so they look better themselves. This can be a dangerous web for an employer to find themselves in. I have witnessed individuals in different jobs do things and say things about another worker that were not true. When asked I do what I always do, tell the truth. I wonder what it is in human nature that makes sabotaging such an issue. I have this sneaking feeling that it has to do with the “keeping up with the joneses” mentality. Maybe there are just individuals out there who are so unhappy that they do not like to see others succeed, or maybe jealously rears it’s ugly head. Whatever the motivator is there is never a good outcome for anyone. Some suggestions if the individual is so unhappy in their job that they want others to be as miserable would be:

1.Remember the first day of work. The excitement, the meeting all the new people, and the friendly hand shakes received.

2. Do what you are expected to do. I mean 40 hours a week for 30 years comes out to 62,400 hours in a life time that we work. (that is if my math is correct) Make sure you do what you are expected to do.

3.Talk to your co-workers daily, even 2 minutes of small talk can help build better relationships.

4. Stay away from that group of complainers that every company has, to have the well poisoned is never good.

5. Document everything and always have some preparation for a meeting. This is not paranoia, but a good plan for anyone. Always have proof of what you do at a moments notice.

6. Rise above the situation. Not everyone at the job will or has to like you. If you are the person to them that you wish to be treated like things will work out more in your favor.

It is never fun when you find out that one person you felt you did not have a problem with, has a problem with you, or something you have done or received. Life is full of these fun kinds of interactions. Remember everything is a learning experience, just like everything you learned in life what you learn in the employment world has to be practiced. Trying to do everything yourself and not asking for help is one way individuals sabotage themselves. Is it pride that stumbles them? Is it that if I ask for help on something I might look incompetent? One can only answer that for themselves, but to make the best out of the 62,400 hours of work, one needs to remember that the feeling you had on that first day of work, can still be the feeling you have 30 years later.

Our own attitudes and values come into play even in the working world. Do we value that employer? Do we value that job? Do we show we value our co-workers? How our attitudes are at the job tend to speak loudly at how productive and dedicated we will be, and how long we will be with that same employer. Things we value often times are the things that we have an emotional investment in. Now, if we have a negative emotional attachment then we will have a negative experience, but if we have a positive attachment then only good things can happen. I personally do a thing I find helps keep me grounded and able to focus at work. I imagine a time clock outside the entrance to my job and every day I imagine that I clock into work. Now that does not sound strange but I take it further, I clock in to work and clock out personal life. I work my day, then when I leave I clock out of work and back into personal life. This helps me not bring home to work and work to home.

To have the best life at work, remember you are responsible for you, others might try and mess with your work life but the fact is the employer will look into any accusation no matter how false and come up with a solution. Cover your rear and do not only what you are expected to do, but stand out and do more. So the last ideas are try and find some humor in the sabotaging co-worker, try and stay away if that is necessary, and if all else fails, confront it head on, go to that person and find out why they are doing what they are doing.

Employee/Employer Loyalty

I have been reading a lot of articles over the past week, and there seems to be a trend on employees concerns dealing with two different topics. I wanted to throw my hat in the ring and share some personal opinions on these two topics.

The first is employee/employer loyalty and the second is co-workers that sabotage others.

According to, being loyal is defined as:

1. faithful to one's sovereign, government, or state: a loyal subject.

2. faithful to one's oath, commitments, or obligations: to be loyal to a vow.

3. faithful to any leader, party, or cause, or to any person or thing conceived as deserving fidelity: a loyal friend.

4. characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.: loyal conduct.

I would like to focus on number 3 in the definition.  "Faithful to any leader, party or cause, or to any person or thing conceived as deserving fidelity: a loyal friend".  When it comes to being loyal one has to have a greater sense of fidelity, not only with themselves, but the place they fought so hard to work.  The individual does not need to expect that they will have friends in the company or that the company is their friend, that is a different relationship all together.  I believe that, over time, the true colors of any relationship come out and often times people do not know how to confront them.  In the first months of employment, an employee is learning, looking and collecting their personal data about the organization.  Often there will be some issue that makes the employee question "how loyal will this manager or company be to me"?  Maybe it was a negative review, maybe it is falling into the group of disgruntled workers that every place has, or maybe it is just the expectations that the employee had for the company are found to have been to high.  Employees need to make sure they take extra time to also interview the company before they take the position to lessen the chance of of finding this in the future.

Now I know this economy is not great, and many individuals just want to find a job, any old job, to make sure they continue to be able to provide for themselves and their families. This is one of the worst things that can negatively affect an employee’s loyalty. It might show that they are not really dedicated to the employer, making the employer see more negative in the employee.  On the other hand, many employers do not really do much to praise the employee, motivate the employee and help them progress. There seems to also be a trend that, even as high up the ladder as the CEO, people can feel under appreciated.  Employers need to nurture their employees, praise them and help mediate when problems arise so that the work environment can be less hostile.

Most states are “at will” employment states.  This does not mean employers need to be loyal to the employee, it just means that the employee might work under a constant state of fear, wondering if that meeting they were not invited to attend could be a bad sign.  Does the fact that the newest sales person was given the account they were working on mean something.  In the days gone by, there were people who would gain employment and stay there until retirement, the trend now is for an employee to enter a company, get some experience and then take that experience to another company that seems to be more apt to nurturing the employee, until the cycle comes back around.

I know that employers feel that the pay check and the minimal benefits they provide should be the motivating factor of someone wanting to show more loyalty, but, in fact, that is just all a part of that “employment contract” that is entered into when the offer is accepted. These are not the benefits that will help that employee want to be loyal to the company. What does help is advancement, and opportunities for the employee to shine, to gain notoriety in the company and to be groomed to move up in the company and excel.

Most companies today have one goal, and that is to get the most out of the least amount of people. This mindset helps employees burn out and become frustrated and looking for other employment opportunities. On the other hand, I do think that employees need to remember what they have… Employment. Employees tend to forget that they themselves are responsible for their own happiness and dedication to the employers. The real solution is to have weekly meetings with the employees, share the news of the company and give praise where it is deserved. Keep the lines of communication open, and keep everyone, from the lowest person on the totem pole to the highest person, completely and honestly informed as to what is going on in the company. Secrets will break down a company faster than anything. Secrets start the rumor mill going and that is like dynamite for a company where that one person who is frustrated and unhappy will begin to spread their paranoia like a blazing wild fire.

Since this is so long I will name it part 1 and make the sabotaging article part 2.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Employment World with Ex-Offenders

Working in the world of employment services is much different than working in the counseling field.  Do not get me wrong, there is still a lot of counseling happening, but ex-offenders are a completely different breed.  My experience has been working in strictly substance abuse counseling, but now I work with ex-offenders who also have a myriad of other needs and issues.  I have found that there is a higher rate of denial about how they ended up where they are, demands that they do not need counseling they just need a job, and the knowledge that their social, interpersonal and soft skills are nearly non-existent.

Social skills, according to many, are the skills that you develop and learn from birth and continue to work through for the entirety of life.  We are all social animals, who enjoy being with like minded individuals, those that motivate us, teach us and support us.  Sometimes these skills take a turn, and decisions are made that are not the best for us.  Working with ex-offenders has taught me that first one needs to break through the denial that their thinking/feeling process is skewed and bring the reality that if “you do what you do, you get what you got”.  The one most important aspect I have learned from working with ex-offenders is that accountability is the most needed ingredient to be able to help.  Manipulation is the main mindset of an ex-offender, the more they can get away with something, the more they continue to try.

I always ask the participants to tell me about themselves and I get responses ranging from what they did to end up in jail, or what society has told them that they are.  When I am working with the individuals to learn to identify their interpersonal skills, how to develop them, and how to take those skills to a job, it is sometimes difficult to help them learn they are more than that.  I explain to them that we all have interpersonal skills that we all learned and developed over our lives and that these might be overlooked in our skill sets.

The last thing I had to learn how to help them with was Soft/Hard skills.  Both are necessary in employment and often times employers hear the same soft skills in interviews. I teach them to be proud of the skills they developed, even the ones gained while being incarcerated. The one thing that seems to blow their minds is when I tell them “I do not care what you did, that does not tell me who you are”