Monday, December 19, 2011

What can you learn about yourself?

I realize it has been a while since I have written a post.  I wanted to catch everyone up with the developments from the summer.  I learned a lot about myself and my ability to wear multiple hats, sometimes the hats were being worn together.  In July I was asked to be an interim case manager for another program at work.  This program is helpful for individuals who have a severe disability to help them maintain employment.  These individuals are the custodian staff for one of the federal buildings here.  I was still working fulltime in the reentry program and then I had to work for this program that is a fulltime job itself.

I learned how much resolve I had by having two eight hour days, one 5 hour day, and two 10.5 hour days.  Wearing multiple hats can become a challenge if you are not ready.  In this other program there were annual reviews that had to be written to prove the individuals working have a documented disability that meets the severity level.  This was a difficult challenge but one I worked through and feel I learned a lot about myself.  There were days that I was very tired and not sure if I could continue pushing through but with each passing day I learned more about my own abilities.

  1. Resolve was something I thought I had but it seems I had room for more.  I worked through the tiredness, was able to write more in depth reports and still have time to keep my other program running smoothly.  I was able to utilize problem solving skills to juggle both programs and not lose my mind.
  2. Asking for help when needed does not show weakness but it shows a healthy understanding of your own abilities.  There were days that to many things were happening at once and I had to prioritize the events and ask for help from others.  I am normally the kind of person who can tell others to ask for help but sometimes I cannot take my own advice.  This program helped me become better at asking.
  3. Stress Management was almost a daily task.  I would have to turn to others to vent, problem solve and lean on them for support.  I was working hard to not work overtime.  I learned that the people in my life are more of a support than I ever thought.
  4. Grateful is a concept that I know, but it was more of something I needed to remember.  There are so many people who are out of work and would love to get a job, I am sure there are a lot of people who would have wanted my job.  On even the most stressful day, I had to remember that I have a job and I needed to be reminded of how difficult life is and appreciate what I have. 
  5. Ex-offenders are great teachers.  I get to see several ex-offenders daily and the life lessons they teach are tremendous.  I see individuals coming out of prison with little or nothing to their name, most are still in survival mode, trying to figure out the way of life.  It is rewarding when you help someone gain hope, wisdom and yes learn what Facebook is.  Many of my participants have been incarcerated for 15-20 years.  That is a shock to many who already see technology and know how to use it.

Helping someone gain and maintain employment to have a better quality of life is a great mission.  Over this holiday season, remember that no matter how hard it seems now, it can and will get better.  Just take the time to do some soul searching and you can succeed. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Returning soon

I know I have been a bit late getting more posts up, but I am on the fast track of getting back to it.  The reason will be in my next post

Friday, August 26, 2011

Staying motivated in an unmotivated world

Staying motivated while searching for a job can be one of the most complicated actions.  Many people find it difficult to have enthusiasm and motivation when doors are closed in their face.  With the economy down and unemployment up how do you stay motivated to keep looking?  A normal human being can only hear no so many times before they just want to give up.  Here are a few suggestions to look at to hopefully stay motivated and not give up.

  1. Enthusiasm is sometimes difficult when you are looking for a job, but if you walk into a place and you are looking depressed and down, sounding down when you are speaking with the person in front of you then that is going to show all over you.  Even if you are having a bad day, plant that genuine smile on your face, pump yourself up and make sure you have that enthusiasm oozing from you even if it is just for that interaction.  I know it is hard to stay enthusiastic when you feel the search is not going anywhere, but find someone that can pump you up and be your cheerleader.
  2. Motivation comes from many different places.  Look at what motivates your actions.  What do you do every day to make sure you are motivated to succeed?  Who do you have in your corner that helps motivate you?  Using social networking sites are a good way to help and encourage each other to keep the chin up and share the frustration.  Making sure you motivate yourself to keep going is so important in today’s world.  Most people are motivated by money but there are other reasons to look at motivating yourself.  Maybe your children motivate you to make better choices, maybe your friends or family motivate you by walking the frustrating road of job search with you.  Maybe you just know your potential and that motivates you to change.  If we are not motivated to change, will we ever change?
  3. Barriers can get in our way on a daily basis.  What barriers do you have that stand in the way of you gaining employment?  The individuals I work with have barriers ranging from little to no education, minimal job experience to having a criminal record.  These are some of the barriers that individuals face in the job hunt.  I tell my participants the same thing I will tell you. Success is not measured in having everything you want but the barriers that you have overcame to achieve it.  Facing a barrier can be frightening but with the right support and a plan of action overcoming the barriers can be rewarding and fulfilling.
  4. Learning is a powerful tool to have on your side.  It is important to try and learn at least one new thing a day.  It might mean going back to school to help drive your career in an upward direction.  It might be learning a new skill that will make you stand out more to an employer.  It might be learn how to use multiple social networking sites to join other individuals in a forum to discuss different issues around employment.  It might be taking your self out of your comfort zone and doing something different.   
  5. Planning is important because without a plan of action how will you know if you have succeeded.  Sticking to that plan of action is imperative to having success.  Each day we all do things that are minor successes for us.  Maybe it is following through with something you said you would do, maybe it is accomplishing a task, even if it is an assigned task, maybe you wanted to be on time today or even early and you did that.  We all have things that we do daily that we should pat our own backs for succeeding, but we often fail to recognize these achievements.  

If we wait around for others to motivate us, or expect others to give us the accolades we feel we deserve but we are not giving them to ourselves, then we are missing the boat.  I have several people in my life that motivate me, help pick me up when I am down, and help bring a smile to my face.  Some of them are only known online but they still know how to help me help myself.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Show me the money, not the door

Show Me the Money was a requested topic for my blog that a reader wanted me to write about.  I am not sure that the specifics I will be talking about are exactly what they would like to hear but I am going to write it anyway.  Many employees will take a job just because of the money, not because they really want to work for that company.  I took a job once just because it was going to pay me more money than I had ever received at a job.  The job was being a ticket broker for a company that would buy tickets to many different events and then mark them up to an almost ungodly amount.  A lawn seat ticket at an outdoor amphitheatre that had a face value of 25 dollars would be sold starting at 125 dollars.  After a year of that job I quit because of my personal ethics would not allow me to keep ripping people off because they wanted to have some entertainment.

Employers are always looking to find incentives to help employee moral or to help employees with their productivity.  So many people want to make more and more money in their careers but they are not doing the proper things to begin to get that.  An employee who is just at a job because they feel they deserve more money but are not putting out the quality of work that would bring that sort of incentive are the employees who will become disgruntled, negative at work and have their productivity fall flat.  There are some ways to make it where you might make more money, but remember they gave you the privilege of working for them, not the other way around.  Employers do not need you, they do not have to hire you, so if you want more money you might want to consider doing some of these suggestions.

  1. Doing more work that asked is a good way to show your value to the company.  It is not the company’s necessity to come to you when you could help out on a project.  Doing more work than you are asked demonstrates initiative and that is something all employers will want and make great use of.  In this economy many employers need to ask fewer people to do more of the work due to financial needs because they cannot hire others.  Do not be the complainer who whines about being asked to do more work, remember you do have a job and that could be taken away at any point. Along with doing more work, try doing more difficult work, learn some new valuable skills and prove your worth before you assume you are worth more to the company
  2.  Out perform other co-workers.  Make sure that you are the favored employee, the one the boss goes to because they know you are dependable and not a flake.  Look around your office or place of employment and seek out the different workers.  The whiners, the complainers, the hard workers, often known as the suck up’s, the just waiting for the 5 o’clock whistle employee, the let me hide from extra possible job duties under my desk or in the bathroom employees.  Do not be the one who falls into most of these categories, if you want to make more money, then make yourself more useful.
  3. Remember that your actions on the job can make or break you.  If you want to make more money make sure you promote yourself.  Your actions can land you a promotion, but you have to remember that it is the work that you have performed, not the amount of time you have been with the employer.  In the past people would receive a cost of living raise, and now not many employers provide even that to their employees, because being employed is the cost of living  funding.
  4. Seeking out other opportunities in a different department is also an idea.  Corporations have many different departments that can offer many different options or possibilities for a change and even more responsibility for an employee.  Look through the open jobs board or start meeting with human resources to develop a career development plan which can help direct you.

These are just 4 solutions on how you will be shown the money, but remember your attitude and negativity can also have you shown the door.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

How I do what I do... Training for Ex-offenders

Second Chance/Reentry By Design development was a task I took on in 2009.  2009 was a bad year to start off but ended on a high note.  I was asked to write an article on “how I do what I do”.  To have this make sense I will need to tell you how I got here.  I was unemployed in September 2009, feeling like the world was never going to feel right and becoming obsessed with finding a job.  I was also going through the process of gaining my certification at that time.  I actually had put in for another job with the company I am with now and after that interview, the individual. I interviewed with stated there was a position that would better suit my experience and credentials.  I was provided an interview with the manager over the newly grant funded Second Chance Program.  During the interview the manager discussed wanting someone to design, and create a program for individuals who are on probation, parole or have criminal charges.  I had plans and tickets to visit friends in London so in late October via email I was offered the position and my start date was November 16th.  I had until January 4th to create this program, design the curriculum for the program and build all the lectures for the program.  On December 28th the Employment specialist, whose job it is to work with employers in the community to hopefully hire our participants, started her first day. 

This day was the first orientation for the first class of the Second Chance program.  On January 4th I entered the class and began teaching life skills, critical thinking skills, and reintegration skills to a room of ex-offenders.  I had a lot of people ask me if I was scared to be in a room with ex-offenders with all types of offenses and my response was no.  I have power point presentations, videos, and lectures that cover everything from relapse prevention to anger management and everything in between.  I am not afraid because the first question I ask the participants is “What are your charges”?  They all have to discuss their charges which range from Child Support to Murder.  I then follow that question up with another question.  “Now tell me who you are”?  See looking at what is on that police report tells me that someone made a mistake in their life.  I also know after being a substance abuse counselor for nearly 12 years that most crimes are committed due to being under the influence of a substance, trying to get the substance or selling the substance.  The most recent reports have stated that 80% of crimes are because of Drug intake or activity.  I feel this number is a bit low.  I present my lectures, my trainings for individuals who many in society have turned their backs on.  I share knowledge and wisdom with individuals who have little to no hope or belief that they will ever have the kind of life they would like to have.  I open their eyes by sharing information that they did not realize was available.  By the end of their time in my trainings they have better self worth and are 110% feeling confident.  I train the individuals on how to enhance their passion for employment and this helps them succeed.  Some end up calling me the enhancer of employment passion.

I lecture and train individuals who are ex-offenders to change their thinking, change their lives and become the best employee they can for any employer who would give them a chance.  For if there are people in the world who have never made a mistake, made a bad choice, or turned the wrong way.  They are lying.  In this world think of a time you made a mistake.  Did the other individual give you a second chance?  Did they learn to forgive and move on or did it end?  In life everyone deserves a second chance especially if they have done some internal learning where they saw their mistake and do everything they can to better themselves and not make that mistake again.  Do you deserve a second chance? 

Coming soon the next requested Article:  “Show me the Money”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I would like to know topics or information that you as readers would like to be informed of.  Please comment and give me your desired information

Thank you

Other Duties as Assigned

Handling changes on the job can be a stressful and scary event.  I had my position change within the last month and it has thrown me for a small loop.  I normally work training ex-offenders in life skills, reintegration skills and employment skills, well about a month ago the grant I worked in ended and while waiting for the next one I was moved into a position that I was not trained for and had no idea what I was doing.  I was grateful to remain employed but had to learn to roll with the change.  My organizational skills jumped into play and off I went.  Getting all the paperwork caught up that had been neglected, meeting with the disabled clients and putting out fires.  This change took me away from my training classes and made it hard for me to cope.

Once I got beyond the stress of the change, got myself organized and continued to work with my Job Coach, I found some inner peace with the change.  I do know that this change is not forever since we were given an extension on the grant and another one in October so I will be going back to the training mode only in October.  From July to October I will still be doing both programs.  I am hoping that I am doing this program like they want but I am doing it to the best of my ability.

How do you handle job changes?  How do you handle new responsibilities?  Do you roll with them or do you curl up in a frustrated ball?  I have worked with many individuals who do not like or accept change very well, now there are times that I myself do not handle change well, but it takes people who can be around to help support you through it.  I have found when a manager gives you more responsibility or changes your position it is because they feel you can handle the change and do the job.  It is so important to know how you handle job changes because that one part of the job description that says “perform other duties as assigned” can come back and bite you if you are not careful. 

I find that it is important to build a career development plan to make sure you succeed in the job.  Knowing what you want to do and following that passion is the best thing for you to do.  Now there is no perfect job out there, each place will have its own quirks and problems.  You might find the best fit to your needs but remember when you accept the job it can change.  Learning to handle change is a great way to succeed in you job or your life.

Great You Graduated!!!!! NOW WHAT??????????

With the new graduates hitting the pavement searching for jobs there are some helpful tips that will help the bright eyed graduates to stay motivated.  Many job coaches and parents are trying to provide information on how the graduate can become employed or the steps for them to gain employment.  One question ringing from the mouths of the graduates is “Why would they hire me, just out of college, and I have little to no experience.  Here are some suggestions on how you can secure a job.

1.        Networking is the best way to secure employment.  Like it has been said “It is not what you know, but who you know”.  This is very true in today’s society.  I am not just speaking about sitting at home on Twitter, Facebook or other sites, but making sure that you network with your friends who are working, go to job fairs, and join local groups to network with others.  Yes, you can network and find jobs on Twitter and Facebook but often times those sites can harm your chances as well as help them.  Plus most of the job sites on Twitter or Facebook use the conventional job sites to seek employees.  Sites like Careerbuilder, Indeed, Simply Hired and your local area job boards.  Remember if you still have those pictures of you doing crazy things at college on your Facebook, they need to come off and so should all the Tagged photos.
2.        Every school has a career development center that has some positions in the community posted.  It is always a great idea to check with the schools career center to get a great resume, cover letter, and practice interviewing.  It is up to you when and how you want to develop your career.  You spent a lot of money to obtain that degree, now finding that job or career is most important.
3.        Beating the pavement early instead of later is most important.  I realize that summer is here and you might feel that you want to hang out by the pool or go places with your friends, but now is the time to find that job.  You should be up and ready to hit the pavement by 8 AM, having your places already picked out where you want to walk in and apply, or to the local Office of employment and training to search for jobs.  If your job search plan is to start in the afternoon, you might as well go back to bed because you will not find a job starting that late.  Remember you might be staying with your parents for the summer, but they gave you wings now get out there and fly.

Remember that each of us is a job of one, and that each decision we make can either bring success or lack of success.  Finding a job is truly a full time job and with so many people in the world looking for work, that makes the job pool even smaller.  Using recruiters, temp agencies, and the foot on pavement selection can help you become employed.  It is up to you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Apologies to all readers

After a month of being out of touch, The reentry program is back up and running so back to the employment articles.  My job changed for a few weeks and it took all my time so I will be back up and writing soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Live Positively Daily

Live Positively daily utilizing customer service.  Having just returned from a conference and listening to a presentation on customer service I wanted to share my thoughts.  We have all gone to a store, restaurant, or made one of those dreaded calls where you hit more numbers than talk to a human being, and I am sure there are memories of a time that you had horrible customer service.  I am also hoping that there were times you had exceptional customer service.  This training started out with the presenter stating “I am so glad you are here” That at the first might not stick in the memory by but the end of the presentation it made complete sense.  The focus was learning to live positively every day and to always put your smile on and be thankful that you have customers.  Here are some of the topics the presenter went over.

  1. Live positively.  The presenter discussed how the mindset and the way we think has a lot to do with either being positive or negative.  Positive thinkers will look to the future, find possible snags in life and be able to handle them. The presenter discussed having lost his son 4 years ago around Christmas and how the family tradition of cutting the Christmas tree had been interrupted.  His positive thinking kicked in and instead of sitting in grief and anger he decided along with his family to celebrate the years he was able to have with his son.  See, his point was we are never guaranteed another day.  If a person keeps one foot in the past, and tries to get one into the future surely they will split themselves in half.
  2. Celebrate who you are.  This notion was really interesting because not many people are o.k. with who they are, how they look, or what skills they have.  You are the only you, and that should be celebrated.  If you are an optimist then enjoy your optimism, if you are a pessimist, then revel in your pessimism, If you are a realist, then be real.  No matter how you look, how much you weigh, what you drive, or where you live celebrate who you are, be who you are and love who you are.
  3. Giving the best customer service starts with you.  This part was interesting because when customers call or come in, even when they are angry you can begin to connect with them and let them know they are important.  The presenter discussed that when he receives a call he will actually give them a time period for the answer. In Example the presenter discussed that he received a call from a customer, the customer needed some information, the presenter discussed that it would take 30 seconds to walk over, grab the chart and provide the information.  The presenter went to the filing cabinet, opened the drawer and not being the best file clerk was hearing the 30 seconds tick by.  The presenter knew it would take 8 seconds to return to the desk, so he called to a co-worker asked them to pick up line 2 and explain that he is not the best file clerk, he has the chart, but would be an additional 10 seconds to be at his desk.  The person on the line started laughing and agreed to another short hold time.  The presenter returns to the desk, picks up line 2 and the individual is still laughing because of the picture in her head about the antics in the room.
  4. Verbal Vs. Non Verbal communication.  Do you realize how much information you present to a person even when you do not know they are looking?  70% of our communication happens without saying a word, 10% is what we are saying, and the other 20% comes from the tone we use to say it.  Have you ever been frustrated at work, dreading that next phone call?  How do you answer the phone, see people can tell your emotional state without even seeing you, if you are frustrated at work, then take another call frustrated, do you not think that you will sound frustrated to the caller and their customer service has gone out the window.
  5. Can you listen to the silence?  That was an interesting question to be presented.  What kind of listener are you? People Oriented, Action Oriented, Content Oriented, or Time Oriented?  There are many tests on the internet that will tell you how you listen to people, I suggest finding one and seeing where you fit in.  Listening to the silence is about clearing your thoughts just to focus on the other person because many people are already plotting their next reply that they miss the true meaning of what the other person is saying.
  6. I am the enhancer of employee’s personal passion for their job.  This was the one branding piece I developed for myself.  I think that no matter what the day starts like, it does not have to end the same way.  If you smile on the phone that comes across, if you frown on the phone that also comes across.  Motivation on the job means you have one and want to keep it.

Rising to be the best at what you do means including who you are and gaining strength and perspective from others around you.  To be the best at something you have to know who you are and what the best looks like.  Take time daily to live positively in a negative world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Going to a conference today, There will be a new article next week. Thanks to all who are readers of my blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Importance of Self Care

Over the years many people have always discussed self care especially when it comes to employment. Think about where or who you learned your work ethic from. Maybe you had a parent that was a “Type A Personality”.  The one who rarely if at all missed work, the one who might not take time off just for a mental health day, Maybe the one who would go to work sick.  In the past employees were more dedicated to their employers due to employers being more dedicated to their employees.  There is a going trend in the world of employment today that an employer does not have to be dedicated to their employees because there is always someone else in the world that will take a position.  I personally find it hard to miss work, but just a week ago I had to take a day off due to a fever.  I had to learn that self care is important and did not look bad on the employee who needed to take a day off as to not get others at work sick.  There are some very important concepts to look over in your own life to make sure you succeed on the job.

  1. Stress management is the number one area to look over.  Are you always at work, thinking about work, planning the next day at work in your mind even when you are at home?  These are some unhealthy attributes for an individual to have.  There needs to be a separation of work and personal life.  The personal life is a way for an individual to deal with the stress at work by taking a walk, playing with their children, or just catching up on a favorite television show.  Work will still be there in the morning.
  2. Physical health can begin to become effected by to much stress.  Constantly individuals will rush to get to work, rush through their lunch, if they eat at all, or run through a drive through and eat their lunch at their desk while working through lunch.  Allergy season is upon us and often times if you do not take care of your physical health those sniffles can turn into something more like an upper respiratory infection.  The body has a way of letting you know that you are stressing it to much, individuals just need to learn to listen to their bodies.
  3. Stress and sickness have a way of coming from being mentally exhausted due to many long hours, numerous meetings that take up hours a day, or from not sleeping well at night. Do you toss and turn running your calendar through your mind, stressing about this deadline or this important meeting.  When is the last time you took a mental health day as a day off?  A Day where you planned nothing and did something fun.  Maybe you did something with your spouse or children, you know them right? Maybe you worked in the garden. 
  4. What activities do you do at work to help yourself provide self care?  Do you walk away from your desk from time to time just to change the scenery?  Do you have a co-worker that you can chat with just to break the monotony?   Often times all it takes is a short breather to provide you with positive energy.  Take time daily to do some self care and you will be a better employee and your company will be better for it also.

Self care comes in many different packages and in many different ways. Look to see what works for you, strive to find that inner Zen with your job and life and most of all take time out of your day for you, because with out you in your day, you might lose the focus of your enjoyment at your place of employment.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Barriers for ex-offenders

We all have barriers or obstacles that we face nearly on a daily basis.  The program I work in has proven itself to have more barriers when it comes to helping individuals gain and maintain employment. The cliental I work with are all ex-offenders who are on Parole. There is a lot of judgment about giving a person with a record a job.  I wanted to take the time to list some of the major barriers that individuals in my line of work face.

  1. Having a criminal record has to be one of the worst barriers that an individual can have when it comes to employment. There are so many restrictions about where, with who, and how much work an individual on parole can do.  Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has troubled times and makes horrible decisions, does that mean those individuals should not have a change?  Employers need to remember that not all charges are the same and not all crimes were committed in the same way or for the same reason.  Just lumping an individual into a category can do more damage to that individual.
  2. The second biggest barrier is public opinion.  When an employer looks over the application and sees the part checked about a felony or criminal record the chances of that individual receiving an interview are slim to none. The going thought process is “Once a criminal, always a criminal”.  The problem with this is if an individual is not given a chance to prove they want a different life, then they will be forced to return to the life of crime.  The state I work in has the highest rate of recidivism in the country.  More people per year return to prison here than any other state. Why do you think that is? I think it is because many people and employers will not give the individual a chance so what would you do if you had no income, no way to provide for your family or children, and no one willing to give you a chance?  I have a feeling you would make some hard choices and maybe do something illegal if it meant you were going to survive.  I know most reading this will say “I would never get that bad to commit a crime, all I say is no one wakes up one day excited to commit a crime.
  3. Self Worth, self esteem and having others that believe in you is another barrier that an ex-offender will face. It is demeaning, frightening and embarrassing for an individual to make a mistake and be placed in jail or prison.  The belief system and individual grew up with has a lot to do with how they view themselves and the world around them. If you grow up hearing you are not worthy, then you will prove everyone who said that to you right.  The individuals I work with teach me to look over my thinking, see what my discrimination thoughts and work to change them.  I think individuals need a second chance because if they learn from the mistake they can grow as a person, but if they try to do right and are held down because of their mistake then they will surely go make another one.
  4. Substance abuse issues plague this world, and everyone who knows that in 1956 the AMA finally named addiction as a disease, knows that this complicates a persons success.  The going statistic is that 80% of crimes are committed under the influence of a substance, getting the substance, or selling the substance.  The war on Drugs from the 80’s has worked so well thus far.  I think that statistic is low because if you meet my clients, hear their story it is evident that substance related issues and money are the factors that keep them dealing drugs.  No one thinks to them selves when they are on the playground, “When I grow up, I want to be a drug addict”
  5.   Criminal thinking is a reality but that does not mean that it has to remain. When a person makes a mistake, they usually get a consequence, Think of a small child that is put in time out.  If they learn from their punishment they have a better chance of not repeating the same behavior.  When it comes to ex-offenders the same is true, yes there are some who might never learn, but making it harder for them to get housing, employment, safety and security the chances are that they will return to that style of thinking

I hope people remember that we all make mistakes and do or say stupid things, but as long as we are given a chance then we all can succeed.  I would love to know the thoughts that enter the minds of the readers when they think of ex-offenders. Are there judgments in there? 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Working 6 days a week, 12 hour shifts and still smiling

I just returned from a vacation in a place with crystalline waters that reflected the sky making the water clear and relaxing as the waves quietly crashed into the shore. The hotel was pristine with palm trees that gently swayed with the coolish breeze that would gently stroll across the white sandy beach.  So what does this have to do with employment you might ask?  How can a person return from a vacation and have an article about employment?  From the moment we walked in to the lobby of this hotel the hustle and bustle never stopped, from the check in you get a nice fruit laden glass of I think Pina Colada and are greeted with a smile and a very welcoming “Hola”.  As I was wondering around looking at the breath taking scene from the lobby door, looking out over the pool which seemed to disappear into the ocean, I had to stop and think.  How is this place so beautiful with all the vacationers meandering about, checking their computers, I pads, having their first drinks for the day?  Then over the next week the answer to that question became as crystal clear as the ocean.

Over the course of the week we met several of the staff, had some great conversations and yes a few laughs. It was a delightful time.  I want to share the insights from the trip that helped me appreciate my career and feel somewhat like a slacker.  As I was relaxing I noticed things from people that were from different countries, but mainly from America.  These are some of the things I noticed.

  1. From the first breakfast the waitress was always smiling and seemed happy even though she never stopped moving. The morning coffee was never empty and the drinks that were ordered were also never empty. On the 3rd day after skipping breakfast the waitress asked the rest of our party where we were.  It is interesting to see someone come out of the buffet area when you are walking by and waving and speaking because they did not see you that morning.
  2. The maitre d' who worked 6 days a week for 12 hours a day always stopped by the table to help teach us Spanish, he was always smiling and loved to kid with us on a daily basis. We saw him for each meal at the buffet. morning, noon and night.
  3. When a resort states tips are included this does not mean you can ignore the staff that go above and beyond.  We had great service and I think the service was that great due to the tips that we shared with the individuals that were there working.  I noticed so many Americans and individuals from other countries that maybe tipped 1 dollar and they did not get the best service.
  4. There was an individual who spent time with us in the evenings in the bar that really took a shine to us.  He was a maitre d' in the evening and took time to talk with us in between running around and checking in with everyone to make sure they were taken care of. One night we asked him “How can you work 6 days a week with 12-13 hour shifts and still be smiling and friendly”?  He answered he was grateful for his job. He went on to tell us about his two children one 2 years old and 1 6 months old.  He told us that he get’s home around 1 AM catches a quick nap then the 6 month old has him up.  That is after a 12-13 hour day at work.  Normally you would hear someone complaining about how tired they were or how much they hated that schedule, but this individual was grateful to have his job and grateful for his life.
  5. I have never seen a resort that was so clean.  The individuals who were in charge of cleaning the rooms, cleaning the lobby and the overall cleaning of the outside did a tremendous job.

As I sit here writing this I find myself still  on that stool looking out at the mirror like water, having individuals rushing to take care of whatever I might need, and yet watching the best work ethic I have ever experienced.  By the end of the week all the individuals we were gracious to meet were calling us by our names and seemed a bit sad because we were leaving, they might have been sad the tippers were leaving, but the genuine smiles; hand shakes and friendly razzing told me differently.  If I walked away from this vacation with one thing, I hope it is for me to go above and beyond for my job, not complain about the day or hours, but return to the gratitude that Rebekah, Jamie, Abiendio, Xavier, Julliam and Uliciez taught me. Give your all and remember if you love what you do you can always smile about it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 reasons you did not get that job

Top 10 Reasons you did not get the Job!

I hear all the time from people, “I went to the Interview and Rocked it, so why did I not get the job offer”? There are many reasons that an individual did not receive a job offer. It has to do with everything from personality to how you look to even how you interview.  Make sure you are prepared when going to the interview, do your homework on the company and have a lot of good questions prepared to ask the interviewer.  Here are the top ten reasons you might not have been offered the job.

  1. Appearance has so much to do with job offers. What you wear to the interview says a lot about who you are. Is your hair combed or still wind blown? Do you smell like the perfume counter at your local department store? Do you smell like last nights dinner?  There is a rumor going around that if you wore a yellow tie to the interview that could prevent you from being offered the job.
  2. Have you ever considered the tone you have when you speak?  Does your voice resonate loudly? Do you have a soft voice? Maybe it is one of those annoying high squeaky voices. The tone you enter with will determine the outcome. Confidence is displayed not only by how you speak but how you look. Do you have eye contact? A confident handshake? Did you wait to sit down until they ask you to have a seat? The worst thing to do is interview in a bad mood or a depressed mood because this will show all over you and your face.
  3. Ageism is not only sad but a reality.  One type of ageism is for the young of age. You go to college, study to learn how to fit into a career, graduate from college and have trouble getting a job. Why is that?  It has to do with age, maturity and experience. You studied but did you receive any practical experience while in college? Did you find an internship? Did you do volunteer work? Something to set you apart from the other students.
  4. Ageism in reference to the older worker is also a reality. Ageism is illegal but it does happen especially since all 50 states have “at will employment” which means they can just not hire you and they do not have to give a reason.
  5. Having your resume not up to par will also harm your chances.  There are individuals who blast out one resume to 1000 jobs, well not 1000 I hope, but they send the same resume out to many places and do not have it tailored to the place or position. If you send a resume out for a job opening make sure you have the necessary skills for the job.  If you are an auto mechanic do not send a resume out for a banking job with all your auto mechanic information on it. Make sure the experience matches the job.
  6. There is currently a debate going on about cover letters. Some say you do not need them if your resume is up to par and perfect, I hold steadfast the belief that the cover letter is your first impression even before the first impression on the interview. The cover letter is a nice way of introducing yourself to the perspective employer while giving them all the skills you have that they desire for their future employee.
  7. It is so important to make sure that you follow up with the interviewer. My equation for follow up is fairly simple. Immediately after the interview you go home, hand write a nice personalized Thank You note to each individual that interviewed you. That is the first and only needed contact for the next week. A week after call and leave a message if you have to or email if that has been your communication style before inquiring if there is anything else needed. Then the week after the call repeat the call/email scenario.  After that, it is definitely time to move on and keep looking. Do not call daily or every other day.  No employer wants a desperate job seeker.
  8. One major reason individuals are not offered a position has to do with criminal background and credit checks.  It is becoming a trend on applications to have the small print above the signature discuss that a back ground check and credit check could be preformed. Also it states that by law, usually with a state code involved, that you have answered everything honestly.  I feel that most individuals who have made a mistake, paid their due, should have more possibilities because they know what they face if they steal, etc from a job.
  9. One thing that can also prevent a job offer is what I call the employment bunny.  The individual who has had 6 jobs in 2 years because they hop from job to job.  An employer is going to want to see stability and experience in their future employee.  It leaves a bad taste in their mouth to see someone who has hopped from job to job.
  10. Experience is the one thing an employer looks for. Can you do the job? Have you done the necessary requirements to do the job? Did your references give you a shining report? These are things that an employer will be looking for. Make sure you have the proper experience and schooling to land the job.

Finding a job is becoming more and more difficult, so many job boards are out there, and those are not including the 80% of hidden jobs. Make sure that you use many types of job search techniques from Job Boards, and professional networking sites, Just make sure you have a proper online presence so that does not prevent you from the job offer.   If you look back over the time you have been unemployed I am sure you can figure out why you have not received an offer. Practice, Practice, Practice to make sure you are ready and prepared for the job interview.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Perception is everything right?

Perception is everything right? That is what individuals hear from an early age. So how do we learn to perceive things? Growing up, perception is gained by what one sees and hears. The experiences one has in life and how they deal with them. In the world of employment there are many times and ways to perceive a situation.  It is never set on what the situation is but how the individual looks at it and perceives the situation. Reading and writing blogs has brought this lesson to the fore front. How do you perceive things? Is it the right perception?

Interestingly enough, humans actually speak words they read in their own heads, This could be due to making sure that there is an understanding of what is written. What happens when the reader is reading the written word to themselves and they get the wrong perception? Does the reader go back and try and figure the right perception out? Does the reader respond with the perception that they felt was right in the first place. Have you ever noticed that sometimes out in blog land that there are people responding to an original post, and they completely misread and misunderstand the intentions of the poster? Here are 5 areas that perception can be worked on to help an individual succeed.

  1. Phone calls are always a way to test the understanding of perception. When someone calls you, can you tell how they are feeling or that something might be wrong. This is why most human beings answer the phone, say hello then ask “How are you? or What’s up”? When individuals are not really listening to the conversation, maybe due to distractions, watching TV, Driving the intent of the conversation can be lost and confusion can set in for one or both parties. Next time someone calls at work or home, practice turning the TV off, limiting distractions and see if the conversation goes better.
  2. At work, co workers tend to chit chat at first arrival at work. That is not only a bonding experience, but it also allows to some communication work. How do you perceive your co-workers or co-workers from past jobs? Co-workers can be a great asset or a hung hindrance.  Can you feel it when tension is in the air, or a co-worker is mad at you? Humans are fascinating in this way. Individuals can walk in and perceive the tension so thick they could cut it with a knife. Practice communication at work to really understand what is being asked, try and rebuild any damaged relationships, or avoid the ones that have proven to destructive.
  3. The wonderful World Wide Web, everyone seems to be on it, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  How do you perceive a persons Facebook page, do you know everyone on your Facebook personally, or do you have a subset of individuals who are on there to help your games progress. It is a common rule of thumb for employers to search Social Networking sites when thinking about hiring someone. What perception does your online presence give an employer? Remember the employer is going to hire someone who they perceive will best fit within the company’s structure. Employers will look around and think “Will this individual be a good face for this company? Do they have the ethics that will help this company succeed”? If they are looking at you photo’s on Facebook while you are doing a keg stand with a half twist jump kick, they will certainly pass you over due to that alone.
  4. Email at work seems to be the best way to communicate to employees, although perception can play a huge role in how the task is completed. Email is a time saver most of the time; it is efficient in passing on communication. Like all written word perception is everything.  We read an email but do we truly understand what the other person is communicating? Do we understand the task being asked and the time frame it is needed?  Have you ever read an email and felt insulted?  Only to find out that that was not the intention of the sender, but the perception was already there.
  5. The gut reaction, that first feeling you get when you see or meet someone. Do you take the time to listen to your gut?  Do you get that strong feeling that something is not right with that individual?  Ever been walking at night, turn to go down an alley, only to get that nervous feeling in the air that something is not right. That is perception at its best. The gut will tell you and others to proceed cautiously.  Employers will make every attempt to see if they need to move cautiously or even at all. This is where the interview process comes in. The employer is getting a perception of you and your skills from the get go.  Ever walked out of an interview thinking that you blew it, only to get a job offer? Ever walked out of an interview thinking “I aced it, I would hire me, only to find you blew it”?  This is the world of perception

Remember that in our daily events we have multiple opportunities to look at our perception, try to tailor it to help us succeed , or even help us fail if we allow the perception to continue without true understanding. Perception is not always right so check the facts and look at how you perceive things.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love the job you're in, or at least like it more

If you can’t be in the job you love, love the job you’re in. Why does this sound like an old song? Maybe it is due to the song being on the radio.  What happens to an individual when they start a job then months down the road they become tired of the job or even begin to hate it.

  1. Make sure to stay out of the drama at work. Drama comes in many forms, it could be that one coworker who always complains, it could be from having a boss that never seems to be happy or even from the coworkers who sit and discuss the pay check. Individuals can become unhappy with a job for many reasons, but in most jobs it is against policy and procedure to discuss what people make on the job. Having negative people around can bring drama even guilt by association so make sure you are above the norm and not jump in with the complainers.
  2. One way to find that happiness is to remember the excitement when you got the offer, and remember what it was like to not have a job. Often people forget the day they were offered the job, the excitement of someone wanting their skills to add to their company. That first thought of “I am appreciated”.  One trick to use is to make sure you remember maybe a worse job or a time when you did not have a job and the excitement you felt gaining this job.
  3. Another strategy is to set an invisible time clock outside the door at work and clock in work and clock out life. Allowing outside distractions and issues can also get in the way of one being happy at work.  There have been many studies that show when work and personal life collide there are always problems. Remember life will be there when you are off work, and work will be there tomorrow (hopefully). Seeing as J.T. O’Donnell from has the best way of describing a way to be happy on the job, by using the catch phrase “We are a job of one” I believe I got that right, but the realty is our attitude can have a major part in our happiness.
  4. Checking the attitude at the door can help immensely when trying to stay happy in a job you do not necessarily love. Jobs, you can love them, but not like them, or like them and not love them.   How we see the job is the most important thing to remember. Our behavior when it comes to a job will tell the story. If you do not like the job it will show, if you once liked or loved the job and now you don’t it will show. Humans have a tendency to turn 4 when they do not like something and they act out. If we let someone convince us that there is an injustice at work we can begin to resent the job.
  5. Learning something new will help the job seem new and exciting. If you are a person who does not like routine on the job and get bored easily, then show some initiative and ask to learn a new job related skill, work on a new project, something to sharpen those skills. Remember if you are bored at work, YOU are bored at work, not that work is boring. Learning happens in daily interactions, new job skills, and even talking with coworkers.
  6. Gratitude is much different than attitude. Try being grateful for the position you have, even if you think it is below you because there are was 6.2 million individuals who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more(according to the latest statistics) who would love to have your job.  Being grateful for what you have is important in all aspects of life because it can be taken away at any moment.  Jobs can come and go, so be grateful for what you have.
  7. Learning from workaholics can teach you some good skills. When the time clock is punched at work do not take work home with you, do not check work email at home, remember that any fire that comes up can be handled tomorrow. Making sure you take time to have a life outside of your job is very important. Even if you own your own business you have to close shop every so often to recharge your cells.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

6 important aspects of a resume

Looking at Resumes and resume information out on the web can be confusing. There is so much information and often times it can become overwhelming. To have a great resume there are certain things to know to move your resume from the bottom of the pile to the top of the pile.

  1. The first part of a proper resume is to have your contact information displayed prominently at the top of the resume. It should include your name, address, phone number, email address (make sure it is a professional email address) then I like to add the LinkedIn profile address. It shows the employers your online presence so they might not do that dreaded search and stumble on your Facebook page.
  2. The second part to the resume is the objective statement or summary of qualifications. Now I do not suggest that anyone other than a “fresh out of college” student or someone with little work experience use the objective statement. Objective statements are not as professional as the qualifications summary. The qualifications summary is the first introduction to you and your skills that you will be bringing to the employer. The qualifications summary should include the skills that were posted in the job posting to show you have the experience doing this job.
  3. Relevant work history or skills history? If you are using a skills or functional resume you should place the skills under the objective statement. Individuals who uses a skill resume are either the college student, someone with little work experience or major gaps in the resume. Most employers, I believe, would rather have a nice and detailed work history with dates of employment and a description of the job duties underneath. If there are gaps in the employment be prepared to discuss this at an interview. Make sure that the work history is detailed and directed towards the job you are applying for. Nothing will have you out of the running for a job faster if you apply for a job you have no experience with.
  4. The education section should be next under the experience section. It can include high school, General Education Diploma, and college information. I have been asked about placing college information where the individual attended the school but for whatever reason did not complete. The going information on this is to put the school down, the program and then not completed in parenthesis.  This is also the section to place any certifications you have gained, the year gained and the certification number.
  5. The next section should be titled Additional Experience. This is the section that should include other types of jobs held that are not specific to the job you are applying for. It is also a place to add volunteer experience or any other information that might explain a gap in employment.
  6. The Reference section is optional. You can go ahead and list the professional references, put references available upon request or just carry an additional sheet with the references listed on it. If you are in consideration for the job they interviewer will ask for the references.

There is some information that should never be on a resume. The information that is about hobbies, or anything that tells your age. Ageism is a reality and it does happen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 most necessary first impressions

First Impression could be the last chance. We all want to make a good first impression and there are so many places and ways for the impression to either help or hurt us. When you meet someone for the first time how do you know you connect with them. Businesses drive on first impressions. When you walk in the door they want the environment to be inviting, open and seem like a place individuals can connect. There is a coffee house I remember that from the entrance provided a warm and inviting atmosphere. There is a fireplace in the center of the room, tables set around it, the merchandise displays are there but not gaudy. This has lasted in my memory for many years now. In employment the first impression begins the moment you walk in the door either to ask for the application through the job offer.
  1. Application anxiety holds many people back. Many have this fear of rejection just asking for a simple application. Confidence and politeness can overcome this feeling and leave a professional taste in the hiring manager’s mouth. If you walk in a place wearing jeans, shorts and t-shirts the first impression will be you are not serious and they would not even consider you for a position. If you are wearing today’s fashion mishap being pants that you and 3 friends can all wear at the same time, hanging down below your rear-end, you will not be given a second glance. If you walk in dressed and acting like a professional you will get a warm welcome.
  2. Online impressions are becoming more and more evident, but how do you leave a good first impression while applying for jobs online? The Answer is easy. A cover letter and resume that bellows from the roof tops about how much personality and professionalism you have. The punctuation is all correct, the use of positive, eye grabbing words and the overall tone can set you apart and maybe make the hiring manager want to reach out to you just to meet you. Be cautious of what online persona you have. Facebook and Twitter can take the professional presence you have tried to establish on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites and make it where you will not be hired.
  3. The day of the interview either on the phone or in person. For a phone you still have the opportunity and dire need to make a great first impression. Make sure you are dressed professionally and have no distractions. Turn the TV off and have that professional smile plastered on your face while you are speaking on the phone. For the face to face interview you have to start with the confident handshake, lots of eye contact, head nodding and let that personality shine while detailing all the skills you want this employer to benefit from.
  4. The walk out pitch is extremely important that is the last line of offense when you are interviewing. Make sure that if the interviewer is the one walking out or if it is someone else, you have to remember that the interview does not stop until you drive away. Remember that on the day of the interview, all eyes know you are there to interview so make sure you are professional to the receptionist, the guy walking through with his coffee who smiles and nods, or the other individuals on the elevator with you.
  5. The last part of the first impression is when you get home. The first thing to do is go get a blank thank you card and send one to everyone who either interviewed you or that you had a lasting connection with. If the receptionist helped you out, helped you feel more comfortable or was just a great conversationalist, send them one also. This is the last potential attempt to shine with that first impression.

I encourage people to give some deep thought into what impresses you about others, or what you find irritating or uncomfortable. Once you learn to listen to your gut, you will be better at tuning in to other peoples reactions. Always remember a lasting first impression happens within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, for some it happens much faster. Strive to make the greatest first impression possible within the first 10 seconds, while maintaining your professionalism.