Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free ~ Michelangelo

Counseling can be viewed as a battle of wills. I have a great deal of education and almost forty years experience in the field. I believe it is my responsibility to dispel misconceptions and help my customers view a positive interpretation of the universe. My customers are job seekers and fellow counselors.

There is a famous quote, “All forces, powers, and energies are neither good nor evil in themselves. They are completely neutral, but only become good or evil when they are intelligently directed.” Indeed, good and bad are value judgments and there are many different views of everything we experience.

The universe will place obstacles in our path. Few things unfold exactly as we expect. The future is a guessing game and even the most carefully constructed goals require fine tuning as we move forward. These are realities of walking the path called life.

Employment counseling customers have the experience of being unsuccessful and a myriad of reasons why they have not attained their wants, desires, goals. I understand that when challenges appear too formidable or something does not work in our favor, it is easier on our ego to cast blame or dispersion. I cannot help but think that avoidance and retreats (quitting, getting sick, substance abuse) are responses to the fear of facing our vulnerability. I see them as protection mechanisms designed to comfort fragile human fa├žades. The past is filled with wounds and distortions. We all have memories of being chastised or laughed at when we’ve made “mistakes.”

Clearly the “myriad of reasons” or excuses may be quite valid. Certainly failures and rejection attack our self worth and it can become more difficult when others in our environment support negative views.

I may empathize, sympathize and understand, but I really do not care why they have failed. My job is to foster resilience because in the long run greatness belongs to those who challenge their fears and take the risks necessary for success. It is just not true that because something happened before that it will reoccur exactly as it has in the past. It is not true that the individual I am counseling is a “loser.” Each is unique with special gifts, an angle waiting to be set free. If they become consciously aware of the true obstacles, I believe we can move in a positive direction. And, when I really do well, we can embrace Marianne Williamson’s concept, “ Our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? “

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PSG TV, part of a 21st Century Job Search


I have always argued that change becomes stressful and overwhelming only when you've lost any sense of the constancy of your life. You need firm ground to stand on. From there, you can deal with that change. ~ Richard Nelson Bolles


There are many illusions in the world of work. When job loss enters the picture, humans can be fairly fragile creatures. More than just a decrease in available money, our schedule is suddenly disrupted. We no longer are going to our place of business to associates with the people who may have been our co-workers for many years. It is too easy for the unemployed person to become isolated and some become quite depressed.

Self help support groups or job clubs are one of the most effective processes available to help dislocated workers return to gainful employment. In New Jersey many of the One Stop Career Centers have Professional Service Groups (PSG). In Pleasantville our group is facilitated by the very talented, Christine Berberich, who possesses the right mix of positive attitude and organizational skills. We provide a meeting place and create a new structure, with telephones, computers, fax machines and copiers to simulate a working environment. Our participants gather, discuss viable alternatives to help one another find suitable opportunities, form committees to accomplish agreed upon tasks and provide each other with the support necessary to cope with the challenges. One of the core ingredients is for participants to learn to deliver an “elevator speech,” a short, positive pitch that sells their personality and offers their special talents. We practice these presentations week after week until they flow with perfection.

Almost a year ago, our PSG members decided to create a television show designed around these elevator speeches. We created two demo tapes and got approval from the Department of Labor & Workforce Development to send them to our local NBC television affiliate. Channel 40 was receptive to our ideas and offered up to a minute and 15 seconds on the nightly news. Wow, we were thrilled. Next we pitched the idea to our Workforce Investment Board and got the grant needed to go into full production. Pictured is the taping of one of our first segments. The first employment minute aired on April 7, 2010.


All shows are available on You Tube at the PSG Employment Minute
and on the NBC 40 website

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Education, Marketing & Closing the Deal

Employers hire people they know first, pretty much all the time, everywhere. It is difficult to invest in an unknown entity. Professional employment counselors have been teaching “Networking” for decades as the primary mechanism for securing decent paying good jobs. 50 Cent How the Get a Job Lecture That has not changed, but today the availability of information has changed the job search process dramatically. Today we have the Electronic Highway!

The traditional job search process is chaotic, filled with illusions and has been described as designed to screen people out of consideration in an attempt to reach a manageable number to actually interview. People tell me that responding to newspaper ads and job bank postings or sending unsolicited resumes is frustrating and generally do not provide a decent return for time and money expended.

At our Career Center I advocate a three step approach to job seeking: Education, Marketing & Closing the Deal.



Education

Education includes the upgrading of skills, understanding what we have to “sell” and how we effectively search the labor market.

We must at minimum ensure that every job seeker is computer literate. We teach a basic how to use the computer class. We focus on how to complete an on-line application and construct short bios and resumes. O*NET is a great tool, in the public domain (no cost) and is continually being updated. I suggest searching every occupation or job one has performed. O*NET fully describes the positions, tasks performed, tools used, knowledge and skills displayed, abilities needed, work activities, work content, work styles, work values and related occupations. O*NET provides words to develop quality personal descriptions. To upgrade skills, Goodwill Community Foundation International offers an impressive group of free tutorials. We educate and build confidence in our job seekers and help them sell themselves as evolving and capable of moving in many directions. Of course we always encourage seeking out grants to finish degrees or attain certifications for those who have the will, the time and income to pursue more formal education.





While some employers are not successfully competing, others are coming into existence seeking talent. Debbie Flanagan’s tutorial or the Riley Guide provide more than enough information to research businesses. Personally I suggest “Google” searching employers by name or searching with various combinations of keywords. The more we know about potential employers, the closer we are to being hired. I advocate shopping for an employer.

Marketing

The 21st century has brought the concept of “Web Presence” to consider. Especially for better paying positions, employers increasingly “Google” the name of people they are considering. They look on “Linked-in” and similar networking sites. There is a strong trend emerging of employers searching the internet to learn as much as possible about an individual before making an offer. This is actually good news because technology today really allows us to demonstrate who we are and what we are capable of achieving. We can have our own professional looking website, with a personal domain name, for less than $10 a month (i.e., mlazarchick.com. We can Blog our thoughts and establish a level of expertise in an area where we feel comfortable (i.e., Employment Counseling for the 21st Century. Sites like Lulu will help us create and publish a book. Your own radio show can be broadcast on line using My Blog Radio or even your own television program using U Stream TV . Methods of communication are evolving at an incredible speed. Sites like Mashable show us how to most effectively use “social networking” tools on line. We are limited only by the extent of our personal creativity.



Closing the Deal

We are being judged all the time and everyone we encounter, potentially, can lead us to a source of income. I suggest business cards with name, e-mail address, telephone number and a quote or slogan expressing something about who we are. The task is to enter the consciousness of potential employers, while creating a favorable impression. In job clubs we practice and videotape, so job seekers can see their delivery and refine their presentations. Eventually the answers to who we are and what we do are succinct, flowing smoothly and effortlessly. We have discussed values and helped people come to terms with the direction they really want to take their life. When they get to a truly appropriate opportunity, it is easy to project confidence and enthusiasm. And, in the final interview they must remember one basic concept. Employers hire people that they like. A genuine, honest, positive, person to person discussion from the heart, will usually close the deal.