Friday, June 14, 2013

Everyone Has a Message



Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo Buscaglia

I was the employment counselor for a lot of years in the public employment office. My office was a dumping ground for anyone who was “not appropriate” to be sent on a job interview.

 Sleeping in an abandoned building, just fired from a job washing dishes, a young man was delivered to my doorstep. He was distraught, twice institutionalized at the state mental hospital and fearful that he was on the way to returning. He spoke and I listened to his tale of woe. He was surprisingly articulate. What was very clear was that he was on the wrong path. I told him so and suggested that he would never be successful unless he made some changes. Over an hour pasted before he went on his way. I am sure he thanked me for listening. Most of the people who came to me were far less than ideal job candidates. For most, my goal was for a healing, therapeutic conversation, or perhaps just the experience of someone willing to hear their words. 

On the opposite side of the isle, twice a year I was sent to man a booth at the local college on job fair day. It was 5 minutes from my home. I did not have to arrive until 9am and finished at 3pm. They fed me lunch. I networked with the other service providers and met employer representatives. Best of all, I spoke with aspiring college students all day.  An exceptionally spiffy young man came to my booth, called me by name and thanked me. I told him he was welcome, but I had no idea who he was or why he was thanking me. He told me he was graduating as an honor student in accounting. He had been extended several job offers at the job fair and, it was because of me. I told him, I did not remember taking tests for him and assured him that he earned whatever he was receiving. Again, I asked him who he was. Four years earlier, I told him he was so pathetically poor he could probably apply for tuition aid at the local college and at least get a bed in which to sleep. I told him he would never be successful as a dishwasher because it was clearly below his potential and he needed a serious goal.  Yup, same young man and he did it! 

Wow, what a gift to me.  So many people cross our paths and so few come back to tell us after they have found success. Interesting, once he was on a viable path he was able to work washing dishes to make ends meet, no longer trapped in a dead end job. His “one time” counselor also learned valuable lessons, to keep the faith, show compassion, do our best and trust that the universe will unfold in a meaningful way! 

I don't think that anything happens by coincidence... No one is here by accident... Everyone who crosses our path has a message for us. Otherwise they would have taken another path, or left earlier or later. The fact that these people are here means that they are here for some reason...   ~  James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fixing the Future



Bill Fenson and I presented Wellness at Work in the 21st Century: Roadmap to Making Money for Economic Resilience, at the NECA Day of Learning within the ACA Conference in Cincinatti
The bad news is that clearly we are still suffering from the recession. The good news is that career and employment counselors are in a job demand occupation. Many people remain unemployed. We shared graphics from the Heldrich Center  pdf,  Diminished Lives and Futures: A Portrait of America in the Great-Recession Era , depicting the pessimism of the vast majority of the labor force and those who have just stopped looking.   We discussed advancing technology and the impact on the workforce citing publications (NY Times for example) that suggest there are increasingly fewer jobs for humans.  Other major trends included an aging population, the growth of the illness and wellness industries and increased service industry employment, unfortunately at lower overall wages. 
In the search for jobs we distinguished between the Global Economy and Local Economy. Everyone agreed with internet access, the talented group in attendance was fully capable of planning a joint venture, doing the research, setting up a web site, paying all the necessary fees and entering into business within a matter of hours. We also agreed that any similar group anywhere in the world with access to the web, was capable of doing the same thing and of course, they are! To explain the Local Economy we made reference to the construction happening around downtown Cincinnati. They cannot fix our roads and do renovations from India and China. That requires the presence of a labor force. And yes there are many businesses that are in both arenas. The local merchants compete over sales of products with each other and sales over the internet. 
The second half of the presentation became quite lively with discussion of the documentary Fixing the Future highlighting a growing shift in consciousness.  The film is about sustainable employment, focusing on community and business networking. The filmmaker asks.  “ Do we want a system where people serve the economy or a place where the economy serves people?”  Currently we measure our economy using GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which measures the total output of entities within our borders. It has been argued that our system thrives on consumption with most profits going to corporations or their shareholders with little regard for the health of the planet or people (Zeitgeist the Movie  by Peter Joseph one chilling example).  Pedaling your bicycle to the local farm market, drinking water  you took from your tap and buying a fresh local apple or two for lunch, does little for the GDP. Driving your car to the supermarket and purchasing imported fruit and bottled water adds significantly more (think about packaging and transportation) and if you get into an auto accident, you really boost the GDP!
Fixing the Future explores local banks investing in their community, worker cooperatives, time banking and a growing number of US businesses dedicated to sustainability. One of our handouts further expanded the discussion offering links for more information.
It is a gift to be in a helping, healing profession and possess the ability to influence those we serve.
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  ― Robert F. Kennedy

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Resume Thoughts



CURRICULUM VITAE  or THE COMPREHENSIVE RESUME

Job Seekers for teaching positions at colleges create a Curriculum Vitae (CV), pages of information displaying as much as possible of their history. This is great for colleges because the reviewers generally love to ponder over information. They most likely have a selection team that will dissect the information in preparation for a comprehensive interview. College professors, especially at the graduate level, need to publish in professional journals. The Curriculum Vitae gives a clue on how a candidate may deal  with future publications. 

I have often asked customers to produce a four or five page resume of everything, a working life history of sorts. I do not ask for a finished document. I am more concerned with capturing as much information as possible. I think the process is therapeutic and the result is a document that can be quite useful. From this comprehensive document we can draw information for smaller documents. Unlike the CV, our task shifts to delivering much simpler, uncomplicated messages.  For example, targeted resumes are for specific positions. We read the job description, learn about the company, use words they use, and draw information from our larger resume to create a smaller marketing document.

MARKETING

Marketing is about delivering a carefully crafted message. Before we put one out into the universe, we would be wise to have someone we trust tell us what “messages” they are getting.  
Resumes used to get interviews, must be pretty and easy to read. Pretty means,  pleasing to the eye, well organized and as of course, no spelling or grammar mistakes. 

* Easy to read means are we getting our primary message across in 10 to 15 seconds.
* Employers or their representative are going through too many resumes as quickly as possible looking first for reasons to throw away as many as possible.
*  We are showing how we deal with paper and hopefully we are providing easy to access information that will get us in the door for an interview.

Bold is a very effective highlight. The eye is drawn quickly and if you bold the reader is likely to read those words.   CAPITALIZED is also an effective highlight and is very suitable for topic headings. Underlining is also use for emphasis. Personally, I do not like to see two or ALL THREE used in the same place!   I think it is overkill and distracts from the message.  If there is a rule of thumb, have a reason to use highlights, do so sparingly and reflect upon what  messages you are sending.

THE SHORT BIO

 I ask customers  to construct a short description, a paragraph that highlights who they are and what they want to do. The short bio is something we might put up on linked-in or a personal web site or something we would use to develop an elevator speech or twenty second commercial. Getting your message into a paragraph is truly a display of craftsmanship. When we then learn to speak the words, flowing clearly with enthusiasm and confidence, we have taken a giant step towards getting to our destiny. 

THE ELECTRONIC RESUME

If you are sending a resume over the internet, there are a whole new set of rules to consider, font and key words to name two. Fortunately there is guidance available: http://www.money-zine.com/Career-Development/Resume-Writing/Electronic-Resume-Samples/