Earlier this work week my day was made by a sweaty smiling man wearing a tank top and a backwards baseball cap. At first, I did not recognize this smiling man walking my direction—although he did look familiar. As he entered my cubicle and took a seat in the chair next to me I nearly fell over because I finally figured out who he was. The last I had heard from him was a phone call thanking me for the follow up strategy I had suggested. He actually questioned me whether or not I remembered him, I could happily respond, “Of course I remember you!” You see this job seeker was exactly that—a true SEEKER. He enrolled in many workshops and absorbed all the information he could when he found himself unemployed.
I did not recognize him at first because he looked quite different from what I remembered. When he initially was attending workshops at the career center he was looking for another office management position like he had held for the previous 20 years. He had worked in a small office surrounded by familiar settings for over 2 decades. Every time he entered my workplace for a job search or a workshop he was dressed for an interview—he appeared work ready. He wore dark rimmed glasses that would be the envy of all hipsters. His khaki pants and pressed button down shirt was always neatly accessorized by a pen in the left breast pocket. As he sat before me now I couldn’t help but express how different he now appeared.
I noticed he was wearing an identification badge. As I asked what he had been up to, he explained that was one of the reasons that he came in. He said that about 9 months ago he had decided to give something different a chance. For the past year he had been working off and on for a staffing agency at a production facility. He stopped by to see me because he had just met with Human Resources and they had offered him a full-time position. His smile was very rewarding after a morning filled with frustrated job seekers.
He took time to thoroughly thank me. He stated that it was a big step to go from a small office environment to a large production facility. He said it was a tad overwhelming at first. My heart could not help but swell when he let me know that this change actually had been very good for him personally. As he sat next to me he appeared to be a new creation.
Though he was heaping accolades onto my efforts of encouragement, I had to let him in on a secret. He had actually served as an inspiration to me for over a year. He was quick to be thankful, pleasant, and courteous. He sent thank you cards to staff members for their help. He submitted résumé and cover letter documents to the online review center to receive assistance. He followed up with us and informed us of his progress. It was refreshing to meet someone who was aware of a need for help and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. Too many people in this life are too comfortable pretending like everything is fine, they would rather drown than admit that they don’t know how to swim.
As someone who cares deeply about the efficacy of my words, it is always heartwarming to hear that the message intended was received and put into action. Over the past year the following 10 strategies I have endorsed in workshops were affirmed through the testimony of the smiling man in the tank top.
- Do more, fear less–always do more than someone else is going to do, you have nothing to lose
- Tailor cover letters and résumés no excuses, failure to do so results in wasted time
- Say YES to opportunities presented–if you receive an invitation, don’t hesitate—SAY YES!
- Send follow up letters and thank you letters or cards–follow up to all communications—even rejection letters (this particular job seeker was considered for other positions by a company after implementing this strategy)
- Try something new–don’t be afraid to do something different, try a staffing agency, contact a recruiter, step outside of your industry, meet new people
- Always believe that there is something better coming–don’t lose hope, you have a great future
- You have unique skills that someone is looking for–learn how to communicate your value
- Don’t ever allow yourself to become isolated–you are still a part of the workforce, get up, shower, get dressed, get out there, volunteer, socialize, network, you don’t have to be alone
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help–the best thing that you could do for your spirit is recognize that we all need help, surrender all attempts to control the uncontrollable, SEEK help
- Take care of your network–show appreciation, reach out in fellowship—approach people with your palms down as you reach out to help them—truthfully, it will be so much easier, when you inevitably need to walk towards them with palms facing up
A constant prayer of mine is that hearts will be open to receive knowledge. The choices that are made after receiving that knowledge are beyond my control. I have had to accept that I am accountable for my own words and my faithfulness to reach out and share. I cannot force a job seeker to implement new strategies, I can only build them up to the point that they realize that they have a choice to SAY YES.
I am very thankful for the smiling man in a tank top.
–Dear READER of this blog, I truly hope that in your life’s work you are able to see and be aware of all the smiling-men-in-tank-tops that you have influenced. ♥