This BC Day, take some time to nurture your work / life balance

 

What you do outside of work can have a big impact on your attitude, your energy, and your success on the job!

It’s important to find regular opportunities to engage in activities and hobbies that you enjoy outside of work. This allows you to relax, recharge, and relieve stress, making you more prepared to go to work with a positive attitude, plenty of energy, and the motivation you need to succeed.

It’s all part of having a full and balanced life.

This week, a few of our job seekers took the chance to let loose and have fun with their friends on the annual Lifetime Networks camping trip at Goldstream Provincial Park! It was a blast!

How are you going to spend your BC Day weekend?

Camping

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Improving your communication skills

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Humans are naturally social creatures. However, we are not born with naturally good social skills. Social skills are learned throughout our childhood, and continue to be refined all our lives. Some people have a harder time than others learning the social skills that are valued by society. Communication skills in particular can be difficult, especially as so many of the “rules” of good communication are unspoken. It takes a certain amount of intuition to understand the ins and outs of good communication skills. It also takes a lot of practice.

In the workplace, communication is key. Good communication skills are often the first and foremost desired attribute listed in job postings. Being able to communicate effectively is a key component to getting along in the workplace, and getting ahead in life. But it isn’t always easy. What can you do if you are someone who struggles with communicating effectively or has difficulty navigating social situation? First of all, know that you are not alone.

Social anxiety can affect anyone at any point in their lives. It is common, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether you are nervous meeting new people, constantly over think your interactions with others, or just worry about whether people like you, it’s likely you know how it feels to be uncomfortable in a social situation. One of the best ways to overcome anxiety and build confidence in your communication skills is through practice.

Check out this fantastic article from Anxiety BC on how to improve your social skills to facilitate more effective communication:

https://www.anxietybc.com/self-help/effective-communication-improving-your-social-skills

This article is great because it includes clear examples of good and bad communication skills. It encourages you to assess your own communication habits, and gives tips for practicing your skills to help you improve. Remember, practice is key!

Workplace Culture: What it is and why you should care

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What is workplace culture?

In many ways, culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, and habits that create a person’s behavior.

Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people. Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of – generally unspoken and unwritten – rules for working together.

From: Culture: Your Environment for People at Work

As the above definition illustrates, the culture of a workplace is abstract – defined by unspoken rules and expected patterns of behaviour – but it is also important. And fitting in with workplace culture can have a big impact on your chances of getting and keeping a job! Each workplace is going to be a little different, and it is important to be able to adapt your behaviour to fit the culture. From adapting to policies such as following a dress code and obeying rules about what you can display on your desk, to acknowledging the more subtle nuances of communication and management styles and how those affect office interactions, workplace culture is a part of everything you do in your job. Whether or not you do your job successfully depends in no small part on how well you adapt to the culture around you.

How to assess workplace culture and adapt to fit in

It’s important to try to get a feeling for the culture of a workplace in order to be successful. When applying for a position, research the business to get a feel for its values and general atmosphere. Does it put a lot of importance on the professional appearance of its employees, or does it favor a more relaxed, down to earth approach to customer relations? Does the company value creative input from employees, or do they want workers who will focus on their jobs and nothing else? What is the management structure like? How are employees treated?  All of these questions point to the culture of a workplace, and having an idea of the answers can help you better present yourself in an application or an interview. Showing that you can conform to the workplace culture goes a long way towards getting you hired, and helps to foster healthy, productive relationships with your coworkers and your employers.

When the culture just isn’t a fit

Sometimes, your personality and the culture of a particular workplace just won’t be a match. In some cases, this ill fit becomes so obvious that the individual or the employer may move to end the employment altogether. It’s important to know yourself and your personal values well enough to be able to decide when it is no longer worth the effort of trying to adapt. Some cultures can become toxic to an individual who doesn’t fit in, causing discomfort and unhappiness. While we can’t always love our jobs, we should at least be able to get some satisfaction from what we are doing; Whether it is the feeling of pride after a productive day of work or the gratification that comes with each hard earned paycheck, there should be something about the job you are doing that makes it worthwhile.

Networking Pro Tips

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A quick google search will tell you that over %70 of jobs are found through networking. But what does that actually mean?

It means that, for many people, jobs are found through “word of mouth” and personal referrals. It can be a challenge to get noticed among the scores of resumes submitted to online job postings. Sometimes, knowing the right person at the right time can be the most effective way of getting a job.

It won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to build an effective network.  But with some dedication, and the help of these tips, you can be on your way to becoming a networking pro.

 

Tips to Networking Effectively

Map your Network

Mapping your network is a great exercise to show the various connections that exist within your personal network. Often this process uncovers a much larger personal network than one would have expected to find. Begin your mapping process with your inner circle of close friends and family. Expand outwards to include acquaintances, past coworkers, and people you went to school with. Don’t forget to add any community groups or clubs that you belong to, like sports teams or special interest groups. Try to include as many people as you can think of!  When you have expanded your map as far as you can, look for any connections between people in your network. Try to pinpoint key people who are well connected within your network, and those who have large networks of their own.

Stay in Touch

It’s important that you nurture your network. This means staying in touch with the individuals in your network – particularly those who you have identified as key contacts. Key contacts are the individuals in your network who are especially well connected and have the potential to expand your network through introductions and referrals. Staying in touch can be as simple as sending the occasional note, email, or phone call. For key contacts, you might want to consider a coffee or a lunch date from time to time.

Practice Generosity

Another important aspect of nurturing your network is through practicing generosity. Relationships are a two way street, and the best way to develop positive relationships that are going to benefit you in the long run is by being generous with your time and skills now. Identify something that you can offer to your network contacts – a skill or specialized knowledge – and give it freely. Be generous with your time as well; set aside time for conversations, give referrals, and make introductions. The more you give to your network, the more you will get in return.

Identify your Champions

Within your network, there will be individuals who are willing to champion you. These are the people that you call on when you need a reference or a referral. They are people who will bring your name up when they are engaged in their own personal networking, and will extol your virtues willingly and with enthusiasm. You probably already have a few of these people in your life (Hi Mom), but they might not be the most well connected individuals in your network. By following the above strategies, you can grow your network of key individuals and turn them into champions!

Roll For Initiative

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“I leap from the bridge and brandish my war axe!” Brandon shouts with a booming voice that shakes the entire room. The battle scene represented on the table looks like nothing more than plastic figurines on a hand drawn map, but in everyone’s imagination Brandon truly is a Dragon-born fighter taking on a horde of blood thirsty goblins.

This is a typical moment in the tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. If you’re not familiar, Dungeons and Dragons is a group story telling experience that plays like a board game. Each player creates a fantasy character with a unique set of special abilities, who is then guided through a story full of intrigue, mystery and action by the Dungeon Master (who is a cross between a referee and a story teller). For some people, Dungeons and Dragons can be intimidating at first, but as long time players like Brandon know, it’s a game that anyone can pick up and learn with relative ease.

Brandon is the owner of Roll For Initiative, a bi-monthly event for newcomers and experts to play Dungeons and Dragons in a friendly environment. Two years ago Brandon tried the game for the first time and immediately fell in love with it. Unfortunately, he ran into a common problem for the hobby: he struggled to find others in Victoria who were willing to form a group and play.

At the time, Brandon had just joined the Lifetime Networks Employment Program and was one day struck with inspiration: What if there was a local event that brought the Dungeons and Dragons community together to play in an open and safe space? With the support of the Employment Program, Brandon constructed a business plan to start his own small business.

Roll for Initiative is in its second year of operation and the event’s popularity is booming. “I started off offering the event once a month,” Brandon explained, “but by the summer of our first year we were having to turn people away because we were sold out within the first few weeks of sales. So I decided to expand the event to two times a month to meet the demand.” And Brandon has already begun planning to expand again, as more and more players are showing interest.

Interested in finding out more? Go to www.rollforinitiative.ca  for more details .

 

This article was written by Alex Saunders and originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of the Lifetime Networks Newsletter.

Career Exploration

Some individuals come to our employment program with no idea what kind of work they’d like to do. And that’s okay! As long as the desire to work is there, we can help with the rest!

We strive to match individuals with jobs that work well for them, based on our understanding of their strengths, interests, and goals for the future. A lot of this information is captured in the Discovery document, a detailed profile of an individual that can be used to match them with appropriate work opportunities. Sometimes, though, the Discovery alone isn’t enough to give someone a real idea of what they would like to do – especially if they have not had much opportunity previously to try different things and explore their interests in a work-type setting.

We have some tricks up our sleeves for helping people discover what they would like to do. Our favorite way to encourage people in their career exploration is with career cruising.

 

What is Career Cruising?

Career cruising is a hands on activity meant to engage individuals with their job search and broaden their understanding of specific types of jobs and workplaces.

There is no “right way” to do career cruising, which makes it a very adaptable activity for all individuals. Generally speaking, career cruising begins with an assessment of an individual’s strengths and interests, which are then developed into a few categories or themes. The individual is encouraged to research local businesses that fall within each category and develop a list (or lists) of businesses that they are interested in looking at for possible employment opportunities.

For example: If a person has strong social skills and is interested in fashion, then a theme of interest for them might be clothing stores. They might go on to list various businesses that fall under that category, including thrift stores, mall retail outlets, and/or fashion boutiques.

The job seeker then selects a minimum of three businesses from their list to go and visit in person. This visit can be arranged with the business in advance if needed, but often individuals are encouraged to go as “customers” to get a feel for the place. On site, individuals observe the workplace and try to identify as many different positions as they can, as well as record individual tasks that are being done by the employees.

For some people, this can be an extremely eye-opening experience, as they might find that there is more to a certain position than they initially thought; conversely, they might be become more open to positions that they had previously thought weren’t for them, or that they had never even thought of at all.

The objective of career cruising, on the surface, is for increased engagement in the job search. But the process of career cruising goes much deeper, targeting an individual’s perception of work (what does it mean to have a job? what kind of jobs exist?) and of themselves. By placing themselves in the shoes of a worker and imagining what it would be like to do a certain job, an individual can significantly broaden their concept of work and refine their interests, bringing them one step closer to finding the perfect position.