Job Trouble (03/21/07)

Dear Zelda,

I recently was “let go” from a job because I was told I was too slow after only one day on a PC. How do you fix your ego when you get kicked below the belt like this?

Thanks and love,

Kicked Below the Belt

Dear Kicked,

“Pursue, keep up with, circle round and round your life as a dog does with his master's chaise. Do what you love; know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”
--Henry David Thoreau

Doggone good advice from Thoreau. I'd give a big doggie “ditto.” So you were let go from a job after only one day because you were too slow on a PC. That does sound pretty harsh, but try not to dwell on it. Getting fired can happen to the best of us, and at least in this case you know why you were let go, and it's something you can work on and improve. You've already admitted that it was a blow to your ego... the question is, what are you going to do about it?

You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get to work finding a new job better suited to your qualifications. Task number one is to deal with why you were fired in the first place. If it's true that you are slow using a computer, you can solve that problem by taking classes, reading tutorial books, or even finding online courses to teach you the relevant skills. Not only will this improve your marketability, it'll also make you feel more confident when you go out to search for a new job. It may be, however, that your dream job has nothing to do with using a computer, and that your skills lie elsewhere. If so, don't apply for a job where computer skills are so central (although, do such jobs exist anymore?). Now may be the best time to think about a career change, and this is a great opportunity to find something you love to do with your life.
 
Step two is to research the job market and look for a job that suits your skills and makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning with excitement (okay, this may be asking a bit much). Get busy with your best job-hunting techniques, and tell everyone you know that you are in the job market again. Don't think of yourself as currently unemployed... finding a job is now your full-time job. Work on it every day like you would any other job. It's up to you to sell yourself to another company.
 
Tune up your resume. Focus on your accomplishments and achievements and ask someone to critique it. Revisit your references and contact the people on your reference list to let them know you are back in the job market. Make sure everything on your resume is positive and sells the best of you to your prospective employer. You don't need to mention on your resume that you were fired from your one-day job; you'll have an opportunity to discuss this during your interviews.
 
Dick Bolles, the author of What Color is Your Parachute, recommends that during a job interview you volunteer that you were let go from your last job even before the question is asked. Keep it brief, keep it honest, make sure you articulate why the job didn't work, and the steps you took to rectify the situation (e.g. courses, online training, etc.). Explain what you learned in the process, and use it as an example of how you deal with difficult situations and grow from your experiences. You can actually make it work in your favor if you do it right. Take the negative and turn it into a positive. By the way, never, ever blame your former supervisor or employer for your being let go, and don't make excuses.
 
As hard as it may be, you need to get over being fired and move on. Your job now is to convince future employers that you are a strong candidate for whatever position they're offering. If you follow Thoreau's wisdom and doggedly pursue what you love, you can't help but find a job that suits you and your skills. We all get "kicked below the belt" by life every now and then; the question is how well you get up and dust yourself off. Go get 'em! 
 
Zelda
 
Dear Zelda,
 
It's my job to walk the dogs in our family and I have such a hard time. They pull and constantly pee/mark on trees, fence posts and anything else that doesn't move. I want to take them out more often but I get so very stressed out. Our dogs are seven and four years old. Is it too late to teach them to walk better? I do try.
 
Walked On
 
Dear Walked On,
 
Even old dogs can learn new tricks and your dogs, at four and seven, are still young pups in my book. But let me use ZeeZee, my younger sister, as an example of how you might teach your dogs to be better “walkers.”
 
Let me tell you, ZeeZee, who is two years old, is incorrig-i-bull! She is full of herself and full of energy… she makes the Energizer Bunny look like a couch potato! So you can imagine that teaching ZeeZee to behave on a walk took some serious hard work. At first it was a question of: who's walking whom? Just like your dogs, ZeeZee wanted to drag our owner, and all of us, down the street while stopping at every bush, fire hydrant, or park bench (she likes to leave p-mails for her many friends). Our owner was frazzled and frustrated with ZeeZee's behavior. It was time to get help.
 
With some research our owner learned how to make walking a positive experience. She used a strong leash, keeping it the same length at all times, and a flat collar. Most importantly, she carried some Lean Pupperoni treats, broken into small pieces, as rewards. When ZeeZee stayed by her side she would reward her with the treats and say “close.” Once ZeeZee was consistently walking next to her she would stop and give her jackpot rewards of say, five or six treats one after the other. ZeeZee quickly learned that it was far better to receive rewards than to behave badly.
 
So now it's your turn. Follow my simple advice for keeping your dogs in step, and you’ll have your old dogs doing new tricks in no time. (Incidentally. you will need to adjust their meal sizes according to the number of treats they receive during their walks. Also I'd suggest that in the beginning you walk one dog at a time.) But trust me; it won't take long and soon both pups will be begging to stick to your side, if not like glue, at least like well trained dogs. Good luck!
 
Zelda