Happy 2017 peeps! Here’s to a successful, rewarding, joyous and blessed year ahead Insha’Allah!
As I went through my previous rants, I found one I had written some eight years ago for my career development blog on goal planning. Now as you have your resolutions set for the year, let me ask you, “when was the last time you actually went passed February with your resolution in mind?” Assuming probably minimal to oh dang, right?
Here’s my fresh take on goal planning and what you can take from a habit done eight years ago to apply it in 2017.
Is your new year’s resolution to lose weight? Finish college? Travel the world? That can be your resolution but with no real set goals, it’s never going to happen.
I think what many of us forget to do when we talk resolutions is coming up with tangible ones. We need to talk goals, break it down and work our way towards it. Remember, resolution technically means to solve a problem not achieve a milestone. We want to focus on achieving milestones, hence you want to focus on goal planning.
For example, If you have a weight problem, then your resolution is to lose/gain weight. Yet, if you have a weight you’d like to achieve, then your goal is to reach that weight.
Here’s an example I use often. I’m a bookworm, I love reading. Yet because of my hectic schedule, I’m not reading as much as I’d like. My new year’s resolution is to read more. Done, nothing tangible, nothing structured, nothing really to motivate me to read more books.
My new year’s goal is to read twelve books. How will I do so? Here’s a copy of what I drafted for this year, a monthly and weekly goal plan to achieve my reading goal and resolution.
So take out a clean sheet of paper, write out your goal plan and post it somewhere you’ll see it. Also, highly recommend using that calendar on your phone and posting reminders for yourself. Every day, every week, every month. You’d be surprised come December 2017, and pat yourself on the back.
Happy New Year peeps!!
I posted the following on Instagram & SnapChat earlier today…
“Do you regret changing jobs?” they ask. “Are you happy now?” they ask. Regreting means you learned nothing & I strive to have no regrets especially when it comes to my career. Happier means I was miserable before which is far from the truth. I loved my last job as I’ve always had an appreciation for cars & my work gave me the challenges of my career. But what’s next when these challenges are conquered? You take on the next challenge!
“You’re living the dream” they say. “You’re new job is easy” they say. Yes, I’m living the dream of having my intellect (& pallete) challenged on a greater scale. Yes, my job is easy only because I’m motivated every morning to rise, “fuck mediocrity” & get to work! #Yalla!
What’s your motivation??
In every resume I’ve critiqued at least in the last month, I noticed one thing in common: everyone of them had a nice lengthy objective. I have a lengthy problem with that… here’s why.
What’s an objective? An objective is basically one’s intentions towards something, a goal to accomplish. With that understanding, it is very important that you do relay to your potential employer what your intentions and goals are in your career and in working with that company.
So why do I have a problem with it being in your resume? Well on your resume, you are listing your education, qualifications, work history and skills. An objective is written out in a good 3-5 sentence paragraph. That’s why it should not be on your resume! So where does it go?
On your cover letter!
Your cover letter is a personalized letter to the hiring personnel that introduces your resume. In your cover letter, you are to discuss what makes you best for the position in question, what your objectives are and how you can be reached after they review your resume. It’s simply an opening statement, a good 3-5 sentence paragraph about your objectives and qualifications. Then a closer with your contact information. Very simple, very basic.
Why don’t you want to go on about your great achievements or expanded skills? You need to leave something for the interview. You list your skills and any relevant achievements and awards but your cover letter gets them to read your resume. Your resume, gets them to set up an interview with you.
So, what’s your objective?
Last week, on March 21st, four Oakland Police officers were killed in the line of duty. An ex-offender, 27 years old, had violated his parole and had a warrant out for his arrest. A routine traffic stop turned into a battle that ended with his death amongst the four officers noted. The mass memorial service for all four officers in Oakland was attended by the entire Oakland Police Department force along with over 20,000 members of the community and televised on almost every local station in the Bay Area on March 27th. This story truly struck a cord with many in uniform across the nation and with many community members in the Bay Area.
This story struck a personal cord with me, with family and friends on both ends.
It upset me that this young man had a chance to turn his life around after getting parole only to get killed going back to his offenses. I remembered how during my first year of being educated on providing counseling and job training, (ironically also in Oakland), I worked not only with the homeless community, but also with ex-offenders. More then I can count that year did I see ex-offenders get hired in positions they never thought they were even qualified for. Participating in many workshops and trainings throughout the years thereafter, I would almost always meet at least one individual who was an ex-offender that went from having a negative to a positive outlook on what they can achieve; and what an accomplishment they have become!
Below is what I have learned since that year on better helping ex-offenders in their job search as a start to their new rehabilitated life. Those who wanted to truly make those mistakes learning stones and a thing of the past by having a positive outlook on what they can achieve.
Action Plan for Ex-Offenders
If you think you can’t get a job because you are an ex-offender and/or out on parole, think again! The number one reason you may never break this barrier is because you simply don’t want too. Making the excuse that no one will hire you because you are an ex-offender isn’t the way to go. You must be willing, determined and have a positive approach to your job search. You need to develop an action plan on how to you’ll get back on your feet to walk the better paths.
First, you need to be fully aware of what your charges were and that there are no errors of any kind. The US Department of Labor notes that any “inaccurate information may give an unnecessarily negative profile of the individual.” This means that you don’t want to state in your applications and interviews that you were convicted of one offense and the employer does a background check only to find other offenses. You would lose the chance of being hired not because of your offense, but the pretense that you lied to them. So make sure you are all set there by getting a copy of your records and going through them with your attorney or assigned probation/parole officer.
When you have all that information set, you need to learn what kind of work you can actually hold. There are federal laws that prohibit and regulate that those with certain convictions of or involving dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering or participation in a pretrial diversion program for those offenses cannot work in the financial industry in any position with access to money. For example, if you were convicted of theft, you can’t be a teller at a bank. Many states also have similar laws that detail specific industries an ex-offender may not work in depending on their convictions. For example, certain positions with such prohibitions tend to be in industries where those deemed “vulnerable” are directly involved. Such industries include childcare, education, security, nursing and home health care.
That may come off negative but you can’t simply expect to be given such a risky chance without willing to prove that you have changed, learned and can be of a major asset to the employer as well as society. Note though that an employer has the right and responsibility to determine the conviction in relation to the position to be filled. The factors an employer should put in considerations are:
- How long ago was the offense?
- How old were you when the offense took place?
- What was the nature and gravity of the conviction?
- What efforts have you made toward rehabilitation?
What can help you, especially with the last factor there, is if you have all your documents in order along with your resume such as any certifications you received as well as a recommendation letter from your assigned probation/parole officer. That takes us to the next step in your action plan. Depending on where you live (and funds available for these programs especially during these difficult economic times), there are many support groups, training programs, courses at local community colleges and even job fairs for ex-offenders. These types of information and resources your officer would almost always know about. Make sure to always be in touch with your officer and never, I mean NEVER, miss a meeting. Its when you can showcase to your officer your action plan and commitment to being a better person that they can be of a better support system to you!
Aside from the steps discussed in the Career Development Guidebook (and throughout this blog) there are extra steps to take to better overcome this barrier of being an ex-offender looking for work. You must always be confident that your conviction, aside from the laws stated above, doesn’t eliminate your chances of being a good candidate for the position you are applying for. Make sure before turning in your application and resume to the company, that you check with the employer if there are any specific convictions that can disqualify you from the position your applying for. This could be that they have certain policies complying with state laws or as mentioned above, what relation the conviction is to the position open. Be sure to note the person’s name and position in the company as this will be important in your application and interview.
When you fill out your application, under where it asks you of any felonies or convictions, BE HONEST! Don’t detail everything in your application! You can write something like, “Will be pleased to discuss during interview.” If someone told you that your conviction doesn’t disqualify you, make sure to add that note after your response, “conviction does not automatically disqualify according to name, job title.” I would also put your assigned officer’s name and number for a reference. This assures the employer that even before they interview you, that you have been making the efforts because your assigned officer is willing to give you a reference!
During the interview, the conviction without a doubt will come up as you noted that you’d be pleased to discuss it then. You do not need to detail everything that happened. You want to say something along the lines of, “When I spoke with name, the job title, I was very pleased that I would be seen for my experience and skills before my conviction. My conviction was _____. Since then, I have participated in a _____ program where I graduated and expanded on my skills in _____. Currently I utilize these skills by volunteering at _____ and hope to obtain this position where I can utilize these skills and learn new ones.” You want to highlight all the positives arising from your conviction. You don’t want to bad mouth anyone or put yourself on the defensive. This isn’t the place, the time or the person to be delving all that information too.
With your action plan, you should be able to break that barrier. Remember, you are confident because you are now a better person then the mistake you made. Be honest, be positive, be willing to ask for support and you will find yourself in a much better place then you were.
To learn more about available programs and support systems in your area, make sure to check the US Department of Labor’s Web site, be in contact with your assigned probation/parole officer and connect with your network. You can always send me an email with your question and expect a response!
The first step before starting almost anything is knowing what your goals are. Don’t just say for example, “I want to be an architect”, but you need to ask yourself a few questions:
“What kind of architect do I want to be?”
“What skills do I have that qualify me as architect?”
“Which university has the best architecture program?”
“Do they offer job placement, internship or temp jobs programs to expand on my skills?”
“Where can I go to find an internship or temporary job?”
“What do I need to do to find an internship or temporary job?”
It gets a bit expanded and sometimes it can get a bit complex.
I want you to take out a sheet of blank paper and create your goal plan*. On top, put what your ultimate goal. For the sake of example, let’s say your ultimate goal is “Become an Architect.” Under that, write “5 Year Goal” and write what your goal is in the next 5 years. It could be that you want to graduate with a specified architectural degree by the year 2014. Under that, write “1 Year Goal” and write what your goal is in this next year. Do the same for your one month goal and your one week goal. These two help you see where you are at now, what you need to complete throughout the year towards your ultimate goal.
Your one month goal could be to have at least 5 applications with required essays, statements and letters of recommendations ready to be turned in at your desired universities. Your one week goal then can be listed as follows:
– Research and speak with different university admissions advisers and/or program directors.
– Have a personal statement drafted out to be applied to my master university application
For that week’s daily tasks, you’ll be listing tasks that you need to do that take you closer to your one week goal, one month goal, one year goal, five year goal. For example, your task for today is to draft your goal plan on becoming an architect. Tomorrow, your tasks are to research all university architectural programs in your city and to look up 2 articles on the industry.
Now that you get the idea, I suggest two things:
1. On a sheet with your ultimate goal where you will see it at least once a day. When you have a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish it makes it difficult to drift away from the tasks at hand towards that accomplishment. It also helps keep you motivated and positive, which in turn helps attract that good vibe and energy while you are working on those listed tasks.
2. List at least your monthly goals, weekly goals and daily tasks where it is convenient. For example, if you carry around a planner or use your phone’s calendar. This way, you have it with you all the time, can easily make any necessary changes as well as save lots and lots of trees.
What does Hala do?
I put all my weekly goals and daily tasks in my phone’s calendar while noting my monthly, yearly and five year goal plan in a private journal. That way, I constantly see the journal and have a reminder going off almost every few hours in my pocket of what I’m working towards.
From time to time, I’ll change the background on my phone to a picture from my graduation in 2005 so that I’m motivated towards my upcoming ultimate goal of completing my MBA. These types of things help me keep a smile on my face when I’m frustrated with any homework assignments or a project like I am now.
Feel free to share your goals here as well as any questions you may have about goal planning.
Until next time, remember again that looking for a job is a full time job in itself… so get busy!