Fitness for Office – A Fair Evaluation of Donald Trump

A FACT-BASED EVALUATION OF TRUMP’S FITNESS FOR OFFICE

fitness-emblemThe electoral college will soon vote to elect the 45th president of the United States.  While it is likely that they will elect Donald Trump, it is not guaranteed.

Like never before in the history of our nation, we are counting on the electors to fairly and honestly evaluate the fitness of the candidate before electing him to office.

So what do the electors need to consider when evaluating Donald Trump’s “fitness” for office?

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy sets out a 5-prong analysis for determining fitness of a presidential candidate:

  1. What are the candidates’ values, views on the issues and priorities?
  2. Does the candidate have the good judgment and temperament to be president?
  3. Is the candidate trustworthy?
  4. Does the candidate have the experience and competence to succeed as president?
  5. Does the candidate have the physical and mental ability to handle the grueling duties as president?

Evaluating Trump’s Fitness for Office

You won’t find an official definition of what it means to be “fit for office of president of the United States.”  The US Constitution doesn’t spell it out.  But, undoubtedly, our founders believed that in the event someone was unfit for office, we would know it — and the electors would protect us from someone unfit for office.  If the founders thought that they needed to spell it out for future generations, we can trust that they would have spelled it out.  A zebra is a zebra, and we know one when we see it.z1-billy

So — although most of us see the zebra — it seems that some of our electors still need a picture before they can call it what it is.  Here, I attempt to draw that picture for them.

The list — if there is a list of all of Trump’s outrageous behavior, comments, and protocol breaches — is quite long.  I will not attempt to recreate that list here. Instead, in application of the 5-prong analysis, I will limit the focus to those acts and statements which are unequivocally factual, and which many people subjectively consider to be the most outrageous examples of his behavior.

  1. VALUES, VIEWS, AND PRIORITIES

Priorities:

Fact: Trump is reluctant to put his businesses into an actual blind trust.  His official decision is supposed to be announced in an upcoming press conference, but he has not given us any reason to believe that he will act in accordance with tradition in this regard.

Fact:  Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns. There is no legal reason for his refusal.

Fact:  Trump plans to continue to be the executive producer for a reality television show while he is president.

Conclusion: The enormity of the conflicts of interest resulting from his refusal to set up an acceptable blind trust indicates that the office of president of the US is not his highest priority.  And his refusal to release his  tax returns (so that the depth of his conflicts can be fairly evaluated) likewise demonstrates that his privacy is, to him, more important than the office of president.  What is arguably the hardest and most stressful job on our planet requires the undivided attention of the president, yet Donald Trump won’t even relinquish his role as executive producer of a reality television show?  In other words, his priorities are clearly messed up.

Values and Views on the Issues:

These two go hand-in-hand.  Donald Trump’s views on the issues help us to understand what he values.  His various choices for key cabinet positions likewise express those values and views.

Fact: Trump believes that global warming is a fiction created by China.  He denies the scientific truth regarding the environment and its impact, and his policy decisions will be based on this disbelief.

Fact:  Donald Trump does not have faith in our national intelligence agencies and disbelieves reports of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. (see more)

Fact: Trump wants the EPA to be headed by someone who does not believe in the purpose of the agency, and he is considering giving the Department of Energy to Gov. Rick Perry, a man who believes that the agency should be shut down.

Conclusion: A person who has a blanket disbelief of the information provided by intelligence agencies cannot possibly make rational, reasonable, and sound decisions as our commander-in-chief.  A person who rejects hard science in favor of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories likewise cannot possibly make rational, reasonable, and sound decisions as POTUS.

And with regard to the EPA and Dept. of Energy — Isn’t the absurdity of naming non-believers to those agencies akin to the absurdity of naming a black rabbi to the position of Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

  1. JUDGMENT AND TEMPERAMENT

Fact: Donald Trump uses his Twitter account to publicly attack private citizens.

attack-2

As reported in the Washington Post, for example, after an 18 year old girl* asked Donald Trump a question at an event, he criticized her in a tweet and inaccurately described her as a Jeb Bush staffer.  As a direct result of that tweet, Trump loyalists continued the attack on the girl via telephone, email, and social media.  She received violent threats such as one posted to her on Facebook that said, “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.” (sic)

Fact: Donald Trump’s tweet attacks on private citizens continued after the election.  Trump criticized a union president, stating that “[he] has done a terrible job” and it’s “[n]o wonder companies flee the country!!”  This also lead to continued attacks and threats on the private citizen by Trump loyalists.

attack-1

Fact:  Donald Trump has not publicly reprimanded or chastised those who furthered his attacks on private citizens.

Fact:  Following these attacks on private citizens, Donald Trump stated in an interview on the Today Show that he believes his tweets are “very restrained” and that he talks about “important things.”

Fact:  Donald Trump has repeatedly and publicly criticized, demeaned, and devalued women, Muslims and the Islamic faith, Mexicans, and other groups.

Conclusion: Dr. George Simon, an expert on psychological disorders, is quoted as saying, “Make no mistake, no one is more dangerous than a person who sets him or herself above others to the point that he or she feels entitled to prey on those viewed as inferior.” (see CounterPunch.org)

Attacks on private citizens, minorities and ethnic groups, and religions demonstrate unacceptable, dangerous judgment and temperament. That danger is highlighted by Trump’s statement that his behavior is “restrained,” leading to the rational conclusion that his real and unrestrained beliefs are even more egregious than he is sharing publicly.  His public attacks and criticisms further demonstrate that he either completely lacks understanding of the consequences of his words, and/or that he is completely indifferent to those consequences — either of which is, alone, evidence that he is unfit to hold the office of president.

*Trump supporters tweeted her name, photo, phone number, email address, and Facebook link.  I will not invade her privacy any further by naming her here.
  1. TRUSTWORTHINESS

Fact:  Donald Trump repeatedly lies, and he has a careless disregard for facts.  Here are just a few examples  —

THE LIE

THE TRUTH

Trump repeatedly stated that he watched secret footage of a U.S. plane unloading money in Iran. It didn’t happen. Trump later admitted that this was not true. (see more)
Trump repeatedly stated that he saw 1000s of Muslim Americans celebrating in New Jersey after the 9/11 attack. (see more) It didn’t happen.
Trump stated that millions of illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton in a rigged election. There is no evidence of any illegal votes, much less “millions,” or of a rigged election.
Trump said, “WikiLeaks also shows how John Podesta rigged the polls by oversampling Democrats . . . a voter suppression technique Didn’t happen. And he’s wrong: Oversampling ensures accurate data, and it doesn’t suppress votes.
Trump repeatedly stated that new hacked emails showed that multiple television networks conspired with Hillary Clinton to report the news in a way that she wanted it to be reported. It didn’t happen.  There are no emails from television networks asking for direction from Hillary Clinton or her campaign staff.
Trump frequently referred to a “crime wave of criminal behavior” by illegal immigrants, including murder. There is no evidence of this.  In fact, the evidence is that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crime.
Accused “top” FBI investigator in charge of the email investigation of accepting $675,000 from Hillary Clinton. It didn’t happen.  This is a direct false accusation of corruption by both Hillary Clinton and Andrew McCabe, for which there is no justification.
Of the many sexual assault allegations against him, Trump said that many have been “debunked” and “proven untrue.” None of the sexual assault allegations have been debunked or proven to be false.
Blamed Hillary Clinton and Obama for the formation of ISIS, and said that Hillary Clinton is responsible for “all this disaster with ISIS.” ISIS formed under the Bush administration, not Obama administration. The majority of Western attacks carried out by ISIS happened after Hillary Clinton left the State department.

Fact: Numbers, dollars, percentages, totals, etc. provided as factual by Donald Trump are frequently wrong.  Here are just a few randomly selected examples —

DESCRIPTION

TRUMP’S CLAIM

THE TRUTH

Percentage of unemployed black youth

58%

26%

Hispanic poverty level under Obama administration

catastophic increase

Poverty level decreased

Murder rate over the past 45 years

highest in 45 yrs

Among the lowest in 45 years
Hillary Clinton’s plan to raise taxes massive tax increase for everyone” by “almost 50%”

No tax increase for 99% of population.

Economic growth under Obama administration practically zero” and  “no growth Steady growth every year since 2009
Job growth since the passage of ‘Obamacare’

Zero, “totally frozen

15 million new jobs

Unemployment rate (09/2016)

42%

5%

Amount of money lost/misplaced by State Dept. under Hillary

$ 6 Billion

No actual money lost or misplaced.
Number of Syrian refugees admitted into US Hundreds of thousands

Approx. 12,500

Number of illegal immigrants in US

30-34 million

10-11 million (flow of immigrants at a 40 yr low)
Number of business bankruptcies taken by Trump

4

6

Amount of US payment from US to Iran

$ 150 Billion

NO payment from US / About $50 Billion of Iranian usable assets were unfrozen

Conclusion:  Refusal to provide copies of his tax returns causes many to say, “What is he hiding?”  But it is the extent of his lying that causes the extreme mistrust of Donald Trump.

There is a list (albeit outdated)of “all of the lies” told by Donald Trump during the 2016 election.  The list does not, however, include any of his lies since election day. On average, based on the information reported by The Star, Trump lies publicly 20 times per day.

It is fair to call Donald Trump’s pattern of lying as “pathological.”  Pathological liars demonstrate specific characteristics, and those characteristics are easily discerned from Trump’s behavior and comments.

lying-anne-mccrea

How can we justify putting a pathological liar into the highest office in the land?  How can we trust a president who doesn’t trust our top intelligence agencies? How can we justify electing a person we cannot and should not trust?

The answer is that there is no justification.  He simply is not trustworthy.

  1. EXPERIENCE AND COMPETENCE

Fact:  Donald Trump has no experience in civic leadership and government.

Fact:  Competence (also known as “fitness”) is a subjective question.

Conclusion:  Trump’s lack of experience in government is not, by itself, a disqualifying factor. However, when his lack of experience is considered in relation to all of the other parameters by which we evaluate fitness, it carries more weight and causes concern.  The skills of a savvy business person only partially translate to the skills needed by a world leader.  When that person lacks diplomacy, integrity, trustworthiness, good judgment, and a breadth of knowledge about world politics, his business experience is simply insufficient, and he is incompetent to hold office.

  1. PHYSICAL AND MENTAL ABILITY

Fact:  Trump’s medical history and the current state of his health is not known.

Fact:  Mental ability is a subjective question which includes a person’s ability to learn, and his ability to understand the significance of his behavior.

Conclusion: History provides excellent examples of presidents functioning quite well in office in spite of serious health issues.  We do not know why Donald Trump has had a decades long patient/physician relationship with a gastroenterologist, or whether he has any health concerns which might interfere in his performance of the duties of office.  However, with all of the other serious concerns which are easily discernible, there really isn’t any reason to even reach the question of physical health.

On the other hand, Donald Trump’s mental abilities need to be scrutinized.  Does he understand the significance of his behavior?  Based on his tweeting history, it does not appear that he understands.  Does he understand the significance of his public statements about his lack of faith in our intelligence community, or his admiration of Putin, or his view on “One China”?  Do we have any reason to believe that he will demonstrate a stronger mental ability if he is sworn into office?

In a Nutshell

I’ve intentionally provided relatively little commentary regarding the conclusions drawn from the facts.  After all, how much discussion is needed when stating that 1 + 1 = 2?  It is what it is, and that’s what we have on the question of Trump’s fitness for the office of president — a relatively simple equation that sums up to “unfit”.

So why is it so hard for ‘us’ to convince ‘them’ that Trump isn’t fit to hold office?  Why do otherwise rational and intelligent people deny the math?

Convincing all of the Trump supporters that 1 + 1 = 2 is an impossible task, but the urgent question before us now is: Can we persuade 37 republican electors?

I hope so.

~Lynda C. Watts

More from this author on Donald Trump:

Assassination of Protocol and Ethics

Understanding the Electoral College

Trump Promised Change – We’re Watching it Happen!

In Defense of Mainstream Media

 

 

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In Defense of Mainstream Media

“Mainstream media is at fault for the election results.” “Mainstream media can never be believed.”  “If it’s in the news, it can’t be true.”  “Liars, liars, liars!”tell_lie_vision

Mainstream media is under attack, but how fair is our criticism? How realistic are our expectations?  How much are we letting Donald Trump’s rhetoric influence our own opinions?  Are we so lost in the details of isolated mistakes that we fail to see the big picture?

Trump’s contempt for and assault on the media is inexhaustible.  His fervent supporters continue to fall for Don’s con, buying the lie that mainstream media cannot be believed. They allow Trump to steal from them one of their most important and Constitutionally protected rights. The press, after all, with its freedom, is Trump’s enemy.  Truth is his enemy.  And no doubt about it, Trump plays dirty when he fights his enemies.

The free press has tremendous power, and the best way for Trump to fight against the power of truth is to totally discredit the industry.  So long as his people don’t believe what they hear or read in “the news,” Trump can continue to control their beliefs, ideals, and, most importantly, their votes.

The issue isn’t specifically about how the news is reported; the issue is that regardless of what journalists say and no matter how they say it, “if it’s in the news, it can’t be true.” It’s a conspiratorial belief that is deeply ingrained into Trump’s base, and there’s no doubt that Donald Trump fully exploited the conspiracy theorists.

It’s not difficult to understand how a large portion of Trump’s base falls for the lie about mainstream media.  But how do we make sense of the highly educated, “worldly” people who fall for Trump’s con?

THE NEWS VS THE NEWS

Trump’s attack on mainstream media is part of his strategic control of his supporters, but many people do have a legitimate misunderstanding of modern journalistic standards and what is meant by “the news.”

cronkite-395When I was a child, “the news” was easy to define.  Broadcast media was still in its relative infancy.  There was Walter Cronkite who told us what was going on in the world and around the nation.  I lived in Columbia, MO., home of one of the best journalism schools in the world, so the newscaster sitting in the anchor’s chair was always an unfamiliar face, a student who changed on a revolving basis.  But the weather forecast was always delivered by a “friend,” Paul Pepper.  Everyone knew and counted on Paul Pepper.

Hard news and commentary never shared the same space. Every once in  awhile, at the end of the news, there would be a “Special Editorial” segment.  It was clear that what we would hear was the opinion of the person delivering the editorial, and that there was a damn good reason to interrupt the regularly scheduled broadcast to squeeze in a 5 minute editorial piece.

c8da297f5f5a0095fc6c89fe18c2d69aFor truly in-depth news, we turned to the newspaper.  Print media was a burgeoning industry.  And, as it is today,  the editorial section was clearly labeled.

In our home, the newspaper was important.  My granddad read aloud from the Globe Democrat or The Tribune each morning while Grandma prepared and served a hot homemade breakfast — biscuits made from scratch, sausage or bacon from our hogs, milk gravy from our dairy cows, eggs from our chickens, jam from the wild berries I picked, and butter that I churned every Saturday morning.  I always sat quietly listening to Granddad read “stories” from the newspaper (that’s what they were to me) while I colored a masterpiece inside of a Christian-themed coloring book.

Back then, the Vietnam War and hippies were forefront in the news.  But locally, the weather forecast was always the most important part of the news.  My grandparents were farmers, and the weather really mattered.  When Paul Pepper came on, we knew that absolute silence was required of us.  After all, “rewind” didn’t yet exist, and weather apps had not been contemplated.

Today, “the news” means something entirely different.  But because so many of us remember a time when the news was something else altogether — when commentary and editorials were seldom included in a newscast — perhaps many of us have unrealistic expectations from today’s mainstream media.

Some people confuse commentary with hard news, making it easier for them to buy into the conspiracy theory that mainstream media is lying to us.  While it is true that journalists are expected to be objective, modern journalism falls on a spectrum, with a range from “total objectivity” to “specialized commentary” and editorialized opinion pieces.

Legitimate mainstream media outlets need to make a clear distinction between hard news (objective information) and subjective commentary.  And, for the most part, that distinction is clear.  But it’s not perfect.

carrierFor example, when the Carrier deal was recently reported, early reports included statements like, “This is clearly a major victory for the president-elect.” The hard news was that Trump negotiated a deal; the commentary was that it was a “major victory.”  The reports I heard came primarily from field reporters who do a lot of reporting “on the fly,” so I was empathetic with the individual reporters, but I was also irritated.

People might actually believe that Trump had a major victory! I thought.  And I knew it wasn’t a victory at all, much less a major one.  I knew it would take some time to sort through the facts — the hard news — before anyone could fairly express an informed opinion.  I took to Twitter to express my frustration.  To my surprise, the “likes” and “re-tweets” started pouring in.  Obviously, we don’t like it when our journalists make mistakes.

What most of us would think of as a “mistake” or “bad judgment,” Trump calls an intentional lie.  No doubt he liked the reports that referred to the Carrier deal as a “major victory,” but the criticism of the media by Trump and his camp has otherwise become increasingly absurd, so much so that the media is now “at fault” for accurately reporting the actual words delivered publically by the president-elect.  Mainstream media is full of liars because they don’t first translate Donald Trump’s literal statements before reporting them? Seriously absurd.

FAIR GAME?

Absurdities aside, how fair are we in our criticism of mainstream media?

I’ve been narrowly focused these past few days on learning what I can about Trump’s various selections for key White House and cabinet positions.  I want to know more than what can be learned from sound-bites about these people.  As I dig and search and read, I am learning a lot — but mostly I am learning that there is far too much information “out there” for me to adequately absorb.  Just keeping up with a Twitter feed can be a full time job.

And that’s when it hit me:  What a job these people have — the journalists and editors and writers and researchers, etc!  With the immeasurable amount of information cast about the planet from a multitude of mediums on a 24/7/365 basis, how in the hell are they supposed to choose what’s important, find and confirm the truth, arrange and narrow the story down to digestible bites, provide graphics to keep our focus, and report on it — all before it becomes “old news”?

It’s an overwhelming task.

There’s no arguing the fact that they sometimes get it wrong.  And sometimes they get it wrong in a major way.  But it’s just as true that most often they get it right.

For a moment, just try to put yourself in the shoes of, say, Anderson Cooper or Chris Cuomo. Even with a full staff to help, can you imagine the enormous task involved in just one news cycle?  Or what about field reporters in war zones?  Try, as best as you can, to be fair and reasonable in your ponderings.  These are human beings we are discussing; not infallible robots or data mining machines.

In my opinion, most mainstream media outlets do a pretty damn good job.  For the most part.  And that’s a good thing.

For those people who blame the media for the election results: What, exactly, could (or should) the media have ignored during the election that would have made a difference in the outcome?

175px-msnbc_logoSome TV journalists — like JoyAnn Reid, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Chris Matthews — are using their power and influence to truly hold Trump accountable — and they are doing it in a way that remains fair and honest under modern journalistic standards.  Their respective shows are intended to be editorialized, but the commentary and discussions with guests are built around truthful, factual hard news.

So, there are really talented, decent, honest journalists out there, and they are doing a phenomenal job, overall.  The problem, though, is that they are preaching to the choir, for the most part. The very people who would benefit most from spending their evenings tuned into MSNBC (or any other legitimate news source) are the same people who are loyal to, say, Fox News, and/or radical alt-right broadcasters.  Then there are some who don’t listen to or read any news beyond Trump’s Twitter feed.

IN A NUTSHELL

Today’s media is part of what makes this such a great nation.  We’ve progressed dramatically since the days of Walter Cronkite and the 15-minute newscast.  We are blessed to have a free press, and — regardless of which corporation owns a particular media outlet — we must recognize that the good men and women of the press have a really tough job.

Our criticisms and expectations need to be balanced and fair, especially during this moment in history when we desperately need journalists and commentators to help move us forward.  They can do it, honestly and objectively, by choosing to investigate and report (and comment on) stories that are vital to our collective welfare.

press-burdenWhen a truly intelligent journalist is tasked with the difficult job of going beyond the hard news and into the realm of commentary, the burden is much heavier, the responsibility much greater.

This means that they need to ask the hard questions regardless of the answers.  And sometimes they need to ask questions for which we don’t yet have answers, questions which make us think harder about who we are, what we want, and where we are headed.  Having the power to shape the thoughts of the masses is a power that must be respected and honored with a certain degree of humility and with absolute integrity.

We need strong journalists who are skillful and courageous enough to out-maneuver fast-talking rhetoric robots like KellyAnne Conway.  When these people are held to task and not allowed to get away with manipulating the truth, they are likely to stop accepting invitations for free publicity — and that’s fine.  Allowing them to muddy the waters and continuously spread lies is, without a doubt, not an acceptable role of main stream media.

And with respect to the Trump supporters who have allowed themselves to be robbed of the value of a free press, I suspect that the time will come when the truth of the truth hails down on them, bursting their conspiracy-theory and fantasy bubbles. Maybe. There will always be people who refuse the truth, but let’s do what we can to make sure they are a silent minority instead of the “majority” that swung the election in Trump’s favor.

Lynda C. Watts

MORE ON TRUMP and CONSEQUENCES OF 2016 ELECTION:

Assassination of Protocol and Ethics

Trump Promised Change – We’re Watching it Happen!

Understanding the Electoral College

 

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Assassination of Protocol and Ethics

Assassination of a Nation

robert-hutchinsYesterday marked the 53rd year since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the beginning of the suffering endured by our nation.  Today, we are suffering an assassination of a different sort, but no less significant.

Today, it is the assassination of the honor and ethical foundation of our nation that we endure, and what still remains of our long-standing and accepted protocols, of our collective norms and values, is in a state of critical cardiac arrest.

Disqualification of the Dis-qualifier

According to our Constitution, Donald Trump is technically “qualified” to hold the office of President.  You may recall that Donald Trump spent a lot of time and money arguing that President Obama was not qualified under our Constitution because, he said, Obama wasn’t born here.  I’ve heard no arguments against Trump regarding his qualifications under our laws.

But qualification is not the same thing as fitness.   So when we refer to something being a “disqualifying event,” we mean “something that is so bad as to prove that a person is unfit to hold office.”

During the 2016 election, each and every time there was another jaw-dropping report of “unacceptable” and outrageous behavior by Trump, we thought, “He finally went too far.  THIS is a disqualifying event.”

unacceptableBut it wasn’t.  Again and again.  Comment after comment.  Action after action.  The only thing that is disqualified is the opinion that certain behaviors are disqualifying.  The unacceptable was, in fact, accepted, and continues to be accepted.

There is apparently no end in sight to Trump’s assassination of the nation’s protocols and ethics, values and norms.  Trump said it best, ironically, when he said that he could step out into the street, shoot someone, and not lose any support.

We are frightened and appalled and, increasingly, seemingly, powerless.

Normalizing the Assassination

We keep hearing about how this-and-that is being normalized by Trump, his surrogates, and his supporters.  It is apparently the new norm to be politically incorrect.  It is seemingly the new norm to accept the unacceptable.  Long standing protocols no longer matter.  It is the social norms theory in action — an action that needs to be prevented.

The outrageous behavior of Donald Trump and the frightening direction he promises to take us reminds me of parenting a toddler.  So long as a child is allowed to behave badly, that child will behave badly.

It is also similar to what happens in instances of abuse, for example, when a man physically and mentally abuses a woman.  The cycle of abuse is difficult to break for many reasons, including the victim’s normalization of the bad behavior.

Without consequences for bad behavior, the behavior continues to evolve into something that is totally unacceptable but viewed as “normal.”  And that is exactly what is happening in our nation.

Finding Faultblame

Blame is being cast in every direction, and most of it is as nonsensical as the election itself.  And it is pointless.

Understanding how this happened is necessary — we don’t want to repeat a mistake like this — but I suspect it will take years to truly understand where we went wrong.

Finding fault doesn’t resolve the clear and present danger we face.  We have a problem to resolve yet no one, apparently, has any idea how to resolve it.

The system of checks-and-balances is somehow failing us as we watch this assassination unfold.  The electoral college is failing us.  Social media is failing us.  Many of the mainstream media outlets (but not all) are failing us.  The list goes on.

The Change We Need8cda0cf1674cb0fdaf0d921637c94972

Trump is right about one thing:  We need change.   He’s just dead-wrong in how he is trying to affect that change.  The change he is casting upon us is far more than just divisive; it is dark and it is ugly. And, shockingly, according to Michael Wolff who landed the first post-election interview of Steve Bannon, this is by design — that it is their intention to stir up the darkness.

We watched as the kindling was piled up, as the match was struck, as the sparks ignited, the smoke unfurled, and as the flames grew.  Our screams did nothing to stop the flames. And the inferno is only in its infancy.

“Holding the president accountable” is the new catch-phrase in the media each time they discuss his protocol breaches.  But, how?  Do we have to wait until he is literally the POTUS and commits his first impeachable act to be able to stop the assassination?  If so, how much will it cost our nation, literally and figuratively?  What statement does it make to realize that even many liberals would prefer an ultra-conservative Pence presidency to a Trump presidency?

The Bottom Linejohn-adams

We like to believe the our Constitution can protect us, but according to former President John Adams, the Constitution can’t protect a society that lacks a moral foundation.  It was designed on the premise that we are a people of integrity.  So, what happens when that integrity is assassinated?

Like most of you, I am just a lowly citizen.  I have my voice, but little else. I listen and I learn, I keep an open mind, I evaluate and investigate — but I’ve not yet discovered an answer to the Trump problem beyond convincing the electoral college to vote for someone else on December 19th.  For that reason, I keep pushing the petition.*

I am begging someone, somewhere, to answer the question: How do we stop the assassination of our nation’s character?

~Lynda C. Watts

*The petition directed to the electors asks that they vote for Hillary Clinton on December 19th.  It’s not an impossibility, but there is little chance of it happening.  Voting for Pence, on the other hand, has a greater chance of succeeding — and, putting aside my personal feelings against his ultra-conservative ideology — a Pence administration would at least be acceptable, under the circumstances.

usa-eagle-int

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Trump Promised Change – We’re Watching it Happen!

Trump Supporters Outraged —

Trump is making changes at a lightening fast speed, but is it the change that his voters were promised?  His supporters should be outraged!  Here is an overview of the changes Trump is making:

The Don’s Contrump_the_art_of_the_deal

Donald Trump gave his supporters what they wanted.  He built his campaign on unrealistic and impossible promises.  Mainstream media and the rest of us knew that it was a con.  We tried to warn everyone.

The Changes He’s Making

“Lock Her Up”

Trump now says he doesn’t want to punish the Clintons.  In an interview on CBS News, he clearly softened his tone, saying “I don’t want to hurt them. They’re good people.”  Maybe he finally listened to someone who explained that he can’t “get a special prosecutor to [prosecute] Hillary”, to use the power of the President to go after someone like that without facing impeachment.  More likely, he never intended to “Lock her up”; it was all part of the con.

On Immigration

Well, it appears now the plan to ship out all the illegal immigrants is no longer in the cards. And in spite of his promises to the contrary, there will NOT be a “deportation force.” Obama deported more than 2 million illegal immigrants during his term in office, a number which is consistent with Donald’s new position.

The Wall

The wall may now include fencing.  You know — the same thing Hillary approved as Senator.

Repeal Obamacare

No, that’s not going to happen, either.  His position on the Affordable Care Act is also softening.  He has made it clear post-election that he doesn’t want to take health care coverage away from everyone, and that pre-existing conditions will remain covered.

Same-Sex Marriage

He was against it during his campaign.  Now, he says his position on it is “irrelevant” because it was settled in the supreme court.  “It’s done.”  (Note to self: Roe v. Wade is also settled law, by the Supreme Court.  For most of his life, Trump was in favor of a woman’s right to choose.  He changed that position for the campaign.  As President, wanna guess what position he’d take?)

Drain the Swamp

“Drain the Swamp” chanters believed Trump’s promise to appoint people who are outsiders, who aren’t a part of the political inside.  Yet, his proposed administration is full of lobbyists and people who are clearly inside the political arena.  Read the details here or here, or here. . . .

In a Nutshell

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers The Daily Beast

Trump has made no secret of the fact that he lies and exaggerates to get what he wants.  It’s right there in black and white in his book.  And he isn’t shy about stating it on camera. His voters ignored that aspect of him. He counted on that.

Trump supporters should be angry.  They fell for the Don’s con. Less than a week after the primary, Trump is proving that he took advantage of all those voters who truly, faithfully believed in him.

The Electoral College Issue

There may still be hope.  The electoral college hasn’t voted yet.  And though it is a long-shot, perhaps we can still sway the OFFICIAL vote away from Trump.  It’s possible.  It’s legal. But it’s going to take a lot of voices to be heard.  Sign the petition now if you don’t want a con artist in the White House.

~Lynda C. Watts

UPDATE:

Rather than trying to push a tax on Carrier for its plan to send jobs to Mexico, he and Pence worked out a deal to GIVE Carrier huge tax breaks to keep a small number of jobs in the US. Another broken promise, with more to come, I’m sure.

Read about the sacred right that Donald Trump stole from his supporters, and how he is responsible for the assassination of our nation’s ethics.

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Understanding the Electoral College

Understanding the Electoral College

And answering the question: Can Hillary Still Win the Presidency?

electoralcollegevotes2012-2016-2020elections

The 2016 Presidential election has pulled me out of blogger hibernation.  Spend a day on Twitter and you’ll quickly discover that there is a great deal of confusion about how we elect our president in this country.

And everyone is asking — days after the general election — “Can Hillary still win?”

Let’s take a look:

The 2016  General Election Calendarbutton-election-day

Nov. 8th –  Polls opened nationwide.  People cast their ballots.

Nov. 9th –  In the first few hours of the day, it is announced that Donald Trump “is the next President”.  The world thinks it knows who has been elected President and Vice President.

Dec. 13th –  Deadline for each State to make final decisions regarding the appointment of their electors.

Dec. 19th – In each State, the electors meet to vote for President and Vice President. (Note that this is 41 days after it was announced that Trump won. And it will be weeks before the votes are counted.)

Dec. 28th – Electoral votes are due in the office of the President of the Senate and the Archivist no later than 9 days after the electors meet to vote (although there is no penalty if a State fails to comply).

On or before Jan. 3, 2017 – The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House.

Jan. 6, 2017 – Congress meets to count the electoral votes. President of the Senate (Joe Biden) announces the results and declares the winners.

Jan. 20, 2017 –  The President-elect takes the oath of office at noon.  S/he is now our new President and Commander-in-Chief.

Read more about the key dates, here.

You Went to the Polls but You Didn’t Vote for President!

voteMost voters believe that they are voting directly for a President and Vice President on election day.   But, that’s not what happens.

When you vote, you are NOT voting for the president of your choice.  Instead, you are actually voting for the electors who will represent your state when they vote for president. In the 2016 election, the voting doesn’t take place until December 19th.  From that perspective, it was premature for Trump to meet with President Obama today.

Technically, legally, actually — Donald Trump is not the President-elect right now.

What is an “Elector”?

An “elector” is one of 538 human beings who make up the Electoral College. The number of electors varies per state.

In each state, Presidential candidates have their own electors.  Those electors are usually chosen by the political party to which the candidate belongs.

Electors are pledged and expected to vote for the candidates they represent.  This presumption is so strong that, without fail, we “announce the winner” of the Presidential election a full 41 days before they vote!

BUT the electors are not required to vote according to expectations.

Learn more about electors, here.

Winner Takes All

The state of Georgia, where I now live, has 16 electoral votes.  The majority of the people in Georgia voted for Trump, thus all 16 electoral votes would, traditionally, go to Trump. Even when there is the smallest margin between candidates, it is a “winner-takes-all” system in every state but two.

This is how a candidate, like Trump, can win an election even though more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton.

Laws Governing for Whom an Elector Must Vote

Unbelievably, there are no Federal laws to mandate how electors vote, nor are there any Constitutional provisions.  On the other hand, there are some states which have laws requiring electors to vote consistent with their pledge.

It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen:  An elector decides to vote for someone other than the pledged candidate, or to abstain from voting.  When this happens, those electors are known as “faithless” or “unfaithful”.

The Faithless Elector

To date, since the founding of the Electoral College process, there have been 157 faithless electors.  In 1836, all of the electors for the state of Virginia chose to be unfaithful to their pledge and it changed the outcome of that election.

Only an elector who has pledged his or her vote to a particular party can become a faithless elector.  If an elector has not made a pledge, s/he cannot be considered unfaithful.  In states like Georgia which do not require electors to pledge, it isn’t possible to become a faithless elector.

There is evidence that the founders intended for electors to vote with deference for the qualifications of the candidate rather than simply pledging to vote for a designated party. After all, if the electors don’t have to use their minds — if they don’t have to actually give consideration to their vote — there isn’t a need for human electors.  The entire process becomes symbolic, and in a modern world, the process could easily be automated.

Penalties for Faithless Electors

Penalties vary by state.

  • 21 states do not compel the electors to vote their pledge.
  • 29 states have penalties that have never been enforced.

In other words, there isn’t really a functional penalty imposed on an elector for voting for a candidate other than the one to whom s/he has pledged allegiance.

Can the 2016 Electoral College Vote for Hillary?thought

Technically, yes.  They can vote for whomever they want.

Most experts say that it is not likely to happen (but the experts haven’t been right very often this election!) because electors are faithful to their party.

On the other hand, being faithful to a party doesn’t necessarily equate with being faithful to a candidate.  Particularly with regard to the circumstances surrounding Donald Trump and the question of his fitness for office, it is easy to see how a republican elector would find it very difficult to remain faithful.

The Petition to the Electoral College

ulwjshsjagkgqdp-800x450-nopadYou may have seen a link to it on Facebook or Twitter — the petition asking the Electoral College to elect Hillary instead of Trump.  Signatures on the petition grew by 10,000 every 5 minutes or so.  As of the writing of this article, there are nearly 2 million signatures (including mine).

We, the people, can affect change when enough of us come together for a common purpose.  In this case, because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and because Donald Trump is considered by most to be truly unfit for the office of President, the electors who vote their conscience could swing the election.

A lot has been written today about this topic,  Here are just 3 (and I can’t vouch for their accuracy; I did notice several factual errors in one of them, but, hey, this stuff can be complicated):

Bottom Line

The bottom line is this:  If you don’t like the results of the election, do something about it. Do more than whine.  Do more than complain.  Sign the petition.  Send the petition link to everyone in your contacts or friend’s list, etc. Write to your Governor. Email the Office of the Federal Register.  Put pressure on the electorates in whatever clever way you can think of (so long as you maintain moral decency, of course).

It’s a long shot, obviously — and no one is saying it’s not — but wasn’t it a long shot for Donald Trump to even win the Republican nomination?

It’s not over till it’s over.  And it’s not over yet. . .

For more on the Electoral College, check out History.com  They have a great article on the subject!

~Lynda C. Watts

UPDATE:

If you believe our president should be elected by popular vote, click here.  You can add your name to support a change in the electoral college.

If you want to keep Trump out of the White House, how bipartisan can you be? Read this article which provides the most realistic explanation for keeping Trump out.

 

 

Posted in Gossip, News, and Misc. Musings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Free Resume Evaluations? What’s the catch?

April, 2016: NOTE TO THOSE WHO ARE OUTSIDE OF THE USA:  There has been an overwhelming increase in the number of evaluation requests I am receiving from people who live outside of the USA.  As an unfortunate result, I must now limit this offer to people living in the US, or applying for USA jobs.  If you do not qualify for the free evaluation but still would like my help, I will provide the same evaluation for $25.00 USD*.  
*Does not reflect the actual value of the evaluation.

A professional writer offering a free resume evaluation? Yes, it’s true!

Seriously. Free. No joke. No catch.

Seriously. Free. No joke. No catch.

Throughout my blog, in articles dealing with the topic of writing a resume, you’ll find that I often offer to evaluate your resume and/or cover letter for free.  I then provide a link that takes you to my personal email address. Many of you take advantage of my offer, but at least half of your first ask:

“Is this really free? And, if so, what’s the catch?”

I’m no different than anyone else:  When I read or hear that something is free, I expect that there is a catch.  At the very least, I’ll have to sign up for a membership, or read an ad, or somehow allow for my email address to find its way to a junk list.  And I have issues with that.

It goes against the grain of my moral fiber to charge money to someone who does not have an income and who desperately needs to find a job.  I subscribe to the notion that a resource-based economy is better for humankind, and just as I would not throw away food simply because a starving child cannot afford to buy it, I would not withhold my knowledge from an unemployed adult who desperately seeks employment.

There Has to Be a Catch, Right?

Not exactly.  If anything, the “catch” is that I am overly sympathetic to the pitfalls of unemployment, particularly for “grown-ups” (those of us over the age of 30 or so).  College kids facing the job market for the first time have ample opportunities for free assistance via their college career centers.  But once you’ve been out of school for a few decades, and after you’ve worked for an employer long enough that the job market has made significant changes, you are at an immediate disadvantage upon re-entering the job market.

During my own job search (which I eventually abandoned, by the way), I spent A LOT of time learning how to find employment in today’s market.  I started sharing that information with LinkedIn friends who were in the same boat.  Eventually, I discovered that I’d developed an expertise on the subject.  And, as a writer, I knew that I could easily offer — for free — what I’d learned.  There is no “cost” to me other than time; there is no monetary expense to me, no sweat off my brow, no reason that I can think of to charge the unemployed for the information!

So, YES, if you send me your resume, your cover letter, or your C.V., and if you ask nicely, I will happily provide you with an evaluation.  Your email address isn’t captured by a bot; you don’t have to click on an ad; you don’t have to subscribe to my blog.  No catch.  None. Nadda.

What Happens When I Open Your Email:

At a glance, I can nearly always determine whether you’ve spent any time reading the free advice I’ve provided on this blog under the “Work” category.  I don’t believe that I should spend more time on your resume than you spend on it (unless, of course, you pay me to do so.  And, the point is, I’m trying to help you for free.)  So, if you’ve neglected to follow even the most basic rules of writing a resume, I will send you a reply that says, “Please spend time reading the articles I’ve written, revise your resume, then send it back to me.” To make your job even easier (so you don’t have to search!), here is a list of some of the articles that you really should read before contacting me for a free evaluation:

You may now be thinking, “Ah-ha! That’s the catch! She wants more clicks on her blog!”  The fact is, though, that I do not make ANY money from this free WordPress blog.  Not a penny.  This is not my source of income or my primary life focus; it is simply a way for me to make a contribution.  In the future, I may decide to switch the blog to a revenue-generating format, but for now (and even then), I provide you with free assistance simply because I can.

Having said that, I do get many requests for evaluations and it can be time consuming depending on the complexity of the documents sent to me.  To make things easier for me (which is fair, isn’t it?) I’ve established some “rules”, or requirements, that I ask you to follow when asking me for a free critique.

When Requesting a Free Evaluation, Please . . .

1.  Prepare the best resume (and/or cover letter) that you can prepare before sending it to me.  I’ve given you a plethora of advice already, for free, under the “Work” category of this blog.  Use the “search” feature to narrow down the articles that are relevant to your specific needs, or simply click on the links provided in the above list.

2.  When you’ve written your best version of a resume that you want me to evaluate:

a.  Save the file as a Word document (any version), with a name that identifies you and the type of document.  Ex:  JaneSmith Resume 2016.   If you don’t save it this way, I will send it back to you. (I used to re-name the documents myself, but it’s too time consuming now.)

b.  Put your name and “Resume Eval” in the subject line of the email.  Ex: Jane Smith Resume Eval.  Please do this even if your email address is your name.

3.  Do not send a pdf file unless you want a VERY cursory evaluation.   I can’t work with pdf files.

4.  If your resume / cover letter are written specifically for a particular job notice, send me a copy of that job notice or the link to it.  My evaluation will be more helpful to you.

5.  If you have a specific deadline that is applicable — such as a closing date for a job notice — make sure to include that date in your email to me.  If I am unable to assist you by the deadline, I will let you know immediately.  Otherwise, I will make sure to provide you with assistance in time for you to meet the deadline.

6.  Please do your best to keep email exchanges between yourself and me to a minimum.  For example, I’ve received up to 20 emails in a day from one person who cranked out an email for each and every question that came to mind, as it came to mind.  Please do your best to save your questions for one email.

7.  UPDATE: Lastly, please tell me if you need a resume and/or letter that will be read by a human, or one that will be sent through an ATS (Applicant Tracking System).  Or both.  The way we write these documents depends upon how they will be submitted.

And that’s it!

Are You Sure There is Never a Charge?

Yes.  I’m sure.  I will never charge you for an evaluation.

Do You Ever Ask for a Fee?

No.  Not when you request a free evaluation.

If you want more than an evaluation — if you want your documents written for you — I will provide you with a fee quote, but only if it is requested by you.  I will not solicit your business.  Some people simply choose to have a resume prepared professionally, and I do provide this service when requested.

Most of you, however, need to prepare your own documents. There are times — but not often — that the documents I receive are so badly written (even after I’ve sent someone back to the website to do more prep work) that they need to be re-written completely.   Usually, between the information I’ve provided here on the site and the evaluation I provide through email, a person can prepare documents that are good enough for submission. But in those rare cases to the contrary, I will be honest and say, “I really think you should hire someone to write your documents for you.” If, thereafter, the person asks me for a quote, I am happy to provide it and/or refer you to another writer.  But I don’t actively pursue the work.

One reason that I do not actively pursue fee-based resume writing contracts is that the prices I charge are based on my knowledge that you are most likely unemployed.  I almost always end up making less than minimum wage when the fee is divided by the hours I put into the work. Unlike most of the professional resume writing services “out there,” I do not have an app or a template that automates the resume writing process.  I write them the way you write them, starting with a blank page in Word.  It is time consuming. In fact, I spend at least an hour just on the free evaluations.  The documents that need to be completely re-written can take me as long as 30 hours or more for a professional C.V., and that is time that I simply cannot provide for free.

In the rare event that I recommend a fee-based service for you after you request a free evaluation, I encourage you to return to this blog post to comment about it.  Not only will it help me keep track of how often I actually make that recommendation, it will validate for others the veracity of my free offer.

How To Contact Me:

Make sure you follow my list of requirements above, and then send your email with attached documents.  It’s that easy!

Happy with Your Evaluation?  thank you

Oddly enough, once I’ve put in the time and effort to help a person find employment, only about half of you say “Thank you.”  It’s a comment on our society today, not on the value of the evaluations I provide.  So, if you’re happy with the free work I provide for you, it sure would be nice to receive a “Thank you.”  Those are free, too!

~ Lynda C. Watts

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Overcoming the Frustration of Job Search Rejection

We don’t intentionally set out on a mission, whatever it might be, with the intent of being rejected.  Rejection doesn’t feel good. But for the unemployed, the sting of rejection is all too familiar.  And when that sting is added to the stress of trying to make ends meet, one more rejection letter can easily become the straw that tips the scales in the wrong direction.

You have the power to change those scales, to tip them in your favor.  Easier said than done?  Absolutely!  But, doable all the same.

Your Story

I receive a lot of interesting and touching emails from my readers, but recently a story shared by one particular reader really stuck with me.  As personal as it was to its author, it could’ve been written by any number of unemployed and frustrated job-seekers who share the same story.

I’ve edited the email only as needed to protect the identity of its author so that I can share it with you.  (The bold emphasis is mine, not the author’s):

Hello Lynda,

This is regarding your blog post on job rejection

I am currently in my final year of studying electrical engineering at university and all throughout this year I’ve been applying for graduate positions at so many different companies (local and overseas). I’ve had a few phone interviews and even a couple of face to face interviews but in the end every application I’ve submitted has ended in failure with all rejections. I got a rejection from an engineering consultancy today which said: “Thank you for the time you have taken to participate in our Graduate Recruitment program.  We were very impressed with the quality of information you supplied in the interview and your commitment towards your career. It has been a difficult decision-making process for us and we regret to advise that we will not be taking your application further. You are welcome to keep in contact with us as this may not necessarily be the only opportunity for you to work with us. We wish you all the best in securing a graduate position.”

This felt like a nail on the head. I really wanted the job. During the interview I might have got one or two technical questions wrong which the interviewers asked me and I also felt as if the whole interview was rushed…as if the interviewers just wanted to get it over with and send me out the door as quick as possible. Even then I was still optimistic that I would progress with the application. Guess not.

You talk about being realistic and not bringing emotion into it but I just can’t seem to do it anymore. I’m sick and tired of receiving these rejection emails and my inbox is full of them.

I’ve always wanted to do engineering since I was in high school and I thought it will be fairly simple to get a job with the degree. I’ve now realized how wrong I am.

What hurts even more is how mostly all of my fellow engineers who are in my class at university have jobs for next year sorted. I don’t know how they are the ones that get selected from thousands of applicants. They have gotten jobs in big companies. One of them even got rejected by a company and then a few days later got a call from them saying that they’ve been hired. I don’t think I’ll ever be that fortunate. I also don’t believe these guys are suited to those roles much better than I am. I’m usually honest with everyone but now when I tell the guys who have a job already that I’ve been rejected by a company I feel as if they get pleasure from hearing it. I just don’t like talking with them anymore as I feel left out.

Because I can’t get a job I keeping having thoughts about doing a Masters or PhD but even after that I don’t know if I’ll be able to get one. Right now I’ve got no motivation at all to keep applying because I just keep getting rejected regardless of how much effort I put into it.  Everyone I know at my age has jobs. I don’t know what’s wrong with me and don’t think I’ll ever get a job. My parents have always struggled financially and I don’t want to rely on them anymore. I feel as if I’ve let them down big time.

Sorry about the sombre/negative feeling of this email but I just felt I needed to write to someone who might be able to understand what I’m going through.

When Dreams Meet Reality

Yes, I do understand what this reader — and so many others like her — are feeling.  I’m well aware of the pressing nature of finding employment — and it is a battle being waged by far too many of us for far too long.

College graduates who, more than anything, are set to make their mark on the world are returning home to parents who are already financially taxed to their limit. The young and ambitious dreams of too many college graduates are replaced by cold reality.  Many of these graduates are our children.

Far too many young families in the infancy of living their American Dream suddenly discover that for them, too, the dream is dying.  These are families with houses which have yet to settle and children for whom they planned to give every advantage.  Unlike the generation before them, these Mom’s and Dad’s no longer worry about whether they are over-filling the calendar with after-school activities that help a child succeed later in life.  The fact is, they can barely squeeze school supplies out of the budget, much less piano lessons or the fees and supplies needed for gymanstics, soccer, football, or any other self-esteem building venture.

The middle-aged are no less effected.  Issues such as divorce, illness, and aging parents add to the stress and financial burden.  Savings and retirement plans are cashed in, credit ratings plummet, and for them, too, it’s a matter of survival.

As the bills and the rejection letters pile up, exactly how does one maintain a positive attitude and keep his or her spirits high and healthy when there is seemingly nothing about which to smile?

The Best of You

The first sentence of my favorite nonfiction book is, “Life is difficult.”  Truer words were never written.

Few things are more frustrating than finding oneself involuntarily anchored, seemingly unable to reach the sea of opportunity that is outstretched before us.  What we want in life is so vivid to us that we can taste it, as one tastes the salt in the sea’s breeze — yet we have no idea how to unchain ourselves from our current reality.

We cannot change the fact that life is difficult, but we can change how we perceive the difficulty of life.

Whether this period of economic instability and high unemployment is the catalyst for your first real battle in life, or whether you are a veteran, it is important to obtain and maintain an emotional balance.  Otherwise, the stress and struggle will get the best of you.

The “best of you” is what you need to present to a potential employer when you meet for an interview.  If you walk into the room with the attitude that you “can’t” get a job, that you’ll “never” succeed, well, you are right.  You won’t.

If you don’t believe you are the best, how can you convince an employer that you are the best candidate for the job? If you don’t believe that you can work your way through the reality that life is difficult, then you will forever stand at the shore getting pummeled by the rising tide and crashing waves that come your way.

Change Your Routine

We all reach a point of debilitating frustration.  Some of us are able to drive ourselves out of it quickly.  Others get stuck.

Like a car stuck in the mud, the only way to shake it free is to change your technique.  Simply pushing on the accelerator with nothing more than an absolute desire to move forward is a technique that only works for a lucky few.  Most of us have to do more than simply hope and push harder.

Sometimes you simply need to change gears.  Other times, you need the help of someone who has the tools you lack or who can help stear you into the clearing.

And when you’re really buried in deep, an entire team of people (affectionately referred to as a “network” in the business world) is the fix.

Regardless of your needs, you won’t get out of the rut until you make a change.

Yesterday I received a phone call from a young lady in distress.  Through tears she explained how she was spending the day in bed, again, as she’d done for the past 5 days.  She lives in a small town where jobs are scarce in the best of times.  She lost her last job after an illness prevented her from working — an expensive illness that added to her debt and lowered her credit rating.

Our conversation went something like this:

“I hate my life, lying in bed like this, day after day, doing nothing.”

“Then get out of bed.”

“For what? There’s no reason! I have nothing to do.”

“If you hate it, isn’t that reason enough to stop doing it?”

[silence]

I continued, “What are you doing to change your situation?”

“What can I do? I’ve applied for every job in town!”

“Well … if you could do anything you wanted to do to earn an income, what would it be?”

“I don’t know.”

“That’s your real problem, then.  It’s time to change direction.  Make a decision about what you truly want out of life, decide what is needed to make it a reality — and then get busy making it happen.”

Like the reader who has not yet found an engineering job, my caller found herself stuck in an emotional black hole.  And the best and fastest way out of that hole is to make a change.

Make a Change

If what you are doing isn’t working, why keep doing it?  Make a change.

So, what does change look like for the unemployed?  What does it look like for the unemployed engineering student who, unlike the young lady hiding under her covers, already knows what direction she wants to head? What kind of change might work for the senior account executive facing foreclosure, or the young family who just signed up for food stamps?

Here are just a few possibilities:

Change Your Sales Strategy

I often talk about the importance of building rapport with the person in charge of hiring.  You have to be more than a résumé.  If you leave the interview without building rapport, you will not get the job.  Building rapport is easier for some than it is for others, and this often explains why someone else got the job for which you were perfectly qualified.  If you have a hard time building rapport with strangers in a way that feels natural and comfortable, a change in your approach is worth a try.

A job interview typically involves a candidate attempting to sell himself to the interviewer.  In essence we say, “Buy my skills and abilities because I’m worth it.”  But in truth, “you” (as a product) are not much different from the other 200 “products” from which the employer must choose.

Instead of trying to sell someone on your skills and abilities, face your next interview as a buyer, not a seller.  Ask pointed questions of your interviewer that answer the bigger questions: Is this the job for you?  Is this company good enough for you?  Will it meet your needs?

Going in as a buyer rather than as a seller changes the dynamics.  Instinctively but not consciously, the interviewer will feel as if she needs to win you over, not the other way around.  It’s human nature.  Your interviewer will instinctively feel the difference in the energy in the room, and she will be impressed by you without necessarily knowing why. You will be remembered.  And that’s a step in the right direction.

Stop Job Searching

I’ve written about this before.  We know that by the time job openings reach job boards, most of them are filled.  Often, by the time a cattle-call of interviewing is done for the bigger companies, they already know who they intend to hire.  So why do we keep wasting our time sending out  résumés in response to job board announcements? (I’m just as guilty of this, having wasted nearly a month doing the same thing after my recent layoff.)

It’s time to be proactive rather than reactive.  Applying for a job that is announced to the world is reactive: You react to the job notice.  But going after a job that may or may not even exist yet is proactive.   Here’s how:

Choose an employer for whom you would love to work.  Don’t worry about whether there is a vacancy for which you are qualified.  Learn everything you can learn about the company.  Network with employees, both online and in person.  Hang out at the coffee-house nearest to the employer. Have lunch frequently at the nearest sandwich shop.  Go to Happy Hour at the same bar that employees stop in after work.  Become a part of the picture (at arm’s length; not as a stalker!) that you hope to someday formally join.

Then — when you feel comfortable and sufficiently “in touch” with the environment of the company — make your move.  Set up an appointment with someone outside of HR but high enough in the food chain to have some bite.  If you’ve been lucky, this may be someone you met at the local sub shop, or someone who at the very least recognizes you when you meet.

All you need is 10 minutes of her time.

And when you get those 10 minutes, use them to interview her — not to overtly sell yourself.  Explain how passionate you are about becoming an engineer (or whatever your chosen profession might be).  Remember: It’s about rapport building! Tell your story — the story of “who you are” and why you are so passionate about the industry.  Explain that you are seeking to find “the best” company for which to work, that you don’t want to settle for “just a paycheck”, because once you commit to an employer, you are “all in” — and you don’t want a losing hand.

Don’t ask if they are hiring.  Don’t ask if they have a position for you.  Don’t leave your résumé unless you are asked for it.  But DO leave a business card.   (Employed or not, you should carry a contact card at all times!)

And DO ask for her email address:

“Thanks for all of your help, Jane. I really appreciate it.  May I have your email address in case I have any more questions?”

A few days later, send a personal email:

“It was such a pleasure to talk with you, Jane.  I’m even more impressed with ABC Co.  The company is fortunate to have a Director with the dedication and loyalty that you clearly have, and that is exactly the type of leadership I hope to find when I start working.  Again, thank you!”

Ten days or so later, send another note or make a phone call:

“Jane, I’m going to be in the area on Tuesday.  Do you have any plans for lunch?  I have about an hour to kill between appointments.”

And so on.  The idea is to build a connection — a real connection.

This approach takes much more time than it takes to attach a résumé to a canned cover letter and click “send”, but it is a worthwhile investment of your time.  Just think back to 3 months ago:  How is your situation any better now than it was then? 

How each of us handle stress is as varied as are we.  But it has to be handled — and it’s up to you to do whatever is necessary to handle it in a healthy, balanced manner.   Whether you can push your way out on your own, or whether you require the assistance of others, don’t overlook its importance.  After all, how you handle the stress of rejection and other life difficulties, and how well you use the resources available to you to turn lemons into lemonade, is not only critical to your personal happiness, it matters to a prospective employer.

Employers want to hire people who go above and beyond the norm, people who exude a certain energy that makes others feel comfortable in their company, and people who demonstrate (not just state) a level of proficiency or expertise from which the company will benefit.

When you face repeated rejection, turn the sting of it into the momentum you need to make a change.  If you bury yourself in doubt, if you question what makes someone else “better” than you, you do yourself no favors.  Objectivity must take the place of subjective self-doubt.

The person who got the job believed in himself.  He established a connection by building rapport.  He was memorable, in a positive light, in a sea of forgettable  résumés and interviews.  The manner in which he achieved these things could have been any number of ways — there isn’t a magical forumla — but you can bet that he did achieve them.

Treat yourself kindly and fairly.  Allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to wallow in self-pity, but then move on from it.  Get busy.  Make a change.

~Lynda C. Watts

You might also enjoy:

How to Deal with Job Search Rejection

Dealing with Employment Rejection: A New Approach

10 Tips for Staying Organized and Motivated During Unemployment

Importance of Attitude: Whiner or Winner?

Storms and Perspectives: The Value of Change in Hard Times

Want more? Click on the “Work” category in the sidebar for a full list of articles on the subject by Lynda C. Watts.  And don’t forget to explore the other categories, too!  Keeping it all in balance is the key to success, and Lynda knows exactly what it takes.

Have a question or a request?  Email Lynda for a personal reply, or to have your topic addressed in an upcoming article.

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