How to Keep Your Job Past the Probation Period

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So the job search is over, YAY! Now you have a new job to go to…this is always a strange time, unless of course you do it frequently. 🙂

At this point you should have knowledge of several things for your first day, including a contact persons’ name and number, you should know what the dress code is, and also your job title and duties. By this time, if you’re going to be on a probationary period with this employer, you’ll know it.

This means that the job isn’t “yours” yet. You have the time period they gave you (typically 30 – 90 days) to prove you should be hired beyond the probationary period. A lot of companies are opting to do this now because sometimes you just can’t find out everything in an interview. Legally.

You know what I mean; tardiness problems, bad hygiene, bad attitude, improper dress, chronic illness, laziness….family drama that spills into the workplace…it’s a long list that gets longer everyday because of those sorry people who don’t take their jobs seriously enough to actually earn the money they make.

They give good employees like you and me a bad name. To be perfectly blunt, this is why personality tests and credit checks are becoming commonplace in the interview process. Bad habits and choices spread across your life, they don’t just affect your home life.

Anyways, when you go to work somewhere new, it’s difficult to feel confident because you don’t know anyone. Just smile at people as you walk by, that gesture alone can do wonders for other people’s impression as you’re shown around your new workplace.

As long as you’re going to be surrounded by other people working for someone else, you need to be an adult and make the best of it, learn what you can, take opportunities that are available and grow. Corporate America has things to offer, you just have to recognize it. All employers have something to offer beyond just a paycheck, even if all it might be is a lesson learned.

Part of the first day on a new job is the fear of not being liked or making a bad impression. So don’t be the jackass that comes in and starts badmouthing everyone and everything you don’t like. If you’re a pessimist, don’t make it public, if you’re judgmental, don’t tell everyone, these are all things you should keep to yourself and only share with those already familiar with you.

Smile early and smile often, make sure it’s brushed and sincere, but use it as a tool and don’t be greedy with it, a smile will light up your face and draw people to you. Seriously.

Additionally, don’t ask one person every question you have. If you don’t know where the bathroom is yet, use that as an excuse to introduce yourself to a coworker, “Hi, I’m _____. I’m new here and haven’t been pointed to the bathroom yet, do you mind showing me to the ladies room?” When it’s lunchtime ask someone where a good restaurant is, or to show you to the building’s cafe, this will break the ice and possibly lead to a nice lunch with someone else..or a nice lunch people watching.

Say thank you and please, and be agreeable. This trial period isn’t just with your boss, the people around you have a little bit to do with how your co-existence will be, so don’t forget that nobody likes a jerk. And for crying out loud, don’t try to be someone’s best friend!

It’s another day, another dollar – another window of opportunity is open for you now. See it for what it is, a new, fresh day with opportunity in your path. Who wouldn’t want to be you?


In Dire Need of Good News

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I am a news junkie, but I must say I have to search and search for some happy headlines. They are few and far between. While some say there are glimmers of hope, I am seeing more and more despair. I’m having a hard time finding that silver lining, and the pit I feel in my stomach is getting bigger.

For example, in California the state is facing a huge budget deficit after voters rejected $6 billion in funding measures (i.e. tax increases). Arnold is making the “tough decisions” on what to cut, and the cuts are affecting primarily the poor. He is planning to eliminate the CalWorks and Healthy Families programs, which provide cash aid, employment services and health services to the state’s poor. Overnight, California would go from one of the most generous states to one of least generous in aiding the poor. Sure, it would save the state about billion dollars this year, but the result would be hundred of thousands of poor people left out on their ass with nowhere to turn. That is just plain cold and callous to me.

It isn’t like the poor in California have much opportunity, either. In some counties, unemployment is around 25%. It is in the double digits in just about every other county. It’s not like the poor are going to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a go of it.

It isn’t just California, though. Currently, 47 states face budget shortfalls. Most of them are making cuts to health care and education to fill the gaps. This means, though, that there are more job losses, which is turning the recession into a bigger one. The really sad thing is, the more job losses there are, the more demand there is for social services like public healthcare. Unfortunately, many desperate people will be turned away the one and only time in their lives they need help the most.

I’m starting to understand what the Great Depression felt like, and why they called it that. It wasn’t just about the economy. It was the feeling, too. That feeling is here today. For those of us out of work, the prospect of finding another job is slim. Once the unemployment runs out, there is nowhere to turn except to the charity of neighbors and friends. Those of us who manage to keep our jobs, are living in fear of losing them with the understanding there might not be another to replace it. We put up with more from our employers and work harder for less money.

It’s starting to feel bleak. We all need a little good news. We need a silver lining.


Remembering Lost Soldiers

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I had an uncle, my mom’s brother, who was a towering giant of a man. As a child when you were around him you felt incredibly safe and protected but at the same time, scared of him – you never want to anger a six plus foot tall man when you’re only three feet tall, lol.

I remember our families, my sisters and I and our cousin Rebecca spending a lot of time together when we were younger, before our families all settled in different areas and our lives became too busy for regular forays to visit family in other states.

We had a lot of fun, for a long time all of the kids in our family were girls until my cousin Wesley came along (named after my uncle). Regardless when we were younger we would all inevitably anger the big man, always far too late at night for us little girls to be awake and giggling, and we’d hear the giant bellow from the living room, “Girls, GO TO SLEEP!”. We would all gasp and close our eyes very tightly, laying as silently as we could in case he came to check.

And when he did, those footsteps through the house lasted an eternity! Rebecca always gave us away, she was defiant from the start, and that still hasn’t changed about her.

My uncle’s name was John, and he had a tour in Vietnam when he was young, lost a best friend there. In the late 90’s when I was still too wrapped up in my own teenaged life to notice, my uncle started battling the big C. Cancer.

I didn’t really become cognizant of the battles he was going through until my son and I got our own place and I became much more involved with my family. (my marriage had isolated me from them).

I remember one year when my uncle was having a particularly hard time, and this was after battling cancer off and on for probably ten years or so, and he had indicated to the family that he didn’t want to fight it anymore. I was devastated, my uncle had been a deacon in mine and my sister’s baptisms and we all felt a closeness to him, almost like a father to us. My mother and I arranged to visit for a weekend and did, staying in a motel room and visiting with my Grandfather while we were in Oklahoma, where my uncle had settled.

After we came back home, I wrote my uncle a letter, and though I don’t recall everything that I said, I remember recording raw emotion and desperation like I’ve never felt before, pouring out of me into that letter. I wanted him to continue to fight, a big man such as he, a vehicle of God like himself, surely could push on and beat this, just around the next corner.

He continued to fight after that, and I wrote a few more letters to him, but increasingly his health got worse, and for most of the last I’ll say two years of his life, he was in declining health and leaving home less often.

In the spring of 2006 we buried my Uncle. It was a very hard time for our family and we’ve all struggled since that time to remain close and in touch, sometimes when family suffers a loss like this it’s hard to get together without thinking of those we’ve lost. My grandmother, who is a confirmed saint, had to bury her oldest son – and her best friend. I have a huge frog in my throat as I write this, it was an incredibly painful time for all of us.

Days like tomorrow remind me of him, and the Agent Orange that he was exposed to in Vietnam that eventually took his life. When I look at my cousin Rebecca it pains me to think about her having to continue her life without him in it, they always shared a closeness and a bond that was palpable to the rest of the family. I envied her relationship at times, as I didn’t have that kind with my own father.

I think about all the fathers and sons at war for our country right now and worry for them, praying to an unknown god that they will return to their families and enjoy a long and plentiful life.

This post is in memory of my Uncle, John Tuck, who fought and died for his country. I miss my uncle.

Pictured below: John & Rebecca Tuck.



Kids These Days

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I read an article on MSNBC about children called, Today’s tykes: Secure kids or rudest in history? a very interesting read.

The article discusses Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1977) and Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1996) and how our lifestyles, parenting styles and children themselves have changed over time.

I know as a parent it’s hard to decide which ideology to subscribe to, whether to spank or to put your child in time out, whether to have your kids calendar filled with activities or let them play outside with neighborhood kids, to allow them to have a cell phone or not to, it’s inevitable that there’s gonna be a misstep or two.

This article takes a closer look, a psychological one to try to explain what’s set this change in motion:

“Many researchers consider members of Generation X to have been among the least nurtured children in American history with half coming from split families, 40 percent raised as latchkey kids — literally, home alone.

‘They are trying to heal the wounds from their own childhoods through their children,’ says Dr. Michael Brody, a child psychiatrist and chair of the Television and Media Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

In indulging their children’s moods, Brody argues, some parents may be trying to protect their children from experiencing the kind of anxiety and neglect that they themselves suffered as youngsters.”

They’re talking about the shift in discipline, the fact that children are often not held accountable for their behavior, regardless of how appalling.

As I grew up and as an adult now, I’ve seen this gradual change, of course there’s the usual scapegoats, video games and television, but I’ll tell you something. Your children should know the difference between television and real life.

Our children are seeing things in their childhood that we never saw in ours, the news showers us with bad news and horrific tales of crime constantly, this is all true. But it is our job as parents not to let television and popular culture teach our children about the world and how to behave in it, it’s our job. OURS.

Your children need more education than they get at school, they get educated intellectually there, but it’s your job as a parent to teach them about the real world and how they’re expected to behave in it, you know “street smarts”. Or have we forgotten that term?

If you don’t teach them and you fail to bring the real world to their doorstep, it is you that will pay the price. When your child can’t keep a job, won’t keep a job or worse, has no intention of ever working because he has parents that pay his way – you will understand far too late the consequences of not providing them with consequences for bad behavior.

The article goes on to describe the future..

What does this mean for their future as adults? We may be starting to see some of the effects in Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 1996, whose self-centered — if not downright arrogant — workplace behavior has been well-documented in the popular press since the mid-2000s.

“They’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how to shut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager who says, ‘Do it and do it now,’ ” says Jordan Kaplan, an associate managerial science professor at Long Island University-Brooklyn in New York, in a USA Today article.

As for today’s little kids? “No one will want to hire them,” says Brody. That’s not an encouraging thought, especially in these economic times.

Generation Y has already been in the workforce for 10+ years, while I have seen the bad attitudes and refusal to accept work life for what it is, necessary and not fun. To those parents still struggling with what to do, I recommend “The New Dare to Discipline”. I read the original Dare to Discipline in paperback when my son was about 4 or 5, and another book, “The New Strong-Willed Child“, I read “Parenting the Strong Willed Child” at the same time I read “Dare to Discipline” and it gave me new tools to use, which I desperately needed. At the time I was a single mom, overcompensating for what I felt I lacked with my son, which was leading me straight down the path to having a child that had absolutely no respect for himself or anyone else and I had to do something.

These books were in perfect time for me, I felt they both gave reasonable tools for discipline, made a lot of good common sense, and worked in practice with my son very well. At 11, he’s a good kid and aside from little things here and there that truly can be attributed to boys being boys (window broken and occasional bad grades) all his friends’ parents like him. For my son, the rules are simple and few, but they must be followed.

No rules is a bad thing, too many rules is a bad thing, but rules that make sense for your child and lead them down the path to productive adulthood are necessary. Kids need consistency and accountability, it’s what shapes their drive and self discipline later in life. It is your job to turn your child into a productive citizen of the world.

There is a little hope though…

Economic climate does seem to have an effect on manners. Indeed, some experts believe that trend of rudeness among kids first emerged with the rise of Wall Street and its culture of entitlement in the mid-1980s, which is when Generation X began having children. It has been building since then, they say. But today’s downturn may inspire renewed prudence.

“I think that people who lose their wealth, their jobs, and other emblems of success that gave them a mindless assurance about their social status — plus with the new standards in the White House — may examine their values more seriously,” predicts pediatrician Gordon. “It will be less easy to fob off your inner questions by purchasing an expensive education, summer camp or horseback riding classes.”

It may also be easier if Gen X parents start implementing the popular campaign that they grew up with themselves: “Just say ‘No.’ ”

What do you think?