4 Things to Consider Before Taking the Job

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When we first apply for a job, most of us only think about being hired so we can begin making a living for ourselves. However, as a job-seeker, there is more to take into consideration presides a salary. Often, we think that we are the only one who benefits from being hired, when in fact, the organization benefits as well.

You have been offered a position because they see value in you. Therefore, it is important that the organization show how much they value you as an employee. There are four things that I look for when contemplating whether to take a position or not.

Diverse workforce.

Understanding cultural competency is a major aspect that many organizations and non-profits promotes to its employees so they can effectively serve clients from all walks of life. However, many organization’s employees are not as diverse as it could be. Ask yourself if your potential employer is diverse. Some ways of evaluating its diversity includes race, gender, sexual orientation, body-size diversity, diversity of able-bodyism, etc. A major aspect for me would be cultural expression through hair. For instance, if men of color are expected to only have low-top fades and women of color can only wear their hair straight, then you may want to reevaluate the position.

Daily Tasks. 

Many of us have advanced degrees that has given us specific training to do particular skill sets and work with various populations. Some of which requires us to be licensed to practice. When deciding whether or not to take the job ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this what I have been trained to do?
  2. Does it require an advanced degree?
  3. Does it require a professional license?
  4. Do I like this daily tasks?
  5. Am I good at the daily tasks?

Work Culture. 

According to Forbes, culture is the set of behaviors, values, artifacts, reward systems, and rituals that make up your organization. Think back to your interview and ask yourself whether it was a warm or cold feeling. When you asked about their work culture, what did they say? What is valued: results or relationships. This is also where self expression comes into play. If you are prohibited from having office decor that expresses your culture, nationality, race, etc., then you may want to reevaluate accepting the position.

If you did not feel comfortable, chances are you won’t like or fit in well with the work culture. If the employer is not understanding about you missing days because you are sick or because of a family crisis, then you may want to reevaluate the position. Do you identify with the mission, vision, and goals of the organization? If they do not match with your mission, vision, and goals then you may want to reconsider. One last thing, if the work place values competition and not collaboration and helping one another, or if on the job training is minimal and not ongoing, then you may want to reevaluate the position.

Benefits and Opportunities. 

Employers want employees who are invested in the company, but employees should want employers who are invested in them. Before you say yes to the job evaluate what’s in it for you. Are there opportunities for you to attend conferences and training events to better hone your skills and increase your credibility? Will your employer give you paid time off to attend such events?

Will they support you financially to attend these events? If you need supervision for your advanced license, ask if they have an advanced licensed supervisor so you don’t have to outsource it out of pocket. Also, evaluate the position. Are there any opportunities for promotions and growth or is it a terminal position? If there is no opportunity for growth, you may want to reevaluate saying yes.

There many more things that should come to mind when deciding whether or not to accept a position. The biggest thing is what is your initial feeling when you go to the interview and once you leave. Go with your gut feeling. Your gut instinct is never wrong so trust it. If you felt on edge before and after the interview or you felt uncertain about the fit, then you may want to ask some followup questions addressing your concerns before committing to that position.

Do not settle for anything less but the best. There are many great opportunities waiting for you so hang in there. Accept a position that is going to help you grow as a professional and help you achieve your goals. It’s one thing to get a career and another to get a career that you love.

This is Serious Business: Is There No Fun Allowed in Social Work?

There seems to be an unspoken rule in social work that no fun is allowed. Aside from play therapy for children, everything else is serious business. In some ways I get it. We deal with a lot of serious issues. It isn’t exactly appropriate to crack a joke every time a single parent is about to lose his/her home and children or a young adult is seeking treatment for child sexual abuse. Still, overall, people seek social services/therapy because they want increased happiness, joy, fun.

No FunNo one walks in saying, “Please help me feel worse or make my situation even more difficult. I’d like to cry a little more.” Utilizing play, humor, and fun can be extremely useful to ease tension and stress during challenging times.

This can also lead to new and creative insights and solutions that we don’t see when we’re stuck in a rut. Helping a chronically unemployed client find a job might be more effective if it’s turned into an enjoyable and exciting process. We all know that when we enter into something with positive, creative energy, the results are more favorable.

Now I’m not advocating we ignore, minimize, or make light of the serious issues that clients bring in. It’s necessary to acknowledge, process, understand, and accept the past and present but too much focus on problems and the accompanying negative feelings can be detrimental to forward progress.

I’ve worked with numerous adult clients who have had years of social services and therapy beginning in childhood, and are stuck in a cycle of blame and excuses because the primary focus has been on everything terrible that has ever happened and is still happening to them. There was little focus on the future, their desires, and how can they build the motivation to reach those desires.

Yet, if you look at children who have not been scarred by the purported seriousness of life (aka adults) they have nothing stopping them because they are focused only on possibilities. They world is their oyster and their lobster and if they don’t like seafood, their peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They laugh, they play, they joke, and they create wonderful masterpieces. They can be and do anything in their minds, and if a motivated mindset stays intact throughout childhood and into adulthood they become successful, happy, fulfilled adults.

However, many get stuck somewhere, often for quite a few valid reasons. It’s easy to understand why an adult who was seriously abused as a child or shuffled through foster care or juvenile justice system has a hard time laughing, dreaming, and seeing the possibilities anymore. Even so, I truly believe that if social services brought a little more joy to the table they would remember their natural childhood state and eventually embrace its benefits.

The problem is most of us aren’t trained to use humor, play, and fun in a therapeutic sense, especially with adults. I have previous experience with the field of therapeutic recreation so when I officially entered into the field of social work, I was excited to blend the two. Then I encountered a very serious graduate program that was primarily focused on all of the atrocities in our world with little room for discussion of creative solutions.

I also had a quite stoic internship supervisor tell me never to use humor in my therapy sessions. The fun and joy that I began with was slowly squeezed out of me. I figured these highly educated, licensed, and experienced professors and professionals must know better than me what they’re talking about. So I got super serious, but that wasn’t me. Since I’m the only tool I have in working with my clients, it wasn’t helpful to them.

I realized later my supervisor likely meant I shouldn’t use humor unless it was useful to the client in which I fully agree with. However, neither she nor anyone else in my program provided any guidance in that direction. Luckily, I had other role models who used humor and play effortlessly and I rediscovered similar skills I had learned previously or used naturally.

Through some trial and error, I found that many of my clients responded positively to humor and a little playfulness. They more easily let go of some of their life’s negative accumulation and replaced that with life’s possibilities and motivation to move toward their desires. They smiled, they laughed, they were happy to take responsibility for their lives.

Utilizing humor and play can also be beneficial for social service providers, who often suffer from burnout and secondary trauma when dealing with such serious issues on a regular basis. Used carefully and thoughtfully, fun is an important aspect of the therapeutic process for everyone involved and should be implemented more often in social service provision.

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