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Archive for the ‘Rehabilitation News’ Category

Taking on the Resume

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BY: Lisa Borchert BA., RVP. Vocational Rehab Consultant. Independence Incorporated

Why it is a difficult but mandatory tool to the return to work process

Remember the old expression – “if I had a nickel for every time I heard that” Well, I wish I had a nickel (or a loonie) for every time I heard a client say “I have no skills” or “I’m not good at anything” and “there’s no job out there for me….”  

The return to work is difficult, often frightening and challenging on many levels. And that’s going back to the pre-disability job! A job where you know the people, the routines, the culture, the physical layout and you know your position and its expected outcomes. You have a coffee buddy, people smile and nod and say hello and know your name. You know where the bathrooms are. You know who rules the water cooler. You know what the company does and what your role is or has been. You know the bus route and where to park.

Now imagine going to a completely new job – different job different employer – doing work you’ve never done before, probably using skills you haven’t used extensively in your work history or using newly acquired skills. You know no one, can’t find the bathroom or the lunchroom without help, don’t really know what it is you are supposed to be doing and don’t know who to ask, or even if you can ask. New jobs are scary to some degree for everyone, whether you are a seasoned executive making a planned job change or an average guy getting hired at a new place. Every first day produces stress at some level. So imagine, if you will, that you’ve been injured, can’t do the only job you’ve ever done and you know in your heart your company isn’t going to take you back. Wouldn’t take you back / couldn’t take you back, doesn’t matter – there’s no place for you there and now you have to live through yet another potentially traumatic event – transitioning to a new job.

I’ve done it. Twice. It was hard each time. And what did I say the first time…”I’ll never get hired, no one will hire me, I have no skills”.   What was it my friend said at the time, “No one wants to hire 40 year old women like us”……    wrong!

So now we come to the title of this little piece. The resume. The little tool that does it all, the true multitasker.   Working with your return to work clients to create a resume can be so much more than simply creating a document for answering job ads. The resume is a clearly laid out statement of skills and abilities that spotlights what each individual client is good at. It doesn’t matter if it’s putting up drywall or programming firewalls every person has talent. As a voc rehab provider it’s my job to help each client recognize and identify those talents.

The resume process is at least as important and rewarding as the finished product. By moving the clients to the point where they recognize and believe that they have talent, skills and abilities they begin to believe that they are deserving of a new job; that they have something to offer, that someone might actually want to hire them and that they have not worked 20 years for nothing. I have seen it proven many times that the resume process can be a powerful shot in the arm for lagging confidence and low self-esteem.

What is the resume process? Simple and sometimes not so simple, it’s all communication. Sit down with your client, no time limit and be prepared to dig for information. I never let a client get away with things like ‘I did the morning mail’, ‘I assisted the manager’, I was responsible for’…no skill is identifiable in those phrases, there are no verbs. (Action words, I love them!) I dig for specific tasks; as I recently told a client the word ‘assisted’ could mean anything from ‘I brought coffee’ to ‘I did all the work and got none of the credit’. Probe for verbs, did your client research, proofread, build, program, lead, delegate, teach, measure….you get the picture. It’s an action film.

For many clients this process is difficult and very emotional. Routine jobs done over long periods of time with little or no recognition wear away self confidence and can make workers feel like they don’t have any skills any more. They just do the same thing every day, by rote and possibly with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their back. It is important to remind clients that while they see it as routine, potential employers see it as a desired skill. Being able to do it well with minimal training on the new job is a benefit for everyone – less training time for the employer and an easier, quicker transition for the client.

For clients who can no longer use long time skills and must seek alternate employment the resume process can be even more difficult. It is important to identify the transferable skills and identify how the client did their job, what professional traits do they exhibit on the workforce – patience, detailed, organized, efficient. What does the client do in their life or in volunteer activities? The resume can’t change a work history but it can highlight skills, talents and abilities that are relevant to where the client is going right now.   And that is what a good resume does; it is a forward thinking document designed to get someone where they want to go, not keep them where they’ve been.

Some clients will fight you every step of the way. I think there are two main reasons.

  1. Lots of people think they are fabulous resume writers. They can use the template from MicroSoft Word. They have a friend or relative in HR or management and they get good advice. They don’t need you nor do they want to be part of the process.   Definitely putting up barriers.
  2. Creating a resume is hard work. Emotionally. Not only does it demand thinking of oneself in a whole new light, but it also means that a job search is imminent. It is concrete evidence that they are leaving the past and moving to the future, the scary unknown future. When clients feel they are not ready to return to work the resume, or even the thought of the resume process becomes frightening and up go the roadblocks.

Resistance is futile. In the end no one can resist a good voc rehab provider. Here’s where that communication comes in. It’s important to explain to a client that writing a resume is a process and that the finished document has no best before date. Wherever the client is in return to work planning there are benefits to at least beginning the process. One is identification of skills which leads to job discussion which leads to the realization and belief that possibilities exist. The second benefit is increased self awareness that begins re-building the confidence that leads to that glorious moment when the client sees themselves reflected in the resume as a viable, hirable professional.

So that little resume has accomplished a number of important tasks. The process helped create a solid working relationship with you and the client, it brought the client on board to see themselves as being in the process, it demonstrated the value of the client for a new employer and right there in black and white that little resume showed the client a skill set he never knew or had forgotten he had.

That little resume, crafted uniquely with, and for each client now spotlights possibilities for a successful job search or at the very least (or most) helps move the client to the point where the very words job search don’t bring on a cold sweat. The client is moving forward.   And that is what it’s all about.

Now I wish I had a loonie for every time I heard…”If I were an employer, I’d hire me”.

Why It’s Important To Be Honest With Your Doctor

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Doctor with male patientHonesty is the best policy. We’ve all likely heard this idiom a thousand times over. And, for the most part, it’s true. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule. Not all of us want to tell our five-year-olds the truth about Santa Claus just yet. But when it comes to our health, there’s no second guessing the fact that it’s important to be honest with yourself.

When you are feeling ill, you run the risk of getting others sick if whatever you have is contagious. The best person to diagnose you is your doctor. Now, that should go without saying, however, many of us choose to use the “it’ll pass, I’m fine” attitude towards their under-the-weather days. And to be really honest, we likely do this to ourselves because we’re just plain scared to hear the truth.

Isn’t it better to know exactly what is wrong with you instead of guessing? Misdiagnosing yourself will only allow your illness to get worse. Of course, the same can be said about injury. Sure, we all have these amazing immune systems that allow our bodies to heal themselves. But appropriate rehabilitation is mandatory in order for you to get back to a true sense of normalcy and optimum health.

So, not only is it important for you to be honest with yourself, it’s important to be honest with your doctor. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Why wouldn’t you tell your doctor the truth? Well, you may be surprised to find out how many people hold back in the doctor’s office. Dr. Stewart Segal describes this experience on KevinMD.com. He insists that when patients hold back on him, it’s enough to terminate the doctor-patient relationship.

“While there may be a place in the real world for partial truths and degrees of honesty, there is no room for dishonesty in the exam room,” he writes, insisting that being honest with your doctor tops the list of most important things you can do to maintain good health. His experience has proven to him that when his patients are dishonest, their conditions tend to significantly worsen.

This isn’t to say that doctors don’t understand why patients hold back on telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A bit of shame sometimes creeps into the entire process. “There are many reasons patients exercise various degrees of honesty,” says Dr. Segal, “Some patients feel their actions make them look foolish; some fear the doctor’s scorn, some fear the answer to their problem will be too much for them, others are simply embarrassed.”

Nevertheless, the doctor-patient relationship must be one that is built on trust, insists the doctor. And why shouldn’t it be? Being honest with your doctor is integral to your well being. That said, it’s only right that nobody’s time and money is wasted due to dishonesty. We all have jobs to do, which means if you’re unable to work, you should be given the appropriate care to allow yourself time off from work to recover.

At the same time, employers deserve accurate information about the health statuses of their employees. Likewise, insurers have the right to know that they are compensating those who truly need it during their times away from their jobs. Of course, it’s unfair when insurance programs are abused. Many are unfairly affected by dishonesty, including insurers, employers and those who are truly sick or injured.

This is why, at Independence Incorporated, we make it a point to foster open communication between the family physicians and treatment providers that are involved with our clients. For more information, about our services, please call 204-478-6644. To be perfectly honest, we’d love to hear from you. And as you know, honesty is the best policy!

The Importance Of Rehabilitation

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Mature Woman having ambulatory therapyIf life was meant to be easy, we wouldn’t have to put much effort into anything we do. Clearly, life can’t always be a breeze, right? Perhaps, the point of going though hardships is so that we can better appreciate the many good times we’ve experienced with our families and friends. Naturally, it’s important to never take such good times for granted. It’s also important to remember that experiencing good times takes effort.

In other words, we have to work hard to have fun. Sounds like bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But when we get to points in our lives when we become ill, injured or victimized by substance addiction, we need to work harder than ever. We also need all the help we can get. And there’s absolutely no shame in that. This is why the process of rehabilitation is so integral to our overall health.

The very definition of “rehabilitation” is the restoration of one’s health and ability to function normally through a variety of methods. At Independence Incorporated, we know the importance of getting people back in tip-top shape. When a person becomes disabled from doing his or her job, we know that this takes more than just a physical toll on his or her body.

As you can imagine, there is a significant emotional component to the entire rehabilitation process. Although there are a variety of rehabilitation types, counseling and family support are always necessary to assist patients with getting to healthy mental and psychological states. Returning to work, after all, will take a lot more than an able body. A positive and confident mindset is necessary as well.

This is why, at Independence Incorporated, we go through a comprehensive and thorough process before assessing whether or not a client is ready to return to work. We achieve this through a three-step Vocational Rehabilitation Assessment program. It is through this process that we are able to accomplish a number of important requirements that benefit both the client and the employer.

Firstly, we make sure that the patient has received or is receiving the care he or she needs. Secondly, we assess the physical or emotional limitations and restrictions affecting the employee’s ability to meet the demands of his or her job. That way, employers are always welcoming back a member of their staff who is truly work ready – the very meaning of being rehabilitated.

The three-point assessment process, by the way, involves a client interview that includes a visit to the injured or ill employee. This is followed up by corresponding with the primary caregivers involved in the employee’s recovery process. Finally, a visit to the work site to communicate with the employer is made. Of course, there is a lot more to each step that we’d be happy to discuss with you in greater detail.

Please feel free to contact Independence Incorporated at 204-478-6644 at your earliest convenience. We’ve excitedly started up our new blog to better inform you about our many services and how they many benefit your company and the valued people who work for it. In the most respectful and professional way possible, we are committed to assisting both you and your clients with attaining the true meaning of rehabilitation.