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Job Hunting, Jobseekers' Perspective

You Can Lead a Horse to Water…

Noonday Taking A Horse To Water

Noonday Taking A Horse To Water (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I stepped in to a LinkedIn help session my colleague was facilitating. After only a only few minutes it became apparent that he was being challenged by an attendee that was resistant to what he was teaching. I tried to help.

The jobseeker had been instructed as part of a job training program in which she was enrolled to attend and learn more about LinkedIn. While I sensed genuine confusion about how it worked, it was plain to see that she was not at all interested in LinkedIn, learning to use the internet or in networking in any form. She had simply been told LinkedIn could help her find a job.

I explained to her about how it worked, I tried to show how to find connections to network with online, gave examples, but nothing worked. In the end she steamed out of the classroom, and all of us were frustrated. My colleague thought it was his fault.

As we left the room I told him that while as an instructor his responsibility was to present the information in an easy to understand manner, the responsibility to learn was on the student. In other words, “You can lead a horse to water..but you can’t make him drink.”

Similar situations have occurred when one of our counselors would instruct a job seeker to a class. A couple different classes reported that those persons caused a negative influence because they were told “they had to be there.” Learning instantly ceased when that declaration was made.

It saddens me to hear or see situations where one attendee ruins a positive learning experience for the whole group, simply because the idea of that person’s attendance was not their own. I do have to admit that when I am instructed to do something, I can sometimes dig in my heels myself. But I have to remember, as do others, that when a counselor refers me to attend an activity or workshop, to ask myself: is there something valuable to be learned from attending? Can I walk out of that experience having gotten something positive and effective out of it? What good is it to dig in my heels in protest simply because I was told to attend?

As a career counselor, I can help job seekers with their resumes. I can give them ideas on how to increase the effectiveness of their job search, search the labor market to see what careers are right for them in this economy, and help them find ways to get retraining if needed. I can prepare them to talk face to face with an employer. But I cannot, or more to the point, I will not, force them into anything they do not want to do. I might lead the horse to water, but to drink or not to drink is up to the horse!



About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


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October 2012
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