The 183-Year-Old

Richard PratherPart Two
While still hugging Ms. Jaya, she expressed right away “I didn’t get the gig and I am disappointed in you!” With a laugh on my face, I said, “ME?” “Yes, you said I shouldn’t have any issues getting that storyteller position” she stated as she pushed away from our hug. “Ms. Jaya, I received some feedback from the interviewer.” Looking down at the gravel around our feet, “Oh really” she said exhaling. Ms. Jaya, knowing that a reality check conversation was on its way, released her dog to the elements of the park. Lika gladly ran off with four-and-a-half other dogs in the park, leaving us to talk freely.

“Ms. Jaya…so you get tired of standing, you have doctor’s appointments and technology makes you feel 183 years old. Does that about sum things up?” She raised her eyebrows, “Well, I was telling the truth,” she said in an unfriendly way. “Ms. Jaya…what makes a person “older” in an employer’s eyes is the lack of flexibility and willingness to grow with the times.” I went on to explain that companies want three major qualities in their future employees:

  • Can you make this company money?
    • I have 5 years of experience, so I can hit the ground running.
    • I have the necessary certification to get started today.
  • Can you save this company time?
    • With 3.5 years in customer service, I can resolve a bad situation quickly.
    • With my bilingual-Spanish skills, I can cut your customer’s wait time in half.
    • I am amazing with difficult customers.
  • Can you work well with the team already hired at this company?
    • I was employee-of-the-month/year.
    • I understand and appreciate diversity.
    • I was promoted to department lead twice.
    • My coworkers always want me to work with them on new projects.

Yes, it’s true; you have obligations in your personal life. Therefore, if your life schedule is too much for the position you are applying for, and then find a new position that will not be so taxing on your obligations. If doctor appointments, kids, or the care of a family member are brought up during the interview, the employer might think the following: ‘well she/he is going to be calling in late/sick and/or missing lots of days with my company, which translates into loss of money and time and leaves my staff working harder to fulfill your responsibilities.

After explaining all this to Ms. Jaya she had this look on her face that spelled out: ‘I now know what I must do!’ She looked at her wristwatch and called Lika to come. With a somewhat shameful grin, she thanked me and said she had to leave. “Ms. Jaya, I will make a deal with you. I took the liberty of finding you a free interview skills class located in one of our 28 Workforce Solutions offices tomorrow at 10 am. If you attend, I will get you a second interview,” I said with a playful smirk on my face.

I heard Ms. Jaya eventually had her second interview. Busy with work, I went back to the dog park a few weeks later. I was excited to ask Ms. Jaya how her interview went. Instead, I was greeted by one of her dog park mates who had been eagerly waiting for my return to the park. She let me know Ms. Jaya had moved a week ago to Wyoming. “And Ms. Jaya wanted me to give you this letter. She went on and on about how Workforce Solutions made a positive difference in her world.” As her friend handed me the letter she said goodbye and walked off. I opened the letter. It had two loose pennies and a picture of her and Lika. The note simply read, ‘thanks for your two cents.’ I smiled. I never did see Ms. Jaya again, but I was happy with our exchange. I hope she makes good use of the information and strives to become the best professional I know she can become.

Richard Prather is a member of the Regional Facilitator team (Texas Gulf Coast Region) for Workforce Solutions. Richard combines over seven years of hands-on experience in employment education at Workforce Solutions with a Master’s degree in youth development. He also draws from diverse personal experiences. He’s traveled extensively abroad to partake in the culture and examine the economies of various countries across the world such as Mexico, England, Cameroon, and Argentina to name a few. Despite his wealth of experience and education, Richard’s greatest attribute is the attentive and dedicated nature with which he approaches the individual needs of his customers.



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