Get Level During the Divorce Process…With an Earning Capacity Evaluation!

Are you an attorney who works with divorcing couples? Have you utilized vocational expertise to help level out the uncharted territory for your client?  Whether employed, unemployed or underemployed, an earning capacity offers valuable information regarding marital assets. 

My company, Vocational Resources Plus LLC offers vocational consulting services, in particular an earning capacity evaluation, which will benefit parties in a divorce in many ways. 

Let’s Get Level

If you need a clear, objective picture of a divorcing husband’s or a divorcing wife’s earning potential, and not just what he or she is currently earning during the divorce process, but how their vocational background could unfold with options and corresponding wage information, let me help! As a vocational expert, I know what skills are in demand in today’s employment market, and what income these skills can command in various careers.

Career picI report on the evidence and am always prepared to back it up through expert testimony!

An evaluation will provide recommendations on the person’s functional capacity, personality, work skills and abilities, transferable skills, work values, aptitudes, interests, motivators,  work readiness and ideas for employment. Any recommendation or opinion is backed up with supportive data that highlights the individual’s vocational presence.

Based on individual circumstances of employability, hireability and placeability (3 of my favorite ability descriptors!), other factors are assessed, for example, job seeking skills and job search records.

Most importantly, during a divorce your client’s personal story deserves to be heard, especially when we’re talking about talents that include job skills and the career the person gravitates towards.  Results of all assessments and analyses are explained accordingly in a clearly written report.

Postit marriageI can help tell your client’s vocational story realistically and persuasively.

In one case I’m aware of, the divorcing woman declined to hire her own expert (umm: me) and found herself at a serious disadvantage. The “opposing” vocational expert sure did a number on what he declared she would earn in today’s workforce even though she hadn’t worked anywhere in 10 years!

There were inaccuracies and factual errors in this expert’s report on a specific career (it was teacher) that made me wonder if he (the opposing expert) had actually ever talked to a teacher about their job in real life! (Ahh, try being married to a teacher like me!) The opposing expert did not make sense! You simply don’t start out (with an outdated bachelor degree, no license, no certification(s), and no recent teaching experience) at $50k!! Not reality!

Even following divorce, my services can help an “ex” find appropriate work. With the results of interest and aptitude tests, along with professional guidance, the value of hiring a vocational consultant is enhanced should the cost of placement services be included in the alimony proceedings.Earnings $

Knowing your earnings ability will directly impact the resolution of the economic aspects of your divorce.

Please contact me to discuss how I can help level the playing field so the divorce process moves in a fair and equitable manner. It makes sense to have a person’s earning capacity known early in the proceedings.

Do it before a different report says otherwise! Having valid and reliable information on earnings directly impacts the resolution of the economic aspects of any divorce.

Call me ~ Amy ~ at 515-282-7753. If I don’t answer, please leave a message!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Here to Help The Passionate Attorney Help Your Client ~ Life Care Planning Services

Along with vocational consulting services, I offer you life care planning services. Life Care Planning Services are valuable to passionate attorneys such as yourself, one who works to your fullest potential for your clients. One who truly cares about your client and one who strives to maximize the best outcome for your client. A Life Care Plan will help you help your client.

cartoon lawyer  Are You a Passionate Attorney?  Image result for woman attorney cartoon

Comprehensive Life Care Planning Services focus on the individual who sustained a personal or catastrophic injury, has a congenital disease or acquired illness, or suffered a traumatic event that altered his or her life leaving them with a disabling condition. The individual and his or her family is in need of planning how to live with these ongoing life changes.

Image result for passionate attorney cartoon   Are You a Passionate Attorney? Image result for group of attorneys cartoon

A Life Care Plan outlines an individualized holistic program that documents your client’s specific healthcare needs and a projection of what it costs for that care over their lifetime. A Life Care Plan  helps prevent medical complications, enhances community and society participation, considers quality of life issues, and assists in maintaining emotional and psychological health.

The person’s life now has important healthcare needs and significant costs are associated with those needs that will last throughout their lifetime. How can you, the person’s caring and passionate attorney prove this, or show this to others, and why would you need to do so?

A Life Care Plan is helpful in many ways, here are three,

  • to facilitate decision making relating to the individual’s health care, long-term care, and special needs; and those costs related;
  • to identify and obtain good care in the individual’s community, whether at home, an assisted living facility, or, if necessary, a nursing home; and those costs related;
  • to help move the litigation process forward, and ultimately to settle or win a case justifiably at the highest level possible using real data!

A Life Care Plan involves a systematic process (I do that part!) of developing a “road map” of the care, goods and services the person will need to ensure optimal health, safety and life satisfaction. A plan also highlights what it is the person will need to restore or improve their life activities to their maximum potential.

Keep in mind that while most Life Care Plans are developed for people who have suffered a traumatic injury, Life Care Plans are increasingly used for older adults with chronic conditions to anticipate their health and financial needs in later years. Do you have a client in this elite category? If so, be prepared for more future that focuses on healthy living! (Hint: Get a Life Care Plan!)

Image result for quality of life

The standard definition of a Life Care Plan is a “dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs. (IALCP – International Academy of Life Care Planners, 2003. Definition established during the 2000 Life Care Planning Summit.)

Please visit Dr. Deutsch’s webpage for much more information on Life Care Planning. Dr. Deutsch was on my training team!

CLCP Certificate expires 2-28-21
Life Care Plans
are developed by Certified Life Care Planners (CLCP), who are professionals in rehabilitation with advanced knowledge of specific disabilities, established treatment care resources and a consistent objective approach toward the practical and functional elements involved in providing the treatment of catastrophic injuries and diseases.

Communication and negotiation skills are essential (so true) while working with patients, families, caregivers and treatment teams. Keep on pursuing my website, which is mainly a relationship building, and read my blog writings. Please consider how Life Care Planning Services will help you help your clients.

Contact me ~ Amy Botkin, MS, CRC, CLCP ~ today at 515-282-7753 to discuss your case.

I am here to help you help your clients!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Critiques & Rebuttals…Need One? Rebut No Matter What!

Vocational report writing is a very powerful form of communication and can influence the degree of success for the individual for whom it was written. I’ve written, critiqued and rebutted many reports.  I’m Here to Help! 

Image result for report images
I love to communicate
through the written word! How many people do you know who really love to write reports? I do!!

Let me ask: Have you ever read (or tried to decipher) a vocational report that doesn’t make sense?  Is the report ambiguous and difficult to read? Does the person it was written for understand it? Is it possible the report can be defended? Or should the report be ripped apart, piece by piece to get to its’ nuts and bolts? Want help? Need a critique or a rebuttal?

Image result for nuts and bolts cartoonRebut No Matter What!

Loosen, take apart and re-assemble that poorly prepared report…Will it fall apart or simple wobble on? A poorly prepared report stresses difficulties but doesn’t offer much information about solutions. It talks about weaknesses rather than strengths; deficits and negatives rather than pluses and positives. It seeks to make threats rather than suggest changes. It uses multiple words, unclear statistics, and a slick method to confuse rather than clarify.KeepitSimple

Simply, it’s not helpful to write an entire vocational report about how bad off the person is, especially without mentioning plans to help make a positive impact on the individual’s life.

I love to comb through reports and make all attempts to uncover what the contents say to the reader.  Just because it’s a report doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense! A report still needs to flow, tell a story, describe details and make valid and reasonable conclusions.

Bull
This was my husband’s Grandpa Cliff Yearington’s Bull. Cliff knew a lot about Bulls & Bulls*** too. 

Here’s a sentence commonly found in reports from the same person that I’ve been asked to rebut. [Keep in mind this line comes after results of testing that are not explained at all!]

It is important to note that the purpose of all vocational testing done and reported here is to compare an individual’s current performance with their past performance as documented by their education, training, experience, and the standard worker trait factors associated with that history.

Say what? What does this run-on sentence mean?  The writer is using testing to compare performance? Did the evaluee’s past performance have anything to do with the testing administered? Did this person take the same tests throughout their work history? And then the paragraph continues…

 It is NOT correct to confuse an individual’s current test performance with performance in work prior to injury, as current performance is likely affected by the sequelae of disability.

Okay, now who is confused? The test taker? The person administering the test? I’ll tell you who….the reader!Related image The reader is easily confused by a poorly prepared report! Don’t be a confused reader! It’ll get you nowhere!

My initial question regarding this report scenario, maybe helping to avoid confusion from the get go, is WHY were EACH of the specific testing instruments administered at all to this specific person? What is the rationalization for administration? To be ethically sound, administer testing only with a direct and relative reason to do so. 

I’ve written a professional report about my opinion on ethics and use of testing in vocational evaluations. Please contact me for a copy of the report. If you are my contact on LinkedIn, you’ll find it there readily available for now.

The underlying use of testing results to try to prove a person is permanently and totally disabled raises many ethical questions. Would you want that for yourself?

A test, really, a series of tests that I was forced to take, I didn’t understand, and simply put I didn’t want to take……those results determine my fate? Absolutely ridiculous! Results of testing are meant to assist a person for true and valid reasons…..not to paint a picture of “post injury residual vocational potential”

Image result for testing cartoon

Would you like to take ~ 10 tests in a single sitting? No!

Without testing, evaluation is merely speculative

Really now? I’ve helped to place literally hundreds of people without administering testing! And many other placement people do too!

Yes, I use certain standardized tests and self-assessments to help people when it is appropriate for reasons directly related to their placement goals, but that isn’t all I use during a vocational evaluation! I gather knowledge and assess many other areas involving work, interests, skills, aptitudes and lifestyle to help. I do not rely on only the use of test results!

Back to report writing (which I love to do!)  Writing is a very specialized skill; and I continuously study, practice and improve upon my own skills. As a professional writer, I never stop training! I think I gained natural talent from my Grandpa Jack, a journalist!

Image result for writing

When I’m writing, I get very absorbed! My office cat will testify to that!

Again, do you need a critique or a rebuttal? Have you recently read (or tried to decipher) a report that doesn’t make sense?  I’m Your Person to Help!

If your opinion on a case doesn’t mesh at all with the report on your desk, please contact me to help sort out the discrepancies. Keep in mind, I know opinions are just that, opinions.  And reports are meant to answer questions, not raise more!

I also want you to keep in mind that if you believe in the truth, there’s a way to show it. Contact me for expert testimony and witness services, too! Oh, and I definitely can rebut a life care plan as well! Thank you for reading this lengthy post!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Employment Discrimination and Help With a Litigation Fix!

As a vocational expert, I can help sort out the consequences of employment discrimination cases in many ways and from “both sides of the fence”. What does that phrase mean to you?  To me, it means I will be fully instrumental to help serve your client without falling off and hurting the case because I have a full grasp of what I’m on to. To accomplish this goal, I balance and use all my instincts and brain power….kinda like a cat!

Black Cat on FenceCat’s tails are instrumental in balance!

Cats’ tails serve as a counterbalance when cats walk on narrow spaces, such as fences. However, one of my felines from long ago, (Max 1987 – 2002) was a Manx, henceforth no tail but he was well able to manage cat life with his strong body shape in every way! I asked my vet, and yes, even cats with amputated tails have proven to re-learn how to balance.

Employment discrimination cases need plenty of proof and evidence. Loss of salary, loss of benefits, and lengthy unemployment can be quantified pretty easily. Other issues are more difficult to assert. For example, if there is a claim the loss of job adversely impacts income and questions surface regarding economic realities, I can help with educating the individual on how to engage in a meaningful and productive job search, or I can assess the extent, quality, and reasonableness of a current job search. It is important to keep employer attitudes towards hiring an individual terminated from previous employment in mind.

Further, I can help to determine the impact on earnings potential and perform a vocational assessment and evaluation that provides data such as ~

  • the number, types, and wage level of jobs available prior to the discriminatory action
  • vocational options following the discrimination or termination
  • local job availability and wages and benefits associated with those jobs

I can also help uncover whether or not a good cause for termination of employment existed. That’s why documenting real time employer comments become helpful to sort out the nuances of the case. I’ll take a deep look at a behavior or situation that any reasonable person agrees would warrant discharge. I can help determine the ramifications of ~

  • Work performance and productivity
  • Attendance
  • Violation of work policies and rules
  • Dishonesty
  • Endangerment of health and safety*
  • Illegal conduct
  • Insubordination
  • Personality/attitude problems
  • Poor interaction with subordinates.

*If disability is involved in the case, under the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title I of the ADA), I can assess for reasonableness and identify reasonable accommodations. Keep in mind I believe that for every disability there is some form of assistive technology to allow continued employment.

If necessary, I can provide expert testimony to help prove the loss of job was or was not reasonable. Do you have a case where I might help? Give me a call and let’s talk about your case. I hope you’ll find our conversation interesting! And if you like cats, let me know why. And if you don’t like ‘em, I’d really want to know why!

DudeCats have other unique advantages besides their beloved/not so loved personalities.

If falling (which doesn’t happen much based on my own personal cat ownership research) a cat’s head twists to inform the brain exactly how to restore alignment in a millisecond and a perfect landing is guaranteed!

16 Claws

 

If a cat falls from a porous surface, sixteen hooked claws do their work in an instant!

Do I have you more interested in cats or my work as a vocational expert!?!

Felix Feeling Loving 5-30-2010

Felix (2002 – 2015)

I very much miss my Felix. As mostly a cool outdoor cafe’ kitty, you were quite a lover! Felix shared his feline life with me through many a fix (both his and mine).

Keep me (and Felix with his secret bag of tricks) in mind to help in dangerous situations. I definitely can help your case through a litigation fix!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@gmail.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

How to Handle Conflicting Medical Opinions? With a Forensic Approach, of Course!

Upon referral of a vocational case, I review a variety of  medical data (i.e., treating physician reports, FCE’s, IME’s) and/or psychological data (i.e., psychometric testing, psychological evaluations, psychiatric evaluations) found within the file. During a workers’ compensation litigated claim (for that matter, all claims that involve work and disability), it is important to understand the individual’s medical situation based on the data contained in these records.

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Good thing I’ve had medical records training…and enjoy the review!

If a file has more than one Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. Commonly one physical therapist will recommend the claimant has the physical capacity for light work, while the other says medium work. Often the therapists also have conflicting information about the individual’s maximal (or lack of) effort put forth during the evaluation.

I Did My Best

The claimant needs to say honestly and sincerely  “I Did My Best!”

Assisting the individual (who used to be referred to as the injured worker, the patient, the claimant, the testee, the evaluee, and potentially the client)  in returning to work following an injury is a central role in my specialty of placement. This involves finding the best occupational match within the individual’s own labor market. A person’s “doctor imposed restrictions based on an FCE” should not direct the provision of placement services.

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With conflicting opinions from professionals, what data should I rely upon to perform a beneficial service?

To resolve discrepancies I first ask myself, why is an FCE being used for this specific claim? The utility of this type of scientifically based evaluation, the training sources, performance methods, test protocols and standards to measure them are numerous. Professionals may have opposing views for their own reasons but I must be able to articulate their reports into vocationally-relevant terminology and tell a story about meaningful and gainful work.

WORK

I love writing reports rich with detail about a person’s world of work! And I love reading medical data rich in detail about a person’s world of functioning!

A functional capacity evaluation is actually a term with various definitions, purposes and constructs. A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluates an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. It seems that in essence, by having a functional capacity evaluation a person is likely to be put in a position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work. This is unfortunate.

From what I know, there are approximately 10 different types of commonly used functional capacity evaluations. Here in Iowa, I am most familiar with FCEs with names like the Isernhagen Work System, the Blankenship, Matheson, WorkWell and X-RTS. The reliability or validity of any system is somewhat irrelevant to me because the testing is already entered into “evidence.” What is relevant to me is whether or not I comprehend the results and recommendations contained within the evaluation. Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. I always use a “Does This Make Sense?” test!

Image result for conflictingIt’s up to the dualing physical therapists to make their best points during litigation, I’m not in that ring!

I feel fortunate of connections with several physical therapists allowing insight into their clinical practice. Recently I attended a continuing education program that helped me understand various approaches to FCE’s and I am rather fascinated with the X-RTS Lever Arm.

Thinking Cap

The X-RTS Lever Arm passes my make sense test!

So within the context of my vocational consulting work while cautiously putting any judgment aside (which seems hard when I know I know certain things), I analyze and compare each FCE while considering the testing results.

I analyze and compare FCEs! Whoa!

I note whether the FCE report is readable and user friendly. I assess if I understand terminology and methods used, how long testing was administered, what actually was administered, the claimant’s behavior during the test, and how the evaluator came to his or her conclusions. Does it make sense? I look for descriptors regarding the results of testing in relation to real jobs. Are there concrete and realistic recommendations regarding (strengths and weaknesses) in relation to performing physical demand levels of various work situations? I definitely look for the goals and expectations for the evaluation, and whether maximum and consistent effort was made by the evaluee. Comments on the suitability of the testee’s future employment options along with the evaluator’s observations are valuable!

Thinking Cap

Continuing on with analyzing and comparing FCEs! Whoa! It’s important to note what body part/extremity the therapist focuses on in relation to what body part/extremity was injured. For example in one report, the therapist discussed lower extremity activities, when in fact it was an upper extremity injury. If the report cites examples or uses too many percentages, it’s important to understand how the therapist justifies examples. I’m familiar with a therapist who changes the percentages of the same examples from report to report. That doesn’t make sense to me.

I try really hard to make sense of most things and situations!  No sense

If I am able to square an FCE in my mind after careful and prolonged study, is it possible the claimant could do the same? That is fortunate!

How does the claimant (not actually a patient at this time in a workers’ compensation case when referred for an FCE by their own attorney; with an additional FCE visit to a different physical therapist by the defense attorney) perceive discrepancies in the results? Sadly in my eyes, the FCE often gets “interpreted” through an attorney. The repeated pattern of thinking of one’s functional capacity as “poor” does not help me to help anyone return to work.

If there is an IME (Independent Medical Exam), it may seem more geared towards one of the FCEs. Regardless, I try to comprehend all reports, noting the one I understand the most. I’m not so sure that an IME is really a “fresh set of eyes” in the workers’ compensation cases I’ve recently worked on. This topic is another blog in itself.

Putting both, or multiple opinions in a vocational report and making use of other documentation to support my ultimate and final opinion is a great idea, however I have to be cautious to not put myself in a role that isn’t mine (making a medical opinion).

If I am able to provide a doctor (ideally the most recent treating occupational health or rehabilitation doctor) detailed information directly related to a specific occupation or line of work and any resources that could help understand how such work is performed in a smart, safe and effective manner, many benefits arise.

Related image

Clean your lenses!

There’s a clearer understanding of the vocational rehabilitation process and with agreement from all involved, there’s a higher likelihood one could see a successful common outcome (return to work). This certainly helps solidify my vocational opinion and make recommendations. Yet, this type of opportunity is not frequently available (certainly is though with a life care plan!). Please know I always search for a way to best express my vocational opinion.

In my reports, I document what medical records I’ve reviewed and then use the actual words from the individual during an interview describing how s/he details their physical impairment.  Often I hear verbatim what one doctor wrote in their restrictions. The evaluee will respond to my open questioning about any physical limitations (sometimes after the evaluee refers to his/her doctor’s letter) and read or have it memorized saying: “no lifting over 20 pounds, avoid twisting, bending, stooping, sit and stand as needed.”  No sense

What do those words really mean in real life? The individual doesn’t seem to know either. Ask an employer if they have a job that involves no lifting over 20 pounds, no twisting, no bending, no stooping, no this, no that …. and that’s not talking their language!

The evaluee who responds to me in this fashion (using verbatim restrictive words) needs future vocational counseling. Vocational counseling (which may or may not be provided depending on the nature of the litigation) helps to gain a clearer understanding of how the person’s medical situation has changed their daily living (especially in the context of their own world of work). This understanding leads to the ability to articulate the individual’s capacity for success to others (family, friends, job interviewers, etc.).

Please keep in mind, the term “restriction” is not conducive to a successful job search. The ability to explain who you are and what you can do from a functional perspective to help a business make or save money is what is conducive to a successful job search. Restrictions should never be the focus of job placement. Skills are!

Counseling is especially important if the individual is searching for a job, requiring job seeking skills training on how to or (how not to) disclose. The personal attributes gained from training helps the placement process move forward with common goals avoiding getting stuck within a few words that don’t apply to working reality.

WORKWhile staying true to my convictions and firm beliefs that a person can work if the person wants to work and has the capacity to work, I need to understand the dichotomy between science and clinical practice is more imagined than real.

If healthcare professionals submit conflicting reports on the same individual, I need to be able to resolve inconsistencies to better understand and appreciate the opinions offered. It is not my role to determine which opinion is correct. It is my role to utilize available information, provide a beneficial service, and make a sound vocational opinion regarding the individual’s strengths and weakness in relation to work capacity and employability.

Matching People With Their World of WorkIt’s rewarding when I can clarify a person’s sense of their own world of work.

I strive to extend the value of FCEs in the litigation process. I am trained not only in understanding a client’s functional abilities at work, but at home and at leisure. (Need a life care plan?) Together my knowledge with those of other experts, contributes to decisions about the economic losses, or damages, for which the person receives compensation.

Give me a call 515-282-7753 and let me get to work for you!

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Nice Talking to You Randy! Never Stop Using Your Soft Skills!

I just got off the phone after a gentleman named Randy called my business inquiring on my needs regarding this website. I responded after listening to the purpose for his call… I’m it as far as who’s in charge of this site! He had good verbal communication skills, so our discussion continued. It was unusual I answered this call, as I was right in the middle of something, but I liked Randy’s soft skills!

After explaining the meaning of lcpresourcesplus.com being mainly a creative writing blog about work and life; written solely by me as a relationship builder, he asked what I do.

My response “As a life care planner and a vocational rehabilitation counselor I help people with acquired disabilities move on with their lives”, Randy thought that was a good concept. And he thanked me for my work!

Our phone conversation continued,  and I explained I write for the people I mentioned and also for the attorneys who help the people.

Image result for attorney love cartoonRandy said, yes attorneys need the love too.

Randy told me he has a couple of attorney buddies who are not happy with their legal  careers. He told me they’re frustrated, stressed out, and quite depressed.

I realize many attorneys are disenchanted with their work and are in remarkably poor mental health, having serious problems with depression. If I can help you through vocational counseling, please, please let me know.

Randy, please have your buddies fill this questionnaire out!  It’s titled Why Do You Do Your Work? The results of this assessment may help decipher what is missing from their current work.

Please take a serious look at your work, gather all you can about why you do it. Understand your personality, build up your choices and make an informed decision. Do you want to be happy and productive where you’re at in your legal career or do you need to make a move?

Image result for attorney love cartoon

Happiness is….being a lawyer and loving it!

Then stick with your decision, get help and support in every way you can, and most importantly enjoy life while you’re here on Earth and prepare your way to what lies ahead.

I hope reading my blogs will help you unwind a tad and you also find useful information that can help you to help your clients.

Let me know what I can do to help you on a case or even with your practice. It may help to take some time out and assess your career. Any recommendations you agree with and changes that’ll transpire will only serve you better, as long as you trust your instincts and never give up on yourself!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * lcpresourcesplus.com * 515-282-7753  VocResources@msn.com

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

A Job Analysis Would Help You Win a Prize!

Have you been to the Williamson Pumpkin Paradise? We visited on a beautiful October Sunday afternoon and I was in awe at the creative produce! After wandering around in the fields and looking at plenty a pumpkin looking for a home, we selected one. As I’m writing this, I realized that I really am not knowledgeable about “how to pick the perfect pumpkin”! So, what I’d do, I did the research!  Indeed, pumpkin is a fruit!

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Pumpkin seeds…nutritious and tasty!

I really like the sidebar from the publisher of a pumpkin site, it reads:

“I’ve always thought that we don’t choose pumpkins. They choose us! There is an unwritten magical connection when when you find the perfect pumpkin.”

This is the pumpkin we selected, being one of my favorites, it made it home:

2015-10-26 17.10.27

Even though I am green, you can still carve me into a beautiful Jack O’Lantern!

What’d you think Randy paid for this pumpkin at a cost of .40 per pound?

Pumpkin Head Randy

What do you think it weighs? 10, 15, 25, 35, 40 pounds, what about 50?

Randy was probably not carrying this pumpkin as safely as he could (read: wheel barrows were available.)  I lifted it and carried it in my arms as well for a time while walking through the field, gauging how much I thought it weighed. I was a little too high . . . and I really couldn’t carry it for very long. The load was just not being carried correctly.

Recommendation: Do a job analysis Amy!

2015-10-27 15.25.25This baby was much easier to manually handle!

Guess the correct weight of the green one and you’ll win a prize (a free consultation or maybe something just as valuable!)

Answer to be made available on Halloween! ….. continue to read on about another Randy (yea, not my husband…the KC fan above with the pumpkin head) … who just called me……!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Don’t Be a Dumb Bunny, Use Your Soft Skills to Your Advantage

I pay close attention to transferable skills when assessing employability, especially those skills we have come to call “soft”. Soft skills refer to interpersonal abilities that enhance an individual’s interactions with others, career prospects and performance on the job.

Soft skills are comprised of personality attributes or habits (no not rabbits >-=], social graces, communication, language style, interpersonal skills, managing others, leadership ability, self-motivation, time management etc., and the rules change depending on the culture of where you work and the people you work with. It’s because soft skills characterize personal relationships with other people.

Image result for rules

Rules Change, Which is a Good Thing!

In contrast, “hard” skills (the ability to perform specific tasks or functions with technical components, like using math or software programs, typing, operating specific machines and tools, driving truck, compiling research, data entry, measuring, calculating and recording; editing and writing, etc.) that tap into left brain functioning where the rules for performance stay the same regardless of where you work

To me, what is most valuable about a soft skill is that it brings value to any job/career. Although soft skills maybe can be “mastered” new situations or people will also test them (and push you to learn more about yourself.)

Mollie
Mollie

Mollie is not a “dumb bunny”. Her intelligence surprises me. And her personality makes her so lovable (rabbits are good office mates, and she lets me know when she is in need of something……apple please!)

Soft Skills Puzzle

Scrambled Words Answer Pattern Clues
nilinbaegt ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ not made of physical substance
hetics ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ rules of behavior
lcpanutu ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ on time
jaequnsesoi ___ ___      ___ ___      ___ ___ ___ ___      ___ ___ ___ “I know not what.”
hdadlveeele ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ cool under pressure
aobitnim ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ a desire to be successful
vmietiepcot ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ able to compete
lixbeefl ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ adaptable

Did you solve them all? 

Soft skills are not as easily measurable as hard skills because they are less tangible. Perhaps the best way for me to measure or assess soft skills is to ask two or three people who have a good understanding of the evaluee’s work performance and personality to subjectively assess the person; then have the person do a self-assessment on the same set of skills; then evaluate how the information from the assessments coincide / match.

You can use Mind tool http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/get-started.htm  to help.

It is also to your advantage to understand which skill set your career relies on to be successful. For example, there are jobs / careers that need:

  • Specific technical/hard skills and little soft skills (where you don’t necessarily have to work well with others). Examples include: physicist, chemist, scientist, production machine operator, assembly line worker, cook, carpenter, electrician, computer programmer, etc…
  • Both hard and soft skills (where you need to use the rules of your learned skills and also depend on cooperating, selling or collaborating with others.) Examples include: accountant, lawyer, teacher, counselor, coach, truck driver, dispatcher, cashier, administrative assistant, etc…
  • Mostly soft skills and little hard skills (where your work is more dependent on “reading” others). Examples include: sales ~ the person needs to know more than the average consumer, but really needs to know how to communicate, persuade and close a deal. Other examples include security officer, food server, host, merchandiser, etc…

I’ll add to the etc… listing of workers as I think of them! : )

Rabbits are Soft and Smart

Be a smart rabbit, use your soft skills to your advantage!

(Source: A national survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 10 to March 4, 2014 that included a representative sample of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.)

In general, soft skills are more important in most business careers than hard skills. Click here for a blog containing a soft skills matrixEmployers like outgoing, friendly, and cooperative employees.  To many employers, this is more important than any other qualification.  In addition, because most employers look for a person who can “break the ice” at the workplace and bring valuable dynamics to their business without causing conflict, soft skills are key to being successful at work.

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Rabbits have fine-tuned senses that make these small mammals some of nature’s most excellent survivors!

Keep in mind, if you don’t feel you have the soft skills you’d like, they are somewhat teachable. Here’s an idea that will help you to do so http://academy.justjobs.com/improve-your-people-skills-and-emotional-intelligence/

Let me know how I can help. My vocational counseling services are available!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work

Soft Skills Matrix, Take A Look!

I’ve blogged about Soft Skills  in my writing about Don’t Be a Dumb Bunny; and just wanted to add this soft skills matrix to help.

 

Soft Skill Other words that mean the same Examples when soft skill is used
Manners Politeness, consideration, courtesy Saying thank you, holding doors open for others, asking permission to do things etc.
Ownership of tasks Responsibility, duty, dependability Making sure tasks are done properly, turning up on time for meetings, working in partnership with others and doing your role so they can do theirs etc.
Attendance Turning up, coming in,

Appearing

Arriving on time for meetings and for work. Making sure you keep people informed regarding your attendance or availability.
Motivation Incentive, inspiration, drive, impulse Taking on new challenges, working hard to achieve goals, thinking of new ways to do things.
Professionalism Competent, skillful, dedicated Working to a high standard, being consistent in attitude (not allowing emotions or personalities to influence you)
Work Output Activity, productivity, production Meeting deadlines and standards for work. Producing products to target.
 Conduct in Workplace  Behavior, attitude, maturity Respecting others, not playing games when you should be working etc.
 Timekeeping On time, not late Arriving for work or meetings on time, leaving at the right time.
Verbal Communication Talking, consulting, meeting, discussing  Using the right tone of voice and words when speaking with colleagues, etc.
Organization / Planning Preparation, scheduling, arranging Having all required resources to hand, thinking jobs through, arriving on time, meeting deadlines etc.
Team-Work/Respect Esteem, valuing others, helping others, consideration Working well together on a task, making best use of your skills and the skills of others. Acknowledge the status of others and act accordingly.
 Helping Others Supporting, offering, training Giving up some of your time to support those who are struggling or need help to meet a deadline,
Conscientiousness Careful, meticulous, thorough, hard working Paying attention to detail, accurate work, making sure you do what you are paid to do.
Ability to Ask for Help Admitting own limitations, confidence, courage Asking colleagues to show you how to do something or to help you complete a task on time etc.
Adaptability / Flexibility Compliance, accepting change Taking on new challenges, accepting changes to rules and conditions, staying late to finish urgent tasks etc.

Source: Teaching and Assessing Soft Skills K. Kechagias (ed.), MASS Measuring & Assessing Soft Skills 2011, Lifelong Learning Programme  Table 1 page 82-83 Included in MASS Materials  http://www.mass-project.org/attachments/396_MASS%20wp4%20final%20report%20part-1.pdf    Edited in part 12/4/2014

Felix….One Cool Cat!

I miss my Felix….he had to be euthanized late afternoon on Friday, September 11, 2015. He was not eating and had lost way too much weight. It was so sad and I felt so bad that I couldn’t help him other than loving him and petting him. The vet (Dr. Michael Forret, who’s been our vet since 1994 or so) diagnosed Felix with a stomach tumor. He didn’t have a temperature and his vitals were okay, indicating thank goodness that he wasn’t in too much pain.

Felix showed up in our neighbor’s garden in June or so 2002. Jacob heard meowing and checked it out, bringing a completely black fluff ball back with him. I remember the first night….just holding this black kitten out in the garage. He pretty much was a garage/outdoor cat, but certainly loved coming inside and hanging out in the mondo, sleeping on the futon, or just chillin’ wherever suited his liking!

2013-12-31 13.18.23Fluff Man. At his glory he was over 15 pounds, all claws and one incredible meow!

I heard once that good cats get petted as much as they want in heaven. They get whatever they loved here on earth…..at their pawtips! Felix had a great life and yes, he had his share of injuries (broken paw, chipped ear) and vet procedures (one front incisor had to be removed). He always smelled like he was wearing leather and had recently been at a (smoke-free) bar. He had a beautiful wart under his left eye. He was downright cool.

God I miss him. Pets are so important to people’s lives. I keep on thinking I see him out in the backyard, or under the house where he had a special spot to sleep.  I will never forget the sound of his meow. Or how he would bump your arm just enough so more cat food would land in his bowl (he taught that to our white cat Alaska…) Oh, and he taught our dog Bella how to jump the backyard chain link gate (booh).

Felix was also known by me as cafe’ kitty, as he would lay non-chalantly on the curb of our driveway with one paw either crossed or draped over the edge. And when one of us would make the drive up our driveway, we’d have to go very slow because Felix was leading us up (like a sheep dog) and at times would just plop down in front of the car. You simply had to stop. Silly cat.

I also remember one time many, many moons ago….when Felix was missing for 10 days. I thought he was gone for good…and prayed he wasn’t. But returning from church (back over 10-11 years ago when we went to St. Ambrose) there he was down the street. I yelled stop the car, opened the door and ran to him, picked him up and hugged him sooo long. For like the next 10 days following the “rescue” he slept with me, snuggling right up. We figured he was stuck in someone’s garage or house…as he had gotten really thin. Then Fluff Man returned to his normal acting feline nature and back to his hunting escapades (oh the critters he brought him and left right outside the back door….!)

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I love you Felix, AKA Fluff Man and am heart broken.

One way to say I love you to a cat is to gaze into their eyes and slowly close your own! I love you! Our neighbors liked Felix all and all, and people would comment how huge he was! I know Felix’s feline sisters Samantha Josephine (who also came into my life in March 2002…an Aqualand store bought from the window kitty) and Alaska (who also showed up…followed Jacob down the street) back in 2012 miss you too. Cats that are “a find” are the best!

Oh, and BTW, Jacob is getting a tatoo of Felix here shortly…..based on his drawing of Fluffman. Maybe I should too?!? (Maybe a henna one!)

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Felix the Cat, the Wonderful, Wonderful Cat….Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks!

Take time to love your pets…..unconditional love is all they know! Prrrrrrr. Here’s a link to a post titled People and Their Pets…Got Cat? where I write about vocational assessment and psycho-social factors, such as pet ownership.

 

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.