Helping Young Adults Stay Motivated While Unemployed

It has been almost five years since the Irish economy took a turn for the worst. At the moment it seems people are getting a break from the doom and gloom, or at least the gloom of the weather. We have sunshine and the beaches are thronged but despite that there are still people sitting in their rooms despairing at the situation they find themselves in. There was a recent BBC article about NEETs, young people Unemployed, Education or Training that found that over a third of people in this circumstance have suffered depression, even more are stressed and a similar amount feel they will never find employment. Although these are figures for the UK it is not outlandish to suggest that the same problems are facing many in Ireland. And the true scale of the problem is hidden with so many deciding to continue in education and so many emigrating.

youth unemployment ireland

While there is constant debate about how the national government, the EU and global organizations should solve the situation there is often very little time given to the immediate and personal situation many people face.

The most important thing to remember is that every person facing this situation reacts differently. Some people can cope, others struggle but put on a brave face while others still barely leave their house and just about manage to get through their day. While unemployment is a common problem it is also an individual problem and everyone needs to be afforded the understanding that they will have a different attitude and reaction to it than others. If someone you know is down on themselves because of unemployment and lack of opportunity it’s important not to make comparisons to others. They won’t be reassured by hearing, “Aren’t thousands of people in the same situation as you?” The problem is very real and very individual to every person facing it.

The real key to beating the problems arising from unemployment, if not unemployment itself is structure. It can be very easy to stay up all night watching films and sleep all day, but once that begins any routine to your day is lost. Trying to maintain a structured day is critical. People often value their time more when they are in a job, and when you are unemployed the time you have available to you seems endless but nothing is achieved despite that. Keeping a structure to your day will help you value your time, when you value your time you will get more out of your day and the more you do the happier you can be with your circumstances.

As anyone involved in career coaching will tell you potential employers value people who make do to achieve the best they can. No matter what you do you will never have a perfect environment. Making do despite your circumstances, even if you only see small improvements is all anyone can ask of you. Asking for help when times are tough is what any employer would want an employee to do. And recognizing that things are bad for the young unemployed is something everyone needs to accept.

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Reveal your hidden skills and talents with psychometrics – Irish Times article by Carol Ryan with interview of Amber Hanna & David Keane of DavittCP

Air hostess takes a battery of psychometric tests, discovers a serious talent for maths, leaves her job of 13 years and becomes a lecturer in mechanical engineering.

This is Lorna Fitzsimons’s career trajectory, if a little reductive. At first glance, her job history charts the tough slog of an academic career – an undergraduate course, a PhD scholarship won on the back of a first-class honours degree and post-doctoral work – all of which led to her current role as a lecturer in DCU.

Just one line tucked at the end of this list, “senior cabin crew with Aer Lingus”, hints at a radical career change in her past.

She got a job with Aer Lingus in 1990 and enjoyed the travel in her early 20s. By 2003, she was considering moving on.

“I was senior crew at that stage but there wasn’t much opportunity for promotion. I thought ‘Am I going to do this for the rest of my life, or shall I just bite the bullet and try something different?’”

She approached a career consultant with a hunch that she might like to work in maths or engineering. It turned out she had a lot of untapped talent.

After she took psychometric tests that measured her personality, interests and aptitudes, the psychologist told her that her maths ability registered in the 99th percentile. Amazingly, her potential had not been picked up in school where she took pass maths at Leaving Cert.

“I had always liked maths in school but it wasn’t taught well so I dropped to pass. I suppose that knocked my confidence.”

After the tests, she went back to study honours Leaving Cert maths, applied to study engineering and spent the next few years working her way up to a job she clearly enjoys that plays to her strengths.

“It gave me a boost. The whole testing process was very interesting and I would definitely say to anyone thinking of changing careers to go and see where their strengths lie.”

Existential gulf
Even in an economy where people are grateful for any work at all, finding a satisfying job is still something of a life calling. Steve Jobs’s famous 2005 Stanford graduation speech – in which he said, “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle,” – hit home with millions of people precisely because there is so often a gulf between the potential we feel we have, and the lives we get to live in reality.

Thousands of people have latent talent that is not being used in their career.

So should more of us be taking psychometric tests to find out what we are good at?

Psychometric means “mind measurement”. The tests can chart the unobservable about a person, such as how their mind works and their mental resilience, and can spot talents that may have gone unnoticed.

There are two main categories: cognitive tests that measure psychological skills (such as whether you are a critical or an abstract thinker, or your levels of verbal and numerical reasoning); and personality tests that measure where your strengths lie (what kind of work you are drawn to, whether you tend towards introversion or extraversion, how you cope with pressure and how you relate to others).
Personality inventory
Analysis of people’s psychological make-up is on the increase. Some 3.5 million complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory, probably the world’s best-known psychometric test, every year and 85 per cent of FTSE 100 companies now use them for recruitment.

They are used in sport where psychological strength is being used to predict on-field performance. Footballer Nicklas Bendtner recently stunned Arsenal’s sports psychologists when he recorded the highest self-confidence rating they had seen.

The tests can have a bad reputation as many companies use them to “weed out” unsuitable candidates in recruitment. But used to your own advantage, they can spot strengths that could be an asset in a career change.

According to Irish corporate psychologists Davitt Corporate Partners, the numbers coming to them looking for psychometric testing and coaching to find the right career match has actually increased since the economic slowdown.

Back to square one
Some find their hand forced by redundancy, but many are coming of their own accord to search for more fulfilling work.

“People are coming in off their own bat. Some have an innate interest in finding out what drives them or they may have found themselves in a job where they are not really happy, not thriving, and they just realise ‘I’m in the wrong area, what else could I do?’” says corporate psychologist Amber Hanna.

She adds that knowing your strengths is crucial.

“Knowing what you are good at is probably the most important thing in career success and many people neglect it.”

For some people, the tests simply give them confidence to pursue long-held goals.

David Keane, also a psychologist with Davitt Corporate Partners, remembers a woman who came to him three years ago who had always wanted to be a doctor but did not get enough points in the Leaving Cert for medicine.

“We went through the tests and it turned out she was more than smart enough to be a doctor and had all the requisite skills.

“She got in contact a while later to say she had done the HPat [the medical admissions test] and was going to medical school.

“The results just gave her the boost she needed to pursue it.”

Carol Ryan, Journalist with the Irish Times.

This Article was published in the Health Supplement of the Irish Times on Tuesday 27th August 2013.

Here is a link to the original article.

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The Stages of Development – Leadership

  •  The  Egocentric Self – This stage usually ends with adolescence when people learn how to pursue their wants within a larger system of competing needs.  Progression through this stage means recognising that the world does not revolve around “me” and what “I” want. One must give up this “egocentric” agenda in order to take up a functioning membership in society. 5% of adults never fully make this transition. Leaders at this stage tend to be very controlling. Organisations whose culture is organized at this level are dictatorial and oppressive


  • The Reactive (Socialised) Self – At this stage the self is made secure and valuable by belonging to and being successful within the prescribed socially accepted norms. People at this stage do not recognise how their goals and behaviours are actually predetermined by others or by a culture. Leaders at this level care deeply about their employees, but still limit their decision making and creativity to the top. Organisations operating at this level tend to be hierarchical and efficient. 


  • The Creative (Independent) Self  – Only 20% of adults in our culture make it to this level. Here people recognize that sometimes following one’s own path means disappointing others, or risking failure or contradicting the norms that link us to society and hence how we define ourselves. Leaders at this level begin to share power and the development of the self and others is prized. Organisation’s who operate at this level are structured on high performing, self managed teams. Whilst leadership is shared it is not yet a true partnership; creativity and critical decision making is developed and expected at all levels 


  • The Integral Self – Only about 5 % of adults develop to this stage- with another 5-10% in transition to it – here we begin to recognize that we are all complex multidimensional beings, with underdeveloped strengths, and weaknesses. Leaders at this level become systemically and community oriented. The organisation is seen a s a network of stakeholders nested within a larger system of networks. Vision becomes global. Sustainability and long term common good become salient values. This is the level of servant leadership. 


  • The Unitive Self – this stage seldom, if ever, develops without meditation and long term spiritual practice. At this point another major shift occurs – where the self realizes that “I am not the body nor the mind”. Leadership at this level is rate – leaders at this level function as global visionaries and enact world service for the universal good. 


By Bob Anderson, taken from the Spirit of Leadership

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The 4 Quadrants of Change

Systemic change is exceedingly complex, and for any change effort to be successful it must address 4 quadrants of change. Studies show that when change efforts are unsuccessful it tends to be as a direct result of critical variables being ignored. It is often the more invisible, insidious,  quadrants of personal and cultural change are often ignored.

Quadrant 1:  individual/internal aspect of change. This is  the area of cognitive,  and psychological development. In this  quadrant leaders attend to the inner development of people, recognizing that no substantive change is possible without a prior change in consciousness.

Quadrant 2 : individual/external aspects of change. This is the domain of technical and interpersonal skills as well as the science (physiology/neurology/ psychology) of peak performance.  Leaders pay attention to skill development, motivation, and ensuring peak performance.

Quadrant 3: the collective/ internal aspects of change. ie., culture  This is the interior, (often hidden), assumptions and images that we share with others.  Leaders need to pay attention to the deeper meanings of symbols, purpose, vision and values-not so much as written, framed, statements, but, as the subtle messages encoded in our day-to-day interactions.

Quadrant 4: collective/external aspects of change, the social organization system.

Organizational design, technology workflow, policies, and procedures. System design  determines performance and that if we want to get the system to perform at a substantively higher level, we must design for it.


Each of these quadrants is related to all the others. Development of one quadrant is inextricably bound up with all the others, and ignoring one will undermine attempts at sustainable change. e.g.,

Culture stimulates (or impedes) individual development and vice versa.
Organizational structure shapes culture (and vice versa), which defines the  opportunities people have/take for self-expression and growth.
Consciousness shapes and guides the design of the system and vice versa.

Author: Bob Anderson – The Leadership Circle

10 Ways We Get Smarter As We Age

1. Your hemispheres sync up.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres (each specializing in different operations). Brain scans show that while young people often use only one side for a specific task, middle-aged and older adults are more likely to activate both hemispheres at once—a pattern known as bilateralization – hence making better connections among the disparate parts of a problem or situation.

2. Your brain never stops growing.

3. Your reasoning and problem-solving skills get sharper.

A study prepared for the Brookings Institute found that middle-aged people make smarter money decisions—with the best performance notched by those in their early 50s.

4. You can focus on the upside.

Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University asked a group of subjects ages 18 to 94 to record their emotional states at five random times a day for a week. She repeated the procedure with the same participants five years later, and then again five years after that. Participants reported more positive well-being and greater emotional stability as time went on. This may be due to changes in how the  emotion-processing center of the brain (amydgala)—responds to positive and negative events .

5. Your people skills are constantly improving.

As we get older, our social intelligence keeps expanding, we understand ourselves and others better.

6. Your priorities become clearer.

 7. You’re always adding to your knowledge and abilities.

Some kinds of information (eg vocabulary) we learn and never forget. Studies show that we keep adding new words as we age, giving us ever richer,  more subtle ways to express ourselves. Job-related knowledge also continues to accumulate, meaning we keep getting better and better at what we do.

8. You can see the big picture.

 9. You gain control of your emotions.

In a study published in 2009, psychologist Vasiliki Orgeta, PhD, evaluated younger and older adults and concluded that older adults (between ages 61 and 81) had more clarity about their feelings, made better use of strategies to regulate their emotions, and had a higher degree of control over their emotional impulses.

 10. You become an instant expert, even in new situations.

As the brain encounters new experiences, it develops schemas— these are mental frameworks that allow us to recognize and respond to similar circumstances in the future . By midlife we’ve accumulated so many schemas that help give us our bearings even in novel situations.

Antisocial teens more likely to become entrepreneurs

Researchers from the University of Stockholm recently published  a study  showing how modest antisocial behavior among adolescent boys was a positive indicator of future entrepreneurship (the  relevant characteristic was behavior rather than beliefs. When it came to antisocial attitudes that did not result in rule-breaking, the researchers found no correlation with entrepreneurship).

The study used data on an entire Swedish grade-school cohort that was tracked into its mid-40s. It controlled for socioeconomic status and IQ, although did find that the wealthier and smarter students were more likely to become entrepreneurs (for both males and females).

From the study:

These results  suggest that male entrepreneurs, when compared to male non-entrepreneurs, may go through a somewhat stronger rebellious and non-conformist phase in adolescence with regard to their behaviors; they may “drift” towards antisocial involvements in their adolescent years without becoming outlaws or developing into notorious criminals.

In many ways, the findings do make a certain sort of sense.

Entrepreneurs are, almost by definition, looking to take risky actions that somehow upset the status quo. At the same time, however, they are generally viewed as pro-social individuals (thanks to job creation, etc.). So perhaps those punishments for breaking rules as a teen are made up for as an adult, when you are admired for directing those antisocial tendencies into something more productive than cutting class.


For the full article please see…-Dan Primack Fortune

The Key Things that Happy People Never Do

Happy people do a lot of things. They spend time expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, practicing kindness, nurturing loving relationships, committing to meaningful goals, savoring life’s little pleasures, and so on and so forth. But they NEVER…

1. Mind other people’s business. Forget about what others are doing. Stop looking at where they are and what they have. YOU are walking your own path.

2. Seek validation of self-worth from others. When you are content to simply be yourself, without comparing and competing to impress others, everyone worthwhile will respect you.  How are you letting others define you?

3. Rely on other people and external events for happiness. Unhappiness lies in that gap between what we have now and what we think we need.

4. Hold on to resentment. Stop being haunted by the ghosts from your past. What happened in the past is just one chapter in your story; don’t close the book, just turn the page and  focus on the future .

5. Spend prolonged periods of time in negative environments. You can’t make positive choices in environments inhabited by negative people and negative energy!

Youth and Unemployment 2013- BBC News

Many young unemployed people feel marginalised, pessimistic and lacking in control over their lives, claims a survey by the UCU lecturers’ union. The survey of youngsters not in education, employment or training – so-called Neets – found a third had experienced depression and more than a third “rarely left the house”.

The poll examined views of some 1,000 youngsters aged 16-24 across the UK.

The UCU’s Simon Renton said it showed the “personal impact” of unemployment.

There are about 900,000 young people classified as being Neet and the lecturers’ union survey provides an insight into how they see their circumstances.

It reveals that many feel isolated and are lacking in confidence – 40% feel they are not part of society, 36% believe they will never have a chance of getting a job.

One third have suffered depression, 37% rarely go outside the house and 39% suffer from stress.

There has been a long-term problem with youth unemployment, particularly for youngsters who have left school with poor qualifications

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Listen to Adrienne Davitt on the “Down to Business” on Newstalk

Adrienne Davitt appeared on the “Down to Business” show last Sunday hosted by Bobby Kerr.

She was asked to appear to give her expert opinion on the psychology behind unemployment and redundancy.

Click here to be brought to the “Listen Back” feature on

7 Shared Traits That Unite Women in Power

This year has seen women grab headlines across every sector in every corner of the globe. South Korea swore in its first female president (approximately 17 countries have women as head of government/state or both) and the corporate world saw many firsts in the form of Marissa Mayer.

Yet very little changed in the business world; globally only 24% of women hold positions in senior management, only 20% of senior management positions in the US are filled by women, and in Ireland this is 21% despite women accounting for more than 35% and 32% of the workforce in these countries.

Ekaterina Walter (Partner and CMO at Branderati) takes a look at some of the characteristics and traits that have united the most prominent female leaders, and helped get them to the top of their professions.

Effective role models

A recent CNN opinion piece suggests that it is the prominence of such women as Sheryl Sandberg that inspires others to be like them:

“We can create more Sandbergs by surrounding ourselves with confident, outspoken women.”

Hard work

Though successful women are often prone to credit luck for their success, it is mostly hard work and perseverance that brings women to the top of their field, says Lucy Marcus, CEO, non-exec board director, prof at IE Business School,


Arianna Huffington cites lack of confidence as “a killer to success for women. In order to advance their careers, women need to be comfortable seeing themselves as qualified leaders and risk takers.”



Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Many of the current generation of women leaders have credited a good support network in their success, and are now active in encouraging the next generation of women in their field.


Changing the mindset of what is the “right” career for a woman begins early. Women who have a good grounding in technology, math, science, and business–and who are encouraged to take those studies further–are more likely to become the business and political leaders of the future. It isn’t just the book knowledge that counts: Women need to know they can build a career that takes them all the way to the top.


Peer group attitudes shape our perception of “normal.” Many women at the top of their professions cite strong female family members, friends, or peers as a factor in their success, and it’s something they are passing on to their own children, friends, and colleagues.

Mentoring–at all levels

Mentoring is essential to encouraging the female leaders of the future: Identifying and overcoming obstacles to their career progression at the early stages can have a huge effect on their eventual success. This should start in school and be a part of every stage of a woman’s education and training. If you can identify opportunities and encourage women early on then they will be able to fulfill their potential throughout their careers.