Category Archives: Job Search

Smooth Out Your Resume

I read resumes for a living.  I read other stuff too but resumes are the main focus during the day (and sometimes evenings, much to my husband’s consternation).

It never gets boring, Each resume, like each person, is interesting and unique. People take different paths to the same role, have different educational chapters and insert more or less of themselves in their resume.

BUT

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Fonts with curly cues
  • Indented boxes and sidebars that get mangled by my software
  • Leaving out dates or titles
  • Not describing the scope and scale of an employer
  • Squishing in too much information by using narrow margins and 8 pt letters
  • 20 bullets for one role and only three for the others
  • Acronyms that are not widely understood

These are all things that take away from the positive impression that your resume is supposed to provide. It’s as if you are strolling along and you suddenly trip on the rug.  Once you recover, it can be hard to remember what you thinking about before.

So before you send me your resume, have someone read it for you.  Ask them if it’s smooth.  They make look at you funny but it will give them a constructive perspective which should generate good, usable feedback.

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Filed under career change, Job Search, Resume

Spring Cleaning for your Resume

Pandemic or not, the warm breezes of spring will arrive over the next few weeks and if you are like me, you will spend some time working on projects around the house.  Maybe switching your clothes around.  Moving the golf shirts and flower printed yoga pants to the front and shoving all the black yoga pants into a box in the garage .  Maybe cleaning up the back yard.  Those are the kinds of things we like to do in spring.

It is not just your home that should be sorted and updated.  Your resume should be refreshed too.

It may not be as important as your changing the batteries in your smoke detector, but in terms of your career, it should be right up near the top of the list.

Here are the things to consider:

Has your title changed?shirt

Has the scope of your role  changed?

Did you take any courses or workshops over the winter?

How about any special projects?

Any new volunteer committees or fund raising initiatives?

Once your resume is refreshed make sure it is stored in a place that’s easily retrievable, like Dropbox.   Once that’s done, you might want to apply the same logic to your LinkedIn profile.  Make sure it is a really good reflection of where you are and what you are doing.

And if you have a few minutes at work, find all those emails that say “thank you” and “you’re a star”.  Email them to your personal account and then print them and take them home.  You just never know when you are going to need a little pick-me-up or evidence of your great work.

So put on your favourite spring shirt and get to it!

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, Resume, social media, Uncategorized

Prescription for a Job Change

If you are thinking about making a job change, consider the old adage:  fish where the fish are.

Consider what it is that you want to do next and then think about where the people are who are doing that thing now.  Better yet, figure out who is doing it now and has a big problem.  The very kind of problem that you know how to fix.

Imagine you have decided that you want to move from the inside customer service team to an outside sales role.  You have been feeling hemmed in lately, talking with the same people over and over. You want to shift to finding new customers and bringing them into the fold.

How about this?  Look for a company that has a product that’s the same or similar to yours and then drill down to find trouble.

Trouble could be in the form of a growth spike, changing market conditions or a new product family.  These are all challenges for company leaders and while they may present great opportunities for the company, they also create pain points for leaders.  Leaders want to relieve pain.  Figure out how to market yourself as the prescription to alleviate that pain.

Use LinkedIn, company websites and your personal network to identify who is suffering right now from not having you on their team. Craft a short but compelling message.

I have been listening to customers like yours for years.  I know what they need and how to package your product so that it provides a solution that fits.  Could you use someone like me in the field?

Just attach your resume and hit send.

There is certainly no guarantee that one email will start a conversation but it’s a good start.

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, Networking

And for my next act….

Because December 25th falls on a Friday this year, most of us will have not much time off before Christmas and quite a bit of time around the new year.  That’s when people typically lie around thinking about what they will change.

For a lot of people, the number one thing they want to get or change is their job.  On second thought, perhaps this will be second to losing weight – that always seems to be a hot resolution. (I’ve heard.)

Go ahead and dream but try to be realistic.

Just because your uncle is a doctor, does not mean you can be a medical device account manager.

Plumbing your own laundry room sink, does not qualify you to be a piping designer.

Planning office parties is not a prequel to becoming a project manager.

Don’t assume your neighbour can get you a job just because he works in a big company.

I’m not even going to comment about people who like karaoke…..

I don’t want to be a downer before 2021 has even started, but try not to stray too far off the path.  Try this:  mention your next career goal to your dog.  If he looks at you funny, you have definitely gone too far.

Run it by a good friend.  If they seem kind of puzzled but supportive, then you may be on to something.

Finally, talk to someone in the field and see what they say.  If they seem to think that the transition is plausible, then sit down and make a plan.

Change is afoot!

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Hiring Does Not Stop for the Holidays

Every year, I remind people that hiring does not stop for the holidays.  It’s a perceived notion that no one makes hiring decisions after Dec 10th.  This is not true most years and it will not be true this year.

The thing that typically gets in the way of hiring in December is decision maker’s travel and vacation itineraries and  frankly, holiday obligations.  Wining, dining and corporate parties all take time on the calendar.  This year, there will still be holiday parties but they will be shorter and require no travel time.  They also will probably not induce the same kinds of hangovers as the usual in person soirees.

As leaders recognize that our current work patterns will continue into next year, hiring decisions that they have been putting off, are going to become more pressing. 

There are quite a few industries that are hiring vigrourously – you just have to look for them.

  • Software companies that provide anything to do with office communications
  • Online Retailers like Amazon and Wayfair
  • Food manufacturing and grocers
  • Home exercise equipment and online exercise classes and nutrition coaching
  • Household products that clean and beautify
  • Gaming/Streaming/Online Entertainment

As the companies in theses spaces grow, they need people in all areas of the business.  Grocers don’t just hire cashiers.  They also need people in product development, distribution, finance, HR and all the other departments. 

Don’t assume that because you are not a gamer or an engineer, that there would not be a place for you in a gaming organization.  I am sure there are plenty of people who can’t drive who work at Uber and overweight people who work at Peleton.

These can be great places to take your career right now.  The skills and experiences you gain in a fast growth company are amazing and often come with lucrative pay, perks and bonuses.

So, if you need or want a new role to be in your future, roll up your sleeves and take off the blinders.  There is lots going on.  You just have to find it.

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How External Recruiters Help with Diversity

One of the best ways to change up your work groups and increase the diversity of your company is to use external recruiters and I am not just saying that because I am an external recruiter.
When you work with someone outside your company, you focused on describing what the new person is going to do and where they fit into the greater scheme of things.
You talk about the activities, responsibilities and leadership style, their technical knowledge and priorities.

The external recruiter does not know that people in your organization all went to Stanford and all play broom ball.

So the recruiter hits the candidate marketplace and starts talking about your company and the great things that are happening and within a few weeks, you have a fresh, new group of candidates who would not have applied to your posting or been a part of your employees’ networks.

There is going to be some new thinking in that group. It can be a pretty interesting experience to interview someone who understands the role but is from a different environment.

Those candidates have credibility but none of the baggage. This can be a tremendous help with innovation based roles or where a group has become a bit complacent.

The key is to keep an open mind when you are interviewing. Review your questions before hand. Be sure to spell out company specific acronyms or processes so the candidates have a fair chance to answer within the right context.

When you find the gem and hire them, make sure you have a very inclusive, comprehensive on-boarding process. Hiring managers and peers alike sometimes need to be reminded that even though someone can’t play broom ball, they can still contribute some great ideas.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, recruiter, Uncategorized

Two Minute Trick for a Better Video Presence

Yesterday at lunch, I watched an excellent TED talk about power posing.  You can watch the whole thing here but the gist of the presentation was this:  two minutes of standing in a powerful position will cause physical changes in your body that will actually make you feel more powerful and in control.

Amy Cuddy, a Professor and Researcher at Harvard tested this with real humans.  She had them spit in a tube, do a power pose for two minutes, do some gambling and then spit in the tube again.  There was an actual change in the subject’s testosterone and cortisol levels. Testosterone is the “dominance” hormone and cortisol is the “dealing with stress” hormone.   In addition to the physical changes, the posers where more likely to gamble – that’s how sure they felt about themselves.pose 1

It’s not that I want to grow chest hair before an interview, but there is a pretty good chance I will feel more on top of my game and that will cause the interviewer to view me as confident and positive.  This is especially important on a video interview because you have to work a little harder to project who you are when you are not in the room together.

So, when you are waiting in the Zoom Waiting Room for your next meeting or interview, give yourself two minutes just out side the camera view and try one of these poses.

I spoke to several of the strong business development people I know and they said that they always use tricks like this and feel more confident when they go into a pitch or a difficult meeting.

Be careful using this at home though. It works on kids but go easy with your spouse.

pose 2

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Career Portfolio – Interview Secret Sauce

I have a friend who is a self-employed consultant.  A few years ago, over coffee, she complained that she would not have a clue as to where to start if she wanted to get a “real job”.

I suggested that she create a portfolio.  She thought portfolios were only for artists or other creative types.  Not so.

A portfolio (fancy binder with plastic sleeves and dividers) is an excellent vehicle for organizing and presenting your experience.  It can have sections that show your work, education and other credentials, volunteer activities, hobbies, thank you notes, awards and really, anything else that is relevant to the way that you do what you do.

Just the act of gathering the information together and putting it all in one place can be a pretty powerful exercise.  It’s something that you can do over a couple of weekends and then add/change revise every year.

My friend took that suggestion to heart and created what she called a career scrapbook. She had it in her car for a while and then it took up its place on a shelf in her office.

Last week she applied for an actual job and found herself staring down the barrel of an interview.  Not just any interview but a panel interview in a formal, government type organization.  She dusted off her portfolio, added a couple of items, reviewed the rest of the material and then focused on her outfit.  She felt confident and ready.  (I should point out that she was eminently qualified for the job.)

At the end of the interview, she was asked if she had any questions.  All of hers had been covered in the discussion but she told the panel members that she had brought her portfolio and asked if there was anything they would like to see.  The senior person raised her eyebrows and came over to have a look.

She looked at the table of contents, saw the “Thank You” section and flipped right to that part.   She nodded and smiled as she read the cards, notes and emails.  It turns out that the adjudicator actually knew two of the people who had sent notes and that lead to a much less formal conversation where my friend got one more opportunity to show what she knows and why she has been so successful.

She left the interview, with her portfolio tucked under her arm, feeling very good about herself and her experience.  No offer yet……..but I’ll keep you posted.

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Explore the Unexplored – Find the Best Careers

I am at a conference in Ottawa this week.  Not just any conference but the annual meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

When I tell that to people, I get a blank look in return.  Completely blank.

This is a not small meeting.  There are 900 delegates from across Canada and likely more post graduate degrees per square inch than anywhere outside a university campus.

These people are not just involved in generating power but also mining, food processing, nuclear medicine and more.  And it’s not just engineers.  The nuclear industry directly employs 80,000 people in Canada.  They are responsible for powering many of your laptops and proving the isotopes for your MRIs.

Yesterday was student day and we presented a resume workshop to more than 100 students from across Canada.  Many of them had to compete for a spot on the team that came from their university.  They came to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the industry. They have a very bright future.

So, here is an industry that is responsible for putting five billion dollars (yes, billion) into our economy and yet people don’t consider it as a career possibility.

How many other industries are out there under people’s radar?

If you are looking for something new to do, you have to stretch your horizon.  It may be lovely to work for a Fortune 500 company but there are so many other interesting, stable, well-paying options.

How do you find these out about these industries?  Stop where you are right now.  Identify six things that are in your immediate area.  Where do they come from?  Who made them?  Where did they get developed?  That’s a good way to start.

For example, there is a banana beside my computer.  It took a bunch of people involved in farming, logistics, transportation, export, inspection and distribution to get it to me.

Could I work in one of those industries?  I don’t know but I think it’s time to find out.

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How to Talk Compensation with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It can become a game of who goes first and the real objective can get lost.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you are way below the salary range, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious pay cut to have it on your resume. Sometimes this can work (and might be necessary) when you are taking a sharp turn on your career path. If you are a corporate lawyer and you want to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have are driving home after a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will start to question your decision and that could have a negative impact on your work and life.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle knowing that one of their team members made a lot more money in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic, be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It is the only way they can be counted.

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