Category Archives: Resume

How to Get a Great Job in 2018

Welcome to 2018.  Got plans? Maybe a promotion? Or a new job all together?

It can be overwhelming to even think about. Who to talk to? Where to look? Who would make good references? Where the heck is your resume?  Ack!!

Looking for a job can be a full time job.  Looking for a job when you have a job is tricky.  Both require planning and commitment. 

Random job seeking can work.  We all know someone who met a guy and got hired in five minutes.  But let’s face it, that generally only happens in the movies to people who are far better looking than us.

Like any other goal, you need to make a plan and break out the steps with a timeline.  Also, like any plan, you need to be prepared for set backs and derailers.

In keeping with this idea, I have made a plan for 2018 for this blog.  I will be walking through the process of getting a new gig step by step, week by week.

Oh sure, there will still be posts with random thoughts and comments on the world of work.  There is too much ridiculousness to close that door but the focus will be in the “job journey” and how to keep driving in the right direction.

If you want to get a head start on next week, see if you can remember the last time you updated your resume and where you put it.

Good luck!

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Filed under career change, Job Search, Resume

Fix your Career by the New Year

Halloween is over and the rush to the end of the year has begun.  Things are going to get busy….really soon.  If you have career goals that are still hanging out there, this is the time to sit down and make a plan to move forward.

Whether you are looking for a promotion, transfer or something new altogether, now is the time to take action.

But where to start?

Make time – carve out 20 minutes every day to work on your objective – either block it in your calendar or make it the same time every day.

Make a list – who do you need to meet and how can you connect with them.  Email, voice mail, and LinkedIn are all options – decide what is most likely to get a response.

Reach out – start connecting with your targets and following up

Expand your network – send LinkedIn invitations to colleagues, neighbours and the guy you met at that thing last week.

Promote yourself – find articles that are relevant to what you do and post them on LinkedIn.  Your connections will see your content and be reminded of your expertise.

Send thank you notes – everyone appreciates being recognized and the good will that is generated will translate into all kinds of neat things.

Take calls from Headhunters – these calls can provide good market intel on your skills and what they are worth – don’t ignore us.

Apply to job postings – notice this is way down the list?  The best opportunities come from connections and good connections come from doing the work in the first place.  Don’t just rely on the application process.  It will rarely show you any love.

 

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, Networking, recruiter, Resume

Job Postings and Romance

I have been reading a lot of romance novels.  Don’t hate me.  They are really are lovely.  They are not too long and they always resolve in such a nice, neat package – very appealing.

The problem is that I have now started to day dream about a rich, handsome guy showing up at work or on the train to sweep me off my feet.  Not just any rich, handsome guy. No, this guy has chiseled abs, just the right amount of stubble and a home in Sardinia.

I can wish all I want, but I have already been swept off my feet.  He has the stubble, but alas, no home in a sunny, warm locale.

And wishing is not going to change that.

I tried to explain that to a few candidates this week.  Not the part about getting a new husband, but the part about wishing for a new role that’s a departure from where you are today.

It’s not that a major career move is not possible.  It is just that you need to be rational.

I had someone try to convince me that they would be ideally suited to sell medical devices because their neighbour was a doctor and they had spent a lot of time together building a fence.   He honestly thought that having a beer with a doctor imparted enough knowledge to make him a legitimate candidate for the role.  Come on!

It is fine to daydream about a job when you read a posting on monster, but give your head a shake.  Read the list of requirements.  Can you honestly say yes to at least half of them?  It does not matter whether you agree with them nor does it matter that you think you have a better list of requirements.  The employer has put them there for a reason.  Respect it.

If the posting says “living, breathing human”, then by all means, go ahead and apply but if it says “have a degree in mechanical engineering”, then going on a date with an engineer is not going to cut it.

But if you see a place in Sardinia, could you let me know?

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, recruiter, Resume

Give the Gift of Connections

There is a small but really important article in the Globe and Mail this morning.  It talks about how difficult it is for kids to get their start in the job market.

A federal government panel has released its interim report and it is focused on employers’ reliance on the digital application process.  We know as adults how frustrating it can be to spend 30 minutes filling in an online application that feels less and less relevant as we click through each window.

We get around this by networking.  We talk to friends and former colleagues and the guys we sit next to at hockey practice.

buttonKids, even really social kids, often don’t have the right kind of connections to get them started.  This is especially true if they want to do work that is different from what their parents have done.

We thought that internships would solve this problem.  Kids would get an introduction into the work environment and then either get hired or get recognized by others in the field.  This is only true in some cases.  Free labour, energy and enthusiasm does not always turn into paid work.  At 20, this can be pretty disheartening.

Kids need our social connections to workplaces and industries.  It’s a tough road for them and we need to help.  I am not talking about just our own kids.  I am talking about the kid next door, the nieces and nephews, the kid who walks your dog when you are away.

You will likely see a lot of young people over the next week.  Stop for a moment to chat with them.  Ask about their studies and their plans.  It will seem like they are rolling their eyes.  Ignore this.  It’s just habit.  Think for a moment about whether you know someone or something that might be helpful and offer it up.

At the very least, ask if they are on LinkedIn and offer to connect.

Getting young people into good work situations should be on all of our minds.  Let’s do as much as we can.

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How Long is your Digital Shadow?

I have heard the term “digital revolution” about 10 times this week and I have to say it is wearing a little thin…..I know it’s a big deal but what does it really mean to the average job seeker?

It means that you have many more sources to find  out information on industries, people and jobs. We used to have job sites like Monster and now companies post jobs on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a whole bunch of industry specific lists like AngelList, Freshgigs and TalentEgg.

You can find out about actual companies at sites like Glassdoor.  It started out as a place where employees could post salary information anonymously and then quickly morphed into a place where people talked about their interview and employment experiences.  This can be handy but like any user fed information source, it is buyer beware.  Generally speaking, only the very happy and the very angry/sad/bitter people share their thoughts and feelings.  Definitely take info from Glassdoor with a grain of salt.

Here is the real impact point of this digital business:  your resume.  When your resume is reviewed, chances are, the person reviewing it is looking you up on social media at the same time.

What happens when you search google for your name?  (Hint: use quotation marks to get it right i.e. “Laura Machan”).

Check google images and google news (different tabs on the search page).

You need to see and be aware of what others will see when they look you up.  Are there lots of people with same name?  Are there pictures of you doing weird things?  News clippings about some neighbourhood shenanigans?

If there are  less-than-professional items, there is not a lot you can do except contact the site owner and ask for material to be taken down.

You also want to able to explain what was happening at the time to provide some context and alleviate any concerns in an interview situation or maybe even in your cover letter.

The better thing way to solve this is to get out and do more positive activities.  Volunteer, speak at conferences, get involved in kids sports.  Gradually, those images will push the junk to page six or seven of google and most people lose interest after page three.

Take a few minutes this weekend to look yourself up.  You might be surprised by what you see.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Resume, social media

How to Make the Most of an Internship

Many people have co-op terms or internships as part of their academic courses.  They are fantastic learning experiences but there are some extra things you can do to maximize their impact from a career perspective.

Make sure you add the your title and company to your LinkedIn profile. Add some bullet points about your tasks so that other people can get a feel for what you are doing.

Invite people you are working with to join your network.  You can also invite people from outside the company.  If you get to shadow someone at a meeting or a conference, pick up business cards and send out the invites. linkedin cracked button

Your LinkedIn invitations have more impact if you personalize them.  If you mention where you met the person and how much you liked their presentation/speech/questions, you will up the chances of them accepting your invite.

Ask if people in your work  group will provide a recommendation.  Basically, you are asking if they will say a couple of nice things about you that will be visible on your profile.

Start a list in your phone of training and learning opportunities so you can record them as you go.  By the end of your term, you won’t remember what happened at the beginning.  These are valuable bits to add to your resume when you are done.  You want to be able to reference not just what you did, but what you learned.  That’s the sort of thing future employers want to see.

When you finish an internship, make sure you note that on your LinkedIn profile.  You might also want to take a few minutes to write some thank you notes to your boss and your boss’s boss.  Mention how much you learned and how much you enjoyed being part of the team.

None of these items are going to make an internship better but they will help to make sure it is a solid starting point for  a satisfying career.

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Spring Cleaning for your Resume

If you are like me, you spent some time this weekend switching your clothes around.  Moved the golf shirts and flower prints to the front and shoved all the black stuff into a box in the garage.  That’s what we do in spring.

It is just your closet that should be sorted and updated.  Your resume should be refreshed too.

It may not be as important as your smoke detector, but in terms of your career, it should be right up there.

Here are the things to consider:

Has your title changed?shirt

Has the scope of the role been increased?

Did you take any courses or workshops over the winter?

How about any special projects?

Any new volunteer committees or fund raising (yes, the ride to conquer cancer counts)

Once this is done and stored in a place that’s easily retrievable, like Dropbox, you might want to apply the same logic to your LinkedIn profile.

And if you have a few minutes at work, find all those emails that say “thank you” and “you’re a star”.  First, email them to yourself and second, print them and take them home.  You just never know when you are going to need a little lift or evidence of your great work.

So put on your favourite cotton, short sleeved shirt and get to it!

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The Myth of the Forever Job

Let me just put this out there:  there is no such thing as a forever job.  Too many people, candidates and hiring managers alike keep talking about this idea.

Candidates tell me that they are looking for their last job until they retire.  They want to settle in and have stability.

Hiring managers are rejecting candidates because they might not stay in a role for five or more years.

Get your head out of the sand, people.

The world is changing and so is work.  The Canadian work landscape changed dramatically just last week and there is more change ahead. Can we predict it?  Not really.

In realistic terms, we should not be looking for a job or an employee for life. We are looking for a role where we can learn, grow, develop and contribute while we earn a living.  That’s about what it boils down to.

When you are examining your job prospects, these are the factors to consider:

  • Is there room for you to expand your skills?
  • Are there opportunities to move into other roles?
  • Will your contribution add value to the company?
  • Will that value be a point of pride for you?

Hiring a managers need to consider the same factors.

  • Can this person grow beyond the role they are hired for?
  • Will they add value on day one, day thirty and day ninety?
  • Will you be proud to take the credit for hiring them?

We need to stop looking at five to ten year employment windows. Think about what you were doing ten years ago. Could you have predicted that people would be earning tons of money developing ipad apps in their basements?  Or blogging about their dogs?

Keep your eyes on the horizon and your resume ready because you never know what’s around the corner.

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Holiday Shopping and Career Advancement

Don’t even think of writing off the month of December for advancing your career.  You know all that time you spend sneaking in some on line shopping?  Or how about the quick trip to the mall at lunchtime?

You can use some of that holiday flex time to update your resume too.  There is always some time to kill before the group lunch or while you wait for your kids Christmas concert to start.

Break the activities into little chunks. For example, adding the latest courses, certificates or training courses can be done in 20 minutes or so.  Adding a few bullets to describe your latest project is also a 10-15 minute job.

Setting up job alerts on eluta.ca, indeed.ca or linkedin.com also takes only a few minutes.

Calling former colleagues to see if they want to have lunch – ten minutes each.

Taking time to eat your sandwich in the kitchen or cafeteria does not take any extra time and has the added benefit of built in networking.  You never know – you might find yourself having lunch with the President.

Make sure you have some positive things to say about your work.  When someone from another department asks how things are going, they do not want you to roll your eyes and sigh.  They want to hear to that you are involved in some really cool projects and learning a lot.  That’s how to make a solid impression.

So don’t write off December before it has even started.  Put some of these ideas in your calendar and tackle them one by one.  It will make those New Year’s resolutions a lot easier!

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Reducing the Deflation Potential in Job Searches

Looking for a new job has a lot of ups and downs….no that’s not true.  There are mostly downs.  Nothing is more depressing than sitting down to look at postings on LinkedIn and realizing that they are the exact same ones you looked at yesterday.

It can be tough to stay motivated with that staring you in the face.  And motivation is what you need to get to a better place in the world of work.arrow

Here is a suggestion:  rather than picking through postings in a random lets-see-whats-new approach, make a plan instead.

Identify four or five different types of possible next steps for your career.  You might be interested in several different industries, corporate or consulting, stepping sideways or stretching up or maybe you are considering something completely different.

The idea is that you explore one of these tracts each day.  This allows you to really pay attention and give that direction some serious research and thought.  Maybe after two sessions, you realize that it’s not an appropriate choice.  That’s okay.  Better to know than to wonder about it later.

This also makes sure you are looking at fresh material every time you sit down.  There is a greater chance of seeing the interesting new roles and not just the same old stuff.

So consider adding a little more rigour and structure to your search.  It will be well worth the planning time.  It will reduce the deflation potential – that feeling of wanting to throw your laptop against the wall because it all looks the same as yesterday.

 

 

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