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Gifts for Job Seekers

December can be a tough time to be a job seeker.  Even if they got a package and are not feeling the financial consequences, it’s still a difficult time.  Everyone seems to be going to company functions and doing gift exchanges with colleagues or having lunch with customers.

Aside from missing the structure and community, they are worried about what they will do next.  It does not matter if you are an Assistant or an Assistant Vice President, the same kind of anxiety rolls over you in the middle of the night.

Here are some gift ideas to consider:

  • Haircut – a gift certificate for a spa, salon or high end barber shop
  • Accessories – tie or scarf to freshen up an older outfit
  • Starbucks Card – it’s nice to be able to get out of the house for a treat
  • Prepaid Sessions with a Coach  – life coach, career coach or fitness coach –any of these experts will add value and structure
  • Introductions – what could be better than receiving a call out of the blue with an offer to get together to discuss an opportunity?  Think of the connections you could make to help someone out.
  • Time – an invitation to lunch, dinner or even just coffee will be very appreciated.  It will serve as a reminder that the world is still revolving and opportunities will come.

Best wishes for a successful conclusion to this year – may it be a fantastic jumping off point for next year.


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Let’s fix the Commute

Lots of people think about changing jobs because of their commute.  Maybe if, as commuters, we had a little more awareness, it would not be such a big deal.  After five years of public transit, here are my suggestions for improving everyone’s experience.

  • When you are leaving the house, you can choose aftershave, cologne, smelly hair product or mouthwash. You don’t need all four.
  • If you need to carry your life around in a rolling briefcase, don’t sashay.  Just walk in a straight line.
  • If it feels like you might be too close to someone, you probably are.  Back off or turn slightly to the side.
  • If you plan to wear high heeled boots  on your commute, practice at home first.  Falling down the stairs in a crowd is awkward and painful – in more ways than one.
  • Commuter trains move fast.  When you stake out your spot, check for a handle or something you can grab on to when the track bends.  This is not the time to be grabbing anybody’s anything in a crowd.
  • If you are lucky enough to get a seat (or you planned well enough to leave the office on time), look up before you depart to see if anyone needs a seat more than you.  You don’t have to give up your seat, but it would be nice if you took a look, just in case.
  • When you are walking in one direction and decide you want to go somewhere else, do a shoulder check.  Blindly walking diagonally through a crowd is tricky.  You’ll probably be fine but you may leave a trail of “near misses” behind you.

Be aware and be safe – that’s the best way forward for all of us.

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Fix your Career while you Commute

Yesterday on the train, I looked up and down the rows of seats and everyone, I mean, everyone was staring at their phone with headphones on.  It’s a great time to catch up on the news or celebrity insta-feeds but you also could be working on your career.

There are a lot of really great podcasts focused on career experience and development.  Here are a few to consider.

Pivot with Jenny Blake – Jenny interviews highly successful people about the decisions they made and how they navigated a big pivot in their career. Relatable and interesting.

Career Cloud Radio – Chris Russell puts together panels of experts on practical tips for job seekers – resume writers, career coaches, recruiters etc.  Lots of valuable tips on each episode.

Paychecks and Balances – Aimed at Millennials, this podcast provides a down to earth approach to working and money and how they are intertwined.  Definitely not boring!

Side Hustle Pro – A senior marketing expert dishes on how to turn a passion project or hobby into a full time job/business.  Neat behind the scenes info and lessons learned.

How to be Awesome at Your Job – Interviews with experts on important ideas that boost career performance – recent topics include bouncing back, public speaking, workplace anger.  Good support whether you are looking for something new outside or inside your company.

These podcasts are inspiring, constructive and free – seems like a great way to start the day.

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Tips for Everyone Who Used to Work at Sears

We learned this week that Sears is going to close all of its Canadian stores.  This will impact not only the 12,000 people who work there but their families too.  A lot of the employees have worked for Sears for many, many years.  It is going to be hard slogging for them.  Dealing with the grief of losing a job is tough.  Putting together a resume for something new is going to be a tough too.

The employment market will often make assumptions about a candidate who has been in the same role for a long time.   A hiring manager might think that the person is complacent, does not want to be challenged or is comfortable with the “same old, same old”.

Anyone who has been working for the last 10 years has seen plenty of change and had to adapt to a lot of transformation.

It is important to use your resume to illustrate what you have seen change and how you adapted to it.  If there were not computer systems or online tools, that is worth noting.  If the pace of product change increased or if customer expectations changed, that should be pointed out as well.

The other thing that your resume needs to do is to point out why you were in a role for a long time.


Take some space to lay out the personal qualities and characteristics that made you successful in the job.

  • Dependable
  • Commitment to looking after customers
  • Easy to get a long with
  • Likes looking after all the details
  • Great at coaching new employees

Think about what your favourite manager would say about you.  How would your colleagues describe your attitude? How about a long term customer?  Sometimes you need an outside point of view to get a fresh perspective on your better qualities.

You need to help potential employers to see the value that you would bring to their organization.

Once you figure this all out, apply it to your LinkedIn profile too.  Then share it with your family and friends.  Don’t be shy – they might not know about all the different things you have done.

A strong resume is the foundation of a strong job search.  Get started today.



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How to Prepare for a Skype Interview

Skype interviews are becoming more popular.  They are frequently easier to coordinate and they have the added benefit of avoiding traffic jams and  exorbitant parking fees.

A Skype call sounds easy and it is – if you are prepared.  Take a few minutes the day before to get everything set up and checked.  Otherwise you will end up with the same sweaty armpits you would have in  a face to face interview.

Decide what device you are going to use.  Make sure you have the latest updates and a strong internet connection.  Pixelated faces are only funny in Snapchat.

Think about where you are going to take the call.  If it it is going to be lunch time and you will be in your car or truck, that’s okay just tell the interviewer that before hand.  Otherwise, find a neat spot with a flat surface and no distractions.  Art in the background is okay but sitting in front of  your bookshelf of romance novels might not send the right message.

Don’t hold the device in your hand.  Put it on  a book or stand it up on a table.  It is extremely nauseating (for me anyway) if the phone moves every time you scratch your nose.

Do a dry run with a friend.  Ask them where you should look and what they see.  I spent an entire hour this week looking at an Adam’s apple.  Not the best.  Check the angle and the height to make sure you are putting your best face forward.

Log on about 10 minutes before – just like you would arrive a few minutes before your appointed interview time.  Check you hair and your teeth and have a great conversation!



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The Audacious Resume

Would you describe your resume as bold or gutsy?

Probably not.  Most people’s resumes aren’t.  Their resume is a lackluster description of the jobs that they have done since they graduated.

Sometimes there are “highlights” or “action verbs” but they don’t always present the skills and experience behind your very successful career.  You really need to put on your marketing hat when you look at your resume.  You want to create a real interest in what you have to contribute.

A bold resume clearly states what you are good at and more importantly, what problems you can solve.

  • I create software that makes your process faster.
  • I build highly productive sales teams.
  • I resolve customer issues quickly and effectively.
  • I can identify and attract candidates that will thrive in your demanding culture.

This is what a hiring manager needs to see.  They don’t have time to get to the bottom of the first page to figure out what you can contribute to their team. They need it to be front and centre.

In order to do this, you need to know what you are really good at.  Try this: distill your work/career/experience into just three words.  Yes, only three.  It’s hard but when you get three words that are happy with, you can use them as the foundation for your newly refreshed and revised audacious resume.

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The Best Time to Find a Great Job is When You Have a Great Job

I had an interesting situation this week.  One of my candidates, who had been on a long and successful interview journey, ended up with several offers in his inbox.

He was really stressed.  He said he could not understand how this happened.  He was not even looking.  He really likes his job and his team. 

How did this happen?

First of all, he is an interesting and curious person.  When I told him about my client and what they needed to do, he thought it made sense to explore the opportunity.  He felt that it would allow him to build up his skills in a new area.

The first two interviews went really well.  He and a couple of senior managers had wide ranging conversations and he felt really good about it.

Guess what?  After that second interview, he was walking around with just a bit more confidence.  He had third party validation that he was doing some really good work in a really good way. 

It’s not as noticeable as a haircut or new glasses but that kind of confidence shows.

Seemingly out of the blue, he got a couple of networking requests and coffee invitations.  Those led to more casual conversations. Casual, because he had moved beyond the “interview panic prep” and into “this is just a business meeting”.

On top of that, his boss started to let him know about a some longer term projects that he be leading. 

To be clear:  he was not a disgruntled employee complaining about things at work.  No one was trying to placate him or keep him in order to get though the busy cycle.

I suggested that he look at multiple offers as a positive thing not a stressful thing.  It’s a successful measure of how he is navigating his path through the industry.

After weighing the teams, the work, the manager and the future possibilities, he a solid choice.  I think he is going to be very happy. 

So, get off the merry-go-round of your job and take a look around.  Because looking when you are not looking may the best time to look.

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