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Job Journey: Taking an Olympic Break

It’s 12 minutes to the puck drop for the gold medal women’s hockey game.  I am way too distracted to think about resumes.

Whether we win or not, it is sure to be inspiring and energizing and make me even prouder to be Canadian.

More on resumes and applying for jobs next week.



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Job Journey – Perfecting Your Resume

Resumes are as individual as people.  Even when you use a Microsoft template, your document will still be different from other people’s documents.


Should you have an objective or not? There people on both side of the fence.  It can be helpful to the reader if you lay out a clear objective.

Looking for long term role in a fast-paced customer service team.

You can also have more of a summary statement.  The would be one or two lines that summarize what you bring to the table.

Senior Finance Leader with Expertise in Mergers, Acquisitions and Integrations.

This is one of the parts that can change depending on who will be reading it.  If you are looking to do something different, you might want to work that into a statement about your next career objective.

Inside Sales Leader  with great track record in consumer products looking to move in to an outside sales role.

If you want to do the same thing in a better place, a summary statement might make better use of the space.


For each job, you want to lay out the name of the company, your title, the dates you held the role and a few bullet points about what you did.

You can also add a link to their website and you can consider adding a line or two about what the company does.  This is a good idea if you were toiling away in a company that no one has ever hear of before.

You can add a detail about why you left but this is not really necessary.  You want to leave something to talk about during the interview.

Most people have details of at least ten years of experience.  You can add more if it’s relevant but just stick to company, title and dates.

Your resume may up being two or three pages.  There are no hard and fast rules about the length.  What we do know if that the average recruiter will take 2-3 seconds to read your resume and decide to move you to the A pile or the B pile.

This means that the top half of the first page is where the most important material should go.  Keep that in mind and make sure you maximize the use of that space.  You only get one page to make a great impression.

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Today at 11:28 Eastern time marks the Winter Solstice.  It’s the shortest day of the year.  If you are seriously into astrology, you are probably heading out to Stonehenge to watch the planets move and take part in a pretty bit party.

For the rest of us, it’s a time to take a moment from the madness of shopping, list making and christmas-cookie avoiding and pause to look forward to the longer days coming.

Start to think about your goals for next year.  Do a career check up while you are waiting for the FedEx delivery or the next cashier.

Great jobs have work that suits your skills, tools to make your work easier, leaders who defend and inspire and a future that looks bright and inviting.

Got those?

If not, pick out what’s really missing and start to think about how to address it.  Sometimes, the answer is right under your nose.  Prince Charming was getting pretty unhappy at his job and then a new manager offered him the chance to learn some new skills.  Suddenly, the world was brighter.  It’s easy to see how differently he carries himself when he is happy with what he is doing.

If changes inside are not possible, then start to build out a plan for where you could look outside your organization and how you would go about doing it.  You cannot just up and change jobs (unless you have a career fairy godmother up your sleeve).  It takes some thinking, planning and talking with friends, colleagues and advisers.

The next two weeks will be busy but not the usual work/home/commute routine.  There will be down times that you can use to start to make some notes and lay out some steps.

Think of how satisfying it will be to head out to that New Year’s cocktail party with a plan in your back pocket and a spring in your step.




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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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