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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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The Perils of Indeed

There are a lot of great tools on the inter webs that job seekers can use to find their next great gig.  Indeed is definitely one of them but it is not without its perils.

The basic principle behind the Indeed platform is that it is free for companies to post jobs.  This is great for small companies.  It gives their posting all kinds of exposure.

It’s good for job seekers too.  You can scroll through a zillion different jobs in your area (or another area if that kind of move is in your future)

That part is actually one of the problems.  You can easily lose an hour or two just meandering through the different listings and not see anything that’s suitable or, worse, when you see that one good one, you click on the link and it takes you to an expired job.  Dammit!

If you really feel strongly that it’s a fit, go directly to the company site and see if you can submit your resume anyway.  Or better yet, get on LinkedIn and find someone you can connect to for more information.

But there is another side of Indeed: a slightly darker side.  Because it’s free to post and there is no vetting involved, there are plenty of posts for multi-level marketing and door to door sales that are disguised as “great opportunities” with “unlimited training and development”.

Use caution.  If there is a phone number, call to see if a human answers and that they use the right company name.  Is there a physical address?  Is it in this country?

If you get a response within an hour and a request to set up an in person interview, take a friend.  The can go for coffee or play Candy Crush in the parking lot.

I am not trying to paint a terrible picture of the site but people, especially those scrambling for their first jobs, need to be really careful.

It’s the old caveat: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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It’s Pretty Tough at the Bottom

There are several new grads in my circle who are looking for the job that will kick off their career.  They have had jobs all through school so the act of applying, interviewing and getting hired is not new for them.

I have come to appreciate that looking for a full time role is harder than finding a part-time-to-get-me-through-school job. 

My son, for example, is looking to start in social work.  He got good grades at a good school and had great performance reviews on his co-op placements.  But you know what’s holding him back?  He does not have a car.  Almost every social work job where we live requires that the candidate have their own car with a honking big liability insurance policy.  All this on a $15/hour contract?  Really?

One of my friends kids wanted to be a paramedic.  He got great marks and loved the material and exceeded expectation on his practicums and ride-alongs.  No one told him when he started that there weren’t many job openings for paramedics.  People don’t leave.  I guess they really love it and only retire when their knees give out.

A former colleague of mine was only a colleague because she could not find a job in a library even though she had graduated at the top of her class in library science (yes, that’s a thing).  She worked with me for three years until she found a part time role that she hoped would someday become full time.

I am not trying to be all doom and gloom but I think it’s helpful that those of us who are long established in our career get a refresher on what it is like out there today.  Maybe we can keep it in mind when we are writing job postings.

Could someone who is bright, tech savvy and been multi-tasking since they could walk take on the role you need to fill?  Does it really need to be someone with three years of experience?  Could they learn the software?  (I bet if they had a VCR, it would not be flashing 000)

Let’s give this some thought – it could help lots of people who are just starting or re-starting their careers.



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Polish Your Profile – LinkedIn Tips

LinkedIn is an amazing tool for career development.  Your profile hums along attracting attention while you are off doing other things.

At least that’s how it should work.  Here are some tips to make sure you are getting noticed.

When you choose your company, make sure you use the right one.  In large corporations, there may be multiple divisions or different brands.  Look at the profiles of your colleagues and leaders to see what they chose.  

Describe your role in bullet points and make sure you use specific words that are common in your industry and area of expertise – especially technology and tools – be really specific with those.

Fill in as many of the areas of your profile as you reasonable can.  You never know what people like me will be searching for or in what area we will look.

Have a professional looking photo – no dogs, please.  And try to find something better than a clipped image from the last wedding you attended.  Try this:  get someone to take your picture right after your next haircut.  That usually works well.

This one seems so obvious but check the email attached to your LinkedIn account and make sure it’s one you actually use. Click the little triangle beside the word Me in the upper right corner.  You can review your settings and check your email address and notifications.

Post interesting things happening in your company or in your industry.  That is the sort of activity that makes you look like a dynamic person who is paying attention to things other than summer Fridays.

Join some groups that reflect your interests.  That bolsters how LinkedIn sees your expertise.

And finally, connect with people.  You don’t have to accept every invitation that comes your way but make sure you add at least a few people every month.  It keeps things dynamic and interesting and that’s the key to LinkedIn success.



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