Light for the Holidays

Chanukah starts tonight.  It’s the Festival of Lights.  We celebrate that magical combination of oil and potato: the latke.  In truth, we are celebrating a small army’s successful rebellion and the oil lamp in the temple that should have lasted for one day but instead, lasted for eight days.  So we celebrate by eating fried foods. 

In the Jewish calendar, it is not really that big a deal compared to other holidays but this year, I am getting out all the holiday stuff we have gathered over the years, especially the menorahs and we are going to light every single one of them.

I figure we need all the light we can get. It’s been a tough year for everyone.  Even people who put on brave faces and always seem to find the bright side, are tired and longing for the thing, person or activity that is missing this year.

My personal mission over this next eight days is to call someone each day who is not one of my regular connections.  It’s not that I am any particular flash of sunshine but I know, from experience, how nice it is when someone reaches out to me.

Here is my call list:

  • Someone who is looking for work
  • Relative I only see once a year and won’t see at all this year
  • Friend from high school
  • Former colleague
  • Student
  • Colleague that I have not seen since March
  • The president of my company
  • That friend who used to go to yoga with me

I am excited about this. It feels like something real that I can do in the face of all the rest of the crap which is totally out of my control.

Zoom calls and latkes with sour cream and applesauce – it’s going to be a good week.

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Gifts for Pandemic Job Seekers

It’s that time of year again – the time of year when we fill the malls looking for the perfect gifts.  Is there a job seeker on your list?  It’s unlikely you can find them a job to wrap up and put under the tree but here are some gifts that they might really appreciate.

  • A new dress shirt and scarf/tie – these are things that are bound to make them feel better as they log into the next Zoom interview
  • A month of LinkedIn Premium – you can read about that here.gift
  • A couple of hours with a career coach
  • A compilation of the best career podcasts or TED Talks
  • A gift subscription to a magazine. A real magazine that comes in the mail.  That way when they go to the mailbox, there will be something good to look at instead of just bills.
  • A gift certificate from Vistaprint for business cards or personalized thank you notes
  • Resume review with an experienced resume editor
  • Send a Skip the Dishes gift certificate. They can use it for coffee on a crappy day or a meal for their family.  It is sure to be appreciated.

Have fun shopping!

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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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Pandemic Hibernation Tips

Now that we are in mid-November, we can no longer deny that winter is coming.  Over the last couple of weeks, we could fool ourselves by walking in the sunshine thinking maybe it stay warm for another month.  Nope, not happening.  It’s going to be colder and darker really soon.

So, how we will cope with this?  Usually we can distract ourselves with concerts, drinks with friends, hockey games and the always popular Sunday brunch. In the spring, we did sourdough, Netflix and competitive toilet paper shopping. Here are some options for this winter.

Find a crafty hobby – sift through Pinterest for ideas on this and then organize curbside pick up from Michael’s. (always look for a coupon before shopping). 

Paint your place – consider intricate stenciling or interesting patterns.  Head to Apartment Therapy for ideas on this.

Research travel destinations – YouTube has virtual tours of many of world’s best destinations.  Build itineraries on one of the travel sites.  Eventually, we will be able to go somewhere and you will be ready.

Learn an instrument – pick up where you left off in high school band or learn something new altogether.  Many music schools are offering live, interactive instruction using Zoom.  You could be ready to lead the sing along at your first spring outdoor gathering.

Find religion – it used to be that only mega-churches broadcast their services but now, lots of different faith groups are live streaming their services. Many of them are free to join – no strings attached.  I have found some peace and comfort attending weekly services from the comfort of my couch.

Get a new job – use your evening time to research, network and refresh your resume.  (I had to fit that in somewhere……)

Take a Course – I am not advocating that you sign up for your PhD but there may be time to learn out to project manage or code in a new language or mediate better.  Coursera and Masterclass are only two platforms offering great courses. 

Get a big ass tv – you can’t spend all your time looking at a laptop.  Non- work stuff should happen on a different device.  Sometimes a tablet works but sometimes a big screen with big sound is what you need.

These are just some ideas – there are many more.  Tuck them away for a cold, wet day or get started now. Just know that you don’t have to lie on the couch watching NCIS reruns all winter.

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Resume Refresh Tips

We need good resumes now more than ever.  If you have not refreshed your resume for more than six months, you should find it this weekend and take a look.  Here are five tips to keep in mind.

Save it as a pdf.  This is one of the options when you choose where to print your document.  A pdf can’t be altered by anyone (unless they have very expensive software) and if there are any words that Microsoft does not recognize, no can tell.  Pdfs don’t have funny red squiggles under any words to distract the reader.

Use a plain font.  It can be more modern or spacious, but keep it clean.  Avoid those tiny tails on the letters– it’s just too hard to read on the screen. And remember, Comic Sans is only for comic artists, not for anything corporate.

A resume can be two OR three pages.  If you graduated less than 15 years ago, two pages is fine.  If you have more experience than that, go ahead and use three pages.  There is no law against that.  It’s the first half of the first page that determines if the reader turns to the second page let alone the third page.

The first page has to have a lot of impact.  It needs to include what you do, where you do it, where you are geographically and how to get in touch with you.  Make certain you have covered those items and then fill in the rest of the details. 

Don’t succumb to the narrow margin trick.  If you have that much to say, then take it to the next page.  Don’t make the reader suffer and squint.  But make sure every word is important and necessary.  Resumes are not for blathering.  They are meant to tease the reader so that they want to call you up for more details.

Finally, always make sure someone who is not a relative or married to you does the final proof read.  You need someone who is not invested in your career success to give it the hairy eyeball and make sure there are no mistakes.

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Recruiter’s Couch Turns 500!

My first entry on this site was October 9, 2009. The world had gone to hell in a handbasket and lots of people were looking for new work having been unceremoniously dumped because of the credit crisis.

Here we are, years later and, I am sad to say, many people are looking for new work for a whole host of other reasons. Pandemic, politics, trade wars, the economy – they all play a role in the nature and availability of work.

This is the 500th entry for Recruiter’s Couch. I am sure I never would have imagined writing that sentence when I started this blog. I just knew that people were craving the straight goods on recruitment and career strategies.

I am grateful for the people who have been reading since the early days (thanks Mom!) and the people who found it more recently and for my colleagues who give me a thumbs up on Zoom when something is funny and for the people who point it out when I make spelling or grammatical errors (thanks Linda!).

Careers need active management when you have a job and when you need a job. There is a ton of information out there and I am happy to play a small part in helping people find the opportunity to do their best work.

I’ll keep writing. Thanks for reading.

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Getting Ready to Beat the Winter Blahs

I will be the first person to tell you that I love working from home. It’s not just the commute that makes a difference. I get to control the office temperature (which is really important as a woman of my age). I can work in different areas of my house to add some variety.

But even with all these advantages, I have begun to think about the cold weather that’s coming and what I will do the fend off the monotony of being in the same place all the time as well as the risk of fat-ass-syndrome.

Finding time to exercise was challenging when I went to the office every day but I knew that I could count on getting in some fast steps to and from the train station.

Now, no matter fast I leave my office, it is still only two flights down to the kitchen. With early morning meetings and evening interviews, going to the gym is not likely (if it’s even open)

Here is my winter strategy for moving and fresh air.

I got a little trampoline that leans against the wall of my office. I jump for 3 or 4 minutes when I am waiting for a call to start (or on mute during a less than interesting webinar)

My google home tells me when it’s 10am, 2pm and 4:45 and reminds me to move around and get a glass of water.

When I get lunch, I try to make sure I step outside on the porch or balcony and take a few deep breaths. I have even been known to open the window in my office and press my face against the screen for a few gulps of fresh air.

When I have more than a few minutes, I cue up a walk on YouTube. I just discovered these videos. You can walk in place or use a treadmill if you have one. Yesterday, I walked on the beach in Maui for 15 minutes. I put the ceiling fan high speed on to make it seem more real.

None of these are substitutes for getting together to do fun stuff with your friends but I think they will go far to helping to get thought the cold, dark parts of winter.

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LinkedIn is your Friend

LinkedIn has always been a great tool but during the pandemic, it’s even better.

It’s a first step to researching new opportunities.  You can look at actual job postings.  You can also look up companies that are doing cool things to see if they might have a role for you.

It has a myriad of other uses too.

You can look up old friends, former colleagues and classmates.  It’s fun to see what people are doing now and it is easy to send a note suggesting time to reconnect.  Hearing from an old friend is a great antidote to the loneliness of working at home.

People are posting lots and lots of content on LinkedIn.  It’s not a substitute for actual news but it is a way to see what’s going on in an industry. You can check out the posts by companies, associations and thought leaders.

It’s an easy way to beef up your presence.  You can share stuff that you like  or post your own content.  It can be original – as in an article you wrote yourself or something you found outside LinkedIn that you think other people in your network will find interesting.

Posting content is better than just “liking” an article.  Hitting the like button is pretty lame. It signals that you thought something was good but not good enough to take time out of your super-busy day to make a comment.

LinkedIn is also a great medium for recognizing people.  You can use the @ sign and the person’s name in your comment for a shout-out or to draw their attention to something.  Other people see that you did that and bang!  You have a community conversation going on.

These are all simple ways to increase your profile and your engagement – really important things to do in this extended period of working from home.

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But should you inhale?

The other day, we were walking on Queen Street in downtown Toronto and as we passed one of the many bong shops, I noticed a sign in the window.

It said “Help Wanted. Resumes now being accepted.”

I could not help myself. I burst out laughing right in the middle of the sidewalk.

Exactly what qualities would a bong store manager be looking for in the ideal candidate?

  • Able to take deep breaths with ease?
  • Good at providing late nigh snacks?
  • Highly attuned to fuzzy thinking?
  • Comfortable serving customers without regard to personal morality.

Would previous experience be necessary? If so, how much? Would you need to attach a police rap sheet along with your transcript?
And who would you use for references? Your dealer? Your parole officer?
Would it add credibility if you belong to the Bong of the Month Club?

I wanted to go in to see if they needed help with their search. After all, it’s what I do for a living. (searching, not smoking….) but my husband convinced me that I was seriously lacking in street cred and that getting lunch was a better idea.

If anyone wants to apply, they are located here.

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Small Steps for Tough Times

This is a tough time to be an employee.  It’s tough if you are working on the front lines and it’s tough if you are working behind the scenes from home or from an office.

When we get tired, we feel alone.  It feels like we are facing way higher mountains than anyone else and while that might be true at that moment, I bet if you took a few minutes to hear about a colleague’s challenges, you might feel better about yours.

As managers and colleagues, we have a long way to go in learning how to support each other through these next few months.  A clever woman on a webinar said that we are running a marathon and we don’t even know what mile we are at. We are going to need all the support we can get.

We can start by taking small steps.

A Zoom conversation does not have to start with business – no matter how rushed you are.  You can ask how your colleague or manager is doing and actually listen to the answer.  You can stop the conversation to ask about a piece of art or a cat in the background.  It’s oaky to be human for a few minutes.

It’s okay to block time on your calendar for a walk or a nap. You don’t have to broadcast to the world that that’s what you are doing but it’s okay to take care of yourself.

We can be understanding when someone starts a meeting at 10 minutes past the hour – so they can bio break and get a snack.  We can use that time too.

I was on Zoom with a client team and my mobile rang.  I hesitated for a moment.  They both looked at me and said “Answer it! We will just talk while we wait for you.”  I stepped outside the camera window, took the call and came back. They were, in fact, merrily chatting away.

These are not huge life changers, but they will go a long way to increasing our productivity and satisfaction. And that’s what will keep out feet on the ground as we move through these challenging times.

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