Job Journey – Making your Resume Stand Out

Now that your resume has the basic elements (background, education and experience), you can have some freedom to decide what else you want to include.


If you participate in a sport or extracurricular activity, you can definitely include it on the second or final page of your resume.  These help to demonstrate the type of person you are and the things you care about.  For example, you might finished marathons or triathlons or coached a little league baseball team.  Each of them illustrates your character and your ability to set aside time to invest in these pursuits.

I wanted to include French cooking and ironing but, just because I spend time doing the task does not warrant valuable space on my resume.

Community and Volunteering

These activities are also good demonstrations of your values – especially if they happen to align with a hiring manager.  The only caveat is to make sure that the information is real, recent and referable.

Running the stairs of the CN Tower is one thing. Helping to organize your company team to sign up, train, raise money and then participate, that’s the real value.  That’s what will get recognized.

The experience should be recent.  If you sat on the PTA when your child was in elementary school and that same child just graduated with a PhD , that does not count.  If you don’t have something recent, leave it out.

You will be hard pressed to use a volunteer colleague as a reference but you never know who they know. It’s a small world.  If you are going to put a role, paid or otherwise, on your resume, you better be prepared for someone to ask direct questions about it.

That covers most of the content. Next week, we will look at fonts, formats and graphics.


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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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Job Journey – Getting your Resume Ready

Your resume is a bit like a big, detailed business card and having your resume ready and up to date should the first step in the journey to your next job.  While you have a lot of freedom on what you want to include, there are some basic items that absolutely must be there.

Your name, email address and phone number are mandatory.  You can put them at the top of the document or you can put it in the header. Bear in mind, if you put it in the header, when it is viewed in “preview” mode in MS Office, those details won’t show.  They only show when they are in the body of the document.  Weird, but true.

You can add all or part of your address. You might not want to share the exact details but it probably makes sense to put in your city.  Prospective employers want to know you are in their typical commuting range.  

Education is important.  It can be listed at the top before your experience or on the second page, after your work details.  Include everything after high school.  Make sure to list the name of the school, the degree, diploma or certificate and the date that you graduated.  Note that I said “graduated”.  You can still include a program even if you did not complete it but mark it “incomplete” or “one course left” or “expected date of completion xx”.  Don’t lie – it will bite you in the pants when you least expect it.

Finally, you need to have details about what you are doing now.  Clearly lay out your title, basic responsibilities as well as the name and location of the company.  You also need to let people know how long you have been in the role.  If you are in transition, then use your last role.

It would be a pretty skinny resume if this is all you include but it would give someone a fairly good idea of where you are today.  What’s missing is the milestones and achievements from the rest of your career.

You have a lot more flexibility with those elements.  We will tackle those sections t0 get your resume ready next week.

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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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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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Interview Attire – Get it Right

Jeans?  Khakis? Suit?  There are so many different work cultures now, it can be tricky to figure out what to wear to an interview.  Over dressing or under dressing can make you feel awkward at the beginning of a conversation and that can be tough to recover from.

Ultimately you want to dress in a way that makes you feel confident. So if you have favourite socks or lucky underwear, start with that.

You can check out the website of the company to see how they present themselves.  Look for candid work photos under the careers page.  You can look on Glassdoor (although you will learn a lot more than how employees dress!).  You can also ask the person who is setting up the interview.  Whether they are in the organization or from an agency, they should be able to give you some insight.

And don’t be afraid to ask.   How you show up is as important as where you show up.

Whether it’s a jeans place or a suit place, make sure what you are wearing is clean, neat and smells fresh.  Not like a garden, a beach or a forest.  Just plain clean.

This goes for hair and shoes as well.  People won’t care if your hair is long or short.  It’s about showing that you respect this opportunity enough to care about how you put yourself together.  If you care about that, the assumption is that you will care about your work too.

On the way in to the meeting, wipe your palms, square your shoulders and take a deep breath and you will be ready for a great conversation!

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