A Twist On The Chronological Resume

Most employers agree that they would like to have your employment history in a chronological order which helps them understand your progression from one position to another. Human beings in general like things in some orderly fashion that is common to them, and in so doing, makes it easy to understand without too much time being taken adjusting to a unique format.

However, suppose the job that you have decided to apply for now is one that your most recent employment doesn’t really fit well with. Further let us suppose that you have in fact had some jobs in your past that are indeed better related to the one you now want. In a case such as this, if you list your employment in a strictly chronological order, the person responsible for deciding who should be interviewed might just pass your resume over completely if they scan the first and second job only and relegate yours to the trash bin.

You could be perfect for the position but never get an interview, and therefore no chance to sell yourself in person. Today’s blog has a response to this situation and one that you might find works for you.

In order to make things easy to understand, let’s assume you’ve found a job you wish to apply to as a Stone Mason. You have the experience and education having worked in the field 7 years ago. The problem is that since that job 7 years ago, you’ve spent 3 years as a salesperson with a big box store and 4 years working for your father-in-law with his mattress factory. Your past two jobs; the factory and retail store are not nearly as relevant as the job you did as a Stone Mason 7 years ago, but that was 7 years ago! Listing your jobs in order, that job will be number 3 on your work history, and hidden for the interviewer to quickly see.

Here’s the solution. After your Qualifications section, which is usually near the top of the resume, one usually lists the Employment History section. Instead of this heading, create one that is called, “Relevant Employment History”. In this section start with the job most relevant – the Stone Mason job you had 7 years ago. If you have any additional jobs related to the one you are now applying for, add them here too. Next, create another heading entitled, “Other Employment History”. In this section list all other jobs, from most recent backward. Both sections are in chronological order in other words, the the employer will first be encouraged to keep you in mind for the short list by seeing your relevant work right up front.

Another thing most applicants fail to do is keep the job they are applying for front in center as they write down the various things they accomplished in past jobs. Put yourself in the position of the company. What they are thinking as they read everything on your resume is, “How would this person’s experience and what they’ve done be relevant to my company and what the job here demands? So in the case of the retail sales job, instead of saying you sold men’s clothing, why not extol your experience persuading customers to make additional purchases, and understanding their needs clearly at the outset? If you understand what people really want in clothes, maybe you’ll really understand what customers want in terms of their needs in stone too.

Here’s hoping this job advice is practical and of help to some of you out there! All the best!

Job Searching And My Garden Tool Shed

I enjoy gardening a great deal. This year, I’m spending my vacation at home doing some landscaping which includes creating some new garden beds where the grass used to be. As I was gardening however, a curious parallel came to mind that had to do with job  searching.

My experience at other properties I have owned in the past meant that to create a new garden, I would first rip up the grass area with a shovel. When I went out to do so at my current property, I was disappointed to see how compacted the earth and grass were however, and could see how difficult the shovel method would be. It would take a very long time. Then I thought back to some workers that had been on the property when they had to make an adjustment to the slope of the property line. Four men came and used pick axes to hack at the grass, and remove it. Well, I had a pick axe too.

Now my pick axe saw very little action up to this year, primarily used for digging holes for trees in tough areas. However, I made quick work of removing the grass by using the wide end of the pick axe to skim away the lawn just where the grass met the soil. I repeated this process in several areas where I wanted the gardens to be, and then used it to break up compacted earth which came away in chunks. Now the shovel was used to remove those chucks into the wheelbarrow. I had found a new use for a tool that made the job easier by watching and learning from someone else.

Applying that same idea to the job search, there are lots of, “tools” that job searchers use to become employed. One of the most common is the computer. How do you typically use the computer to job search? Are there other ways to use the computer you typically don’t? For example, sure you can research companies and type up your resume and email it to employers. This is fairly common to most job seekers. However, if you haven’t done so, try some other things with the computer to help you out. Go to Youtube and type in some of the following words and here’s what you’ll get:

1) Job Interview tips. You’ll get numerous videos on the topic. Some are from professionals with really good ideas for succeeding.

2) Common Interview questions. Here you’ll get short videos on the questions most likely to be asked at a job interview.

3) Behavioural Event Interviewing. This is a popular interview style many interviewers now use. Understand it better and your chances of a good interview go up.

4) Funny Job Interviews. Okay this will get you comic relief. Some are just bizarre, some a waste of your time, but laughter during a job search is not such a bad thing in moderation. Don’t stay for hours.

5) Job Interview success. You’ll get many interviewers ideas on successfully competing for employment.

Of course there are many different things you could type into a browser such as Google, or my favourite – Bing – that will help you with your job search. You have this powerful tool at your disposal and are only limited by your imagination and ability to think. Look up what you are most concerned about. If you are depressed or frustrated during the job search, type, “Job search frustration” into an engine and see what comes up. Might be something helpful there. Always consider the source of the information and don’t rely too much on any one source for the best advice.

If you find a blogger you enjoy reading that provides helpful information, you might want to follow them, and get their information whenever they write. Maybe you’re into Twitter and if so, tweeting is very immediate, maybe you can get a jump on job postings if people know you are looking. The point is, there are many helpful things you can do with a computer with an internet connection other than the typical things everyone does who are job searching like you.

So, like my tools in the garden shed, using the right tool for the job search is important, but every so often look at other tools and think about how they might be useful to you – especially the tools that you don’t use as much. Getting tips from experienced job seekers and professionals who work in the field of employment coaching or Career Advisors might give you new ideas on the job search that you haven’t been using.

I Get Instructed

As someone who has helped many people in their job search, I have come to believe that I know a few things about the entire process. I’ve discovered what most employers are looking for in candidates, how to best present yourself on a resume and at an interview, and how to best negotiate during the hiring process. Now I can also state that I’ve been recently reminded of how little I know.

Someone I know announced  months ago that the lustre of their job was wearing thin, and it was time to seek another opportunity with another employer. Expressing a wish for additional responsibility, more creativity, an enthusiasm for promotion had fallen on deaf ears, and it was time to explore the market. Now having helped with this persons resume and interview preparation over time, I knew I had passed along valuable information and could trust in their capacity to put this knowledge to work. Eager to see the resume that was being shopped around, I asked for a copy to look over.

Well I can tell you that the resume I received was very different from what I would have crafted myself on their behalf. Much that was on this resume I would counsel to change. The layout, the content and the language were unique and not something I would typically suggest. However, I acknowledged that the field in which this person was applying for employment required creativity and a different style of marketing oneself.

Interestingly, this person was getting interviews; and several of them. The process just recently has concluded with a favourable result and this individual is now in transition, winding down with one employer while preparing to commence with a new one. I couldn’t be happier that things are working out this way. One of the things I find of most interest is my own reaction to how they have handled the entire process. I’m glad I was able to keep my own opinions to myself and trusted enough in the person I knew to know what they were doing. Even though the resume style was odd to me, I knew the advice I had passed on was still being valued overall.

From the outside looking in, I applaud the steps taken in this process. First of all there was a recognition of a desire for change. Originally the hope was to remain with the employer and seek additional responsibilities, new challenges, new opportunities for both promotion and salary increase. When it became clear that for a number of reasons this would not occur in the desired timetable or if ever, there was a logical expansion in seeking new challenges which led outside the employers realm. Over a period of time, new possibilities presented themselves and there were few limits placed on deciding factors such as location. So with less limits on what to consider, unique and interesting possible rewards, incentives and potential satisfaction began to emerge.

Significant to me was the confidence shown in initially declining an offer of a second interview, and then being personally contacted and urged to attend. When you’re strongly wanting change, but willing to wait for the right fit, you’re showing strength and determination.This is one advantage in having employment while seeking a new job. In the end, the second interview was concluded, and then negotiations entered into over a few details prior to accepting the post. Again, both the employer and the applicant presented wishes, needs, desires and negotiated maturely coming to a satisfactory conclusion. This is the way it’s supposed to be; a win-win for both.

Nobody knows all there is to know about any subject, and one would be wise to remember that. You’ll find all kinds of people on the internet screaming about their years of experience and success rates and trying to convince you to employ their services. Many are quite excellent and will help you get the results you are seeking. The ones I would advise to steer clear of however are the hounders, the ones that say they do know everything, and that not to use them guarantees failure. When you state you know everything, the rest of us know there is at least one more thing you have yet to learn!

I am proud of the individual I refer to in this blog, and glad to know that in some way I have helped them in the process. For me, that’s very satisfying, but I’m happier because of the excitement they feel, the shift in stress that has begun and their future happiness.

In your job search, receive and accept all the help you can from experts. With the information you have been given, decide what to use and what you’d like to adapt to your own situation. If you have few skills in this area of job searching accept more advice than most. If as in the example above, you have learned a thing or two over a period of time and know your industry, have the self-confidence to stand out and experiment with your resume. Good things just might happen!

Can The Unemployed Go On Vacation?

At first glance this appears to be a variation on the popular question, “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it does it make a sound?” I mean some people would ask how you can go on a vacation if you don’t have a job to take a vacation from?!

Well there are two ways of looking at this question. The first is that a vacation is part of most people’s normal yearly routine where people rejuvenate and re-energize and spend quality time with family, friends or possibly just enjoy some solitude. Why wouldn’t everyone want and deserve that whether they have a job or not? Why should a job be tied to vacation?

The other way of answering this question however is looking at someone in the middle of a job search who is currently unemployed who announces that they are taking time off from the job search to kick back and relax. Well, if you were a colleague or friend of this person who had previously been asked to keep an eye out for job opportunities for them, you might lose your own motivation to continue to do so. After all, if the job seeker isn’t working at getting a job and is lazing around poolside, why should you be working hard on their behalf?

In my opinion, the balance between the two is this; everyone does deserve to take a physical and mental break in life, and job searching can be very stressful, intense and pressure filled just like employment. However, at the same time, if you have others committed to helping you in your job search, you have a responsibility to them to take the break without fanfare and to have a way to remain in touch. This is the difference between the vacation for the employed and the unemployed.

The employed have vacations and can do whatever they want for the extent of their vacation because they are responsible to no one else, except being back and ready to go on the day after their vacation ends. The unemployed job seeker has an ongoing responsibility to take shorter spaced-out breaks that are taken in such a way that those assisting in a job search are still responded to if a job lead develops, and unfortunately, the job seeker on vacation should stay somewhat available for interviews and employment postings. I know of at least one person who went camping for a week and packed his interview clothes.

A colleague of mine who had a job lead for a client was irked one day to find out the client was vacationing on a road trip and hadn’t advised him to put the job search on hold for two weeks. He had tried unsuccessfully to make contact over four days, and then heard through a mutual contact of the vacation. Not only did he pass on the lead to someone else who eventually got the job, he lost some motivation to help which was unfortunate. He felt uninformed and somewhat deceived. Right or wrong, that was the feeling he was left with.

On a more local level, suppose you have been job hunting intensively and take one afternoon off to suntan at a local park and have a picnic lunch. Should you be concerned you might be seen as goofing off? Everybody has a right to relax and take in some sunshine. Be aware however, that you cannot control how other people will or may react to such a simple act if they are under the impression you are job searching seriously and intently. You could have your eyes closed and they walk right by and say nothing. If the word spreads, that could be damaging and so unfair!

Take your breaks from job searching in moderation. Breaks from any intense activity, including looking for a job, are part of a normal routine, and keeping a normal routine is what those who provide job searching advice usually advise!

Repairing Damage Done

I recently met a woman one of my workshops whose self-image is damaged severely due to negative re-enforcement by people in positions of influence over her lifetime. How very sad that at the time she is maturing into adulthood, her view of herself is holding her back from realizing her full potential and robbing her of what she so rightly deserves.

This young woman shared with me that a high school Vice-Principal once told her that she’d never amount to anything, and that she was just taking up space. Imagine; a person in a position of trust and influence chipping away at her future; as if somehow that person had the right to gaze into a crystal ball and see the future. Surely more responsibility goes with that position than to saddle a student with a comment that obviously has stuck with them well past high school.

Prior to high school, she related too how one of her parents also negatively affected her image and by their actions, caused her pain and suffering. And then, for a 3rd negative influence, she recently finds out that her boyfriend of six years has in fact been cheating on her for the entire relationship. Three people in positions of influence, and three letdowns.

Then along I come into her life as | facilitate  a workshop and guess what I see? I see someone who is well-groomed, beautiful, improving her education, using new ideas and concepts to improve her employment potential, smiling, confident enough to sit in the front row of a class, makes friends well, knows her limitations and is trying to improve and so much more. Unfortunately, the years of chipping away at her ego have stripped away her self-confidence, stolen her ability to like herself fully, and left her vulnerable to further manipulation.

In two weeks time this woman ended up getting a job even though it isn’t in the field she really wants to work in as her first choice. She is smart enough you see to know the benefits of accepting a job to gain references, experience, and job transferable skills. Additionally she gained the knowledge that she really can get hired and is deserving of a chance. She’ll get out of the house now, meet people, have more money, interact with others on a daily basis and grow in confidence. Should she get an interview and eventually a job in the career of her training, she can leave the job (hopefully on good terms) and begin work in the field she wants and compete better for it because of the new information on her resume.

Know this all of us that are in positions of influence, power and control. Our behaviours, our actions and our words touch the lives of those who so badly need to be influenced for good. It is within our ability to start the re-building process in others. We have the capacity to lend a hand, to label a skill or personable attribute in someone else, to compliment genuinely, to share what is good and positive in others, to tell people that they are worthy in our opinion and to help others grow. Our ability to influence others is not unlike those teachers we had in school that influenced our own lives who we were too immature to recognize and thank at the time.

One of the saddest things this young lady said to me was that in her opinion, I didn’t really care about her, I was just doing my job. I don’t blame her for this, because why should she believe that someone, anyone, really would care about her welfare? She’s wrong however, as I do care and am glad I do. To me, the fact that she made such an impression on me, and continues to do so even though the workshop has ended, reminds me that I continue to have the capacity to care about others, and that’s a gift she gave me. I never want to be someone who just goes through the motions and never really connects with those in my work life.

So I encourage all of you who work with people to error on the side of compassion, recognition and caring by acknowledging the good in others. I also want to encourage people who have poor opinion’s of themselves to understand that you are deserving of a good life, a good job, good relationships. Repairing the damage done by others closest to us takes time but will happen. Surround yourself with positive people, remove yourself from those who put you down and mistreat you, and remember more than anything that you are alive and that means you have the ability to grow, to change, to learn, to improve, to become that which you want to be, whatever that is.


Psyching Yourself Up For A Letdown

One of the most troubling things about a job search is the presence of something that may be new to you if you have been well-connected and socially engaged in your work-life; namely isolation. One of the most immediate things that probably has happened to you is a reduction in the number of people you speak with on a daily basis because there is no water cooler to hang out at, no one coming to ask if you want to take a break together, and no one asking if you have a moment to consult with.

At some point in your job searching, you may opt to join a group of others who are looking for employment. Perhaps your company has paid for you to do so,  you make a decision to pay for one yourself, or if you are very lucky, you don’t have to pay at all such as in the case of those on Social Assistance or Employment Insurance. Joining a group can be helpful. For starters you’ll get direction, feedback, constructive criticism, new ideas and support but most importantly, you’ll feel part of something again.

However, no matter the length of the program you participate in, there will be a time when it concludes, or the services scaled back. Be prepared for the psychological hit to your ego again when you wake up on the following Monday and you have no place to go. Most employment assistance programs are designed to impart advice, helpful knowledge, direction and help with your motivation. However, they all share one thing in common and that is that they expect you to take those ideas and put them into practice independently at some point.

I know first-hand having attended one myself many years ago. I went from a job to being laid off and the employer paid for me to attend a group to help get my next job. It was stimulating, supportive and helpful. While there I was given written material, improved my job searching skills including my resume and interview techniques. However, on the day I started, I knew too there would be a, ‘last day of the program’. On the following Monday, I was back at it again, but this time I was again at home and job searching solo. Those people I was bonding with and sharing the unemployment experience with were gone.

Developing positive habits that mirror your working life will serve you well of course. Get up, get showered, take care of personal grooming, have your breakfast and start working just as you would when employed, but now start looking for employment with the same energy and commitment you would make if you had a paying job. Networking with people you know will help you feel connected. Stay in touch with some of the people in your job search group. If the Facilitator offered to stay in touch, call them up and connect. Contact past co-workers, friends, family, past employers, teachers, coaches, business partners etc. and stay in the loop. This helps you combat the, “woe is me, come to my pity party” attitude.

Job search groups are wonderful and will give you skills and feedback to help you along. Just be prepared to combat the feeling of being right back where you were before you started when they conclude. Know that before you can start your next career, you have to move forward, and ending a job search group is moving in the right direction if you choose to see it that way.

Would You Share A Job Lead?

You’re out of work and your experiencing the stress of a prolonged job search. You and at least one other person are looking for a job and supporting each other in the process. When you do come across a job lead that is something you AND your buddy are looking for, do you share the lead or just apply yourself?

I’m going to suggest the right thing to do is apply yourself and give your friend the same chance. First of all, the job market is competitive. Whatever job you are looking for, you can count on having competition for it, and one more person competing for it isn’t likely to make a huge difference. You come across as a helpful decent guy at a time when your own self-image could use some building up, but as good as that is, I’m telling you that’s not why you pass on the lead.

The real reason for passing on a lead to your competition is twofold. First, you need to make sure that the lack of employment doesn’t change who you are as a person. Just because you lack a job and income associated with it, that doesn’t mean you are somehow less worthy as a person unless you degrade yourself by doing things that give others cause to see you this way. Secondly, you need to reinforce to yourself that you are good enough to compete not only with the addition of your buddy, but you can compete with a whole bunch of people and successfully get that job. Your ego needs stroking and this is one way to do it.

Jobs are partly how we define ourselves. When we say what we do for a living, we put ourselves out there for judgement and state what we do with pride, embarrassment, confidence, enthusiasm etc. Yet, we are all many things at the same time. We are fathers, mothers, winners, role models, etc. How we act when things are tough and life is throwing us challenges says a lot about our character.

What would you think about going into an interview and when the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself”, you answer by smiling genuinely and saying, “I’ve been out of work for eight months now and I couldn’t be more pleased with myself in maintaining my dignity, my character and my confidence. Unemployment is my work status at the moment but it’s only one small thing that defines who I am. I will be employed soon, and I’ll look back at this time in my life as a time when I was tested and I did what was in my power to stay in control and be the best I could be.” Wow. Now that’s unique.

Sharing a job lead may mean a great deal to someone else who knows you need the job just as much as they do. The respect they feel for you may add a layer to your personal armour that you need in the battle as you rebuild your employment identity. Respect won’t pay your rent, and it doesn’t buy groceries, but it provides something much more long-lasting and important – your self-worth and self-perception. If you don’t get a job and someone else does due to your lead, you have one more person who might recommend you, and maybe that person will act as your reference too.

It’s what you do when you have a choice and no one will know one way or the other that will define who you are to the person that you will be with every single day of your life – yourself.