About That Big Gap On Your Resume


One of the most common worries many come to me with is a lengthy gap on their resume. You might find my thoughts on this matter helpful whether you too are in this situation or like me, you’re in the business of providing help and support to those seeking employment. Let me just say here and now that I’d absolutely love to hear your own thoughts in the comments section; perhaps the advice you’d give yourself or what your personal experience has been – the good and the bad.

To begin then. When I first hear someone tell me they are worried about a lengthy gap on their resume I ask them why; not why there’s a gap but rather why they are worried about the gap. What I’m listening for are a couple of things. The first is hearing what they believe an employer’s possible objections are in order to hear if they accurately understand just what the gap implies. The second thing I’m listening for is actually the tone of their voice. It’s in the tone of the voice that I will detect anything and everything from utter despair and hopelessness through to defiance and bitterness. Most are somewhere in the middle actually;  does it SOUND like they really want to work and do they FEEL they need to overcome this barrier in order to get a job offer.  The tone is perhaps as important or in some case more so than what they say.

Now of course I want to also hear the truth when it comes to what they’ve been doing with their time during the gap, as it is often unexplained on their resumes. My direction to them is to tell me the blunt honest truth so that in that knowledge, I can determine the way to craft a few potential strategies in responding to the problem.

For a problem it is. Anything that undermines a person’s self-confidence and stands between themselves and their goal – in this case an employment offer at the conclusion of a successful interview – is a problem. One thing I’ve found over and over by the way is that when you hang on to your problems, you don’t often resolve them as quickly as when you share them with someone who has the knowledge and experience to provide you with options for reaching a resolution. Be selective with whom you share your problems of course, for telling anyone and everyone about your problems is seldom a good idea.

So, exactly how lengthy a period or gap are we talking about? For someone used to working their whole life, a 1 year gap can be their big worry. In the case of another, it could be 8 – 10 years. The length of time we’re talking about here is critical to know because there’s your perspective and the perspective of a potential employer, and they may not be the same shared view.

One positive thing about a gap in the present day is that it’s far less uncommon that in years past. Today more people transition from job to job, companies relocate, others downsize and reduce their workforce. More people find themselves as primary caregivers for aging parents because quite frankly medical advancements mean longer life spans than in years past. Sheer numbers alone play a factor too; with more people than ever working or looking for work, the odds of many of those people being out of work (after all there’s just so many jobs to go around) is up.Then there’s the people who were off due to physical or mental health issues.

One thing good to know is whether you’re unemployment was due to an issue which no longer exists. Caring for an aging parent that has passed away, or raising children who are now school age are two examples.

When I listen to a person tell me about the reason why they have this unemployment period, I always ask them what they DID do during that time, rather than what they didn’t do. Did they do any self-improvement activities such as volunteering, take a course of any kind, address some personal health issue such as losing weight, having a surgery, etc. All this information is what I’m after before I can offer up a few potential strategies on how to respond to the issue when it comes up in an interview.

My goal in responding to the person asking me for help is to provide them with three potential angles to choose from in addressing their gap. From these, they can best pick one that they feel most confident and comfortable with owning for themselves. It is remarkable to see first hand how having a good response can shift a person from dreading the question about their gap to hoping it actually comes up in the interview.

Once a strategy is selected, I’ll ask that person 3 questions which are:

  1.  Explain this gap on your resume.
  2.  What did you do between (date) and (date)?
  3.  I want to talk about this gap…

Yep, any version of the same issue asked 3 times. This gives you the chance to hear what the person actually says and gives them the chance to practice until they feel they own it and can confidently reply. With confidence, not only does the answer given satisfy the gap, the body language, facial expression and tone of voice come across as assertive.

Don’t Apply For Jobs In December


There are many job seekers who see a lot of logic in not bothering to apply for work in the month of December. They’ve determined that companies are soon shutting down for the holidays and the people responsible for receiving all those resumes and selecting candidates to hire are really looking at taking time off.

If you’re one of the job seekers who holds this belief; that it’s pointless to job search in December, you’re making a huge mistake. But please! By all means yes, continue to avoid applying for work this month! You’re making it so much easier for the people I’m partnering with in their job search. In fact, let me extend a sincere thank you for reducing the size of the competition.

As you know, applying for work is a very competitive endeavour. There are more people applying for various positions than ever. Apparently, from the information I’ve gathered from employers, for every job advertised, there are approximately 150 – 175 applications received. The fact that you’re doing your part to reduce that number and increase the odds of those I’m supporting to land interviews and get hired is most appreciated!

Next week I’m holding a two week job search group; that’s December 9th – 20th on the calendar. Yikes! What  tough time of year to job search right? There’s the Christmas traffic, the Christmas hustle and bustle, the kids Christmas concerts in school, people to buy or make Christmas presents for, the house or apartment to decorate for Christmas, the shopping for the Christmas ham or turkey. Why you’re likely exhausted just thinking about it. Best you put your feet up and recline in the lazy boy. Add a job search to all that? No, of course not; you best take it easy.

Still, my little group and I will be at work, researching opportunities, writing cover letters and resumes, practicing our interview skills, and above all else, applying for jobs. While there’s every possibility that we might land a hire or two in these two weeks, it’s probable that the interviewing and hiring won’t actually take place until the new year. That’s absolutely fine with us; we’ll be ready.

Look, any job seeker will tell you how difficult it is to land work and that any advantage they can see they’ll seize. So, when the competition starts to falter for lack of enthusiasm, that’s the very time to ramp up the effort. The same goes for rainy days, extreme cold or heat periods, and Mondays. You see the same folks who have stopped job searching in December are likely the kind who wake up, see the clouds pouring down on them and choose to roll over and go back to sleep. Again, thank you if that’s you!

Job searching IS work. It takes sustained energy and focus to successfully job search. You’ve got to have a willingness to carry on in the face of what appears to be indifference or rejection by some employer’s. All that work researching companies, targeting resumes, writing cover letters, completing online profiles and repeating this process again and again. It can certainly get discouraging. I think this is why the people who have accepted my invitation to join my group are so looking forward to the experience. You see, they’ll partner up with me; someone they believe will motivate them when they feel the urge to slow down. They’ll also be supported by their fellow job seekers, and enthusiasm my reader is contagious!

If it’s true that attitude determines your altitude, we’re aiming high. We aren’t hoping to get interviews and jobs; we’re EXPECTING to get interviews and jobs! You see, the belief I plan to share and instil is the same belief I’ve always held; if we create strong resumes, quality resumes and improve upon our interview skills, the chances of success rise – substantially. If we then work to improve on our quantity of quality applications, our chances of success rise substantially again. Quality first, followed by quantity.

But you can do your part to help us along. If you’re a job seeker yourself, take the month off; nobody is hiring anyway right? If you’re an Employment Coach or Counsellor, suggest your clients ease back on the job search and conserve their energy for the new year; nobody is hiring anyway right?

Of course this advice is entirely tongue in cheek. If nobody is hiring, why then are there jobs being advertised? Do you think companies advertise just to falsely get people’s hopes up? That they have too much time on their hands and want to conduct interviews for jobs that don’t exist just to meet people? No of course not! They are advertising jobs because they have a need for qualified and enthusiastic employees.

Remember this basic truth; if they advertise a job, THEY have a need. Sure you need a job, but they need an employee. It’s not all desperation on your part and no stress at their end. They have to find someone and it can’t be just anybody. They are looking at hiring the right someone, and this is where your research comes in. Present yourself as the right candidate.

Of course, if you were looking for a sign that you shouldn’t bother looking for work until 2020, take this blog as your sign. Pack it in, put on, “White Christmas” and cover yourself up with that warm throw.

For A Successful Job Search


What’s the first thing to do when you want to find work?

a) Look at jobs posted on a job search board

b) Update your resume

c) Tell your friends and connections you’re looking

The correct answer to the above? It’s not a, b or c. No, while all of them are good things to do when you’re looking for work, none of them should be the first thing you do if you want to be successful.

Yes, I’ll admit that dusting off a resume and updating your phone number, making a dozen copies and dropping them off in person to some employers just might get you a job. I’ll further admit that as long as it gets you the job you’re after, you’re not likely take advice from me or anyone else – until how you go about finding work doesn’t work – and neither do you. Then, and only then, might you be open to other ideas and suggestions.

No, the first step to successfully finding your next job or launching your career is to do a full self-assessment. Know yourself, and be able to articulate or clearly share all the many things that collectively make you who you are. It’s only when you really know who you are and what makes you tick that you have the best chance to find work that will really bring you job satisfaction and happiness.

So, do you know the following:

  1. Your work values
  2.  The style of supervision you work best under
  3.  Your learning style
  4.  The things which motivate you
  5.  Why you want / need to work
  6.  Your financial needs (how much you need to earn)
  7.  Your financial value in the marketplace
  8.  Your problem solving style
  9.  Your liabilities, weaknesses and challenges
  10.  Your strengths and competitive advantages
  11.  Your leadership style
  12.  Your work ethic
  13.  How long you plan to work in your next role
  14.  Your openness to shift work, overtime, part-time, full-time, permanent,    contract or seasonal work
  15.  The extent to which you’ll travel to get to your next job
  16.  Your own philosophy with respect to work
  17.  Your comfort and ease with, and integration to teamwork
  18.  The state of your listening skills
  19.  The validity of any certificates and licences you’ve held
  20.  Which skills you wish to use moving forward in your next job
  21.  Your own personal idea of happiness and success
  22.  Your preference for working with things, data, people or information
  23.  Your personality traits and how they fit with various environments
  24.  Your receptiveness and willingness to learn
  25.  Your personal employment barriers

So, come on, let’s be honest. When have you ever started your job search by first looking at all – not just some – of the things above BEFORE looking at a job board?

I tell you this – if you want to be successful; and I mean long-term successful, start your job search differently than you ever have before and look at the above. While you might point out that you’ve never done this in the past and have managed to find jobs before (than you very much), how happy have you been in those jobs and haven’t you felt there had to be something better?

Successful people are generally the ones who, in the course of their work, find great personal job satisfaction and happiness. They are grateful for the opportunity to do what they do, and they look forward to going in because they find fulfillment and purpose throughout their days. When they leave work, they know they’ve done their best, made a difference, contributed their skills and experience and made their time worthwhile to their employer. These people don’t find such jobs by chance and luck.

Knowing what you like and don’t like, your strengths and areas for improvement is only a start. In all likelihood, you may not be able to answer all 25 questions I’ve posed here without some guided support, help that you’ll later appreciate. When you know yourself fully, you not only end up in the right kind of work, you end up tracking down the right employer for you; the one that has the specific environment where you’ll thrive.

Don’t think that this process is reserved only for the rich and those going for high paying jobs. That would be a huge assumption and mistake on your part. Sometimes the ones who get the most out of doing these full self-assessments are your everyday Labourer, blue-collar or middle class worker.

Look, I don’t like all-encompassing statements because honestly they seldom actually apply to everybody, but perhaps it’s safe to say we all want a career or job that will bring us a measure of happiness and decent pay for the work we do. Happiness; have you really sat down and defined what happiness looks like for you personally though? So many factors go in to being happy at work; it’s not just the job itself.

I know many people – a large number of people, who now in their fifties, say they’ve never had a job that they can honestly say they were truly passionate about. Some paid well, others brought them some happy moments, but many were ones they’d rather have avoided looking back. The idea of doing a personal inventory or assessment is something they never considered but now wish they’d done a long time ago. The thing about a self-assessment is that you and me; we should all do one every few years because we change.

Job search step one? Self assessment.

My Advice: Hold Off Job Searching


Sounds like odd advice from an Employment Counsellor to give on the surface of it doesn’t it; putting your search for a job on hold. Yet quite often, that’s the advice I give some of the people I meet with.

Now if you’re employed and see yourself first and foremost as a taxpayer and believe that everyone in receipt of social assistance should be completely investing 100% of their time looking to work, my apologies. There are some situations in which I believe looking for a job is not only ill-advised, it can set someone back tremendously from finding employment in the long haul.

Take yesterday as an example. For two weeks, I instructed a dozen people in the basics of using the computer. I’m talking basics here; using it to make an email, learning how to access the internet, find employment opportunities, make a resume, apply for work with that resume. We did more as well, but I like to instruct with practicality in mind, so as most were unemployed, why not learn the basics of the digital world and at the same time, showing them how competing for employment these days requires computer skills? Anyhow, there I was yesterday, seated with one of the participants from that class, doing a follow up appointment.

Typically, I plan on giving someone feedback on what I observed over those two weeks, encourage them and point out moments of success and accomplishment. However, I threw all that out the window yesterday when this one woman came in and we sat down in my office. She was 15 minutes late, and said she had almost decided not to come in for the scheduled meeting. Two developments on the day before our meeting occurred; she was contacted by her Doctor who said she must meet immediately with her to share results of some medical tests and her 13 year old daughter was committed to a hospital for a few days after telling her own Doctor that she was thinking about killing herself.

Suddenly, giving feedback on computer skills and talking about using these new skills to job search seemed entirely inappropriate. Of greater importance in that moment was listening, supporting and responding to her disclosure, her fears of what her Doctor knows and must share in person immediately and her own daughter’s thoughts of ending her life. At a time like this, the focus on receiving, comprehending and processing these two major life events supersedes any encouragement to get out and get a job.

Besides, if you believe that she’d be able to effectively job search at the present moment, I’d venture you’re views are based in ideology and not practical reality. Do I think governments always get this? No. I suspect when they look at stats, they focus solely on how many people start a program, how many finish and how long it takes someone to find employment after taking a program to determine its effectiveness. Numbers don’t tell the whole story; not by a long shot.

“Will I get in trouble for not looking for a job though?” she asked. So I took an hourglass from my desk and flipped it over, letting the blue sand fall. “You only have so much energy. Right now, your focus and energy is on receiving your own diagnosis and whatever implications that holds. As a caring mom who has a daughter in crisis, the two of you have a lot to work through, you’re probably blaming yourself and you’re scared. You just got two extremely upsetting events on the same day. Forget the job search for now; you won’t be in trouble.” She looked at that blue sand accumulating in the bottom half and said seeing how the top was emptying was how she felt.

Near the end of our meeting, she told me how glad she was that she’d decided to come because she’d considered staying at home. There she was, expressing gratitude to me for making her feel better. It’s pretty humbling to hear someone in the midst of heightened anxiety and trauma be so genuinely kind and thoughtful. When she left she hugged me; we hugged each other. Somewhere in that simple act, some of her fear melted into me, and some compassion for her suffering flowed from me to her.

Do you really believe she should be focusing 100% on looking for work? Do you really think I – anyone for that matter – who counsels and supports people looking for work should pressure her into making a job search her first priority? And where I now wonder does any government making funding decisions and program cut decisions factor in this kind of experience?

I tell you this, were I that woman, receiving these two pieces of information, I’d sure be grateful to meet with a compassionate, understanding and patient person. Yesterday I was fortunate to be that guy, but this is not about me. I believe there are people with equally, even better responses everywhere, having similar experiences daily.

Something as simple as removing an expectation of finding work and assuring them they won’t have their benefits suspended, can do far more good in the long run by building a trusting, human connection. For who is equipped to deal with either of these situations let alone two on the same day?

So yes, put aside the job search; there are times when it’s not priority #1.

And your thoughts?

A Few Ways To Start Your Job/Career


Thinking back on the early part of your work history, how did you get one of your earliest jobs?

Some people get jobs by following in their parents footsteps. You know, it’s the family expectation that you’ll become an Accountant because, well, your dad is an Accountant, your older brothers and sisters are Accountants; even your grandparents were Accountants. So there’s not much if any discussion about what you might be when it’s your turn to enter the world of work. Nobody really talks about what might interest you because you’re slotted in as the next Accountant in the family, carrying on the tradition.

This might sound like a bad thing but for many people it is exactly the opposite. You see they don’t have worry or stress deciding on a career, they’ve got excellent resources to draw on in the family when they need help and advice, and these family connections are their way in to the companies they work for. All they have to do really is follow the plan laid out for them. Yes for some people, this is normal, and they never really experience the conflict of self-determination, nor do they fight it.

Of course not everyone takes this path. The problem with this model for those who don’t follow it is that they may be drawn in other ways to other jobs. They might be creative, artistic, innovative and there’s no room for these qualities in the world of Accounting where numbers are input accurately and precisely. Following the, ‘family way’ and living your life playing up to the expectations of parents and extended family could leave you feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled and always wondering why you don’t discover what it is you feel you’re really meant to do.

Others follow their passion. With an interest in music, they may not be a celebrity, but they work in the music industry. Or, if the environment is what they feel drawn to, they work to save precious physical resources, encouraging others to live their lives thinking about sustainability and protecting our natural resources. They don’t necessarily have to work in a Ranger Tower in the middle of a Boreal forest; they might even work in a laboratory in a city but devote their time to finding better solutions to problems of creating and cleaning up our environmental waste.

If it’s not the environment that drives you, it could be a passion for sports. Perhaps you turn your love of physical activity and how the body exerts itself into sports medicine, physiotherapy, chiropractic work or you get a job working in a sports venue where you’re surrounded all day long by others similarly motivated. This can be very stimulating and adds a layer to the work you do everyday you wouldn’t get working in the same job but for a different employer. So back to my Accountant, you might be employed by your favourite sports team and the combination of the job and the organization might feed your need for satisfaction.

Many more people fall into jobs. They might take a summer job or a short-term contract job just starting out and without any planning they end up staying around for 25 years! Or they could get started when a friend asks them for a hand working on constructing a house and find they have a knack for building and end up in a classroom taking courses on home construction, codes and by-laws. “How’d I get into this?” is the kind of thing they wonder at some point, but they have no regrets.

Another way some go about finding work is simply to  get going. I mean, these people figure the best way to find out what they’d like to do is just start working at a job, try it out for awhile and pay attention to the things they like and don’t enjoy. Then they move on and try something different; again paying attention to the things they find satisfying and want more of and always taking jobs that have less of the things they want to avoid. Systematically, they end up doing a variety of jobs, having a diversified resume and are better able to adapt into many roles.

The strength for those who take this last route is that being able to adapt well, they are resilient when change occurs. Whether the change comes from an external source – like being laid off or a company relocating elsewhere – or the change comes from within – a personal desire to move on – they can adapt quicker to change than those who have spend 25 years in a single job.

You can see there are many ways to get going when it comes to finding work. There isn’t one accepted way and all of the above are valid. Each way comes with it’s advantages and some disadvantages. Determining which is right for you is important, but remember that what’s right for one person is not necessarily right for another.

So, how did you get started? How did you get into your present job? Your comments are welcome and will be of most benefit to readers who are either on the cusp of entering the world of work or in the early stages of their careers and jobs.

Tell your story of how you got started and how it worked out for you. Was it a great fit? Are you still in that role or how long did it last?

Out Of Work, Not Out Of Options!


Imagine yourself sitting down in an interview for a job you actually want. It’s been a while since you’ve had a job, and you’re a little sensitive about that growing gap on your resume. Things get off to a good start and you’re feeling fairly good; better if truth be told than you thought you might. After all, interviews haven’t been coming as frequently as they used to, so you wondered how you’d perform, but like I say, your confidence is rising.

Just as you finish off an answer and notice the raised eyebrow on the interviewers’ face that seems to communicate, “Impressive!”, it happens. They ask you what you’ve been doing since your last job finished; apparently 2-3 years ago. All good interviewers are skilled at both listening to your answer and observing your body language as you process the question and start off your answer. That short sigh you took just now; was it more than just gathering your thoughts? Was that a quick look of exasperation? Was it your facial reaction screaming, “Oh great! Honestly I’ve been sitting around feeling sorry for myself and done absolutely nothing you’d find impressive, but I can hardly say that now can I?”

This awkward moment can be avoided with some action on your part now. As long as we’re imagining, why not imagine you’ve got an interview in 4 month’s time. Between now and then you have this window of opportunity to get going on adding some things to your dormant employment record.

First up, you could volunteer. I know, I know, you don’t want to give away your talents for nothing. I don’t see volunteering that way though. No, volunteering gives you an opportunity to hone your fading skills, get a reference or two assuming you perform well and possibly try out a new kind of job or role without the stigma of getting fired or quitting a paid job if it doesn’t work out. Giving of your talents also benefits an organization and those who go there. And make no mistake, giving of yourself in a non-profit organization also looks good to a lot of employer’s. It can show a commitment to your community, a cause that’s near and dear to your heart or simply a way to pay back the help you’ve received in the past.

Another thing you can do is focus on your health, if in fact you have some issue that needs your attention. While you shouldn’t walk into an interview and say you took the time to address a recent heart attack, you can allude to making your health a priority through undergoing some changes in lifestyle; and that the commitment has paid off. You’ve been pronounced healthier, fitter, have the necessary stamina and perseverance requested in order to succeed. Depending on the job, you may or may not actually share the now rectified health concern. If you do, stress that it’s no longer a problem; precisely because you took the steps necessary to overcome the challenge.

Many organizations are big on training and development both on a personal and professional level. So during your unemployment, you could take a course. Hey something like First Aid and CPR training or Health and Safety training are beneficial in a number of professions. These are certainly in the realm or transferable training skills. Of course, something specific to your sector, field or industry is even more advantageous. Get your Food Handler’s or SMARTSERVE Certificate if you work in Hospitality. Update your Forklift training to include a Raymond Reach or Working At Heights certification.

Heading back to the classroom to invest in your future might be an option too. Get that Diploma, Degree or take a general interest course in the evening. Sharpening the mind keeps you in the know, using best practices and will pair nicely with your Life experience in an interview. You might come across as mature and up-to-date on new technologies, practices and procedures.

Invest yourself in getting active on social media; enough at least so you have a presence. It takes some time to build up a following and get some dialogue going that will result in a strong profile, but like I say, you’ve got the time and all that’s needed is the effort.

Doing a self-inventory is an extremely helpful phase to undergo. More than just your strengths and weaknesses, be able to articulate your preferred learning style and know the kind of environment you will excel best in. If you don’t know what you want to do next, talk to people and network to learn what they like, what the struggles are, how much a job pays and where you have to go to find it.

Other things you can do is seize this opportunity of time to get your eyes checked, have a physical, book a dental cleaning and check up. Visit the Nutritionist at your local shopping Centre, make an effort to get out more and go for a walk. Little changes can lead to bigger accomplishments.

The important thing about this time is to fill it consciously and deliberately. It’s going to go by and you’ll find yourself seated in a future interview either glad you took the time to make this productive, or wishing you had done so and kicking yourself for having wasted it.

Looking for work is one thing, not the only thing.

 

Not Getting Many Interviews?


Wouldn’t it be nice if you were granted an interview each and every time you applied for a job? Obviously employer’s can’t grant every single applicant an interview; there just isn’t the time for them to interview everyone that sends them a resume. In only deciding to interview a small number of those who actually apply, it’s highly probable they fail to interview some excellent candidates.

On your side of table, that’s of little comfort if you’re among those passed over and not granted an interview. In fact, it’s hard to know whether the employer thought you were good enough to interview but there were just too many to meet with, or you didn’t measure up at all to what they were looking for.

Given the effort you go to in the entire application process, it would seem only fair that the company you apply to would at the very least acknowledge your application. I mean, even an automatic reply just verifying they received your application is exciting to someone just learning how to apply to online jobs. To someone more experienced, it means little; they’re after a human response, and to other applicants, only an interview will do as their measure of success. And then there are those who only consider actually being offered the job as being worth their time and effort.

So for the applicant, I guess it really comes down to the things you can control and leaving what you can’t aside. You can’t for example limit the number of people who are competing with you for the job, nor can you control the preferences and biases of those who might interview. The salary offered, the actual job responsibilities and the location of the job are other things you typically can’t control; nor the format preferred by the company for the interview itself; a panel, one-to-one, second or third interviews etc. Like I said, don’t fret about that over which you have no control.

What you can control however is the quality and quantity of job applications you submit. I can personally recall a time in the past when I got an interview each and every time I applied for a job. I suspect that had more to do with the times and the relatively low number of people applying for jobs as opposed to taking credit for the quality of my applications. I don’t hear many people these days claiming to get interviews every single time they apply for a job. There’s just too many other people applying for and competing for every single job out there.

Don’t get discouraged with that picture. You’re only out of the running for a job if you fail to apply at all. There’s an old saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that applies to job searching and putting your name forth as an applicant. Sadly, I still see people every week standing in front of a photocopier churning out 20 resumes at a time and submitting that one document to multiple jobs. This is quantity for sure, but it’s definitely not quality. The only way this is likely to be successful is if that generic resume just happens to include what the employer is looking for, or they are so desperate for anyone to do the work they’ll interview anyone breathing regardless of how qualified they are.

To be interviewed means you need the following in your resume:

  • skills and qualifications that match the employer’s needs
  • no spelling or grammar errors
  • proof that you’ve got experience that matches their requirements

That doesn’t sound like to much to need does it? Yet, it’s surprising how many resumes fail to have all three of these things. When an employer for example says they want someone with 6 month’s to a year’s experience, someone with 10 years will often say exactly that; figuring that they’ve got so much experience, the employer will be impressed and interview them for sure. Not always is that the case. 6 month’s to a year’s experience is really code for, “we want you to know enough that we don’t have to teach you everything, but we want you to also be green enough we can mould you and train you to do things our way.” Someone with 10 years experience might come across as experienced yes, but possibly they’ll bring bad habits and a narrow mind with them and be resistant to doing things the way this employer wants them done.

As for grammar and spelling, most employer’s figure your resume is a pretty important document in your eyes, so this represents you at your best. If it’s sloppy and full of mistakes, they fear you’ll be even worse when you work for them on things that are important to them but less so to you. This is of critical importance if you are seeking work where you will make correspondence in the course of your work, such as working in an office, but it’s important to every person no matter the job.

Look, the bottom line is this; you want interviews, and if you’re not getting many whatsoever, you’ve got to increase the odds in your favour. The only way to do this is get better at applying. If you know what you’re doing wrong, fix it. If you don’t know however, you must get help from someone who can point out some areas for improvement.

Job Hunting When You Have One


Looking for a job to replace the one you have now makes a lot of sense. When you’re looking at the postings out there, you aren’t as desperate as you might be were you not working at all. You can afford to be selective, choosing to put off applying to jobs that don’t fully interest you; jobs you might actually have applied to in your unemployed past.

This job you’re on the hunt for has to pay you more than what you’re making now, be more stimulating, more meaningful and more of a career than a job; any or all of these possibilities. It might have to be closer to home, closer to the cottage, perhaps nearer the person you’re dating, have benefits or growth opportunities etc. Your next job has to in your view, be better than the one you have now.

And there you have it, the reason for looking for some other job; you’re seeking something better than what you have at the present. Lest you think you’re the only one looking for work when you have a job, let me assure you there are a great number of people who job hunt while working.

If you’re out of work, or you’ve been out of work in the past, perhaps you can identify with the anxiety and desperation you’ve felt in past job interviews. The increased pressure to get a job and stop the financial bleeding of your resources. Maybe you remember telling people you’d do, “anything” too. Hopefully, now that you are actually working, you’ve dropped, “Anything” as a job you were willing and happy to do. When I hear people say that – and just yesterday I heard that from 3 people – it’s a sad message to hear. I’ve yet to find the person who will actually do anything by the way.

One problem of looking for a job when you have one is your level of motivation. Most employed people don’t work at getting a new job with the same vigor they’d apply if they were not working. So many skim a few job websites daily, maybe apply to the odd job every couple of weeks or more. You know, there are other things to do that seem like more of a priority. The out-of-work person is more focused, determined, desperate, hungry – take your pick of words.

The upside of looking for work is coming from a position of strength; as you’re already employed, an employer interested in your services has to present something better than what you have now if they truly want to pry you away. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that just by telling them your present circumstances they are going to open the vault and ask you to name your salary. That might be the case in movies or if you’re the potential CEO of a company, but for most of us, it’s just not the case. Still, there’s a reason applications often ask you to state your current employment status and present salary.

One thing you need to address is whether to tell your current employer you’re looking for another job or not. There are clear advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you might work for an employer that doesn’t want you using company time and resources to look for work, send emails, go to interviews etc. Then again, some employers encourage their workforce to grow as individuals whether that means advancing internally or sincerely wishing them the best as they move on.

At some point you’ll need to inform your employer. Maybe when it’s down to you and one other person for a job and the potential employer wants to speak with your references. That call to your current employer might not go as well as you’d like if it blindsides them completely. Then again, you might be imagining the scene when you just walk in and announce your impending departure.

I’ve found that people who are looking elsewhere for jobs – for the most part – mentally check out to some degree. As they look for a future with another firm, they stop investing themselves 100% in the job they have at present. If you listen to their words, watch them in team meetings or as they go about their day, they just perform differently. That may be only logical, but your present employer isn’t paying you less as you invest less in them, so you’ve got a responsibility to still deliver on your responsibilities.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to share your thoughts, you might even want to confide in a colleague at work; someone you can trust with your plan to leave. If I can give you one piece of advice on this, be respectful of that person. You might be putting them in some emotional conflict and divided loyalty. Is that fair?

Hopefully you work for the kind of boss who promotes personal development; who wants to see you move up and yes, sometimes move on. These Supervisors invest in the people they work with and share your enthusiasm for something new. They are the kind of people who appreciate a heads up that you’re looking, and give you the time to go to interviews etc. By setting the right climate where you can share without fear, they can better plan ahead for your possible departure.

Good fortune with your search. How’s it going?

 

15 Resume Mistakes


Have you ever worked on something important, felt it was perfect, submitted it with confidence and only then discovered you made some fatal error? Too late, you frantically search for some recall feature but alas, there’s none to be had!

Your resume could be just such a document. The only thing worse I suppose is being totally oblivious to your mistake(s) and continuing the practice of sending out flawed resumes. Yikes! Could this be why you’re getting very little or no positive results?

Having no way to provide feedback on your personal resume without seeing it, I’ve listed here some common mistakes I see on resumes. Check your own resume and see how you compare.

  1. You mistyped your email. Just last week I came across a resume with the word, ‘professional’ as part of the email but it was on the resume as, ‘professinal’. No one had caught it as they reviewed her resume, as the mind sees what it thinks rather than what the eyes see.
  2. Bullets don’t line up. Get out a ruler if it’s a hard copy or click and hold down the left mouse button on the ruler in MS Word to draw a straight line on your resume where your bullets are. Do they line up or are they off?
  3. Inconsistent use of periods. Look at the end of each line on your resume which starts with a bullet. Do you have periods at the end of some lines and not on others? Get in the habit of not using periods; period.
  4. Irregular capitalization. Nouns should be capitalized and so make sure any job title has a capital letter at the start of each word if there is more than one as in, ‘Customer Service Representative’.
  5. Dates don’t line up. Look at the dates on your resume. Are the dates all over the place or are they uniformly lined up on the extreme right where they should be? Lining these up makes it easier on the eyes; your resume is less cluttered.
  6. It’s all about you. If your resume starts off talking about what you want, stop! Employers want to know how you’ll benefit them, not the other way around. How is hiring you profitable?
  7. You added the dreaded, ‘s’. When you add a simple, ‘s’ to the end of a word, it can change the language from 1st to 3rd person. Suppose you communicate effectively as a skill. See how there is no, ‘s’ at the end of the word, ‘communicate’? That’s you talking about you. Add an, ‘s’ and it reads, “communicates well” and this is 3rd person; someone else talking about you. This suggests you didn’t write your own resume; someone else is talking about you. The entire resume now comes across as less than authentic.
  8. ‘Responsible for…”. Don’t start a line with, ‘Responsible for…”. Being responsible for something doesn’t indicate whether you are or were actually good at whatever you are referencing. It only indicates you are/were responsible for it. Maybe you actually performed terribly, but hey, you WERE responsible!
  9. Photo included. Get your photo off your resume and do it now! A growing number of people in Human Resources automatically dismiss resumes with photos included because they don’t want to expose themselves to claims of bias or personal attraction based on appearance.
  10. “References available upon request.” It’s a given that you’ll provide references when asked to do so. Including this on your resume is outdated.
  11. Repeating yourself. Look at the first words that begin your bullets. If you see the same word repeated, (sometimes even on consecutive lines) alter the words. It’s boring to read when you start multiple lines with the same words.
  12. Your qualifications don’t match. Job postings for the most part list desired qualifications. So pull one out that you applied to. Look at your resume and see if what they asked for was what you gave them. If yours don’t mirror the ad, no wonder you didn’t get an interview.
  13. Spelling errors. I get it. If spelling is an issue for you, it’s hard if not impossible to know when you make a mistake. Using a spelling and grammar check is good but a second pair of eyes is also recommended; as long as those eyes belong to someone with excellent spelling and attention to detail themselves.
  14. You included personal data. Get your age, sex, marital status, religion and nationality off your resume. By the way, is your age easily guessed in your email of all things? Yikes!
  15. You named your resume what? When you send your resume, people at the other end see what you called it as they move to open it. You didn’t call it, ‘My 2nd best resume’ did you? Someone I worked with did. Let’s go with a combination of job title and company name.

Okay 15 general tips for you to read over and more importantly use to improve your own resume. Maybe cleaning up your resume can be your goal for today. Resolving a job search barrier every day is a great way to feel you’re making positive moves to increase your odds of getting interviews and getting hired.

The biggest mistake of all continues to be mass producing a resume and handing it to many employers rather than targeting it to jobs you apply to. No matter how many times I say it, for some this comes as shocking.

Why Do You Do What You Do?


Why? A simple question using only 3 letters and a question mark. In this case, the, ‘why?’ refers to whatever it is you do in your work or professional life. Of all the jobs and careers which exist in our world, why do you do what you do?

Some people don’t think about this a great deal. They work at the job they do because it’s a family business, it’s what they went to school for, or it pays the bills. In some cases, there are those that don’t want to think about why they do what they do because they aren’t proud of their job, they feel trapped in a job they hate, or telling others what they do just opens up discussions they’d rather not have.

You know what I find extremely interesting? Almost all the people I interact with who have no job at all think a great deal about why they’d want or not want a certain job over others. Whatever job they focus on has to be fulfilling, bring a sense of security, tap into their creativity, offer opportunities for advancement or bring about positive changes in the lives of others. So why are so many who are out of work focused on the why of what they’d like to do moving forward, and yet many with jobs don’t think a lot about the why of what they do once they’ve been in a job for a period?

I don’t know where you are on the age timeline, but it doesn’t matter as much as you think it might when it comes to figuring out what you want to do in one key respect. When you are considering various career or job options, if you don’t fully know what a job entails, what the pros and cons experienced by the people who hold them at the moment are, or why the people working in those jobs love the work they do, there’s one simple thing you can and should do; ask them. Simple really.

“So, Ahmed, why IT?”

“You obviously enjoy your job Dave, why is that?”

“Nancy, why did you first think this career would be right for you?”

You see it’s not that hard to pose the question and you can come at it from a view different angles. Bottom line, you’re still asking, “why?” You can go on of course to ask the other questions; How did you get started?/”How should I get started?” “Who helped you in the beginning?” “What are the qualities generally found in the people who succeed in this position?” “Where are the opportunities for tackling current issues?” “When would you suggest I apply?”

Now I suppose you might feel that you’re being invasive; you know, asking something of someone you don’t know at all or very well, why they do what they do. Is that the truth or is that actually a tactic of your own for avoiding asking because of your own comfort level? I tell you this, a lot of people would love to pause and remind themselves why they do what they do. Further, if they feel positively about the work they do and the impact they have, they would truly love to share that with someone (insert your name here!) who is genuinely interested.

As you’d be well aware, a great number of people change jobs and switch careers entirely over their lifetime. Want proof? Connect with a large number of people on LinkedIn and you’ll get daily notifications inviting you to congratulate your connections who have started new positions. I get 2 or 3 a day – no exaggeration. People move and the question I wonder every time starts with why. “Why the move?” Why now?”

Of course sometimes the why turns out to be getting away from something that’s turned sour, but the majority of the time it’s for something the person perceives as a better fit. Again the question is why though? Better pay, a change of scenery, a fresh start, the infusion of energy brought about by a greater mental challenge? Why?

There are so many, ‘why’s?’ in this piece, I’m reminded of young children who keep asking why this and why that, almost exasperating the adults around them with the never-ending  series of why’s that follow every answer. We can learn from them though because this is how young children make sense of things they are curious about and want to understand. Likewise, you and I might be just as curious to know why someone chose a career, why they’ve stayed for however long they have, why they might be thinking of a move, or why they made the change. It’s how we can gather necessary information needed to make better informed decisions about our own career paths.

You objection is likely that you don’t want to be viewed as the young child pestering people with questions to the point of exasperation. So don’t pester. You should still ask politely and learn what you can about career choices, why people do what they do and why they find fulfillment in the jobs they hold.

The next piece in these lines of inquiry is to take that information learned and look at yourself. Why would this job, this company, etc., be right or perhaps not for you?

If you haven’t thought about why you do what you do for a while, why is that?