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    Tuesday
    Jan092018

    When your resume lands no interviews

    The flipping of a calendar to a new year inspires us to make changes. Aside from annual renewed vigour to lose 10 or 20 pounds, stop smoking, leave the junk food at the grocery store, and call mom more often, few think to revisit their resume.
    My last blog gave you ideas on what kinds of updates you might add to your resume, and how to phrase these. In this blog, I offer a few more ideas for those with resumes that constantly fail. Fail to ignite interest, fail to generate any calls to an interview. 
    Know Thyself
    Perhaps your resume has been cobbled together with bits and pieces from here, there, and everywhere in an attempt to fix what's wrong, cover all the bases, saturate it with key words? It could be such a hodge-podge of writing styles and formatting issues that when it's shared, it fails. The reader could be confused by the jumble, its lack of flow, absent context, and non-existent overall brand and message. And the formatting could recreate a resume into a haphazard mess.
    If the resume's message is unclear, it is unlikely to gain traction. My suggestion is to start fresh, and with a focus on being authentic to who you are and how you work, begin anew to build a strong presence.
    Ship It Out
    Job hunting is a numbers game as well as a strategic one. Yes, your resume must sell you, but you must share that resume a lot. Some job postings are bogus. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy theory to perplex and confound the beleagured job seeker, but I am suggesting that not each job posting is current or valid. Sometimes, for example, an incumbent has already been selected, and the job posting exercise is simply playing out an internal policy.
    For this reason, don't ever put all your effort and hope into one job application. Keep applying.
    Verfity and Validate
    Jim Rohn says it like this: “Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
    Theres' another saying about stupidity as repeating the same action while each time "hoping" for a different result. 
    If your resume is not working, do seek help. It truly doesn't have to be a never-ending cycle of click "send" and wait for a response that never materializes. 
    Sunday
    Dec312017

    Your assignment should you choose to accept it ...

    Forgive me folks, for an old-fashioned post with no photos. My website is not loading photos today, it seems. If anyone has an idea of what might be the issue, do let me know at newleafresumes@gmail.com, with thanks!

     

    Life presents us with many choices. Some are huge decisions - to marry or not, to have kids or not, to move to warmer climes or not, for example. Many, however, are small choices that require not a lifetime of change or sacrifice, but a few hours of time.

    Such is today's suggested assignment. 

    Amidst your other new year resolutions, how about updating your resume? Oh I can hear the groans! Don't worry - I'll help you out with a few questions to ask yourself to source good material to add. Why should you bother? Because a great resume can land interviews, and interviews with good companies, your dream company even. An influential resume can land a better initial offer at the top of the range rather than in the middle. And a competition-busting resume can contribute to your ability to negotiate a better salary, quicker review and bonus, or more attractive benefits, like an extra week's holiday. 

    Consider the following:

    1. Did your job grow since you took it on? If so, what accountability has been added, did it require you learning new skills or knowledge base, or did it include supervisory duties perhaps? With the information, create a bullet along the lines of the following:

     

    • Assigned responsibility for (xx) in recognition of my transferable skills, which included (and list).
    • Selected to serve as Interim CAO, a 3-month term that was twice extended to 9-month term; cited by Board of Directors for capably handing the day-to-day as well as a potential public relations issue.

     

    2. If you took on new duties, did these require you learning new skills or adding a new-to-you knowledge base, or did it include supervisory duties perhaps? Again, use the info to compose a bullet:

     

    • Acquired knowledge of pertinent by-laws - with urgency - and became productive within first week of assuming partial by-law customer service duties.
    • Gained confidence in supervisory duties by concurrently undertaking leadership and people management studies, in formal and self-study formats; skill was recognized in annual performance review as "outstanding."

     

    3. Every set of proactive personal career management  strategies should include an effort to join a committee or team. If you didn't do so in 2017, do make it a priority for 2018. For those who did volunteer or who were asked to join, here's an idea of what to add to the resume:

     

    • Volunteered for the IT/Business Collaboration Team to fulfil corporate mandate to identify time-saving tech-based solutions to common, recurring business issues; in first six months, team delivered four ideas to executive management, and gained approval to immediately develop two.
    • Hand-picked by Director of Corporate Communications to co-chair corporate public relations committee as recognized communications expert in diffusing potentially reputation-damaging PR issues.

     And there are just a few ideas that will get you started. 

    If your resume has nothing like this kind of bullet in its content, consider this: a resume is no longer a historic document of the "what" of your work; that is a job description. Today's resume must be customized to your experience, laudatory of your contributions, and relevant to your next employer. 

    Only two rules, in my opinion, must be stuck to: every detail must be truthful to your experience and authentic to your personality, working style, values, etc. 

    Sunday
    Oct222017

    Strategy and the Quandary of Sears ex-employees

    The other day I read that within this decade, experts expect that many American malls will be empty (and I think we can assume that the Canadian experience will be similar enough to take note).

    And who hasn't heard of the demise of Sears, with some 12,000 people across Canada soon losing their jobs?

    The truth seems obvious: brick and mortar retail isn't holding up against the likes of Amazon and other internet-based shopping experiences.

    If you know someone who is one of the 12,000 soon to be Sears ex-employees, do share this blog post with them. If there's a time a job hunter needed support, this is it: competing against a high influx of similarly experienced people is daunting.

    RESUME STRATEGY

    The resume of old was a historical document, listing each job held, responsibilities of each position, with no info eliminated; however, today's resume is a stategic document, still listing the positions one has held, but with a spin.

    What is the value of telling the reader that you used a point of sale (POS) cash register if the employer doesn't use one of these? Strategy means that info must be reinterpreted to demonstrate transferability or direct applicability. Here's what I mean:

    • Used advanced technology to process transactions - 12 different options - up to 100 times per day; over tenure, successfully learned 3 different versions and served as team's expert in each.

    This bullet, still talking about using a POS system, uses strategy to demonstrate adaptability, tech-savvy skills, and serving as a team's top user of technology. It showcases lots of transferable skills.

    However, if you're not applying to a position where using complex technology is useful, then you wouldn't use this bullet.

    Perhaps you're applying to an Account Manager sales position. Here's another way to use your retail experience to demonstrate your suitability:

    • Upgraded sales skills annually, attending weekend workshops delivered by noted sales leader "Top Sales Inc.," and reliably led in department of 20 sales associates with highest dollar sales, 3 out of 4 quarters over the last 5 years.

    Defining your performance with strategic content and context is what will get your foot in the door with an invitation to an interview. Strategy will distinguish you from your competition, whether you are in sales, customer service, procurement, training, people management, operations management, finance, or maintenance.

    As a resume writer I put myself in the employer's/recruiter's shoes to discern what the position truly needs from a potential hire. And as I write, I make it as easy as possible for the reader to determine that my client is an ideal applicant. This is what each job hunter must do to "cut through the noise" of many job applicants.

    It's not colour in your resume or delivering your resume to Human Resources with a box of chocolates that will distinguish you; it's demonstrating that there is real value in hiring you.

    P.S. Along with strategy, there is a second piece to a strong submission in today's recruitment process: knowing how to navigate applicant tracking systems. For lots of details info, search "applicant tracking system" in the search window on the right hand side of my website page.

    Friday
    Oct062017

    A question of using a P.S.

    Today a client asked an interesting question, one that I had not really considered before. The client's question was:

    I was hoping I could ask you a quick question regarding email etiquette.

    Is it OK to us a “P.S.” on an email?

    For instance:

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Sincerely, Ashley

     P.S.  I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

     Or is it best to just include that in the body of the email and not use Post Script??

     Thank you Stephanie!!!

    To which I replied:

    Well, that's an interesting question and one I've not been asked before.
    Here are my thoughts on this:
    - marketing studies show that letters with P.S. get more responses than those without
    - my personal preference in using the P.S. in clients' letters is to a) add a teaser that begs further questions OR b) address a mundane aspect of the job posting, for example, I possess a valid driver's license with no demerit points in the last 10 years. (using precisely the phrasing found in the job posting)
    As for using it in email, as generally email is even less formal than a letter, I see no issue with it. Having said that, you're bound to run across a person, now and then, who detests the "P.S." and likely for personal reasons (someone s/he didn't like used these with wild abandon, for example!). But I've not read anything that should give you concern.
    Now back to the P.S. as a marketing idea: remember that your job search is a self-marketing exercise. Use the P.S. to your advantage by selecting a workplace accomplishment that would be intriguing to the reader. For example, aligned with your role and career goal, of course, a story about saving a failing account, restoring a failing or finding a lucrative new product line, achieving consensus where no one else had managed to do so, repeatedly supporting failing students to success ... these kinds of teasers are useful post scripts that will leverage the marketing tool to your benefit.
    Here's an example of one I used for a recent client:
    By the way, I would love to tell you the interesting details of how I conceived and led an initiative to save our company's most critical account, saving $Millions in potentially lost annual revenues. 
    Although this idea is not for everyone, and I don't actually use it for many clients, it can be a powerful tactic to generate interest and to differentiate you from your competition.
    All the best, Stephanie
    P.S. Last year I helped a European living and working in a war-torn country abroad overcome many odds to land his first Canadian job without having to move here first. Imagine what I could do for your job search! Just sayin' ... :-)
    Monday
    Sep042017

    Award of Excellence - a proud moment!

    Last week I found out that I had been awarded my 12th Award of Excellence, Outstanding Resume - Executive. I am grateful to Career Professionals of Canada for the opportunity to assess the quality of my work, year over year.

    This year there were nine submissions in the Executive Resume category.

    Here's what I posted on my LinkedIn profile:

     

    I am thrilled to share that my resume submission to Career Professionals of Canada's annual "Awards of Excellence" program has been selected as the winner in the Outstanding Resume - Executive  category.

    Submitting an actual client's document (a Fortune 500 President), the resume was recognized for cutting edge design and format, impeccable grammar, and exceptional content development skills.

    I'm honoured (honored for my American clients) to have my work recognized. Without a doubt, I champion the power of the well written word and simply love what I do. So grateful that I literally stumbled into a role that makes the best use of my own talents and skills, I am also tremendously grateful that I now get to help others achieve their own career goals.

    What a rush to enjoy repeated career successes through clients' milestones as they land interviews and job offers!