Chaos vs Order

Career Choices

In today’s blog from master marketer Seth Godin, as always, a worthwhile reminder:

It’s easy to imagine that things are going to calm down, that there’s a neutral position coming up, and that it’s all going to go back to normal.

But the swirl is normal. It’s always been this way. Changing.

There is no ‘ever after’. There’s just the chaos of now.

I learn the truth of this more and more as my life evolves. There is no real status quo, no real equilibrium. Life is constantly in flux, sands shift, circumstances change.

I recall my mother recently reacting to the news that my youngest was taking herself on a grand adventure and moved out to BC! Mom said she liked it better in the old days when people didn’t move. I gently reminded her of a few key facts. “Mom,” I said, “you forget that your own mother and father both moved from Ukraine to France and that you all moved to Canada when you were 16!”

She laughed.

The lesson here is that when it comes to your career, just because you love your job and do it well, it’s safer to assume that it will not last forever. It’s best not to rest on laurels as these count for little when management gets an idea to shake things up, downsize, reorganize, modernize, upheavalize!

Family owned businesses are taken over by the young (and often styles clash or the new operators should never have been entrusted with something they are not equipped to lead), big corporations hire new leaders (who may not like you), and even not-for-profits are no promise of job security (I’ve learned that do-good places are not reliably “feel good” places - toxic cultures exist in each sector!).

To manage your career with proactive measures that will prepare you for change, as it inevitably comes, is a must.

Did you know that a strategic, targeted, expertly crafted resume can overcome many potential obstacles to hire? Yes, even being let go due to a reorg. Yes, even when you feel you’re not desirable because you have a few wrinkles and a sprinkle of grey. Yes, even if you are competing against those with more education, or when your education is severely lacking or completely irrelevant.

No lying. No embellishment. No smoke and mirror magic. Rather, a proven formula to job search success.

Strategy + excellent writing skills = foundation of a strong job search.

Thank you for reading! If I can be of help, let’s chat. I serve clients from across Canada, from south of our border , Canadians working abroad, and new Canadians who are ready to land their first, great Canadian job. 778-269-5627

Stephanie Clark

Accomplished resume writer with a passion for the written word. Customer-focused service provider who evaluates her own success by each client’s job search success!

High5Test - Make Sure You are Not a Fish Climbing a Tree

— Albert Einstein

Last month I was contacted by a new service, HIGH5TEST. It’s similar to StrengthsFinder, which like DISC or Myers Briggs are professional assessment tools. HIGH5TEST’s commitment is as follows: changing the world by helping people understand and appreciate themselves and each other.

YES! I am all for that and it’s partly what I do when I compose a client’s resume. And to do a magnificent job of representing a person I don’t know, on paper, I need each person to define him or herself. I need to know why she is good at what she does, what drives him to deliver, what kind of methodology inspires her work, and which skills or talents propel his results.

This is why I have long asked clients who find if difficult to define themselves to consider taking Gallup’s StrengthsFinder test. And now I have a new one to add as a choice, the HIGH5TEST.

I took this test and LOVED my results - they are me to a “T.” My top five (they provide 20 strengths in sequence) explain why I am pretty good at what I do! Here they are:

Philomath - in love with learning. You have to be, to read through clients’ homework questionnaires, job postings, performance evaluations, life stories and professional details. Some clients have remarkably rich "brag” files and have sent me well over 30 pages of information. I read constantly and learn an awful lot!

Coach - enjoy discovering the potential in other people. Precisely. Many cannot see their own value, their own greatness, but I sure can. And I know the questions to ask to source professional value. Even those who were let go due to restructuring or other reasons feel confident about finding a new opportunity after we wrap up our project.

Deliverer - follow through on their commitments. I could not be self employed if this were not so.

Empathizer - great at noticing how others feel and using this understanding to do something good. I know that my resumes and letters do good: they land great interviews for amazing jobs!

Optimist - enjoy giving praise on what’s right about people. That’s my work, to dig out the nuggets of golden value that each client brings to the recruitment table. They are there, just often buried under regrets, over-focus on short-comings, and a very real and unfortunate neglect of strengths!

If you struggle with noting what makes you so good at what you do (here’s a hint: if you say “I’m just doing my job,” that’s a good sign this is for you), take the HIGH5TEST. So often a small investment can make a considerable difference, a positive impact. This is one of those cases! Find out what makes you GREAT!

What a ladder, hammer, and resume writer have in common

Once again, a pearl of wisdom from uber-marketer, Seth Godin.

In today’s blog, Go Find a Ladder, link above, he posits that it is more useful to use a ladder than no tool at all to scale a height and more useful to use a hammer than a rock when nailing. Even if you have to invest in the tool.

If I apply this maxim to my own work, it’s more expedient to hire a writer of resumes than try to cobble one together on your own - especially, I will add, if you have no training in the art and science of resume content development. And even more critically, if you have an obstacle that you feel is holding you back or has the potential to impede your job search. Obstacles like a gap in employment, a lack of “expected” educational credentials, a mix and match list of employments, “too many” years with one employer, a recent employment that feels like a step back rather than forward, or completely unrelated history of employment (as in military transitions).

You’ll note that I placed a few phrases in quotation marks. This is because these are not issues that I myself see as insurmountable, but many do feel their stigma. My experience has been that there are fewer insurmountable issues than most believe. But as the saying goes, “as I think, so I am” (or something along those lines). If you think something is hurting your career, your belief has a good chance of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You may be feeling that I know something you don’t.

It’s true; I do know something you most likely don’t.

I know resume strategy. How to overcome “stinkin’ thinkin’” that thwarts success. Specifically, I know how to position or frame experience so that what appears to be a drawback becomes a big plus. I am skilled at composing an achievement statement that flattens the argument of “lack of education.” Strategy, dear readers, is key.

I also have a talent for the written word. Although I cannot manage a large project nor work in any field of medicine (I cry far too easily), I was born with a sincere love of reading and writing. Thankfully, I found a way to use my gift for writing and now use it to better others’ careers. I live vicariously through my clients’ successes! It’s marvelous to learn that a client landed his or her “dream job", finally, after so many years of trying without success. I’m energized to hear that a client landed her or his first management or executive role, even though the person felt a bit junior yet. And, I must add, I always stick to 100% truthful statements and no embellishment of any kind.

There is power in the written word. Used well, your career soars; used poorly, your career stalls.

So how’s your resume working for you?

Signal to Noise Ratio - How "Noisy" is Your Resume?


I’m reading #TerryO’Reilly’s recent book on marketing. Titled #ThisIKnow, its subtitle “Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence” refers to his long-running #CBCRadio show on marketing. (Think of the irony: the radio show with no ads runs a show about ads! Love it!)

O’Reilly and #SethGodin, another master marketer, are favourite writers. I’ve often written on a Seth Godin blog post in the past, and this morning I opened another that I need to share. It’s titled Signal to Noise Ratio. It’s about substance vs. perhaps, nonsense. Or juicy info vs. boring? A strong signal, good info, overcomes or cuts through noise.

His blog brought to mind something I had learned in a 2-part webinar I took earlier this year. The webinar dealt with #applicanttrackingsystems, or ATS, the software that many - and increasing numbers of - employers use to evaluate resumes. They use ATS to whittle down the applicants to be considered to a manageable number.

As ATS evolve - they’ve been around since around 1998 (!) - they improve. Once able to “read” only plain text documents in Courier font (that’s the one in which letters are widely spaced), most now read PDF or Word documents in a variety of fonts.

The newest improvement is AI or #artificialintelligence. Programming artificial intelligence into #ATS will be a welcome improvement. AI will once again allow the resume’s writer to use some creativity, use synonyms, and not worry so much about the lack of interpretation or “reading between the lines” that has characterized ATS to date.

And AI, I learned, identifies a noise ratio! I do not know details, but the most up-to-date ATS (there is more than one product in the market) somehow recognize “fluff.” For this reason, your #resume must have a strong “signal” to noise ratio.

What is “noise” in a resume? I’m not 100% certain until those who conduct ATS research are ready to host another resume-writers’ ATS-update webinar. Maybe I’ll have concrete info in 2019.

However, here’s what I do know, judging by my clients’ #jobsearch successes.

  • Your resume cannot, should not, must not “read” like a job posting. That’s not a resume’s function. That’s a job posting.

  • Your resume must be personalized to your actual experience. Personalizing your resume means you include facts that describe your work environment, provide context that sets the premise for the story, and otherwise paint a quick but useful picture of each position you have held.

Your resume simply has to dig deeper to define your value. There’s little value in creating a list of the tasks you did in each job! Judging by the many resumes I have reviewed in my business, that tactic will only put you on par with the vast majority of applicants. That will not inspire a recruiter to call you. Nor will it get you past those ATS that are enabled with AI.

So how do you feel your resume scores in the noise to signal ration? Are you sending a resounding signal that will inspire a recruiter to select you as a potential interviewee? Or is the noise overwhelmingly keeping you from that coveted list?

The Value of Narrowing Down Choices

Credit to Sue Stone, textile artist, Womanwithafish blog post.

Credit to Sue Stone, textile artist, Womanwithafish blog post.

Along with the craft of writing, I love to craft with a needle. In exploring various needle arts, I ran into a series of videos on a curious topic: the value of narrowing down one’s options. The videos were produced by the two sons of a textile artist from the U.K., Sue Stone. That is her work in the photo above.

Theirs was a compelling lesson in the trouble with overly broad choices. I shared that series with a friend who is a gifted fine artist and who finds it extremely difficult to focus on one medium. She sculpts, paints, faux finishes surfaces, and even crochets, taking that humble folk art form to a whole new level! But she cannot stick with one art form and thus brand herself and make her way as an artist.

There is a lesson here for today’s job seeker. Attempting to prove that you’re good at too many things is not effective today. The reason is simple: software is programmed to look for words - key words - related to one type of job only. Thus, if you can be a scientist, a researcher, or a supervisor, you’ll need three resumes. Each of these roles has a different set of key words/phrases typically associated with that role.

For those clients who could go in one of two or three ways, I suggest that to narrow down the focus - and save tons of time in job searching too - a prudent move is to select one. The choice can be based on fiscal need (lots of opportunities = faster time to a paycheck), great for an unemployed person. Or, it can be based on the desire to finally go for that “dream job.”

With my skill behind the resume’s content, my client can land more interviews for that quick turnaround job offer or finally land an interview for that career change or step up “dream job.” A well written, strategic, custom, and targeted resume simply gets results. It cuts through the applicant tracking software system “gatekeeper” role and cuts through the noise of the many applicants today’s job seeker is usually up against.

Since 2007, I recall only a few clients who elected to have me compose more than one resume, with two distinct targets. One client, as I well recall, had a resume selling her into a nurse educator’s role as well as a medical equipment sales professional/account executive role. She was equally qualified. But it was her choice to immediately go with both. Others, who have taken a chance on landing interviews with one resume only have not returned for a second version. They invested in one quality resume. In so doing, they invested in themselves, in their career, their earnings, their potential, their contentment.

Yes, narrowing down options is a good thing.

If you need help, New Leaf is here to be of service.

Applicant tracking software know-how vs "resume black hole"

Me at Facebook event.jpg

Yesterday I presented to a group of about 30, the Communitech Job Seekers P2P Group. Held in Kitchener in the fabulous, revitalized Lang Tannery property at Victoria and Joseph Streets, the Communitech hub injected extra energy into my topic, I’m sure!

My presentation educated job seekers from diverse career backgrounds and stages on how to appease the requirements of applicant tracking software (ATS), now widely used by companies to streamline their recruitment process. Although a disruptive tool that has significantly influenced how a resume must be formatted, too few job applicants are aware of how to navigate this parsing software’s requirements.

Too few know about it because no company actually outlines what the resume’s creator must know about how this software is programmed to “read” or evaluate and score resumes. Even Human Resource departments are blissfully unaware of what the job applicants are up against.

HR knows what ATS can do for them, after all, that’s precisely what the ATS marketers will tell HR - how the ATS will make their work easier, how it will save them money, how it will slash the time to review resumes by hours or even days.

But that says nothing to the issue of “here’s what your job applicants need to know.”

I shared a long list of dos and don’ts related to document formatting and content, and the actual online submission process. The info I shared came from a career professional who interviewed not marketing, but the software engineers who program ATS! Was that not inspired?

Here’s one little tip that can knock your resume right out of the running. Do not place your name and contact information into a header as the info in that header is not scored nor reliably “read” by today’s ATS.

I say “reliably” for a good reason. With several major brands of ATS and many custom versions on the market, no one can say with 100% certainty what the capabilities are of the ATS in use by the company to which you are applying. My presentation shared a “best practice” approach, addressing common denominators.

Yes, that’s as good as today’s job seeker can expect.

But know this: the best practice approach beats out ignoring ATS requirements, which ensures that the resume falls into a deep, dark hole of despair!

Here’s what one attendee had to say about the presentation:

Hi Stephanie, it was a pleasure to meeting you during the workshop "Avoid the Resume Black Hole". A lot of take aways, excellent tips, awesome in general.

I love to speak on career management topics! If your group is interested, let’s chat about the possibilities!

Is Your Resume Fulfilling?

Happy by unsplash.jpg

Photo courtesy of

I regularly provide resume reviews to job seekers who are considering working with a professional resume writer. 

As so often happens, I often get some sort of synchronicity happening. This week the resumes I reviewed were like war-time rations - skimpy and not at all filling.

Here's one of the reviews I wrote in which I addressed the need for a fuller read. I also addressed an oft-made grammar gaffe.

Resume Review

Your resume uses a nice template, but unfortunately templates are not usually compatible with applicant tracking software (ATS), which are used extensively these days by employers and job boards like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.

That alone could knock you out of a job application process.

However, even if your resume passed an ATS scoring system, the content is really skimpy! I'm sure that you have wonderful accomplishments to share. But they are not well defined on your resume. Today's resume is not a historical record of "here's what I did," rather it's a self marketing document that must proclaim "here's the value I offer my next lucky employer"!

And that's where my skill works on your behalf.

As General Store Manager - or District Manager if that's your current title - you have problems to solve. What kinds of issues, which skills do you use in resolving these, and to what end? 

Your resume holds one great accomplishment, but it's not prominent, nor is it featured. Bullets are easier to skim than paragraphs, hence their use. 

Your big story could be coined for a quick read:

  • Led low-performing store to its most profitable year in 20 years - taking it to the top 3 corporate stores - by focusing on customer experience, team training, and growth strategies.

(FYI - "its" in this case does not require an apostrophe, which is needed only if the expanded form is "it is.")

Following this statement, I would expand on those metrics you hint at - "all major metrics." What were these? They are likely key word phrases, an essential component of ATS scoring.

I'd expand your resume to a 2-pager for sure, adding valuable context and content. I'd frame the info to sell you into your desired role and sector, as much as possible - all within a truthful and fact-based methodology. I never embellish - it's not necessary when you know how to compose with a strategic focus.

If you need help filling your resume out with valuable, influential information, you'd be well served hiring a qualified pro!

How to answer the interview question of "why you"?

Lucky dog never has to attend a job interview! Why him? Because the cuteness factor abounds!

Lucky dog never has to attend a job interview! Why him? Because the cuteness factor abounds!

You're in the interview for your dream job and it has gone so well. You've answered each question with confidence and good detail. The interview team is engaged and nodding their heads while they jot down their notes. 

And then you are asked "Why should we select you if we have another client who is equally skilled?" 

You keep your smile plastered while your mind races. "What do they want now, I've told them how I get results and how I exceed expectations. I gave them numbers, facts, used key words in my answers ... I did it ALL!!! WHAAAATTT do they need now?"

Deep breath.

Here are a few ideas on how to keep selling yourself into the role.

1. If you perceived through how questions were posed that they are looking for one overall attribute - work ethic or cooperation, for example - emphasize how you fit that requirement by referring to relevant performance review details or other "proof."

2. Refer to your methodology. Few think to integrate this aspect of what makes them efficient and effective. Outlining how you approach the hardest aspect of your work can clinch your number one status.

3. Pull in innate talents or strengths. If you're unsure what these may be, take Gallup's StrengthsFinder test. (Go to Sorry, I couldn't get the embedded link to work.)

Knowing that creativity is a top strength - or strategic, intellection, connectivity, whatever it is - will give you the language to pull into an explanation of why you are asked to join brainstorming sessions, strategic planning meetings, or asked for your input on proposed solutions. 

Distinguishing yourself from the competition isn't necessarily easy, but it's definitely doable. It takes a knowledge of the employer's "buying motivators" as well as self knowledge. 

If you need help with your interview technique, give me a call. My award-winning interview method gives you the tools with which to answer any interview question. 

Stephanie Clark

Accomplished resume writer with a passion for the written word. Customer-focused service provider who evaluates her own success by each client’s job search success!

Cheeky Resume Content

Photo by Fischer Twins on Unsplash

I often provide a prospective client with a complimentary resume review - a free critique. Sometimes I see things on a resume that I guess the writer didn't see.  And as things so often happen in twos and threes, recently I had two such resume "oopsies"!

There is a popular resume template available on MS Word. It offers the job seeker a spot to prominently display his or her initials in a large circle on the left side of the page. On the right side go the name and contact details. Well, this particular client's initials did not lend themselves to an initial-only short-form. Let's just say that the two letters spell the rather less refined version of "baloney." 

Yes, big, bold, front and centre - well, left justified, but you get my drift. (It reminds me of someone I know who didn't consider that their daughter's initials spelled a most unfortunate disease abbreviation.)

Now, if this person was in marketing, maybe it would have tickled a funny bone or two and been a "plus." But aiming at a C-suite position, I have no doubts that even if the reader prided him or herself on being an enlightened sort, I am of the opinion that most humans have little control over subliminal impressions.  

If this client chooses to work with me, I will not be referring to the client as "BS." 

Now, the second takes us from business into the realm of medicine. 

I am working with a young doctor on the other side of the border. This physician is employed with a gastroenterology unit. Gastroenterology, in case you're drawing a blank, has to do with esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver.  All those lovely innards that keep us going.

This particular physician chose to shorten the workplace title to read as follows:

Medical Staff, Gastrointestinal Ass., Name of Hospital, Name of City and State.

Hopefully you see the "cheeky humour" in this statement. Once I pointed out the link between the area of focus and the short form, this newly minted doctor had a good laugh. S/he will be changing this immediately. 

Funny stories, but the point is, proofreading is important. And it's not always spelling or a misused comma that is at fault. Sometimes, it's in the "oops" oversight category. 

Love my job, love writing resume, and if you don't, do let me help you out! 


Automation Job Losses vs New Growth Opportunites

Taking a Break from Writing Resumes with Some Tree Love

Taking a Break from Writing Resumes with Some Tree Love

Human Resources Director Canada today announced that Manulife is cutting 700 jobs as part of its digital business transformation. Most of the losses will be absorbed through attrition, but not all.

The automation of services, such as access to your own information, has long been moving away from the need to phone in. On-line self-help services are not at all new. But with the sophistication of Artificial Intelligence or AI, more and more types of information can be at one's fingertips.

Even in my own small corner of the business world, AI is making an impact. The newest versions of Applicant Tracking Software, the systems that many companies rely on to help automate parts of the recruitment process, are AI-enhanced. Progressing from the archaic "ASCII" resume version, an unattractive, plain-text, Courier font document, today's ATS-friendly resumes look positively radiant in comparison! Shaded lines and colour are fine, as are some enhanced features.

On the other side of the job search spectrum, I see that marijuana is having quite an impact. In my boutique resume service I have had two clients in one week - and more in the last year - seeking to apply to a few medical marijuana facilities. (On another note, I have a neighbour who has made an obscene amount of money from purchasing medical marijuana stocks, but that's a topic for an investment blog!)

From "field hands" to senior execs, there's a living to be earned in this employment newcomer.

That's me. I love tree hugging and getting "grounded." We all need a break!

Whatever your situation, New Leaf Resumes would love to help. Give me a call at 778 269 5627 and let's talk. 

Career conundrums: opportunity or angst-provoking missteps?

Go up and never stop.jpg

Things so often happen in synchronicity. Coincidences that feel like there are vibes in the air that people are picking up, you know? 

Like this week. I had two clients who reached out to me with career conundrums to solve. Well, actually the first one didn't know it was a situation that required solving. Let me explain. 

Let's call her Maria. She is a CEO with about 10 years C-suite experience. A formidable change agent, her last few gigs were all about radical transformation, serious upheaval. And in the last role she was bullied by a group of established leaders who resented change. They slandered my client. Now her job search is taking longer than previously because their slander was a public piece that pops up if you search her name. Maria is applying to a few roles that truly do not fit her background and this last one didn't fit her brand, either. I cannot tell you much about the role, for confidentiality reasons, but it led me to ask my client "Would this job make your heart happy?" Thankfully she let that one go.

And the second client, curiously also a woman, a senior Human Resource professional, was trying to evaluate whether or not she should consider proceeding to round two of the interview process. Great job, great pay, good benefits, but from her perspective, distressing environment. 

Again, without going into confidential details, the environment was one that went against a strong value she holds. Her heart would not only NOT be happy, it would HURT, daily, in this environment (admittedly, I, too, would have trouble there). 

I do not believe in "giving advice." Not to clients, and not to family, either. But, I don't mind playing devil's advocate, asking questions so that confusion lessens and the path is cleared.

Both clients have let the "opportunity" go. Sometimes opportunities are dead end paths; not every opportunity is positive and to be seized. Discernment is critical in our personal lives as well as in our professional lives. As long as the trajectory feels "up," from many perspectives, the path might just be the right one. 

Stephanie Clark

Accomplished resume writer with a passion for the written word. Customer-focused service provider who evaluates her own success by each client’s job search success!

Should you be worried about cultural fit?

Add personality to your resume and inspire an interview! Read on to find out how.

Add personality to your resume and inspire an interview! Read on to find out how.

Today I am prepping for tomorrow's client who is a Client Services Supervisor/Manager. His preferred realm is in IT, and his preferred employer, PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. 

This company wears its heart on its sleeve. The name artfully blends the social conscience with the service delivery.

And, as serendipity is at play today I read an article that explains how skills alone don't tell your story. I shared the link to the article below. (It's exceptionally well written with nary a grammatical error or syntactical stumble to be found. I so appreciate good writing!)

The idea of integrating personality, motivation, inspiration, social conscience, and more into a resume is one that I've espoused since I began this business in 2007. I firmly believe that everyone deserves meaningful work. In my mind, this means that the working environment must also match the job seeker's own values and preferred environment.

By subtly adding language that defines a person - and sometimes not so subtly, but boldly, it all depends - my clients land interviews with companies in which they are more likely to succeed because the company culture matches the person's own preferred style.

What good is a resume that sticks to skills only? At best it only puts the job seeker on par with her competitors. (At its worst, it leaves the job seeker suitable only for those jobs that might be characterized as "low lying fruit.")

Yes, those skills will impress the applicant tracking software systems (ATS), but the same list of skills will inspire only a ho-hum response from the human recruiter. The human reader needs to understand "the why, the how, to what result" context of work. The human reader is best if he finds himself admiring the job seeker's values - commitment to quality, unflagging championing of safety, sustained attention to improvements - as well as the job seeker's methodology.

What's wrong with adding a few words that give the human reader a genuine sense of the applicant's personality, values, motivators, strengths, talents, etc.? 

For resumes that ring with sincerity, beam with earned pride, and inspire with hope as the "perfect" candidate, contact New Leaf Resumes. I'd love to motivate your resume's reader to call you to an interview!

Overcoming Obstacles to Hire: Ageism

thoughtful writer.jpg

Now in my 12th year as owner of New Leaf Resumes, I've helped many people well into their 60s land career-related positions. One professional, in purchasing and logistics, was far too energetic to retire even though he was 67. He not only overcame the age discrimination issue, but also one of serious over-qualification as he had held the position of senior executive with a multi-national corporation.  He successfully accepted a role as manager within a mid-sized university. How did he do it? With a strategic resume and transparency.

In his resume, I emphasized results related to saving money, reducing waste, improving the bottom line - it's always about the bottom line (or reputation and optimization in not-for-profits). Focus in on productivity, performance, and profits, and you can overcome most potential "obstacles to hire." 

Secondly, in his cover letter, I chose to write with transparency, admitting to his over-qualification and retirement-worthy age. Emphasizing his energy to spare, willingness to contribute without taking over, and desire to share his knowledge, we quickly eliminated questions related to his intent. You can absolutely overcome age or gender discrimination with solid strategy and by addressing that bottom-line benchmark.

Let me know if I can be of service in creating a strategy that eliminates your obstacles to hire. 

When your resume lands no interviews

Resume magic is doable! Read on.

Resume magic is doable! Read on.

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. 

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, 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. 

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.


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.

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' ... :-)

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!


Setting a new homework record

As part of my client intake process, I ask  virtually every new client to complete a questionnaire. It's comprehensive, requires thought and review, and takes quite a bit of time.

No question about it: it is homework.

This pertains not only to new graduate clients, but also to my executive level clients. I compare my work to writing a university paper: it takes tons of research material to condense the info into a few short pages, rich with nuance and saturated in relevant, informative content. A resume must also have a strong ability to influence, that is, influence the reader to call my client for an interview.

One of the questions in my homework is this "Do you have a favourite quote, philosophy of business or work, an oft-repeated saying?" The answer to this can give me insight into my client's working style, problem solving, relationship building, methodology, people management - I get a glimpse into what makes this person tick, and it helps me represent the person on paper with authenticity. 

A recent client has outdone all my previous clients - 12 years of full time work, more than a thousand clients - with the volume of quotes that exemplify her approach to life and work. She now holds the record in this category! Here are a few of the wonderful quotes this client shared:

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." - Colin Powell

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - Stephen Covey

"Pleasure put in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." - Michael Jordan

I counted 26 quotes. They came from philosophers, books on leadership from current or past "gurus," sports figures, politicians, and even a few of her very own.

Not only are these useful for my own insight into my client, they will undoubtedly find their way into her resume. To facilitate her step up the career ladder - she is aiming for a role as an Executive Director - I will likely find parallels between a quote and her methodology and results, and include a select two or three in her resume and cover letter.

I could even suggest to the client that she select several quotes and create an additional - and unique - portfolio document. (I have an idea brewing!)

I stand behind my premise that it is not colour and whiz-bang design that will propel a job applicant to the forefront; rather, a job applicant will stand out by offering clear insights into how he or she performs, the results his or her performance has brought to a previous employer, and by inference, how his or her employment will positively impact the next lucky employer. (The exception may be for the client applying to a graphic designer job posting.)

With this mindset, I have created interesting branding pages and addenda for many clients whether in technology, finance, sports, marketing, operations, etc., from entry level to executive. Whether or not I conceive such an addendum depends on each client's efforts in completing the homework fully, with enthusiasm. So much rests on the intake process.

As one client put it, "There cannot be excellent output without excellent input." I am not a magician, conjuring up resume content out of thin air. I am a partner with each client, gathering information and transforming it from basic statement to influential - and completely truthful - marketing copy.

There is much power in the written word. I love my work!


Mixing the old with the new - screendoors and resumes

A few weeks ago my husband, Richard, and I visited my mom. She lives on her own, although at 80+, it's getting harder and harder for her to do so without help.

On this visit, I got my husband to replace the handle on her screen door. (I almost wrote "we replaced," but quite honestly, I didn't even watch, never mind help!)

A visit to the local Canadian Tire, new handle, random tools, and assorted paraphernalia in hand, Richard began his work.

By the end it was clear that not all of the old stuff would work with the new stuff and hubby couldn't use all the new parts. His solution was a hodge podge, but at least the handle was no longer a  hard to grip and uninviting looking handle, and the door could lock.

So often it's best to replace something in its entirety.

It's this way with resumes, too. An old version, maybe a template in its origins, with new bits and pieces added over the years, and perhaps more than one author along the way, often looks rather hodge-podgey. Rather than looking crisply designed, it feels random; rather than reading smoothly, it seems quite haphazard. It's like the difference between a fine, coordinated suit and tie versus your well-worn, at-home "comfies"; between a $40 and $7 bottle of wine; between a fun sundress from your local bargain shop and a custom made outfit.

Not much of a first impression, is it?

It's also this way with resumes that I first wrote for clients years ago. Recently a client from 2009 returned for a resume update. He said that he had added a few things over the years, but he now felt that it really needed my touch. And it did, from formatting to content, need my touch.

Since our initial work about eight years ago software has evolved, and the recruitment process has changed. His old version was no longer compatible with today's norms, not in the version of Word nor in the need to appease applicant tracking systems.

I overhauled it top to bottom, finessing even previously composed bullets (as many were shortened or even removed to keep his resume to two pages), ensured it met each of today's requirements. My client is once again ready to further his career as a top-notch Tool and Die Maker.

If your resume is anything other than pristine and crisp in its appearance and ultra-influential and targeted in its content, might I suggest that that may be the reason that you are not landing interviews? Sometimes it's not because recruiters don't know anything; sometimes it's because we are unwilling to spend the money on an entirely new "screen door"!