Regretfully, I do not have fail-proof answers

In today's internet world, where easy answers run amok, people really want fail-proof, step-by-step answers to a broad range of problems, careers included (think 10 easy steps to the perfect - and insert your demon - resume, interview answer, networking, job search strategy, and so on).

I wish life were that easy, but those 10 easy steps to weight loss may work for one out of 10, but not for those nine who also try it. Life, all aspects of it, is not made in a one size fits all.

When it comes to careers and job searches, the variations, customizations, and perplexities are numerous. Beyond how individuals differ, which is enormous, you have to add in how industries differ, cultures vary, and job descriptions and expectations conflict.

References

For example, one client, an HR Senior Manager, emailed in a conundrum: a finalist for a job she really wanted, she was asked for references. Upon providing these she was told that one of her references HAD to be her current Director. In a confidential job search, and afraid of losing her job if her job search were known, she turned to me. I had no easy, perfect answer. Her choices were these:

  • include her Director's name as a reference and hope she a) landed a job offer OR b) didn't lose her current job if she didn't land the job offer; OR,
  • inform the HR recruiter that she is in a confidential job search, unable to provide her current Director as a reference and hope that a fellow HR staff would understand her inability to comply.

Neither answer is a sure thing.

Trouble with a New Manager

I've had dozens of clients who loved their jobs, had great accomplishments to share, and envisioned remaining in their positions until retirement UNTIL a new manager came on board, immediately displayed dislike of my client and quickly demonstrated that my client's job security was in jeopardy. Many get let go, without real cause, but the labour laws don't help. (I know this from personal experience. After I was let go from a job that I really needed, I called the labour office only to be told that I can even be let go for refusing to dye my hair back to a more acceptable hue.)

This situation is devastating. It can demoralize, throw a career in upheaval, and cause financial strain on top of the emotional angst. Is there a reliable answer?

I'd say not really. Yes, you could try speaking to HR, you could even approach the manager him/herself to discuss. But in my experience the outcome is rarely satisfactory. It's likely worth a try as what do you have to lose? (And if you plan to take a pro-active step, consider getting coaching first. (Lianne Krakauer, career coach can help.) But while trying, I recommend doubling up on networking outreach and getting your resume up to date.

Resumes

I've said it before and this won't be the last time either: there is no one, perfect, suit everyone everywhere all the time resume. It's an impossibility. Just from perusing the internet you can read conflicting advice: one page resume only vs take as many pages as you need; write a reverse chronological vs submit a functional. Other advice includes don't use these words, don't use the first-person "I" in your resume, don't use these fonts, etc.

I have two rules: write only the truth and write to reflect the authentic you. All else? Guidelines only.

One of my award-winning resumes, which has served my client very well indeed, uses "I" in the resume's profile. Yup!

One of my cover letters uses the closing salutation "Namaste" and again, landed my client a great position.

Although I have no fail-proof, guaranteed-to-work answers for all career puzzles, I do offer seasoned and reasoned insights and perspective, which I offer all of my resume clients. In fact, today I received this email from a repeat client:

Your explanations make sense to me.
I am comfortable with your reasoning and will leave things as they are. No further changes needed.
I received good feedback regarding my resume, last time we did this, so I will adhere to your wisdom this time.
 
I shall go fishing and see what I catch. Wish me luck.
Thanks for your help. I’ll keep in touch