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!

Empowering All Through Career Management

The photo is one of me, conquering my fear of heights while scaling Mount Benson in Nanaimo, B.C. Although that time I didn't make it to the top, I did make it a third of the way up and one day I WILL make it to the top, and back down again. It's the return that is scariest as that's when you see how high you are and how far you can fall. But I am determined.

Today a LinkedIn connection, Sunitha Narayanan, a Career Coach based in Cinncinati, challenged me to reply to a question posed on LinkedIn. She wrote:

"So, I am borrowing the ice bucket challenge concept and calling out to Linda Tefend, CMF, Morgan O'Donnell. Katherine (Kit) Prendergast and Stephanie Clark BA, MCRS, MRW to respond to the What If Wednesday post by PROMARK Company. Ladies, I am counting on you! Thanks."

And I replied:

"I love TED talks - what an honour that would be and how lovely to daydream about this "What if" scenario! Thank you Sunitha Narayanan!

I would talk about career management - resume, tracking accomplishments, specific tactics to take at work, interviewing - the whole kit and caboodle of proactively, honestly, authentically, whole-heartedly managing one's career.

No tricks, no pretense, no putting anyone else down, as I don't like that, but easy-to-use ideas that empower the average working person and contribute to his/her sense of worth, and also while respecting others.

Thank you again, Sunitha Narayanan for challenging me to this - it was rewarding to put my thoughts into words!"

That is what I am about; that is what I strive for when serving my clients. It feels good to see it in print! If you have a career challenge that you want to conquer, I'd love to be of service.

Staying Positive in the Job Search

It seems to me that each time I read a career-related article lately, it laments a group's limited, dwindling, or seriously compromised prospects in securing employment.

Women have trouble getting ahead, new Canadians struggle to land jobs in their fields, young people cannot gain traction, and in this weekend's Globe Careers the title reads "The plight of the middle-aged white guy."

Apparently no one is landing jobs or is happily, productively employed.

Obviously I am exaggerating and the articles all have sound statistics to back up the proposed premise. But one cannot help but wonder how so many sectors struggle.

My suggestion is to not allow yourself to dwell on the many limitations and restrictions that might impede your job search; rather, keep those rose coloured glasses firmly perched on your nose and to quote a popular British saying, Stay Calm and Carry On.

Along with the above-mentioned demographic challenges, my clients often admit to feeling "less than" due to any number of challenges related to having "enough" education, experience, skills, knowledge ...

Truth is, many people achieve than 100% employability perfection - however one defines this word. Nonetheless, Canada is built on a strong workforce and there are many young people, old people, new Canadians, women, and "middle-aged white guys" gainfully employed.

Yes, there are strategies that one can and should use to overcome barriers to employment - for one's own self-confidence as well as a way to get beyond flaws in perception of perfection. If you need help with these, New Leaf would love to be of service. We balance our rose-coloured optimism with practical steps.

If you're in a job search, it's a good idea to ignore those "dooms-day" articles that tell you why you might not land a job. You can choose to join the ranks of successful job hunters. Let New Leaf show you how!

I don't make New Year resolutions

(Although I generally don't re-use posts, you will find this post on my LinkedIn blog as well.)

I feel like a heretic making that statement as my email feed is filling up with blog posts and newsletters about how to make worthwhile resolutions, how to implement resolutions, and how to not beat ourselves up for failed resolutions! :-)

Year after year, I make no resolutions. Not to lose weight, not to make more friends, not to find time for (meditation, yoga, exercise, professional development, personal development, etc!). (And certainly not to work harder to earn more money as I prefer a balanced life lived wholeheartedly!)

That's not to say that I don't make improvements in my life; it's simply that I prefer to tackle something when it feels right, when my motivation is strong, when there's an incentive.

Right now, I have a few "improvements" on the go:

1. New accreditation - Refocusing my business on a Canadian audience, I am compiling a submission to Career Professionals of Canada to attain its Master Resume Strategist certificate. My American-based "Master Resume Writer" is to expire in 2015, so I am being proactive about maintaining my credentials.

That's part of any career: ongoing training and development is a given these days. I often to suggest to clients that they augment their own credentials according to what I note is popping up more often as a requirement, or a "nice to have" in their field.

2. Personal growth - A long-time "people pleaser" I continue to work on setting boundaries and not giving in to "reflexive niceness," defined as less than authentic because it acquiesces to the environment. (Add this personal tendency to a typical over-apologetic Canadian and, well, you get the picture!)

Personal development and growth is an ongoing process and will likely never end. Other issues that I deal with is avoiding conflict and getting defensive (less and less thankfully). A great book that is simple to apply and easy to follow is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It requires several readings as ingrained habits and patterns take a bit of work to dislodge.

3. Spiritual evolvement - I think this point completes my trilogy! Not a church-goer (I was at one time), I nonetheless believe to the depths of my being that we are part of a greater whole. At one time I referred to this as God or Yahweh, then the Universe, and now I tend to think that we - each and every person and all of creation - make up this whole. Another book, "Dying to be Me," by Anita Moorjani, to which I was introduced at just the right moment in time (i.e. I was ready to hear its message), put some language behind this feeling.

Ms. Moorjani's story is phenomenal. Clinically on her death-bed in stage four cancer, she "dies" and returns, regaining robust health in a scant couple of months, much to her doctors' incredulity! Her message upon returning is simple: live fearlessly! She brings no agenda, doctrine, or dogma from the other side, just the freedom to live one's life fully, fearlessly, perhaps one could say fearsomely!

These are ongoing "resolutions" if you will, that wax and wane as circumstances and serendipity present opportunities. Sometimes I am ready to learn, and other times lessons likely passes me by and I must wait for the next opportunity!

I hope that 2015 (an auspicious year for me as I turn a page into a new decade of my life) sees me learning lessons with greater ease, showing more wisdom, and letting go of unhealthy patterns, assumptions, and no longer useful cultural teachings - learning to live life fearlessly and fully.

And I hope that you, esteemed reader, see the fulfillment of your own dreams, desires, wishes, and goals, whether committed to paper with each new year or committed to your heart, soul, and mind when the timing is right.


Resume Objective or Job Objective

It surprises me how many job hunters continue to use an Objective Statement to begin their resumes. I know this because I offer free resume assessments - I have likely seen thousands!

The trained writer in me knows that using a statement that shares an objective begins on the wrong note. Why? Simply because if you fill out that Objective Statement into a sentence, you would say "My objective is..." and as you've likely heard, it's not about you, it's about what you offer that the employer needs. Significant, if subtle distinction. (The trained writer in me knows that your resume must answer the "what's in it for me" marketing mantra.)

Allow me to clarify - do you need an objective? Yes, of course - you need to know your objective. Without a goal, you don't know where you're going and you won't likely get there! You need to have an end goal in mind.

But your resume's goal is to land an interview and its focus is on proving that yes, you can do a specific job.

A focused, targeted, highly specific resume lands more interviews, far more interviews, than a wishy-washy, non-specific, "I can do anything" sort of resume. You know you can't do "everything," and so does the recruiter. The recruiter is trained to look for resumes that fit a specific profile for a specific job with specific skills, knowledge, training, personal attributes etc.

How, you ask, do you write such a resume?

Rather than beginning your resume with an objective, begin it with a headline, i.e. the job title applied to. And now, with each line you type, make sure that its content is in some way proving you have the skills, knowledge and personal attributes needed in that role. Simple, yes; easy, not always. Takes training to do. And yes, you can train yourself with lots of self-study, or many courses. Not your cup of tea? That's where I come in! This is my cup of tea and I love what I do. Call me when you're serious about making a change. Working to your career success, Stephanie