Saturday, July 23, 2011

Resume on the Run!

Last weekend, I had a young man literally show up on my doorstep early in the evening, memory stick in hand, and asked if I could take a peek at his resume then and there; he was quite frustrated that he was having a difficult time finding employment. He had been looking for work since March, at which time he had created his own resume.  I wouldn't say it was a total write off, but I could definitely see why he was still looking for work almost five months later.  Although I was in the midst of putting groceries away, I responded by being my 'impulsive self' and said "Sure, why not?" 

We sat down at the computer and within about an hour, he had a more strategic resume with which he seemed quite pleased and comfortable.  It was not that relevant information was not already on the original one, because it was if you looked hard enough and if you carefully read between the lines.  But what employer has the time or inclination to do that these days?  In a dog eat dog world, there is a lot to be said about using 'power words' to add some 'bite' to your resume.  It is also helpful to showcase and prioritize key skills and experiences in an attractive, logical and timely fashion which truly provides an employer with the information they need.

Ironically, the changes made that evening might in fact be regarded as 'minor'. A bit of this here, a bit of that there.  The Objective morphed into something a little classier and targeted, an 'all over the place Highlight section' became more systematic and again field specific. And lastly,  the Work History section evolved from a buffet of various jobs into a 'Related Field Experience' followed by 'Additional Work Experience'.  There were also a few touch ups regarding, as alluded to above, the inclusion of  power words and the removal of some grammatical and formatting issues.  A wee bit of colour was applied as accents within the header and the headings, and voila, the resume took on a whole new look and feel.  Interestingly, this young man was quite good in art, so it was easy to convince him that how a resume looks is almost as important as the content.  

Last night (less than one week later), I received a message on my phone from this young man (he lives in Windsor but was visiting family the prior weekend in Woodstock where I reside).  He had fired off resumes from the get-go and had already been called in for three interviews and was offered a job which he is starting on July 25.  

It truly is amazing that something as seemingly benign as 'words on paper' can either make or break your chances of landing an interview, and ultimately a job.  

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's Time to 'Paint' a Story.

Hats off and applause to the awesome residential painters of the world.  I am apparently not one of them, or at least I cannot realistically define myself as a professional painter.  Why? Read on. 

Envision my freshly and recently painted cement steps, albeit still wet.  Imagine my son coming home.  Visualize my thinking it would be good to impress him with my handiwork since he is so hands on himself. Predict the outcome with a cat lurking in the background.

Open Door  +  Cat  ='s  Frustrating Yet Comical Outcome.  
  1. White cat sneaks past me, tears down stairs, through grey paint and onto grass.  
  2. Me ... Think fast!!! ... Booty up with baggies on the feet, slip and slide down the steps, retrieve kitty, and run back up the steps. 
  3. Toss cat in garage, turn around  to find grass from freshly cut lawn pushed into painted steps. 
  4. Eventually, with a little nit-picking (or grass picking in this case) all is resolved, including a cat bath.  
Lesson(s) learned?
  1. Murphy's Law is alive and well.
  2. Divine justice is also alive and well; the cat hates water.
  3. Hire a painter; and praise him or her for a job well done. In fact, this would have been a good job for a summer student!  
  4. And last but not least, just like duct tape, thank goodness for freezer bags. 
Catherine Stewart-Mott
Forward Momentum Services