Girl Talk Career Blog

July 3, 2010

The Wordle on the Street…

Filed under: Resumes — lisalahey @ 4:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

By now you may have heard of wordle.  I would love to meet the type of brainiacs who invent this stuff.  Wordle is very helpful for job seekers.  Nope, its not a linkedin or a twitter.  It’s not a service where you post your profile (yawn) and try to catch an HR recruiter’s eye.  Among a number of things, wordle is a de-coder ring for tweaking your resume by targeting key words in job descriptions that are posted on the internet.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Log onto
  2. Select Create Your Own
  3. A window pops up with a huge empty box where you can paste text.
  4. Copy the job description from its site and paste it into the empty box in wordle.
  5. Hit Go.
  6. Wordle thinks for a few seconds and then it brings up the coolest-looking screen that blasts all of the keywords in the job description in colour with the most significant words (they occur the most often in the ad) appearing the largest on the screen. Now you know what the company is really looking for to fill this role.
  7. Go back to your resume and compare it to the keywords in the wordle decipher box.
  8. If your resume doesn’t significantly reflect the keywords in the job description wordle has identified for you then you need to change it.

Now in pics:  

This is the wordle box and the text is verbatim  from the site:

  here is the little ol’ go button you hit and then you get something like this:
The largest words here (obviously not a job description but anyway) are birthday  Mrs  day  year, meaning those are the words that occur the most often in that “description” or article or what have you.  Obviously then you would alter (but do it honestly!) your resume to reflect those words.  Cool. 
It’s another clever way to get your resume accepted and not rejected by HR resume-sorting computer technology and of course the HR human eye, each of which are equally important in getting that all-important interview.

May 22, 2010

5 Steps to Building and Using a Resume Toolkit

Filed under: Resumes — lisalahey @ 4:44 am
Tags: , , , , ,

A resume toolkit is NOT a work portfolio although it can include one. You’ve heard the old resume advice to tailor your resume to the job description but have you ever written out a resume, submitted it and then realized you forgot something vital? That happens to a lot of people and its no wonder. You’re always re-writing and tailoring your resume (if you have resume savvy Girlfriend and I’m sure you do) but what about building a resume toolkit that lists absolutely everything you have going on in the way of learning, academia, skills and personal and professional experience? Try this experiment:

Step One

  1. List absolutely everything you have ever learned academically including institutions, years, your focus or major etc.
  2. Include additional certification and ongoing education or training.
  3. Include every employer you’ve ever had from the time you were in your teens and possibly baby-sitting for your week’s wages. That means even the bosses you hated and the ones who pink-slipped you. Why? You can list what you learned from the situation and even from that boss.
  4. Your hobbies, interests, talents, involvement in sports or theatre and so on.
  5. Add samples of your work and start creating a work portfolio.
  6. Scan diplomas, certificates, artwork, news articles, and anything else to do with you or that was done by you for your portfolio.
  7. Scan references, thank you letters that are related to both your work tasks and personal involvement so long as its appropriate.
  8. Volunteer work.
  9. Transferable skills.
  10. Anything else personal and/or professional is fair game.

Clearly this isn’t going out to any HR Manager under the sun. This is for your eyes only Girlfriend and it’s a fabulous resume toolkit when you’re stumped about how to describe awesome you when you’re going after a job you really want. If you take the time to sit in quiet and write out your all inclusive resume you will likely be astounded by how many positives you have to put in there. Then after you’ve done that include your family and BFF to add more information, including your attitude, times you have helped other people just because, your point of view on the world, things that you are impassioned about. These things matter.  Why?

Employers in all spheres, non-profit, corporate and public want people who have significant experience in their industries and they want people who are passionate about their work, not just looking for a job. Understandable. People who simply want a job get bored soon after they are hired. They aren’t creative or enthusiastic. They don’t look for projects or inititate anything useful to their employer. People who simply want a job take that job for granted and live for the weekend. People with jobs as opposed to careers show up, do their exact work within their precise job description and clock out at the end of the day, happy to have the evening to go home and veg in front of the television set.  They can take or leave their current employer. Those are people with jobs and without passion for what they do.

Girlfriend that is not you. You are a career-driven, cosmopolitan girl and you need to make sure your resume stands out from the crowd as much as you do.  By listing every unique aspect of you and your life both personally and professionally, as well as creating a work portfolio you have some serious leverage to start including into your portfolio. Of course you know that once you have gathered as much You information as you can that is only the first step in building your resume toolkit. Now you’re ready for:

 Step Two

Pick and choose what you need for the position you are currently interested in. Either you have found it on a job board, heard it from the grapevine or even been referred for it (awesome). Make a table or a chart if you like. List all of the qualifications required for that position on one side and your qualifications (no matter how far back in your personal history you demonstrated them) on the other. Do the same with the skills required for the position and all responsibilities. I can guarantee you if you’re drawn time and again to a specific job position you are going to have a plethora of matching qualifications and skills

Add additional skills and qualifications underneath the same category. For instance if the job calls for logistics management skills you will list all of your independent and managerial logistics experience and skills. You don’t have to just match one line for one line. 

Step Three

Time to bring up your qualifications and work history to as current a time period as you can. If the majority of your experiences and skills were developed earlier in your history but they are precise and relevant, leave them in. Anything that is not current and not as job specific, remove it. Once you’ve completed this step it’s time for:

Step Four

Have a friend look it over for you and see if you have included enough relevant material from your resume toolkit yet not an overwhelming amount. Be sure that any personal information you have added is strictly relevant to the industry, organization or job position. For instance if you are applying to a non-profit organization that works with volunteers you should include volunteer experience even if it isn’t the same type of volunteer experience your prospective employer offers. Why? Because you are demonstrating a passion for the industry and an understanding of the organization’s perspective. 

Part Five

Selecting pieces for your work portfolio is the final step in tailoring your brand new resume with the use of your resume toolkit. You may not need to include a work portfolio, sometimes it isn’t called for. Fine. But anyone in the sports and entertainment, fashion or modelling industry for instance should have a portfolio even if it only includes news articles boasting their achievements

It takes a lot of work to build a resume toolkit and a work portfolio but then again anything about you is bound to be time-consuming, introspective and more than worthwhile. You go Girlfriend!

May 15, 2010

How to Be Your Own Change Management Consultant (and a Little Help from David Bowie)

I’ve been a Bowie fan for years now. And lately I seem to be an Alexander Kjerulf fan but for entirely different reasons.  No, no. Penelope Trunk hasn’t been dethroned. But I also like what Alexander has to say about careers and I’m especially tickled about his self-annointed title CHO (Chief Happiness Officer). Cute. Alexander, like myself and Penelope, frequently gives career advice in a variety of areas. With the recession and plethora of layoffs many people are obsessed over employability, training for a new career and career transition.

David Bowie would probably agree with the benefits of change to a radical degree and therefore he’s more likely to side with Alexander and Penelope than me. Have you ever looked at his pictures from the earliest stages in his career and now? 

Wow.  He is unrecognizable (yep that’s really Bowie) and not merely because of his youth. (Personally I think he got better looking as he got older but that’s just my opinion). However in Bowie’s case constant change made an incredible amount of sense. He probably didn’t realize it then but he was the prototype for today’s worker and the elements of change in image, roles and career direction in order to stay current and keep employed (and maybe to have a little fun too). 

Now as I said in my previous post Jump Ship Before You Have to Build a Raft it’s always important to know if you’re in an industry or a job that will soon be made redundant then you can plan your career change accordingly. I’ve done some of the research for you in that post but of course if you’ve become inspired by the concept of career change or frightened by the notion that yes you are on shaky ground then by now you’re probably sifting through options to make that change. Interestingly Penelope and Alexander seem to have a common ground where I cannot tred: they are both obsessed with job satisfaction as opposed to security or salary. I can already hear you shrieking “Girlfriend! There is no such thing as job security anymore!” Well to a point that’s correct but at the very least you can improve your job security odds by investing in a long term career that seldom dips in terms of supply and demand (teacher or registered nurse for example).  See the Jump Ship post….

Let’s say for argument’s sake that you aren’t happy so much with your industry and your job as you are with your place of work. Now that’s a different kettle of fish entirely.  If you’re stuck with a bad boss, bad co-workers, bad reviews and a bad salary then perhaps you do have a valid need to pack up and head on out of there

Before you jump ship however you need to take a critical look at what it is you’re running away from and running toward. In other words figure out what it is that requires change. You know what they say “don’t fix what ain’t broke?” Well have you considered that it’s not the organization that’s the problem here but you? Check out this link and if you’re finding yourself harrassed on a fairly regular basis by your boss and co-workers it may be that you are indeed the fly in the ointment.

The only way you can figure this out is to get the input of a third party. Trust me you can never be completely objective about you so if you’re going to consider changing your career, your boss or your place of work you have to rely upon an outside source for feedback about you. Do you have a reliable confidante at work whom you can request some friendly feedback over lunch? (without you picking up an axe like the rather frustrated woman above).  Be prepared to hear anything because trust me some of it won’t be pleasant no matter how great a worker you are. In spite of that no matter what the feedback you should congratulate yourself because you have just become your own Change Manager.

So let’s say it turns out that you’re right. The organization does stink and your co-worker loathes the boss as much as you do. If that’s the case and you can trust her, enjoy lunch, enjoy the bitch fest then get back to work smug in the knowledge that you are indeed ready for a new employer and your loathsome boss doesn’t even know it yet.

Worse case scenario: your co-worker tells you that the boss is alright most of the time and she doesn’t mind the company. Now what? Now it’s time to consider a little self-change management. Become your own change management consultant in terms of your role at work and your attitude and you might find that your job becomes a lot more enjoyable and your boss a lot less loathsome as a result. Let’s apply some of the change management principles you’ve read about in the link above entitled “Change Manager“.

  1. Start from the ground up. Identify what you dislike about your current role. Too repetitive? Not enough promotional opportunity? You seem to get overlooked for the really interesting projects? Well. If you’ve been miserable at work then you’ve probably performed at half-mast so no wonder your boss is reluctant to offer you bigger and better projects. Take a deep breath, grab a notebook and pen and approach your boss, requesting an interview when she has time in order to give you some feedback on how you’re doing and how you can work to improve your work performance. Trust me, she’ll be thrilled to hear you say it.
  2. Meet with the boss and jot notes about how to improve (change) your work performance. Make sure you take notes because you will forget much of it later. You’ll have an emotional reaction which is normal and that will make a lot of information slip your mind. Try to remain composed and whatever you do DON’T get into an argument with your boss! You asked for the feedback and you’re getting it.
  3. Ask for suggestions about how to improve your work performance.  Don’t be in the dark about this part of your personal change managment. You need to be on the same page as your boss or you may end up making changes in ways that aren’t resolving any issues.
  4. Ask your boss is she will schedule another interview with you. Choose a specific date then and there. Don’t leave her office until she commits to another appointment for giving you feedback about your change management. An important aspect of change management is ongoing feedback.
  5. Your notes are your blueprint for your change management. Whichever areas your boss as stated need improvement you must begin there first. Is it your punctuality? Is your work a little sloppy at times and you have too many do-overs?  Are you sullen and grouchy much of the time? Time to change!
  6. Consider a career coach. If you find your boss’s suggestions too overwhelming to handle on your own get a career coach. Set out the boss’s objectives for you and discuss how best to go about them with a professional who is on the outside of the organization.
  7. Decide if you really want to change. How much does remaining employed with that company matter to you? How much does job satisfaction really matter? If you don’t give a hoot either way then stay exactly as you are and hope you don’t end up getting fired.
  8. Put your plan into action. Let’s assume you want to remain employed and you want to enjoy your job again (if you ever did). Alright Girlfriend it’s time to organize your notes from your career coach and your boss and download your plan into a template. If you ‘ve decided not to work with a career coach you may need to design your own change management template. Here’s a suggestion.
  9. Give your boss a copy of your change management plan. Give her time to look it over. She may want to re-schedule with you right away to assist you with your plan.
  10. Record the changes you have been putting into place. It’s important to document your progress, both for yourself and your boss.
  11. Record your feelings and your perspective on your job in a personal diary. This isn’t for the boss’s eyes so don’t type anything onto your work computer. Get a diary and write about how you’re feeling and any changes you’re noticing in the people around you. You’ll probably notice some positive changes right away. Make sure however that you aren’t silly enough to blog about your work situation! That’s an absolute social media no-no and believe it or not blogging about work could end up getting you fired.
  12. Follow-up with the boss. Ideally the two of you will have already chosen a date to meet again and discuss your change management plan during your first meeting. She will evaluate your progress and you will take notes about her feedback so you can put them into effect and for your memory’s sake. You still have a ways to go no doubt but I have a feeling you’ll be hearing some very positive critique!
  13. Evaluate your own progress. After all the changes you’ve made and the diplomatic criticism you’ve received from your boss if you still aren’t happy then perhaps you are ready to Jump Ship Before You Have to Build a Raft. 

 And while you’re managing change, here’s a little more David Bowie inspiration to wrap things up and motivate your Changes .

May 14, 2010

Writin’ A Rockin’ Resume

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 11:36 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Where do I begin?  Just about everything that can be stated about the importance of a great resume and how to write one has been done.  However reiteration is important.  How do I know this?  As a teacher I know for a fact that seldom do we learn something by having it stated once and then repeated once.  Usually it takes a few times for new facts to sink in. When they do and we change our way of thinking about something or at least adjust it in a significant manner that’s known as assimilation.  I got that info from a psychology information series on  Cool.

At any rate today Girlfriend you and I shall examine some oft repeat truisms about writing a rockin’ resume just to recap.  Resumes matter.  They really do.  In fact once I learned a few tricks of the trade about resume writing from reading HR mags and watching youtube videos I adopted a few resume tips including one about a functional resume. This clueless HR administrator insisted that a functional resume, unlike a chronological resume, didn’t have to list jobs by most recent to last. So I took that advice and an HR recruiter contacted me to tell me my resume confused her.  She couldn’t tell if I was employed or not by the way I laid out my resume. Yet she took the time to email me and ask me to clear up the confusion and re-send it.  Incredible! I argue that my error caused this woman to contact me just to see if I was from Neptune.  That said, I have decided to put a spin on writing a rockin’ resume. I shall make up my own rules and Girlfriend it is entirely your call as to whether you intend to heed or ignore my ….er…. unique advice.

Thus far here is my own first unique rule for writing a rockin’ resume: confuse the HR manager.  Leave her scratching her head and thinking “huh?” Not in a grade school kind of way mind you. Don’t have an entire page of typos and lame grammar. That’s just overkill.  Use enough confusion to make that person stew over your information until she needs to pop a tylenol and go to bed early. 

Loads of people insist that a great resume uses key words from the job description in order to catch the recruiter’s eye and make it stand out.  Now it has occurred to me that if I’m taking this approach so is everyone else. How does that make your resume stand out?  It doesn’t. It makes it blend.  Hence have a thesaurus handy and come up with as many infrequent and non-keywords as possible.  For instance take this generic job description I happened across on David Alpin Recruiting the other day:

  • Reception including answering, transferring all phone calls, voicemail
  • typing,
  • coordinating meetings,
  • creating presentations
  • Invoicing
  • Filing
  • Copying/scanning/faxing documents
  • Ordering office supplies
  • Sorting mail daily

In response, unique rule number two is to include as many foreign, non-keywords in your resume as you can. In the meantime, let’s just see if I get a bite from David et al:

Reacted to people, including  come back and relocating and giving a ring, engaged in typography, synchronized summits, crafted productions, dispatched notes, maintained dossiers, duplicated and scrutinized manuscripts, bid for administrative centre sources and classified transmissions day by day.  PHEW!

I shall keep you posted.

Speaking of vocabulary another valuable yet in my opinion questionable piece of resume advice is to ban certain cliches from your resume vocabulary.  If you’d like to see the entire list, click here.

So here we go with unique rule number three.  Whatever you are supposed to ban from the resume, go ahead and ban it. However you must argue the opposite with all your heart.  To wit:

  1. I’m a team player.  Replace with  I’m terrible at team playing. I suck in sports. In fact physical education was my worst subject in school. I was always picked last and I am still traumatized over it.
  2. I have great communication skills. Replace with I can’t communicate very well at least that’s what my marriage counsellor said. That might be why my husband and I decided to split up again although personally I think me passing that STD to him last week might have had something to do with it.
  3. I have a proven track-record. Replace with Here we go with the sports thing again. Lookit, I told you I’m terrible at sports. The only proven record I’ve got is criminal.
  4. I’m a problem solver.  Replace with I’m a shit disturber.
  5. I assisted in X task. Add to it  and botched it all up.
  6. I have a strong work ethic. Add to it when anyone’s looking.
  7. I’m bottom-line focused.  Add to it  but I’m also a breast man.
  8. I’m responsible for X.  Replace with I’m supposed to be responsible for X but so far have managed to elude this responsibility.
  9. I’m self motivated.  Add to it when my boss insists on it.
  10. I’m accustomed to a fast-paced environment.  Add to it  I used to drive Formula One race cars.

And there you have it Girlfriend! Unique rules for writing a rockin’ resume. You probably won’t end up getting the job of course but then again, I never said anything about that at the beginning of this blog now did I?  Unless of course you want to work for Google.  Whole different ball game, Girlfriend. Then you probably should use the 3 unique rules of resume writing in this post. Happy Googling!