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What Happens When You Tell Lies to Gain a Competitive Advantage?

We are living in uncertainty times and no one knows what the new normal is going to look like after this pandemic. No where is there more angst than in the job market. Many people have been laid-off or furloughed, and some of those who are still employed are nervous about their future. And with the unemployment rate at an all-time high, it is tempting to fudge credentials when applying for jobs. BUT, lying on your resume can hurt your professional reputation.

In a blog post titled Resume Fraud and the Law, the writer from Zelikman Law, states, “It is not uncommon to embellish one’s credentials in the course of an interview or through a resume in order to “get one’s foot in the door.” To a certain degree, most people are guilty of some form of self-aggrandizement when employment is within reach.” 

It has become a common practice over the years for some job seekers to do exactly that – deliberately lie on their resume – and it runs the gamut from entry level candidates to executives.

Some of these individuals have been caught fabricating their accomplishments and churning out information that is incorrect. Some have been rewarded with job opportunities by misrepresenting facts. A former Blue Jays manager also lied on his resume and had to resign. Here’s a list of more recent ones:

A former deputy assistant secretary in the US State Department had to resign from her job for allegedly lying on her resume. It appears she had built a career out of faking her accomplishments and inflating her educational achievements. She even created a fake Times Magazine cover. Why would she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

A former admissions director at MIT was forced to resign after 28 years because it was discovered she lied on her resume when she applied for the job.  She claimed she had had three degrees when she only had one. Why did she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

An article by Business Insider lists several successful executives who also lied on their resumes. It includes the former CEO of Yahoo, Herbalife, MGM Mirage, Bausch & Lamb, and others. Why did these CEOs do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

In some countries you can get jail time for lying on your resume.

One Australian woman pretended to be actress Kate Upton, and got a government job as Chief Information Officer (CIO). She is serving a 25-month sentence in jail for this act. Why did she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

Back in 2002, the former CEO of a television station in New Zealand, Canadian John Davy, was sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to one charge of using a document — his resume — “to obtain a benefit or privilege”. He stated he had an MBA from Denver State University, but the degree was a counterfeit credential sold online. He said he had worked with the BC Securities Commission in Canada. That wasn’t true either. The Commission didn’t have any record of him working there. Why did he do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

HireRight’s 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark reported 87% of survey respondents believe that some percentage of candidates misrepresent themselves on applications and or resumes.

The Georgetown Professor Who Falsely Claimed She was Black

The biggest lie of them all is what Jessica Krug did. For years she pretended to be Black when she knew otherwise. She also created a new identity as Jess La Bombalera an AfroLatina activist from the Bronx. The twist here is that Jessica Krug aka Jess La Bombalera is an associate professor at Georgetown University.

In Krug’s own words on Medium, “To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness. I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring. People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love.”

Krug, as mentioned above, is a Professor at George Washington University where she has taught African history and African diaspora courses since 2012. Her book, Fugitive Modernities, about slavery, was published in 2018 by Duke University Press, and was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize, named after two Black American icons.

Why do people lie on their resumes and embellish their credentials? To gain a competitive advantage! But what would drive someone to pass herself off as Black and assume an added identity, as an Afro Latina? She has said it’s because of mental health issues she has battled since childhood. I am not going to second-guess her; that’s for the medical experts to do. Did she receive grants, fellowships, scholarships? If so, then it would appear she benefited from spaces and resources that could possibly have gone to Black and Latino professionals. This could be considered cultural appropriation.

Lying on your resume is bad; seriously lying for years about your identity and misrepresenting your lived experience is worse. Whether you are looking for a job or a position in academia, do not embellish the truth. If you do, your integrity and reputation will be adversely affected. Your deception will be uncovered, and the consequences could be severe. You will either have to repay your employer or spend some time in jail. As for Ms. Krug, Georgetown University is investigating, and no one knows what the penalty, if any, will be.

As a job seeker, you may be quite desperate to find a job, but now is not the time to participate in such unethical job search practices. The responsibility is on you to carefully consider what you list on your resume. As the Zelikman blog post states “…when applying for a job, the best advice is the simplest: be honest.”

Sources:

NPR – White Professor invented her Black identity

Forbes – Jessica Krug admits she falsely claimed Black identity 

 

Kick Ageism to the Curb…Your Career Isn’t Over!

A day before presenting on Ageism to a group of mostly baby boomers, I asked my LinkedIn community if they could provide some tips on the topic that I could add to my own resource kit to share with the group. The ‘ask’ was for ONE tip from each person.”  The community’s response was overwhelming!

In appreciation for their generosity, I decided to curate the content (mostly verbatim), and make it available to contributors and other interested parties. The information and contributors are not listed in any particular order.

It’s important to note that, while ageism is a two-way street where younger workers also face discrimination, this particular discussion relates to older workers and the challenges they face in the workplace.

Click on the link below to download your copy:

Kick Ageism to the Curb-Your Career Isn’t Over_Crowd-sourced Resource

Keep adding to the job search debate about ageism in the workplace.

 

Case Study: How Coaching Works

(It’s heartwarming when a client can write his own case study showcasing our work together. In negotiating his benefit package, he ended up with a $22,000 salary increase. This is the client referenced in parts of this blog post – Ask for What You Are Worth).

This client was referred to me by a former client. He was preparing to leave one level of government to another.

After we had finished our coaching work together, he volunteered to give me a testimonial. I asked if he could reflect on what it was like working with me, and then send it in his own words.

Here’s what I received. Instead of re-writing it, I have kept it in point form to maintain its originality:

Before Application:

  • I reached out to Daisy this past July for some interview and resume help
  • She responded promptly regarding how the process worked
  • I sent her my resume and job posting as reference
  • She prepared some introductory questions for me to review
  • We set up time for a quick conversation on the phone regarding her services and the potential role

During our initial call, we:

  • Reviewed my resume at a high level
  • Reviewed the job posting in detail
  • Daisy recommended some options to best tailor my resume to the job posting in order to increase the probability of being selected
  • We decided to reconnect if I was invited to an interview

Before Interview:

  • A little over a month after I applied for the role, I was invited for the first round of interviews
  • To prepare for the interview, I reached out to Daisy for some coaching sessions
  • She sent me sample behavioural questions to review. Many of these questions were based on the job posting

 Session 1 (telephone conversation)

  • We identified my challenges and obstacles, and reviewed potential options to overcome them
  • We discussed some approaches to answering key behavioural questions
  • I read a few of my responses to Daisy, and she would suggest ways to improve delivery and timing
  • We strategized on key language and tone to use/emphasize in my responses, significant story lines based on my experience that linked to the job posting
  • Before wrapping up the call, we put a plan in place to prepare for the mock interview in Session 2 which was to take place the night before the first interview

Session 2 (Mock Interview)

  • Began the coaching session with generic questions, practiced responses, tweaked delivery with emphasis on being both concise and informative
  • Reviewed situational/behavioral and scenario-based questions and how best to pivot and address follow up questions
  • Discussed the appropriate length of responses to key questions

Morning of the First Interview:

  • I received a quick pep talk from Daisy on key speaking points and reassurance that I was ready “tell my stories”.

Before Second Interview

  • I was invited to the second round of interviews
  • Daisy provided some additional guidance for the second interview including discussing:
    • General fit for the role
    • Experience dealing with key stakeholders
    • Consensus building

Received Job Offer

Before formally accepting the offer, we discussed negotiation strategies:

  • How to make a case for more money. (I was a bit worried that if I raised the money issue, the offer could be withdrawn. Daisy assured me, as long as I wasn’t being unreasonable, I didn’t have to worry about anything).
  • We discussed benefits and options to include in the offer.
  • I went into the negotiation conversation feeling more confident. The deal was sealed.

Verdict – What it was like working with Daisy:

Daisy is a consummate professional who knows her stuff. She is easy to talk to, patient and honest. I would recommend her in any, and every professional development scenario. For me, she was the difference.

My own words:

Coaching works. It’s a collaboration. The client is the expert, and the coach offers support and guidance to help the client affirm confidently what they already know.

What if LinkedIn is the New Business Card?

LinkedIn touts itself as the world’s largest professional network with close to 530 million users in 200 countries. It is also referred to as a ‘resume-on-steroids’ because it’s available for viewing 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. As the platform continues to evolve, it is probably time to consider it as an online business card.

Over the past  year, I made a conscious decision to reduce my use of business cards, preferring instead to carry post cards. These are not the most convenient to carry around, but they have more space than a business card to add information about who I am and what I do. During a recent conference at which I spoke, I observed attendees interacting with speakers, and when they asked for a business card, they were told to “Connect with me on LinkedIn”. Suddenly it dawned on me that a LinkedIn profile could be considered a business card.

At the end of one session, I went over to Melody Adhami, CEO of Plastic Mobile, and mentioned that I thought I was the only speaker without business cards, although I had pot cards. She did not say she had abandoned the use of business cards, but said LinkedIn was more convenient for two reasons: 1) everything that anyone needed to know about her was on her profile, and 2) she uses LinkedIn as a recruiting tool. Anyone who engages with her on the platform will get her attention, and more often than not she will peruse their profile, and decide whether or not to connect.

Why am I suggesting that LinkedIn is the new business card? Unlike a real business card that is restricted by size and space, or a resume that is limited by number of pages, LinkedIn offers a good deal more. Users are allowed to include as much information as possible about their background, skills, and accomplishments. They can upload media (videos, images, presentations, etc.). It could probably be the most significant online business card that one will have to tell one’s story, build a professional network, and find opportunities. Assuming that’s the case, many users are doing themselves a disservice when they do not maximize its benefits.

 

Below are 10 easy tips to help you create an almost perfect LinkedIn business card:

  1. Use a professional head shot. Some people are shy and do not want to use a photograph in their profile, but if you are serious about your job search, or about connecting with people, a professional photograph is a must. LinkedIn’s Michael Shamshoian said, “…one’s LinkedIn Profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if a photo is included.”
  2. Headline. The entire LinkedIn profile is important, but the headline and summary sections are considered ‘prime real estate’ spaces, and should be maximized. Think of your headline as an online 30-second elevator pitch that quickly describes who you are and what you do in 120 characters. For those who believe that job titles and degrees must be included in the headline, there are no rules to that effect.
  3.  Create your own LinkedIn URL. Did you notice when you first created your account LinkedIn assigned you a default URL with numbers and letters that don’t seem to make sense? They don’t, neither do they add any value to your brand. Create a simple URL with your name. If your name is already taken, use one from the options LinkedIn offers. Make sure it’s a name that will be found when people search for you.
  4. Write a captivating summary that will entice readers to want to connect with you. Use every last one of the 2000 characters allowed in this space to tell your story and describe your most noteworthy accomplishments. The Summary section is where most people spend their time.
  5. Weave keywords throughout your Profile. Research the keywords that will show up when people search for you on LinkedIn, then weave them throughout your profile. Hint: Most keywords can be found in the job posting.
  6. Complete your Profile 100%. Recruiters have said that the more incomplete a profile is the more likely they are to ignore the profile. Don’t be bypassed by recruiters and hiring managers because you have a skeleton of a profile.
  7. Personalize your Invitations. People are less likely to accept your invitation when you use the generic “I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Help them answer the question, “Why should I connect with you?” Were they in the news? Are you a member of the same Alumni?
  8. Build the relationship first. Asking for favours, or trying to sell to someone you just connected with, kills the relationship before it starts. Some people have even used their LinkedIn Invitation as a way to sell – long before establishing the relationship. Don’t fall into that trap. Begin building the relationship slowly. Comment on, or Like their posts, or share articles and resources that could be of interest to them.
  9. Join LinkedIn Groups. Joining and contributing to industry or interest groups is one way of showcasing your expertise and building your brand. As people see the value you are adding to these online conversations, they will be more likely to connect with you.
  10. Request Recommendations. Recommendations add credibility to your profile, so ask people who know you, and who can attest to your skills and attributes, to write one for you. This takes time and thought, so make it easy for them to comply by drafting one yourself, highlighting what you would like to focus on. Pay it forward, and write a recommendation for them.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is not your personal web page. Save your profile as a PDF, and download your connections from time to time. You do not want to lose your contacts’ information, neither do you want to be left without a back up of your Profile.

She is in Pain and Fighting a Hard Battle

This is an unusual story. It deviates from the career and job search articles I normally write, but life happens. It will cause you to pause and reflect on some of what could be going on in the lives of some of the people around us.

I had just dropped my husband off at the train station for a trip into Toronto. On my return I stopped at the grocery store for one item. I didn’t need a flyer, but it’s customary for me to pick one up as I am entering the store. The flyer stand was empty, but I saw one tucked far inside a shopping cart, requiring me to put in the quarter to retrieve it. I went straight to pick up the item I needed, but it was sold out. You are now wondering where I am going with all this detail, but bear with me.

Since I didn’t find what I went for, I decided to flip through the pages of the flyer anyway to see what else I could purchase. As I got to the back page I saw this handwritten message:

“God brought me into this world as everyone else. What’s my mistake in it? How am I supposed to be blamed for this? I have kids. I want to live for them; watch them grow into good human beings. I am really sorry if God made a mistake by bringing me into this world. What’s my mistake where no one loves me!!

My existence doesn’t affect[s] anyone!!

Life is like an extra baggage!! Fed up of it since last 12 years. I want to be loved by someone. Don’t I deserve to be loved!!

What’s the point of living!!

My In-laws hate[s] me!!

My husband hates me!!

I hate myself!! I hate myself!!”

Holy! My head started spinning as I re-read the note. I paid for the items and left. As I entered my vehicle, I thought of the pain that that woman was (and is) going through, wondered where she was at that moment, and said a prayer for her. This popular quote: “Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle”, kept going through my mind. Wouldn’t a kind word or a shoulder to cry on have eased her pain that day?

We interact with people every day: at work, on the train, in the mall, at the grocery store, and at home. Some have smiles on their faces; others don’t, yet we are not always aware of what’s going on in their lives.

As a career coach, I collaborate with people facing career and job search challenges, whether it is a resume that isn’t communicating value; difficulty landing a job after several interviews; lack of career progression in the organization, or someone who is stuck, confused and, yes, fed up.

I have also had individuals contacting me for job search services, but early into the conversation we both discover they are dealing with issues that need to be resolved before we proceed. While not often, there have been cases where the issues are far outside my professional competence. In such cases I would refer the individual to a therapist or mental health professional trained to handle such matters.

In instances where the problem is not as extreme, we will work on them. Sometimes it’s a self-esteem issue because they feel they are not good enough. One woman actually told me she felt she was suffering from Imposter Syndrome. At other times, someone’s confidence has been shaken because they are not nailing the interview and keeps missing out on job opportunities. These individuals begin to second guess themselves:

  • “Why me?”
  • “Why did my last assignment end within three months, instead of the six they had promised?”
  • “Why am I not getting the jobs even after so many interviews? Could it be they didn’t like me, or was I not a good fit?”
  • “How come I was acting in the position for more than a year, and they hired someone else?”

These are real life battles and a lot of baggage for some people to carry. How can we help? Or, how about you? Do you see yourself in any of the above scenarios? Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you having thoughts like the woman who wrote that note? If the latter, seek professional help, starting with your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if there is one. If not, find someone you can talk to, or search for local organizations that offer counselling support.

By this I hope you now understand why this article did not focus on the job search or resume writing, and why I went into details at the beginning. There was probably a reason I went to great lengths to get the flyer even though I didn’t need it. I could’ve walked straight in the grocery store, picked up the item and left. But, probably it was to give me something else to write about outside my usual career topics. I don’t know.

Life happens outside of our jobs and careers. Sometimes we need to pause from our own busyness, or a focus on self, and become aware of what could be happening to people around us, and even those we don’t know.

That woman who told her story on that supermarket flyer was crying out and sharing her pain. She could be a family member, a coworker, a neighbour, or friend. We don’t know. What we do know is that we need to help carry one another’s burdens. Sometimes it’s as simple as a short conversation, a listening ear, zipping our lips before a hurtful word escapes, or taking the time to be kind. Kindness doesn’t cost anything.

A lot of anxiety and stress happens at the workplace. Considering many people spend many hours of each day in that space, it would be a great place to start being empathetic. The next time you are tempted to criticize someone, turn that criticism into kindness. Just think that this person could be having an ‘iceberg’ moment; a lot more going on beneath the surface. If a coworker snaps at you, invite them for coffee and listen, even in silence, or let them guide the conversation. If you are a manager and feel the urge to call out a staff member because they didn’t meet your expectation, turn the moment into a coachable one. Ask them a few questions and listen attentively to their responses:

  1. What is your dream?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. What would make your role in this department/company more fulfilling?
  4. Do you think you are currently performing up to your potential? Why or why not?
  5. What does success mean for you? What would a successful life look and feel like?
  6. If you could have anything in the world what would it be?
  7. What do you want the rest of your life to be about?
  8. Are you feeling overwhelmed? How do you release stress?
  9. What do you do to look after yourself on a regular basis?
  10. How do you enjoy yourself?

You might not have to ask or get an answer to all the questions, but that’s not the point. You shifted gears and took the time to make a difference in that person’s life.

On a scale of 1-10, life is not a perfect circle. There are ups and downs. If you are at a point where you want to take stock of your life or career, why not sit with a notepad in a quiet place and take a look at your life to determine what could be contributing to or impeding your progress or overall happiness? Find out what’s working in your family, job, career, friendships, finance, health, etc. and what’s not working. Rank them on a scale of 1-10. If they are low in most areas, it’s time to reach out for help from a trusted friend or a coach.

If you would like a free copy of an assessment tool – Brighten Up Your Life – which will indicate what a happy, satisfying life might look like for you in several areas, send me an email at daisy[at]thewrightcareer.com, and I will gladly make it available to you. (This tool will only work if you are committed to using it.)

In the meantime, take care of yourself and be kind to everyone you meet. They might just be fighting a very hard battle.

Need a quick chat about your career or job search? Give me a call pronto!

Why Are You Afraid to Tell Your Unique, Authentic Story?

tell them your story - advice in isolated vintage wood letterpress printing blocks

We tell stories every day – to family, friends and colleagues – yet we hardly think of telling stories when we meet recruiters, hiring managers, potential employers, and even potential business partners. Why? We are afraid; we don’t want anyone to label us as ‘braggarts’. A LinkedIn article titled “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable – Why Now is the Time to Tell Your Work Story”, indicates that approximately only 29% of Canadians and 40% of Americans feel comfortable talking about themselves. In fact, 53% of workers admitted they feel like they are bragging if they talk about themselves. “We’re so uncomfortable touting our work successes that we’d rather share our political views on social media than let our followers know we received a promotion or got a new job.”

In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Gruber states: “Today everyone – whether they know it or not – is in the emotional transportation business. More and more, success is won by creating [and telling] compelling stories that have the power to move partners, shareholders, customers and employees to action. Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” This means, if you can’t engage, persuade, motivate and convince others of your accomplishments, your story will remain inside you, and someone else will snag that coveted job or business opportunity.

Storytelling has not only become a central theme to the job search process, but is also a powerful way to get your message across in any setting. It doesn’t matter if you are in an interview, at a networking event, delivering an elevator speech in 30 seconds, participating in meetings, or communicating one-on-one. What matters is your ability to confidently tell stories that will communicate your value and build credibility.

Bear in mind that you are also telling your story in verbal and nonverbal ways. For example, did you know that your resume and your other career marketing efforts are all telling your story? When your resume is set aside by a hiring manager for follow up, it is because something compelling grabbed the his or her attention. When it comes to interviews, you are often asked to “tell me about yourself” or “describe a time when…”. Those questions present an opportunity for you to recount stories that will convince the hiring manager you are the ideal person for the role.

Whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, it’s important that you become a masterful storyteller. Someone who is able to strategically craft and deliver stories that will engage and capture an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or many. You need signature stories that you are proud to share, without feeling bashful. Stories that reveal your authenticity and set you apart from your competitors. How do you do that? Think of it as a movie where you were the main actor. Recall and write out compelling scenes that demonstrated the challenges you were up against, the actions you took and the results or outcomes. Look for patterns. What skills were you using most; where did you feel more energized. This exercise should give your confidence a boost and have you well-prepared to articulate your unique and authentic stories.

Before telling your story, consider the following:

  • Know yourself: Candidly assess your strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes, and be ready to address them if asked.
  • Learn to promote yourself. This might take you out of your comfort zone, but you need to learn to talk about yourself. This is not bragging. This is articulating what’s true about you; who you are, what you have accomplished, and what value you will bring to the new role. If you don’t tell your story, then people won’t know the broad range of talents you have. There is merit in the cliché of tooting your own horn, because if you don’t, no one will know you are coming.
  • Be authentic: Don’t borrow someone else’s story and try to be somebody you are not. Tell your own unique story honestly and with confidence and ensuring that you stay authentic. Author and poet May Sarton said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
  • Review interview questions ahead of time. While you may not know all the questions you will be asked, research, review and practice certain interview questions that are commonly asked. Then prepare to condense your accomplishments into a few short points that will be memorable.
  • Strengthen your online presence. Nothing speaks louder than a well-written, consistent, authentic online profile that tells your story even when you are asleep. This could be a personal website or blog, or your LinkedIn profile, complete with accomplishments and work samples (if appropriate).

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to tell your story? Need to learn storytelling strategies? Grab a copy of Tell Stories, Get Hired.

The Truth About Colour in Your Resume

Whether you are an executive, a manager or mid-career professional, in a tight job market you know you are competing against equally qualified candidates for the same position. What can you do with your resume (and your other career marketing documents) to differentiate you from your competitors? Infuse them with a tinge of colour.

Before you baulk at the idea, take a look at the Colour Emotion Guide below. It contains some of the most recognizable brands. Notice their logo colours? They did not choose them by accident. A lot of thought went into their decision.

Image credit: The Logo Company

      Image credit: The Logo Company

Colour speaks a powerful language even without uttering a word. It evokes emotion. It plays a huge role in marketing. Corporations such as IBM and Coco Cola use colour in their branding with the hope it will evoke a positive response from consumers. In an Entrepreneur.com article, The Psychology of Color on Branding and Marketing, writer Gregory Ciotti states that “It is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors.”  As a job seeker, you are also involved in marketing and should employ some of the same tactics as the big brands if you want to stand out.

For those of us who collaborate with clients on their career marketing documents, there is a rationale behind our use of colour. Although our main aim is to help clients uncover their value proposition and tell a focused story, we are also involved in developing an ad campaign to help them differentiate themselves from their competitors. This may include designing a logo, adding some lines, boxes or charts, and adding colour. More often than not colour is used sparingly to ensure it does not overpower and detract from the main message

All this colour dialogue might not resonate with everyone. First of all, when it comes to resumes, opinions are plentiful as to the perfect design, length and format. If ten people look at a resume, it will garner ten different responses. Second, colours mean different things to different people, depending on one’s culture and personal likes and dislikes. However, what most people would agree on is that resume appearances have evolved, and are no longer restricted to black ink on white, gray or ivory paper.

As alluded to above, colour impacts our psyche. It induces an emotion. Generally, if one sees red (as in a flashy red car), it is supposed to denote energy, flamboyance, and dominance; blue symbolizes tranquility, trustworthiness and confidence, and green signifies nature, growth and generosity. The list below contains a few popular brand colours and their meanings:

  • Blue is very popular and implies honesty, trustworthiness, tranquillity, confidence and authority.
  • Red is very intense and aggressive, and draws attention.
  • Gold is associated with value, luxury and prestige. It reflects wisdom, beauty and generosity.
  • Gray is neutral, calm, and conservative but also implies security and reliability.
  • Green has an harmonizing effect. It is associated with nature, health and growth; balances the emotions, inspires compassion, and encourages generosity and kindness.
  • Orange inspires warmth and optimism, and creates enthusiasm. It also suggests affordability and cheap.

While the content of a resume is of paramount importance, anyone who wants to differentiate him or herself from their competitors, should experiment with a dash of colour in its design. It just might boost their brand, garner some extra attention and hopefully evoke an emotional response from an employer.

Want to determine your brand colour? Watch this 4-minute video from the Personal Branding website of William Arruda, developer of the 360Reach Personal Branding Assessment (a tool that I am certified to administer): Discovering My Brand Colour.

Are you ready for the experiment? Go ahead!

 

Warning! You Could Be Damaging Your Brand With This Resume

Patchwork_Quilt_WCS.jpg

Want to distinguish your resume from every other resume on the recruiter’s desk? Yes, you can! And you don’t have to create one that looks like a patchwork quilt. This type of a resume is one where an individual copies phrases and sentences from other people’s career marketing documents (resume, cover letter, bio, LinkedIn Profile), and present them as their own.

This is a fairly common practice, and one that might start quite innocently. Someone might read a line or two from a resume, cover letter or LinkedIn Profile that sounds great, and feels it would fit snugly into their resume. The problem here though, is that this is no different from the many documented cases of high profile individuals who embellished their resumes with degrees, skills, experience and awards that they did not have.

One incident that comes to mind is the British-born chef who once had a successful cooking show on the cable channel Food Network. He cooked up a lie that he had been a chef at Buckingham Palace, and was even knighted by the Queen.

Some may argue that it’s a stretch to equate some of these famous lies with copying blocks of text or bits and pieces from other people’s job search documents and inserting them into a resume. But, you can bet if such a patchwork quilt resume lands on the desk of an eagle-eyed recruiter or hiring manager, one’s credibility could be called into question.

HOW TO SPOT A PATCHWORK QUILT RESUME

It is very easy to spot a patchwork quilt resume. The information is incoherent; statements are generic, and some phrases do not match the person’s level of experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of copyright infringements, plagiarism, and ethics. The fact is, if you are not able to capture your uniqueness on paper (or online), then you are better off seeking professional assistance.

HERE ARE SOME FACTS:

  • Your resume is a branding tool that tells YOUR story. It is authentic and compelling and showcases your value. This means, even if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night, you could easily and effortlessly articulate your accomplishments without fumbling. Why? Because you own those stories.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. Differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a resume that captures YOUR unique talents, accomplishments and experience. As much as you may be tempted to copy phrases, keywords and sentences from other people’s resumes because they sound good, it doesn’t help you in the long run. You are unique, and so should your resume.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Instead of copying your friend’s resume or searching the Internet for samples you can reproduce as your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself these questions: “What have I done with all the responsibilities I was given? What is my legacy in that role? How has the company benefitted from my presence?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what?’ principle to each. If one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened? “What was the outcome?”
  • Review your performance appraisals and comments from your boss and your peers. What is consistent about those comments? Do they highlight your strengths? Also, look for nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a resume that tells YOUR story. For years you have been accumulating education, training, and experience and depositing them into your skills bank. Now all you need to do is to tap into that bank, withdraw the experience and achievements that relate to the position you are targeting, and you are ready to craft a resume that’s uniquely yours. In doing so, make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the “Why should we hire you?” question.

In this highly-connected digital environment that we occupy, a patchwork quilt resume will not work. In fact, it does not speak to the real you, and will more likely give the impression you have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. You goal should be to craft a resume that reflects who you really are, and not one that could damage your brand.

Need professional assistance? Reach out to someone who can help you tell your unique story to make you stand out from your competitors.

It is a Dumb Idea to Dumb Down Your Resume

Yellow Duh! Road Sign Against a Dramatic Blue Sky with Clipping Path.It is a dumb idea if you have been advised by the experts to dumb down your resume. Unless, of course, you have been inflating your responsibilities and accomplishments, and if that’s the case, you need to get your head examined.

September is Update Your Resume Month, an annual event launched 14 years ago by Career Directors International. Its intention is to remind everyone – job seekers, and those not actively looking – to set aside time to take a fresh look at their resumes and make sure it is current. This is important, but while preparing to update your resume, take some time to focus on the value you have to offer an organization. Don’t think of ways to dumb down your resume.

The following statements were taken from the resumes of three clients. One client is a regional sales manager, the second a senior sales and marketing leader, and the other a business development executive:

  • Created and executed a common business plan for sales division, just in time for new product launch ensuring early revenue stream for brands.
  • Performed innovative market research and captured smaller companies with great potential. Assisted the growth of three clients into industry leaders during world economic crisis.
  • Transformed organization from system integrator to total solution provider including internet and mobile banking solutions. Retained 90% of existing clients, and increased revenue and market share.

Can you imagine these three clients trying to dumb down their resumes after making significant contributions to their companies’ bottomline? The funny thing is that one of them was told to do just that. Of course, I objected. What’s the point? After you have spent years turning around under-performing companies, or engaging in successful mergers and acquisitions, why should you now downplay those accomplishments? Such advice is from the old resume school. Accomplished and confident managers or executives walk away from such advice and devise ways to reach the eyes and ears of decision makers.

It is widely reported that in 1482, Leonardo Da Vinci, wrote the first professional resume highlighting his skills and abilities. He took a pen and a piece of paper, reflected on what he had done, and came up with a masterpiece of a resume. Unfortunately, some job seekers, including mid-career professionals, managers, and executives, fall prey to job search myths, including the idea to dumb down their resumes. They also buy into other myths such as:

  • A resume should be one page
  • It must have an objective
  • It should have a summary with 6 bullets, and
  • Your resume is too big and with too many with accomplishments

These are real comments that job seekers repeatedly hear. There is nothing to suggest that Da Vinci cowered under the weight of other people’s opinions and dumb down his resume. He didn’t downplay his accomplishments because someone told him it would be a good idea. He looked deep within himself, decided he had much to offer, created his resume and sent it off to the Duke of Milan. Don’t play small with your successes! Somewhere out there is an employer looking for someone just like you, with your unique skills and abilities.

There is no doubt that many people are faced with different challenges, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the job search. People become desperate and vulnerable, and when told they are overqualified, the first thing they think of doing, or is advised to do, is to dumb down the resume. The sad part is that these highly accomplished individuals believe this myth.

All is not lost. Before September ends, take some time to update, not dumb down, your resume. While doing so:

  • Avoid redundancies such as ‘references available on request’
  • Use quotes from your performance appraisals or testimonials that validate your accomplishments
  • Adapt your resume to fit the needs of each employer
  • Focus your resume on your skills, talents, experience, and your potential value
  • Rework the resume so that it attracts attention and have employers reaching out to you
  • Be distinct, be unique, be confident! Break out of the sameness mentality and let your resume demonstrate your unique value

Remember: “Your UNIQUENESS is your greatest strength, not how well you emulate others. ~Simon Tam

Have you ever been told to dumb down your resume? Share your story below.

The Best Day For Your Job Search

Monday Rx - Best Day to Job Search Job seeker, this is another sporadic dose of the Monday Rx, a picker-upper to help you get through Mondays. I say ‘sporadic’ because, honestly, it’s not every Monday that I write such a blog post!

Are you having a case of the Monday Morning Blues? Grab your favourite cup of coffee, perk yourself up, and get ready for some great news! Today, Monday, is the best day to submit your resume to the employer (or employers) you have been targeting.

A survey conducted by Bright.com (prior to its acquisition by LinkedIn in February 2014), indicated that the best day to apply for a job is on a Monday (at least in the US).

They analyzed more than half a million job applications revealing that 30 percent of people who applied for a job on Mondays went on to get interviews. On the contrary, Saturdays were the least successful day, when the success rate was only 14 percent.

Bright-Com_SurveyImage: Courtesy of qz.com

The report does not explain why Monday job seekers do best, simply confirming that they do. However, the assumption is that applications that come in on a Monday stand a better chance of being seen than ones that come in later in the week, as resumes pile up on hiring managers’ desks. Then, too, it’s possible that Monday applicants might be more eager, go-getters.

Take some time today to review your resume, make sure it addresses the employer’s needs and articulates the value you will bring, then put your ears, telephone, iPad and email services on alert. You might just be called for an interview.

By the way, there are other positives about Mondays. It is said that Monday is the best day to quit smoking, start a new diet or buy a new car. What are your thoughts about Mondays?

Related links:

Good Morning America Blog

Manjari Shukla (Indian Republic)