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Got Laid Off? So What?


This article is a guest post by Nathan Tanner, a member of LinkedIn’s Acquisition team, and author of Not Your Parents’ Workplace, Critical Lessons for Interns and Young Professionals. In the article, he offers insights into the lessons he learned from his failures.

January 14, 2009. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was sitting at my desk when the head of our team tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to come by his office. At that moment I knew that I was toast. I was told to collect my things, and after a few quick goodbyes, I was forced to leave the building. It was over that fast. The job that I’d worked so hard to obtain was over.

I had only been an investment banking analyst for six months. I joined Lehman Brothers just weeks before its record-setting bankruptcy, then transitioned to Barclays Capital after it came to the rescue and acquired Lehman’s US operations. For weeks there had been rumors of layoffs, so I wasn’t that surprised when I fell victim.

Facing rejection

While I felt surprisingly calm that fateful day, my new reality sunk in that next morning. I woke up with no responsibility and nowhere to go. Time to find a job. I was excited to get started and optimistically thought that it might take a few weeks to find my next gig. I knew the financial turmoil had created a difficult environment for finance jobs, but I soon realized just how hard it would be to find any job in any industry.

As the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, I continued to cast my net wider. I applied for positions that had little connection to my degree or work experience, and I was fortunate to interview for many of them. I went into those interviews feeling confident and qualified, maybe even overqualified for some of them. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t land a job. At this point I had been out of work for four months.

I felt like such a failure.

I eventually found a great role in a completely different industry, and I was thrilled to get back to work. I can’t recall the number of jobs I applied for, but I ended up interviewing with 65 people at 20 different companies.

Lessons learned

At the time I felt like getting laid off would permanently damage my career. On the contrary, I was able to bounce back, and I learned several lessons along the way.

The first lesson I learned is the importance of having a job. I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I didn’t realize or appreciate how much value I got from going to work. I missed having somewhere to go each day. I missed being a part of a team. I missed being needed. I learned that having a job, even if it might not be amazing, is a privilege.

The next lesson came during my job hunt. Early 2009 was an awful time to be looking for work, but that’s only one reason why I struggled to persuade companies to hire me. The main reason I couldn’t get an offer is that I failed to show companies how I could add value. I thought companies would want to hire me because I went to a good school and worked for a good company. But that’s not enough.

During an interview at a retail company I talked about my ability to analyze financial statements (my skill), but failed to demonstrate how I could help them manage inventory more effectively (their need). Companies don’t just hire smart people; they hire people who can passionately demonstrate how they can make a big impact in the organization.

Lastly, I strongly believe that one of the reasons I got laid off from Barclays is that I failed to develop strong relationships with my coworkers.

The slow financial markets gave me a lot of down time, and the looming bankruptcy created a less than positive work environment, so I routinely left the office as soon as I completed my work. While other analysts were discussing recent events and the fate of the company with senior bankers, I mostly kept to myself. I failed to take advantage of those slow periods and didn’t spend sufficient time building deep relationships.

When difficult decisions need to be made, it’s a lot easier to let go of someone who you don’t know that well. It’s a mistake I’ve tried to avoid ever since, and I now love getting to know those I work with on a personal level.

Failure can be a great teacher, and while I would never wish to re-live that period again, getting laid off and struggling to find a job taught me valuable lessons early in my career.

Build strong relationships, demonstrate how you add value, and strive to remember that having a job is a privilege.


Nathan Tanner is on the Talent Acquisition team at LinkedIn and is the author of Not Your Parents’ Workplace: Critical Lessons for Interns and Young Professionals. He recently graduated from BYU with an MBA. Follow him on Twitter @nhtanner.

Related post: I Just Got Laid Off…Now What?

New Book: Tell Stories, Get Hired

Tell Stories, Get Hired is finally here!

Tell Stories Get HiredPRESS RELEASE

Brampton, ON, November 25, 2014 – Job layoffs, a competitive job marketplace, and hiring freezes have put a lot of pressure on job seekers to stand out and be noticed. Those concerns should be alleviated by “Tell Stories, Get Hired”, a new book which demonstrates how job seekers can leverage their stories to convince hiring managers and recruiters to hire them over their competitors.

Daisy Wright, author of the Canadian best seller, No Canadian Experience, Eh?, collaborated with 17 professionals with varying backgrounds from Canada, the US, England, Belgium and France, to develop this new book – Tell Stories, Get Hired. “I value their contributions because, without their collective expertise, this project would have remained a dream,” Wright said. All contributors faced obstacles as they sought to gain employment, advance their career, or break new grounds, but their resilience and ability to tell their stories brought them success.

Wright continued “Storytelling is the new job search craze, and job seekers and career changers need to learn how to dig deep, uncover their stories and get hired. Many people never thought of storytelling as a job search tool, but stories are effective in getting to the heart of a hiring manager.” 

Read more of here >> Tell Stories Get Hired Press Release

IMPORTANT NOTE: Join the 24-hour Twitter-Thon Launch Party on December 2, 2014. Instructions will follow on how you can tweet and retweet from from participating contributors.

Google Will Reject You With These Resume Mistakes



Google will reject you with these resume mistakes! That’s the the essence of what Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, and a LinkedIn Influencer, wrote recently. He said that “in a fiercely competitive labour market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.” It’s not just Google, but so will the majority of employers.

A number of recruiters and human resource professionals often say the same thing. Some report that too many job seekers submit resumes that have poor formatting, spelling and grammar errors, and are longer than three pages.

Below are the five mistakes that you, or other job seekers, are making with their resumes, along with suggestions on how to correct them:

Typos. As much as you might be a good fit for the position, if there are typos in your resume, it gives the impression you are not as detail-oriented as you claim. It is easy for employers to reject your resume with the smallest of errors because there is a talent pool of good candidates from which they can choose.

Suggestion: To ensure your resume is error-free, read it in reverse order – from bottom to top, or ask someone else to proofread it for you.

Length. While the length of one’s resume is debatable, an eight-pager is way too much. Laszlo suggests having a one page resume for every ten years of work experience.

Suggestion: The more common rule is one to two pages, but if your accomplishments seep with value, making it a three-pager won’t hurt. Keep in mind, though, that the sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, not to tell your life story.

Formatting. For obvious reasons you want your resume to stand out in a sea of other resumes to quickly grab attention. But, you could easily go overboard with the formatting and your content gets lost.

Suggestion: Laszlo noted that if you are a designer or artist, you can be fairly creative with your formatting. His opinion is that the others of us should stick to white paper with black ink, consistent line spacing, and at least a ten-point font. The resume should also be clean and legible, with name and contact information on every page. He further advised that you view your resume in Google Docs and Word, attach it to an email, then open it in preview mode. This extra work is important as documents sometimes get garbled when moving across platforms. If in doubt, save the resume as a PDF.

Confidential Information. Many job seekers have inadvertently placed confidential information in their resumes. It is great to showcase your accomplishments, but not at the expense of appearing disloyal to one employer, and a potential risk to another. An employer will not hire anyone who shares trade secrets with their competitors.

Suggestion: Think it through carefully. Is the information already in the public domain? Will it breach your confidentiality agreement? If you are not sure, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not disclose the information.

Lies. This one is a no-no. As much as you may be tempted, never, ever, put lies on your resume. You will be discovered, even if it’s one week down the road, or 28 years afterwards. In 2007, the former dean of admissions at an Ivey League university, who was in the job for 28 years, had to resign after she it was discovered she lied about her academic credentials. And, more recently, a few CEOs have lost their jobs because they falsified their resumes.

Suggestion: Honesty is the best policy. Don’t inflate your sales results, your GPA, the number of people on your team, or the degree(s) you have. If you were one credit shy of obtaining the degree, be honest about it. Don’t give the impression you completed the full program when you did not.

You might not agree on all the points. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a great job opportunity just because there are mistakes in your resume.  Do whatever it takes to be included on the employer’s list of people to contact, rather than be excluded. Review your resume for mistakes and correct them.

Did They Really Call You That?



Did they really call you that? Pardon the term, but have you ever been called a networking ‘ask-hole’? Someone who is always asking for a job; asking for an introduction to someone’s network, asking for favours…sometimes from complete strangers they just connected with on LinkedIn?

The term ‘ask-hole’ is certainly unflattering, (and I am cringing at its use), but if you were really described as such, you may have fallen into the misconception trap that networking (or merely connecting with people) is all about asking for favours.

Every job seeker has heard, at some point, how important it is to network to find hidden job opportunities, but only a few have been told how. Most have been told to ask, not give, and anyone who is constantly asking, runs the risk of being called an ‘ask-hole’.

Networking is not about ask-ask-give. It’s about give-give-ask! You need to develop a Give-Give-Get mentality, according to Porter Gale, author of Your Network is Your Net Worth. Seek opportunities to give, before you begin to ask.

Below are five simple things you could do today to become a better networker. Each tip is backed up by a supporting quote:

  1. Build the relationship first; favours will come later. Before you start asking for favours, start building relationships first, then ask for favours later. Asking for favours too early in the relationship is like going on a first date and asking your date to marry you. In networking terms, it’s a huge turn-off. Brian Tracy said, “The value of a relationship is in direct proportion to the time that you invest in the relationship.”
  2. Don’t ask for a job; ask about them. When you first connect with someone, don’t ask them for a job. Ask about their career trajectory and success stories. (Psst…People enjoy talking about themselves.) Carlos Ghosn said: “Any job very well done that has been carried out by a person who is fully dedicated is always a source of inspiration.” Show them that you are inspired by their stories.
  3. Be respectful of their time. When you ask for a few minutes of their time, stick to the schedule. Do not prolong the meeting beyond the time you had requested. “Respect people who find time for you in their busy schedule.” Unknown. Give them the option of extending the time.
  4. Give of your time, talent and/or your resources. There is always something you can do for someone, whether he or she is on the lowest rung of the organization, or is the CEO. Share your industry expertise; offer to help out on a project; send a congratulatory message on a recent promotion. All these giving efforts will showcase your brand and make you more attractive to decision makers. In Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”
  5. Be fully engaged in the conversation. When speaking to someone, show them that you are fully engaged. Do not let your eyes wander around the room for your next catch. Do not take a quick peak at your mobile devices. Do not interrupt the conversation to finish the person’s sentence. Remember Jimi Hendrix’s wise words that “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens”. Listen attentively.

Networking is a proven pathway to the elusive hidden job market, and ultimately to job search success. But, it is not an easy process. It requires strategy and patience, and more giving than receiving. If networking doesn’t work the first time around, keep on trying, but always start from a position of giving before asking.

What’s the one step you can take NOW that will help you become a better giver? After all, you don’t ever want to be called an ‘ask-hole’.

Go ahead and take that one step now! Your job search depends on it.

Turn Your Obstacles Into Opportunities

If it’s Monday morning, it’s time for the Monday Rx, a daily dose or picker-upper for those who hate Mondays!



“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested in failure.” ~Mary Kay Ash

What obstacles are you facing right now? Can’t find a job? Not getting interviews? Afraid to change careers? Whatever it is, take a few minutes to reflect on the words of Mary Kay Ash, then get ready to turn your obstacles into opportunities.

Have a productive week!



Monday Rx: Don’t Let the No’s Stop You!

Jobseeker, this is your Monday Morning Rx!


Monday Rx

Monday Rx

6 Tell-tale Signs Your Interview Went Terribly Wrong

Job seekers, there is a huge difference between arrogance and confidence; watch your body language, and beware of your cell phone etiquette. After all, you are in an interview!

It might be astonishing for some job seekers to find out that the interview in which they thought they did so well, actually went terribly wrong. And, many of the mistakes they made would’ve prevented them from moving to the next step. In late 2013, CareerBuilder surveyed 406 hiring managers and human resource professionals across Canada. Their major findings are shown below:


While this infographic may add a touch of humour to a serious topic, it is a fact that many job seekers turn up at interviews unprepared and unprofessional. Many do not research the company before they get to the interview. Some do not understand cell phone etiquette; others do not provide specific examples that would convince the hiring manager they would be a good fit for the position, and many fail to make proper eye contact with the interviewer.

To say most job candidates get the jitters when they have an interview, is an understatement. But, there are no excuses for inadequate preparation for this important part of the job search process. When unpreparedness meets opportunity, it results in many of the interview mistakes outlined above.

Just in case you were one of the candidates who committed these interview faux pas, here is an armchair’s critique of your performance:

  1. You were arrogant. There is a thin line between being confident and acting arrogant. Learn the difference.
  2. You were not interested in the position. Your body language gave the wrong message. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
  3. You were uninformed about the company. It showed that you were clueless about the company and the role for which you were being interviewed. In-depth research of the company, as well as a request for a detailed job description, would have set you apart.
  4. You were texting or taking calls on your cell phone. Unfortunately, you couldn’t take your hands off your cell phone. Neither did you turn it off before the start of the interview. Well, there are no excuses for this one because you should’ve known better.
  5. You were inappropriately dressed. If there ever was an opportunity to ‘dress up’, it was this one, and in a professional manner. You could’ve called to ask about the company’s dress code, or visited the location prior to the interview to observe what employees were wearing.
  6. You were burning bridges. While it may have boosted your confidence to badmouth your employers, it was not a good idea. Negative portrayals of employers and coworkers are never acceptable.

The survey addresses other mistakes that employers found. The survey details can be found at CareerBuilder. Pay close attention to the most common blunders, as well as the role that body language or non-verbal communication plays in interviews.

What additional advice would you have for a job candidate who committed such blunders? Add your comments below.


The Women Who Mothered Me – Part II

Mother love

After my friend, Norma, read my tribute to my many ‘mothers’, including hers, she added her stories. It was interesting to see the impact each of these women had on us individually, and how much we still appreciate them.

Norma’s Story:

Although I cannot claim to have had the same relationship with your family members as you did, I too have fond personal memories of each lady mentioned.

Miss Edna: [My Mother]: I only had to mention once that I loved ackee and saltfish [cod] and before I knew it, you and I were treated to the most delicious meal. It has been many, many years since then, but I remember that meal well, especially since I had never known until that day that coco [a type of yam] could’ve tasted so delicious.

Sister Madge: How can I forget the many times when I showed up at your home at dinner time, how she made a meal prepared for six turn into seven. Or, how could I forget how cheery and welcoming she always was with me and pretty much the whole of our little town. [Most people in the town called her Sister Madge].

Miss Ira: I knew Ms. Ira mostly through church and remember her no-nonsense attitude which helped to keep us kids in line. She was the faithful servant of God who made sure that the Gospel Hall Church was always sparkling clean. I also remember her for the times my mother would send me to her to get a few sour oranges from her tree. [Sour orange trees weren’t that common in our town].

Miss Elsie: She literally saved me one Sunday morning from blacking out on the street. On the Sunday in question, I had made a trip to Jackson Town from Kingston to surprise Mama. When I arrived at the house, she was not there, neither was anyone else.

I decided to return home, but by the time I got to the bus stop, I began to feel dizzy and started to stumble and felt sure I was going to die. I had travelled very far and had not eaten anything that day. I stumbled until I found and knocked on Miss Elsie’s front door. She grasped the situation quickly and offered me peppermint tea, which worked like magic. I was profoundly grateful. Miss Elsie talked with me as I sipped the tea and told that me I was welcomed to stay until I felt well enough to leave. I have always been truly grateful for the kindness she showed me that day.

Sonia: Before Mama got her home phone, I only had to call your sister’s home phone and Sonia was always willing to deliver any message I had for Mama. After a while Sonia was also one of the only familiar faces of my generation that made it seem like home whenever I went to Jackson Town. Whenever Sonia knew that I was home, she would stop by to have a chat with me on the veranda or to have a quick word as she made her way to church.

Mama: My own mother, Miss Madge, was like the pied piper of young people and she drew them in with her stories, jokes and youthful attitude. Mama loved to be surrounded by her children’s friends and they kept seeking her out even when the children (we the friends) were not at home. My mother would often write to tell me of a visit from one of my friends and how happy the visit made her feel.

All these wonderful ladies were a part of what made Jackson Town home and I will always remember them with love.

Additionally, I now find some comfort in visiting the grave sites of these wonderful people and others whenever I go home. I go to the First Hill Church, the Anglican Church, and the Gospel Hall church yards and realize each time how much they are missed.

To The Women Who Mothered Me – Part I

Mother's Day Blog Post

My big brother in Nassau called moments ago to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. We reminisced about our mother, who left us in 2011. He spoke about the little things we took for granted from those who passed away. The long chats he used to have with Mama; how in the midst of a late night conversation Sister Madge would fall asleep only to wake up at the tail end of the conversation. We also spoke about our niece Sonia, and how we relied on her to get things done on our behalf. He ended by saying, “I miss those little things.” Yes, we do!

And so, I am taking this time to reflect on some of the women who mothered me. Some things might not make sense to you, dear reader, but I hope you will enjoy reading the post. The image is a collage of the 175-year-old church in which I grew up; the last orchid my Sister Madge planted before she passed in 2012, and my favourite snacks that only my Aunt Elsie could make. They each have a connection to the women mentioned below and the significant role they played in my life. Although they are no longer around, I honour them today.

Mama – Chief Encourager: The best mother anyone could have asked for, no kidding! She was supportive, encouraging, loved God, loved people, adopted others as her own. She was fearless. She took her first plane ride in her late 70’s, when my big sister didn’t even want a passport. She fearlessly rode the elevators to the 85th floor of the Empire State Building in New York, when I was scared. She accompanied me and my family to several Toronto Blue Jays games, and in her 90’s, attended a Colorado Rockies game with us in Denver. She enjoyed watching the planes take off and land at Pearson International from Derry Road. I miss those Sunday evenings with her. As dementia took its toll, she asked me one day,“Whose daughter are you again?” I put my head in her lap and cried. Yes, her lap was my favourite place as it was so comforting.

Sister Madge – Teacher and Preacher: She was my big sister, but most people in our town called her Sister Madge as well. A young adult by the time I was born, she was like a second mother to the other five siblings. She knew the birds and the bees story wouldn’t work with me, so she bought me a copy of “On Becoming a Woman”. How embarrassing, I remember feeling. Unlike our mother, she had no interest in travelling, but believed God made her to be a teacher, and she wasn’t venturing beyond that. After her teaching years, she became a lay pastor. I remember for just being my big Sister Madge!

Sonia – Chief Generosity Officer: My niece, who thought she was a sister (and we grew up as such). She was two years my junior, and Sister Madge’s only child. She was generous to a fault and we took her generosity for granted. She would be up late at nights creating crochet pieces, yet up before dawn to make breakfast for us whenever we went home to Jamaica. Her passing took the wind out of my sail, shook my faith and, for a whole year, had me questioning the value of prayer. Yet, it was her quiet strength and unselfish nature that gradually restored my Christian faith.

Aunt Elsie – Chief Cook: My first official teacher from age three. She once punished me for laughing at an old lady (Miss Beck), even though my other classmates were also laughing. I could’ve been about 5 years old at that time. However, I remember her most for making the best ginger beer and snacks. By way of explanation, the Grater Cake (also known as Pink-on-Top) is made up of grated coconut mixed with sugar. The Gizzada, made up of grated coconut and sugar and stuffed inside a mini pie crust. Why is this important? I remember her more for those snacks and the ginger beer than the punishment meted out to me so many years ago.

Mama Ira – Chief Spelling Bee Officer: She was my grand aunt who bought me my first Spelling Bee book. I went on to become the Girls’ Spelling Bee Champion of my school and represented the school at the parish (similar to Province or State) level. I still have the Certificate of Particpation in that competition.

Miss Madge – Chief Humourist: Not to be mistaken for my Sister Madge, her children and I grew up together. In fact, her daughter, Norma, remains my best friend from elementary school. She reminds me frequently of the many sentiments her Mom would include in her letters about me. However, I remember her Mom’s great sense of humour. In her presence, there was never a dull moment, and even though she began losing her sight in later years, she never lost her sense of humour.

Like I stated at the outset, some things might not make sense. What’s important is to know that these women made an impact on me, and I am grateful for having had them in my life. If you have still have your mothers, or a surrogate mother, let her know you appreciate her while she is still with you.





3 Things An Interviewer Wants to Know

Bright Idea! Job Search Tip

What Interviewers want to know

When you are invited to an interview, make sure you know what the interviewer really wants to know.

  • What evidence do you have to show them that you will be able to do the job for which they are hiring?
  • Are you going to fit in with the company culture, or will you disrupt the team synergy?
  • Do you have a list of convincing success stories that demonstrate your money-making or money-saving capabilities? The bottom-line matters!

If you are unable to answer those three questions, you are not yet ready for the interview. Conduct a brainstorming session with yourself and write down stories that will help you address those questions.

Join the conversation and add your bright ideas!