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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 

 

What Happened at Our Quarantine Networking Party

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At the start of 2020, the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, many of us had had lofty plans, resolutions and goals, or whatever we chose to call them. A few months in, and COVID-19 has upended every facet of our lives. We are now reaching for some semblance of stability in a world of uncertainties. Some of the everyday things we once took for granted now have a deeper sense of purpose. Chief among these are the relationships between family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There seems to be an urgency to connect, of course within the #StayatHome restrictions.

Last Saturday night I decided to host a “Quarantine Networking Party” via Zoom with a few women from my Let’s GROW community. We hadn’t gotten together since January 11, and I thought it would be a good idea to schedule a quick check-in. What I thought would’ve lasted an hour, took two hours.

We opened with an upbeat rendition of Bob Marley’s One Love: “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” What is striking about this is, I wanted to begin the get-together with something fun and upbeat. It wasn’t until one of the said out loudly, “Everything is gonna be alright!” (another of Bob’s songs), that I realized we were actually going to get together, and whatever happens post-COVID19, everything is going to be alright.

We took a few minutes to introduce or re-introduce ourselves and discussed how the evening would proceed. We then entered the breakout rooms where the aim was to go beyond the customary “How are you doing?” question and really dig deeper. This idea came from a Quartz article written by Elizabeth Weingarten of Ideas42.org. (Credit goes to my friend and supporter Kasindra Maharaj who shared the resource with me.)

In the article Weingarten says, “In this challenging moment, let’s move beyond “how are you doing?” and get more serious about the questions we’re asking our colleagues, friends, and family…It’s a matter of keeping our relationships strong and solvent during what may be a long stretch of healthy spacing ahead of us.”

Asking the right questions

In line with the article, I preselected a few of the questions to do just that – move beyond “how are you doing?” Each person was to choose any of the questions and discuss them in their group. The seven below is from an original list of 20:

  1. How are you taking care of yourself today?
  2. What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
  3. What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
  4. What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
  5. Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
  6. What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
  7. What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
  8. “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”

The Debrief

We regrouped for a debrief. We learned that someone in the group was recently laid off as a result of COVID-19, and two had been job hunting. Someone immediately shared a link to jobs in the GTA. The others of us are okay at this point. In view of the COVID-19 crisis, it was not surprising during the debriefing to hear comments such as:

  • Family is much more than “How are you?” Deeper conversations are taking place.
  • Nobody knows what the new normal will look like. It is scary in one respect, but exciting in another.
  • People seem to have become more collegial, and empathy and compassion are more evident. This is one thing we would want to see continue.
  • Remote work is here to stay. More employers are going to buy into the concept that remote work makes good business sense. Put another way, the toothpaste cannot be put back into the tube.
  • There is more communication between employers and employees, online meetings are more prevalent, and relationships overall seem to be much better.
  • Those deemed essential workers are garnering more respect. Not only those in health care, but train and bus operators, retail and grocery clerks, delivery drivers, etc. People are waking up to how important they are.
  • Some companies are demonstrating social responsibility by, not only keeping their staff pretty much intact, but also ensuring that PPEs get to some hard-to-reach northern communities.
  • Being laid off come with blessings, but the job search will continue
  • Virtual coffee chats and kitchen table bible study groups have been created.

The last question, “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”, was reserved for the main discussion during the get-together. It was to put legs to a book idea I have been mulling over for my 2020 Let’s GROW theme. It was a question we agreed to contemplate beyond the meeting, but it provided a segue into a brief introduction of Ikigaki.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that examines all areas of our lives that give us purpose and meaning. “Having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.”

The plan, moving forward, is to apply aspects of the Ikigai concept to our lives: What’s our passion and mission? What can we do in the space that we have? Who can we empower, inspire and motivate? What will our legacy look like, and how can we capture that legacy? Equally important, what are we learning, or what have we learned? How are we growing, or how have we grown?

That’s how we ended our quarantine party – with lots of food for thought, as we consider the book project and where it will take us. The coronavirus may have descended on us and created a lot of uncertainties, but all is not doom and gloom. Out of a crisis comes opportunities, and we need to seize the moment. That’s what the Let’s GROW 2020 project is going to do.

I Was Zoom-bombed On a Career Chat…and It Wasn’t Pretty!

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Since the onset of COVID19, and realizing that some job seekers and employees are facing anxiety and uncertainty, I decided to host a few weekly Casual Career Chats where I would answer questions about job losses, job search, career transition. resumes, etc. I invited three of my colleagues, Maureen McCann, Michelle Precourt and Christine Cristiano, to be a part of the panel answering the questions.

The first Zoom meeting was on March 27, and it went without a hitch. Last Friday, April 3, I logged into the meeting a few minutes early to give us (the Panel) a chance to chat before the 3:00 pm start. Suddenly, I saw a message that my screen was being shared, and in seconds the vilest of pornography started broadcasting, interspersed with the N-word. At the time, my daughter and her son were in the adjacent room, and she shouted, “Mom, what’s that I am hearing?” They were not online, and didn’t see the images, but I quickly rambled off what was happening.

As one can imagine, the invasion of my computer screen startled me. I was in shock as I grappled to find a way to end the nightmare. Eventually, I gained some semblance of composure and clicked on “End Meeting for All”. Assuming it was an error, I re-started the meeting a few minutes afterwards, and in a flash, the pornography began. I immediately terminated the meeting.

In speaking with my colleagues afterwards, I learned for the first time about Zoom-bombing. One shared a link to an FBI article on the subject (which is posted below). Prior to the article, I had only heard about the lack of proper security on Zoom, but I didn’t pay it much attention. One reason was that I have had a Zoom account for years, and never had a problem.

After the conversation with my colleagues, I proceeded to do a bit of research, and what I discovered was horrifying. There has been a litany of incidences where hackers have been bombarding online classrooms (from kindergarten to university), and primarily targetting people of colour. A young African American man was defending his PhD dissertation via Zoom when his screen infiltrated. An article in last Friday’s USA Today summarizes what happened to K’Andre Miller, a hockey prospect for the New York Rangers. An online community gathering by a Jewish high school in Vancouver was also invaded. Most of these incidences have escalated since COVID19, when the use of the Zoom app ballooned from 10 million users in December 2019, to 200 million now.

A half hour after my incident, and without contacting Zoom, I received a “Dear Valued Customer” email from them. It was advising me of what they were doing to tighten security and what safeguards I should put in place.

I spoke with Peel Regional Police Communication Bureau to find out what they knew about Zoom-bombing. The woman I spoke with hadn’t heard of it but her colleague did. I then called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and they had heard about it, and urged me to take greater security.

Putting the onus on me to adhere to Zoom’s security protocol is not a problem. But, let’s face it, this infiltration of my screen speaks to a larger issue: RACISM! And before anyone hastens to dismiss my pronouncement, let me say this, whenever someone tells you they have experienced racism, believe them. Don’t be too quick to write it off as “playing the race card.” It’s too easy to resort to that, and then miss the opportunity to have a civil discourse on the topic.

Many of us shy away from such discussions because it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable because race is a social construct that places people in boxes, or on a hierarchy that presupposes one group is more, or less, than the other. Herein lies the problem. It’s awkward to argue such a concept, but if we are not prepared to have a candid discussion about racism, we will continue to perpetuate this fallacy.

Many years ago I was invited to speak to a group of university students in a women’s studies class. Of the 50 students, 3 were non-white. During the Q&A, one student asked me if I had ever faced racism. I smiled, then said, “If I tell you I haven’t, I would be lying. I have had my share, but I never allow racism to stop me from doing whatever I want to do or going wherever I want to go. If it means going up, down, sideways or plowing through, I am going to get there. Obstacles may slow me down, but nothing is going to stop me.”

That has always been my approach. Probably it’s because of my Jamaican background, where we don’t cringe when faced with obstacles like these. We deal with the elephant in the room if it raises its head, and then move on. And, by the way, sometimes, the racism is not as blatant as the Zoom-bombing experience. Sometimes it’s the microaggressions that we face in our workplaces, schools, and communities, both on- and offline. They are real!

There I was, with my colleagues, offering free career advice to job seekers and people who feel uncertain and lost during this COVID19 scare, and someone (or group) decided that invading my online space with pornography and racist taunts was more important. I don’t get angry very often, but this time I did. However, I won’t focus on the anger lest we miss the point of the real issue.

I know what I am saying is not at all comfy, but it is not meant to be. Sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade! That said, I am not going to allow trolls to stop me from doing my work. The Casual Career Chat will continue for a couple more weeks as was intended, but with a different set of security protocols.

As I conclude this piece, I want to say I am privileged to have built relationships, and serve a client base from diverse races and cultures. I am the better from the experiences, and I am confident my clients and connections would say the same. But this should, and will not prevent me from calling out racism when I see it, and this one hit close to home.

Related Posts:

New York Rangers Prospect Zoombombed

CNN’s Interview with Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan

Zoombombing attack Left Doctoral Candidate Shaken

FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hijacking

 

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.

 

Ask for What You Are Worth!

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“In business and in life, you don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.” – Anonymous

In archiving some of my workshop files this past week, I discovered a presentation I gave to a group of mostly International Trained Professionals (IEPs) at University of Toronto’s Rotman’s School way back in 2008. The title: A 30-Day Plan to Put Your Career on the Fast Track. Part of the discussion was about how to speak up and ask for what you want. During the presentation I introduced this Brian Tracy quote:

“The Future Belongs to the Askers: The future does not belong to those people who sit back, wishing and hoping that things will improve. The future belongs to those people who step up and ask for what they want. And if they don’t get it right away, they ask, again and again, until they do get it.”

It was a spirited discussion, particularly around how to advance on the job. I confessed to them that early in my career, I was one of those individuals who believed that working hard would get me noticed and rewarded with a promotion. That was not the case. I discovered I needed to become an advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted. Things changed once I convinced myself of my worth.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of NBC’s Morning Joe, and author of Knowing Your VALUE – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth, talks about how difficult it is for women to ask for what they want, including asking for a raise or a promotion. “Women”, she said, “prefer to work, work, work, hoping the boss will notice”. If you are such an individual, it’s time to lift up your head from all this work, survey the landscape, and devise a plan to ask for what you want.

Valerie Jarrett, then senior advisor to President Obama, and who was quoted in Brzezinksi’s book, said at a point in her career, she felt if she was working so hard, her boss should recognize that she deserved a promotion. It wasn’t until one of her mentors said, “You can’t sit around waiting for people to recognize your work, you have to ask for it”, that she gathered her courage and went to her boss. Soon after that discussion, she got the promotion and the front office. “If you’re not asking for a promotion…you’re not going to get the gold ring”, said Jarrett.

What if it’s not a promotion? What if you have been offered a new job and you want to negotiate your salary but you are getting cold feet? That’s what happened to one of my clients last week and he nearly gave up an opportunity to negotiate. The salary was not what he had expected, but he was afraid to ask for more in case the offer was withdrawn. I reminded him that most employers expect candidates to negotiate, and as long as he didn’t appear unreasonable, he shouldn’t worry.

Before returning the call to HR, I asked him to explore some ‘what ifs’: What would he do IF he didn’t get what he asked for? What would he do IF they withdrew the offer? After contemplating his options, he decided to ask for two things: a $5,000 addition to the salary, and reimbursement for his professional membership fee. The initial offer represented a $17k increase, but it was not the $110k he was looking for. We discussed how he would frame the ‘ask’ in one sentence: “Would you consider paying for my professional membership, and could you add $5,000 to my salary?” I suggested that once he asked the question, he should remain quiet; don’t utter another word. Bingo! He received what he asked for. What if he hadn’t asked? He would’ve left $22,000 on the table.

Most people want to advance in their career; be it a better pay, increased responsibility, or more meaningful work, but they are afraid of the ‘ask’ word. They don’t want to topple the apple cart. But, think about this, even high profile individuals like Valerie Jarrett and Mika Brzezinski found it difficult to ask for what they wanted, but when they asked, they got it.

Reflect on your situation:?

  • Are you afraid to ask for the job during the interview?
  • Are you hesitant to ask for a raise?
  • Are you waiting on your boss to give you a promotion?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable asking clients to pay for your services?

To help you overcome the ‘afraid to ask syndrome’, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? Then prepare to get to the point, being very clear about what you want.

Never doubt yourself when you are sitting at the negotiation table. Know your worth then ask for what you want. Remember, “You don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.”

Your Breakthrough Might Just Be Around the Corner

Photo credit: Pixabay

Right now, you may be feeling discouraged for a number of reasons. You may have done more than your fair share of interviews without getting a job offer. Yikes!

You may have put all your effort into a project; it failed, and your expected promotion didn’t happen, or

You tried every networking strategy you were advised to use, and nothing happened!

You are now thinking “I have reached the end of my tether, and it’s time to give up.” My question would be “Give up, then what?”

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June has been a breakthrough month for three women I have been working with. Their stories are different, but they had one thing in common: giving up was not an option.

Their names have been changed for confidentiality reasons:

[Sarah] contacted me several months ago. I have chosen to use a significant portion of her email to demonstrate the relentless way she was going about her search and the strategies she had been using:

  • In about a year, I’ve sent close to 150 resumes, very targeted in most cases. At some point I was applying to a lot of HR jobs but in the last 6 months I’ve been applying to only jobs that I want to do, and researching the companies before applying. 
  • Had approx. 90 phone interviews, 40-45 in-person interviews (1st round), 20 interviews in 2nd/3rd round, and in 5 cases I got to the final round.
  • I do reflect on what went well and not so well in all interviews, take notes, and prepare for other chances. Nevertheless I do welcome any new advice in this area.
  • I follow up when not selected, request feedback, try to reach out later to build a relationship… no luck with that. 
  • I’ve been trying to reach senior people at companies I want to work for, just to have informational interviews.  I send personalized requests, write to them, and follow up twice… not much luck. 
  • I’ve asked most people in my network to introduce me to potential hiring managers, and tell me about jobs in my chosen field. 
  • I also volunteer a lot, I’m super active on LinkedIn

So it’s not that I’m sitting passively and waiting for the phone to ring!  There must be something I could be doing differently….  some interview practice for manager-and-above roles would be beneficial too.”

You are probably thinking that you would’ve given up by this.

Sarah is highly qualified, with an MBA, PMP, and HR (CHRP), certifications. I concluded from her email that she was doing everything right, but I was puzzled by the lack of job offers.

In our conversation, I commended her for her tenacity, a trait that not many people have. She reiterated what was in the email, and I asked her if she had done any assessments. I wanted to get a holistic view at her situation. She said she had just completed a 360o Feedback at work, and it didn’t unearth anything she didn’t know about herself.

During the session, I quickly realized she had some great accomplishment stories. Her homework was to recall some of the questions she was asked and come back with several stories. We arranged to have another conversation a couple of weeks afterwards, to review her homework. After listening to some of her answers, I encouraged her to add more depth to the stories, and allow them to flow naturally.

She continued to get interviews. At one point, when I asked if she had followed up with one particular company, she responded in an email, “I suppose I should have followed up again with the hiring manager but with the discouragement of the rejection I didn’t have the energy to do so.”

I totally understood how she felt. However, weeks later an email arrived with the Subject Line: Good news! The message said, “I have great news to share with you – I got a new job!!!  I am starting June 17th. I’m super excited about it!!!!

She followed up with a Thank-you card:

I gushed with humility, but my role in this was small, compared to her relentless nature. I gained strength from her tenacity.

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[Marissa] had been planning to make a career move for months. This is another highly-qualified lady, with two Masters, and a law degree (LLB).

She was being very strategic in her approach; arranging informational interviews and attending formal interviews.

At the end of May, she received a job offer from one of the institutions she had on her target list, but the salary did not meet her expectation. It was even below what she was getting at the time. Opportunities abound with this new organization, but a salary cut would defeat her main purpose for wanting a new job. She struggled with the decision.

We strategized on the best approach, using a T-Chart to weigh the pros and cons. She had already done a lot of the work. After our conversation, I followed up with this message:

“See if you can negotiate even the same salary you are getting now. Employers expect you to negotiate. You can give them a range and make sure your current figure is at the bottom of the range, even though it’s a unionized environment. If that doesn’t work negotiate for other things. You are bringing value!” 

By the time we had our next conversation, she had decided to make a counter offer, and was willing to walk away if they didn’t accept it. Tadaa! She was offered a salary that fell within mid-range of the scale, and her request to take her vacation in August, as she had originally planned, was accepted. She started her new job on June 26, 2019.

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[Kaitlin] has been a long time client, and, like many of my clients, we have become friends. I have also worked with her husband. Kaitlin has had her ups and downs with her job search. One of her main concerns was ageism. She is in her sixties, and always wondered how she could compete with younger job seekers, notwithstanding she is university-educated.

On June 12, 2019, she sent an email with the Subject Line “I got a job!” Her message said:

“Hi Daisy, my dear friend who has been such a humble supporter and ‘way show-er’ all these long years while I struggled to get back out into the world!

I received an offer of employment from X company today.  I am thrilled!!

I knew someone who worked there. They put in a good word for me so even in my sixties, I got a JOB!! So grateful!”

Age is a number. Focus on what you will bring to the table, and not how old you are.

Photo credit: Unsplash

What kept these women going? They knew that, although their paths had many a winding turn, they could not give up. Instead, when they needed clarity and encouragement, they reached out to me, and others. It also helped that two of these ladies were attendees at some, or all of my annual career workshops, including this year’s Why Not Me event.

It is said that “Success is a ladder you cannot climb with your hands in your pocket”. This is true. To get to where you want to go you need to continue to work at it, even though it takes guts and perseverance. It also helps to have someone with whom you can talk; a sounding board, who will not only nudge and guide you, but will listen, help you see things from a different perspective, and more importantly, who will tell you the truth. You don’t need anyone who will sugar-coat the truth to make you feel comfortable.

Yes, there are times when discouragement and rejection will surface, and you feel like giving up. But look, whether you’ve been searching for months or years, or whether you’ve failed umpteenth times, my advice to you is to hold on. You have what it takes to get what you want. If you can’t do it alone, seek help, but don’t give up. Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.

Do you have a breakthrough story of your own, or do you need help in clarifying your path? Reach out to me. I am only a phone call or email away.

What Jobseekers and Career Changers Can Learn from Tiger Woods’ Spectacular Win

Photo credit: Masters Tournament

Other than my job as a career coach, I am a sports fanatic! I don’t play any sport, but ask me what’s going on and I can tell you. Right now it’s playoff season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, and am getting nervous.

The purpose of this article, however, is the big news about Tiger Woods’ win yesterday, and what job seekers and career changers can learn from it.

It was April 15, 2008, that he won his last major championship. Yesterday, almost 11 years to the day, he won his 5th Masters and added another green jacket. (It was 14 years since he had won his 4th Masters).

What did it take for him to make this great comeback after so many years of personal and professional struggles? His will to win. He said in an interview, “I feel I can win.” He ingrained it in his head that he could win, and went about doing all the little things it took to make it happen.

He didn’t spend time focusing on what his competitors were doing. His eagle-eyed focus was on where he was going and what was at the end – his goal of a fifth Masters championship and another green jacket.

What about you? Can you see yourself being so relentless with your job search or career? Do you see yourself bouncing back from so many failures and disappointments, or, are you getting ready to give up?

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was rejected 27 times by publishers before getting his big break. He was ready to give up, and was planning to destroy his manuscript when he met his friend who had just become an editor at a publishing company. The rest is history!

Tiger said “This stuff is hard. I made a few mistakes at the British Open last year and it cost me a chance to win.” He said he had serious doubts if he could play well enough to win, but when it mattered most, he dug in and won. He told himself that despite not being as strong as in his prime years, he still had good hands and if he could put the pieces together, he could win, and he did.

Your struggles might not be like Woods, but am sure they are no less painful. You too, will have your doubts, you will make mistakes, but I encourage you today to:

  • Create a success plan and harness all the support you can get to see your dream come through.
  • Determine what your strengths are, and capitalize on them. Tiger relied more on his hands because his back was not as strong as before.
  • Be relentless in your pursuits. Remember that “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins”.
  • Never give up on your dream even if when it appears insurmountable.
  • Don’t jump off the train while it’s going through the dark tunnel; there’s light on the other side.

Tiger Woods didn’t give up. After a plethora of surgeries, personal failures, and disappointments, he fought his way back to the top. You can do it too. Ask yourself the question, “Why not me?”

Source: Tiger Completes His Historic Comeback

She Re-launched Her Corporate Career After Hitting Rock Bottom


Courtesy of Pixabay

“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.” ~Jim Rohn

When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up! Consider Trudy’s story, a woman I had the honour of working with some time ago. (Name changed to protect her identity).

Her voicemail message said she was looking for career coaching, but her ominous tone left me thinking she needed counselling (therapy). When I returned the call she confirmed she wanted career coaching.

A few years prior, Trudy had given up her corporate job with a major Canadian company due to family obligations. She did a variety of odd jobs that allowed her the flexibility she needed at the time, finally settling as a house cleaner with one of the more popular home cleaning franchises. She received a lot of push back from family and friends when she made this decision, and according to her, “My Italian mother saw it as a step down, and was not happy.” Yes, it was a step down, but she thought it would’ve been a great segue into entrepreneurship and owning her own cleaning business.

A little over a year doing this job, she gave it up, concluding it was not for her. By then, things had changed on the home-front, and she decided she wanted to return to a corporate environment. Not only was she now looking for a new job, but her already low self-esteem had reached rock bottom. Is she going to fit in? How will she position herself after a four-year hiatus from the corporate world?

At the end of our first meeting we agreed to work together, but there was one drawback: she couldn’t afford my fees. I asked her what option would work for her, other than having to reduce my fees, and she said she would schedule sessions whenever she had the money. Not only did I see the pain and frustration she was going through, but also the determination to get back up, and that was compelling.

We made arrangements to have face-to-face sessions twice per month. I would offer her as much support as I could, including short spurts of coaching if absolutely necessary. I also explained that for coaching to effective, she had to commit to doing whatever work and assignments that were necessary. Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!

Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!

As our work continued, I introduced her to individuals in my network so she could arrange informational meetings. We figured that after a four-year absence from the workforce, she needed to gain insights into current workplace practices and business culture. I developed her resume and cover letter, and coached her on interviews, services that were not included in the coaching agreement.

Two months into the coaching relationship, she said, “I am ready to start my job search, and want to find a job by the middle of next month.”

On her way to her first interview, she stopped by my office to show me her new outfit and to let me know she was wearing lipstick. Trivial, it might seem, but that was an example of increased confidence and transformation.

She didn’t get the job, and was quite disappointed. A week later, on her way back from another interview, she phoned to say she had been offered an administrative position with a leading clothing company, and was hired because of her background in customs and logistics. When we checked the date, it was March 14, exactly one month from the day she set her intention to find a job by the middle of the next month.

Trudy demonstrated discipline, motivation, and perseverance, which helped her move from rock bottom to a new job. These are equal opportunity characteristics that do not require a degree; everyone has access to them.

Some people enter coaching looking for quick fixes, but it takes time to untangle the web of past experiences to get to where one wants to go. And to get results, it’s important to plan purposefully – set goals or milestones – and work diligently to achieve them.

It starts with one small step. If you don’t take that small step and start doing the things that seem frightening, difficult or uncomfortable, you will realize that one year from now, you will be at the same place in your life or career.

Take a chance!

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Resume Writing Strategies That Haven’t Changed

Why Microwave Interview Preparation Does not Work

On May 4th I received the following email:

“My wife is looking for some coaching on job interviews.  She has had a few recently, but no offers came about.  She is actively looking, and has another phone interview set up very soon.  I would like to know if you have some availability this weekend (May 5-6).” 

On May 10th I received this one:

“I have an upcoming interview next Monday the 14th for a Presales role, and the Interviewing preparation that you provide seems interesting.

I would like for it to take place in the next 3 days, ideally on the 11th or 12th of May. Are you available?”

I have highlighted these messages not because I want to point fingers, but to call attention to a common occurrence, and the casual manner in which some people treat their job search. And, it’s not only about interviews. Last Thursday, a man called to say he was laid off two weeks ago after 14 years at the same job, and he wanted his resume updated. He then asked if he could drop by to get it done as he would be passing my way soon.

In all the above cases, the individuals either believe I am available anytime, including weekends, or that I can easily update a resume for someone who hasn’t searched for a job in 14 years.

We live in a microwave society where we expect quick results in everything we do. Sometimes, this microwave mentality shows up in the job search, particularly when it comes to interviews. Some job seekers believe that pressing the ‘Quick Minute’ interview button is enough to adequately prepare for the interview. My advice is, if you really want to ace the interview, you should not wait until the last minute to seek help. In fact, once you are in job search mode, at minimum, you should be:

  • Researching your target companies
  • Creating a professional resume
  • Contacting your references, and,
  • Preparing for the interview

The fourth part of the above plan is what this post is about. Some people treat interview preparation as an afterthought; they don’t seek help until they are called for the interview. But, the approach that works best is to think that the interview begins once you have submitted your resume. What if you are the sought after candidate, and the hiring manager just happens to see your resume? You could be contacted immediately. While some companies give a week or two advanced notice, others want to interview you as soon as possible, so don’t be caught off guard.

To be fair, a good number of clients contact me at least five business days before their interview because they don’t want to ‘wing’ it.

Last week, for example, I coached a film producer who reached out to me weeks ago before he had the interview arranged. Another client, a recreation manager, sought interview help even before the job was advertised. She knew it was coming, got her resume ready and wanted to get a head start on the interview. These two individuals know what’s at stake, and don’t want to leave it up to chance.

My aim with clients is to have them well-prepared and confident before they go for the interview, not unprepared and jittery. It is better that they are prepared for an interview opportunity and not have one, than to have an interview opportunity and not be prepared.

When it comes to the job search, and interviews in particular, there is no microwave solution. The slow-cooker method is the preferred way.

Do you find interviews challenging? Don’t wait for the last minute. Contact me for assistance.