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Monday Rx: Thank a Co-Worker Today!

This coming Thursday, November 24, is the US Thanksgiving, and the Black Friday TV ads are already reaching me from across the border. After all, I am just a mere 90 minutes away from Buffalo. But, because of the prevalence of these ads, a debate has begun between my brain and my pocket. Should I head across the border on Friday? Right now, I don’t know which one will win the debate by the end of the week.

OK, so what does this have to do with my topic? Well, it’s so easy to get wrapped up into the commercial aspect of the Holiday; so much that we forget the real reason for the season. It’s all about gratitude – being thankful for what we have; being appreciative for family, friends and coworkers, and being open to share.  And talking about coworkers, when last have you thanked one of them for ‘just being there’?

According to Jon Gordon, author of the Energy Bus, “the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation could make all the difference.”  Can you imagine that a simple ‘thank you’ could determine whether a co-worker stays or leaves? Yes, two small, but very powerful words could make a difference.

Wherever you are today, whether or not you are celebrating the official US Thanksgiving, find a co-worker and tell him or her how much you appreciate them. It could make their day, and yours too!

To your success,

 

 

 

PS: Every Monday, I take off my career coaching and resume writing hat and write a ‘Monday Rx’ post to stave off the Monday blues from which some of us suffer. Why not add your email address in the box on the top right of this page to receive each post? And, while you are at it, ask a friend or coworker to add their email address as well. I appreciate that. Thank You!

 

When a Résumé Looks too Good to be True…

…It probably is! Some time ago I wrote an article titled “Lying on Resumes Alarmingly Common”, where I referenced a newspaper article with the heading “Official Résumé Wrong”! Fast forward to 2011, and it appears the topic of ‘lying on résumés’ has reared it’s head again. As a matter of fact, one month ago, I was reviewing the résumé of a young man and when I questioned him about his most recent experience, he admitted he had fabricated it because “others were doing it.” As a career coach and professional résumé writer, I owe it to my clients and myself to make sure that the information is correct.

Officeteam recently conducted a survey and it reveals, once again, that most job seekers stretch the truth on their résumés, particularly when it comes to their job duties and education. The job market may be tough right now, but job seekers should refrain from embellishing their résumés as they will be found out, sooner or later.

Here are some tips that Officeteam has offered to employers on how they can verify information on résumés. Job seekers should take note:

1. Watch for ambiguity. When reviewing resumes, question vague descriptions of skills (e.g., “familiar with,” “involved in”) which may be signs that a professional is trying to hide a lack of relevant work experience.
2. Ask once, ask twice. Pose interview questions that relate to specific skills needed. For example, if a candidate must know a particular software program, ask how he or she has used the technology in previous roles. If an applicant’s response is ambiguous, don’t be afraid to rephrase the question.
3. Get the facts. Ask references to confirm basic information such as the candidate’s employment history, job titles, responsibilities and salary. If they’re willing to talk further, delve into their thoughts on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal skills, and ability to work on a team.
4. Branch out. Inquire if references know of others you can speak to about promising candidates. Also, tap your own network to find mutual acquaintances who might be able to shed light on the prospective hire’s background and character.
6.  Put them to the test. To get a true sense of a candidate’s abilities, consider hiring the person on a temporary basis before extending a full-time offer. This allows both parties to assess whether the position is a fit.

How about you? Do you embellish, or have you lied on your résumé? Do you know anyone who does? Add your voice here!

Source: Officeteam

Related post: Lying on Résumés Alarmingly Common

Survey on Canadian Resume & Interview Trends

Whether we are career coaches, professional resume writers or job seekers, we want to know what’s current and what’s out-of-date when it comes to resumes and interviews. Here is an opportunity for recruiters and hiring managers from across Canada to have their say and let us know what they look for in resumes; whether they bother to read cover letters, and what are their pet peeves.

Please complete this short survey at Canadian Resume & Interview Trends, and pass it along to others in your network.

Thanks. I will be sharing the results in the next few weeks.

2010 FIFA World Cup & the ‘No Canadian Experience’ Myth

Imagine this…A team of professional soccer players arriving in South Africa all eager to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup series. On reaching the stadium they are told they cannot play because they had never played in South Africa before. In fact, they are told they do not have any “South African Experience”, notwithstanding that many of them previously played for teams such as Man U, Juventus, Ghana, Team Canada and Team USA.  What a shock! What are they to do? Some will quickly pack their bags and head back to their former teams, but others won’t have that option. They cannot return, neither can they tell their family and friends ‘back home’ that they didn’t have South African experience and therefore, could not participate in the games.

They are perplexed and start asking questions among themselves. How different can playing soccer in South Africa be from playing in the UK or Italy? Don’t they kick the ball the same way? Don’t they have goalies at opposing ends? Doesn’t each game last for 90 minutes with a break after 45 minutes? Don’t they hand out yellow and red cards for the same infractions?

The above analogy is played out time and again when many internationally-educated professionals (IEPs) arrive in Canada. Every year, Canada accepts approximately 250,000 new immigrants from all over the world, most of whom tend to settle in the MTV hubs – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.  Many of these newcomers are highly-educated and usually gain permanent residency status under the Independent Category, meaning they applied on their own and were not sponsored by family members. Although their educational qualifications and work experience play a huge part in determining whether or not they are approved for residency, once they arrive, these same qualifications appear to play a less significant role in helping them find good jobs. This is when they are likely to hear that they lack Canadian work experience.

Why is there a disconnect between employers and IEPs?  The reasons vary. Some IEPs come with a set of expectations only to discover a different reality. Employers, on the other hand, are not aware of what IEPs bring to the mix. They struggle to understand if a degree from India, Venezuela or Moscow is comparable to the Canadian standard. They are concerned about the inability of some IEPs to converse effectively in one or both of Canada’s two official languages. They are afraid to take a chance with someone they don’t know, and if a resume indicates that the person’s last job was in another country, it’s automatically relegated to the ‘No Canadian experience’ file.

While the discourse is taking place, Toronto is losing billions of dollars because employers are failing to tap into the IEP’s skills. A recent study by the Toronto Board of Trade states, “Economists estimate the Toronto region is losing as much as $2.25-billion annually because people are unable to get jobs in keeping with their training and qualifications, or because they find these jobs, but aren’t getting paid as much as they could be.”

The next post will shed more light on this challenging situation, look at how the needs and expectations of employers and IEPs differ, and offer some strategies to bring them closer together.

Job Search Trends for 2010 and Beyond

In writing this article, I perused a couple of blogs and extracted some interesting job search and work trends that provide insights and forecasts to help both job seekers and career practitioners stay ahead of the ever-changing world of work. The common thread in these resources is how we get our messages across in this 140-character era and what we do to stay on the radar of recruiters and hiring managers.

Resumes: These will continue to become shorter, tighter and more laser-focused, according to one Career Thought Leader. Individuals who like to detail their entire work history in a resume will now have to make sure to include only information that will entice the hiring manager to contact them for an interview. Therefore, that way-back-when job, that has no relation to your current focus, should not be on your resume.

Personal Contact Information on Resumes: With multiple means of contact – email address, home and cell phones, faxes and pagers – the trend is to limit personal contact information, especially because of identity theft issues. Jobseekers should be careful not to list home address on resumes being posted online. It’s adequate and appropriate to just use an email address and cell phone number.

Career Coaching – Group and Online: With the economy as it is, and people becoming more conscious about their money, group and online coaching are growing in popularity. Career coaches have long offered online or telephone coaching to clients, but now corporations are beginning to do the same for their employees via email, instant messaging, and other web platforms versus the more traditional voice-to-voice and face-to-face coaching methodologies.

Interviews: Because of the proliferation of webcams and companies looking to save time and money, the use of cheap video-chat software is becoming a low hassle way to vet job candidates. That means a growing number of people looking for work are meeting their prospective new bosses not at the office, but in the comfort of their own home. Read the Time.com article: How Skype is Changing the Job Interview.

Social Networks: Social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (to a lesser degree) are replacing Job Boards as the ‘go-to’ sites for recruiters as they look for talent. Some companies, that haven’t yet started, say they plan to begin using these vehicles very soon.

Latest statistics show that the use of social networking sites to find information about candidates has risen from 22% last year to 45% in 2009, and another 11% of employers have plans in place to use social networking sites for screening. A survey conducted by Head2Head, a recruiting firm in Toronto, revealed that more than 69% of Canadian recruiters are using LinkedIn to source for jobseekers.

Smart professionals are creating and maintaining online profiles, whether they are actively searching for a new job or not. It is imperative, therefore, that jobseekers embrace social networks to raise their visibility and become known by the people who need to know about them. LinkedIn is referred to as the “passive database” allowing recruiters to keep an eye on potential candidates.

Manpower World of Work Trends

In this report, Manpower identified the following megatrends  as critical to navigating the changing world of work: Demographics/Talent Mismatch, Rise of Customer Satisfaction, Individual Choice and Technological Revolutions. Companies will be under pressure to find the right skills in the right place and at the right time, and individuals will have to make sure they are equipped and ready to be found. Below are three takeaways that I would bring to your attention:

  1. Because of changing economic conditions, motivations and preferences, individuals with the ability, access and self-motivation will benefit from the shift of power from employer to individual.
  2. Individuals with general, mainstream skills, shared by many, will be marginalized unless they improve their skills and workplace relevance.
  3. Individuals will need to take more responsibility and ownership for their careers and development.

For survey details click here Manpower Research

Feel free to add your comments on job search trends for 2010.

Sources:

Career Thought Leaders

MANPOWER Research

Career Coach Roundtable Session at Schulich School of Business

I was one of seven coaches invited to participate in roundtable discussions on career related matters at Connect 2009 – The Annual Schulich Alumni Forum.   This Personal Coaching session was quite popular, and sold out prior to the event.

Here I am with a captive MBA audience facilitating a discussion on Building Your Presence in the Social Media Era. Gist of the session included:

Why Social Media?

  • The traditional approach to job search has changed
  • More competition for available jobs
  • More touch points for recruiters and job seekers

For those who are not aware of two of the more popular social networks, here’s a summary:

LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing recruiting tools used by recruiters. It is a great source for finding candidates because it’s free and top professionals can be found there.

Twitter, a free online micro-blogging application is also popular with recruiters, HR professionals, career coaches, resume writers and hiring managers. Therefore, in order to connect with these people, it is important to incorporate social media into your job search mix to enhance your chances of being found by employers.

As a micromessaging service with its 140-character limit, Twitter allows you to build your personal or business brand, develop relationships with people you wouldn’t normally meet, and gives you a chance to expand your network and sphere of influence.

So jump on the social media bandwagon, use it wisely and prioritize your efforts so that you don’t waste time.

My next post will take a look at Manpower’s latest research on Social Networks and the effectiveness of social media.

Proactive Workers Know How to Stand Out from the Pack

“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared”. ~Whitney Young

According to a recent survey commissioned by Robert Half International,standingout 82% of workers polled said they would be ready to conduct a job search if they lost their jobs tomorrow, but only 20% had updated their resumes in the last 3 months.  What differentiates the 20% from the rest? They are proactive. You won’t find them passively waiting for their pinkslips. They are constantly preparing for new employment opportunities (in or outside their companies) just in case the layoff axe falls on them. Here’s how you, too, can become part of that 20% of proactive workers and set yourself apart:

P Be prepared. Have a carefully laid-out plan ready for the next opportunity. That means your resume is up-to-date, voicemail is professional, and interview skills are sharp.
R Research companies and target only those employers for whom you would want to work. Do not send unsolicited generic resumes to every company in the telephone directory.
O Remind yourself that your objective is to convey to the employer how you can solve their problems, not to ask for “a challenging position that offers opportunity for growth”.
A Be active and visible. Attend networking meetings, volunteer on committees, participate in discussions on social media forums like Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and get noticed.
C Commit to ongoing professional development if you want to set yourself apart. It’s one of the best investments you could give yourself.
T Take time to develop and nurture relationships and build your network of contacts. It is a fact that people do business with, and recommend, people they know and trust.
I Become good at generating ideas, and learn how to influence key decision makers so they will accept and implement your ideas.
V Have a vision of what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. Don’t get sucked in to people who don’t share your vision and want to divert your attention from your goal.
E Exude confidence, not arrogance. Confidently communicate to the employer why you are uniquely qualified for the position and why you should be the one they hire.

These steps actually spell the word P-R-O-A-C-T-I-V-E, and if you follow them, you will always be ready to pounce on an opportunity, and lessen the impact of a sudden job loss.

We welcome your comments on this or any other topic covered.

6+ Phrases to Avoid in your Cover Letter

In the daily discourse on career matters, a lot of time is spent discussing how to create resumes that are  tight and focused on  the employer’s needs. This attempt to be brief becomes even more relevant in this 140-character Twitter era, when ‘less means more’. If we are going to aim for brevity in our writings, let’s forget the resume for a bit and take a look at the cover letter.

It is widely said that half of hiring managers don’t read cover letters, so it’s safe to assume that  the other half does. For those who do, we wouldn’t want them to throw the cover letter in ‘File 13’ (the garbage bin), because it contains too many clichés or over-used phrases.  Here are some popular phrases to avoid in your cover letter if you want to capture and keep the attention of the hiring manager:

1.     “Please be advised…”. Unless you are in the role of an advisor, eliminate this phrase. Simply state what you have done. “I have sent a copy to Human Resources”.

2.     “Enclosed please find” or “Attached herewith.” If it is enclosed or attached, the reader will find it. Use “Enclosed (or Attached) is…”.

3.     “Yours very truly”, “Very truly yours”, and “Respectfully”. These archaic phrases disappeared many moons ago. Using the word ‘yours’ gives the impression you belong to the reader. Use “Sincerely,” instead.

4.     “Feel free to contact me”, or “Please do not hesitate to contact me”. These clichés have outlived their times. It’s better to say “Please contact me.”

5.      “Above-referenced”. Don’t ask the reader to take his or her eyes back to the reference line. Instead, re-state whatever you are referring to – the subject, title or position.

6.     “I have forwarded…”. Say “I sent” instead. Short and to the point.

Is there a phrase or two you would like to add? Go ahead and comment below.