Posts Tagged ‘Canadian resume writer’

Interview-on-Demand™ Using VerbalSummary™ Technology – How Cool Is That?

May 20th, 2011

I’m excited! Over the next couple of months, I’m going to be putting together some new coaching and career marketing packages that I know will take my clients’ job searches to a whole new level. Sure, it will still involve creating killer resumes that get noticed, but this is just one tool in the arsenal. It will also involve providing state-of-the-art options to reach recruiters and hiring managers where they are at – on their smartphones, through social media, and at in-real-life networking events and business functions.

verbal_summary_logoOne of the innovations that I will be offering is Interview-on-Demand™ using VerbalSummary technology, a tool developed by recruiter Jerry Albright to present candidates to hiring managers.  Using Interview-on-Demand™, we will create a two to four minute audio clip with a link imbedded in your resume, in which you respond to some typical interview questions about your particular area of expertise.

Why is this so powerful? My goal has always been to create documents that capture my client’s voice. Interview-on-Demand does that, and even more.  By pressing the play button on your resume, recruiters and hiring managers will get authentic insights into your strengths, your personality, your approach to work, in a way that can’t be conveyed on paper. Jerry’s been using it for a couple of years now, and not only has it helped to grow his business exponentially, but it’s shortened the time to hire and substantially reduced the effort it takes to present his candidates. Using VerbalSummary technology, the candidates literally present themselves.

Isn’t This Just the Same as Video Resumes? Not even close. Video resumes have numerous downsides. Aside from obvious production quality issues, they create an opening for discrimination claims, they don’t work on all platforms, and they don’t easily fit within existing candidate screening and recruiting processes. Interview-on-Demand™ will be built right into your resume, so it will work in conventional resume distribution models.

Interview-on-Demand™ won’t just be limited to resumes. We can use it in your LinkedIn profile, QRcode it in your business cards, embed it in your blog, or add it your email signature – any way that you use to communicate.  And that’s not even the best part (although it is pretty good), the best part is that, using VerbalSummary dashboard, we’ll be able to track in real time how many times your Interview-on-Demand™ has been listened to, so that we can gauge how well your job search strategy is working.  Pretty cool, huh?

When Will Interview-on-Demand Be Available? In the next few weeks Jerry and I will be working out the nuances of adapting a recruiter-focused tool to the needs of a career coach (really, the tool is so well designed that it won’t take much), and I will be putting myself through  VerbalSummary™ bootcamp to master the technology.

If you would be interested in being a test pilot for Interview-on-Demand™, then let me know.

Career Coaches and Resume Writers who may be interested in adding this to their service offerings, let me know.

In the meantime, here’s a sample of VerbalSummary in action, so that you can get a taste of how this whole thing will work.


Jobseekers, Bland Is Not a Good Look for You

August 17th, 2010

I was ready for a change. There were things that weren’t making me happy. I was bored with the same-old same-old. How hard can it be, I thought. People do it themselves all the time. If you listen to the ads, they make it seem so easy. Just buy the right off-the-shelf product, follow the easy instructions, and voila, a brand new me. At a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional. So I did it. And now, I have orange hair. Orange is not a good look for me.

There are some things that are worth spending money on to get the right professional. For me, hiring a colourist is clearly one of them. For a jobseeker, hiring a professional resume writer may be another.

Why Hiring a Professional to Write Your Resume May Make Sense for You

  • Having worked with hundreds, if not thousands of clients, an experienced resume pro will have a good idea of who your competition is likely to be. This means that we have unique insights on what it will take to make you – specifically – stand out from the crowd. We can be objective about what to include or exclude from your resume, and can create a profile that grabs the right kind of attention from the right target audience.
  • Our skill isn’t just in the writing, its in the questioning. Good resume pros know what questions to ask you in order to get the gems to put in your resume. We have honed the art of interviewing, probing, pulling out the details that can be used to create a compelling career story.
  • Good resume pros dedicate hours each week on researching the job market. We know what skills are in-demand, what keywords are becoming passe, which employers use which job boards, which employers don’t use job boards at all. These insights mean that we can fast-track the time you would otherwise have to invest in getting ready for your job search.
  • While we typically work arms-length from recruiters in order to be a neutral advocate for our clients, good resume pros take the time to nurture strong networking relationships with recruiters. This means that we can get a heads-up on hiring trends. We can tell you why calling yourself a Farmer instead of Hunter right now will leave you dead in the water if you are looking for a sales position, for example, or why using “Public Relations” instead of “Public Affairs” could result in greater hits on your resume.
  • By leveraging our recruiter and HR network, good resume pros are able to get independent feedback on our product, in order to make sure that it’s going to work for our target audience. After all, it doesn’t matter if you are tickled pink about your new resume, if recruiters aren’t impressed.

Just like off-the-shelf colour kits, there are many books on how to write your resume. You can find tons of samples, many of them submitted by resume professionals. You should be aware though that we rarely submit our best work for publication. Why? Part of it has to do with protecting competitive intelligence. An edgy format, a unique design, really meaty content, loses its edge if its copied by 10,000 other jobseekers. Mostly, it has to do with the target audience for the book – in order to appeal to as broad a range of jobseekers as possible, the samples tend to be fairly generic and bland. Jobseekers who copy them end up looking fairly generic and bland too. And jobseekers? Bland is not a good look for you.


Afraid You’ll Be Laid Off? Don’t Be Passive, Take Control!

July 31st, 2010

I came across a couple of interesting surveys this week. The first one, an employee attitude survey, indicated that nearly 1 in 5 people who are currently employed fear that they will lose their jobs due to corporate downsizing. The second survey, from Mental Health America, indicated that 82% of people, when faced with a stressful situation, turn on the television or rely on other forms of distraction. There are probably few things in life more stressful than facing a real or potential layoff, but this is no time to be passive or numbed out. If you think your company may be considering layoffs, take control.

  • Make sure that you remain a superstar in your current position. Without being a total sycophant, demonstrate through your performance how you add value to the company, and how you contribute to the big picture.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to participate in special projects, especially projects involving other departments. The more people in the company who know you and can attest to your strengths, the easier it will be for you to remain gainfully employed, regardless of which side of the retain/layoff tallysheet you end up.
  • Psychologically and emotionally prepare for the worst (or for some of you the best) case scenario, that you will be let go.
  • Get your home front in order, which includes preparing and sticking to a tight budget.
  • If you haven’t been doing it all along, start putting together a portfolio of your success stories, the projects you’ve worked on, copies of your performance reviews, any emails or letters that you’ve received with positive feedback on your performance.
  • Take an inventory of the strengths and expertise you have to offer – your value proposition in today’s job market. What kinds of problems are you good at solving, and who currently has those problems? This will help narrow down the target for your job search for your next career move.
  • Get your networking tools up to date – names, titles & contact numbers of suppliers, clients, industry associates, company colleagues. This is easier to do while you are still in your job.
  • Implement a networking plan that should include online-connecting with at least a couple of new people per week and warm-connecting with people in your current network.
  • Start researching companies that you would be interested in moving to, and see who in your network of contacts might have leads into these organizations. Consider current suppliers, clients, consultants and competitors as likely candidate companies.
  • Find niche job boards in your field/industry. Set up alerts to let you know when new jobs are posted that fit your target criteria.
  • Identify reputable recruiters who specialize in your field.
  • Once you have a target for your job search and know what and to whom you are marketing yourself, prepare your resume and LinkedIn profile. For the investment of less than a few day’s salary, you can enlist the services of professional who can help you create a distinctive, targeted career marketing package.

The more you take control of your career now – before you receive notice – the less likely you are to feel paralysed with fear about layoff decisions over which you have no control.


Don’t Fill Your Resume With Sea Junk

July 30th, 2010

I am an inveterate beachcomber. One of my soul-satisfying delights when I’m on vacation is to find interesting bits of sea glass, seashells, broken pottery, and rusty something-or-others, and at the end of a seaside walk I will inevitably return with a few new treasures in my pockets. Over the years I’ve amassed quite a collection of odds and ends, which until recently have been tucked away in boxes, baskets and whatever is handy around the house. This week I decided to consolidate my collection into a single location, and was dismayed to realize exactly how extensive it was. If I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with sea junk, I needed to cull, and I needed to be ruthless in doing so.

Beachcombing Collection

Beachcombing Collection

Maintaining your resume over the years can be like that. You create a document to land a job, add bits to it as you progress through your career, until one day you realize you have six or more pages of “sea junk” and no clear idea of how to cull it down into a useful document again.

If you don’t have a clear career brand, if you don’t know who your target audience is, if you don’t understand what their buying motivators are, then it can be hard to decide what to include and what to cut out. Your resume is your career marketing document, a key component of your job search arsenal, and every word, every phrase, every formatting decision must add value from the reader’s point of view. The better you know your target audience, the easier it will be to decide what to include and what to exclude from your resume. By researching your target companies and understanding their pain points, you will be able to go through your resume with a ruthless “so what” editing pen, to ensure that what remains provides a clear and compelling picture of why you are the perfect solution to your target audience’s biggest challenge.


What Is Resume Strategy Anyway?

July 7th, 2010

Today I completed my 600th free resume critique (wild-stab-in-the-dark estimate, but my point is it’s up there). I always take the time to review each resume in detail and provide very specific advice on resume strategy (unless you’ve given me something truly horrendous, I rarely comment on format). But it occurred to me as I was typing up my comments today that I am often repeating myself. It’s not that I’m getting lazy, it’s that I see the same kinds of mistakes being made again and again. So, as a procrastination move because it’s 98 degrees out and much too hot to pack for the trip I will be taking shortly, I’ve decided to put together some of the suggestions I’ve offered this year, as a kind of who’s who on resume strategy.

Objective Statement

  • “Instead of using an objective statement, use the title of your target job. It’s okay to change it each time you send your resume out, but if you aren’t sure about the target yet, its premature to write your resume.”


  • “Consider your resume as a marketing document, you have to write with a particular audience in mind, and you have to know what it is you are selling them.”
  • “What is your ideal next company? Is it a mid-sized firm who is looking to take their enterprise infrastructure to the next level of integration and needs a Business Analyst who can bridge the language and thinking of business and technology? Is it a consulting company who helps other firms? What are you particularly good at, and who could use those skills? What ever it is, take the time to define your audience (if you have more than one, you may need different versions), and get really clear on their pain points. Then, write a summary that speaks to their pain points and demonstrates why your background and experience makes you the ideal candidate to solve their problems. In total it should take you less resume real estate to say than it did for me to explain it.”
  • “It can be tempting to try to keep your resume general so that you can use it for several different positions, but this strategy will work against you. If you have several different interests or opportunities, then tailor a different profile for each of them.”
  • “In today’s job market, everybody is describing themselves as a dynamic, problem-solving team player. It’s the equivalent of ‘new and improved’ in product marketing – nobody buys it.”


  • “Your list of skills should only include things that are directly relevant to the target job.”
  • “Put together a list of ten or twelve terms and phrases that describe your expertise – look at sample job ads to make sure you are hitting to top keywords”
  • “Make the skills focused on your target job only – somebody who is hiring an IT sales guy doesn’t care that you are good at desktop publishing unless their product or target client is related to desktop publishing.
  • You have 26 skills here, and the important stuff is getting lost. See if you can get it down to the top ten. Start by skipping the fluff, because your reader almost certainly will”


  • “Since you did a master’s degree, I’m guessing that there was a master’s project, this would be a good place to describe it (one or two bullets at most)”
  • “The fact that you are a certified reflexologist is of no relevance to your career goal as an accountant. No, it doesn’t demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning, and no, it doesn’t show that you have a lot of interests other than accounting. Get it out there.”
  • “Have your credentials, degrees and professional development in the same section, or at least close together, or a hiring manager may not notice that you have your PMP, MBA and CGA”
  • The important part here is the degree that you obtained, not the school you went to. Make sure *that’s* the thing that jumps out.

Experience (New Graduate)

  • “Instead of dividing your experience between volunteer and professional, divide it between Relevant Experience, Additional Professional Experience, and Community Involvement. For the items that fit under relevant experience, indicate whether you volunteered or were paid”

Experience (Seasoned Pro)

  • “You’ve committed a lot of resume real estate to laying out your responsibilities, but there is nothing attention-grabbing here. Your resume should tell a good story of your career. What was your mandate when you came on board, and how did it change over time? What was happening in the company when you came on board, what challenges did you have to face, what kinds of problems did you help solved. Who did you help, and why did it matter?
  • “As you consider what to write here, keep the target in mind, and ask yourself so what, because they certainly will.”
  • “No idea what this means, and that’s a bad thing. Give a brief description of what you were actually doing, emphasis on brief. All these ten bullets can be consolidated into one tightly written description – leaves room to focus on accomplishments”
  • “You held two different positions with *****. Was this a promotion? If so, its worth showcasing this point – why did they pick you?”
  • “This is not a five-verb accomplishment. By over describing it this way, you are diluting it’s impact”
  • “Read your resume out loud. Does it sound stilted when you say it? That’s the way it will be perceived by somebody else. Too many adjectives, adverbs and four-syllable power words makes it hard to read, and can come across as ostentatious. Remember, your goal is to make the reader’s job as easy as possible. “

Dated/Non-Relevant Experience

  • “This takes up a lot of resume real estate, and unless this is an area you want to get back into, you can cut the details out and summarize this into “previous experience includes four years as a ***********. This will make room for more information/accomplishments on your more recent jobs.”

IT Skills

  • “It’s going to be the rare hiring manager who cares that you’ve used Windows 95.”
  • “Go through this list with a ruthless editing pen and leave in only the software, hardware, middleware, and methodologies that are in demand for your target job – unless your target company is one with out-dated systems, in which case, leave it in.”


  • “Separate out the professional associations from the philanthropic ones.
  • “For the professional associations, did you just pay the annual membership fee, or were you actively involved. If involved, briefly describe how.”

Other Interests

  • Knitting reading gardening walks on the beach stamp collecting photography
  • “International travel: Asia, South Africa, Brazil, Eastern Europe *** this is good to keep in if your target job could require business dealings with other countries”
  • “Three-time Ironman competitor (2nd place and 4th place finishes) *** I like this. It demonstrates your drive to succeed and ability to set and achieve goals”

I will continue to provide free critiques, and I will continue to do them one by one, in detail, no template statements. But chances are that if the candidate wasn’t thinking like a marketer when they wrote their resume, my feedback will include some of the points above.


The Passion Myth

June 10th, 2010

If you google “find your passion” you will get 39,000,000 hits. Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and you will see 50 or more volumes on finding your passion, following your passion, living your passion. Every other twitter bio or LinkedIn bio has a reference to “passionate about.” Passion, as they say, is the new black.

So I was hardly surprised when a young friend came to me for career advice, and started the conversation by saying “My job sucks, I’m bored to tears. I just can’t figure out what my passion is”. She spoke as if somewhere, out there, is a single career-related purpose that, if she could but find it, would lead to eternal fulfillment. This was her fifth “it sucks” job in three years, and it was clear that she had fallen for the passion myth.

Myth # 1: I’m not making enough money, so clearly I’m not on the right path.

Reality Bite – Passion does not equate with income.
If you are lucky, you have a passionate interest that feeds your soul and gives lightness to your day. But if you look outside yourself for affirmation or compensation for your passion, you may be in for disappointment. Don’t believe me? Watch the auditions for American and Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, and you’ll see thousands of people hoping that their talents will make them a star. For all but a handful, that dream will be crushed. Many of those crushed enthusiasts will be too embarrassed to ever sing or dance again and that, to me, is tragic. If you are passionate about singing, then sing. If you are passionate about dancing, then dance. But do it because you love to sing and dance. Not because you crave the applause.

Nearly every self-help book or website mentions turning your hobby into a career. Stories abound of people who did exactly that and made millions. Less often told, but exponentially more numerous, are the stories of people who tried to turn their hobbies into an income stream and things didn’t work out the way they expected. The woodworker who stopped getting any joy out of his art because all of his commissions were boring pieces for clients with no imagination. The cooking enthusiast who never got to do any cooking because they spent 95% of their time dealing with the mundane business details involved in running a restaurant.

More practical advice would be to “Find a Job that Pays Reasonably Well So That You Can Afford to Follow Your Passions Outside of Work – but that wouldn’t be a very sexy book title.

Myth #2: ‘Following Your Passion’ is doing work that has meaning instead of being a mindless worker ant.

Reality Bite – All work has meaning – even the boring stuff.
Stop approaching passion as if it were something that you can “find”, like the perfect lifestyle accessory, or something that you “do”, like saving the world. Start thinking of passion as a way of being, a quality that you can and must cultivate.

When it comes to our work, we choose to be passionate. Or not. We choose to be actively engaged. Or not. We choose to be conscientious. Or not. We choose to treat customers and colleagues with courtesy and consideration. Or not. We choose to give more than is expected. Or not. We choose to see ourselves as part of the big picture. Or not.

People who can manage to be engaged, conscientious, courteous, considerate, giving and enthusiastic even while slinging hashbrowns or counting widgets *have* passion. And that passion gets noticed. And that notice results in new opportunities to do something more challenging and interesting. You are only a mindless worker ant if that is how you choose to see yourself.

Does That Mean I Shouldn’t Leave My Horrible Job?!??!

Of course not. But take the time to honestly figure out what makes the job horrible. If the problem is your attitude, your expectations, your need for applause, your passion myths, then chances are good that the next job you find isn’t going to be any less horrible than this one, and you are not going to be one inch closer to finding your passion.


Jobseekers, Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Social Networking Basket

December 16th, 2009

egg basketAs with many of my blogs, I will begin with a true confession. I’m a Twitter junkie. I enjoy exchanging banter and ideas with industry colleagues around the world. I use Twitter instead of RSS feeds to find interesting articles, blogs and people. I have lists of hundreds of recruiters and career services professionals that I follow daily. I am also on LinkedIn, and have a Facebook page for my business. So the advice I’m about to give may seem strange coming from me. But here goes.

Jobseekers, Get off the Computer Already!

The media is abuzz with news on social media, and a day rarely passes when some headline grabbing article doesn’t tout social networking as the next miracle cure for your job search. Don’t drink the kool-aid.

As somebody who is old enough to remember, it has the same hyped-up do-it-now-or-die, if-you-aren’t-doing-it-your-out-of-the-loop feel as the late 90’s when financial advisors pushed companies as must-haves in your investment portfolio. Sure, there are stories of people who social-networked their way to a new job, just as there used to be stories of dot.coms that actually made money. But now, as then, genuine success stories are few and far between.

On the job search front, you will find that the social-network-to-success stories tend to have a few things in common. The position for which the job seeker was hired had Social Media somewhere in the job title, or at a minimum in the first paragraph of the job description. More often, the job seeker actually found the job through connections they cultivated offline, but social networking helped to strengthen their credibility.

The real risk of social networking is it’s capacity to suck up hours of time in a blink of an eye, and at the end of a day spent entirely on the computer, you may be no closer to your job search goal.

Does that Mean You Should Abandon Your Social Networking Efforts? Absolutely not!

Social Networking is a useful tool in your job search arsenal. When somebody Googles your name, you need to be findable, and not just in your cousin’s wedding pictures. When a recruiter Boolean searches keywords in your area of expertise, you need to rank high in the search returns. The contributions you make to online conversations, the information you share, the contacts you make can go a long way to cementing your reputation as must-hire candidate.  Some of the contacts that you make online can evolve into strong, positive connections in the real-world.

But Social Networking needs to be one arm of a well thought out and executed job search strategy that includes cold calling companies (read Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 for innovative ideas on how), conducting industry research so that can identify and even create opportunities, attending industry events, lunching with former colleagues and clients, and giving back to the community.

My Social Networking Recommendation for Jobseekers

Schedule time for social networking, and when the time is up, have the self-discipline to push away from the computer. Spend time each day working on the real-world connections that result in job offers. If you don’t, then chances are that while your job search competitor is being on-boarded for his new position, you will be trying to unglue eyelids that have lost the capacity to blink.


Meet Karen Siwak

An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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