Improve Your Odds With A Great Resume

Getting the first interview becomes less a game of chance with a strong resume.

Ah, the resume. Almost everyone hates making a resume or updating a resume. One of the hardest things to do yourself is to present yourself to recruiters in the best light. For the same reasons that it’s hard to write or talk about yourself in any context, the resume presents some unique challenges for anyone. Presenting your personality, your work history, and your x-factor on paper takes work. But stand out from the crowd you must if you want to make it to that first interview and beyond.

On the face of it, writing and laying out a good resume doesn’t sound hard. But it is. In many ways, it’s easier to have someone write your resume for you. But in the event you want to DIY, here are some things to keep in mind:

You need to tell your story

This means putting your history into a context that will make you feel like a good fit with the organizations with which you’re applying. Story goes not just for the words on the page, but also the way that information is presented. Use strong, active language, present yourself as a solution to problems and a problem solver.

Layout and design matters

You want to highlight certain areas of interest, and make sure these highlights stand out for a recruiter. Some resumes will be designed with a sidebar of highlights, like achievements, hard and soft skills, and education. Don’t be afraid of using color on your resume but be mindful that your resume might be printed off in black and white, so stay away from gradients and colors that are too soft. Designing in black and white is always classic. Pay attention to fonts and use a hierarchy of sizes to indicate to the reader what things are most significant by how you treat your headlines, sub headlines, and body copy.

Introduce yourself, what you like, love, and what’s important to you

You will be part of a whole team, so you want to give your future employer a clear sense of who you are as an individual. Many people are going to be competitive with you on the level of work experience. What sets you apart on your resume is how unique you seem when compared to other candidates.

Make your work history active and results oriented

You can go beyond simply listing your job duties for any position by making it achievement driven. In doing what you did in a certain role, how did you achieve (or exceed) your goals? What was the benefit you created by your actions? How did you help your last company achieve its goals? If you’re in sales, this will be largely sales oriented. If you are an engineer, this will be related to your subject matter expertise. But also think about what you did that had cross-departmental value. If you can show that you think strategically and holistically, you will be seen to have more skill than if you are just performing a narrow function. Think about the big picture.

Use testimonials

If you have three solid, snappy testimonials, it’s a good idea to include these in your resume. Ideally, these are diverse, from superiors, co-workers, and community leaders. If you have three of a kind, that’s fine too. Make sure they are short, speak about your skills, and speak to your character. A few short testimonials from people who love what you do and how you do it is a good way to orient a recruiter to how you work and how you’re seen. These same people can double as your references or not. Pick and choose based on what makes strategic sense for you.

It’s always a crap shoot when it comes to getting your resume to the top of the pile and on to the first interview. But you can improve your career chances by paying a little more attention to your resume. Your resume needs to speak for you, so give it a good voice, a good face, and dress it to do the work for you. Paying attention to the quality of your resume is a foundational first step you can take to getting that next great job.

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The Loneliness Pandemic

Sure, coronavirus has upset the world, but what about loneliness?

Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, people around the world were in the throes of an even bigger dis-ease: loneliness. Down the generations and down the centuries, pure loneliness might have been embraced by the odd poet, religious essayist, and Trappist monk. But for the ordinary person in the modern world, boredom and loneliness runs deeper than any boardgame or movie can fix.

What your loneliness needs is a purpose.

So now that we are forced into isolation, kept away from family and friends, with only our trusty pets at our sides, how badly is modern mental health being affected? How high is the loneliness quotient today, a disease that continues to ravage communities of old people, the sick, the single, and any of us who haven’t experienced human contact or touch lately. And was it always this way before the internet and the telephone?

On the subject of isolation and modern loneliness, Yahoo Finance says, “In 2020 we are lonelier and more isolated than at any other point in our recorded past. On some level, I’m sure that makes it easier to remain in quarantine. We also have the technological tools to work from our homes without much impact on our output. We can get cough medicine delivered within hours and even speak with a doctor in absentia thanks to telemedicine.

“But our isolation also makes us more vulnerable. Consider two different stories I heard this week. First, a single mother was frantically worried that she might get sick and not be able to find someone to watch her children while she was quarantined. Apparently, she didn’t have close friends or neighbors that she felt could be relied on. Another woman’s Twitter thread went viral after she was flagged down by an elderly woman in a grocery store parking lot who pressed cash and a list into her hand and begged her to buy her groceries, since she was so afraid of contracting the virus at her age.”

Time Magazine points to the history of loneliness and a single strategy for curing loneliness: meaning.

“More than ever before, people are alone and lonely, deprived of the companionship of others, of touch and human connection. Loneliness in lockdown is easily explained by those who note that, as the much-quoted neuroscientist John Cacioppo put it, we are wired for intimacy. Humans have a biological need to be in social groups and loneliness tells us we have a physical need for human contact.

“Yet this biological approach ignores the histories of the body, and emotions. It overlooks the fact that loneliness is not a universal human condition, but a historically specific one. Before 1800, loneliness wasn’t even a word in regular use in the English language. Where it was used, it meant the same as a much more common term: loneliness, the state of being alone. Trees were lonely, roads were lonely, even clouds — as William Wordsworth noted in his famous poem. But that loneliness was not the same as today’s loneliness, that disconnect between the relationships we have and those we want to have.

“For loneliness to exist, two things are needed: a lack of meaning in one’s relationships (or lack thereof) and a sense of the self as separate from others. In pre-modern society, religion gave meaning to all existence, and there was less emphasis on the uniqueness of the individual. For good and ill, an invisible hand had the wheel. When the 18th century shopkeeper and diarist Thomas Turner’s wife died and his friends abandoned him, he was ”worn to the grave with trouble,” but he was not lonely. And how could he be? God was always there.

Loneliness comes with more than a bunch of boredom for the modern, hyper-connected person. It comes with heart attacks, obesity, suicide, and other mental health disturbances. That we are social creatures, more connected than ever, is only underscored when we find we can’t even go and do the simple things, like visiting mom. At least yet. Being isolated from people might be a gift to some, but for most people being isolated and alone is a curse. An actual dis-ease of the mind that manifests in the body as well.

Finding your abiding purpose in life, guided by whatever higher power you believe in, even if that higher power is your own untapped ability, connects you to a mission larger than just you, attaching you to ideals and meaning beyond the daily routines of ennui. Take some time to think about what matters to you and why, connect the dots and find the wisdom to see that you are never alone, what drives you now is what was also important to you yesterday. Take comfort in the fact that your real connection to your higher purpose exists as strongly as ever. That not only can we beat a virus together, we can also beat loneliness by remembering who we are and what higher purpose or calling we serve.

Do you need advice on reaching your life and career goals? Reach out to our coaching team at

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On The Shoulders Of Giants

No one achieves their potential without help from others.

In the forward to his book Tools of Titans, the author Tim Ferriss quotes Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I am not a self-made man. Every time I give a speech at a business conference, or speak to college students, or do a Reddit AMA, someone says it.

Schnitzel (depending on where I am), as a self-made man, what’s your blueprint for success? They’re always shocked when I thank them for the compliment but say, ‘I am not a self-made man. I got a lot of help.’

“It is true that I grew up in Austria without plumbing. It is true that I moved to America alone with just a gym bag. And it is true that I worked as a bricklayer and invested in real estate to become a millionaire before I ever swung the sword in Conan the Barbarian.

“But it is not true that I am self-made. Like everyone, to get to where I am, I stood on the shoulders of giants. My life was built on a foundation of parents, coaches, and teachers; of kind souls who lent couches or gym back rooms where I could sleep; of mentors who shared wisdom and advice; of idols who motivated me from the pages of magazines (and, as my life grew, from personal interaction).”

One of the big mistakes we can make in our careers and our lives is believing in the myth of the self-made man. As Ferriss says, there is no one on the planet who hasn’t benefited from, or gotten to where they are, without the help of some sort of coach, leadership, mentorship, and outright financial support. If we forget the fact that we are always riding on the shoulders of the giants in our lives, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Riding on the shoulders of giants is also about gathering and gaining knowledge from outside of our circle of family, friends, and other immediate influencers. It also goes for ideas and great books, learning from those who have come before us who said things that have never been said before or so well. This is why educating yourself is a great goal: always learning from the visionaries and world-changers to improve the quality of our thinking and the outcomes of those thoughts.

Ferriss goes on to quote Schwarzenegger: “Whether it’s a morning routine, or a philosophy or training tip, or just motivation to get through your day, there isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t benefit from a little outside help. I’ve always treated the world as my classroom, soaking up lessons and stories to fuel my path forward. I hope you do the same. The worst thing you can ever do is think that you know enough. Never stop learning. Ever.”

Ferriss claims he is no expert himself, he is only the scribe and the guide, working with the materials he’s been given by others to achieve something greater than he could ever achieve on his own.

The concept of standing on the shoulders of giants has been traced to the 12th century, attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Its most familiar expression in English is by Isaac Newton in 1675: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

Once again, the past teaches us a lot about how to look at the world today, how to see further, and how to stride into the future with confidence and meaning behind everything we do.

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That’s not an easy one to answer. But once you do, life becomes a whole lot better.

As you start your day today, it’s good to ask yourself ‘why’. Why do you do what you do? And how does what you do now affect the why of what you do every day for the rest of your life?

This is what you might call the ‘Simon Sinek question for business’ applied to your personal life. What is your ‘why’? What is the ‘why’ of your life?

Why do you strive to the goals you have? Why are these goals important to you? Why will doing the same things every day as habits and modes of thought help us or harm us?

I have a coaching client who is examining her ‘why’. A single mother with children, she works at a frantic pace every day just to meet her obligations to others. Their ‘why’ is her ‘why’. But take away the life circumstances, the need to put food on the table, the immediate realities of running a household and working, she kept running to goals that weren’t hers. They were goals created to meet the demands of others. She’s exhausted. She’s been recently laid off and is now trying to fill that financial gulf again, still without addressing what brought her to this place of high responsibility, with no end in sight, and no ‘why’ goals for her own life. There’s no doubt she needs to support her family, and she sacrifices her personal ‘why’ for the benefit of the bigger family need.

Through our conversations on this subject, the lightbulb went off for her. She recognized she’s neglected herself in the process of feeding the ‘why’ of her family. Even though the needs of the family will never change and only grow, at least until the kids are old enough to support themselves. But there was no reason for her to continue to neglect her own development in all areas of her life that would actually help her be a better provider, a more nourished soul, and a more energetic and positive mom.

I have another coaching client in Asia who wanted to start their own business. The business ‘why’ was there, but the inner ‘why’ of the (now successful) entrepreneur wasn’t. When we addressed this person’s personal ‘why’ with the ‘why’ of the business, and aligned them, this person could move past the feelings of self doubt in a scary future, to a place of self-confidence that eventually got the new company off the ground and sailing forward.

Again, what is your ‘why’? What is your purpose?

If you wake up or go through your days with that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, with anxiety, and gathering just enough willpower to do another day, it might be time to examine your own personal ‘why’. When you do, you will feel more empowered and better equipped to make decisions that grow your life instead of keeping you stuck where you are.

Think about your personal ‘why’. It’s not an easy one to answer. But if you dig down and think about it, you’ll possibly find a better approach to life that will be the catalyst for personal development and growth.

Ask yourself ‘why’. And go from there.

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Flying Against The Odds

Look to nature and you’ll see a life lesson in the mighty bee.

According to many, there is no reason a bee should be able to fly. Jack Fraser, Master’s Physics, University of Oxford says, “according to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyways. Because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.”

But the laws of nature are funny things, and the animal kingdom comes in every shape and form. It turns out that it’s a misconception that the bee isn’t made to fly. It’s just built differently than a bird. So how is it that a bee can fly? Is there a lesson we can take from the bee that shows us how we can also fly, even against seemingly impossible odds?

The Naked Scientists website says, “bumblebees are the tanker trucks of the insect world, evolved to carry huge loads of pollen back to their hive. To figure out exactly how their wings move to propel them through the air, back in 2009 Oxford University scientists put bumblebees in a wind tunnel with some smoke and high-speed cameras. And although the bees clearly do fly, they do it in an unusual way- unlike most flying animals their left and right wings flap independently and the airflow around them never joins up to help them slip through the air more easily. It’s described best as a ‘brute force’ approach to flying, rather than the elegant soaring of a bird or the streamlined flight of a fly.”

So, the bumblebee goes against the grain and is built to be a marvel of aerodynamics and has made people reconsider what flight really means.

The authors go on to say, “So – although they may do it in an unorthodox manner, the flight of the bumblebee doesn’t defy physics. In fact, this myth is often used as a way of being disparaging about science – implying that if something doesn’t fit into our current models or we don’t know how it happens then science is somehow at fault or that there a mystical forces at work. Of course, as this story shows, when something appears to defy the laws of physics, it’s because we haven’t found the right way of studying it.”

Isn’t that also true of careers, life and people? If we aren’t built a certain way, aren’t understood a certain way, then we aren’t relevant, we don’t fit the mold of expectation. We are told what we desire is impossible, that we aren’t made for it, and that while we might want all the wealth possible in our lives, spiritual, emotional, mental, if we accept the rule of others, like accepting the so-called known rules of physics, we will constantly be up against artificial limitations.

What the bee shows us is that there is no limit to flight. That what makes flight possible, in the case of the bee, is a special set of skills and techniques that allow it to gather and spread pollen that makes the world what it is. Without the cunning design of the bee, it could not hover and fly from flower to flower with the same conservation of energy. It has adapted to communicate with others just the same as them, given the same impossible task of pollinating the world with such little wings and a fat body. But it does. And there’s the lesson. You, too, can fly, against the wind, against all odds known to man, to do the special work that they do. The bee is unique in the insect world for all that it gives to mankind and the world at large. Without the bee, we wouldn’t have everything else.

So, just remember the bee when you’re feeling like maybe your wings are too small, they have been clipped, and you’ve been told that you can’t do what you want to do and know you can do. Don’t give up. Just get busy being the best impossible bee you can be.

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Do Your Social Media Profiles Help You Find Work?

Your face to the world might need a bit of a refresh to maximize engagement and job offers.

Trust. A five-letter word you can’t live without, especially when you’re looking for a job or contract work. Some people might have personal or business websites or use other platforms from which to sell their wares and services. A good chunk of businesspeople today use LinkedIn to profile themselves, their experiences, and accomplishments. Because it’s your face to the world, and its purpose is to present you in an enriched resume format, I wanted to talk about how to get as much engagement as possible through your LinkedIn pages. It’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is as complete and complementary as possible. Here are some things I see every day and ways you can elevate your trust factor to the world.

Someone reached out to me not long ago to congratulate me on how complete my LinkedIn profile page was; the person could easily gather my background, accomplishments, endorsements, and the quality of my ideas and thinking through regular publishing of articles and videos that showcase the knowledge that myself and our firm has gathered over the years. I continue to get daily follower requests because of that little thing called trust.

So, how can you generate more trust and attract more interest from recruiters and business partners? Most of this is just common sense, but at the same time I see so few actually taking the time to turn their LinkedIn profiles into true sales and promotional content that make you seem trustworthy, savvy, and highly desirable.

First, make sure you’re using a profile picture, and make it a professional photo if you can. The red flags go up when you don’t have a profile picture. It’s only slightly better if you’re using your phone to take a selfie at some weird angle and in some weird place, like driving your car. Unless you drive for a living, you might consider something more aligned to what you do in a professional capacity. Dress for the occasion and smile for the camera. LinkedIn is primarily a business social networking platform differing from others where any picture may suffice, so step up the professionalism on this platform.

You also can make an impact with a background banner image in Linked In. Use it to express some aspect of your personality or what you do, or both. It’s another touchpoint for a potential employer or partner to know a little bit more about you, what you like, and how you think.

Make sure all of your basic vitals are covered, your name, your most recent place of employment, your work, and roles and responsibilities.

Take some time to write a good, succinct bio for yourself. Make the language active and oriented to outcomes and successes you’ve had. This is your time and place to brag and tell your story since no one else is going to tell it for you. Be honest with your accomplishments, but don’t be shy about them either. An aside on style: I have had coaching clients who wonder if your bio should be in the first or the third person. First person is the way to go! I know many people who speak in the third person about themselves, which makes it feel a bit more formal; however, I have often heard employers question why someone is speaking about themselves in third person as they feel it impersonable and a bit strange.  Just be you, speak of you, as you, in first person.

If you’ve won any awards for your work, note those. If you have degrees or certifications for specialized skills, make sure you note those, too. If you have physical work to share, you should also add these to LinkedIn, either as native to the platform or off platform such as at YouTube or Behance, or even your own website.

Ask for endorsements from your follower group, or from your friends’ group who might also be followers of yours. If your friends are not already followers, ask them to join your network. Everyone is one, two and three degrees of separation apart and you never know who you might meet by connecting with those you know. Some people are reluctant to give endorsements, some are not; but if someone is not willing, don’t take it personally. It likely has a lot less to do with you and more to do with their basic reticence as a person. LinkedIn is a business networking tool, so connect with people, talk with people, and comment on news shared.

Make sure you list your most recent contact numbers and emails. If you aren’t comfortable providing your phone number or email then ensure you are checking daily your LinkedIn Messages. You need to provide an easy way for a potential recruiter or business partner to get in touch with you.

You will get a lot of messaging requests from all kinds of service companies. It can be daunting to reply to them all, but you might as well be clear about your intentions for the platform and what sort of outreach you are willing to accept. A polite reply to something you aren’t interested in is a good way to go. If you find the person reaching out to you is pushy, or feels fake in any way, you can always block them or eliminate them from your circle. Grow your follower base and interact with the community. And make it positive. LinkedIn is about connecting people with opportunity, and the more you engage with the community in thoughtful and constructive and encouraging ways, the more trust you’ll build and the more followers you’ll begin to get.

Don’t engage in hostilities even if someone else is. A lot of people post about politics on LinkedIn these days, and unless it’s something that really affects you or is so egregious that it’s important to speak on the issue, do it with grace and respect. This goes for responses to anyone’s post about anything. Even if you’re about to scream for seeing false quotations from famous people who never said the things they’re attributed with saying, don’t comment, just scroll on by and carry on. Cleaning up content on LinkedIn is a topic for another day.

The bottom line is LinkedIn is your calling card, a way for you to position your personality, your skills, and your expertise for the world. Think about the entire effect you’re giving, make some adjustments, fill in the missing pieces, and get out there and market your unique self to the LinkedIn universe.

Do you need help sharpening your LinkedIn and other social media profiles? Our expert social media and resume team can help. Reach out to us at and we can build the profile you need.

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Executive Recruiting The Right Way

Use experienced professional recruiters to get your best team on the field.

I’ve never been a major league baseball manager. I’ve never put a major sporting team on the field. So, I wouldn’t really know a good player from a great player when it comes to baseball, or football, or hockey, or any sport. All I would be left with is looking at player stats, and as any coach I’ve ever known or talked to says, stats only tell part of the picture. There are dimensions to people beyond pure athleticism that makes some individuals great and others only good or mediocre. And if you follow sports at all, you will see first draft phenoms flame out in their first season, forever shopped around, and traded and even sent to the minor leagues.

So what good are so-called superstar picks?

The one thing I do know a lot about is recruiting talent for your business. I learned a long time ago a lesson given to me by my major league baseball manager friend who said, you can pick the great ones on paper, but until they have to play in real time you still don’t know who you’re dealing with. It’s great to see the pedigree on paper, but until they hit the field and play an entire season, you really don’t know much about the player at all.

In executive recruiting for over 20 years, and seeing all of the ins and outs of the game, I can say that executive recruiting is a lot like fielding the right baseball team. You have specialists, like first basemen and pitchers, you have your utility guys, and you also have your stars. And sometimes those stars come out of left field from people you don’t expect.

There are real life fantasies that happen this way, where the washed up player with bad knees, or the unsung rookie who barely made the team, becomes the hero of the season. Our culture likes this kind of story, of the underdog who beats all the odds to be the hero of the day. This does also sometimes happen in executive recruiting, too. Someone who looks great on paper might, eventually, not be the player you’d assumed or hoped for, and you see shining lights in the second squad or the second line. You always need to hire for past performance and track record. But in executive recruiting, like in the major leagues, you need to hire for attitude, for leadership qualities, and the kinds of personality traits that can make heroes of others and build a team. There is nothing worse than spending your time looking for a star, only to realize that the unicorn you’re after, likely doesn’t and never did exist. What you want, instead, are leaders, team players, a person who will get what needs to be done because it needs to be done, regardless of their job title.

I have met many job seekers who could have filled an executive role easily and nicely, but who get passed over because the firm looking for talent is searching for that big star to save them. This is the wrong way to recruit. The better way is to look for people who add to the entire team, who can bring out the best in others, and who lead by their example. Words are cheap. Resumes are cheap. Letters of recommendation are cheap. All that really matters is what they can bring to the team on game day, every day, consistently delivering excellence and helping you build an ever better team, guided by team values, by character, and by a willingness to drive for the win.

I think it was the great boxer George Foreman who once said the difference between an amateur and a professional is that while sometimes the amateur can rise to the challenge, put in a great performance, and win a big fight, the professional can do that every day, day in and day out, with a smile on his or her face. Clearly you need to find the best professionals in the recruiting ranks, the ones who can put in the same great performances for your business every day, smoothly, competently, humbly, and inspiring others with the abilities to motivate, overcome challenges, and instill a sense of calming confidence and assurance across your teams.

That’s when you know you have a winner.

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What Are Your Transferrable Skills?

And how do you break from your resume history to persuade a recruiter to give you a shot at a new, golden opportunity?

Not unlike a Hollywood movie star, it’s easy to be typecast in your role and your career based on what you’ve done previously. Obviously to get a job, you need to show a track record and experience in your line of work. Yet this track record of narrow expertise in any field can work against you, especially if you are forced by circumstances or your own mid-life crisis to try something new.

You’ll likely have the HR department scratching their heads if you apply for a role for which you have little or no direct experience.

But it’s a bit like telling Jim Carrey that he can’t do a serious role because he was so well known for comedies. Yet he is versatile, with all the transferrable skills that made him at one time the highest paid actor in Hollywood. Yet he had to fight and plead for some of the serious roles he did eventually take on, but at a deep discount in salary when compared to his comedic work. Meanwhile, once given the shot, he proved himself in serious roles with several Oscar nominations.

The point being you also have transferrable skills. The trouble might be getting the casting agent (aka the human resource manager or recruiter) to see past your previous roles and see how what you did then has prepared you for something different now.

The added trouble here, with applying for jobs, is that if you apply for something outside of your experience, 99.9% of recruiters are going to toss you to the ‘no’ pile. Yet if you apply for something that fits your experience perfectly, you’ll continue to be typecast for certain roles in certain industries.

Is there any way around this? With some ingenuity and perseverance, there is a chance you can shift to compete for a different role.

First, write your resume in such a way that it shows off your transferable skills even before you list the places you’ve worked. Talk about transferrable skills as its own section, while also listing the positive impact your transferrable skills made in your previous work. This can be anything from improving processing speeds, to implementing a new technology that made the company more profitable, or ways your work or your department innovated in such a way that it became policy across departments to the benefit of your company.

Second, highlight your personality skills with testimonials from people who know you in work and life, from your superiors, to your co-workers, to someone who’s known you a very long time who works outside of your industry. The purpose is to show you are a flexible person who gets along with people from all walks of life and you can adjust and adapt your approach to every circumstance. This will show that your people skills and your ability to learn, to adjust, to compensate and be flexible, is very high. If you put this up front in your resume, it will be front and centre for the decision maker, which will put you in a whole new light in ways that the typical resume, listing job title, years of service, and job description, can never do.

If you need help getting your transferable skills across or writing a resume that compels recruiters to give you a second interview, contact us at

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