Thursday, September 27, 2012


Resumes are hard to write. They're also complicated depending on with whom you're talking - mission statements; making sure there are no "hidden" years; formatting issues; CV or not to CV....

The chronological resume seems to be the format of choice these days. That's where everyone makes a list, starting with the most current, of the jobs held and the main duties involved. It's factual; it's consistent; it is a terrible way to sell oneself.

Of course most folks seeking to hire aren't trained how to read a resume either - so if the resume writer can't tell a good story and the resume reader can't infer one... opportunities are lost.

Use the accepted chronological format but ask yourself a few questions as you write it:
  • Do I want to only be seen as capable of doing a job I've done before? If no, then what skills and accomplishments can I highlight in each section that will let the reader see how my experience transfers neatly to this new role I'm seeking?
  • Does each bullet point below each job title tell a story?  Does it create an opening line for conversation around a skill or an accomplishment?
  • What line merely reflects the table-stakes...the basic expectation of the job title above it...and do I really need to explain or include it?
  • Have I included lots of adjectives or have I given concrete, unadorned examples of my skills and accomplishments?
There's a lovely blog post about things to not do with your resume on the Burns & McDonnell Careers Blog. I would debate the last point about hobbies & interests though - sometimes discovering someone has a passion for something that is linked to an internal company project (Habitat for Humanity volunteer) or shows a skill for which there was no other place on the resume ("volunteer wrangling" is my favourite so far), can tip the scales towards getting the interview. (in a matrixed organization, wrangling those volunteered is a valued skill!)

Most of all, a resume should reflect the professional "you" that can be substantiated and enthusiastically endorsed ... first and foremost by your own stories and insight.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I can't tell you how many times this month I have had to ask for a seat as I stand there with a bandage and cane on public transit. People visibly lower their heads in an effort not to see me.. or look about in a game of chicken to see who might cave first to my unreasonable demand. It is really hard for me to ask; I feel slightly ashamed of taking someone's seat.

This is not a rant about accessiblity or manners (though I am tempted). This is more a parable about how, even with an obvious "visible" need, folks hope I won't ask for help and I feel like I shouldn't.

Suppose I was working on a project and I was over my head. Would I ask for help? Would someone offer?

Collaboration is based on mutual support. Many groups have moved to consensus (which can be counterproductive) and implies no cross-support. Community is about collaboration; true collaboration implies one asks and offers help.

Our public transportation crowd may have forgotten how to play nice in community. Hopefully, we can discuss the  asking and offering of help in our mentoring circles and make it easier for everyone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


The blog, Compassion in Business, wrote in a July post "Respect for each others abilities and support by acknowledging and encouraging each other creates synergy. Team management is about inspiring and encouraging enthusiasm and cooperation."

I had a conversation with an executive yesterday who said that inspiration and encouragement is the last thing he remembers to do… and yet it is the first thing he remembers when someone else does it with him.

I think that's true for many of us. As we careen from meeting to meeting, project to project, family to friend gathering, we arrive as a willing participant but sometimes a passive one as the day's obligations consume our energy. Even when we host the gathering, our attention is often on getting to the end and not always on wrapping our arms around those on the journey with us.

It is even more important as leader to see encouragement and support as a necessary part of the success of a project. It may be a given as parents and good friends but even there we can take our closest for granted.

While I'm a big supporter of the 'suck it up' school for some things (bathrooms must be cleaned, reports must be generated), offering sincere thanks along the way is good practice. For bigger efforts or changes, the language of appreciation should be found throughout the effort and at the end. From handwritten notes to public acknowledge to a quick call, folks will adopt new measures faster when their efforts are noted.

Compassion doesn't mean weakness - compassion is leadership.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mentoring and Networking together

On the train this morning, two women were talking about mentoring. Both are being mentored and doing mentoring. Both saw mentoring as a thoughtful approach to building a whole life view: career, passions, outside work activities.
"Mentoring is so much better than networking," said one.
"Oh yes! I hate networking," said the other.

And yet, what they were doing on the train was networking: building and deepening an existing relationship.

Their conversation also reflected a common thought: mentoring is about a career and networking is about finding a job.

You may not mentor every day but you do network. Networking is not simply about handing out a resume and impressing strangers. Networking and mentoring work together to build community - out of which you may find jobs, friends, opportunities and ideas.... and good conversations on a train.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I just broke a few personal records in Snood... that's after playing an hour of Monster Burner... The reason I sat down at the computer was Not to play games but to rewrite a paper... which still isn't done. :-)  I hear Carly Simon singing in my head but "Anticipation" is replaced with "Procrastination."(someone must have done the parody by now?)

Normally, I'm a fan of a little procrastination. Letting my mind idly wander for an hour often percolates some ideas. Getting off the treadmill of having to 'get things done' and be productive 24/7 has been proven in many studies to actually make us more productive. Daydreaming is a desired activity (though it's weird to call daydreaming an 'activity').

Other times, procrastination is a sign that we are actively avoiding a certain task (vs. being lazy or disorganized). Sometimes it's worth having the conversation as to why a certain task falls to the bottom of the list (budgets and spreadsheets, anyone?)

Some times, procrastination is simply a sign that we are overloaded and it's time to take a break.

That might be the mentoring conversation I need to have next - asking why a task is being avoided instead of chastising /being chastised for not making a deadline.

Either way, as long as missing the deadline (real or self-imposed) will not cause a plane to fall from the sky or empires to burn, perhaps a few moments of Chicktionary might be the right way to think this through...