CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

Archive for May, 2011

A Resume is Not a Toy

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Your resume is your faceless, somewhat impersonal, professional selling tool… or at least it should be.

Even if you don’t use a professional resume writing service, please, Please, PLEASE(!) take the time to have someone review your resume. In my experience, there isn’t a single answer for how to put a resume together for everyone. Rules of thumb exist all over the place, but most of it is general information and often different groups will provide conflicting information.

I recently stumbled across this list of blunders over at ResumeBear.com and the honesty of the first statement struck me:

“Most articles on this topic list blunders that very few people are dumb enough to actually make.”

That being painfully true in many places, I have to recommend ResumeBear’s list. Taking apart many of the crucial failures, it’s a good primer on how not to completely mess up.

At the same time, I have to disagree with some of the generalizations. If you work in an arena that respects (needs/craves/expects) you to have an eye to design elements, sending in a stock Microsoft resume template is probably not going to do you any favors. Being outlandish in your layout when you’re going for a corporate job isn’t going to help either. Moderation and awareness of who you’re communicating to are essential.

That same moderation needs to be applied when we’re talking about the content you put into your resume as well. Recognizing that often the first person to see your resume will be some one (or worse, a piece of software) that is looking for keywords is important. Writing your resume so that these filters and the hiring manager see the value you bring is crucial. Making every second word a keyword from the job description is overkill.

The best resumes are short, sweet and to the point. Making it legible and error free lifts it a couple of notches, and finding creative ways to get it into the hands of a hiring manager can change the game for you.

As with many areas of life, a little common sense, a good sounding board and a good dose of humility go a long way to getting your resume in great shape. If you need professional help, contact us to talk about your resume today.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Crossing the Threshold

Monday, May 16th, 2011

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkein

I’ve talked about receiving a call, but once you’ve received it there is always the first step. Not that that first step is easy at all. Once you’ve accepted the call to action, you have to get out of your comfortable space and cross your threshold into the wild beyond.

That first step requires a lot from you. Not only are you leaving behind (at least some of) the comfort of your former life, but you’re treading into the unknown. You don’t know if the maps you’ve drawn or picked up are correct, current or even relevant to your journey. You don’t know if your provisions will get you to your destination. And in that crucial first step you’ve left behind any support not carried or travelling with you.

But this is how an adventure starts! This is how your adventure starts!

The heroes and heroines of legend receive all manner of help at this point. A mirrored shield for facing Medusa, magic swords and instruments, guardians or guides for the road, even a lock of hair from a loved one become talismans to carry forward and help in times of need.

While they might not have the supernatural abilities of their mythological counterparts, coaches and mentors like (shameless plug) CareerSherpas can help you make that transition and offer support in the face of obstacles. Friends or family who have been successful professionally, former and current bosses and others who work in your fields are all great places to find support too. With the right support even the most perilous of opportunities can be smoothed out.

Need help with that first step or any other point in your journey? Contact us!

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Do Not Mourn the Necktie

Monday, May 9th, 2011

First up, let me apologize that I haven’t been able to think of a feminine equivalent to the necktie. I’d like to say that I have a comparative item of work attire to discuss, but I’m stuck. (If anyone out there would like to suggest a similar clothing status symbol for women in the workplace please do share it in the comments!)

That out of the way, I’ve shared the following clip a few times since it first aired in 2008 and I think it has some enduring relevance. In it, Ben Stein shares his perspective of the value and presence of the necktie as well as what it represents to him.

(Ben Stein appearing on the CBS Sunday Morning show – 2008)

The tie is many things: A conservative fashion statement; a throwback to an earlier era; an imperative in (some) big businesses; a choking noose; and a personal addition to otherwise constrained traditional attire.¬†Much as I don’t agree with many of Stein’s positions, his perspective rang surprisingly true and brought to the fore all the concrete (if mildly satiric) rationales for wearing a tie. I’ve been wearing one every day for work since.

Where do you stand on the use (and abuse) of neckties?

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Receiving the Call to Adventure!

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Most people don’t immediately think of their jobs, current projects or stages in their career as an adventure. In general, they’re missing out. If you miss the intrinsic value of what you do and keep the blinders on you miss so many of the possibilities spread out in front of you.

A few posts back I described the concept of the hero’s journey, so now I’d like begin to look at the first stage in the cycle: The Departure.

The Departure is made up of a collection of steps, each leading along the journey’s path. But for today I’m going to focus on the first two:

  1. The Call to Adventure – Where our heroine receives a (sometimes unwelcome) call to set out on the journey. This is often followed by…
  2. A Refusal of the Call – Usually characterized by “Who me?”, “Why should I risk my neck to do that?” and “I can’t do that!”

The call to adventure in life comes in so many forms it’s probably impossible to list all the possibilities. It could be an opportunity to take on a new role or learn (possibly the hard way) a new skill. It could be the pressures of a negative boss or the opportunity to slow down from a hectic pace.

Whatever the call, it’s reasonable to expect that it won’t be entirely welcome or without risk. Naturally we’re all ready to question or even downright refuse a difficult change in our lives. Why shouldn’t we? Change can be hard, scary, painful and jarring. Who wants that?

The reality is that unlike the literary or mythological varieties, the calls in our lives may not be opportunities we get to accept at a later time. Projects get assigned elsewhere, positions get filled and not recognizing the time to leave a situation can burn us out or have us removed in a more negative way than if we made the choice ourselves.

Opportunities need to be evaluated calmly, objectively and with as much information to hand as we can get. Our natural reaction may be to reject the changes out of hand, but we might need to offer ourselves a second chance by taking a pause before answering. Who knows what lies around the bend in the road?

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.