Tag Archives: brilliant cv

110 Job Hunting Resume, CV and Interview Tips

110 job hunting resume cv and interview tips from Jim Bright

Here are some tips for Job Hunting, Resumes, Interviews, and Testing for 2011.

As an author of job hunting books that have sold way in the 100,000s in the USA, UK, Australia, China, Vietnam, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Japan (you get the idea), with titles like Amazing Resumes, Brilliant CV, Resumes that get shortlisted, Should I stay or Should I go, StressSmart®, and Job Hunting for Dummies Australia & New Zealand, I thought I’d pass on some tips to assist in landing that job.

More tips and advice can be found in other great titles in the USA published by JIST, and the Brilliant series in the UK published by Pearson.

I’ve divided the tips into sections below.

39  Resume, Cover letter, Job Search tips

  1. The resume is just as important as the interview. When we got recruiters to rate candidate resumes and then rate their interview performance, the resume predicted the job offer just as strongly as the interview.  Don’t under-estimate the resume.
  2. The resume is the first point of contact between you and the employer in many cases. The resume is the only time in the recruitment process where you have total control over what information is presented and how it is presented. First impressions count.
  3. Make your resume a marketing tool that sells you! When you show someone around your garden you point out the beautiful flowers, and water features – you don’t dwell on the dog’s droppings and the compost heap! In the same way on your resume you emphasize your achievements rather than just your duties. (We found that resumes that emphasize achievements were more likely to be short-listed that resumes that emphasized job duties).
  4. Make a list of every single achievement you have had in life since birth. Yes since birth.  Leave nothing off no matter how trivial it seems.   You might not use “I learned to talk” on your resume, the practice in training your memory to recall personal achievements means you will recall more achievements from your school or work life that are relevant.
  5. Do as much research as you possibly can on the job you are going for.
    • Google search,
    • ask current and past employees,
    • visit the office, factory or shop if practical.
    • Call the contact to ask intelligent questions
    • Get a friend to call to ask the “dumb” or self-serving questions (like how much money, can I delay my start, can I leave early on Wednesdays)
    • Buy or hire the product or use the service if practical
    • Ask your mentors and network
    • Check out job sites, Linkedin, Facebook, Google + and Twitter for information
  6. All resumes should be be written with the Fit model in mind – the fit between you and the job on offer. Do this by:
  7. Look at the job ad, position description and any other research you have on the job you want to apply for and divide the job into
  8. Knowledge – what you need to know to do the job
  9. Skills – what skills do you need to have to do the job
  10. Abilities – how will you need use your knowledge and skills
  11. Attitudes – what kind of personal qualities are they looking for
  12. Now think about yourself in the same way – Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Attitudes
  13. To decide what to include in the resume (or say in the interview) apply these rules:
    • If it increases the fit between you and the job include the information on the resume or say it in the interview
    • If it decreases the fit between you and the job, omit it from the resume and do not say it in the interview
    • If it is neutral with respect to fit between you and the job only include it if there is room and only say it if there is time

Layout:

  1. If you are completing an online resume – type it out first into Pages or MS Word.  Get the word lengths, format and spelling correct and double-checked before copying pasting into the online form.  Also it means if the form crashes or the link is dropped you still have all your work saved in the word-processing file.
  2. If you are printing a hard copy:
  3. Use white paper of 80 gsm thickness or slightly greater
  4. Avoid gimmicks including:
  5. Clip art
  6. Pictures
  7. Photographs (unless expressly asked for)
  8. Samples of your work (unless expressly asked for)
  9. Colored paper
  10. Non-standard fonts (use Arial 11, Times New Roman 12, Verdana 12)
  11. In our research resumes containing identical content put presented in a wacky way were rated lower by recruiters and they said it included less information

Content:

  1. Leave out date of birth, gender, marital status, children, religion, smoker status, illnesses or disabilities, sexual orientation, memberships of political or activist organizations (unless they unarguably increase the fit), hobbies (unless directly relevant to the job), reasons for leaving, salary or salary expectations
  2. Include contact details, generally include an address (unless it is a long way from the place of work, has a notorious reputation, you have reason to be concerned about security or privacy)
  3. Length: School leavers 1- 2 pages, graduates and most employees 2-3 pages, senior people up to 5 pages.  Academics, and when specifically requested, the sky is the limit
  4. Spelling mistakes.  Eliminate these by
  5. Using spell checker (set to the correct language)
  6. Then printing out and reading
  7. Then give it to someone else to read and check (who has good grammatical skills)
  8. Read the document backwards – this is an old proof readers trick – it forces you to process each word and not read for meaning (which disguises typos and spelling mistakes)

Cover letter:

  1. Limit to one page.  Check all contact details are up to date.  Address the letter to a real person – do not use Dear Sir/Madam (it means you haven’t done enough research)
  2. 1st paragraph – Say what job you want to apply for, provide the reference number (if there is one) and where you saw it advertised (puts recruiter in good mood as they get feedback on their advertising)
  3. 2nd Paragraph – state why you are a perfect fit for the role
  4. 3rd Paragraph – state that you are looking forward to meeting them at the interview (for which you are available at their request)
  5. For general on-line resumes see the excellent book about using Linkedin for job  searching by my friend Aaltje Vincent Career Management via LinkedIn http://www.amazon.com/Career-Management-LinkedIn-Aaltje-Vincent/dp/9049104398/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318218179&sr=1-9
  6. For general job networking and search also see my fellow JIST authors Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dib’s The Twitter Job Search Guide: Find a Job and Advance Your Career in Just 15 Minutes a Day http://www.amazon.com/Twitter-Job-Search-Guide-Advance/dp/1593577915/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318218290&sr=1-1
  7. For more resume and cover letter advice check out my own books Amazing Resumes (JIST) USA, Brilliant CV (Pearson) UK, Resumes that get shortlisted (Allen & Unwin) Australia

26 Interview Tips

  1. The night before take your mind off the interview and go and do something else which is interesting and engaging.
  2. The night before the interview try and have as calm a night as possible. Go back through your résumé, flick through the material, go to a film, watch television. Just have a relaxed evening, don’t get too tensed up and have an early night and not too much alcohol. I would suggest that you avoid eating food with lots of spice or garlic in it. You don’t want to go to the interview the following day smelling heavily of alcohol or garlic, because that can be off-putting. Get a good solid meal and a good night’s sleep
  3. It is worth bearing in mind, that the person sitting on the other side of the desk interviewing you is human as well believe it or not. Prick them with a pin and they will bleed. (Note do not literally do this!)
  4. Take down accurate records of the time, date, and venue of the interview – so you know exactly where you are going and when (I know durrrr, but I could tell you a tale of one the leading international coaches who forgot to do this and missed a giving a presentation, or the hapless keynote called at home to be asked politely whether he was thinking of attending the conference, as there were 1000 people waiting to hear his speech – and no neither of these were me!)
  5. If there are clashes and you are already being interviewed that day for another job, you will need to consider rearranging the interview. The thing to do here is to consider which of the two interviews is the most important to you. Which job you really most want or which job is the one that you really feel you are most likely to get and then rearrange the least preferred interview for another day. You can be very polite about that and I would suggest that you don’t say that you are being interviewed elsewhere, but make another excuse such as you are unable to leave work that day if you are working, or perhaps a white lie ‘for personal reasons you are unable to attend on that day, but you would be more than happy to attend on any other day that they may care to choose’.
  6. Pull out from your work file the copy of the job advertisement and the résumé and cover letter that you sent. Study those closely and try to remember as many of the points that you made about yourself as possible.
  7. Any information that you found out about the company that you stored in your job file you should go through now
  8. Now is the time to make sure that you have your suitable attire for an interview. Whether that happens to be a suit or just a smart pair of trousers, a shirt, and some shoes that are well polished and look smart and match with the accessories.
  9. Not sure what to wear?  Generally wear clothes one notch smarter than the everyday wear in the job.  For trades roles, smart pressed button shirt or blouse and smart pressed trousers or skirt.
  10. Mindmap stories about a time when you achieved something at work, think up several examples for each selection criterion.
  11. In making up your stories organise them with these questions:
    What were the:

    • Dates
    • Names
    • Outcomes (in numbers, dollars, etc)
    • Locations
    • What Happened?
    • What is the Point?
  12. Use the common STAR formula for your stories – Situation, Task, Action, Results
  13. If you are an internal candidate, take a smarter set of interview clothes to work with you and put them on just before you are called. The contrast and the fact you have made an effort will impress. It also saves you spending the day wearing these clothes and increasing the chances of them looking tired, or worse soiled with coffee spills and the rest.
  14. Avoid strong cologne
  15. Avoid garish make up
  16. Consider removing or covering piercings and body art – yes I know they are lovely, my father was a sailor with tats on both arms, but even he covered them up when working as a Judge….
  17. The minute you walk through the door of the building on the day of the interview your interview has started. In fact, the minute you have a telephone conversation with the recruiter or the recruiter’s secretary the interview has started.
  18. Never make the mistake of patronizing or underestimating the administrative staff in an office.
  19. Don’t express opinions in the interview or where you can overheard, unless you are expressly asked to do so.  Then be careful and cautious in your answers if you do not know the background politics in the place.
  20. The cardinal rule in the interview is keep your cool. It is not the time to start arguing.
  21. If you are sure of yourself and you know where you want to go and what you want out of the job, then you should ask questions. Not asking questions at interview when invited to do so, gives the impression you are not interested in the position, or that you have not prepared properly
  22. Take your time to respond to questions
  23. If you do not understand a question ask for clarification
  24. Do not always accept the interviewers premise i.e. “So you left Bloggs and Co. pretty quickly, where did you work next?”. Why accept the interviewers premise that you left quickly? This is a typical trap, instead reply “Well I was at Bloggs and Co for a year, so I was there a reasonable amount of time, and in that time, the company restructured which removed any chances of progression in my specialist field…”
  25. Emphasize positives during interviews – do not dwell on negative experiences such as sackings, work disputes, long periods out of the work force. If you have had such problems in the past and the interviewer tries to get you to explain such events, you can try cutting this short by saying, “ I am really most interested in how I can best develop my career now and in the future, and I am positive I can make an excellent contribution…”
  26. Panel interviews (where two or more people interview you at the same time) are fairer for you, so do not be intimidated, they are less likely to be biased by factors such as personal rapport, race, gender and other irrelevant issues.

45 Testing Tips

For traditional face to face testing

  1. Ask in advance how long the test session lasts.
  2. Try to have a restful sleep the night before.
  3. Take a spare pen and pencil with you. (for face to face testing) (Stationery should be supplied, but you should bring your own in case the tester doesn’t, or the pen runs out)
  4. Go to the bathroom just before you go into the test room. (Don’t forget to wash your hands!)
  5. Now you’re ready to face the test, you can take plenty of steps to prepare yourself to do well. Once you’re inside the test room, follow these simple tips in the next section.
  6. Don’t be late arriving at the venue.

For online testing

  1. If you doing the tests at home or in the office, ensure you have quiet surroundings and a rock solid internet connection and mains power to your computer
  2. Switch off phones and other applications running on your computer like facebook, mail, twitter, linkedin
  3. If the test is not timed, consider using an open word file to compose answers to any open response questions to get the response right and grammatically correct
  4. Work through methodically, taking advantage of any opportunity to save your work
  5. If you have to provide a user name and password at login, make a record of it.
  6. When completed, if you know how to take a screen grab, take one of the final page that says you have completed, or even take a photo to prove you have completed the test

For all testing

  1. Read the test instructions very carefully.
  2. Check all the options first before deciding multiple-choice answers.
  3. Answer personality questions as honestly as possible but do have in mind the picture of an ideal employee for the role, would their answer differ significantly from yours?
  4. Go back and check that you’ve answered all the questions before you finish.
  5. Don’t have a late night before testing day or take the tests late at night.
  6. Remember to bring your reading glasses
  7. Don’t drink alcohol or take strong sedating medication (other than regular prescriptions) or other drugs before sitting a psychological test.
  8. Don’t take medication that can make you drowsy. (If you have to take medication, inform the tester in writing before you sit the test.)
  9. Don’t plump for the first choice answer without checking the other options first.
  10. Don’t worry if you haven’t answered all the questions in the time available. This is not unusual.
  11. Even if you approach a test in a positive manner, you may find that a number of the questions in personality tests appear to be either quite strange or irrelevant. In the next sections, you have a chance to try your hand at typical aptitude tests and explore how you can best handle the process of being tested.
  12. Personality and aptitude tests can work to your advantage. The trick is to understand why you’re being tested, to test the tester with questions of your own and to know enough about the tests to feel in control of the process.
  13. Personality testing is so complex, the experts find it difficult to agree on what works and what doesn’t. However, the theory called the Big Five has managed to gain a relatively high degree of support among personality test specialists.
  14. The Big Five theory is based on the fact that five broad areas of personality exist and that each of these areas reflect many different facets of personality. These five areas are:
  15. Agreeableness – Trust, compliance and modesty are signs of agreeableness. As the label suggests, agreeableness is about how well you get along with your fellow humans!
  16. Conscientiousness: Competence, achievement and self-discipline are qualities of conscientious people. The words ‘I can resist anything but temptation’ do not make a conscientious response!
  17. Extroversion: Warmth, assertiveness and excitement-seeking are examples of extrovert behaviour. Broadly speaking, being an extrovert is about enjoying getting on with with other people.
  18. Neuroticism: Anxiety, depression and self-consciousness are examples of behaviours that may fall under this heading. Neuroticism is the degree to which you’re relaxed and self-accepting (low neuroticism) or nervous, fidgety and self-critical (high neuroticism).
  19. Openness to experience: Fantasy, ideas and values can fall into this category. Creatures of habit who like everything just so and have the this is how it has always been done’ attitude aren’t open to experience!
  20. Personality tests can make people feel angry, but you can avoid this emotion by asking the recruiter or tester the following questions:
  21. How do these tests indicate to an employer how well I’ll do the job?
  22. How do these questions relate to employment?
  23. Why should I share such personal information with an employer?
  24. Despite what you may hear to the contrary, the truth is that personality tests do give an excellent indication of a candidate’s performance levels. A large amount of research has gone into this subject and documented independent evidence of the highest quality shows clearly that well-constructed personality tests are a useful tool in the candidate-selection process.
  25. A well-constructed and well-conducted test has the following features:
  26. The test contains at least 20 questions and generally many more (personality tests can contain up to 500 questions). Generally the more questions a test contains, the more likely the test can yield a reliable result.
  27. The test includes clear instructions and you’re tested in quiet surroundings where nobody else can see your responses.
  28. After you finish answering the questions, the people conducting the test are happy to answer your queries and agree to provide you with appropriate feedback.
  29. The people administering the test are able to produce evidence that your performance on the test is to be measured against an appropriate comparison group and that the test is administered according to the test manual.
  30. The people administering the test can produce verifiable evidence that the test relates to performance in similar sorts of jobs.
  31. If you encounter references to left- and right-brain abilities or handwriting analysis, be afraid. Be very afraid. Psychological tests have a bad name because of shonky practitioners who use unscientific, fad-like tests. Don’t hesitate to decline any test that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  32. Generally if a recruiter includes a personality test, he or she also includes an aptitude test. Unlike personality tests, aptitude tests are normally timed, which has become a controversial issue in the recruiting industry. One of the key international publishers of aptitude tests argues that recruiters shouldn’t be looking for people who can make snap decisions, but rather people who are prepared to mull over a problem and reach a reasoned answer. Despite this reasoning, the majority of recruiters still time aptitude tests.
  33. Numerical reasoning tests assess your ability to manipulate numbers, spotting patterns and progressions.

 

Getting Amazing Results on your resume

Extract from Amazing Resumes by Jim Bright & Jo Earl, published by Jist

This post covers issues to do with CV layout, and how to deal with your education and qualifications on your resume.  Before the extract is a short background to the book.

Background

The material comes from my book Amazing Resumes.  This book is the culmination of over 10 years of scientific research into what gets resumes shortlisted.  My co-author Jo (now Dr Jo!) Earl completed her Masters Thesis in Organizational Psychology working with recruiters on what gets resumes shortlisted. Her work and that of many more of my team is included in this book. It means the advice you get has been demonstrated empirically to impress recruiters.

Why not become part of growing international movement who have found this book to be an essential part of their job search strategy.  The sister title in the UK, Brilliant CV, is a decade old best-seller in its 4th edition just out.  In Australia, Resumes that get shortlisted continues to be a leader, and the book is now in a Chinese version too!

We are proud of this book, and if you are a professional advising others or know someone who needs some help, we invite you to get hold of a copy through Amazon as we are sure you’ll find it will support your important work and most importantly help others get that all important job..

Amazing Resumes by Jim Bright and Jo Earl

Which Resume Is for Me?

Our extensive work has found that hiring managers prefer resumes that look conventional. This has been found in studies throughout the world. Most managers are conventional people, and they have a clear idea of what they expect to see when they read a resume. Reading a resume is a bit like walking into a restaurant—we know what to expect. In a restaurant, we know that there will be tables and a menu, that we will be asked for our order, and that we will have to pay for the food. We might even expect to leave a tip! Receiving an unusual resume would be like walking into the restaurant and seeing no tables or serving staff. We might figure out that there is a food vending machine to use, or alternatively, we might just walk out. Similarly, an employer might persevere with an unusual resume, or he or she might just reject it.

Before we look at some actual examples, we will take a look at what things you should put in your resume. The following is our list of important elements of a resume.

Tip: Use our 4-S rule: Keep it Simple, Structured, Succinct, and Significant.

Essential Contact Details

Always include your

  • Name you want to be known by—for example, “James Bright” and not “James Edward Harold Bright”
  • Home address
  • Telephone number
  • Fax number
  • E-mail address

Only give contact details for places where you are prepared to be contacted by prospective employers. If receiving a call or an e-mail at your current workplace might lead to embarrassing questions from your boss, do not give work contact details. Of course, if you want to include an e-mail address, it is now very easy to get a free e-mail account on the Web from companies like Hotmail (www.hotmail.com).

You must put your name, address, and telephone number on the first page of your resume.

Education and Training

If you haven’t had any formal education, obviously you omit these elements and should be thinking of using the functional or the structured interview resume. Have a look at the ideal candidate you constructed from the job ad in Chapter 4. What qualifications is our potential employer looking for? These qualifications are the ones to focus on.

Tip: Do not bore the reader by listing every qualification you have obtained—keep it to the relevant and impressive stuff.

Go through the list of qualifications you made in chapter 6 and determine which are relevant to the job. List the relevant ones in order. Some qualifications, like a college degree, are regarded as relevant information in most circumstances. Other qualifications, such as a first-aid course, may be seen as useful for some jobs, but would look odd being listed for others.

Although we have not researched where your educational details are best positioned, we find that what works best depends on how important and impressive your qualifications are to the position. Ask yourself the questions “How important are my qualifications to this position?” “How impressed will employers be by my degree I have or the school that I attended?” “What is most impressive, my qualifications or my work achievements?” If the answers to these questions are in favor of your educational qualifications, then place them toward the top of your resume (after the career objective statement or competencies and before your work achievements). If you answer in favor of your work achievements, then place educational details after your work details.

Our colleagues agree you should take a tailored approach to positioning details of your education where they are needed most. Wendy Enelow, author of the Expert Resumes series of resume guides, recommends that you “load” the resume—upfront—with your greatest selling points. Susan Britton Whitcomb, author of Résumé Magic (2003), has an excellent three-year rule of thumb for determining where to position your education. If you received a degree that is relevant to the vacancy in the last three years, place it toward the top of your resume. If you graduated more than three years ago and you have relevant work achievements to be proud of, place these first. Louise Kursmark, author of Sales and Marketing Resumes for $100,000 Careers and many other books, suggests that education be viewed as a foundational credential rather than as a key selling point. Remember, don’t waste prime resume “real estate” on something that will never sell.

Tip: Be clear and concise, and always refer back to the job ad to ensure that you’re remaining relevant.

When you do include your educational qualifications, you should order them as follows:

  • Highest postgraduate qualification—Masters or Ph.D., the subject, and the university at which the degree was earned
  • Highest undergraduate qualification—the degree, the subject, and the university at which the degree was earned
  • College qualifications—what college you attended and your grade-point average

This point may not apply to many people at all, but should you have a Ph.D., bear in mind that the title of Ph.D. dissertations can often appear to be so obscure or trivially narrow as to detract from a great achievement. Believe us, we have heard the sniggers that sometimes accompany Ph.D. award presentation ceremonies! If you have a very specialized title that is not going to be directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, stick to the subject discipline name (such as chemistry, physics, English, or psychology). For example, if you’re applying for a research role, a title such as “An investigation into the antecedents and consequences of brown squirrel mating rituals” might be better referred to as “Biology”—unless you are applying for a job that requires you to specifically monitor squirrels.

If you have a degree, it is probably not necessary to include your high school results unless they are exceptional. A degree will lead most employers to credit you with a certain amount of intelligence.

What might be useful is to list a few subjects you covered in high school, to give an indication of your versatility. For instance, if you have an arts degree, it is probably worth listing “courses included mathematics, chemistry, and statistics” or other numerate subjects studied at high school, as this gives an indication of well-rounded abilities. The opposite applies to science graduates, who might list English and history if applicable. List any extra languages that you speak, but see our later section on bias.

If there is any special thesis topic or aspect of your studies that is particularly relevant to the job, mention it here. With all qualifications, do not assume that the reader will understand what they are.

If you are applying for a job in the same country and state in which you were trained, and the qualification system has not changed in the last 10 years, it is safe to assume that the employer will understand the meaning of your qualifications. Otherwise, do not assume anyone else will understand your qualifications, and if in doubt explain what they mean.

Tip: When applying for a job in another state or country, don’t assume employers will understand what your qualifications mean. Explain your grades and degrees in the employer’s local system.

You can buy a copy of Amazing Resumes here

Oppositional Thoughts…Volume 4

Here is Volume 4 of my Oppositional Thoughts…They are designed to gently puncture some of the slightly precious life advice out there, and to complexify overly simplistic homilies, that make life appear a lot simpler than it is in reality.

You can find Volume 3 here and Volume 2 here and Volume 1 here

Oppositional thoughts…There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you..never read Dan Brown obviously….

Oppositional thoughts…if you enrol in a stunt academy do they put you on a decelerated learning program?

Oppositional thoughts…Life has no limitations, except the ones you make…so if I jumped off a building I could fly if I tried hard?

Oppositional thoughts…Letting go of your dreams results in mediocrity….not if you had the dreams I’ve been having….

Oppositional thoughts… Why do I feel like I need a stiff drink after hearing a “sobering account”?

Oppositional Thoughts.Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.sorry, what was that again?

Oppositional thoughts…Let go and it will be yours forever…I let one go and it’s true, it hung around forever…

Oppositional thoughts…Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter…unless they are the police or a judge….

Oppositional thoughts…”Arrogance, immaturity & lack of experience are unattractive at work”..so presumably save all that for your friends

Oppositional thoughts…procrastination explained…later, perhaps tomorrow

Oppositional thoughts…I don’t have a career story, actually it is just a sentence. I got life….

Oppositional thoughts… Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools. -Napoleon Bonaparte” ..before lose & Waterloo

Oppositional thoughts…flash mobs are all very entertaining, but I wish they would stop flash flooding

Oppositional thoughts..I was sitting in my underpants when I opened the job offer letter. I was so excited, they asked me to get off the bus

Oppositional thoughts…I saw this man with the worst wig ever, I was so helpless with laughter, that the panel terminated my interview

Oppositional thoughts…you know when a job interview is going badly when they tell you to put them back on….

Oppositional thoughts…when I read that reality is perception I could not believe my eyes

Oppositional thoughts…I was busy completing an online job application, when my supervisor interrupted to continue my 1st day induction…

Oppositional thoughts..I was doing a stress imagery exercise at work with my eyes shut. It failed when my fare grabbed the steering wheel

Oppositional thoughts…@davidawinter #question yourself..why does he want me to question myself, can’t he be bothered asking me questions?

Oppositional thoughts… After six hours of questioning myself I reluctantly had to let myself go due to a lack of evidence or witnesses

Oppositional thoughts… what if I did it all because the lady loves milk tray, and then I discover it was all a Twix?

Oppositional thoughts…after my marathon effort all I heard was snickers and wispas. It mars my efforts to Hershey said I was fruit and nut

Oppositional thoughts…only a fool tries to climb the corporate ladder.  Smarter folks take the stairs, and the smartest take the elevator

Oppositional thoughts…employee engagement is just intention, but employee marriage is commitment. Is your employer prepared to do it?

Oppositional Thoughts…In life you are either a passenger or a pilot, it’s your choice…but on a plane, one of those is called hijacking

Oppositional Thoughts…the harder it is to get into a school the better it is…Mine must have been brilliant, I needed a Judge to send me.

Oppositional thoughts…authenticity is essential for professional speakers and that goes double for the ghost writers of their books…

Oppositional thoughts…There are no mistakes in life, just lessons…but what if your life has been one long playtime (trans: recess)?

Oppositional thoughts…be thankful for what you have…but I have deeply ingrained ingratitude, should I be grateful for that?

Oppositional thoughts…Life is 2 short 4 U 2 B pulled down by negative, jealous, cynical people…so how long would be about right?

Oppositional thoughts…live badly today, for tomorrow it will become your past and make the present seem better than what went before…

Oppositional thoughts…there’s always a way if you are committed…Well first I got myself committed, but there was no way out after that

Oppositional thoughts…to succeed at work try something new each day, and if that fails you can always try actually working

Oppositional thoughts…I tried it out, but was told by a policeman to put it away or risk getting arrested…

Oppositonal thoughts… It is never a good idea to have your work spread over many fields lest people confuse it for manure….

Oppositional thoughts…I have been described as the superglue of our team..not to be trusted near lavatory seats and always the sticking PT

Oppositional thoughts…getting into medicine: careers seminar. . ? It is simple to get into medicine, just push down and twist the cap

Oppositional thoughts…I worked hard to get my team engaged, but now I am, having second thoughts about marrying them? Big of me or bigamy?

Oppositional thoughts..Work on what you love and it won’t feel like work.. I used my life partner as my desk, but the pens kept rolling off

Oppositional thoughts…Just because there is a screen between us doesn’t mean you, or I, are less human.. just that one of is incarcerated.

Oppositional thoughts…”If we don’t start, it’s certain we can’t finish.” Not True. I didn’t start and the boss said I was finished!

Oppositional thoughts..if you believe you can do it, the odds go way up..True.  I believe I can fly: odds of me being an idiot went way up

Oppositional thoughts…do you remember how unique you once were?…true everyone was unique once except me…..

Oppositional Thoughts…be nice to the people you meet on the way to the top…if you are not serious about getting to the top that is.

Oppositional Thoughts…SWOT – Silly Way Of Trying…to convince everyone that the future is less complex and more ordered than it really is

Oppositional thoughts…to be a good singer you need to be able to hold a note, but the only ones I held were to ransom….

Oppositional Thoughts…I finally found myself, but when I found out what I was doing, I wish I hadn’t bothered.

Oppositional Thoughts…I thought I’d found myself, but I was unable to pick myself out at the identity parade

Oppositional thoughts…Identity Parade…is that like a Mardi Gras parade for people with multiple personalities?

Strangling Animals? Golf? What your hobbies say about you…

Paul Simon began “have a good time” with “yesterday it was my birthday…”. Well that was in the 1970s and you couldn’t get your LED watches to work properly, the batteries kept running out.

So we can forgive Mr Simon for being a day late with his birthday…probably waiting for Arty’s card to arrive. Anywhere where was I, yes, well, um, today it is my birthday, and I am still far younger than I look. I thought my age would one day catch up with my looks, but I have to take my hat off to my looks, they are doing a creditable impression of a 1970s kenyan long distance olympic runner – miles ahead of the pack before collapsing in an undignified heap shortly before being passed by the whole field – story of my life… How where was I? Yes,…well… everyone needs a hobby don’t they? They say that idle hands end up in front of the magistrate, or at least that was what my probation officer said, or was it my psychiatrist, I can’t remember… I am getting old you see. Anyway enough of channelling Frankie Howerd and on with the piece for today…no don’t, I thought of it too!! It’s on hobbies…enjoy. I will be in Melbourne when this gets published, I wonder if Jimmy Watson’s wine bar is open tonight…

If you want to get shortlisted for your next job, can I suggest that you take up Touch Football? However if you like camping or waterskiing, do not bother applying. These odd sounding recommendations come from some work that myself and a colleague in the recruitment industry, Kate Day undertook looking at the different hobbies that candidates had listed on their resumes and whether or not they were subsequently shortlisted for the job. We looked at a total of 999 candidate resumes that were submitted to a recruitment company for a variety of different jobs. Around 50% of the resumes listed hobbies, but it appears that there are differences across industry sectors in the tendency to include hobby information. For instance, Sales people obviously love their hobbies with 57% listing them on their resumes. In contrast only 32% of the Human Resource people those listed hobbies. Maybe the sales types have more spare time, or perhaps the Human resource people follow their own guidelines and stick only to the job relevant information.

A total of 159 different hobbies were listed across the resumes. The top ten most frequently listed were: 1st reading, 2nd travelling, 3rd Golf, 4th Tennis, 5th Swimming, 6th listening to, music,7th family ,8th rugby, 9th snowsking, = 10th fishing and going to the gym. Some of the least frequent included collecting cigarette cards, washing the car, tap dancing and keeping reptiles.

When it comes to getting shortlisted not all hobbies are equal. The ten best hobbies that were associated with resumes that got shortlisted were: Touch football, Squash, Cricket, Cooking, Wine, Rugby, Motor racing, Tennis, Socialising and Biking. When these hobbies were included, the chances of being shortlisted was increased by between 24% and 147%.

The worst ten hobbies to include turned out to be (from least worst to worst): Golf, Walking, listening to music, theatre, movies, art/craft, bushwalking, entertaining, camping and water skiing. Including those suckers on your resume was associated with a reduced chance of being shortlisted by between 28% and 73%.

So perhaps Monty Python were right and golf (along with strangling animals) is not that popular around here. Before the Camping Water Skiers Association of Australia confront me with a tent pole or “goofy feet”, I should point out that the survey although reasonably big may not be totally representative.

Interestingly, the desirable hobbies were on average slightly more likely to be included on resumes generally (average ranking 21) compared to the undesirable hobbies (average ranking 28). However, the most commonly listed hobbies such as reading and travelling were associated with only negligible impacts on shortlisting (+1% and -3% respectively). In other words, you are probably wasting your time listing these hobbies.

What are hobbies for? Are they an escape from the stresses of our day jobs, a coping mechanism to provide the rewards that our work cannot give us? Alternatively are they a dry run for a future radical career change, a try before you buy, or are they a means to an end? The answer is probably all of the above, and there is no straight answer to whether you should turn your hobby into work. For some it is likely to be a dream come true, and for others, it is a sure fire recipe to turn your escape into drudgery. As for whether you should include them on the resume or not, we found that overall including hobbies made no difference to your chances of getting shortlisted, but if you do include hobbies, some seem to be more popular for whatever reason than others.

A recruiter once told me, you should do a lot with your life to ensure that you have something to put on your resume. Maybe we should just aim to do a lot with our lives and not worry about putting it on the resume!

Oppositional thoughts…Amusing thoughts against simplicities in careers and life Volume 2

Here is volume 2 of my Oppositional Thoughts Nos 51 – 100

  1. Oppositional Cooking tip…if your gravy is a bit light, use it to make gravity, then it will weigh more
  2. Oppositional Thoughts…my Welsh Springer spaniel likes to keep up with technology. She chases every Hybrid Prius down the road…
  3. Oppositional Thoughts…I was told to make a strong first impression in the interview. So I gave them my Elvis and then my Lady Gaga.
  4. Oppositional thoughts…reporting that 100% of people demand air to live is not news. But say 100% of Gen Y demand air and it’s research!
  5. Oppositional thoughts…employee engagement is just intention, but employee marriage is commitment. Is your employer prepared to do it?
  6. Oppositional thoughts…only a fools tries to climb the corporate ladder. Smarter folks take the stairs, and the smartest take the elevator
  7. Oppositional thoughts…after my marathon effort all I heard was snickers and wispas. It mars my efforts to Hershey said I was fruit and nut
  8. Oppositional thoughts… what if I did it all because the lady loves milk tray, and then I discover it was all a Twix?
  9. Oppositional thoughts… After six hours of questioning myself I reluctantly had to let myself go due to a lack of evidence or witnesses
  10. Oppositional Thoughts…why do we have to make sense? Can’t we grow sense,borrow sense,steal sense,harvest sense,copy sense, or non sense?
  11. Oppositional Thoughts…Make yourself necessary to somebody- but preferably not to Judges, Lawyers, Police and Correctional officers…
  12. Oppositional Thoughts… It takes a big man or woman to admit they are wrong…so presumably never pick an argument with a pygmy or a dieter
  13. Oppositional Thoughts…”Check your ego in at the door”. I tried to but I couldn’t afford the astronomical excess baggage fees!
  14. Oppositional Thoughts…synergy …the energy released by sinning?
  15. Oppositional Thoughts…the best type of SMART goals are the ones that are SMART – Stop Making All Reality Trivial
  16. Oppositional Thoughts…Success is being the boss in the corner office. Failure is the boss making you stand in the corner of the office
  17. Oppositional Thoughts… I was so focussed on the goal that I ran straight into the goal post which was SMART Solid Massive And Really Thick
  18. Oppositional thoughts…I got the life I wanted, but when they found out I had to give it back….
  19. Oppositional thoughts…I always wanted to hit the big time, so I went London and thumped Big Ben.
  20. Oppositional thoughts…successful win-win strategies eliminates loss, but if you eliminate loss, then what do you measure a win against?
  21. Oppositional Thoughts…I was advised to demonstrate a good fit to get the job. So I had a hissy fit at the recruiter. Oddly it didn’t work
  22. Oppositional Thoughts…It is Follow Friday (now/soon-in Aus!),so spend the day following someone, follow them home.Get sacked.Get arrested.
  23. Oppositional thoughts…LIVE like it’s your last day on earth…which of course might arise because the preceding days have also been grim
  24. Oppositional thoughts…you can judge a person by their peers…what they are peering at can tell you a lot about a person!
  25. Oppositional Thoughts…Time is precious…so just tell it to stand in the corner until it grows up and makes itself useful
  26. Oppositional thoughts..shall I compare thee to a summer’s day.Just give thanks that ‘Psychological type’ was not around in Shakespeare’s day
  27. Oppositional thoughts…I am one of the few people who networks most effectively by not meeting, talking to or being seen by other people…
  28. Oppositional thoughts…I tried to make eye contact in the interview, but their nose got in the way, and then they called security….
  29. Oppositional Thoughts…I brought my ‘A’ game to the party, but some of the pieces were missing
  30. Oppositional Thoughts…I tried cold calling and the employers got into it. They responded with the cold shoulder and cold indifference
  31. Oppositional thoughts..what do the sayings ‘a penny for your thoughts’ and ‘spending a penny’ being of equal value say about your thoughts?
  32. Oppositional thoughts…success is a journey not a destination, but if you are stuck in a traffic jam the distinction is purely academic
  33. Oppositional thoughts…I can’t say I am the proud owner of a brain,more that I’ve taken one hostage and nobody thinks it’s worth the ransom
  34. Oppositional Thoughts…I got a new job online! On the production line…
  35. Oppositional thoughts…what if you realize your career is really going places, but it left without you and didn’t leave a note?
  36. Oppositional Thoughts…Is easy to be successful through social media, the challenge is to do it through anti-social media
  37. Oppositional thoughts…if you don’t start living you’ll start dying…but what if your idea of living makes dying a distinct possibility?
  38. Oppositional Thoughts…Reuters reports the death of testing in #careers… A postmodern examination will determine the cause of death
  39. Oppositional thoughts…Never forget why you are here. How can I? The bars on the windows are a permanent reminder…
  40. Oppositional Thoughts…Under Promise and Over Deliver…Unless you are delivering incompetence…
  41. Oppositional Thoughts…Work smarter, not harder! But how hard should I work at working smarter?
  42. Oppositional Thoughts…Get synergy between people and processes…feed your staff into photocopier
  43. Oppositional Thoughts…Be S.M.A.R.T – Stop Making Acronyms Really Trite
  44. Oppositional thoughts..Never give up your own beliefs!.Unless you are standing on the top of 20 storey building and believe you are an eagle
  45. Oppositional thoughts…When all around you are losing their heads…you set the Tardis for the French Revolution or you went to that rave
  46. Oppositional Thoughts…”High Performance, Delivered”…but what if you were not home when they delivered…
  47. Oppositional thoughts….there is no ‘I’ in “Personal Brand” but oddly there is an “I” in “Impersonal Brand”. Go figure!
  48. Oppositional thoughts…I want to put the shot said my athlete client. Well I suppose it depends where you want to put it, I replied.
  49. Oppositional Thoughts… I think I want to be a Dentist said my client. Are you sure that is not just a fill-in career I replied
  50. Oppositional thoughts… I think I should act said my client. But acting is just a stage I replied.

Fear – the major barrier in career development

There is a common psychological factor that is involved in many career-related issues and that is fear. What comes to mind for you when you hear the word fear? For me there are many different images such as of being a child in a dark place, concerns for physical safety, a feeling of nausea and dread that something bad is about to happen to me or to people I care about, a sense of paralysis or inability to act when you need to, the realisation that it is tax time again….

Fear is hard to pin down, and it is often difficult to detect in other people. Simply observing the behaviour of others may give a false impression. Some people can do things that we feel are immensely brave and then we discover the person was acting out of, or in a state of fear. Sometimes it is the opposite, and people who say they are fearful of something, ultimately when confronted with it, display fearless behaviour.

fearful employee

Fear can be classified into: subjective apprehension (e.g. worries), physiological changes (such as tremors in the hands), expressions (e.g. saying I’m scared) and attempts to evade or avoid situations. It can be focused and on-going such as a neurosis of being alone, or a phobia for spiders or it can arise suddenly for instance during an assault. It can also seemingly have no obvious cause or focal point.

Fear presents a major barrier in career development. For many people applying for a job is a key trigger, to the point that some will shake and others will avoid applying for jobs, or not turn up for interviews. Deciding to stay in a job or leave is another career development decision that is often accompanied by fear. Common fears relate to feelings of inadequacy, unpopularity, unfamiliarity, and advancement.

Fear is a major component in a failure to stand up to or to confront rude, aggressive and bullying behavior in the workplace. This applies not only to workplace bullying but also to commerce, where the fear of losing a contract, a licence, client or customer can lead to quite extraordinary behaviours. One of the most common reactions, sadly, is for those who are fearlful to lash out at others who they perceive to be even more insecure than themselves. Think of Basil Fawlty venting his insecurities on Manuel rather than addressing his own problems to get an idea of how people and companies sometimes respond when acting out of fear.

Fear can also be a reason for the very often pitiful feedback given to employees, and communication between people at work more generally. Some people have an enormous sense of dread about giving feedback to others, that results in them either avoiding giving it, or delivering it in a very charged and emotional manner that rapidly gets out of hand, becomes personal and aggressive and undermines the whole purpose of giving it.

Fear stifles some of the most important career behaviours we need to exhibit to be successful in the 21st century workplace such as flexibility, openness, persistence, curiosity, creativity, teamwork, and leadership.

Fear insinuates itself in the most of our lives, so it more a case of mastering fear rather than striving to eliminate or avoid fear. Spending your career running scared of real or imaginary demons is no way to spend a life. A first step might be to reflect on any areas of your career where you hold fears, and to develop strategies to manage that fear, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results. As Mark Twain said, “ Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear”.

Job Hunting and dating a socially or sexually transmitted metaphor?

When I published a book in 2000 saying that job hunting was like dating (Resumes the get shortlisted, by Jim Bright and Jo Earl, Allen & Unwin), I never expected the reverse situation to occur, but apparently my esteemed Herald colleague and expert in all matters sexual, Samantha Brett, thinks so. In a column in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2008 (Turn-offs on the first date, SMH, Friday 30th May), she begins “with first dates feeling more like gruelling job interviews…I’ve decided to help out singletons who are finding it a bit of a struggle”. (Since then a job hunting book based upon the metaphor of dating has been published too, and a google search of blogs finds the idea cropping up all over the place- this metaphor is the new careers socially transmitted disease!!). Now while glossing over why a happily married man like me should be reading Sam’s columns (I only read it for the pictures..), I realised that Sam may have a second career in the sexy world of careers advice, because her tips on dating turn offs all apply equally to job hunting. So lets get to grips with Sam’s tips.

1. Don’t be late. Almost guaranteed to kill your prospects at an interview. Saying you got caught out by traffic/public transport doesn’t cut it these days, savvy people expect it to be an ordeal getting anywhere in Sydney and leave the week before to arrive on time.
He’s rude to the waiters. Sam thinks such people have no respect or common decency, and recruiters are likely to think the same. In careers-speak this means don’t be rude to anyone associated with the organisation you are applying to, and more generally think twice about it in terms of reputational harm at any stage of your career.
He talks about his ex. First date conversations should always be devoid of ex-speak. Exactly the same goes for interviews. Getting into long and involved stories about how you were misunderstood, overlooked and generally done wrong to by your previous or current employer is not a sexy look in an interview. Better to say that all was great, but now is the time to find new challenges, and that you left on good terms.
Don’t go Dutch! Apparently men who don’t for dinner first up are emotionally stingy. In interview terms, don’t make a great fuss about claiming expenses associated with getting to the interview – sure if you are being flown interstate that is generally (but not always) at the employers expense, but demanding the reimbursement of a bus ticket is not a good look, unless you got on the bus in Perth…
Too needy. I have been on interview panels where the applicant has literally begged for the job. It is an unedifying and frankly unsettling experience, and is almost certain to raise questions in the minds of the recruiters.
Anti-feminine. This related to men apparently not liking women being inconsistent in their roles – i.e. wanting to be taken out to dinner (man pays) but not wanting to cook for him. The career equivalent is demonstrating an inconsistency in the role expectations you have of an employer. For instance demanding that you be given flexible hours but complaining that members of your team are “never there”.
Too ditzy. It is interview poison to present as immature, disorganised, eccentric or otherwise whacky. Interviewers haven’t got the time to look behind the ditziness or make allowances. It is not their role. Ditch the ditzy act.
The interviewer. While it is good, even essential to have some questions to ask of the interviewer, it can be a high risk strategy to try to turn the tables and fire a lot of pre-prepared questions at the recruiter. It is fine if you really want to come across as assertive – arrogant even – but appreciate that such behaviour is unusual and could be interpreted by insecure interviews as impertinent, up yourself or indifference.
Unhealthy. I can still to this day recall the applicant who insisted on sharing a blow by blow account of his piles with a panel desperately trying to get the conversation onto higher ground. Never offer comments about your health unless specifically asked.
Presentation. Sadly there is a lot of research suggesting that appearances at interview carry a lot of weight (not unlike me in fact!). Attending to your appearance is important, and getting clothes that fit properly and minimise bulges etc are a good investment in your career. Simple tips here include not wearing blue shirts if you perspire a lot – stick to white. Take a good quality deodorant with you and apply it in the lavatory before you interview. Wear a good quality subtle cologne.

Applying for a job is like dating, ultimately you want the employer at the end of the process to say, “where have you been all of my life”.