Categories
Work

10 Ways to Fix Your Resume Right Now

I’ve seen a ton of resumes over the years and a massive proportion of them suck. About 50% of the resumes I see get tossed for preventable reasons.

Some might say I’m highly critical. It’s true. I believe if you can’t dedicate the time and effort required to make a perfect resume – essentially a marketing document for yourself – why would I think you’ll put the effort into the job for which I’m hiring?

Below I’ll provide 10 quick tips to help you improve your resume as you look for a job:

  1. Spell your name correctly. Honestly, I once received a resume from a friend who spelled his name wrong. Beyond that, carefully look for spelling mistakes, grammar errors, typos, weird spacing, mis-alignment, and so on. You won’t believe the number of resumes I’ve seen on which the applicant states ‘attention to detail’ as a quality and then proceeds to make simple mistakes. It’s mind-boggling.
  2. Apply to the right job. It is obvious when applicants are using the ‘spray-and-pray’ method of job hunting. I receive resumes that have zero alignment to the position available. If your experience isn’t directly relevant, you need to make it relevant. I’m not going to figure out why someone who spent 5 years as a cashier at the GAP is a good candidate for a marketing coordinator position. Tell me in the intro. And if you must send a cover letter (p.s. I hate cover letters) please ensure you changed the intro from your last application.
  3. Keep it short. Unless you’ve worked 25 years doing research at NASA your resume should be 2 pages max. One is better. The resume is meant to get you an interview, not a job. So it only has to entice the reader to want to learn more. Stick to the highlights and elaborate during the interview.
  4. Experience is more important than education. Bury your education at the bottom of your email in case I care about your alma mater. Also, remove references to high school, unless that is where your education ended.
  5. I know references are available upon request. Don’t waste valuable real estate telling me that.
  6. Comic Sans, coloured paper and unnecessary use of gimmicky design gets your resume thrown in the circular file.
  7. Ensure any links on your resume (e.g. to your LinkedIn profile, email address, etc.) actually work.
  8. If your ‘objective’ isn’t specific, don’t include an objective. 75% of objectives are identical: “…a position where I can utilize my skills, develop my career, learn about the investments business, etc. etc.”. Just no. If you must write an objective, this is where you briefly explain how you plan to transition from GAP to marketing. And by the way, I’m not paying someone so I can help them learn the industry. First and foremost, I’m hiring someone to provide value to ME. So if you must use an objective, you better sell yourself in those one or two sentences.
  9. Resumes should be filled with outcomes, achievements and results. Keep the descriptions simple and focus on the results you generated for previous employers.
  10. Quantify. Numbers help make your achievements seem more real. Numbers also break up the copy and make your resume more digestible. Finally, it entices the reader to want to learn more. How did you manage to triple page views over 6 months? The only way for me to ask that question is to invite you for an interview.

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Categories
Work

10 Things You Can Do To Succeed in a New Job

Over the years I’ve employed dozens of people, many of whom were just starting their careers. I’ve helped many people transition from entry-level staff to senior managers and directors within the investments industry.

I am always willing to invest my time in someone who first commits to investing in themselves. I say this because while many people talk about growing their careers, not everyone puts the energy into doing so. If you are just starting out and want to build a career, you must first look inward.

What can you do to help yourself? It’s quite simple:

  1. Absorb as much information as possible, whether it comes from industry research, department meetings, competitive intelligence, and so on. If you’re new, almost everyone around you knows more than you. Respect this fact and use it to your advantage to learn.
  2. Understand what your firm does, who it serves and what makes it different from its competitors. Determine industry threats and opportunities, and company weaknesses and strengths. Get a sense of the competitive landscape.
  3. Take the time to connect with the people you serve – internal or external clients. Ask them a lot of questions about their opinions on the business and listen. Some people see the vague offer for an open-ended ‘coffee chat’ as a waste of time. Instead, get to the point and say “I’d like to get your thoughts on topic X”. First, email them the question. If they’d rather talk on the phone or meet for coffee they’ll let you know.
  4. Observe the successful people in your industry and emulate them to a degree. Of course, you shouldn’t uncomfortably adopt a fake persona but if you see a common theme among successful people you might have no choice but to try new things.
  5. Ask for feedback and learn from that feeback. Your boss is paid to be your mentor. Take advantage of that, but also reach out to colleagues for feedback. A lot of work is subjective so you want to get multiple opinions on your work. As you get feedback, remember it and incorporate it into future efforts.
  6. Make lists. Every time you get a new task add it to a list in a notebook. At the end of each day cross completed items off your list and copy incomplete items onto a new list on the next page of your notebook. Lists are a critical tool to help ensure you get things done. It’s simple, but it works. Lists were key to my success.
  7. Do what you say you’re going to do. So many people in big companies get complacent and after saying they’ll do something never follow through. While they might not get in trouble, they do lose credibility.
  8. Arrive early and work late. I’m sorry, this one sucks. But if you want to build your career you need to invest in your work. One of the simplest ways to set yourself from others is to work harder than others. Of course, don’t allow yourself to burn out or become unproductive. If it’s 7pm and you’re just spinning your wheels it might be time to call it a day. Personally, what takes me an hour at 6pm might take me 10 minutes the next morning.
  9. Remember: We’re all just winging it. The only thing setting you apart from more experienced people is knowledge and experience. They aren’t better or more skillful. So don’t feel inferior. After all, more experienced people are still making it up as they go – they just have more information to depend on.
  10. Promote your work. After you’ve completed a task send an email to the team or present it in your department meeting. Teach people how to use your work. Show people what you’ve done and what you’re capable of.

I think by doing these 10 things consistently, a junior level employee can start to set themselves apart from the pack.

Categories
Life Work

Cash for Life

I have to be pretty bummed out to play the lottery.

I know the odds of winning are infinitesimal and the lottery is essentially a self-imposed tax. Yet, sometimes I just need the fantasy of quick riches to infuse some hope into a crappy week.

With that said, I’ve only bought a couple tickets over the last several years. I guess I’m generally happy.

But what if I did win? I joke that I’d quit my job if I won 10 grand. Of course, that’s not realistic. To be honest, I’ve thought a lot about this and I’m still not sure how much I’d need to feel like it’s time to quit my job.

I am working towards financial independence, but it’s a moving target. I do set goals, but every time I approach my goal I stretch it. Over the short run I’m fortifying my finances. Over the long run I’m trading my finite time for money.

Most of us are only on this planet for about 80 years, so there comes a point at which you must choose to live life your way. That’s easy to write but hard to do.

Although I moan about it sometimes, I have a great job and I have worked hard for the equity in my career. I have to admit, I’m scared to walk away from a career that many would gun for. Partly, my fear is that I’d quit and discover that I didn’t have enough money. My other fear is that people would think I’m stupid for walking away from a great job. I shouldn’t care, but that’s human nature I suppose.

However, eventually one must prioritize what they truly want out of life. The fact that you are alive to read this is a fluke of magnificent proportions. Life is a gift that can’t be wasted on committee meetings and the general circle-jerk of corporate nonsense.

“Walking away” isn’t about abandoning work completely. Instead, we need to seek fulfillment, whether that comes from painting pictures, teaching children or renovating kitchens. This could also mean de-prioritizing money.

Fulfillment comes from making a meaningful impact, seeing the fruits of your labor and helping people. Fulfillment doesn’t come from leasing a new BMW every five years.

Building wealth and financial freedom isn’t just about chasing money. It’s about having what you need to live an interesting and productive life – a life that will be remembered.

I still don’t know when enough is enough. However, when walking away from something it’s important to have something to walk towards. Without first discovering what you find fulfilling you’ll never be able to walk away – no matter how much money you have.