CAREERS & JOB SKILLS
The Best & Worst Resume
By Elizabeth Bromstein
True story: I once submitted a resume
for a television job written in Comic Sans. It was 1998, and I guess I
thought it was cool and funky. Maybe the employer thought so too because
I got the job.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Comic Sans is
the worst font you could possibly use for anything, ever – the punching
bag of fonts, with entire movements dedicated to its eradication. Nobody
in their right mind would create a resume in Comic Sans.
So, what font should you use and how
much does it matter?
A great deal, suggests a recent
Bloomberg article that quotes someone named Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff
design as recommending Helvetica. “Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t
really lean in one direction or another. It feels professional,
lighthearted, honest,” Hoff says. “Helvetica is safe. Maybe that’s why
it’s more business-y.”
Asked about another commonly used font,
Times New Roman, Hoff seems to suggest it’s nearly as bad as Comic Sans.
Using Times New Roman, he says, is “telegraphing that you didn’t put any
thought into the typeface that you selected. It’s like putting on
Hoff, remember, is a design guy. Of
course you want someone applying for a design firm position to
demonstrate attention to design. Perhaps less so in other industries.
Unfortunately, everyone quoted in the Bloomberg article is a design
person – and not a human resources expert.
Further on the subject of serif font –
historically, serifs were believed to make things easier to read – the
Bloomberg article suggests Garamond, and quotes someone named Matt
Luckhurst, creative director at Collins brand consultancy in San
Francisco as saying, “Garamond is legible and easy for the eye to
follow. Garamond has all these quirks in it, so what that does is allow
the eye to see where it should go.”
I think we might be getting just a wee
smidge pretentious here. But what do I know? I can barely tell the
difference between Garamond and Times New Roman. Though I suspect 80% of
hiring managers couldn’t either, which is, I think, my point.
So, to serif or not to
serif? Probably not. Just to be on the safe side. If you Google “resume
font” or some variation thereof, the majority of the internet is going
to suggest you use Helvetica (or some variation thereof). And you never
know where the Hoffs and Luckhursts of the world might be lurking.
In fairness, I did consult Workopolis VP
of HR Tara Talbot, who burst out with, “Don’t ever use Times New Roman!”
She then explained that early in her career she had a boss who once
yelled at his staff “If you ever give me anything in Times New Roman
you’re effing fired!!!” And it kind of stuck with her. So, it’s more of
a fear-instilled aversion, but an aversion nonetheless and one that is
clearly not specific to her.
On the other hand, another woman I know
who is president of a large corporation told me she likes Times New
Roman, but when I told her about the Bloomberg article she asked me not
to use her name.
“I feel like I’ve just admitted that I’d
pair plaid with stripes,” she said.
For the record, I would totally do that.
Still, I think the message here is not
to serif, and, to be safe, use Helvetica in your resume.
Tara Talbot also has some favourites,
none of which are Helvetica, and all of which are potentially
Obviously, any of the more design-y,
gothic, cursive or eclectic fonts are a straight don’t.
Ten Hot Job Titles to Watch
in 2015 (& How to Get Them)
By Peter Harris
We’ve crunched some numbers and created
a shortlist of ten hot jobs that are hiring in Canada right now. If
you’re looking to make a career move in 2015, these professions run the
gamut from healthcare to technology, from trades to marketing. So here
are some hot job titles to watch – and how to land them.
Here’s how to get
hired for a new gig this year:
carefully, don’t just shotgun apply to every open job
Employers can easily spot a generic
application and they usually ignore them. What they want to see is a
document that tailors your skills and experience specifically to the
job that they posted, and that demonstrates what you can do for
them. You don’t get a job through sending out more applications, you
get hired through better applications.
accomplishments in resumes and interviews
List your achievements, not your
responsibilities at your previous roles. Hiring managers know what
job descriptions match your old job titles. The unique and
interesting part is what you alone accomplished in that role. What
set you apart? What have you done, learned or achieved that can be
particularly useful to your potential new employer? Write those in
your resume and tell those stories in job interviews.
Highlight your people
skills and your solid work ethic
Two thirds (67%) of Canadian
executives surveyed by Workopolis say that they are having trouble
finding candidates with the right attitude, work ethic,
communication skills and team working abilities. Candidates can
really stand out from the crowd by demonstrating that they have all
of those qualities in all of their interactions with employers.
You can do this by making sure that
your resume is well-written and error free. Highlight the times
you’ve gone the extra mile in order to accomplish goals. Focus on
your collaboration with successful teams. Use the job interview to
demonstrate your positive attitude, enthusiasm and work ethic. See:
How to demonstrate in your resume the one skill that turns up in 93%
of job postings.
Ten in-demand jobs
for 2015 (and their average salaries)
Business intelligence analysts –
salaries over $70,000
Along with actuaries, statisticians, and data miners – math skills
are highly in-demand for the year’s top jobs.
Mobile application developer –
More and more of the web continues to move to mobile screens,
causing the ongoing surge in demand for designers and programmers
who can adapt websites and tools for smartphones and tablets
Human Resources Manager –
As companies realize the value of attracting and retaining top
talent to ensure innovation and success, Human Resources Managers
are playing an increasingly critical role in organizations.
Marketing Manager – $80,000+
Marketing managers play a variety of roles are responsible for a
company’s public messaging and communications, from brand audits to
advertising, from social media to public relations.
Particularly up-and-coming in the marketing field is the demand
for skilled writers and communicators in the area of Content
Mechanical and Industrial Engineers
Professionals in this discipline oversee the design, production, and
operation of machinery and the manufacture of products and parts.
Outlook is expected to grow through 2022.
Wireless network engineer –
Professionals who can effectively research, design, implement and
optimize wireless networks will be in high demand as more internal
infrastructure projects are launched to support the rising use of
mobile devices and wireless technologies.
Skilled trades – $55,000 -
Equipment Operators, Welders, Pipe Fitters, Electricians, Plumbers –
all of these trades are in short supply in Canada. Even when working
in cities, these roles can pay over 80k. If you are willing to work
remotely – then the salaries can go up exponentially.
Personal Care Workers – $55,000+
The need for care workers is increasing as our population ages.
People in this role provide support for the elderly, disabled, or
those recovering from a serious illness or injury – and their
healthcare careers also continue to show robust hiring and
rising salaries, from nurses, to pharmacists to dental
hygienists and more.
Construction managers –
They manage the shifts and schedules of the crew, take
responsibility for ensuring that projects are completed on time and
on budget, and manage the day-to-way project site for efficiency and
Information architect / User experience (UX)
designer – $85,000 - $125,000
This continues to be a hot job with fewer candidates available than
the market demands. UX designers ensure that websites are easy to
use, pleasant to visit, and provide visitors with a positive
The good news is that roughly 20% of
Canadian employers surveyed that they plan to increase their workforce
in spring/summer of 2015. So things are heating up.
The Secret to Success:
Making Your Bed
By Elizabeth Bromstein
I didn’t make my bed this morning. My
husband leaves for work nearly an hour before I do and it takes forever
for me to make the damn bed alone, because it’s a king size, which means
I have to walk around it about 20 times to get the covers right, and
then there are about a dozen pillows to arrange. Seriously, it’s a big
project. Also, I have to get the toddler dressed, fed, and off to
So the bed isn’t made.
But I try to make it on weekends, and on
weekday mornings when I get up early enough, because making your bed is
one of the cornerstones of success. If you want to change the world, be
someone, or – yes – find a job, make your bed. This is one of the most
commonly offered pieces of success advice, and it’s also one of the most
If you want to get a great job, make
your bed every morning. Do it religiously and do it with attention. Do
as I say, not as I do.
This is the advice offered in a
University of Texas, Austin commencement speech from last year, given by
US Navy admiral William H. McRaven. The speech found its way back into
the news since it’s graduation time again. And it’s worth a re-watch, if
you’ve got two minutes (You can see the
entire speech on Youtube. The section about making your bed is
Making your bed sets the tone for the
day. Accomplishing that one small task gives you a small sense of
accomplishment, making it easier to tackle the next slightly larger
task, and the next, and the next…
Taking it a step further than where
McRaven takes it, think of making the bed as a domino. A domino, when
placed in sequence, can knock over a domino 1.5 times larger than
itself. So, as demonstrated here, a domino that is 5mm high and 1mm
thick can set off a chain reaction that will knock down a 13th domino
that is over a metre high and weighs over 100 lbs. As University of
Toronto physic professor Stephen Morris explains, if there were 29
dominos, the last domino would be the size of the Empire State Building.
According to Gary Keller, author of The
One Thing, effective planners are able to identify the “lead domino” –
the one task that will cause all the other related tasks to topple in
So, since we don’t always know what that
lead domino might be, it makes perfect sense to start by making your
bed. Watch this video for inspiration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jflUvxQLkgs&feature=player_embedded
Then go make your bed.
Survey Reveals the Worst
Thing You Can Do in a Job Interview
By Elizabeth Bromstein
What’s the number one thing you should
never do in a job interview? Check your phone, according to new research
from The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive,
design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals.
According to a press release, checking
your phone is the top way a candidate can blow their chances, according
to a survey of marketing and advertising executives, with more than
three quarters (77%) saying they would likely remove the candidate from
consideration if the person used their phone during the interview.
The survey was conducted by an
independent research firm and is based on 400 telephone interviews.
Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “When interviewing
candidates for creative roles, which of the following do you consider to
be a deal breaker (something a candidate says or does that will likely
cause you to immediately discount that person from consideration)?”
- Checking or answering the phone
during the interview: 77%
- Showing up late without
acknowledging it: 70%
- Not bringing items that were
requested (e.g., resume, portfolio, references): 70%
- Wearing improper interview attire:
- Speaking poorly of a past job or
“Hiring managers typically assume
candidates are putting their best foot forward during job interviews, so
any sign of unprofessional or unproductive behavior makes a big impact,
no matter how qualified the person may be for the position,” Diane
Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, is quoted as saying.
“Job seekers should do everything they can to tip the scales in their
favor, including paying attention to the smallest details.”
In other words, if you’re checking your
phone and showing up late when you’re on your best behaviour, what will
you do when you relax?
Another recent survey found that one
third of millennials think it’s acceptable to text during a job
interview. So, if you know a millennial, do them a solid and pass this
Six Red Flags in Job Descriptions that Should Warn You Not to Apply
By Peter Harris
My recent story about leaving a job
because it wasn’t the right fit for me generated quite a reaction
online. Many people wrote in to say that they saw themselves in similar
situations as I was in
Six Signs that You’re in the Wrong Job.
Several people asked a similar question:
“What about the risks to your reputation or chances of getting a new job
that come from quitting without a new role lined up?”
That is a good question and a legitimate
concern. It is almost always better to job hunt on your own time and
find your next job before quitting your current one. Walking away is a
last resort when the job is unsafe, unethical, or soul destroying.
But in the ideal situation you’d be able
to avoid taking those terrible jobs in the first place. But how can you
tell that the gig is going to suck? Fortunately, in many job
descriptions for crappy jobs, employers inadvertently embed clues that
can warn you not to work for them.
Red flags in job
/ oxymoronic job titles. I’ve seen job postings for a
“Bilingual Office Admin/Translator.” What does this mean? It means they
want to hire someone on as an office admin and yet have them translate
all of the company’s communications at the same time – rather than
paying for an actual translator.
Similarly, you’ll see
bait-and-switch job titles like “Novice IT Master.” How can novices
be masters? They can’t. The company is looking for someone
highly-skilled who will work for an entry-level salary.
creep. This is where employers tack on advanced degrees and
certifications not actually required to do the job. Why do they do it?
Often it’s just a filtering tool. They know that the more they ask for,
the fewer people will apply, making their selection process easier.
Other times credential creep can be
an indicator that the company really has no idea about the role,
which means you’ll be working without proper leadership or
direction. You can see this when the job description asks for
five-years of experience with a software that only came out last
year. Or requests so many diverse skills, credentials, and years of
experience that no one candidate is likely to possess all of them –
and if this superhero did exist, there’s no way they would work for
the amount of money offered.
The job posting
lists earning potential rather than actual earning. Read the
job description carefully. Sometimes positions listed as ‘events’ or
‘marketing’ are actually sales roles. The worst of these are the ones
that ask you to purchase products upfront yourself in order to resell
them to others before you see any profit. In this case, sure you’ll make
more money if you sell more, but the risk is all on you. The company
made its income the minute they offloaded the goods to you.
Beware of long
periods of unpaid training. Especially for relatively
uncomplicated jobs. This can be a technique to simply get you to work
for free. It can also mean that the company has a poor working
environment with a high turnover rate, so they want to see if you’ll
stick around and what you’ll put up with before they actually start
The job posting
is for unnamed company. Employers can post anonymous job
postings for many reasons. However, one that I have repeatedly seen is
that the position is to replace a current employee who doesn’t yet know
they’re being replaced. The person who gets the job may find themselves
walking in on a Monday in the role of someone who was let go on Friday.
Depending on how well-liked the predecessor was by the remaining team
members, this can be like being thrown to the sharks. (This has happened
to me more than once over the years.)
Another reason for an anonymous job
posting is that it isn’t for a current job at an actual company at
all. Recruitment agencies sometimes use this tactic to collect
resumes and build up their roster of candidates that they can then
place for a fee.
The job posting
keeps coming back online. If you have Job Alerts set up, or
you regularly check for the latest opportunities in your field and you
routinely see the same job at the same company posted, watch out. Unless
it’s for a traditionally high turnover position like some in the retail
and hospitality industries, this is usually a sign that the company
can’t keep people. Approach with caution. There’s a reason employees
leave their jobs. (And it’s most often a bad boss.)
Like I said in
Signs You’re in the Wrong Job, you can learn valuable lessons about
yourself and about work from realizing that where you are is not for
you. Recognizing what you don’t want your work life to be like can be a
powerful motivator to go out and achieve the circumstances that you do
want. Sometimes you have to take a less-than-ideal gig for the paycheck
or as a stepping stone. Hopefully at least by being able to spot some of
the red flags in advance, you’ll know what you’re getting into from the
The 10 Most Common
Interview Mistakes that Cost You the Job
By Elizabeth Bromstein
You got the interview. Hurray!
Now don’t mess it up.
Here are the ten most
common interview mistakes that cost people jobs.
without doing your research. The most common complaint we
hear from hiring managers regarding the interview is that candidates
don’t do their research and show up knowing little to nothing about the
role and company. This makes you look like you couldn’t care less about
the position. Hiring managers want people who show initiative and who
are enthusiastic. The best way to demonstrate this is to come prepared.
Otherwise, you might as well not show up at all.
Don’t be late. It shows a lack of respect for the hiring manager’s time
and for the hiring process as a whole. Be on time. (I’m always late but
even I was on time for my Workopolis interview.)
Offering a limp
handshake. Ew. Everyone hates a limp handshake, and yet so
many people out there are still offering them. I encounter these gross
grasps on the regular, and every time I want to ask the how it is that
they don’t know know better. A limp handshake says you are completely
lacking in self-awareness, which does not bode well for a new hire.
Offer a firm grasp. Not so firm that you’re going to cause pain if
someone has arthritis, but firm, and sure. (Read a whole article about
how to shake hands here.)
Not making eye
contact. You have to look people in the eye. Don’t stare.
That’s creepy. Too much eye contact is just as bad as not enough, maybe
worse. But meeting the interviewer’s gaze is essential to making a good
impression. Not doing so makes you look lacking in confidence at best,
distracted or even shifty at worst. Watch your other body language too.
I don’t want to spend this entire article telling you to sit up straight
and not to fidget. Look alert and interested. Use common sense.
clichés. “I’m a team player.” “I work too hard.” “I’m a
perfectionist.” These are popular answers to questions like “Tell me
about yourself” and “What’s your greatest weakness?” And, OK, hiring
managers ask these all the time and maybe they should come up with some
new questions, but we’re talking about you right now. And while it might
be a double standard that they’re allowed to rely on clichés and you’re
not, that’s the way it is. Come up with real answers they haven’t heard
before and that actually tell them something about you.
your previous employer — or your coworkers, or anyone else for that
matter. Don’t say negative things about people – no matter
how much you want to or how much they deserve to be trashed. It makes
you look childish and petty, and people don’t want to hire people who
are childish and petty.
questions. At some point the interviewer is going to ask “Do
you have any questions for me?” and you must not say “No” to this. Not
asking questions shows a lack of interest and enthusiasm. You have to be
curious about the organization, about the position, about the company
your phone. I wouldn’t have thought last year that this would
make the list but the times they are a changin’. If you got that
reference, you can probably skip this one. If you didn’t, you might be a
millennial and a recent study found that a full third of millennials
think it’s acceptable to text during the job interview. Well, just FYI,
kids, it’s not acceptable. Turn your phone off and store it away for the
duration of the interview.
True story: a candidate who was interviewing for a job at
Workopolis claimed to have worked at a company where the interviewer had
also worked. When the interviewee couldn’t answer even the most basic
questions about his time at the company, it became clear he had never
worked there – which he finally admitted. He didn’t get the job.
Fifty-eight percent of employers
have caught a candidate in a resume lie, according to one Career
Builder study, while 31% of people admit to having lied on a resume.
That’s a lot of lying. And, if you lie on a resume, you have to keep
the lie up during the interview. Don’t do this. If you get caught –
and there’s a good chance you will, as many employers will conduct
background checks – you very probably won’t get the job, and you
will have wasted everyone’s time, your own included.