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The Best & Worst Resume Fonts

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 sweatpants.”

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.

Garamond and Times New Roman

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 appropriate.


Obviously, any of the more design-y, gothic, cursive or eclectic fonts are a straight don’t.

Brush Script

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:

Target jobs 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.

Focus on 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 – $92,000+
    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 – $83,000+
    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 Marketing.

  • Mechanical and Industrial Engineers – $75,000+
    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 – $95,000+
    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 - $80,000+
    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 families.

Other healthcare careers also continue to show robust hiring and rising salaries, from nurses, to pharmacists to dental hygienists and more.

  • Construction managers – $100,000+
    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 safety.

  • 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 experience.

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 daycare.

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 valuable.

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 posted below).

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 sequence.

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. 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)?” Their responses:

  • 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: 69%
  • Speaking poorly of a past job or employer: 62%

“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 information along.

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 descriptions

Double-barrelled / 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.

Credential 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 paying you.

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 outset.

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.

Showing up 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.

Being late. 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.

Talking in 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.

Trash talking 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.

Not asking 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 culture.

Playing with 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.

Lying. 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.