Resume Tips for the Uninitiated: Part 3

Welcome to part three of my series of short posts featuring helpful tips for those not accustomed to writing resumes. For this instalment, I thought I would address an issue I frequently encountered when reviewing the resumes of college students.

Several times, I noticed that students had included a “Hobbies” section on the resume. There are differing opinions on the use of such a section, so I thought I would share my view on it.

Personally, I do not feel that hobbies should be included on a resume. I understand that when an applicant does not have a lot of work experience to highlight, they might want to include some hobbies to fill out the resume. They likely think it shows that they are a well-rounded individual. There’s nothing wrong with this way of thinking necessarily; it’s more a case of using the resume to best showcase what you have to offer an employer.

For this reason, I recommend using the space to share information about volunteering, special projects worked on, or clubs you belong to. Each of these things can help position you as a fit for the job, in a more straightforward way than including hobbies probably could.

The exception I sometimes made to this, was to include hobbies only if they directly relate to the job being applied for. For example, video production as a hobby might be relevant to an event planning role, particularly if live streaming is part of the events or conferences the successful applicant would be planning.

In the end, you as the applicant need to ensure that each and every piece of information listed on the resume supports the employment objective and job being sought. You are encouraged to use your best judgment to determine whether including hobbies achieves this goal.

What do you think readers? Would you include hobbies on a resume? Why or why not?


Fostering Resilience in Youth

In my previous post, I wrote about the remarkable resilience of our Canadian Olympic athletes, and  touched on the importance of building this same quality in our young people. The ability to recover from setbacks and disappointments, and move forward in a positive way, is crucial to success in our careers, and lives in general. Here, I offer some suggestions on how you can help your children develop this important ability.

  1. Teach kids to problem-solve: I think too often, parents want to just swoop in and fix whatever problem their child might be facing. But rather than do them this disservice, why not teach them how to solve problems themselves? When a problem arises at school for example, help your child to think of strategies they might use to overcome the issue. Discuss what might happen if they choose a certain course of action vs. another one, and help them to choose the best option. Over time, your child will learn to evaluate these options on their own. Problem-solving is not only a valuable career skill, it is a crucial life skill as well, so the earlier you can teach your child to do it, the better off they will be.
  2. Don’t provide all the answers: This tip ties into the previous one. Just like problem-solving, being resourceful and finding answers oneself is a critical life skill. There isn’t always going to be someone around who can provide solutions, so knowing where to look for the needed information is key. Also, employers like workers who can take initiative and find their own answers, as opposed to those they must hand hold and supervise every step of the way.
  3. Let your kids make mistakes: The truth of the matter is that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Do your kids a favour, and let them make mistakes once in a while. Making mistakes, and learning from them, is how we grow emotionally. I have made my share of mistakes in life, but I always try to take a lesson from them, and this has helped me greatly. Help your kids to understand that mistakes are just a natural part of the learning process, and don’t make them feel bad when they happen.
  4. Help your children manage their emotions: Perhaps one of the most difficult things for humans to do is learn how to experience our emotions, but not let them dominate our lives. We all feel such feelings as disappointment, happiness, anger and frustration from time to time, but the key is not to let any one emotion get too extreme. This can be especially important in the workplace, where certain expectations exist that we behave in an appropriate manner and according to established protocols. Rather than shielding your child from all emotions, help them instead to understand what they are feeling, and help them to put those feelings in an appropriate context.
  5. Model resilience: This is a big one. How can you expect your children to be resilient, if you lack that quality yourself? The next time you find yourself facing a setback, consider the way in which you handle it, and whether or not it sets a positive example for your child. Are you behaving in a resilient way? If not, what can you do differently? Children will emulate what they see, so try your best to model for them the qualities you want them to demonstrate in their own lives.

These are just some of the ways in which you can foster resilience in your child. None of these things can be implemented overnight, but with enough time, they will become easier and more automatic. The important takeaway is to empower your kids to bounce back from disappointment and failure, in order to move toward a more successful future.

With that in mind, what suggestions do you have for fostering resilience in youth? I would love to hear from you!






A Gold Medal in Resilience

Resilience: Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy

The Winter Olympics recently wrapped up in Pyeongchang South Korea, and it was Canada’s best showing ever. Our athletes finished the games with a total of 29 medals, 11 of them gold. It was an excellent two weeks, with many highlights, but one major aspect stood out to me: the resilience of Canadian athletes.

A few examples:

  1. Kim Boutin. This speedskater won three medals overall, two bronze and one silver. She overcame online abuse, resulting from her being awarded a bronze medal after a South Korean skater was disqualified. Some Korean fans blamed Boutin for this development.
  2. Kaetlyn Osmond. Osmond won a bronze medal in women’s figure skating, but nearly wasn’t even in these Olympics. She almost retired from skating after breaking her leg during the 2014 season.
  3. Mark McMorris. McMorris won a bronze medal in men’s slopestyle snowboarding, yet just last year, he nearly died. McMorris was snowboarding with friends in March 2017 when he suffered serious, near-fatal injuries, which included a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, pelvic fracture, rib fractures, and a collapsed left lung.

All three of these athletes demonstrated remarkable resilience, managing to overcome injury and hardship to not only compete at the top of their sports, but also to win. All of us could benefit from their example, especially young people, who have not always been taught what it means to be resilient.

We’re living in a time of instant gratification, where young people often want to see results immediately, and aren’t willing to give things time. The rise in helicopter parenting has only compounded the problem, with parents often rushing in to protect their children from failure and disappointment. They are doing them a disservice however, since in the real world, failure is inevitable. Those who know how to cope with it, and use it as fuel to move ahead, will ultimately be successful.

Imagine if any of the athletes I mentioned above had decided to give in to frustration or despair, and had stopped competing. They never would have been at these Olympics and never would have experienced the triumph and pride in winning a medal for their country. They can look back and say they overcame these obstacles and are stronger for it.

When it comes to careers, being able to adapt to change and bounce back from disappointment and failure, is crucial for success. Further, people are increasingly finding themselves doing contract and freelance work, and full time positions are becoming harder to secure in many industries. Workers who are resilient will generally have an easier time navigating these challenges, and be more successful in the long run than those who are not. We need to do more to help our young people develop this quality, so that they are better prepared to face the future, and to thrive in whatever situation they may encounter.

For now, they could certainly benefit from studying the examples set by the athletes I’ve described here, and so many others like them.

A Brand New Year

Hello all!

I realize I haven’t written any new posts since the end of last year. Not to worry; I’m still here, and still committed to bringing you interesting and helpful content.

I have been spending the month on some very important learning, which will help me to better serve you, both through the posts I write, and the services I provide to you through my coaching. I am quite excited by what I’ve been learning, and look forward to applying it to my business.

Thank you to all of you who have followed this blog so far. I hope you will continue to come here for more tips and information about career development and how we can best equip youth to design careers that will be satisfying, fulfilling and sustainable.

Cheers to a brand new year, and to new possibilities for all of us!



Resume Tips for the Uninitiated: Part 2

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about how to start writing the all important first resume. In this second part of that series, I tackle the issue of whether or not to use a template for the document.

When unfamiliar with writing a resume, it can be tempting to simply select a template, and then plug the required information into the format and leave it at that. However, doing this can be problematic, for a couple of key reasons.

One, it is often obvious to the experienced reader that the resume writer used a template. They tend to have a “canned,” and impersonal look and do nothing to differentiate the resume from the sea of resumes that have likely been submitted. Since a well crafted resume can help the applicant to stand out, using a template seems counterproductive.

Two, writing a resume without the use of a template demonstrates computer skills that might be very valuable to an employer. So many jobs today require workers to be computer savvy, and submitting a formulaic resume could give the wrong impression about the applicant’s knowledge in that area.

So what should an inexperienced resume writer do? I suggest looking online for various resume examples (a quick Google search will turn up more than you probably need), and then taking the elements you find most appealing from those and applying them to your own unique document.

Taking the extra time to craft an original looking resume might seem inconvenient, but will likely pay off for the job seeker in the long run.

Career Studies Upgrades on the Way

The province of Ontario has recently introduced a plan to update and improve the current Grade 10 career studies course. Key to these changes are a focus on financial and digital literacy, as well as an expansion of hands-on learning opportunities.

The new course is slated to start in September 2018, and will also have students learning about career pathway planning, and innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

The province also plans to increase hands-on learning opportunities, and every board will hire a new coordinator, whose role will be to expand learning opportunities with community partners, for all grades, courses and programs, from kindergarten all the way to adult learners.

First of all, I think this is excellent news for a few reasons. Experts have long been saying that financial literacy needs to be taught in schools so it is encouraging to see it being addressed here. Also, as more and more of our lives shift to online platforms, being digitally literate becomes more crucial, so I think including that is another step in the right direction.

I am also very glad to see an expansion of hands-on learning opportunities, as I’ve long believed that one of the best ways to learn about a possible career is to observe it first-hand. Co-op, job shadowing and bringing in guest speakers to share the realities of various jobs are all great ways to expose students to the many potential career paths they can take.

Along with all of my positive thoughts around these upgrades, I do have some reservations as well. First of all, I’m wondering what exactly is meant by “innovation and creativity.” These terms are quite broad, and it isn’t immediately evident to me how these will be applied to career development. It’s one thing to use industry buzzwords to bolster interest in the initiative, and another thing to apply those terms in a concrete way.  I will be curious to find out what that will look like in this upgraded course.

My other concern has to do with the actual rollout of this new course. I think it’s great that so many people will be hired to implement these new initiatives, but I wonder how consistent their efforts will be. Will there be some standard each coordinator is held to, or will they be able to do whatever they feel is best for their board regardless of what the other coordinators are doing? The potential pitfall is that there could be a disparity between what some boards are able to achieve, as compared to other boards. Only time will tell how this works, with more information to come as the new course is introduced.

So, kudos to the province for their efforts to update the information provided to students. Here’s hoping the rollout is smooth, and the students benefit from a much stronger career studies course. It’s a good step in the right direction, if done well.



Resume Tips for the Uninitiated: Part 1

Resume writing is a life skill, but it can be a difficult one to learn. Even experienced workers can struggle with crafting an effective resume, but knowing how to do so is empowering. Young people, particularly teenagers and those just starting to think about the job search, can find it especially hard to put together a resume, but it is certainly possible.

That said, in this post I will share the first of a series of tips on how to write your first resume.

  • Start early. It is very stressful when you find a job opportunity or promising volunteer role, but you have no resume. Having to write it when under pressure can make it harder to do. It is best to start gathering the information for the resume long before it has to be submitted. The beginning of a new school year is an ideal time for teenagers to start this task.

Encourage your teenager to start keeping track of any courses they have taken, as well as clubs, special projects, or volunteer work they have participated in, and the relevant dates associated with each. These items make up the bones of a good resume, and if they are noted as they arise, it’s easier to recall the necessary details when it comes time to write the actual resume.

Your teenager can also keep a physical file of achievements, such as certificates, ribbons and school evaluations, all of which might be relevant when it comes to assembling an effective resume.

Stay tuned for more resume tips for the uninitiated in upcoming posts!