Shhhh…. What not to say in your Resume & the Interview….


Getting an interview is tough, but handcrafting your resume praying to get the interview is tougher. On average, I receive 2-3 resume’s a day out of the blue. When a new opportunity with the agency arises, I receive an average of 11 resume’s per hour between peak hours of 11am-7pm. That’s 80 resumes. What’s interesting is the time that people send their resume’s. Sometimes it means something, and sometimes it means nothing…. But when a candidate who appears to have a full time, successful job sends their resume at 11am, it’s likely because something happened at work that reminded them of how much they hate their job and they’ve been trolling job sites for the last 1/2 hr on their coffee break sending out applications. Sending a resume around 3pm could mean that the applicant has finished their workload for the day early, and is now looking for employment, or simply they slept in and are now getting around to the job hunt…. Around 5-6pm, typically means that they associate job searching with dinner -hence: basic need. So they have completed their duties for the day, and have put it as high priority to make an effort. Later in the evening typically means they have found time to look for work because they have been busy during the day with other things (anything really). Those that send really early at 6am or 7am- well, that’s a clear indicator that you are motivated enough by not liking your job- and haven’t we all been there?

Candidates are wonderful people. If I could give them all jobs at great pay and benefits with Starbucks Gold Cards and an unlimited dining expense account at Cactus Club and Joe’s Grill on Davie (my favorite breakfast diner), I would! People just want good jobs. And although, in many of my posts I tend to focus on the dishonesty of people, the games they play, and all around negative effects of the workplace- I admit it comes from a clear projection of my studies. For those of you who don’t know- I majored in War Studies in my education- which in layman’s terms is: Mental Health & Generational Dysfunction. This is great when it comes to the preventative side of toxicity in the workplace, weeding out candidates who have ill intentions, and also keeping a watchful eye for the safety of my employees (it’s more common than you think for someone to be an honor killing for their family, or for a husband or wife to be on the run from an abusive spouse). But in general, people are good. They may have a poor moral compass thanks to the media- aka. Family Guy (doesn’t matter if it’s a cartoon, beating your wife was never a funny thing), Scandal (I love this show- but how fast they talk and the fact that they are always in a crisis and telling people what to do is unrealistic for how educated they are supposed to be), Newspapers with a Pastry Girl (naked women in pornographic positions in a family newspaper is never appropriate), and so on…. So this issue is to focus on the primary things NEVER EVER to say in your resume, or in the interview. I get it- you want to be honest, not play games, be transparent, or create a mask to make you eligible- but not like this:

  1. “I’ve been unemployed for x amount of time, and eagerly awaiting a great opportunity like this.” No. No. No. *slaps forehead*. We’ve all been unemployed at some point- heck my pride has never kept me from paying my rent, whether it be a job at a pizza place, or a receptionist position. Remember, the garbage collectors of society are just as important as the doctor’s. Don’t be shy about accepting a job that may appear “beneath” you. All jobs are important, they give you a paycheque right? Besides, whatever job it may be, when I look at your resume, I will see that you are making an effort, and that you would rather keep busy than not. Can’t get any job? Join a professional association like Journey Wings ;) even if you do not get thrown any work, it looks better that you are a part of something than nothing. Employers like you more when you are employed.
  2. Do not list mother, wife, husband, father, prison time, foster care, parole, or the like as your work experience. If you would like to note that you have been a stay at home parent for a number of years and are now returning to the workforce, that’s fine. However when you list it- don’t tell me you fed your kids 3x a day- or were punctual and cordial when checking in with your parole officer. Tell me about your accomplishments. Just like an admin position, “clerical work” is a line of it’s own, and does not need much elaboration, just what is out of the ordinary or new skills you are most proud of. Tell me how you have been involved with local schools, hosting community lunch’s, active member of the PTA, hosted or participated in community events like the Bake Sale. Show me you have been active, participating in sociopolitical roles, and networking. Do you blog?- Include that too! The biggest fear for an employer hiring someone who has been out of the workforce for any reason is that you’re not current, good team player, and can hit the ground running.
  3. Don’t tell me in your resume that you have more questions about the position and require a meeting to discuss it further before you can formally apply. Do not weasel a way to meet me in person. My time, like your time, is precious. When I write a job description, it has all the information in it I want you to have. It is missing something, it is because I want it to be missing something. If you already have questions about it, typically that means you lack experience in the workforce and specifically this job title- so you won’t get it anyway. That’s because when you have worked long enough in a field, you know your stuff. You know the jobs above you, below you, beside you, and what your competitor’s offering. If you genuinely have questions, wait for the interview.
  4. Don’t try to be better than what you are. We have all done this- especially as fresh meat to the field. Please do not elaborate so much on your resume that it makes it difficult to discern what is real and what is embellishment. HR looks for 3 key things: Numbers (budgets, people managed, people hired, anything with a number), education (don’t include things like “courses from the Masters program of….” -you’re either enrolled and active in your MA or not.), companies of employment, and the title you held. This is pretty plain and simple, the rest means little in between. No offense, because we all work hard. However these three things speak pretty clearly about where you are at on the employment scale. With receiving 80 resume’s a day, it’s tough to read everything word for word, or else I would need to hire someone specifically as a Resume Sifter.
  5. “I think we’ve met before.” No we haven’t. And if we have, we would both know it- and be honest and tell me where. This is a way to falsify a relationship in order to receive preferential treatment. In other words, it’s game playing. Please do not undermine me as an educated professional and play this game, it’s beneath both of us.

I think that about covers it for now. I hope this helps some of you- and others, gives you a heads up. Some of you may recognize this and may even have stories of your own to accompany! Either/or, happy job hunting everyone!


Interview Crimes


Most of us prep for interviews. Even more of us make extra special effort like researching the company down to the last detail including what department is their newest, to what new positions they are developing, to the stats on how they have grown. You can “know” all that is possible- but it does not guarantee success if you commit one of these crimes of the interview. Why is it a crime?-Simply because it equally robs yourself and the interviewer of dignity and respect.

  1. Bad hygiene. This is a crime because it’s in your control. You can do something about. A strong odour may keep you in the company’s memory for all the bad reasons…. It’s best to go into an interview with unscented everything. You never know who is allergic, and what is offensive.
  2. Sitting in my chair, on my desk, or rearranging furniture in the interview room. Believe me, this happens. I once had a guy move a table to the side of the room. I guess “Make yourself comfortable”, took on a whole new meaning here…
  3. Extreme emotion, like gloominess or giddiness. I totally understand that you may be having the best day in the world: you got a job interview, the birds are singing, squirrels are saying hello, the sun is shining on you, the wind is in your hair, the bus driver let you on for a free ride, you found a fiver on the street, and everything is going your way. Or maybe it’s the opposite, the rain and wind is pushing you around, you lost a fiver while reaching into your pocket for your bus pass which you discover somehow melted in the dryer in your interview pants, so you try change in the meter but it doesn’t take so you have to pay double and to make matters worse a squirrel trips you and birds are dive bombing you all the way to the office front door. I get it, but don’t let it destroy your chances of being successful.
  4. Getting chummy with staff. I understand if you are a part of our community, know some staff at the office, or check out our blog and partake in conversation with us. But at your interview, it is not the time to go around and introduce yourself to everyone before or after the interview. It doesn’t make you look any more credible.
  5. Telling an interviewer how to do their job. Chances are if we acted awkward, did something strange, neglected to ask a question, or picked a part one topic- we meant to do that. We want to see your stressor reaction, how you handle unpredictable scenarios, and if you have good boundaries.
  6. Sexifying yourself. I realize this sounds obvious, however I have interviewed both men and women with too many buttons on their blouse undone, pants tighter than Olivia Newton John, and even one guy who asked me for my number at the end of the interview. Ew. No. This is not a date. I’m hiring you for your abilities to be awesome at what you do.
  7. Don’t tell HR they are making a mistake or missing out on not hiring you. I think by saying that I can honestly respond, oh believe me, we’re not.
  8. Don’t negotiate your wage until you receive your letter of offer. Enough said.
  9. Don’t be my BFF, be my colleague. I genuinely want to get to know you, ensure you are a cultural fit, match our values, and more than anything, I want to like you. Please do not “buddy up” to me or anyone else on the interview panel. We are professionals, I would enjoy the interview, and your time as a part of our team so much more if you could demonstrate how great you are as a colleague. On that note, please do not think you are better than me. I get that you may make $60k more than me, however I do my job for the same reasons you do, I love it.
  10. Stay away from racial and religious slurs. This is an obvious faux pas, however it is surprising how many people do this. It is hugely offensive.