The Resume

It’s the first thing a potential employer sees of you.. it should capture your professionalism, your skills, education, training, experience and general all round awesomeness… so why do so many people STILL get this wrong?

What a resume should not have:
Lots and lots of colour – it detracts from the document itself and is distracting and annoying. (case in point – a serial applicant who made the background of their resume bright green – whoever opened this resume would exclaim ‘urgh’ and close it down, moving on to the next) it should be your suitability for the job that jumps out and makes people remember you
Pretty pictures – especially those of the cartoon variety – anything you include on this document should relate to your industry or profession
Word Art – if you are 12 years old and illustrating a school project – fine – but ‘Word Art’ has no place in a professional resume
Photographs – unless you are a model or actor then this simply is not relevant! And please, if you absolutely must put a photograph on your resume, make sure it’s professional and flattering. (case in point: shots taken in your bathroom holding the digital camera out from you = no. Shots from your school ball where you slice out your partner = no. Shots of you with a cute furry animal or kissing a dolphin to show your sensitive side = no.)
Spelling Mistakes – this is compounded when you emphatically state you have ‘good attention to detail’ and even spell this phrase incorrectly… always, always spell check
Too much information – especially in this current employment market! Application ratios have increased by 30 – 40% per job and people simply do not have any more time, so why present them with a 10 page monster that merely makes their eyes glaze over?


A basic list of what a resume should have:
Concise relevant information – dates of employment (eg: March 2004 – July 2006) who you worked for (company name) what you did (job title) and a basic list of your duties and any specific accomplishments
A realistic size – 2 – 3 pages is pretty standard
Training + Education – list this as you listed your work history
Contact details – there’s no point in taking all this time to show someone how wonderful you are – if you then provide them with no way of contacting you (+ make sure it’s up to date!!)
A widely accepted file format – lets face it – most applications are done electronically these days – so you want to make reading your resume as easy as possible. Stick to Microsoft Word, Adobe .pdf, or save your word document as a web page.


KEEP IT SIMPLE – stick to the facts. You do not need to specifically provide your references up front for most jobs, and a potential employer must first have your permission to contact the referees. Anything related to the job you applied for can be addressed in the cover letter…

And above all else – read the advertisement – read the specifics of the job – and make sure you tick some or all of the boxes for the job you intend to apply for… why spend that time applying if you don’t fit the bill?

There are a myriad of online resources offering templates and advice – so if you have read the above and you STILL aren’t sure – for goodness sake do some research. This really is the first thing a potential employer sees – so make that first impression count.

Building your career

In a fiercely competitive environment – what can you do to stand out?

To differentiate yourself from other candidates or employees – it’s important that you develop and drive your ‘Career Brand’.


  • What sort of image are you presenting to your co-workers and managers?
  • Do you cultivate effective relationships and networks within your organisation and industry?

Your career brand is as much about your ‘image’ as your attitude in general – so here are a few key things you can address to take control of your personal branding:



  • Ask yourself honestly: what would you do differently if your job was your business?

It is vital that you take the work you do seriously, care about the quality of the work you produce and the way you interact with clients and co-workers. Ultimately your career success is up to YOU… so if you want the returns you need to invest the energy every day.


FIND A MENTOR – they provide a unique sounding board for ideas, keep you focussed, give great advice, and can create career opportunities through their network of connections and contacts. Your career will go further faster with a mentor.


BE AWARE OF YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – employers and recruiters use the internet too! With the prevalence of social networking sites such as facebook, bebo and myspace, an employer can investigate what you do outside of ‘office hours’ with a few simple clicks of a mouse. Pay attention to the images and language associated with your online presence.

Spend time checking out the content of these sites and what is available for the public to view – Facebook, for example; provides several privacy options that allow you to control what content shows in your profile. You should also ‘google’ yourself to be aware of any ‘dishonourable mentions’ that could pop up.

With a little forethought you can make the internet a powerful and effective branding tool by having a personal site to showcase your resume/ achievements. You can also utilise business networking sites such as ‘linked in’ – which provide a free service allowing you to reconnect with ex-colleagues and bosses.


WHAT IMAGE DOES YOUR BEHAVIOUR PAINT? First impressions count -it pays to keep in mind when out and about that you could be meeting a future boss or customer – if you want to be memorable be sure it’s for the right reasons.


WHAT DOES YOUR LANGUAGE TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOU? If your communication with others has a negative slant – you could be tarred with that brush. To foster inspiring relationships and have the opportunity to be part of exciting initiatives in your organisation – you must be seen as positive and forward thinking.

Avoid pessimistic conversations and language – positivity can be ‘catching’ in the workplace – so choose your attitude and lead others by your example.


USE EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING – effective goals are INSPIRING. They take you further than the ‘KPIs’ set in your role. They should be specific, measurable, ‘stretchy’, and be aligned with your passions and your values. Goals are personal and powerful – make them work for you.


WHAT DOES YOUR WARDROBE SAY ABOUT YOU? Think about the details of your physical appearance – ironed shirt? clean (non-scuffed) shoes? tidy hair? Being meticulous in your dress creates a professional image. Even if you don’t quite ‘feel’ the part – you can certainly look the part.



  • Are you professional, upbeat, friendly and to the point in your communication?
  • Do you send email when you could or should be picking up the phone instead?

Think about how your email use portrays you to others. Is your language overly-familiar? Do you use vague abbreviations or ‘text speak’? It’s easy to be misunderstood without the aid of body language or tone/ inflection of voice – so it’s worthwhile taking the time to review your written communication style and making it work for you – not against you!


WHAT DO YOU FOCUS ON? If you start each day dreading what’s to come – what sort of day do you think you will have? Be aware of your internal monologue and choose to STOP negative language in your mind. By focussing on the positive and telling yourself how great the day is going to be – you will attract good things to you. Try it – it works.


MANAGE YOUR STRESS – Generally speaking, as you move up the career ladder, stress and pressure increases: so learning to manage this now makes sense. Know your triggers, take control of your stress and do what you need to do to manage the pressures in your day. This could be a simple as getting up and walking away from your desk. If it works – do it.


USE NETWORKING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE – some organisations and industries require you to get attend breakfast or ‘after 5’ networking events, and this is a great way to build your career brand or profile. You get a chance to learn, promote your organisation, as well as forge important relationships within your industry. This is an opportunity not a chore!

Think about the way you interact with your colleagues at work – the relationships you create with Administrative or support staff are just as important as those with a Manager. Treating everyone with respect will ensure you get assistance when you most need it.


To harness opportunities in the workplace you need to be savvy about your ‘Career Brand’. Set your own standards high – and be honest with yourself about the effort you put into both your image and your attitude each day – be consistent.

You drive your success – you have the tools – so choose your direction and go for it!

…..’so what do you do?’

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question over the last 12 years of my life… I would have a very large pile of coins indeed.

And interestingly enough it was being asked this question for the umpteenth time at a party on Saturday night that prompted me to think about blogging again.

So this guy, who was a little, shall we say, ‘intoxicated’ – proceeded to ask me ‘what I did’… I don’t think that he expected to hear I was a Success/ Life Coach. I don’t think he was expecting such a succinct and eloquent ‘definition’ of this either!


So why do we ask people ‘what they do?’ well there’s a couple of reasons:

  • We associate personality traits and types with different kinds of jobs
  • We assess peoples prosperity, intelligence and success based on the job they do


For the better part of two years, I decided to play a little ‘social experiment’ and would answer this question, each time I was asked, with the very serious: ‘oh I do stuff. I do stuff really well actually’. This would provide one of the following answers:

  • Shock ‘did she just say what I thought she did?’
  • The double-take ‘oh no, I wasn’t really listening, what did she say?’
  • Laughter

My favourite was the third, but I always found that by answering like this, it broke the ice of the initial ‘meet & greet’ and I could steer the conversation away from the benign ‘what do you do’ into really interesting stuff like passions, dreams and goals (and yes, I do have some pretty intense conversations!)

I think if you are going to ask this question, a great follow up is ‘why?’ (as in ‘so why do you do that for a job? how did you get into that?) The answers will tell you a heck of a lot about that persons attitudes and beliefs… and you just might learn something in the process.

So what do I do? I’m a Success Coach, with a background in corporate recruitment, currently employed with one of NZ’s largest companies in a strategic sourcing role and coaching part time.

Why? Coaching was a natural transition for me from recruitment. I’ve always been passionate about coaching people to find their ultimate career – it’s about waking up every day and looking forward to how you choose to spend your time. And coaching empowers people to have that choice. It puts you back in the drivers seat. Being able to do this for people gives me a buzz. It’s really that simple.

What about YOU? Imagine being able to answer that question with energy, passion and enthusiasm the next time someone asks you.