Monday, June 25, 2012

Me in my new job

Wow, how some things change.  Only months ago, I was in an office tower wearing a suit and tie.  Now....

Friday, June 15, 2012

2 recent finds for Career Advice!

Think this blog is good?

Well, check out :

a.  the Career Management Best Practices group CLICK HERE on Linked-in.

b.  the iTunes podcast Career Tools CLICK HERE.  246 episodes on all sorts of topics.  I listened to one last night and felt like an amateur.

Lots of great advice from all sorts of great people.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Decision Making Tools - support for BlogTalk radio Episode #3

Episode #3 of my blogradio cast is available on iTunes (search for Doors Close Doors Open) and at

Thank-you to all of you who continue to visit my blog (over 4400 hits since April 4) and now are tuning into my podcasts (over 300 in two weeks).  As always, I will ramble in some sort of direction and give you some tools that I have found in my/our journey and my professional that can help.

I find a real lack of decision making tools in Career Development literature and web-sites.  I think it is "assumed" we all CAN and DO make good decisions regularly.  We all know the saying about assumptions.....  

Here is how I made my decision and I hope it can show you some of the steps.

When I was faced with a decision on my career transition, forced a bit by the news my office was closing, I did 7 things.

The 1st thing I did was to reach out to those in my circle of trust.  I needed them to help me understand the problem I was facing and I felt I needed to be heard and understood.  There are no resources here just the strength and humility to admit weakness and vulnerability.

So the 2nd thing I did when I was overwhelmed by choices was to start writing stuff down. I took all the documents and wrote out scenarios.  I made list of pros and cons.  I pushed numbers into on-line pension calculators.  

The 3rd thing I did was resort to quiet time, mediation, nature in order to unclutter all the work I just did.  I love Sharon Salzberg.  She has a really great approach to meditation.   You can find her book "Real Happiness" on-line and on the web at CLICK HERE (

The 4th thing I did was to push aside my past decision making practices and explore new ones.  I found the wikipedia page on decision making and it opened my eyes to ways to decide CLICK HERE    I especially liked the segment about bounded rationality - the idea that human decision-making is limited by available information, available time, and the information-processing ability of the mind. It identified two styles: maximizers and satisfiers.  From the wiki:

maximizers try to make an optimal decision, whereas satisfiers simply try to find a solution that is "good enough". Maximizers tend to take longer making decisions due to the need to maximize performance across all variables and make tradeoffs carefully; they also tend to more often regret their decisions (perhaps because they are more able than satisfiers to recognize that a decision turned out to be sub-optimal)

Aren't all our decisions limited by information and time?  I am a satisfier and it make my life easier but I also tend to pay a bit more or get a bit less.  Who are you?

The 5th thing I did was Google for worksheets, taking the first stage of writing things down but now forcing me to think in different ways.  I found . There are heaps of worksheets for decision making, complete with tips and tricks at CLICK HERE

I printed some off and started to calculate and figure out what choices meant in real terms.  Really help flesh-out some of my options.  I really like the Career Choice Worksheet 

The 6th thing I did was similar to the second thing - to quiet my mind again.  I refocused on work, play, sport, and music for a few days.  I let all the work, worry settle in and tried to tap into my intuition.  Intuition can be powerful but must be, I believe, validated with facts.  

And lastly, the7th thing I did was I came back to my loved ones.  I told them what my conclusion was, what risks there were and what changes they might be in store for.  Only with their agreement and understanding did I make my choice.

Did you notice the circles I made?  I started with loved ones and ended there two.  I had two different "work" stages and "play" stages.  Hey, that's life!

And a friend Kyle introduced me to this wonderful depiction of life in all its organic, non-liner splendour...

Looping back in your decision making,alternating between your brain and your heart, by trusting others, and by seeking new ways of doing this, your journey may lead you in every direction but in the end will lead to success.

Making Career Decisions

Join me tonight at 9pm (MST) for episode #3 of my blogtalk radio show.

Tonight I will focus on Making Career Decisions.  After all the self examination and brainstorming, now comes the task of refining ideas, evaluating choices, and actually deciding what you will do.

Decision making can be very stressful and is one of the toughest steps, especially for my affected colleagues in the Federal Public Service.  Combining rational and intuitive techniques as well as involving your circle of trust in the process can help optimize the decision.

I look forward to you logging on and chatting on-line during my show or calling in.

Remember, archived shows are available on iTunes as podcasts and on the blogtalk radio site.  See you tonight!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Resume Keywords

I haven't said too much about my new job yet.

I am now in the private sector as the Recruitment Team Lead for a large industrial construction company called JV Driver.  The company has 5-6 major construction projects on the go (by major I mean over 500 people on site), a fabrication facility with about 1200 people making pieces for modular construction and putting them together, and a head office with about 300 people working hard to support everyone.  With 5% unemployment and most jobs requiring a specific skill set, this is quite the challenge for a recruiter!

Here is how I find the right person for the job.  And trust me, most corporate recruiters & staffing agencies use this technique too)

So let's say a construction manager calls me and asks to hire someone, say a piping coordinator.  My first question is what will that piping coordinator do. He will likely say the coordinator will issue field installation work packages (FIWP) and  work with the turnover coordinator.

I then go into the resume database and my first thing is to keyword search for FIWP.  Why?  Well, that is a good way to narrow down the 50,000 resumes in our system to the ones that can do the job.

So the lesson for all of you is that it is CRITICAL for you to be specific in your resume.  By specific I mean:

- use specific jargon, like "work packages".  For an administrative assistant, it might be "switchboard" for a book-keeper, it might be "balance sheet", for an drafter it might be "as-built".

- use the specific acronyms.  You noticed I searched for FIWP first.  That is because that is what people who really use them call them.  Here are some examples SAP (a software), EPCM (engineering companies), ATS (the family of softwares recruiters use)

- use client/partner company names.  Sometimes, the easiest fit can be from our competitors or people who have worked on a project.  So if I worked with the Oilers and needed a marketing specialist, I might put in other hockey teams names (Flames) then (marketing) and see what my database matched to.  So, even if you didn't work for the Flames, if you worked with the Flames or use Flames material, you should ensure it is in your resume.

For me that looks like this

- placed over 500 students into summer jobs such as biologist and legal assistants.  Most students came from major universities like the UBC and Carleton and ended up working in 35 federal departments including Environment Canada, Health Canada, and the RCMP.

- use synonyms.  Most of us have employer-specific jargon that does not translate well, say like in the specific database.  Use the most common ones in brackets behind the specific.  So, if you had a custom built HR database, you  might want to say HRMIS (Peoplesoft), since Peoplesoft is universally well know.

There are two main ways to ensure key words are featured in your resume.  One style isto create a keyword section near the beginning of your resume, with about 20 key words (2 rows of 10).  A good idea but I prefer another way.  The second way is to create behavioural-based sentences where there is a description of the specific situation, the specific action that was taken, and the specific result of the actions you took.

Here is an example:

- while on the Horizon project at Suncor, met construction targets by managing over 100 piping spools and issuing 50 FIWP.

Did anyone notice that I didn't advertise first?  

The lesson there is when you apply, even to a specific job, have in mind that your resume is usually going into a database for future use.  So don't just try to win that job, put your best foot forward for all jobs in that company.  More on that in a later blog

Have a good weekend

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Check out the bulletin boards!

I love to observe - to read, to listen, to look around.  Whether it be at a grocery store, the public library, or at Starbucks, I love to check out the bulletin board. Full of thumb tacks and tear-off strips of paper, bulletin boards are full of opportunities - to learn, to buy, to network, and maybe even to get a job!

You see, back in 1995, I came across an ad on my university's bulletin board.  Japan Arts was seeking students to be extras and was holding auditions.  Though it took some courage just weeks into my stay in Tokyo, I decided to go by myself to a hotel at the designated time.  I took a number and taped it to my chest, then stood in a line from shortest to tallest.

The stern looking Japanese staff came over and pointed at me and the three guys around me.  Seems we were the perfect height for the costumes and since we were roughly the same height, we wouldn't look strange standing beside each other on stage.

I got a call for my first show the next week.  The pay was great - transit paid for, $70 US for each practice and $110 US for each performance.  And that wasn't the best part...

It was for the New York Metropolitan Opera's tour of Japan.  I got to be in Tosca, directed by James Levine, set design by Franco Zeffrrelli, and starring Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.  Opening night was attended by the Japanese Royal Family and I got to stand 5 feet from Pavarotti as he sang his solo.

They picked us 4 guys because, literally, we carried the fat lady off the stage (when she died in Lucia di Lammermoor).  How cliche.

Here is a picture of me (to the right) backstage at the Ueno Bunkakaikan with my friend Scott (to the left), now working for a multi-billion dollar private hedge fund in New York.

So, stop once and a while and read the bulletin board around you.  You might find a babysitter, a gently used bike at the right price, a new local yoga studio, or even, a terrific career opportunity.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Episode #2 - Exploring your options

Join me this Thursday, June 07, at 9pm MST for the second episode of Doors Close, Doors Open blogtalk radio.  The link is

Episode #2 will be about exploring your options after you have evaluated yourself.  Trying career options on for size to see the opportunities and risks, the benefits and the drawbacks is an important second step in career transition.

Now that the jitters are gone, I will try to be the energetic speaker that I can be.  And please, send in your questions and share your stories before or during the show - I am truly running out of clever things to say!

I am excited to announce that I have created a podcast channel on iTunes.  You can sign up and listen to my archived shows on iTunes by searching for Doors Close in the search engine or by using this link

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kijiji as a job board

Have a bike to sell?  Concert tickets you need?  Kijiji is usually the answer.

But do you know that Kijiji has job postings, too? 

In Edmonton, as of now, there are 21,614 jobs and in Calgary 20,344 jobs!

Now recruiting in the private sector, this came to my attention today when the instructions how to post our logo on Kijiji ads was emailed out.

Check it out these great Kijiji job ads:

Director of the Alberta Liberal Party (click here)

Staff Accountant (click here)

HR Manager (click here)

Legal Assistant (click here)

Project Manager (click here)
System Analyst (click here)
Share Point Developer (click here)

(I should have known since my wife's recent job search was almost exclusively done on Kijiji - her results: 4 applications, 3 interviews, 3 offers, and she took the best one)

Episode 1 - Evaluating yourself (resources)

Thank-you to at least 5 of you who I know were listening last night to the first ever Doors Close, Doors Open BlogTalk Radio broadcast.

I was very nervous and alone in my office so I think I sounded way too serious.  Net time I will bring the Jay that most of you know!

The radio episode has been saved and is now a podcast which you can access at

In Episode #1 - Evaluating yourself - I referred to a number of books and internet sites that I like to use.  Here they are:


Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt.  Click here for a link to his book at Chapters-Indigo; click here for a link to his web-site.

Do What You Are by Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron. Click here for a link to their book at Chapters-Indigo; click here for a link to their web-site.

What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles.   Click here for a link to his book at Chapters-Indigo; click here for a link to his web-site.

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.   Click here for a link to their book at Chapters-Indigo; click here for a link to their web-site.


Know Yourself - ALIS Careerinsite (click here)

Authentic Happiness - University of Pennsylvania (click here) - 19 professionally developed questionnaires

Self-Assessment - MazeMaster - Government of Ontario (click here)

Transferable Skill Set - Quintessential Careers (click here)

Enjoy your weekend.  Find some mental space to explore your values, talents, interests, skills.