Monday, August 30, 2010

9 Résumé Tips Hiring Managers Wished Creative Pros Knew - Lisa Vaas

Our guest contributor, Lisa Vaas, freelance writer and career management reporter, shares the following advice for all of the creative professionals out there:

Don’t send your résumé in a pizza box.

Don’t send your résumé in construction boots with notes about getting a foot in the door.

Don’t send in your résumé with a black background and white text that make hiring managers’ eyeballs buzz.

Maybe once, far away and long ago, these were cutting-edge ways for creative professionals like artists, designers, marketing executives and writers to grab the attention of hiring managers. Now they’re just desperate pleas. Lisa spoke to managers who hire creatives to find out what catches their attention, what arouses their sympathy and what disturbs them.

1. Restrain yourself
It’s natural for creative professionals to present artistic cover letters, resumes and portfolios. While the creative rendition of these materials is of course relevant for creative positions, creative types must bear in mind that the first person who reviews a resume is often not a designer. “What might be real edgy and innovative to you, the designer, can be seen as too far out or unprofessional to the non-designer,” said Mary Ann Henker, a recruiter for the ad agency The Henker Group. Hence, the overall package must speak to the fact that you’re a solid designer who also understands that you’re “submitting a business document that will be reviewed potentially by a non-designer and (is) easy to read.” In other words, save the black background and white text for another project, not your resume.

2. Show tangibles
Out of hundreds of creative resumes Henker reviews, only a handful include information that shows a given creative pro understands business and can orchestrate success for a potential employer. Your resume will stand out if you can project that you also have a business side to your creativity. Henker recommends that job seekers include numbers, percentages and dollar amounts relating to growth or size and communicate this information in business short-hand to illustrate that you truly can “speak business.” Her examples: Your recommendations on a fall print campaign saved a client 18 percent in paper costs, or a product advertising campaign increased company sales 12 percent during Q1 of FY ‘09.

3. Compress your files
Henker said that nearly all designers submit portfolios on their own or in response to a position submission requirement. Of those, a startling number fail to reduce image files or compress JPEGs or PDFs. “We as recruiters are not expecting to review high-resolution portfolios at this stage,” Henker said. “Please reduce image files and compress when you can. It’s a red flag to us when a designer tries to e-mail through a portfolio that is 12MB,” an extremely large size for an e-mail attachment. “It usually promotes a response, ‛Does this person know the basics of compressing or reducing a file size?’ Of course all designers know how to do this but it prompts us to think, ‛This person doesn’t understand the end user of the documents she is sending.”

4. Avoid clutter
Henker suggested that for online portfolios, creative professionals should remember that what can be highly artistic and edgy to a designer might be seen as cluttered and hard to navigate to the non-designer. She discards online portfolios all the time because they’re so difficult to navigate and cited factors such as an over-reliance on Flash multimedia that make pages load slowly or the fact that a portfolio lacks specific samples appropriate to the position.

5. Have a job-specific portfolio page

To show that you have relevant experience for a given job, put up a site that has a portfolio page specific for job applications, Henker suggested. It will demonstrate that you understand what type of portfolio pieces a given employer would like to see.

6. Don’t offend
Henker has seen portfolio pieces that range from disturbing to pornographic. “Be mindful that what is considered art could be offensive to the viewer,” she said. “Art is supposed to evoke emotion and it is a honed skill; however, be mindful of not aiming for shock value when deciding which pieces to put in your portfolio. Save the blood, guts, disturbing and XXX images till after you get the job! You don’t want the person reviewing your resume and portfolio to overlook what could be great credentials by perceived inappropriate images by the reviewer.”

7. List design awards
Don’t be bashful here, Henker said. Design awards are a testament in a highly competitive field. Awards let your resume reader know that your resume is worth spending time with to determine if you’re a good match for a position.

8. Show that you can work to deadline
Kelley Rexroad, a career coach and consultant, noted that people are hired for their creative talent and fired for their inability to create relationships and alliances, many times because of poor communication. She says that the best thing a creative pro can have on his resume and cover letter is proof that he can work to a deadline. “It is a flaw I have seen over and over — ‛I can't be creative on the spot,’ ” Rexroad said. “He doesn't reply to the call for the deadline, thinking no response is a response. … Next thing you know, it is a performance issue. Having the words on the résumé and/or cover letter and the examples to share in an interview will make a difference.”

9. Show your stuff online
And then there’s the K.I.S.S. approach – Keep It Simple, Stupid – said Phil Tadros of the Web marketing agency Doejo. Appropriately enough, he delivered his advice in a two-line message: “All you need is a simple ‘hello’ one-liner and a link to your work,” he said. “If you don’t have your s**t together online under one link, then I don’t want you to work for me.”

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.

This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

Mary Salvino is a career and business management professional as well as a freelance writer who is passionate about helping people become more successful. She lives in beautiful Vancouver, BC.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Handshake Etiquette - Part 5 - Final notes

The way someone gives a handshake is an indication of how he or she sees you. If a person gives you a dominating handshake, that person believes that they better than you in some way. If a person gives you a submissive handshake, he or she believes that you are better than they are. A neutral handshake shows equality.

To build confidence you need to know which handshake to use and when. Handshakes are your first impression and they provide an insight to your confidence level. If it is important to show the other person that you are confident, have self-respect and that you consider yourself an equal, you will have to become comfortable with using more dominating and neutral handshakes.

In building self- confidence, it is also important to learn how to disarm a dominating handshake. Normal circumstances dictate that you will encounter situations where someone chooses to give you a dominating handshake confident but aggressive). You know what it means but, but you should also know how you can disarm it and take control. If someone gives you a dominating handshake, you can disarm it by doing the following:

  1. Use a double-handed handshake - Use both your hands to wrap his hand.

  2. Step into the handshake - When someone gives you a dominating handshake just step in with your left foot, give him the shake, turn his palm towards the ceiling and then step in closer. If you do this correctly and quickly, you can see that now you are dominating and he is submitting.

  3. Rest your left hand on his or her arm or shoulder. This action will take him or her by surprise, give you control and show that you have self-confidence.

Having said all this it is also important to know when not to disarm dominating handshake. The best example of when not to disarm a dominating handshake is when shaking hands with your boss.

The handshake is a gesture of mutual trust. It brings a stranger into your personal space and allows you both to feel more comfortable with each other. For that reason, your handshake should be as warm and respectful as you would want to receive one.

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Handshake Etiquette- Part 4

Understanding the proper way to shake someone's hand can mean the difference between success and failure in the business environment. Positive or negative reactions are almost instantaneous in the marketing setting and almost always based around first impressions. This is why the firmness or weakness of your handshake, understanding whose hand you are shaking, your dominance, and your eye contact all play an important role.

How to Handle Clammy Hands

A wet, sweaty or cold-fish palm is never pleasant. Warm and dry is the rule for a good impression. Are your hands always moist?

If your hands are always moist, you can try using a little spray-on antiperspirant every morning, and re-applying it in the bathroom at work when you need it. You can also get into the habit of carrying a handkerchief, 100% cotton is best, in your pocket to discreetly dry your hand. If you are going this route, be sure to dry you hand well before the meeting begins so that you are not caught with your hand in your pocket. One hand in your pocket may be interpreted as a sign of not being open and honest. You should also keep your hands off the cold drinks due to the naturally occurring condensation that accumulates on the outside of the container.

When on the receiving end of sweaty palms, release your grip, pause briefly before continuing the conversation. Never rub them off on your pants or suit jacket. As you sit down, grasp the armrest of the chair and let some of the sweat soak into the upholstery. You can also try putting your hands on your kneecaps and lean forward as-if you were very intrigued with every word they have to say.

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Handshake Etiquette- Part 3

Is there such a thing as an inappropriate handshake?

The answer is, ‘yes and no’. Not so many years ago, people were taught that when a man and woman are introduced, the woman should always be the one to offer her hand. Alternatively, she could forego the handclasp and simply nod her head in greeting. Whether she offered her hand or not, she was behaving according to social etiquette.

Now, the rules of handshake etiquette are blurry. Men who are accustomed to treating women as they would in the business world freely offer their hand to everyone they meet. This may appear to be a magnanimous attitude on a man’s part, but it puts the woman he greets in a position where she appears impolite unless she takes his hand.
If you are a man, always wait for her to extend her hand. You can be secure in the knowledge that you are simply being chivalrous by letting her initiate the handshake and that you will not be offended if she does offer her hand.

If you are a woman, be mindful that some men are confused and easily embarrassed. Unless you are attending a cotillion, your choice of offering your hand is never impolite, and will put your new friend at ease.

When to go hand in hand.

When shaking hands to congratulate someone, Irwin recommends the double handshake. This is when you "glove" or "sandwich" the other's hand with both of yours and indicates pride, warmth and sharing. "This can overpower or threaten some people," says Irwin, "so one must be careful and use this when they know someone well."

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Handshake Etiquette- Part 2

Handshakes to Avoid

Bone-crushing – You would think that men are the sole guilty parties here, but women who have been told that a firm handshake will bring them respect can and will often squeeze for all they are worth. Macho displays never really produce desired effects, unless, of course, the intent is to intimidate.

Fawning – The touchy-feely person is never happy with a one-handed shake. He or she must rest the left hand on a shoulder, pat the back or run it down the left arm. A first meeting like that can leave someone feeling creepy. Using two hands typically gives the impression that you want something else.

Limp - Older generations were taught to use a gentler handshake with women, and the women of that generation were taught that a firm handshake was too masculine. Today, the limp handshake comes across as, “I don’t really want to shake your hand and/or I really don’t want to touch you.” Limp, lifeless handshakes tend to communicate timidity, passivity or intimidation. The "limp fish" and "barely touching" handshakes project a sense of distance."

The Hook and Reel
– After grasping firmly, some people like to draw a person in closer. The intent might be to show intimacy or friendliness, but unless you are already on an intimate level, this will only come across as manipulative and tricky.

“Career Matters” is an on-line community blog hosted by Mary Salvino. It is designed for those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. Alternatively, you can e-mail Mary directly at

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Handshake Etiquette- Part 1

You do not have to be involved in high-level negations to understand the importance of a good handshake. The fact that you have probably experienced good handshakes and suffered through the bad ones personally should be enough to convince you of the importance of perfecting your handshake technique.

A handshake can make or break your chance of landing a deal, building a connection and making a good first impression.

Business people must be ready and willing to shake hands routinely throughout a workweek. It doesn’t matter whether they have issues with personal space or not. Business handshake protocol requires that a hand of greeting be extended to your superiors as you greet, to new clients or customers, to every person in a group as you are introduced in a business meeting situation (and then again as you leave), and especially during ‘prime time’ i.e. upon closing a deal. This protocol applies to interview situations as well.

What does a socially acceptable handshake look like?

Thankfully, the rules of handshake etiquette are clear, and are the same for men and women here in North America. Normally it is the host who has to initiate the handshake.

Tip 1 - Be aware of power distance relationships when meeting someone for the first time from a different geographical or culture than your own. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Let the person you are meeting determine "space distances" for you. It's always better to be safe so approach with a hidden sense of caution to let the person you're meeting "take the lead" and determine how close or far to come to you for a handshake.

Tip 2 - Stand and extend your right hand straight out in front of your body, with your elbow slightly bent, and your thumb pointing to the ceiling. Lean forward slightly if there is room, but not so much that your faces are uncomfortably close.

Tip 3 - Keep eye contact; do not glance down at the hand offered as you shake.

Tip 4 - Smile and keep a pleasant expression; not stiff or overeager.

Tip 5 - Close your fingers around the other hand with your thumb resting to the side. Grip palm-to-palm with a slight firmness (like a gentle squeeze), as you raise your hand slightly up and down for the “shake.”

Tip 6 - As you shake hands you should always say something. You can either repeat the person’s name in your greeting or say something such as, "It’s nice to meet you" or "it’s a pleasure to meet you."

Tip 7 - Shake firmly, pump 2-4 (3-4 seconds) and then release. Unfortunately, the number of seconds will vary depending on the situation, and if you stand there counting them it defeats the whole purpose of seeming natural and at ease.

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A SMART and Easy Job Search System - Mary Salvino

Job searching is a trying experience at the best of times, so I have developed an easy to use system that does not require any additional resources in order to conduct your on-line job search more effectively.

As the title of this article implies, what follows is an on-line job search system that will help you keep organized during your hunt for new career opportunities. As you would expect, the system that follows incorporates a SMART methodology, i.e. one that is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable and Time-bound.

  • Word processing system - N.B. This system can also be modified for use with an EXCEL spreadsheet or even a binder

  • Ability to create and/or store files on your desktop as well as knowing how to re-name a word document

  • Internet connection

  • E-mail program (with an e-mail address that includes your full name)

  • Cover Letter Template - N.B. You will be customizing this letter for each job opportunity

  • Résumé Template - N.B. You will be customizing this template for each job opportunity

3 Desktop File folders:
  • Job Opportunities

  • Job Applications

  • Résumés

Step 1 - Create 2 files for your desktop - “JOB OPPORTUNITIES”, JOB APPLICATIONS” and “Résumé’s”

Step 2 - Cruise the Internet, job boards, company website, etc. for job opportunities

Step 3 - Copy and past these opportunities into a WORD document and save them to your desktop

Step 4 - Once the document has been saved to your desktop, change the name of this new word document to the following JOB TITLE - NAME OF COMPANY (e.g. Sales Manager - ZXY Company)

Step 5 - Drag the document with the new name to your desktop file folder called JOB OPPORTUNITIES

N.B. You will have to follow Step 1 through 4 for every suitable opportunity you find. Once you have completed your search and your JOB OPPORTUNITIES File has several job suitable advertisements, you are ready to start the application process.

The application process continues as follows:

Step 1 - Open the job opportunity for which you are going to apply. This job opportunity will be found in the desktop file called “JOB OPPORTUNITIES” have been saved as ‘Job Title - Company Name’

Step 2 - Open your e-mail program

Step 3 - Fill in the job title (found in the original job posting). DO NOT fill in the e-mail address until you are sure that everything you need to send is good to go.

Step 4 - Copy and paste your cover letter template. Do not forget to edit this cover letter to suit the job posting.

Step 5 - Open your résumé template. Copy and paste the entire document into a NEW Word document and customize according to the job for which you are applying

Step 6 - Save this NEW Résumé as Your Name - Resume - Job Title, and save it to the file on your desktop called Résumés.

Step 7 - Attach this customized résumé to the e-mail

Step 8 - Fill in the e-mail address for the job opportunity. Check and double cheek all information BEFORE you press ‘send’.

Once you have completed this process, you will have to update your desktop files called “JOB OPPORTUNITIES” and “JOB APPLICATIONS”

Step 9 - You will now re-name the job opportunity for which you have just applied. The new file name for this document is DATE-JOB OPPORTUNITY-COMPANY NAME and saved to your desktop. Hint: To keep these files organized it is best to use numbers for the date i.e.081110 for November 8, 2010. The ‘end’ result should look like 080810-SALES MANAGER- XYZ COMPANY.

Step 10 - Drag the NEW job opportunity i.e. the one that included the date, job title and name of the company, to your desktop file called “JOB APPLICATIONS”

You will now have a file with the job title and company name of the position for which you have applied as well as the date you applied for the position.
From this file, you will have the ability to do the following:

  1. Make any follow-up calls to the company to make inquiries about your application
  2. Open each job opportunity and make notes directly on the file document which contains the original ad
  3. Be able to tell at a glance when your application was sent and retrieve the corresponding résumé from your ‘sent’ e-mail

You will need the original ad and a copy of your cover letter and customized résumé when you are called in for an interview.

This method is simple, it works, and the hiring managers will marvel at your organizational skills. There is no ‘real’ need to tell them that you got the idea from Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant, SMART Career Planning.

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Job Postings: How to Tell the Good from the Bad and the Ugly

If you are currently looking for a new job, you undoubtedly spend HOURS perusing the ads posted on the Internet for suitable opportunities. Once you have been searching for a while, you will begin to notice that unnamed companies post the same positions repeatedly. On one or perhaps two occasions, you may even take the time to apply for the position. In some cases, you receive a generic replay that tells you how important you are and how the company’s recruiters will be contacting you, should your skill set match their current vacancy; in other cases, you don’t even get an auto response, which will leave you even more dissatisfied with the whole process. The question then becomes, what do you do about it?

  • Keep sending out responses in the hope that someday soon a ‘real person’ will view your résumé and call you in for an interview

  • Get smart about the value of your time and target your responses to ads you deem ‘worthy’

Effective job searching requires a new set of rules for reading and evaluating the multitude of job postings out there. If your goal is to avoid wasting time on mediocre employers, as demonstrated by the time and effort they have taken in writing the ad for the position in the first place, then you need to focus your attention on companies that will help you advance your career. I have devised the following rules to help you do just that:

  1. Don’t bother responding to job postings that ask you to reply to an anonymous e-mail address

  2. Don’t bother responding to ads that have generic job descriptions

  3. Concentrate your efforts on that companies that articulate exactly what needs to be done and what they can and/or will do for you as a result of your success

  4. Stay away from companies that claim that your compensation will be based upon your experience. These companies know what needs to be done and how much they are willing to pay to have the job done. Reliable companies will post a salary range.

  5. Beware of companies that require candidates to submit their applications on-line via software that it theoretically supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of candidate suitability. Also, look for a statement that indicates how your privacy will be protected should you decide to apply for the position.

  6. Pay close attention to where you send your résumé and supporting documents and don’t bother to re-apply to companies that do not even bother to acknowledge that they have received your application.

  7. Beware of companies that request that you do not follow-up on your application or do not give you any information on how to do so.

When responding to a job ad, take the time to detail how you are the candidate they seek. Address every element in the original posting and let them know that you will be calling them within a week to either set up an appointment to meet face-to-face or at least touch base via telephone.

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.

“Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career The blog is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. For questions and comments that are better addressed privately , you can e-mail Mary directly at

Monday, August 2, 2010

Job Search Tips for Older Workers

Statistically speaking, there are more people retiring out of the workforce than are entering it. If that is true, why is it taking some people, more specifically, older people, so long to find a job?

Older workers can console themselves in the fact that the tides are finally changing and that employers are slowing beginning to understand the value in hiring older workers. Mature workers represent a significant source of highly skilled, experienced and flexible employees that employers cannot afford to overlook any longer.

Now that baby-boomers are saying that they either need or want to work well past the conventional age of retirement, the employment market is ripe for a win-win situation.

There is no question that many employers are reluctant to hire more mature workers and are loathe to admit it. For the older worker, this means that they will have to try harder to get the attention of these employers. Looking for a job when you are close to the age of retirement is akin to looking for your first 'real' job right out of school; this age group is tasked with clearly articulating why they should be hired rather than that young whipper-snapper with the next/previous interview spot.

Some tips to help the older workers get the opportunities they deserve include the following:

  1. Update your appearance. If your clothing and hairstyle aren’t current, many employers will assume your skills are also out of date, as well.

  2. Stay in shape. Employers will always opt to hire individuals who take the time to look after themselves.

  3. Be patient. Finding a new job is hard work at any age. As an older worker, you have the advantage in knowing that working hard is not a foreign concept to you and perseverance and diligence come more easily with practice. Searching for a new job is a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. Be confident. This tip is a double-edged sword. Confidence is important, but not so much that hiring managers will fear that you will have their job within 6 months of being hired. Stick to your list of reasons why the company will benefit from hiring you and that you are happy to share what you have learned with whomever chooses to take advantage of that wealth of experience.

  5. Flash a Blackberry or an iPhone. Older workers often get a bad rap for their unwillingness or inability to adapt to change when it comes to technology. While you don't need to be a computer genius, most employers expect you to feel comfortable with a computer and accessing the internet.

  6. Update computer skills. Basic computer skills can be improved by taking a course either on-line or in-person. Mastering basic software programs as Excel and PowerPoint could be a real plus. Older workers can also get help at their local library. Public Libraries have computers with free internet access as well as a library staff to help you get started.

  7. Network! Network! Network! Many job leads come from friends, family or colleagues. Working part-time until the perfect job opportunity appears is also an option.

  8. Use more than one job search method. In addition to personal networks, job opportunities can be found in the classified section of the newspaper, employment websites, job boards, corporate websites, temporary agencies, job clubs, career fairs and head-hunters. The chances of securing a new job are directly proportional to the number of job search strategies pursued.

  9. Focus on experience, not age. Fight negative age stereotypes by focusing on the knowledge gained through real-world experience.

  10. Choose a good résumé format. Review the different styles of résumé that are available and choose the style that does the best job of highlighting transferable skills and talents. Always include the scholastic credentials earned but not necessarily the year in which they were earned.

  11. Consider volunteering. Many experienced workers find a renewed sense of purpose by sharing their skills and knowledge with others.

  12. Consider starting a consulting business. Consulting for businesses (particularly small businesses) can also lead to securing a full time job. This tip can help older workers in two ways:
    • It helps cover up gaps in employment history
    • It helps increase networking opportunities

“Career Matters” is an on-line community blog hosted by Mary Salvino. It is designed for those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. Alternatively, you can e-mail Mary directly at