Following is a letter from a potential client who applied for a job as a Vocational Rehab Counsellor. She was surprized that she didn’t get an interview. She supposed that perhaps she lacked experience which may be true. Everyone who aspires for a position like that would do well to gain some experience as a job developer, employment counsellor or some other position that has the word work or employment in it.

 Here is a letter I wrote to her. Maybe I’ll get to do some work for her on her resume.

 Dear Anon,

 Thank you for forwarding your resume. Sorry to take so long getting back to you. I had a busy week. Aside from working and teaching a couple of fitness classes, I had two resumes to complete and a 1200 word article for alive magazine to edit down. (It will be out in October on maintaining a strong back), and some pruning to do.

Your fishing analogy for job search is very relevant to the task. I often use it myself. In fact, sometimes I have this running in the background as an aid to conselling and motivating my clients to get some work done. Check this out: http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls.

What an exercise in focus. Sometimes they catch a fish and sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, they know that they will. All they have to do is exercise a little patience. These guys need lots of fish, while you probably only need one job. These guys have to really load the protein to make it through the winter. All you need to do is load up on money and stay awake all winter.

Somehow I can’t visualize you sitting in a brook waiting for the right job to come by like my buddies here. I see you as more of a person to use all those fishing skills to lure luck out of hiding. Am I right? If that is the case, might I suggest a few changes to your resume – to clean up your tackle box.

First of all, when you apply of a Vocational Rehab Counsellor position at CMHA, you need to know that the job title is a little misleading. What they really want is an Employment Specialist or Job Developer. I know that because I am part of that team, only at Fraser Health. Your resume needs to reflect this. It doesn’t presently, but it could.

What I would recommend under your contact information to put three things that you can do, and separate them with a bullet. between them – Something like this:

Program Manager     ●      Job Developer     ●     Employment Specialist

That gives an employer a pretty good idea of what you can do for him or her. Also it is in threes. I contend that employer’s brains get a warm and fuzzy feeling when they see things in threes. One thing is OK as long as it’s identical  to the title of the posting. Two is cumbersome as are four. Stick with three.

Under that I would write a thirty to forty word profile that may speak to your communication skills, your leadership  style and any other skill you wish to highlight.

After that, do a short laundry list of your key strengths.

When you bullet some phrases about  your jobs and practicum experience, think about the bears. Think about how they’re spending their lives during spawning season. Then think of the tense they would be using if you were making a resume for them. Past tense (I fished) would be inaccurate because they might do it tomorrow – before blueberry season. I would recommend the gerund form of the verbs as it would describe the continuity of the activity. (Finding jobs, Composing resumes  etc.) This gives your resume a more active voice. There are some other things that would make it stronger still – such as removing most of the lines. (They often get tangled up in scanners and reduce your resume to a bunch of graphics. If they are doing a global search for key words, they may get lost.

Let me know if you need some more help cleaning your crab trap.


Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.





  1. energywriter Says:

    Another great lesson. Keep up the good work. I learned about threes and gerund forms for experience. I knew about threes for essays and speeches, just had not translate that to resumes. sd

  2. Chad Says:

    Stay awesome Mikey, another classic.

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