FROM THE STREET TO THE COFFEE ROOM


A few years ago there was a crisis amongst all of the employment agencies in the Province. Some agencies lost their contracts, and some kept them. From my perspective, it was the luck of the draw. Many lost their positions. I was one of them. In the midst of all this, one person had the foresight to prepare for the worst.

She called me up one day to say that she had her resume schmooshed.

“What?” I asked.

“{ had it schmooshed,” She said, and went on to explain that she took out all the unnecessary information.  Employers these days don’t want to spend all their time reading. They want the bare essentials.”

I disagree with this, but I accepted her offer to send it to me along with her old ‘full figured’ resume. Here’s what happened when it came in. Everyone in my agency read it, and some even called her back to five her opinion of the old and new resumes.

Some people even sent her resume to other agencies. Before long, she had a new position because she demonstrated that she knew how to market. The new resume was irrelevant. The important part is that she found a way to get her resume(s) read and her name known.

When times are tough, it’s time to develop some creative strategies to get from the sidewalk to the coffee room, and from the coffee room to the boardroom.

I have a client who recently graduated with a degree in planning. She had some practicum experience from her academic programs, and she is trying to get her name known by volunteering at a couple of places that do planning and community engagement.

Unfortunately, all the jobs that are advertised demand five to seven years’ experience.

I have been working on the employment side of social work for about 25 years now, and I am ready to share a few things that I’ve learned along the way. The most important of these tidbits is the Law of Speculative Employment

This law is made up of three sub laws: 1) You have a right to apply for anything you want to. 2) The worst that can happen is your application gets filed in recycling. 3) If you ask for money, you usually get advice. If you ask for advice, sometimes you get money.

At some point in my career I asked for a position as an employment counsellor. I spent most of my life as an archaeologist digging holes in the ground. Someone saw my potential, and someone probably made a mistake. (Actually the person who hired me had a degree in archaeology as well. The point is, if I hadn’t applied I’d still be digging ditches.

Every time you put in an application, you risk getting the job. If you don’t get it, try again. If you do get it, try to live up to the expectations you propounded in your interview.

Finally, after the interview, write a thank you note. Tell them that you hope you answered their questions to their satisfaction, but also, if their busy, make an offer to do some contract work for them. After all, you’re an archaeologist. You can do anything. You can even ask if know of any other positions in the field

WRITING A SPECULATIVE COVER LETTER:

It the job requirements want five years and you have less than that, try our hand at writing a speculative cover letter. All you need to do is change the first sentence:

“In response to your recent advertisement for a planner, I submit mu resume. I would like to be considered a qualified applicant for the position.”

Becomes:

“On speculation that there may soon be an opening for a junior planner at your agency, I submit my resume. I would like to be considered a qualified applicant for the position.”

 

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, “Ain’t no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former 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

 

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2 Responses to “FROM THE STREET TO THE COFFEE ROOM”

  1. energywriter Says:

    Great advice. Thank you. My issue is that much of my “relevant” work experience is 15 years old. Interviewers aren’t interested in old experience. How do I deal with that?

  2. mikebroderick Says:

    Keep applying until 15 years becomes 16 years. Also, see if you can’t take some courses to upgrade your skills. Make sure you count all the volunteer work you’re doing at that museum on your resume. Finally, when they ask how come it’s been so long, say, “Retirement isn’t working for me.”

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