Category Archives: Pro Tips and Assorted Wisdom

A Humbling 31

A lot can change in a calendar year.

Last year I was brimming with excitement for my birthday. I was already thinking about birthday plans for months, figuring out what to do, who to invite, where to go. It was a fun time, getting a lot of people together to celebrate.

This year I never gave it any thought.

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Resume and Joblessness Giving You Malaise? Here’s How to Help Yourself

After my experience of trying to get back to work, I thought I should pass this advice on to someone else who may be in the situation I was in or is thinking about changing careers. I hope you can find this helpful.

Have a good resume

This is pretty important so it should go without saying. But it still must be said. A bad resume is pretty much like having no resume at all, no life raft in a sea of tumult that is the job search, you get the idea. Make sure your resume markets yourself as best as possible at the beginning so that the hiring manager can actually be interested and not print out your resume just to throw it in the trash. Include a short summary describing who you are and what you’re looking for. (“Highly motivated project manager seeking to utilize my skills in a challenging environment” for example.) Then include your “Areas of Expertise.”

Fill your “Areas of Expertise” section with buzzwords that make YOU better than the rest

List everything you’re good at doing, and other skills you have from your working or every day experience. Hiring managers deal with over 9000 resumes at a time and have no time to read through a body of text that looks like War and Peace. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who possess specific traits and the more you list up top, the more likely they’ll reach out.

Don’t sell yourself short

Every bit of experience you have is worthy experience, even if your first job was stocking shelves and getting yelled at. Every job you had gave you new skills and you accumulated experience in every one. Don’t ignore them! A labor professional suggested that other job experience I’ve accumulated in the past be put in a section of the resume titled “Relevant Related Experience.” You might not think it’s relevant or related but you can’t let the hiring manager think that. Put it all down. At the very least it shows that you’ve been on an upward trend in your career, taking what you learned and applying it to the next job.

Half-inch margins

One question I asked when I met with a labor professional during my unemployment was how could I fit everything onto one page of a resume? Her advice was to use half inch margins. You’ll be surprised how much you can fit, and how much more you can fit on one page, too. You can now squeeze more of your working experience, or even make your experience look more robust as you can now add a few more bullet points.

Keep it simple, keep it black and white

This bit of advice given to me was a bit surprising, as I didn’t give ink color any thought. The labor person told me that using color made me come across as someone slightly inconsiderate, that hiring managers will think of me as wasteful (!) because the resume would require them to print in color. Take this advice however you want, but I was willing to listen to her advice and got rid of all use of color. Think of this as more of a subliminal thing for the hiring manager; if you can give them one fewer thing to worry about when printing your resume, do it. Also, the content of your resume should hold more weight than the ink color but again, don’t force the manager to have to select color if they don’t have to—what if he or she works in an office that can’t afford color ink???


I took this advice and improved my resume. Within a week or two I was getting a lot more emails and cold calls from hiring managers and headhunters. I was desperately trying to get anyone to even look at my old resume but with this new one it sometimes felt like I had too many people interested in my services! (Not that that’s a bad thing.) But after what I endured from the many months of desperately trying to get hired again, the least I can do is share this advice given to me hoping it can help someone else.

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A Test of Some Kind

Life is interspersed with unexpected calamities that test one’s resolve.

Diamonds are made under pressure, so says that random person on Instagram who posts grainy pictures of inspirational text that was originally stolen from someone who had found it on Tumblr or Facebook. We don’t like dealing with pressure, obviously, but rarely has anything good come from not dealing with pressure.

Pressure tests you. Pressure challenges you. Pressure forces you to think on your toes, take risks, and reach new heights never imagined. Nothing was ever accomplished without some iota of risk.

There is always the light at the end of the tunnel. Giving up is the easy way out and the biggest mistake you could possibly make. Are you going to turn around, because you can’t see the light, or are you going to keep moving forward, knowing you’re going to get closer with each step?

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This Is 30 ~ A Thank You

Where has the time gone?

I celebrated a birthday on Friday with some friends and colleagues. I pledged not to go too crazy and was more worried about everyone else having a good time (they seemed to). Always the worrier I am.

The worries were all for naught. It was a great time with great people and the party couldn’t have gone any better.

From me to you: thank you. Thank you for taking the time out of your days to spend with me for a bit—especially those I haven’t seen in far too long. It was great reconnecting and catching up on things. I need to be a better friend.

Special thanks go to those who came from afar to celebrate with me. While I sometimes pretend to think I’m a wizard with words, I cannot string enough of them together to convey genuinely how grateful I am and honored that you made the trip out. It truly means a lot, it really does.

I’m not one who likes large extravagant parties but reaching a “milestone” of 30 warranted special pomp and circumstance. Thank you all for being a part of it.

PS: Turning 30 carries the extra caveat of looking back on how I got here to this point and what is on the road ahead and beyond. My birthday happening during a month almost halfway through the calendar makes this “look back” a little easier and worthwhile. I think most people like to look back on their lives on New Year’s Eve and make lavish resolutions they have no intention of acting on but a birthday acts as a nice checkpoint and bridge. You reflect on what’s happened in the new year up to this point, whether you’ve lived up to your expectations and goals and whether you have actually made good on your resolutions. I made it this far, what’s stopping me from going further?

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It Helps To Be in the Right Place Sometimes

As you all should know by now, the northeast got pummeled with a lot of snow thanks to a blizzard that was part of a nor’easter. If you were like me, you scoffed at the idea of 12 to 18 inches of snow until you realized more than two feet of snow fell. A foot would have been more preferable!

Today was the first weekday, a “happy Monday” if you will, which meant mass transit was put to the test in trying to get people from Point A to Point B despite there still being snow in some areas.

It was a shit show. The line at the bus stop was close to 50-deep and of the two buses that had shown up, only one barely accepted passengers (as in people snuck in through the back door). An express bus (a larger bus with a premium fare meant to get you somewhere with a little more comfort) showed up and I opted to take that instead, knowing full well it wasn’t really going to get me to work any sooner.

We crawled and crawled and crawled. The street was one of seven roads in Queens actually fully plowed but everyone was taking it very slowly and gingerly. It took us ten minutes just to move several hundred yards at one point. I didn’t mind it because at least I had a (mostly) comfortable seat and I wasn’t stuck on a regular bus having to hold onto a handlebar with my fingertips while trying not to elbow five people in the head and while trying not to have my balls smashed in by over 9000 Coach or Michael Kors bags.

By the time we finally reached the Midtown Tunnel it was already 9:00 (on a much more normal sort of day, I’m walking into the office by 9 after passing through the Midtown Tunnel at around 8:20 or 8:30). Everyone knew how late they were but there was nothing much they could do other than immediately getting up and standing in the aisle after requesting their stops.

As more and more seats became empty I was tempted to move up a few rows because I wanted to sit somewhere without someone next to me; I was in the sixth row on the driver’s side, sitting next to a woman who took up all her seat and a minute portion of mine. If I moved my arm or my leg, I would have made contact with her—I was seeking a seat that could allow me to move more freely, even a little. But as we traversed 34 St, approaching Fifth Avenue, I remained seated, not wanting to move despite my desires to move.

A young woman in the row next to me got up, ready to get off at the bus stop. Her bag nudged me in the knee ever so slightly. It was unwelcome but inevitable, the perils of riding mass transit with tight spaces. She was making her way to the door and I, for whatever reason, looked toward her seat.

“Excuse me, is that yours?” I asked.

She turned and looked. A silver laptop was there with its AC plug and adapter on the floor. It was obvious she had taken her work laptop home on Friday, just in case the blizzard made commuting to work impossible or if her employer decided to close on Monday, and she now had to lug the hefty machine back to the office today.

The laptop was not in a laptop-specific bag but rather inside one of those fancy, glossy paper bags you’d get at a store like Express. The bag was clearly not designed to hold anything heavier than a few pairs of them apple-bottom jeans, or dress shirts being sold at buy-one-get-one-half-off prices. The bottom completely tore open and the laptop had slid out, onto the seat next to hers.

She had no idea it had gotten out of the bag. She frantically went back and tried to get everything together. The plug fell out again so she had to pick it up. The bus driver closed the doors and was ready to keep going before she had to tell him to wait. She briefly explained her predicament to him, apologizing for, and justifying, the delay.

Had I moved up to the empty seat, I’m pretty sure that young woman would have left the bus without her laptop. She would’ve freaked out, and had to make calls to figure out where it was, which bus it was on, which route it was, what time it took place, what the laptop looked like, and so on. Not the kind of way you’d want a Monday to start. Because I remained in my seat, I was able to be a good Samaritan and spare her the misfortune of losing something of importance.

It’s remarkable how one small decision can have such a big impact.

 

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