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FireworksIt’s been a long time coming, but this is the day!  As comes the time in most organizations, there’s a need for an upgrade. I’ve been blogging on WordPress.com for almost four years, and have also had my own website which I designed myself. I’ve also had some videos and podcasts in various places, but it’s all been scattered. Now, I’ve finally put it all together!

Behold! The new Resonare.com!

In the last few months, I’ve been working with Bob Sink of WebworksNYC on the design and the content (I cannot praise him enough publicly!) and I’m quite pleased with what we’ve accomplished, and hope you will be too!

Here’re the new features you’ll be able to find there:

Additionally, here are many other features that you can find and interact with all the ways that you connect Spirit, Passion and Career:

  • I’ve given a number of talks on podcasts, and you can link to them on the In The Media page, or listen to them directly on the Audio Archives page.
  • I’m known as a specialist in working with creative entrepreneurs, career changers, and the LGBT community.  Check out how I work with each of these special communities.
  • I’ve been lucky to have a number of people say good things about me, and you can read some of their comments on my Testimonials page.
  • People often want to take a “test” to tell them what they should do.  While you really have the answer inside you (and I just help dig it out), I do use a number of Assessments that help us figure out what’s important to you.
  • Want to know a little bit more about my journey to being a career professional, and how I tend to approach career development? Check out the About Ken and Philosophy pages.
  • On every page, there are links to my Twitter feed, Facebook Page, Google+ Page, YouTube Channel, and more.  And of course, if you see something, I do hope that you’ll share it with others.
  • The Meditate Mass 351 Challenge has its own page now.
  • Some of my most popular articles are now made easier to find in the Articles Menu. There are 35 of them in the subjects of Spirit, Passion, Productivity, Resumes, Networking, Job Search and Interviewing!

This new website will be a vehicle for me to showcase so many things about how to be more in touch with your calling, and how to make that manifest in the world. I have a lot of hopes and dreams that now I have a platform to make them happen.

So, what are your hopes and dreams? Go to

It’s been a long time coming, but this is the day!  As comes the time in most organizations, there’s a need for an upgrade. I’ve been blogging on WordPress.com for almost four years, and have also had my own website which I designed myself. I’ve also had some videos and podcasts in various places, but it’s all been scattered. Now, I’ve finally put it all together!

Behold! The new Resonare.com!

In the last few months, I’ve been working with Bob Sink of WebworksNYC on the design and the content (I cannot praise him enough publicly!) and I’m quite pleased with what we’ve accomplished, and hope you will be too!

Here’re the new features you’ll be able to find there:

Additionally, here are many other features that you can find and interact with all the ways that you connect Spirit, Passion and Career:

  • I’ve given a number of talks on podcasts, and you can link to them on the In The Media page, or listen to them directly on the Audio Archives page.
  • I’m known as a specialist in working with creative entrepreneurs, career changers, and the LGBT community.  Check out how I work with each of these special communities.
  • I’ve been lucky to have a number of people say good things about me, and you can read some of their comments on my Testimonials page.
  • People often want to take a “test” to tell them what they should do.  While you really have the answer inside you (and I just help dig it out), I do use a number of Assessments that help us figure out what’s important to you.
  • Want to know a little bit more about my journey to being a career professional, and how I tend to approach career development? Check out the About Ken and Philosophy pages.
  • On every page, there are links to my Twitter feed, Facebook Page, Google+ Page, YouTube Channel, and more.  And of course, if you see something, I do hope that you’ll share it with others.
  • The Meditate Mass 351 Challenge has its own page now.
  • Some of my most popular articles are now made easier to find in the Articles Menu. There are 35 of them in the subjects of Spirit, Passion, Productivity, Resumes, Networking, Job Search and Interviewing!

This new website will be a vehicle for me to showcase so many things about how to be more in touch with your calling, and how to make that manifest in the world. I have a lot of hopes and dreams that now I have a platform to make them happen.

So, what are your hopes and dreams? Go to http://resonare.com/a-new-day-for-resonare-com/ leave a comment!

 

Many people seem to think that there is supposedly one correct way to write a resume and a cover letter, but nobody every tells you how to do it. I like to say that there isn’t one right way, but many right ways. My guiding advice is to consider who your audience is, and present your material in the same way that that audience likes to present information. Going for a graphic design job? You might want to make your resume more stylized and designed. If not, it will look like you don’t have a good eye for design. Want to be an editor? Better make sure that you are consistent in every part of the document. If you can’t do it here, how can you do it for them?

In working with people on resumes, I see a lot of different ways to present what you have to offer, and one thing that I see misused (in my humble opinion) is the bullet point. I cannot tell you how many people have come in to talk with me and said that they’ve always heard that you should only use bullet points on resumes. I think that this way of thinking really doesn’t serve the bullet point well, and diminishes it power. (This is similar to the argument that a resumes should always be one page). While in many circumstances this is true, it’s not always the case. It depends upon context, with the context here being the audience.

I like to say that a bullet has advantages and drawbacks. The advantage to a bullet is that:

  • It makes something stand out and say “Here! Look at me! I’m important!”

A bullet has a few drawbacks though:

  • A bullet takes up a lot of space
  • It’s indented
  • You waste space on short lines
  • You have bigger margins
  • Lines run over, Lines run over and then you have just one word on the next line
  • If everything is bulleted and is saying here look at me I’m important, nothing is saying look at me I’m important
  • Having too many bullets makes it seem like a paragraph that the reader has to sift through
  • I’ll just add a few more bullets here to hammer home the point
  • I’ll just add a few more bullets here to hammer home the point
  • I’ll just add a few more bullets here to hammer home the point

So if you made it through that example of Death By Bullet Point, you may or may not have seen the most important things to get across. To bring them out, I’m going to give them some space:

  • If everything is bulleted and is saying here look at me I’m important, nothing is saying look at me I’m important
  • Having too many bullets makes it seem like a paragraph that the reader has to sift through

Bullets are like salt in a dish: use them just enough to enhance the main dish. If you overuse them, it overwhelms everything else.

I like to say that the perfect number for bullet points is 3. People can only hold three thoughts in their consciousness at one time. Any more than that, and it just looks like a big paragraph that takes up a lot of space. It also helps you to mentally edit by thinking “Okay, what’s really the most important thing to get across?” That’s where bullets really shine.

So, what are the things in your life that deserve bullet points?

“A Tale from the Decameron,” by John William Waterhouse, 1916

One of the things that I’m always talking about is the need to be a story teller in your job search.  You always have to retell the stories of your past accomplishment, experiences, and adventures in the working world to people who weren’t there.  Otherwise, they would already know you and wouldn’t have to ask!

There are many ways to tell a story, and in the job search, it will come out in certain ways: in your resume, your cover letter, the interview, your tweets, your online portfolio, your Facebook wall, when I google your name, what someone else tells me about you, etc.  The thing is that you need to know your stories first before you know which format to put them in.  I find that a great number of my clients want me to help them with their resumes, but they don’t know what stories to tell.  As I see it, there are three levels of the story of you:

  1. You in Your Essence: On the highest possible level, who do you say you are, and what do you want people to think of you.  You can think of this in some way to be in line with your vision of yourself, but it could manifest itself in many ways.
  2. You in the Roles of Your Life: You as a college student is different from you in your current job.  You have the story of you in each of your jobs, in every volunteer leadership role, and you as the captain of your middle school basketball team. How do you want to be known in each of these?
  3. You in the Projects You’ve Accomplished: Within each of your roles, you done some projects.  Those projects might have been big (running a convention) or small (writing a press release) but they were all projects that had a beginning, middle, and an end.  These are the stories that are easy enough to tell and get your point across about how you can help others.

What I’ve found is that many people are trying to tell a story about them at their essence (I’m great! I have great skills!), but it’s so vague that it doesn’t come across as meaningful, interesting or compelling. It’s really only in the stories about the projects you’ve accomplished that you can really make an impression.  They build up to the areas of your essence and your roles. (For thoughts about how to tell your story, check out my post about Fairy Tales and telling your story.)

Granted, you will tell your stories differently depending on the audience, but that’s an entirely differently blog post.

So, do you know who you want to tell your stories to, and what stories you want to tell?

I was recently at an presentation at the Association of Career Professionals International – New England where they had a panel of recruiters from some very large organizations. The topic was the new world of recruiting in the current internet age and how recruiters at companies are finding talent now differently than they where in the past. While there were many traditional ways presented, the one that really got my attention was the new role of Sourcer in the recruiting practice.

The traditional way that employment specialists used to work is that they would review the applications they received to find the best candidate from the pile. As the Internet age exploded and more and more candidates applied, technology grew to where recruiters were getting more sophisticated in searching for key words and other indicators in a resume that the candidate had the applicable background. This new approach is that recruiters are no longer limited by the people who see and apply to a position, but Sourcers will actively go out and find people who have the skills regardless of whether they know about the company or the job opening.

Some of the recruiters mentioned that in their employment organizations, there were twice as many Sourcers as Recruiters.

So, what does a Sourcer do? Research, and mostly on line. Whether scouring LinkedIn profiles (you do have a LinkedIn profile, don’t you?) or attending meetings and learning who are the hot people in a field. They are the ones who find people even before a job is posted. They make it their business to know the best candidates, get to know them, and get to know the people who know them to get referrals.

I like to say that these people are the Public Relations function of Recruiting. The definition of PR that I like to use is putting a good impression of the product or service into the customer’s mind even before the customer is thinking about making a purchase. These people do all the prework of the hiring process and it is good for you to know how they work.

How does this affect you? Well, do you have enough information out there do that people can find you and know what you’re good at? Can anyone else say how good you are and tell your story? Also, if you’re good at researching and know your way around the Internet, it could be a great new job opportunity. (Hello journalists!)

So, are you making yourself known to sources in your field?

Resumes can be a pain. People stress about writing them. Hiring managers are always trying to decypher them to figure out if the candidate has what they need. I say that most people seem to think that there is a secret formula to writing resumes that nobody will tell them about.

My simple answer is that you need to think about who is reading the resume and then write like your audience. It’s really that simple. Resumes are just the information the hiring manager might need to have in order to take the chance to bring you in and talk with you more about the position without wasting everyone’s time.

In order to do that, you have to give a clear picture (in words) of what you actually did. This might seem simple but so many people miss this. I read hundreds of resumes a month and I’ve found three words that are endemic on resumes that don’t do anything to bring that clarity. I cross them off almost every time I see them (granted, there are always exceptions).

Here they are.

  • Assisted: This can mean anything from “I got coffee” to “I did my boss’ job and didn’t get credit for it”. When I see it, I assume coffee, not executive. If I read this, I’m making up stories in my head about what you actually did. They may not be what you wanted me to think.
  • Helped: See above.
  • Worked: Were you in the fields or the mines? This brings visions of either someone under a vicious task master or someone just hanging out waiting for something to happen. Either scenario doesn’t encourage me to think of you as a self starter.

So, what can you say instead? Well, what did you actually do? If I were watching you while you were there, what would I see? Researched 5 new clients and wrote a summary for your boss? Reorganized the inventory system? Produced and assembled 100 press kits? Tell me that!

Using vague words like helped, assisted, and worked will put more questions into the reader’s mind than will do you good. Be clear and detail what you have done to your best story telling ability. If you can’t be clear on your resume, do I think you will speak clearly to me and my customers?

So, what did you actually do on that job?

As many of you have probably experienced, cover letters bring fear into the hearts of most job seekers. People who can write eloquently on any subject given suddenly freeze up when they have to write a few paragraphs about themselves. The old “I don’t know what to say!” phrase comes out and people get paralyzed I would say that the reason for this is people don’t know the purpose of what they are writing and why.

As I’ve written before, a resume’s job is to speak for you when you’re not around to speak for yourself and to show you’re a professional in your field. It’s like an advertisement for you, just like any other company would have an advertisement for a product. A cover letter is your opportunity to show that you are a good match for this organization and to highlight your writing skills. A resume is your advertisement and your cover letter is trying to close the deal of getting you in the door to demonstrate to them that you’re the best candidate.

I like to say that a cover letter should answer three questions:

  1. Why am I interested in your company? 99% of all cover letters start with some version of “I saw your ad and I’m perfect for this job.” it might be dressed up in different language, but it’s the same blah, blah, blah. Can you show you’re different? Why is this particular organization interesting? Do you know anything about the product or initiatives they’ve completed? Can you mention any people that work there that know you? How does this fit into your career path? Give them something to show you e done done homework and this isn’t the 17th of 32 cover letters you’re writing today.
  2. Why Should They Be Interested In You? The hiring managers want to know that you’ve already got the skills, knowledge, and experience they need. What are the stories of your past experiences that show them that? Choose two or three and tell them in a way that connects your experiences with their needs.
  3. We’re A Great Match! We Should Talk! What’s Next? You made the match, now ask for the interview.  Most people say something to the effect of “I’ll be sitting here in the dark until you get back to me.”  You need to say you’re looking forward to speaking with them about the opportunity, or something to that effect.  Also make sure you include all the ways that they can get in touch with you (e.g. phone, email, Skype, etc.)  Also, if you are looking in another city, you can say “If it is convenient, I will be in New York City from March 12-19 and available for interviews”, so that they don’t have to ask you when you’re available.

So, how are you selling yourself?

Tree in late November, Boston Public Garden

I see a lot of resumes. People are so paranoid about their resumes and getting the wording right. I truly believe that most people think that there is some secret formula to writing a resume, but no one ever tells them. Ax resume functions by speaking for you when you’re not there, so it should represent you well in your voice, and most importantly, in language that the intended audience. I’ve seen too many people write a resume in MBA speak when they want to be in a creative field. The creatives who will read this resume will think this person is a stuffed shirt and not appropriate.

Lesson: The way to write a resume is to consider your audience and write like them!

That being said, a lot of people want to have done sort of “formula” when talking about themselves in a resume. Remembering that you need to tell your story (thoughts on that here, here, and here), here is a structure that I’ve found works for most people. As usual, if this works for you, great. Adjust if you need to.

Any description of an experience you have should have four parts to be maximally effective:

  1. Active Verb: Your English teacher was right. Use a verb that is visual. Imagine that you’re giving instructions to an actor to act out this activity. If you “assisted”, “worked” or “helped”, I have no ideas if you brought coffee for the meetings or did your boss’ job but didn’t get credit. Use a verb a good actor can do something with!
  2. The Object of the Action: Okay, what did you “write”, “develop” or “create”? Can you name it? Can you quantify it?  Which sounds better: “reports” or “10 20-page reports”? Give me some idea of what it was.
  3. For Whom or Who Benefited: Whatever you did, someone was better for it? Did the CEO get your report? Did 200 people attend the event you organized?
  4. To What Result: Hopefully, something got better because of what you did.  Explain what it was.  Did you make a $250,000 sale because of the relationships you built? Did you save the company $10,000 because of an error you found?  Did you press releases generate three newspaper articles?  If you can show the results of your actions, people might think you could do that again!

Remember, you are telling a story here that they need to hear. Make sure that you don’t make the reader work too much to figure out the details, but also give room for them to know there’s more to find out.

Note: this works in your spoken stories as well.

So, how well are you telling your stories?

20110913-092048.jpgAs I stated in my last post, most people don’t think about telling the stories of their lives in a compelling way that shows how what you’ve done makes a difference in the world. In this post, I’d like to give some help in how you can make your stories of your background more engaging to your target audience (You do have a target audience, right? It should be the hiring manager.)

Knowing my audience (namely you), I like to tell my stories in ways that you can relate to. As most people have had the experience of going to a movie, that’s the metaphor that I’m going to use. The job of the screenwriter is to write the story in a way that brings you in and keeps you engaged. That’s done in two ways:

First, when the movie starts, you (the viewer) are trying to figure out who the characters are, how they are related, where they are, what time period they are living in, etc. A good screenwriter supplies the CONTEXT in this first scene. It allows the viewer to relate the experiences of the characters to the viewer’s life.

  • You need to supply context of your background to the reader of your resume or the person you meet at a networking event (and especially in an interview). If you did something in a different city or in an obscure organization, you will need to supply the context so that the hiring manager will understand how what you did there relates to their needs. Easy ways to do that are with names they understand (such as “I worked in the Obama administration”. If you worked with Joe Bagadonuts and they don’t know Joe, it doesn’t help) and numbers (How many of those press releases did you write? How many people attended that event you organized?)

Second, imagine you’ve finished the movie and are walking home, and you can see the movie playing in your mind. You meet up with a friend and you tell the story again. If the screenplay was written well, you can do this.

  • You need your story to be VISUAL and REPEATABLE. Most people make their stories so boring and vague that people can’t see it. Imagine I were following you around with a video camera while you were doing your work. Would I see you “assisting the manager?”. That can mean just about anything. If you instead said that you “Compiled a report on the top 100 companies in the social media marketing field for inclusion in annual report”, that might get me to see a bit more of what you were doing.

When you start your job search, you are in charge of how you develop your character in the mind of the target audience. If you tell the story poorly, the audience will make up their own minds about who you are, and that might not be what you want them to think.

So, what story are you telling and are you the star of your own story?

20110908-095258.jpgI like to say that a major part of the job search process is storytelling. The exchange of ideas that happen in any search to find the right fit is going to involve stories from the point of view of the employer (e.g. Job descriptions, describing company culture, etc.) and the job searcher. You need to know what stories you want and need to tell (Hint: 5th grade science project is not a story you need to tell). You have many stories from you can tell, but you need to figure out which one are the important ones and then how to tell them in a compelling way.

I’ve found that although most of us have been listening to (and maybe telling) stories most of our lives, many people don’t know how to structure stories in a way that really is effective. I like to say that you should organize them in ways that people are familiar so that they don’t have to figure out the structure, but just focus on the content.

So, what form are people most familiar with across cultures?

Fairy Tales

Most fairy takes have a very basic structure that works well for job search purposes:

  1. Our Hero Enters the Scene: Usually there is a little back story to the story. What does the Hero see when entering? This is the Situation.
  2. Our Hero Has A Quest: Upon understanding the Situation, the Hero does something to change the situation. It can be a duel, a test, or something, but the Hero takes some Action to change the situation.
  3. Our Hero Leaves the Scene: Once done with the Action, the Situation has now changed. Hopefully it’s Happily ever after, but there is a Result.

When you are telling the story of any experience in your life, it’s as real as a fairy tale to the listener.  You have to let them know the Situation you walked into, what Action you took to change the situation, and what Result came from your action.  This is to show that you actually made a difference in your being there.

Hiring managers want to know how bringing you on can help them out, so you need to show that you’ve done this in the past.  If you can’t relate it to them, they won’t believe it. (Note: these stories will have to come across not only in your resume, but any online presence, your networking, your interviewing, etc.)

So, what stories do you have to tell, and is it something that will make a difference in my life?

As many of you know, I’m a single guy and have been for a few years.  I’ve been doing a lot of personal development work recently, and really feel pretty good about myself and what I’ve got to offer.  That said, I’ve been more strongly putting myself out there in the dating world.  As you can imagine, the world is quite different for a middle-aged gay man than it was in the late 1980’s when I was first looking for love.  Now, everything is online and you are presenting yourself and your features and benefits for all to see.  You can be screened out or screened in depending on how you present yourself.

One thing I feel pretty strongly about is presenting myself as closely as possible to who I am right now. I post my current age (if you aren’t interested in maturity and experience, fine), my physical size (this is what I’ve got; take it or leave it), and my current interests and how my personality comes through. Also, I want people to think that I look really good for my age, not that I look really old for 10 years younger than myself.

I am surprised that not everyone feels the same way.  When I’ve met guys, sometimes I’m surprised that what I’m presented with doesn’t match the information I was giving.

  • One guy posted that he was 53, but stated that he was actually 59 when we got together for dinner.
  • Another stated that he was 5’9″, but when I met him he was shorter than me (and I’m 5’7.5″!)
  • A third was very chatty in our messages going back and forth and showed a lot of enthusiasm in meeting, but when we did meet, I had to practically drag a conversation out of him.

I’m of the point that I feel good about myself and I’m looking for the right fit: a mature, intelligent, communicative, adventurous man who can be my partner in crime.  I know the criteria I’m looking for, and I’m willing to wait, but also willing to give a guy a chance if he doesn’t initially seem to have all the qualifications but looks promising.

As I’ve mentioned before, a job search is like dating.  You both are looking for the right one and everyone is awkward.  You want to present the best you have as truthfully as possible.  If you’ve got little lies here and there, they will be found out, and your reputation will take a nose dive.  If you’re willing to play fast and loose with your own information, they might not trust you with their business. If what you present (resume, cover letter, stories about yourself) don’t match what I get when I meet you, I will feel like it’s a waste of my time.  (That’s one reason I like to chat with guys a bit before agreeing to meet.  If you can’t hold up your end of a conversation virtually, you certainly can’t do it in person, and I hate wandering into that trap!)

The key here is that there is someone for everyone in the dating world and the job search.  It’s not automatic and people won’t fall out of the sky into your lap, so you have to be proactive to find a mate and find a job.  As I say, figure out where the people are that you want to be with, and go to those places and say you want to be there (and figure out what they want and if you have it or need to acquire it!)

So, are you presenting yourself truthfully, and do you know what others are looking for?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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