How Not To Keep A Job

Good morning Sunshine! Hope you’re having a nice, relaxing Saturday morning. I’m on day 17 or 30 days straight of work this month (unless we wind up going on strike on the 26th, then I’m not technically working if I’m on the picket line), and I’m going right goofy.

For those of you who are new around here, I make my living by professionally peddling the Devil’s Brew in a government-owned retail establishment in a Canadian province (I think putting it that way works around my “social media” clause in my contract).  It may not be the greatest job, or have anything to do with what I went to school for, but it a great fit for me right now. I work with pretty much the greatest staff ever. Other stores have told me they’re jealous of our store, because we all get along so great and we’re like family. This job also gives me time to figure out my life, which I need to do very much so right now. And even though I hate people, I seem to like working with the public.

We have two busy seasons, where people buy a metric shit-tonne of alcohol – Christmas, and the summer. We get a few seasonal workers to come in at these times, kinda round out the schedule and make sure we have enough people on staff every day to keep the store open.  Usually, for a store our size, we would get 4 or 5 people to come in and help. This year especially, we needed that many people due to the possibility of a strike and the public’s usual “what do you mean you may be closed for a few days??now I need to buy CASES of booze to make sure the world doesn’t run out!” panic/ But this summer, through some combination of new management and some sort of curse, we have one. We have The Kid.

The Kid must have interviewed really well, because he’s never had a job in his 22 years. He’s never handled money, or touched a cash register, or dealt with the public. The product of helicopter parenting and a God-complex, The Kid believes that he is the be-all and end-all of cashiers. He even once dubbed himself a “cashier ninja” for his ability to hold up a line while he stood there staring into space and adding numbers in his head (we had to remind him that the cash register does all the adding for him, without uncomfortably staring at customers).

Now, I know that everyone has to start somewhere. The Kid doesn’t want to just “start” though. In his own mind, he knows everything and no one can tell him what to do.When I was just starting out as a cashier at my first job, I brought a notebook and pen and actually took notes on everything I had to do. Hell, even when I started THIS job a few years ago, I brought a notebook and pen to my cashier training and took notes on everything I had to do! Not The Kid, though. He knows everything, even though he knows nothing.

It’s only been a few weeks since The Kid first graced us with his cash-ninja presence, but it feels so much longer. Everyone but him seems to realize that he probably won’t last much longer. The only reason he’s lasted this long is because we are severely short-staffed as it is and we need bodies in the store.

Basically, he’s a walking manual for How Not To Keep A Job.  Here’s just a few of the thrilling lessons he’s given us so far:

1- Stand there. Don’t offer anyone any help. See your coworker with the huge line-up? Don’t let anyone in her line know that you’re open too. Just watch her struggle. Customer has his hands full and needs a basket? Just stand there and watch him drop glass bottles on the floor while there’s a pile of baskets next to you.

2- Stare. At everyone. Customer, coworkers, managers. Don’t say anything, just start at them.

3- Don’t think, just talk. If people are offended, it’s their own fault. Some great random phrases to get the conversation started with your customers: “Wow, you were in here yesterday too. You must be a huge alcoholic.”, “I can’t tell if you’re pregnant or really fat. Should you be buying coolers either way?”, “You’re smelly. You should go take a shower, or not look homeless or something.”

4-Don’t listen to your coworkers. They’re not trying to help you. Sure, they’re telling you what you did wrong and then showing you how to do it properly. And yes,  they’re being very patient with you. Ok, and they keep having to remind you of the same things over and over and over again. Easy things like, “Before you try to log on to a cash register, go sign in and grab your till. You can’t just walk up to a register and start using an empty drawer” I mean, all of this SOUNDS like they’re trying to help you. But they’re not. Don’t listen to them.

5- Go that little extra mile to put a personal touch on things, even if it means breaking all the rules. Coworkers told you to hit “assistance” button when you have a big line or need to use the bathroom or it’s time for your break, so that they know you need help and can come out there and help you? Screw that! You don’t play by conventional rules! Just abandon your post, wander into the back, tell them personally that you need help. That face-to-face contact is sure to impress them!

6-Make sure your coworkers know you’re on to them. Be loud, be forceful Don’t worry about their feelings; they have none. Yell right in their face if you have to. Make sure they know you are smart, and you know everything there is to know about their job, so you really don’t need their help. In fact, they should be asking you for help!

7-You know how every workplace says they have their own policy for breaks? Well, they’re lying because those policies don’t apply to you. Have a huge line-up? Just walk away and take a break! Supposed to buzz for someone to come relieve you for your break? Why bother? Just walk away whenever you want your break! Supposed to take 15 minutes? I’m sure you can reason out a way to take more! “Well by the time I sat in the office for a bit, and then went to the bathroom, and then sat for a few minutes, and then heated up my food, it was 4:15. So technically my break didn’t start until then.” See, just outsmart them!

8-The same goes for the end of your shift. Sure, the boss says he’s the one to tell you when to cash out and finish up your shift, but you know better than him. He says it only takes 5 minutes to do that? You take 25 minutes! Coworkers try to tell you that’s not how things are done? Well screw them! You know better than them! Just ask your mom, who has probably already checked in on your at least once during your shift and is waiting in the parking lot for you 45 minutes early just in case someone is mean to you.

9- When in doubt, get your mom. No one wants someone’s mom not to like them. Have your mom tell everyone how stressed you are, how you stay up at night crying about your job after the second day there. Make sure she tells everyone what a good kid you are, how smart you are, and how special you are. Everyone will listen to your mom and automatically love you.

10- Do things your own way. Sure, the register adds up all the prices you scan, but isn’t it just more fun to add up all the numbers in your head, even if it takes a few extra minutes per customer because you have to scan so slowly? Damn skippy it is! When the boss tells you to stop doing that (apparently it distracts you from stupid things like taking payments, and making change, and checking ID’s to make sure you’re not serving a 15 year old when the legal age is 19), stop for the few minutes he’s watching you, and then get back to doing what you love! Remember, your way is ALWAYS the best way!

 

This is just the short list of things he’s done THIS WEEK. And that’s not counting all the stupid comments he’s made to us. The concept of keeping the doors locked until we opened so that customers couldn’t come in was well beyond his comprehension. He also doesn’t seem to quite realize that “seasonal employment” means that he’s employed for the season, no matter how many times we explain it to him. He has flat out demanded we order him full-time staff uniforms and get him his own locker (instead of the one marked “seasonal staff”).

And I know I sound like a bitch for complaining so much about The Kid. It’s gotten to the point that he’s already made the most patient workers there snap from frustration. Last weekend, I kept rubbing my temples every time he said or did something unbelievably dumb or rude. And I don’t mean he hit a wrong key on the register, or accidentally gave someone an extra dollar with their change. I mean, his 15 minute break was almost 30 minutes; he mocked out plain-clothes security guys for not standing next to him all night to make sure he was safe (which apparently makes them lazy); he refused to ID people, and then refused to log the few ID’s he got in the system (it’s just logging that yes they had ID and what kind they had, for legal purposes). This was on top of his rude comments to staff and customers, his refusal to help anyone with anything, and his flat-out mocking of certain staff members and shift leaders. By the end of the night, I had my nervous twitch back in my left eye, and I had rubbed off my eyebrows and most of my outer eye make-up from rubbing my temples so much. And I’m one of the patient ones, too! Already this week, he’s had multiple private meetings with the boss about the things he’s doing wrong, and he’s almost been fired more than once. And I have one of the most patient bosses ever! Sweet little old grannies have come into the store, dealt with The Kid, and have almost resorted to purse-swinging violence!

He’s worked all week, as we’re trying to prepare him for our own brand of personal hell called “Dealing with customers who are trying to prepare in case we go on strike, and are acting like it’s the coming of the apocalypse”.  We’ve kept him on the early morning shifts to avoid him having to deal with the night rushes and the after-work/pre-party crowd. But tonight, a Saturday night when we’re already short staffed and have a tasting in-store, we also have The Kid with us. I already have my spiked rootbeer chilling in the fridge, and a big bottle of Chilean Cab Sauv staring at me from the counter.

This is going to be one hell of a long summer!

What about you, Sunshine? Have you ever had a coworker who you knew just wasn’t going to work out? Someone who drove you bonkers? Or maybe you’ve dealt with someone like this before and found a way to make it work?  Drop me a comment below, let me know how you handled things…… or let me know the worst of the worst stories you have about that coworker (we could all use a bit of a giggle).

The Goal Setting Challenge

Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend has quite a bit of debt. Not as much as me (thanks Student Loans!!), but still quite a bit. When he moved in with me the beginning of the month, we agreed that I would handle all of the finances. Because you know, Criminology majors are known for their fancial prowress??

Considering how much debt I have (but how much effort I’ve put into making all my bill payments and paying some things off in the last few years), this is pretty much like the extremely near sighted leading the blind.  So, I’ve started to do what any responsible failed grown up would do: I’m marathoning Princess and anything else Gail Vaz Oxlade has put out on TV. I’ve got my little pad of paper here, taking notes on things she recommends to help people realize how much debt they’re in, and how they can get out of it.

A lot of it is simple: make a budget, get your credit report, have a resume. I’m good at these things. I’ve been working on a budget with AAB, and am pulling out old resume templates to show him the info I need to put a resume together for him. I even found where we can get our credit reports and scores, and am working on that for both of us.

The one challenge that always  stumps me, though, is the Goal Setting Challenge. The challenge itself is quite simple. Gail has the girls look at their life, and what they are doing to earn money. Quite a few of them have started and dropped out of a few different college programs, some are working the bare minimum amount of hours they can, and others just have absolutely no direction in their lives. So Gail has them sit down and look at what they want for a career, and how to set goals to achieve this. Some of them get to try out a career, others get a kick in the butt to go out and get a new job, and a few have gone on to get the requirements needed to advance in their current jobs.

That is where I get completely lost.

You see, since my goals and dreams fell apart years ago (THAT’S a long story for another day!) I’ve had one hell of a time trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life. That’s pretty much step one of setting a goal for this challenge: knowing what the hell your goal is!

I’ve been putting myself out there with resumes, but as time goes by since graduation it seems like I’m getting fewer and fewer responses. I have no clue what it is I want to do with my life if I could have a dream job. And even if I could figure that out, I have no clue how I could afford to go out and get qualified for anything. The career I’m in at the moment has absolutely no way for me to work harder towards advancement, because about 95% of all upward mobility is based on seniority (and I’m near the bottom of the bunch for that).

So what the hell do I do?

This is something I’ve been looking at for myself a lot lately, Sunshine. Basically, I’m a Lost Girl. As fun as that title makes it sound, it’s not all rooster crows and Bangarang here. I’m looking at having no career, no direction, and no purpose in life. It’s damn scary!

So, you’ll see a bit more from me about this whole goal setting thing while I try ot figure out how to make it work for me. And maybe soon, I’ll tell you about that whole “I had a career in mind and worked towards it, only for it to completely fall out from under me, leaving me kinda dangling here wondering what the hell I’m going to do with my life” story.

Maybe.

Do What You Love and…….. Starve?

Sound pretty shitty, doesn’t it?

For years growing up, I was told that if I do what I love, then money would follow. The thing is, people didn’t seem to care what I actually loved. What did I love way back in high school? I loved writing, and reading. Even once I finally went back to University (almost a decade later), marking papers and reading student works were the only things I loved more than writing papers.

Who the hell can make a career out of any of that though?

Turns out, plenty of people. When I was told to “do what I love”, people assumed that just meant me sitting in a room, writing. I would be a writer, first and foremost.

But there is so much more to all of this than just writing.

I could have been an editor, or a professor, or a ESL teacher. I would have been happy researching for a company, or a lawyer, or a researcher. I could have become a private tutor, helping students with their academic writing.

None of this was made known to me, way back in high school, before we really knew how to use this whole Internet thing. Back in the days of dial-up, you didn’t have The Googles (as mum calls it) to search for “careers in writing”, or “what can I do with an English degree”. Nope, we had bare-bones web surfing back then: GeoCities for making web pages dedicated to hot celebrities; IRC chat rooms; AIM or ICQ for instant messages; and Hotmail for our email. That’s it. Somewhere out there was porn, but we couldn’t access it at school (believe me, we tried).

Point is, all I ever knew was that I loved to read and write. I still do. I’m broke as all hell, and I just ordered three new(er) books from Chapters this week (damn you Celia Rivenbark for having a book out there that I don’t own!!!!). I was always told that I would be a writer, and needed a career to fall back on.

Well that’s a crock of shit if I ever heard one.

Yes, things are rough out there. Believe me, I know that as well as anyone. I live in the unemployment capital of Canada, where getting 9 hours a week is considered “gainfully employed” to make statistics look good. I know the job search scene, and the toll it takes on you.

And I know what it’s like to feel like a total bitch, because you’re looking at jobs and thinking “well, I need a job, but do I really want to do THAT?!?!”

I am a writer, at heart. I sit at a desk, type things, organize things, research things. This blog is one of many things I do related to my craft, in addition to my part-time job. I know damn well that I would be horrible at certain jobs, because I would spend too much time hating them. Hell, even knowing that, out of desperation I have tried some of these jobs! That is how I know that I AM the world’s worst janitor (it only took me throwing up in a garbage can 7 times in an 8 hour shift to prove that to myself).

My desk-type personality tends to lead me towards other desk-type things. I went to secretary school, and worked in an office for a few years. I went to University and worked in research offices. I am a desk worker. But even that has its limits.

I know that right now, I can’t support myself with my writing. VERY long story short, after being forced out of it for many years, I am only now getting back into my craft. That means no portfolio, no old blog posts, nothing for reference on a CV. I need a job to pay my bills and get the hell out of this house (don’t worry, I have enough Roommates From Hell stories to last a lifetime on here for y’all). While there are a lot of things that I would be horrible at, I KNOW that I can rock a desk job like no-one else. Not a telemarketing job, not a soliciting job, not a call centre job…. a straight up desk job.

Sounds pretty entitled, doesn’t it?

Well, I’ve got the education. I’ve got the office experience. And I am a desk worker. I thrive best sitting behind a desk, typing at a computer. I am a data entry clerk, or a dispatcher, or any other position where I type a lot and don’t have to make phone calls.

And the thing is, doing stuff like that is what I love.

From what I was told for years, even for decades, if I just strive for that, then the money will follow. So where is the money, Sunshine?

Finding Your Faults

I know, no one wants to admit to themselves that they’re not perfect. I mean, we all know that nobody is perfect (oh god, please don’t let my sister know I just wrote that. I swear Tara, you ARE perfect! Please don’t be mad at me!). It’s just a part of being human, I guess.

We all have our faults, and most people try to ignore them. In my experience and observations, that just leads to a lot of denial and fights. Having faults is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s something we all need to recognize and embrace, for a number of reasons.

Have you ever been in a job interview, and the interviewer asked what your biggest strengths and weaknesses are? I know that conventional wisdom (and most job counsellors) will tell you that you need to choose a weakness that emphasizes your strength. For example,  my biggest strength is my ridiculous organization abilities. At one point in university, I had a multi-calendar colour-coded system for keeping track of all of my classes, volunteering, and jobs. It was really quite extensive, and impressive. I always bring that up to show that I can handle as much my bosses want to throw at me without missing a deadline. the job counsellors I saw said to say that my biggest weakness was that I tend to take on too much responsibility. However, thanks to my superior organizational skills, I am able to handle as much as they want to throw at me.

Is that really my biggest fault though?

For job hunting purposes, I say it is. You never want to answer that question with “I have no faults”, or “I can’t think of any faults”. Not only do you look like an conceited asshat, but it shows something about you that no one wants in an employee: you think you can do no wrong, so wrong must be done by everyone else.

Now, this isn’t exclusive to job hunting and interviews. We all have faults in our every day lives. Now these faults aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but they’re something you need to acknowledge, like your whole life is a job interview.

Case in point: you all know that my roommate and I were in a relationship for quite a few years, and broke up last year. Right now, we’re great friends. We can hang out, and tease each other about our faults, and about how everything went to hell in a handbasket between us. Before the breakup, though, was a whole different story.

Before the breakup, it was constant fights. Neither one of us ever wanted to admit to our faults, and they kept coming out in full force to butt heads. After the breakup, when we were forced to confront what it was that came between us (besides the obvious fact that we have absolutely nothing in common and hold completely different values and visions of our futures). That is where knowing and acknowledging your faults comes into play.

He has a serious problem with communication. When something or someone bothers me, or pisses me off, or just generally upsets me, I speak up. Letting people get away with behaviours that bother you without letting them know how they affect you is a lot like faking an orgasm: you’re just reinforcing their bad behaviour, so they keep doing the same thing that isn’t working for you, over and over and over, no matter how little it works for you or how little you like it. While it might make them feel good about themselves, it does absolutely nothing for you, and leaves you feeling unfulfilled and upset.

Now my ex didn’t share this view. I would flat out tell him if he was doing something that was bothering me. He, on the other hand, wouldn’t say shit if begged him too. Seriously, I flat out asked him dozens of times “What is it that I’m doing that bothers you, so I know for future reference”. It wasn’t until AFTER we broke up that he unloaded all of that crap on me. The one and only time he ever actually said anything to me, I tried to explain (not excuse) my behaviour to him, so that he would understand why it is I do the things I do. He saw it as an attack on him for finding fault in me, instead of an attempt to work towards fixing a problem between us, and clammed up.

Now that we’ve broken up and are seeing other people (he has a really sweet girlfriend I’ve friended on Facebook and talked to a bunch of times, and I struck gold with possibly the most caring and amazing man to ever exist), we can look at the things we did wrong with us, and find our faults. He knows that communication was a big problem with us, and is actively working to be more open and understanding in his new relationship. Both of us know that we have a problem with the way we argue subjects that are important to us, and we both act like our opinion is the only one that matters. This is something that I’ve been looking into within myself, and am trying really hard to work on.

Finding and admitting to our faults is not an easy thing, but it’s an essential part of life. There is no way you can grow as a person, without looking at what is holding you back from your growth. I know that I have a real problem with motivation. You’ve probably noticed that I go long periods without posting on here. I have notebooks filled with post ideas, research, and rough drafts of ideas. I have every good intention of sitting down at my computer and just typing on here for hours upon hours, setting up post after post to be posted for weeks on end. But as soon as I sit down….. well there’s Facebook, and Tumblr, and Jenna Marbles on YouTube, and random articles on BuzzFeed………… the next thing I know, hours have passed, and I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing.

Thing is, I can recognize that this is a problem for me. Today, I sat down, threw on a random SOAD playlist, turned off Facebook (but kept Tumblr up because… reasons), and decided to do some research and actually type something today. Sure, it’s not much so far, but it’s a start. It’s something I can admit is a fault, and something I can now work on.

So, Sunshine, knowing your faults is a GOOD thing. You need to know what it is that holds you back, so you can work on yourself and push yourself forward. You will always have faults, and you need to own them. You need to take that fault by the nards, look it in the eye, and say “I know you’re screwing with my life, and it’s going to stop NOW.”

And on that note, I am done my non-procrastination for the day. That amazing man I mentioned is here for a visit tonight, and I’m going to introduce him to the amazing world of Jenna Marbles and how to call in sick to jobs you don’t work at. So until next time Sunshine, keep on keeping on!

 

Resume Basics

So it’s not secret: you need a resume to apply for jobs. Back when I was in high school, you just went to the computer lab, plugged a bit of info into a resume template, and you were good to go.

Oh, if only life was still that simple.

In today’s economy, there may be hundreds or thousands of people apply to one position, meaning there is no way for hiring managers or HR personnel to read every single resume they receive. Some places use computer software to look for certain words or phrases. Some places take a quick browse through a group of resumes, pick the best ones, and toss the rest (so you’re competing against a group instead of everyone, which can really suck depending on whose resumes yours is between). Some quickly browse through all the resumes, looking for certain things to eliminate candidates, and certain things for picking the best potentials.

So how do you compete?

For starters, you need a damn good resume! You need to create something that will catch a prospective employer’s eye. You need something that not only emphasizes your best attributes in the working world, but shows how you would be a perfect fit for that specific company.

So, you know, no pressure or anything.

It sounds like a daunting task, but once you learn how to create a resume, it’s easy to make one that you can proudly hand out.

Don’t Use A Template

I know, it’s so much easier to just plug in your information in a bunch of pre-chosen spaces, in a nicely formatted template. Don’t though! If you make one tiny little change in your resume that doesn’t follow perfectly with the template (add an extra previous employer, or a bunch of volunteer work, or a second contact phone number), you could screw up the formatting of the entire document. Suddenly, that nice and pretty one page resume of yours is three pages long, with dates not lining up with experience, and contact info all over the place.

Also, if you’re applying for a job that requires you to use Microsoft Word, using a template could very well be one of the things that eliminates you from the running for that job. There is a little button in Word that looks like a wonky backwards P. That button shows all the “non-printing characters”. In other words, it shows your key strokes. So if you try to say that you are quite proficient in Word, and then they see that you can’t even format a resume without using a template (because they pushed that button while looking at the resume you emailed them), your resume gets tossed right in the recycling.

Also, templates don’t always translate well to PDF format. Now, while you shouldn’t be creating and formatting your resume in PDF anyway, some companies require you to send it in that format. If you create it in Word and then create a PDF file of it, some templates will throw the document’s formatting all out of whack.

Don’t Use an Objective

Everyone already knows what your object is: to find a damn job! Putting in an objective just takes up valuable space that you could be using to brag about how awesome you would be in the position you’re applying for. Also, if you’re applying for multiple jobs at a time, then personalizing your objective to each and every one of them is just way too time consuming to deal with.

Use Words From the Job Description

Remember that computer software I mentioned that looks for key words? Well, a lot of those words come from the job description! Sometimes there are very important things that a company is looking for in a potential new hire, and if you have those things, your resume needs to show that. If they need a bilingual employee who also has Advanced Microsoft Certification and 4 years of Human Resources experience, and you have all of that, then it damn well better be in your resume! They are not going to know that you’re the perfect candidate for the job if you don’t tell them.

It’s not just requirements that you need to look at though. Look at the language and wording they use. You should try to mimic that. If you say you are an exceptional customer service rep, and they say they want an dynamic customer service rep, then you’re not on the same page. Mirroring their language shows that you would already fit right in with the company.

Use Bullets, Not Paragraphs

Again, they could be getting hundreds of resumes for one job. No one is going to sit down and read what looks like a short story with some contact info on the top. You need to be direct and to the point with your skills and qualifications, and bullet points are the way to do this.

Don’t Lie

If you’re not bilingual, don’t say that you are. If it took you 6 years to get your degree and you were maybe an average student, don’t say that it took you 4 years and you were on the Dean’s Honour Roll every year. If you’ve never worked a day of your life in customer service, don’t say that you have. When you’re writing your resume, you should be like Shakira’s hips: don’t lie. Don’t even try to stretch the truth. If you’re not qualified for a job, then don’t pretend that you are. If you want that job so badly, talk to someone in the company and ask what you need to do to get that job. It may mean taking classes, volunteering, or getting expensive certification, but it’s a hell of a lot better than lying about already having these things. Remember, people who lie on their resumes, even if they do get hired, get caught eventually.

Proofread

I like to read things like Failbook, and Monday Thru Friday, and pretty much anything else that’s part of the whole Cheezeburger network of funny sites. I can remember seeing a post on there more than a year ago, where a guy posted a picture of part of his resume online. He had passed it out to a bunch of companies already, after asking a friend to proofread it. His friend assumed he would read through it again before sending it out, and as a joke added “excessive masturbation” to his “Skills” section. Well he didn’t proofread it, and it was sent out to a bunch of companies with that in it. And no, he didn’t get any interviews from them.

As funny as that is, not proofreading your resume is one of the worst things you can do. Spelling and grammar mistakes are one of the things companies look for to eliminate resumes from their pile. If they have 500 resumes for a receptionist position, they’re not going to call back anyone who claims they would be a “grate resepshionist”. It’s not just obvious mistakes you should be looking for, either. Look for any little thing that could be wrong. Even an extra space or a missed period could be fatal to your job prospects. Remember, it’s ridiculously competitive out there. Don’t let a stupid mistake kill your chances.

Don’t Try to Be Cute

Repeat after me: I am not Elle Woods. I will not print my resume on coloured paper. I will not spray my resume with perfume. I will not put doodles, clip art, or my picture in my resume.

Your resume is a formal document. If you’re applying for a job in a creative field, then create an entirely separate document to show off your creativity. Send in work samples, or a link to your website. Some web sites out there recommend showing off your creative side in your resume. But there are so many businesses out there that will not take you seriously if you do that. It’s better to play on the safe side, send your creativity separate from your work experience, and leave your resume as professional as possible.

 

So, now you know what NOT to do with your resume. But what exactly do you actually DO want in it? Well the fine folks at Owl Purdue have a resume workshop up on their website that shows you what basic info you need on your resume. While I would trust them with my life when it comes to formatting documents in MLA vs. APA formatting, I’m a little wary of their resume advice. For starters, they recommend using an objective. Aside from that, they do have some great advice if you’re really stuck.

Another suggestion is to LOOK at resume templates, just don’t use them. A lot of templates have great titles and sections, and show you what you need to fill in for them. You can use these as a guide, to help you get all the basics in.

Also, Google is your new best friend. Try “resume tips” or “resume help”. There are thousands of sites out there with advice on how to format your resume.

As for the basics, there are some things you should get together before starting. They are:

  • Name, address, contact info. If you don’t have a Gmail account, get one. And make sure your email (and your voicemail message) is professional sounding.
  • Your prior work experience. Write down you past employers, your job titles, the dates you worked for them, and all of your responsibilities. You may not need all of this info for your basic resume, but having it all together makes personalizing your resume for different jobs a hell of a lot easier.
  • Do the same thing for your volunteer experience.
  • Education. Write down where you went to school, or where you are going to school, the dates you went there or your expected graduation date.
  • Contact information. You generally don’t put that on your resume, but while you’re going through your work and volunteer experience, it’s easy to pick out who to contact from each place.

So that is the very basics you will need to get started. Good luck with the writing, and good luck with the job hunt, sunshine!

Schedules and Work

Knowing how much I have to get done this week, I had planned on writing and scheduling a whole bunch of posts for the week, to act as filler when I’m too busy to write. I was going to sit at my desk all day, with my research and my notebooks, and do up a bunch of recipes and some much longer posts. Basically, I’d sit down and never get up. So, Saturday night I decided to have a few glasses of wine after the whole broken microwave fiasco.I figured that, if I was just going to be sitting at my desk all day, I could handle a hangover if I over-indulged a little bit.

Bad idea.

You see, on Friday evening, while I was starting my shift at work another co-worker was ending hers. While I was on my register ringing up a line of very chatty customers, she stood a few feet away in the office doorway, shouting questions to me. In order to work on Sundays, you have to sign up ahead of time and hope that no one with higher seniority gets one of the very few Sunday spots. There’s always the chance that someone could call in sick, or the schedule could change, so I sign up for it even if there are already three higher people signed up. So on Friday, my co-worker was yelling at me, asking if I had signed up for this Sunday. I said I did, but there were already three people working that day, and another person above me signed up too. I figured she was just asking to be sure, since we have had some issues with scheduling and availabilities lately.

Anyway, my Friday shift ends, and we all go home. Saturday, I get my phone fixed, pick up a few Christmas gift-basket things, and jump up and down with a bunch of kids in excitement in front of Santa’s Village (long story there, and I freakin love the holiday season). Come home, we have our microwave issue, and I try to teach grown-ups not to put plastic in the oven. After that, the wine started. Oh geez, did it ever start! I work surrounded by wine, and like to take my work home with me sometimes. I always have fixin’s for mixed drinks, more than enough to make a kick-ass Manhattan, and a small variety of both red and white wine, including a box of cheap white wine in the fridge. I may be poor, but I know how to buy when things are on sale and stock up on essentials! Anyway, I put a pretty good dent in that box of white wine on Saturday, waited up for the boyfriend to get home from a fraternity event and a birthday party, and wound up staying awake until after 4am.

On Sunday, just because my co-worker had asked about my availability on Friday, I work up somewhat early, with a hangover that could drop an elephant. I lounged around, waiting to see if I would get a call from work to come in, and I didn’t. About an hour before the store opened (11am), I laid back down for a nap with the kitten. Not two minutes after the store opened, I got a call from the co-worker who was there opening: apparently I had been put on the schedule for noon! I was supposed to be there right then!

So, with my hangover making it damn near impossible to move, I ran like hell for the bathroom. No time to wash my hair, I opted for pigtails and contact lenses. A little mascara and blush and about half a tonne of concealer (for the giant circles under my eyes), I was running out the door so the boyfriend could drop me off at work. Those 4 1/2 hours were pure hell. I had to wear sunglasses for part of my shift, I constantly felt like puking, and my head was pounding the entire time. And to make it worse, I missed both the Bears AND the Lions game!

I could go on, but I doubt you need to hear more about just how crappy I felt. The point it, no one has any idea when the schedule was changed. Usually, if there is a change to the schedule written in, then a manager has to initial them AND write in the date the change was made. That wasn’t done this time though. Someone just crossed out the co-worker’s shift and wrote in mine. One person is claiming it was done Friday night while I was still there. Another says it wasn’t done until Saturday morning.

The point here is to always double and triple check your schedule. If I had checked the schedule on Friday night before I left for the night, then I either would have known that I was working yesterday, or would have known for sure that the schedule had to have been on Saturday when I wasn’t there. I would either have known not to drink like I did on Saturday night, or I would’ve had a damn good argument for why I was 45 minutes late for my shift.

So always double check your schedules, whether it’s your schedule at work, or your syllabi for classes. It is so much better to find out fairly last minute about something (shift change, essay due, quiz) than to have to thrown in your face, as happened to me.  And be careful with the damn boxed wine! There is nothing worse than a cheap wine hangover, sunshine!

Google Yourself

I’m guessing you’ve figured out how to use this whole internet thing by now (how else would you be reading this?). You’ve got your Facebook, your Twitter, your Instagram, a few blogs on Tumblr, maybe even an old MySpace page kicking around out there. You’re a master of the hashtag, know which filters make your selfies look best, and even made a Facebook page for your kitten. Years of your life are out there, where you and your friends can relive them.

But who else can see this? And what can they see?

Here’s a little Me Moment I’m not entirely proud of these days, but it’s something I had all over Facebook that had to be taken care of. When I was first starting university, I’d moon people. A whole lot. Like, there were dozens of pictures each year with my bare ass in there somewhere. I made pantsless snow angels. I would press my bare ass up against the front window of my friends’ frat house (this is apparently called a “pressed ham”). Classy event where I’m in a dress and heels? Lift the skirt and moon the camera! Out having drinks on a patio with the guys? Moon them on my way to the bathroom! Bored on a Saturday night? Swing by a friend’s place, drag her out to a party, and moon everyone! As you can see, I got more than a little carried away. And there was plenty of photo evidence of this out there.

Ok, so this was all fun and good at the time, but eventually I bought a belt and kept my damn pants up. I also started looking at things like graduate schools, and employment. And apparently, a lot of companies out there will Google your name to make sure their potential candidate would fit in with their company. And apparently, companies like employees who can keep their ass in their pants.

Now, knowing that you may be searched online and scrutinized may make you want to delete every bit of social media you have. But wait! There are skills you can put on resumes, and market out to employers that you can get just by using social media. And one job recruitment centre here once told me that the only thing worse than having a bad online presence, is having no online presence at all.

So what the hell do you do?

Well first, look at your damn Facebook. Would you be embarassed to show it to your mother? Your grandma? That little old lady you always see at the grocery store who calls everyone “dear-y”? If so, you’ve got some work to do. First, delete anything truly horrible, offensive, or just plain wrong for a potential boss to see. Don’t worry, you can always save these pictures to your computer to cherish always. But you don’t want to be tagged in 45 pictures doing keg stands in a skirt. Now, look at your privacy settings. If someone were to click on your Facebook profile from Google, without being your friend first, how much can they see? Go to your profile, and click on the little button with the three dots. Now pick the option that says “View As”. You can see what your profile looks like to the random public, and to certain people on your friends list. Use this to mess with your privacy settings. You don’t want the general public to have full access to everything. I let them have my name, birthday, education, and profile pictures. Then, for when I add family members or co-workers who I don’t want to see everything I have on there, I make groups. I can sort people into these groups, control what and how much they can see, and they don’t know that they’re even in these groups! This is great if you have a lot of very conservative or religious family members who wouldn’t take to well to your current lifestyle, or vice versa.

Now, once your Facebook is all straightened out, go Google your name again. See anything funny on there? You should be looking for things like fake social media accounts, online posts mentioning you, or job sites posting your resume. Depending on what site is hosting the fake accounts, it could be a little tricky to get them taken down. Aside from having everyone you know report the account as fake, I’ve heard of people having to send in photocopies of their ID, with pictures of themselves as proof of identity, just to get their account verified and a fake one removed.

Another thing to look for in your Google search is old websites you or your friends may have made in grade school or high school. Some classes have students make up mock websites, as practice. And quite a few students find a free web-hosting service and put these websites online. Before Geocities went away, most of the people I ever went to school with had some sort of old site from high school that was just sort of hanging out online, long forgotten. I found it about a year ago, while Googling myself. It took me more than a month to get that damn site taken down (I wasn’t using the email address I had more than a dozen years ago, because pajamadpicklesintheclub@hotmail.com just doesn’t sound all that professional).

It’s probably a good idea to look through all your social media, and make sure nothing can be traced back to you specifically. I never use my real name in my profiles for anything these days, so that none of my other social media shows up in a search. I don’t know anyone not famous who actually attaches their names to their Tumblr account, so most of us are safe (except for John and Hank Green, but we all follow them anyway). Try and do the same with your Twitter, Instgram, and any other social media you have. You can still follow all your friends, and they can follow you. But if you say something a little NSFW, it most likely won’t pop up in a Google search of you, meaning new employers won’t find it. Also, it’s a good idea sometimes to play around with your privacy settings, especially if you’re someone who likes to post NSFW things. And make sure you Google yourself after making these changes, to make sure they’ve worked. There’s nothing worse than a false sense of security biting you in the butthole after an interviewer finds Tweets he never should have read from you.

Now, after cleansing your internet presence, your next step is to……. create an internet presence! I know, why the hell did we just spend all that time taking our lives off the web, just to put it back up there?

You should have some sort of social media presence out there that showcases and highlights you, your achievements, and your talents. Two great ways to do this are with LinkedIn, and with your very own website.

First, LinkedIn is a professional-type social media website. Basically, it’s like an interactive resume that also lets you network with people online. Here, you can showcase things a traditional 1-2 page resume just doesn’t have time to show. On my personal page, I have listed all my work and volunteer experience since starting university. Each entry explains my role in the position, what I learned, any training I received, and any special tasks or projects I completed. This is so much better than your basic resume, for a whole host of reasons. For starters, here you can list out everything you did in your volunteer positions, which a lot of resume formats just don’t give you the room for. In a lot of these positions, you’re gaining skills and experience that are just fantastic to have and showcase in your job search. But your resume just doesn’t do these positions justice. A LinkedIn profile does, though. Also, on LinkedIn there is plenty of room to list any extra training you may have done. With my current Customer Service position, we are constantly going through online training and retraining, and are able to use our online training centre for any additional training they may offer. For example, after completing my latest Safe Lifting online module, I also went through our course catalogue and did a course in Conflict Resolution. While this does not relate directly to my position, it’s a great skill to learn. And as it doesn’t relate to my position, there’s no little spot in my resume to put that in there. But on LinkedIn, I can list every single training module I’ve ever done if I really want to. Here, you can list and show off all the things you WANT a prospective employer to see. There’s no pictures of me mooning people, but there are samples of my academic writing right below the list of activities and charities I worked with in university. It’s like having a portfolio online, where you can show off all the things you’re most proud of.

Now, once you set up this account, don’t neglect it. Try to use it at least once a week. Look for friends, co-workers, co-volunteers, clubs coordinators, professors, or people who work in positions or industries you are interested in. Go through your profile, keep it up to date. Share things in your news feed, endorse people’s skills, interact with people. Part of the charm of LinkedIn is how it lets you network with people, and how it helps you to grow your network with others. This can be hugely important when you’re looking for a job, or an opportunity to volunteer. Sometimes who you know can be more important than what you know.

The other great way to increase your positive online presence is to have your own (professional) website. This doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as it is the exact opposite of the website I spent more than a month trying to take down. For those of you who are a bit more talented with more visual arts than I am, it should be easy to create a webpage that not only showcases your talents, but also says a little bit about you. Basically, you should be creating this website as if you needed something out there so you could start a business with your talents some day (because who knows, you just might). Love photography, or photo editing? Then take your best works and create an online portfolio showing them off! Same goes for graphic design, clothing design, interior design, landscaping….. well, you get the picture. Anything that looks good as in a picture will work here. Turn your arts and crafts into a webpage that shows off your hobby.

What about those of us who don’t do anything worth photographing? Well, you’re looking at what you can do right here. That’s right, if you can string together a coherent sentence, then start blogging. It doesn’t have to be anything ground-breaking, or have a large readership, as long as it’s out there. Just remember, whether you’re posting pictures or blogging your little fingers off: you’re doing this to create a positive internet presence. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your content with be G-rated, or completely safe for work. You’re trying to create a representation of yourself out there. If you want to get into a career doing politically charged articles, then do that in your blog! Just remember that this is what the world will see when they Google you.

Make sure that what you put out there is what you want to be known for. The whole point of cleansing and then recreating your web presence is to make you the most desirable person out there to potential employers. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to do this if you have parents who have learned to “do the googles”, as one of my former co-workers puts it. Basically, you’re just making you look good. Damn good.

Bye for now, sunshine!