Posts in Interviews
Why You Should Use Canva for Your Next Resume

Resumes are important, really important.  We place so much effort into such a small part of our portfolio but so it is- hiring agencies still put tons of stock into resumes.  

A lot of people struggle with resumes for two reasons: they don't know to format them and they haven't worked on one in years.  As a result, the resume is unattractive and somewhat bland.  

When I'm looking to hire someone, I look at two things very closely:

  1. The resume
  2. The cover letter

If the cover letter is nicely written, this is a sure sign of intelligence.  If the resume contains a background of experience, the person will likely get an interview. 

I recently came across a candidate whose resume was so attractive that it made me think that maybe we need to place a higher value on aesthetics when it comes to our resumes, i.e. how our resume looks.

All of the graphics I use for the blog are made for free in  If you have yet to try it, you should! It's easy and fun. Even someone with a slight sense of design can make something beautiful in Canva.  

Now to your resume- you may want to use Canva for that as well.  I've included a few of their ready-made templates that can be totally customized to draw hiring agencies to you and your strengths.  

What will your next resume look like?

Two Thoughts on Facial Hair and Professionalism

Facial hair on men is very popular today but maybe not as much as pop culture would have you believe.  Sure, science seems to be taking a stab at the hipster association with beards.  Still, a quick read of HBR's recent list of top CEOs only features a handful of men with facial hair.  

So what's the deal?

I have two thoughts on facial hair when it comes to professionalism:

  1. Figure out your unique look (but not too unique).  If a beard works for you, go with it but keep it groomed.  If a goatee is your thing, again, go with it but keep it groomed.  You want to avoid any facial hair that requires combing as it is perceived as too wild to most others.
  2. Remember that grooming is the key.  I like this post on the importance of clean lines and a clean neck line, even with facial hair.  Facial hair is perfectly cool but put grooming as equally important as the stuff that you can grow on your chin.  
One Trick for Preparing for Your Next Interview

A friend of mine, we'll call him Joe, desperately wanted out of his current job.  He began applying for jobs and dusted off his resume.  He prepared his list of references and off he went.

The interviews came and went.  Most of the time, he made it to Round Two and then, as is often the case, things went dark.  A week would go by and then two.  No word from the hiring company.

And so it goes- apparently "best practices" are seldom known or practiced in the hiring process of most companies.

So here's a trick for Joe and for you and me- when you finish one interview, take a note of which one or two things you want to improve on for next time.  

Then, when you get that next round, you'll be sure to mention those things.  You may even want to practice (mirror time!) how you'll emphasize those points.  

That's a simple approach that you can try for your next interview.  I'll even mention it to Joe.

Five Ways to Become a More Detail-Oriented Person

This past weekend my daughters and I headed to one of our favorite spots, The Great Swamp, located here in northern New Jersey.  We filled out a sheet of paper for the little one, trying our best to find spider webs, mushrooms and frogs.  It was an hour of unhurried bliss, completely attentive to every little detail of the Swamp.

Details are like that- they are really important and often overlooked.  If this blog post is filled with typos and errors, you probably wouldn't return for a second visit.  Worse yet, you might feel as if the effort going into the blog doesn't meet your standards.

We make these conclusions with people as well.  As it turns out, there are at least three things that interviewers notice in job candidates.  We meet someone and immediately form a judgement based on such small details as their clothing or tone of voice.  I once interviewed a man who was late, had dirt under his fingernails and hadn’t flossed in some time.  Needless to say, he wasn’t hired.  

I like this piece about the kinds of things that detail-oriented people notice, including:

  1. What people wear for clothing: i.e. a red tie implies strength.
  2. Body language: A strong handshake indicates confidence.
  3. Improper grammar: You want to build your vocabulary via more frequent reading.
  4. The big picture: Detailed people understand context and perspective.
  5. Patterns: i.e. “I have a pattern of getting along with my bosses”, etc.
  6. Things out of place: Detailed people recognize when a room is off-kilter or when a meeting is missing a key person.
  7. How much is left: Whether it’s time or money, detailed people have a good sense of “enough”.

These are the indicators of people who are detail-oriented but how do you develop that muscle?  I suggest five ways:

  1. Get in touch with your faith.  Your relationship with God, cultivated over time, will enable you to be more heartfelt, more of a listener and more appreciative of your surroundings.  My faith in Christ (and I am happily Catholic) is not only the source of all I do but the engine behind noticing the many wonderful details around me.  The more often you can pray, the better.
  2. Get outside.  Nature is the best classroom for noticing details.  The more time you can spend outdoors, the better.
  3. Read more.  Authors are masters of inserting small details into otherwise complex storylines.  The more you can read, the better.
  4. Create a home with less noise.  Cary and I have four kids and lots of glowing devices, from iPhones to tablets.  Still, our kids know that certain times are meant to be quiet like during dinner or early in the morning.  The less noise, the better.
  5. Create a workspace with fewer interruptions.  I had the opportunity to interview Tim Metz whose company is dedicated to fewer interruptions at work.  The less interruptions, the better.

It’s worthwhile to try to be more intentional about who and what is around you.  Pay attention to them in every way.  In your daily journal writing, take note of your own personal details like how you are feeling, what makes you happy and what you're anxious about.  

Over time, simply by paying more attention, you'll start to notice even the smallest of details.  For whatever strange reason, I have an uncanny ability of noticing when someone gets a haircut.  I've learned how to compliment people on their haircut and they love it.  They love being noticed, just like you and me.

What if You Don’t Like to Brag about Yourself?

I once took a friend out to dinner after he had an important job interview.  At the table, he looked downward, reflecting on his performance in the interview.  “I guess I don’t like to talk about myself much,” he said as if in defeat.

Many people are like my friend, very humble and extremely hard working.  Many also share his sentiment of not wanting to brag about themselves in a job interview.

If you can relate, I have news for you and you may not like it: get over it.

The line is very fine between false humility and promoting yourself.  Many candidates just don’t “bring it” when they get into an interview situation.  This isn’t because they don’t have talent.  Quite the contrary- they are great workers but poor self-promoters.

Sadly, those that don't learn how to talk about themselves with confidence will end up disappointed with their own career.

What to do?  

If the thought of promoting yourself makes you queasy, you’re not alone.  It feels phony to talk about yourself and project past success into the future.

Let me give an example.  The person who hates talking about themselves might say this, “I’ve done some fine things in my career. Would it translate to this organization?  I’m not sure.  You’ll have to decide."

Now watch what we can do with that same response but with more confidence and poise:

“The results of my career speak for themselves.  I have total confidence that my skills are portable and would result in great things for your company.  You won’t regret giving me a chance.” 

What a difference!  

Let’s take another example in an interview when someone asks about a person’s areas for improvement (a typical question.  The tentative candidate might say this, “Well, I’m not sure. Maybe I could be more assertive or um, I suppose that we all have weaknesses.”  

Not very confident.

Now contrast this with a slight change of tone and approach:

“Ah, good question.  If I have a weakness it’s that I expect too much of myself.  I am driven to achieve excellence and at times that means that I can be impatient until the job gets done.  I’m learning to balance my desire for good results with being patient with myself."

Do you notice the difference?

What does it take to modify a lackluster interview response into an interview gem?  I believe, and I'm not alone, that it takes confidence in yourself.  No, you may not be the next Donald Trump or Elon Musk but who cares?  You're you, perfectly how God made you to be.  The success you've had is uniquely yours and no one can do what you can do.  That's powerful stuff and it's true!

Talking about yourself with confidence is very, very important.  It takes practice and then more practice.  

Even if you don’t like it, you need to aim high, give yourself a pat on the back and go for it.