Category Archives: Vancouver Women Career Counselling

Career Tips for Vancouver Women

My Own Resume Review

At the beginning of a new year I like to review my own resume. It is a funny process for me because part of the journey is to take stock of what has changed and the other part is life reflection.

I begin by taking into consideration additional courses I might have completed plus review my skills and expand on information where applicable. Being that resumes should meet and exceed employer’s needs I realize the content will be adjusted to reflect what I can offer.

As much as I can give advice to others about resume development I will freely admit I find it difficult to craft my own. The more experience I gain the tougher it is to resist the urge to include it all. I struggle with the same dilemma most professionals face which is how much is too much and what is too little. I become obsessed with the document to the point where I have to force myself to walk away from the computer.

I have lost sleep over resume development after waking up in the middle of the night with what may be the correct sentence for one solitary point. It is silly how much pressure resumes can put on us because we want to get it right. Imagine being in my shoes when the expectation is that I MUST get it right.

Typically I have chosen a combination resume because after years of doing contract work I find it better to just focus on the skills. My dates are on the second page with my related work history along with education, activities, memberships and awards. It is strong but I always question am I missing anything?

This is where a second or third set of eyes to review what I have and provide feedback would be helpful. Preferably it should be someone who knows me well professionally and has seen me in action but sometimes that’s not possible. Regardless, something has to be done because my normally critical eye is blurry when it comes to my own resume. I’m simply sitting too close.

Now, let’s talk about self reflection. One thing I do find interesting is traveling back in the years and realizing just how far I have come. Life was happening during all of those jobs. I did sweat the small stuff and survived the really big stuff. There were times when I shared nothing with my colleagues and times when I shared too much. As I rewind it is apparent there is always so much to learn and I can’t judge myself nor anyone else.

I look to the lines on my face just as much as the lines on the page and know there is some wisdom that has been gained. When it comes to the resume I want desperately to have the reader find the essence of how, why and what’s to come. If there is something I can offer you, especially if you are challenged by a resume, it is to see it as part of a larger picture.

We can create a cover letter, an opportunity for introduction or interview that allows us to share more of what we have to offer. If you are too close to the document then find help because it is better capture the uniqueness of you than to undersell those valuable qualities.


Employers – What type of resume do you prefer?

“What type of resume style do employers prefer?” As a career consultant I frequently scour the Internet to see what is the latest resume style advice for job seekers. What I have come to realize is that many writers say things like, “Employers prefer…” or “Employers don’t like…” but almost all of the articles or blogs do not have a single quote from an actual employer.

After reading these articles I have questions of my own:

  1. Who are these employers?
  2. How many employers did they contact and how?
  3. What industries are they targeting?
  4. Where are these employers located?


One thing that can be agreed upon in our field is that a Functional resume is difficult sell to employers. It lacks dates and often employers feel like the applicant has something to hide. Chronological and Combination resumes still have their place but with today’s highly competitive application process one needs to strategically compose these types of resumes.

I doubt that most of what you read on the Internet about resumes has been properly evaluated by people who are directly in the position of hiring. Recruiters are known to provide opinion but again we rarely see anything attributed to an actual recruiter and even if we could we can only assume they have the expertise and contacts necessary to give an accurate account. I have always thought that the resume format recruiters prefer, given the expediency of screening, might be very different from other businesses.

This year I want to make it my mission to gather more feedback directly from employers about their resume preferences so that my clients have more to go on. I’m not saying it will be a large sampling but at least if I’m going to talk about it I want full disclosure when I do.


I encourage any employers reading this blog to reach out to me by blog comment, email or phone to provide their opinion about resume styles.

Whenever I meet or speak with an employer I’m going to take a moment to ask, “What type of resume do you prefer and why?

If you know someone who may be able to shed some light on preferred resumes for an industry or company feel free to be in touch.

When I feel I have compiled enough data I will let you know about my findings and in particular disclose, Who? What? and Where? Then you can decide if what you are reading is effective resume advice or just regurgitated old resume news.



Summary vs Objective on a Resume

News Flash: It’s not about what employers can do for you, it’s what you can do for the employer.

Did you know that Objectives on your resume may not help you? With the advent of software programs that can screen in or out applicants based on key words today’s job seeker needs to be very selective about what they say in their documents. Add in the plethora of candidates who may have similar or more impressive backgrounds and it is even more important that you do what you can to stand out from the crowd.

I recently found an article on the topic of writing a summary statement rather than an objective. It has really good points that make the case for changing it up a bit to bring out your “A +” game! Follow the link below.

Trade Up to an Executive Summary




Outfit Posts – Great Everyday Fashion!

I love it when I stumble across creative blogs and this blog  Outfit Posts is one of those great finds.

choosingclothesOne day I was looking for travel fashion ideas and in particular how to mix, match and pack all the outfits. What caught my attention was Outfit Posts’ – One Suitcase Series which featured clothes that the writer had in her closet and advice on how she made the most out of those items when traveling. Whether for business, personal or travel she had some practical suggestions and photo examples.

What I enjoy most is the detail she shares along with who has inspired her fashion pick of the week and where to buy the items. Brilliant!

After perusing her site for a while I decided to reach out to MK, (that’s her name) introduce myself, and let her know how much I loved her blog. I asked if I could share Outfit Posts with my readers and she replied, “Sure. If you want to mention my blog on your site – that’d be awesome.”

From time to time I provide some inspiration for career fashion but I’m sure you will appreciate MK’s good mix of fashion to suit any occasion. If you are looking to get more ideas on how you can amp up your everyday fashion or travel without half of your closet crammed into a suitcase then check out  OUTFIT POSTS!

Thanks, MK. 


The job that influenced my future career

Many years ago I trained to become an RCMP Victim Services Worker and I believe that set the tone for how I approached every job going forward. Given the nature of the position I would describe the training as complex, intense, very detailed but steeped in compassion. Even though I was supported by Coordinators and Senior Victim Support Workers there was a protocol that must be followed without exception.

Everything had to be documented. Did I say documented? Yes, I mean DOCUMENTED! This was so important not only to the case but also to protect my own butt. Being highly attentive to what was being said and sensitive to what was not, was a needed skill honed even more over time. There were strict rules as it applied to files, namely making sure that at all times they were updated and secure. Certain breaches in protocol would mean immediate dismissal. It is due to this strict but necessary training that to this day I am hyper vigilant with the security of client information.

My conversational style is to tell it like it is. When I spoke with officers the conversations were respectful and straight to the point. There was no time for “warm fuzzy” talking, that was saved for those who needed a soft approach in the throes of terrible circumstances.  Precise speaking or a strong stance was also important when dealing with individuals who were not happy to see support on the scene.

The impression Victim Services left on me continues to shape my future. Where I see it highlighted the most is in my handling of different work cultures. As a contractor I move around a lot and have to adjust to different work styles and systems. I get to work with amazing clients and colleagues and for the most part I handle all the changes well. Again, I feel my early training allowed me to see what it is like to drop into the unknown and hit the bricks running.

Working in crisis intervention meant ongoing training was expected – either in-house or out. It was important to be on top of your game for the sake of self, public and agency. Attendance at conferences or taking additional training on your own time was necessary in order to keep current and confident in your abilities. I didn’t have a lot of money for education but I found ways to be where I needed to be in order to learn. It was not lost on anyone that we played a particularly pivotal role in a person’s life.

The other day when I returned home from a job at an employment office I was drawn to my memories of Victim Services. I was struck by its influence on how I see myself but also how I view others around me. I must admit that very few agencies I have worked for since could hold a candle to the unwavering camaraderie and high expectations set by a police-based unit. I feel proud that as a young woman I was taken under the wing of one very special mentor and a host of others who taught me that the responsibility of any position ultimately lies with me.

Have you ever stopped to wonder who or what influenced your career the most?

Why women should be in the boardroom

According to Status of Women Canada there has been a huge increase in women’s participation in business and leadership type positions within a variety of sectors. Despite their educational and on the job success, having a position on a company’s board remains a challenge. The following is a link and quote from a report by the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council for Promoting Women on Boards:

Good for Business A Plan to Promote the Participation of More Women on Canadian Boards

“Over the past three decades, women’s participation in the Canadian workforce has more than doubled, to approximately 47%. Women now earn over half of all Canadian university degrees, and 34.5% of the Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) granted in 2011 were to women. In addition, women represented 47% of students in business and management programs at the master’s level in 2010.

The level of progress among Canadian women, in just a few decades, is impressive, with women achieving unprecedented success in a variety of settings, sectors and roles, including medicine, law and other professions. Yet, the representation of women on boards has not followed suit.

Consider the following statistics, which speak to the notable disparities among the decision-makers in Canada’s top publicly traded companies, and the sharp contrast to the leadership role being played by the Government of Canada. In 2012, women held:

  • 10.3%. of seats on Canadian boards
  • 15.9% of board seats on FP500 companies
  • 0.0% of seats on 40% of FP500 boards, with significant variations by business sector; and
  • 31% of federal GIC appointments, including those to Crown corporations and government agencies.”

When I read this I was surprised just how low those numbers were considering the interest women have in business. For the majority of women I have met over the years leadership, mentorship and visionary skills have been at the forefront of their daily lives. Women bring a unique awareness and often inclusive perspective which can only strengthen strategies and decision-making at a board level.

Recently, Business in Vancouver posted the following brief interview with Minerva Foundation’s Nancy McKinstry. Ms. McKinstry provides some insight into the benefits of hiring women.

Are Resumes Messing Up Hiring?

In a Harvard Business Review article Resumes Are Messing Up Hiring, the authors explore the potential bias that can occur when applicants are screened for employment.

Interesting points to consider:

1. What role will CV’s and Resumes play in future recruitment?

2. Does a wealthy family history ensure more opportunity?

3. Will the growing use of tools to analyze an applicants “fit” – based on behaviour, values and other more personal indicators, lessen any inequality that may exist and instead widen the talent pool?

Take a look at the article and see what you think.


Career Fashion for Spring and Summer

If you haven’t already done so, it is time to switch out that closet of yours. Go to those stored clothing bins or underused drawers and assess what you have for spring and summer.

Breaking out of standard greys and blacks we can now burst into the season with some great graphic and floral prints.

Add pops of colour with your accessories or a really cute blouse and don’t be afraid to mix and match.

If you do feel you need a little help with your career wardrobe choices then step in to the stores and have the sales associates put together a great outfit for you.

The classic black jacket and pant will always be a staple along with the pencil skirt and a crisp white shirt; however, there is much more that says ‘professional woman’ in the fashion world so check it out!

Spring Fashion2



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