The Strongest Influencers On Your Career Path Aug11

The Strongest Influencers On Your Career Path

As we grow into adults we discover everyone has a narrative — their own story comprised of personal battles, discoveries, successes and failures. Here at Smart Savvy, we try to understand those stories in-depth so we can effectively understand and place our candidates. We ask the following of our candidates: “Please plot 6-8 key life/career developments that have helped shape you into the person you are today.” On one end of the timeline is ‘The day you were born,’ on the other end, ‘Today.’  9/10 people love it. In five years, we have only had one person struggle to the point of not being capable of completing it.  So what have we learned from our candidates’ stories? The old adage “people are more alike than different” holds true when it comes to people’s personal stories. Here are the commonalities that stood out as consistent themes in one’s life (and career), supplemented by excerpts from individual’s answers:   1. Cross-Culture Experiences + Travel What’s more humbling, entertaining, and possibly frustrating, then not even being able to ask for a glass of water or have small talk about the weather? Travel turns us on our heads in terms of what we know about language, culture, a dining experience, etc. It educates us in a way that no classroom ever could, both about ourselves and the world around us.  [slideshare id=64916675&doc=travelexperiences-160811181724]   2. Post-Secondary Education The whole university experience is an unforgettable one: all-nighters, varsity sports, finals, and walking the stage when it’s all done and over with. This is a time in life to simply learn; be the proverbial sponge; and figure out what your passions, strengths, and motivations are.  [slideshare id=64916782&doc=university-160811182113]   3. Performance + Achievements Of course our successes are a fundamental part of our...

Keep Your Resume in the Follow-Up Pile: 5 Resume Must-Haves Oct23

Keep Your Resume in the Follow-Up Pile: 5 Resume Must-Haves

The other day on LinkedIn, I came across a conversation that reminded me of this important rule of thumb: don’t underestimate the basics. Holiday party invite: don’t forget to RSVP. Cooking for co-workers: check for allergies. Interview etiquette: turn off your phone. Whether you’re applying for a job, following a business lead or even just replying to the boss’ last email, the ‘basics’ are the foundation of your personal brand. The smallest details can signify big things. Personalized content on a cover letter shows investment. Clean grammatical work speaks to diligence. Contact details prove common sense. Before you hit ‘send’ on your resume, give it a second look with these 5 basic reminders for keeping your resume in the follow-up pile: 1. Contact Information David Rogers, Recruitment Partner  for BC Hydro posted this on his LinkedIn the other day:“Reminder, as an applicant applying to any job out there, please remember to include phone # and email on your resume.” I had to give it a hearty “like” – just the other day I’d dealt with a candidate who’d listed an invalid phone number on her resume (no wonder no one was calling her back)!  While you’re updating your contact info, don’t forget your LinkedIn profile url, your Twitter Handle and any other relevant social media accounts (i.e. personal blog) too. 2. Spelling & Grammar 6 hours spent on your Vine Resume means nothing when your introductory email is full of spelling erors (oops). Double check everything. Don’t sound like a template. And certainly don’t plagiarize someone’s LinkedIn summary. For all its world-class fare, Vancouver is still a small town by many measures. And if you’re serious about the job (whether you’re a VP or a recent grad), you’ll need a second set of eyes on your final...

Who To Hire? Oct16

Who To Hire?

“Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8-colour boxes, but what you’re really looking for are the 64-colour boxes with the sharpeners on the back.” John Mayer, Singer-Songwriter I’m perpetually surprised by how few companies seem to know “who” they need. Some can identify a needed skill or two but often those are the exception rather than the rule. And the temptation in a time consuming job seach is to take a narrow/linear approach to finding ‘the right person’. Mistake. Potentially costly. Possibly fatal. The adage, “hire for character, you can always teach skill” is a useful framework particularly when hiring someone who is responsible for critical deliverables like media relations, research or marketing strategies. A great character hangs from the solid framework of a balanced ego – all the positive “self” qualities: self-aware, self-motivated, self-restrained, self-confident. The balance is maintained by a reasonable sense of judgment or perception – an ability to gauge yourself in relation to others in diverse situations – and a desire to self-correct. You don’t have to be right 100% of the time (because you won’t be!), but you should always be willing and able to correct yourself when you’re wrong. On the other hand, an imbalanced ego creates a framework with potential weaknesses – all the negative “self” qualities: self-centered, self-seeking, self-righteous, selfish, and sometimes self-conscious. Unfortunately, these are often compounded by a lack of perception and an unwillingness to self-correct. With a balanced ego to anchor them all, desirable characteristics like curiosity, creativity and eloquence, become further assets for your company. The curiosity of a balanced ego is inspired by ideas and plans generated by others not just themselves. They are capable of focusing their creativity on other people and their projects, not...

Counteroffers Cause Career Suicide Oct09

Counteroffers Cause Career Suicide

Trouble letting go of your BlackBerry? Still cutting the crusts off your sandwiches? Eating California Rolls as adventurous as it gets? Favourite tie seen better days? Time to finally kick the “ex” to the curb? Change is a constant. Change can be good – especially in marketing. We need to move with the times and keep up with the trends. The very same could be said for our careers. Stats tell us that the average North American can hold up to 10 different jobs or careers in their lifetime. This means that coming and going can be fairly frequent, and that you may be faced with counteroffers along the way. Here’s 4 tips for how (and why) YOU should ‘counter any counter’ with a “no.” 1. Your reasons for leaving have NOT changed. (Unless, of course, the problem was wholly financial.) Give it 6-8 months and you’ll find yourself standing in the same place—grossly unhappy and cringing for a change. 2. Office chemistry will take a hit.  Your once close office mates may view you suspiciously or resentfully, as they are now aware of your comparatively inflated salary. Leaders and executives may view you similarly, with a study from the Creative Group stating that 28% believed those looking elsewhere are ‘disloyal.’ 3. The company’s trust in you will waver. If there’s a shift in office politics, suspicious eyes may fall on you and you could be the first to go. As career counsellor Arlene Hirsch puts it, “your motives will be suspect from that point on since your boss will wonder whether your resume is still on the street.” 4. Being offered more money is probably a subtle way of telling you have been underpaid during your time there. An increase in salary can be...

Smoke Out the ‘Pretenders’ May27

Smoke Out the ‘Pretenders’

How to Hire Proven, #StandApart Marketers   At Smart Savvy, we’ve interviewed a lot of people over our 8 years (4500+). We maintain: no one has the potential to pull the wool over your eyes like a marketer.  When we evaluate candidates, we adhere to the 20-60-20 rule.  In the workplace there is generally a top 20%, a middle 60% and, unfortunately, a bottom 20%.  With each interview, we are always looking to identify individuals who fall squarely within the top 20% of their field.  Those who truly #StandApart. When meeting with candidates, look beyond first impressions (the leading cause of hiring blunders) by performing a ‘deep dive’ through their career (scuba vs. snorkel).  For the bulk of our interviewing, we focus squarely on contribution and results.  Look for evidence of growth and professional proof to support claims of greatness.  When you spot a pattern of concrete, quantifiable accomplishments, you will know that you are zeroing in on a #StandApart candidate. Midway through our interviews, we reach a section that we often refer to as “The Humbling”.  At this stage we ask two questions: What have you done that has had the most dramatic impact on your employer’s bottom line — Specifically, what have you done that has increased revenue, streamlined efficiencies or decreased expenses for your employer(s)? What have you done (throughout your career) that would cause you to #StandApart from other candidates who will be applying for similar roles? Inevitably interviewees slip into describing the character traits that differentiate them from the pack.  Although we are keen to learn who people are, at this stage of the interview we must remain focused on what they have done.  You’d be surprised at how many ‘marketers’ have a difficult time articulating (much less quantifying)...

LoveMonday #46 – Boost Your Personal Value Feb03

LoveMonday #46 – Boost Your Personal Value

Presentation skills matter. Whether it’s inter-team presentations promoting transparency and accountability, the way you command a room (public speaking) or the ability of big brands to make personal connections (storytelling), you are being watched and judged for how you connect. Take some time this #LoveMonday to reflect on your presentation skills.This Forbes writer called it the “one skill that will boost your value by 50% in 2014.” Is your public speaking stuck in that almost “good enough” spot? What would it mean to your career to commit the time and energy required to get even better? How important are your people skills? It only took 14-months for Yahoo’s last COO (a former Google exec) to be asked to leave. Here’s one take on why: Did Poor Communications Skills Do in Yahoo’s COO? … Mirror, Mirror, on the wall; Do my PowerPoint presentations suck? Here’s how to tell if you’re doing PowerPoint all wrong. …. MindJet CMO, Jascha Kaykas-Wollf, on his four-step process for creating team transparency through agile marketing and inter-team presentations. … Re:trend: Vine’s video platform has brought stop-motion back into the spotlight. Here is the girl who’s leading the charge, telling 6-second brand stories for the world’s largest companies (via This is Remarkable) … You might call TED the ultimate in public speaking training. Short, powerful stories that connect with audiences and leave a lasting impression. Vancouver’s inaugural TED event is just over one month away. BCBusiness has just posted the full TED speaker line-up, which will be broadcast online for those of us without a ticket. Who are you most excited to...

Hands Up: Do You Ask Good Questions?

There was an article flying around Facebook last week called, The Questions That Will Save Your Relationship. In all fairness, it was about the varied challenges of marriage and kids, but I think it can equally apply to work relationships. The article focused on one innocent question and the avoidance of it at all costs. The question was: How was your day? Seems innocuous enough, right? But the question, so well-meaning, such a good interluder, can open up a huge bag of worms. When you’re covered in apple sauce and the baby is screaming, it can say, “I don’t see you.” And when you’re on day-two without a shower and s, it can even say, “I don’t know you.” True enough, for author Glennon Melton, it was the simple complexity of early-motherhood that made the question unanswerable. Her days were packed with every high and every low (joy, pain, sorrow, glee) sandwiched together like jam and peanut butter. Enough so that a question like, How was your day?, became an unbearable weight. It was just not a “good” question. So what’s the tie-in with careers? There were three great lessons in the article that spoke to me with respect to asking better questions. I think these are important lessons when it comes to interviews and career growth too. Improving the questions we ask (the way we see and deal with others), can make vast improvements in our overall work performance. Here are the insights: 1) Don’t just check boxes with your questions – First step to a good working relationship is caring. As Penelope Trunk once said on her blog: “People would rather work with someone they like than someone who is good at the job.” If you don’t care, don’t ask. But if you want to move forward, find a...

Love Monday #44: Happy When? Jan20

Love Monday #44: Happy When?

The Do-What-You-Love (DWYL) mentality promises you’ll never work a day in your life, but – and here’s the crux of it – it takes most of us a lifetime to pinpoint that “what.” We’re qualified, yes, but interested…? Maybe? Sometimes? Flat out “No”? We’ve dug up 5 #LoveMonday career links looking at the full DWYL package: from recruitment to employee perks to happy fulfillment, including the real recipe for professional success and Tony Wright’s resume in disguise. Happy reading… Answer this: I will be happy when _____? A fabulous post from HBR challenging the notion of why we can’t stop working and turning the notion of “professional success first” on its head. Turns out, happiness IS the precursor. Here’s why… … What do you really want in your new hire? Entrpeneuer.com says that while experience (i.e. numbers of years worked) may give your candidates a certain level of aptitude, it certainly doesn’t influence or add to their overall attitude. Here’s what you need to try in your next job post. … The era of the oddball interview question is not over yet. Brush up on the outer reaches of your creativity by reviewing Fast Company’s list of the weirdest interview questions hiring manager ask. For example, the brain-busting: “What is your least favourite thing about humanity?” (ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview). Read more… … If Oprah’s Favourite Things show was an employee perks package, Canadian success story, Shopify, would be the BRAND! NEW! CAR! Read Techvibes account of some of the sleigh-worthy (as in Santa) employee benefits offered by Canada’s 2013 Employer of the Year nominee. … A recruiter’s search for the best candidate goes far and wide. Here’s how to keep your name on the top of the heap, without ever submitting your resume to the pile: Tony Wright’s Reverse Resume says to potential employers, “I’m not looking for a job, but…hypothetically speaking…here’s what it would take for an opportunity to...

Career Lessons from Space Jan17

Career Lessons from Space

See that photo there? That’s a picture of the International Space Station (ISS) rocketing by Vancouver from a viewpoint at Point Atkinson Lighthouse. It’s not easy to catch; the photographer had to splice together a series of images taken at a series of intervals and then stitch those together to capture the station’s path. Careers are a bit like that too. A shutter click of moments and people. High points and low points. Achievements and failures that make a story only once you’ve lived them. In real time, they’re just goals, things that happen, decisions (good and bad) and outcomes. Dots in space, really. I wouldn’t call myself a space junkie, by any means, but after having read Chris Hadfield’s memoir, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, I can tell you I am looking at the sky and careers a different way. Case in point: you think of an astronaut and you immediately assume the classic spacesuit image – tethered to spacecraft, floating in space. But in actuality, many astronauts work for years supporting other astronauts before getting anywhere near a spaceship (or never make it at all). These are the kinds of details that make Hadfield’s story so compelling. Really compelling. As one reviewer said, “Hearing astronaut Chris Hadfield talk about what going to space taught him, was one of those turn-off-the-car-engine, park and listen moments.” I was talking about this book with Telus’s Katie Drechsel (stay tuned for her #StandApart Career Profile) and she made a great point: “Look at all of the guys who’ve achieved what’s, by any standards, the greatest successes on earth – all of them have turned to space. It’s the next place for mad success.” If so Katie, I am watching. And in the meantime, I am reflecting. Here’s some of the shining...

Love Monday #43: Leadership Accountability

You don’t need to be in a position of power to start exhibiting leadership. In fact, a simple change of thinking can do the trick. Instead of saying you work “for” Company X, try saying you work “with” them. That simple mind-shift can help you recognize and appreciate your autonomy (more than your servitude) and it lays the groundwork for a career partnership with your employer and colleagues. Of course, it’s important to note that your interests, as an employee, are part of that relationship too. And the best companies will work hard to demonstrate they are working ‘with’ you too (a common trait of BC’s Dream Employers). What’s your thinking around leadership? Are you a leader? Does a direct report make you one? Our friends at Knightsbridge are asking an important question: Are You Ready To Make 2014 The Year Of Leadership Accountability? Managing Director @VinceMolinaro says true leaders hold themselves accountable for the bottom-line by asking: “What challenges and opportunities will my company face this year, and in what specific ways will I need to step up as a leader?” Read more. … If you thought Emotional Intelligence was a have or have-not proposition, think again. In his latest LinkedIn blog, Daniel Goleman explains the various types of Emotional Intelligence, our varying capacities for each, and the underlying empathic muscle that makes-or-breaks a great leader. … Why would a CEO become someone else’s underling? Fast Company’s @JeffChu has been receiving major kudos for his fascinating insights around Angela Ahrendts’ “new season” at @Apple and what it will take to spark the “retail revolution” she’s after. #EmotionalIntelligence #WholeMind #Leadership #GreatRead #ClickNow. … STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers offer a huge opportunity to women. Locally, we have groups Girl Development championing the cause. This article (w/ infographic) looks at the dismal entry of women into STEM careers (less than 25%) and asks whether strong, vocal and prominent female...