Tom Cairns


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Simon Says....

Wednesday 28 April 2010 at 9:50 pm

Imagine Simon Cowell, as your Career Coach, yes that Simon Cowell from American Idol.  That's what Perry Newman muses in American Idol and Your Job Search.  Perry compares the Idol experience to job search.  I could not resist adding my own commentary to some of Simon Cowell's words of wisdom (from and   

Simon says, "You've got quite a good voice, the problem I have is this looks to me like 10 years ago."

Translation:  Your job experience is equivalent to one-year that has been repeated 10 times.

Simon says, "If you've got a big mouth and you'recontroversial, you're going to get attention."

Translation:  That's true but you need to be smart.  Differentiating yourself from the competition is a must.  You want to be remembered but for the right things.     

Simon says, "If I said to most of the people who auditioned, 'Good job, awesome, well done, it would have made me actually look and feel ridiculous.  It's quite obvious most of the people who turned up for this audition were hopeless."

Translation:  The interview to job offer ratio is 17-1 ( which is better than the bazillion to one ratio on Idol.

Simon says, "Not everybody is perfect, and I don't think we should be looking for perfect people."

Translation:  You are not a match for this job.

Simon says, "...The look, it was like something out of the Addams Family."

Translation:  You have not watched enough What Not to Wear, and are in dire need of an extreme makeover.

Simon's comments are clear, concise, and candid.  You could not ask for more in a Career Coach.


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How to choose a resume writer

Friday 16 April 2010 at 12:25 pm

It had been years since I had prepared a formal resume.  When I needed one, I thought I could do this because after all I am a human resource professional.  I reviewed resumes practically every day.  It should not be that difficult.  I know the difference between a good one and a bad one. 

I researched resumes on the internet, found some templates to follow, and started creating.  I did not consider using a resume writer.  Again, I am a human resource professional, and this is my business.  I thought if I used someone, my resume would not be my own but the work of someone else and not truly represent me..

What I attempted to do is the same as a doctor treating him or herself.  You can do it but you might miss something.  I circulated my resume to some colleagues and got their input.  This was very helpful.  Nevertheless, what helped me the most was when a colleague introduced me to someone who was also an expert on resume writing.  He was a tremendous resource.  Here is what I learned about that experience and I trust it helps you.

Get a Recommendation - The person who helped me was personally recommended to me by a colleague.  That meant my colleague knew me and knew this other person.  He felt we would work well together. 

Look for someone who is interested in you - The person took the time to talk to me about me, personally and professionally before we ever put pen to paper.  He wanted to know more about me and by doing so, that made me think about things I might not otherwise have thought important. 

Look for a Rocket builder -  Creating a resume is not rocket science or is it.  If your resume is not carefully crafted, you may not launch or you might launch but not orbit or you might orbit and not land.  Do you need a certified resume writer, maybe or at least someone who is certifiable.

Make sure you tell your story - A resume writer is a guide.  You do all the work.  They show you the path but you blaze the trail reviewing your personal and professional experiences, accomplishments, and measurable outcomes.  You will walk down memory lane and recall things that were important and significant to your development and growth that you forgot.  It will be fun and painful recalling those experiences.  However, at the end of the process you will have a compelling story that you can tell with passion.

Does your resume get results?  A resume that does not create interest and land interviews is not working for you.

The moral of the story is do not go it alone but choose wisely.  These tips should help you.


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The Extreme Resume

Friday 09 April 2010 at 9:54 pm

I was with some colleagues recently who specialize in career coaching.  We were reviewing some before coaching and after coaching resumes.  Smart people with great experience needed help writing their resume.  The transformation was remarkable.

I don't know the statistics for the number of people who have used a professional resume writing service.  However, I do know if you Google "executive resume writers" you will get almost 90 million responses.  In addition, I learned the cost of a resume writing service varies greatly.  I found one as high as $485 for the "Ultimate Resume".  I am thinking of adding one called the Extreme Resume for a slightly higher cost.  Obviously, there is a need for resume writing assistance and it must be a BIG business, why?

A resume is no longer a chronological record of your education and work experience.  It is much more.  It is a script of your life journey.  It must be compelling (action words) and show results (measurable).  It is a short story, a 30-second movie trailer that leaves the reader wanting to see the entire movie (read the whole resume).

How many executives are skilled in that kind of story telling?  Few, however, like most movies, you can go over budget and be a bust at the box office.  We know many movies that were produced with modest budgets and were huge box office hits.  Keep this in mind when shopping for a resume writer.


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A job search network is a social network

Wednesday 07 April 2010 at 3:52 pm

"It's a wonderful thought: that someone might just call you up and end your job-search woes forever," says Les Berglass, founder of Berglass & Associates, in an April 2, 2010 interview with Telis Demos contributor to Fortune Magazine.  In order for that to happen, you have to be on someone's radar screen.  How do you do that?  Les offers three tips that could improve your chances of getting the attention of a recruiter.

1. Don't call them.  An unsolicited resume will seldom result in you becoming a job candidate.  You should try to find someone who can recommend you, which leads to point 2. 

2. Do network   Look for someone who owes you a favor, and ask if they know any recruiters.  

3. Get online, get quoted.  Recruiters will track people in a variety of industry trade publications.  Les reads Women's Wear Daily regularly (he recruits for the fashion and retail industry).  Recruiters are using to find people.  Twitter and blogs are less popular (interesting considering I learned about this article on Twitter). 

Since most jobs are filled as the result of some kind of referral.  These tips demonstrate the importance networking has in the job search process.  It also shows the responsibility for creating a strong network is clearly on the job seeker.  The problem is how do you create a strong network? 

The definition of networking is the act of meeting new people in a business or social context.  This does not tell you very much.  The perception is you meet people for coffee, lunch, at a conference or a networking meeting.  You collect a bunch of business cards and now what. 

A better definition of job search networking is to use the definition for social networking.  A social network is made up of individuals, groups, organization's, etc., that are connected by one or more specific type of interdependency, such as friendship, family, business, church, etc..  Each of these networks serves a specific purpose and we know how to use that network and how that network uses us.  A job search network is similar in that it is made up of individuals, groups, organization's, etc., that are connected to you by one or more specific type of interdependency, to introduce you to people who can help you and who you can help. 


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