Your Resume is Your Flyer

Writing a resume is one of the most important challenges facing professionals and aspiring job seekers today as they seek a job. From my short experience, I have found that there is not one perfect way of writing a resume. I have seen many formats and have remained mind boggled as to which one I should be using while applying for a position. Eventually, I decided to take the best aspects of each formats and condense them into one suitable one. Thus over the years my resume was modified continuously and issued whenever I am requested.

Every Wednesday, a bunch of flyers are delivered at my house with showing the latest deals from the shops in my vicinity. I find flyers amazing for the spot advertising that they do for the merchant. They basically show ‘just the relevant’ information regarding the products on sale each week. They are flashy, brief and convey the message in the most apt manner. More or less they guide the consumer into the intent desired from them by the merchant. Because anyone who follows these flyers into a shop, will in most probability end up purchasing more than they ever intended to, in the first place.

I would like to consider our professional resumes as flyers advertising ourselves to any organization. Whenever a position is posted, the successful applicants who are invited to the interview are the ones with a resume that is the best fit for the posted position. Many HR screening programs screen the resumes for keywords from the posted position before shortlisting them. Most of the time, interviews are conducted based on the details mentioned in the resume since it shows what a prospective candidate brings to the table.

Consider for a moment that the company is the consumer and you are the merchant with a flyer. Before a consumer purchases a product, there is an element of desire ‘to want that’ product. Then there is an element of economy, where you want the product so that ‘it fits within your budget’. Then there is an element of purpose-where you visualize what you need to be doing with that product. I think this is similar to how each company hires a person. You need to present yourselves in a manner so that the company sees you as one of their own. You need to be reasonable and humble with what you expect of the company. You need to provide that element of purpose so that the company has no other choice but to hire you inevitably.

A similar relationship can be found in flyers. Your resume is like a flyer. It has to be written in a manner so that companies desire to hire you. From my experience, most of the time true impressions about oneself is generated by your resume. It is important to have an updated resume at all times. Every time before applying, one needs to ensure that all the keywords from the job advertisement are clearly captured both in the resume and in the cover letter. Always imagine of yourselves as the merchant selling the merchandise. You should ensure that you advertise yourself in a professional manner using a meaningful and purpose driven resume.

As a continuation to my earlier post, where I mentioned about how I found my first job, I have tried to follow the above tips consistently. The power of tailoring your resume as a flyer so that companies desire to at least invite you for an interview cannot be denied.

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The views expressed are those of the author only.

Do what you said you will do

One of the most important traits that one needs to develop in his path to a successful and meaningful life would be to do those things, he once said that he will do. The other day I was reading the bible and the Parable of Two sons (Matthew 21:28-32) came into focus. The second son, who assured his father that he will work in the field and later didn’t go resembles a classic trait I have seen in many people including yours truly, both in personal and professional lives. Politicians are normally famed for actions that are not measuring up to their promises. Seldom do we realize that sometimes we are in fact worser than politicians in promising too much and not delivering at all.

In our fast paced lives, we would always love to be seen as being the right one. In our family life, our meetings with friends, our interactions with our community and in our place of work, we would like to be seen as politically correct and also would love to appear the righteous and flawless one. It is so easier to pin all the negativity and blemish on others, because we are perfect and all that is good in the world is within us. Due to this urge to be the right one, we end up promising a lot, because with all the superior qualities bestowed upon us, we are always right and dependable. Then the greatest tragedy of life happens, when we cannot deliver what we once promised. I have seen that sometimes people do put in arduous amounts of effort to ensure that at least something is done and showcased. It is often at a heavy cost of poor shoddy work and sometimes even loss of reputation.

What then is the secret to prevent such a situation? I would never say that we should never aim to be the right one, but if we ever claim to be so, one needs to live up to it. Have you ever faced a situation where you couldn’t match your words with action? I have been guilty of this offence a million times from what I could remember. I remember that one of the managers under whom I worked with at one time, called me a ‘dangerous optimist’. I have seen myself tire our because of this nature since I promise a lot and sometimes end up delivering a shoddy product. Most of the time it is the urge to be active and productive, but what is the point in doing so if you cannot produce a quality product?

What then is the solution? Is it the 80/20 rule where you would do 20% of the tasks to at least an 80% satisfaction. Or is it being intentional on to what you can actually do. I think it should be part of understanding what type of person you would like to be in life. Do you want to be like the younger son who is a people pleaser but is hollow inside because he never intends to do anything at all in the first place. The challenge is to be honest and forthright about what you can do and the promises you make. Being intentional about yourself and understanding your limitations and thus being open about it may not help you to get friends in life or sometimes even lose the ones you have. It may make you an outlier within both your family and community. But who cares, you are what you are and if you can deliver what you said you will, you are a winner.

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” C.G Jung

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Your Teacher

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Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants and trees – should be your teacher. Morihei Ueshiba

Organic Architecture

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Recognized by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”, Frank Lloyd Wright coined the term organic architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world through design approaches so sympathetic and well integrated with its site, that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.

Source: Wikipedia

Take a break

Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us..

My last post in the blog was on June 7,2015. Till then I was at the rate of writing one post at least each week. After my last post, I felt thoroughly drained and couldn’t come with any new ideas. I decided to stop writing for a while and concentrate on other things. Enjoyed my summer by attending countless bbq parties, camping, adventure sports and travelled quite a bit. Being in Canada, even though the government and companies work hard at promoting a solid work-life balance, most of the time it is never the case. Either in home or at work, I have seen from experience how Murphy’s laws are consistently fulfilled causing you to be in tenterhooks till the problem gets fixed. Sometimes, one gets the feeling that he/she cannot take a break as work keeps piling up. One then hopes and longs for that long vacation to take a break and seemingly fails to do so because vacations usually ends up with long travel times, delays and other unexpected events that throw you off the balance. In short, you are simply working all the time. And it is not good. Because working all the time doesn’t necessary translate to high productivity.
 
Our brains are not like the modern CPUs always plugged in and solving problems for us. Being an integral part of our body, our brains do need downtime to process the plethora of information that comes its way. Let’s take the example of the information that comes our way daily- At work we are faced with documentation after documentation of seemingly never ending information. To unwind, we turn our focus to social media where we are again inundated again with never ending information. Where does the brain gets time to process these information? How does it ever filter the information to see what needs to be retained and what doesn’t need to be retained? Our brains need substantial downtime to generate ideas, connect the dots between the information received on a day to day basis and provide us intuitions that takes us to promising new destinations. “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets,” essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times.
 
Ferris Jaber writes in the Scientific American that when we are relaxing or daydreaming the brain is not seen to slow down or stop working and instead a ‘dazzling array’ of molecular, genetic and physiological processes occur primarily or even exclusively when we sleep at night. Quoting the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her collaborators at the University of South Carolina who found that when we are resting the brain is anything but idle and that far from being purposeless or unproductive, downtimes is sessional to the mental processes that affirm our identities and develop our understanding of the human behaviour. The detailed articles extols the virtues of rest management and how to ensure optimum productivity levels are attained.
 
“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” Maya AngelouWouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
 
I was never a proponent of sleeping or taking rest and I used to push myself everyday as I felt one shouldn’t waste time resting and needs to get things done. Recently I forced to take rest following a freak knee accident. As I gave myself adequate rest, I could see that the rate of healing was exponentially proportional to the time I rested. My own perspective on rest has changed dramatically ever since. Sometimes one just needs to unplug and allow the body and eventually the brain to catch up.
 
Recommended reading:
  1. http://tinybuddha.com/blog/40-ways-to-give-yourself-a-break/
  2. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/
  3. http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~immordin/papers/Immordino-YangetalRESTISNOTIDLENESSPPS2012.pdf
  4. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/
  5. http://www.treehugger.com/health/why-your-brain-needs-breaks-work.html
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The Talent of Time

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‘Once upon a time’ did start the tale,

Of the rich man that gave each his servants talents.

Some used it well over time and was rewarded in talents,

One saved it well over time and lost all he ever had.

In no time did the tale get over.


Time and tide never waited it did ever,

Stories were told and songs were sung.

The sun rose and the day rung,

The sun set and the night was flung,

On people who simply rose and fell.

Seasons went by though cyclically,

Yet time kept on marching forward ceaselessly.

Earnestly and diligently did he work each day,

To do those things he wanted to do someday,

Dreams and hopes he had many,

He was eager and he had the way,

It was easy for him to start them quickly,

He did not know if he could complete them quite easily,

For time was his friend and his enemy.

He did not know whether to trust it come what may.

When he needed time, he do not have any,

When he did not need time, he did have many.

With time everything will be alright,

Said the seer to the impatient man in his youth,

He wasnt ready to accept the commandment,

Hot blooded and never without remorse,

He did not heed the advice and went on his way,

He did the unthinkable and realised his folly,

Wasted was he as he spent the rest of his time.


As a man can change his image in front of others,

He can never change his time that shows his image over the years.


Listen my dear friend, your time is your talent,

Use it wisely and you will be given more,

Dont be foolish not to use it judiciously ever,

You use your time well and you will be blessed many times over.


Image courtesy: http://www.thejoecatholic.org/2014/11/navarre-bible-commentary-33rd-sunday-in.html

The Art of Questioning

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

Among the many traits that I was known for from childhood, one that stood out was the unstoppable trait from my vocal cords asking ‘Sir, one question, please’. Traditionally in a school environment, the teachers asks questions to students based on an information-seeking model which relies on a predetermined subject taught by them. In my growing up years, I remember subjects such as biology, geography etc., where I simply crammed text books to get good grades in exams. The right answers in these subjects were praised and the wrong ones were corrected. Most of the time we were discouraged from articulating our thoughts. These subjects never struck an emotional chord with me and I never meandered even near them once high school was completed. However in some rare classes we had teachers who provoked us to articulate what we thought about the subject and why we thought differently.  We were encouraged to elaborate on our previous answers and ideas, and thus the process helped us to have conceptual knowledge. I still remember subjects like maths, computer science, physics and chemistry to this day because of this approach taken by those teachers that taught them. The fact that I chose my profession as a Process Engineer bears strong testament to the questioning method permitted by the second approach.

Questioning is rarely encouraged and generally frowned in organized communities including religious societies even though the religious texts do sometimes encourage questioning. Prior to Renaissance, the christian catholic church encouraged a credulous medieval spirit that accepted any picturesque tradition or marvellous tale without inquiry as to its source or credibility. However during Renaissance there was a new found questioning and critical spirit which first awoke Francesco Petrarca, also known as the father of Renaissance in Florence and then spread around the world. Renaissance had profound effects on humanism, arts, science, music and even religion. It actually propelled our civilization to the modern age that we currently live in. However even to this day, organized religion dissuades questioning and refuses to evolve causing incessant human grief and suffering.

“The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.” Peter Abelard.

How to question? Have you ever heard about the 5 Why method? Two years ago, I was introduced to this method by one of my mentors in the company I earlier worked for.  5 Why is an iterative questioning method which helps explain the cause and effect relationship to any particular problem or situation. It is very simple. Suppose you have a problem or an issue at hand and you want to know how fix it so that it doesn’t happen to you or anyone again. You ask 5 Why questions, iteratively based on the answer to the preceding questions. For example let’s consider an imaginary conversation between Bob and his son Sam.

Bob: Why is the car not clean, Sam?

Sam: I did not get time to clean the car.

Bob: Why did you not get the time to clean the car, Sam?

Sam: I was busy in the afternoon.

Bob: Why were you busy in the afternoon?

Sam: I was busy as I had friends over.

Bob: Why did you have friends over?

Sam: I had friends over as we had a game session.

Bob: Why did you have a game session with your friends and did not let me know?

Sam: ……I am sorry.

Without understanding the root cause, simply trying to resolve the effect may/ may not prevent the reoccurrence of the event. Sam in this story was clearly hiding the fact that he had friends over and he did not take cleaning the car as a priority. Note how within a span of 5 question, Bob was able to understand why the car was not cleaned by Sam. Thus by questioning, one is able to understand the root cause of any problem and then find the fix or solution. 5 Whys were first used by Taiichi Ohno, the architect of the Toyota Production System in the 1950s who describes the method as “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach, i.e.,  by repeating ‘why’ five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.” It is a very simple process and can be used for a wide range of applications from problem solving to even questioning beliefs, assertions and even daily issues.

Summarizing the ability to question is a necessary skill one needs to have in this ever changing world. It is important to ask the right questions to obtain the right answers. I agree that sometimes it is hard to make sense of this world that we currently live in or the people that we meet each day. However by questioning and never conforming, one should be able to see his/ her world in a new light and carve a new path for themselves.

Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458

All images follow Creative Commons license. Slightly cropped the source file.