Blog Archive - March 2011

Posted: March 30, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

I’m currently working with two clients whose resumes do not follow a chronological order. In both cases, they worked in a field that they want to go back to.  If we followed a chronological order, the first thing a prospective employer would see is experience that has nothing to do with the job they are seeking.

In one example, a client worked for 8 years in marketing and communications.  Over the last six years he has held three jobs in sales and management.  If we had put the most recent experience first, many employers would not read down and find the relevant experience.  In another case, a client had worked for a leader in the hair care industry before she opened a retail store that she managed for five years.  Again, if we started the resume with her retail experience many employers would stop reading.  They would miss that she had spent more than ten years in senior management with the leader in her industry.

What’s the solution?  Play your strongest hand.  If it makes sense, break chronology and put your earlier experience first on your resume.  Some employers might be turned off and push the resume to the recycle pile.  More, however, will quickly see how you have the experience and skills they are looking for. Lead with your strengths.

Posted: March 29, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

In Common Dreams, The economist Dean Baker argues that the political and media attention to budget deficits is misplaced and misguided.  The people who caused budget deficits and have benefited most from those policies are asking those with the least to sacrifice.  We won’t hear voices like Baker’s on network news.  That’s where we’ll hear the experts who want working people to sacrifice even more.  The rich need our help.

Posted: March 28, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

In its Sunday edition, the Chicago Sun-Times published an interesting article about the importance of networking for new college grads (I can’t find a link in the digital edition).  Experts cited make a very good point about young job seekers focusing too much on the internet and online job submissions.  They emphasize the importance of face to face contract and building a network of professional connections.

I agree with all of this.  My only worry is that some readers will read articles like this and stop using online tools.  Several clients have told me that “nobody” find work by using job boards like CareerBuilder or Monster.  If that were true, why do employers continue to post jobs on those sites?  People also find jobs by identifying and going to the website of companies they want to work for.  LinkedIn is another great tool to use as part of a good, balanced job search.

Never use just one method of looking for work.  When one approach isn’t working, be ready to try something else.  Good sales people find new and different ways to discover new customers.  We have to do the same thing when looking for work. Don’t get stuck in a rut – try something new.

Posted: March 27, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Common Dreams  has reprinted a piece by AP writer Dylan Lovan on Wendell Berry, poet, conservationist, and inspiration for this blog’s Sunday feature, “Sabbath.”  When we last saw Berry, he was protesting the coal mining industry by camping out in the office of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.  Since then he has been honored by President Obama with the National Humanities Medal.  Lovan also reports that Berry has cut ties with the University of Kentucky over its too cozy relationships with the coal industry.  Wendell Berry is a man who lives his convictions.  Would that more of our political leaders followed his example.

Posted: March 27, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

[On Sundays, Career Calling ponders work & life in “Sabbath.”]

Hanging On – Letting Go

Later today I’m going to go buy a new robe.  The robe I’ve owned for several years is old and torn beyond repair.  I’ve hung onto the raggy mess because I convinced myself that it was still useful, that I could squeeze out another month.  My office computer is a similar story.  It’s now seven years old and works just fine as a tool for word processing.  However, as my clients move to Word 2007 and 2010, I will have to buy a new computer and software.  There’s a time to hang on, and a time to let go.

As a culture we are really messed up when it comes to these two activities and the thoughts that should underlie them.  We’re told to buy the latest electronic gizmo, and people line up outside the Apple Store.  The old computer or phone is pushed aside, still functional, but not the next new thing, not the thing you want other people to know you have.  Does what you already own work?  Does the new model give you something that you really need?  We don’t ask those questions in the world of now and wow.

What we seem to hold on to is less tangible.  Think about Oprah Winfrey Show and all of the things that people want to change about their lives.  We hang on to wounds from our childhoods, insults from school days, the relationships or jobs that “could have been.”  My parents lived through the Depression and World War II.  They were experts at forgetting and moving on.  Some psychologists might say they were repressed.  I prefer to think about such people as being realistic and tough.  Bad things happen to everyone.  The sooner we move on from the pain, the less it hurts.  But that’s not the good story, especially for the kind of people who enjoy watching others expose their pain. 

Earlier generations lived by a handed down wisdom that let them know what to keep and what to let go of.  They didn’t have the big screen TV and 500 channels, but they knew stories and songs that they learned from their grandfathers and grandmothers.  We recycle movies that probably should not have been made in the first place.  We want information and the correct answer instead of asking why we need to know what year a film or actor won the Oscar.

Letting go and hanging on is a matter of choices.  For me, it’s time to give up the old rag and buy a new robe. It’s time to think about buying a new computer for the office. I also want to let go of pettiness and jealousy in order to embrace healthier emotions of patience and compassion.  What will I hang on to?  The things that matter most: friends, work, creativity, and values, all the things that don’t have a price tag or an expiration date.

Posted: March 26, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

The U.S. Department of Labor has a great resource page on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911.  146 workers – most women – died because they were locked in a nine story building that broke out in flames.  Doors were locked because their managers wanted to stop petty theft of felt scrap that could be resold. 

Two years later, conditions improved at the plant.  Why?  Because the International Ladies Garment Workers Union went on strike.  We need to remember such heroes, especially when we have “leaders” like Governor Scott Walker.

Posted: March 24, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Writing in Common Dreams, Jack Rasmus, an economics Professor at St. Mary’s College and Santa Clara University, examines media myths about the role of public unions and pension under funding.  Rasmus’s point is simple:  Don’t blame the victim.  The same politicians who know point the fingers at unions made decisions that led to the funding problems.

Posted: March 22, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

What’s real?  Seth Godin has a great post about what we assume about energy safety and how marketing warps our thinking.  Take this same way of thinking and apply it to careers.  Think of all the “must” rules we hear from the “experts.”  Test everything.  Is it real?  Or is it just hype?

Posted: March 21, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

More wisdom from the Dalai Lama:

“Tragic circumstances help you develop inner strength, the courage to face them without emotional breakdown.  Who teaches this?   Not your friend, but your enemy.”

For many people today, the enemy is job loss or wage cuts.  Our real challenge is to face the enemy without anger or tears, to solve our problem without a show of “poor me.”  One important thing to remember is that you are not alone.  Workers across this country – and many other countries – are facing the same problem.  As the wise man says, we need to learn from our enemy and become stronger. Look inside.  The strength you need is there.  You just have to find it.

Posted: March 20, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Who’s TED?  It’s really a what, a website that offers videos from cutting edge experts in several fields.  How good is this website?  I once watched a twenty minute video about the sport of cricket.  I know nothing about cricket and don’t care about the game, but the speaker was so compelling that I got caught in his enthusiasm and intelligence.  That’s TED in a nutshell.

Rose King from has sent me a link to 10 TED presentations that focus on careers.  They are all very good, especially Daniel Pink’s talk on motivation.  Check out these videos and wander around the TED site.  You won’t be disappointed.

I wanted to thank Rose for sharing this resource with us.