How to Create a ASCII or Plain Text Resume - and When to Use It

How to Create a ASCII  or Plain Text Resume - and When to Use It

How to create an ASCII or plain text resume and when you need to use one. Have you ever been asked to submit an ASCII or plain text resume for an onine job application? It’s a resume that’s been stripped of most formatting in order to be scanned by an applicant tracking system. An ASCII or plain text resume is an electronic resume in plain text that any type of computer or software can read.  Forget those lovely Pinterest worthy resume layouts. An ASCII resume is just plain ugly. But it gets your job history, skills and experience past the bots and gets the job done. 

ASCII (pronounced "askee") is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.  ASCII text is used for entering (or pasting) your resume information into online submission forms and for pasting your resume into the body of an e-mail.

Due to the sheer volume of applications that are submitted to online job applications, most companies use a computer system called ATS - applicant tracking system, to scan resumes looking for keywords that match the job description. Converting your resume to ASCII before pasting it into an online job application form ensures it will display properly and be read correctly by the system. Fancy formatting, graphics, columns, unusual fonts and bullets may not be read correctly by the ATS - or even read at all.  Your resume may be rejected before even reaching the hiring manager. 

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Stay at Home Parent? Six Tips for a Winning Comeback Resume

Stay at Home Parent? Six Tips for a Winning Comeback Resume

Are you planning to head back into the workforce after spending valuable years at home with your children?  How do you market yourself after spending the last few years up to your ears in diapers, juice boxes and math homework? You can’t even remember your last “real” job. How can you convince a corporate recruiter that you are employable, ready to work, and even excited about getting back into the 9-5?  First of all, don’t panic. You’ve got this.

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8 Warning Signs You Need a New Job

8 Warning Signs You Need a New Job

8 Warning Signs that it’s Time to Look for a New Job. Do you dread each and every Monday morning? Are you being passed over for promotions or find it hard to see a good future with your current company? Is your workplace toxic? It may be time to consider a job change.

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How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in Less than 10 Sentences

How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in Less than 10 Sentences

How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in less than 10 Sentences. Let’s face it. Cover letters are hard to write. You’re writing a letter to a nameless manager in an office somewhere asking them to consider you for a job. What do you say? How do you even begin?  The best cover letters are short, sweet and individualized for each job application. Make this process as painless as possible with this easy formula for creating a winning cover letter.

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Is "Follow Your Passion" Bad Career Advice?

Is "Follow Your Passion"  Bad Career Advice?

Blue Sage Sunday Book Review: A review of Cal Newport’s career advice book So Good They Can’t Ignore You. He’s not your typical career advice guru.  As he begins So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newton is in the process of completing his Ph.D in computer science at MIT. Facing a dismal job market in academia, Newton finds himself pondering the question “How do people end up loving what they do?” What’s the secret to finding a career you love?  It’s a good question.

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4 Surprising Factors that Lead to Happiness at Work

4 Surprising Factors that Lead to Happiness at Work

Did you know that a bigger paycheck doesn’t automatically lead to more happiness at work? Now, as my husband likes to say, having more money does mean you can be miserable in a better part of town. But you’re not always happier. Surprisingly, It’s not the money, or the executive title, or the penthouse office with the view, although those things never hurt. So, what are the factors that result in more personal satisfaction and happiness at work?

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7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin the Job Hunt

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin the Job Hunt

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin the Job Hunt. You’ve decided it’s time to find a new job. Whether you’re a new college graduate or just ready for a change, it’s tempting to slap a resume together and start hitting apply on every job position you see on Indeed. But there are a few essential steps you need to take before hitting that SUBMIT button. Completing these basic steps will make your job search go more smoothly and will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted

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Book Review: In 'When Breath Becomes Air', Paul Kalanithi Offers Lessons in Life and Vocation

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi. It’s not a book most people would reach for when pondering vocational questions. I’m sure it’s not in the career section at the local bookstore. But if you are looking for a book that will help you delve into the deeper questions of work and life, you won’t find anything better.

Paul Kalanithi, on the verge of entering his professional life as a neurosurgeon and beginning a family with his wife Lucy, is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. After training for almost a decade, he faces his own terminal illness and a profound identity crisis. Instead of a becoming a practicing doctor, he finds himself instead in the role of a patient.

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"So...tell me about yourself." 4 simple steps to a great answer.

"So...tell me about yourself." 4 simple steps to a great answer.

It’s often the first question you’ll face in an interview. Despite knowing this, many candidates head into a job interview without a clue as to their answer. Many struggle with a good answer and bobble around a bit as they try to think of something smart to say.

Trust me, your interviewer knows when you’re not prepared for this question and is probably rolling his or her eyes internally as you blunder and wobble through your answer.

Some version of this question is almost a certainty in any interview. You can count on it so it’s worth taking some time to polish up an answer.

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4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

Almost every college and university uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in their career guidance office. A quick google search will turn up a list of career possibilities for each of the 16 personality types. Scores of books have been written about the type indicator and the Jungian theory it is based upon. It has been loved, and scorned, for 70 years since it’s creation by the American mother-daughter team, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.

So is it worth it? How can the MBTI help you find a career and a life you love?

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3 Quick Tips to Jumpstart your Job Search on LinkedIn

3 Quick Tips to Jumpstart your Job Search on LinkedIn

I have to admit I was a skeptic early on. As a counselor and career coach who’s been around a while, I understood the value of building a network to help in your job search but I wasn’t sure about the real value of an online networking site. I was so wrong!

Depending on which data you look at, between 75-90% of all recruiters use LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates. I’ve worked with clients who have found jobs or made connections that helped them find jobs through LinkedIn. I myself been contacted by recruiters with job possibilities and even landed a job interview. Yeah, I have to say it’s worth it! But it does take some time and a little work on your part to make those job connections and possibilities happen. Here are 3 quick tips to get you started.

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10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

I recently spoke with two hiring managers who regularly interview and assess job applicants. One was the communications director and hiring manager for a large international business company. Another was a store manager for a large big box retailer. Both offered insight into what they look for in an applicant.  Every hiring manager is different but here are some of the things that would impress these two managers and help you land the job. 

How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job


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10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

I recently spoke with two hiring managers who regularly interview and assess job applicants. One was the communications director and hiring manager for a large international business company. Another was a store manager for a large big box retailer. Both offered insight into what they look for in an applicant.  Every hiring manager is different but here are some of the things that would impress these two managers and help you land the job. 

How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job

  1. DO submit a short, impactful resume where your experience and abilities shine. One manager looks for a one page resume that highlights only the last 10 years of professional experience. Managers have limited time to scan resumes for the skills and experience needed for the job. In fact, in most cases, your resume has less than 10 seconds to impress the hiring manager. Bullet points that highlight your specific accomplishments and related experience make it easy for a manager to see the value in calling you in for an interview.

  2. DON’T use a functional resume. A functional resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on a chronological work history. It is often used by job seekers who are changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. While these have become popular in recent years, the managers I spoke with felt they were being misled by these resumes and immediately assumed the applicant was trying to hide something. Their sage advice was to go with a more traditional chronological resume, highlight transferable skills and be prepared to explain any gaps in employment.

  3. DO spend time crafting a well written cover letter. Don’t just repeat your resume but impress the manager with why they should hire you. What is your motivation for applying for this job? Why are you a good fit for the job? Write a customized cover letter for every job application. It takes time, but a one size fits all letter will not impress a hiring manager. Focus on your skills and abilities that fit the needs of each particular organization. Keep it short, less than 3 paragraphs, and use 3-5 bullet points to highlight your skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.

  4. DON’T forget to proofread. Always, always proofread. One manager immediately tosses any resume and cover letter with grammatical errors or typos into the trash bin. If you aren’t careful with details in your resume, it will be assumed that you won’t be careful with details on the job. Have another person proofread your cover letter and resume to make sure you haven’t overlooked a typo. And don’t forget to include your contact information on the letter as well as your resume.

  5. DO clean up your online profile. Both managers noted that they ALWAYS checked people out on line and have eliminated people from the list of possibilities because of what they found online. Sign out of google (or even better, use a library computer or borrow someone’s laptop) and google yourself. See what shows up and begin the process of removing anything related to drug or alcohol use or any profanity in your online comments. Delete comments in which you bad mouth or speak negatively about former employers. Update your LinkedIn profile- you do have one, right? - and work on your connections and accomplishments. One manager noted that he looked for mutual connections on LinkedIn and then contacted them as a way to check out potential employees.

  6. DON’T BE LATE. Let me say it again. DON’T BE LATE. Be on time for the interview and on time means 15 minutes early. Allow for traffic delays, parking difficulties, apocalyptic zombies and any other obstacle that might prevent you from arriving on time. If you don’t show up on time for the interview, how can a manager expect you to get to work on time each day? You will not be hired if you arrive late. Enough said.

  7. DO dress to impress. Research the company culture and dress appropriately. It’s always better to over-dress than to miss the mark completely. Wear a tie. Make sure your clothes are clean and well pressed. Shine your shoes. Carry a professional purse or work bag. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re wearing. Spend some time creating a polished, professional appearance. First impressions count.

  8. DON’T be rude to the administrative assistants, custodial staff, or anyone else you meet along the way. It’s all part of the interview process. Make sure you are positive and professional in all encounters. If lunch is suggested as part of the process, treat the wait staff in a respectful manner. Use good manners. It’s ALL part of the interview. The manager is watching how you handle other people in every situation.

  9. DO research the company and be ready to ask questions that show you have done your homework. You are more likely to be hired because you asked good, insightful questions that show you are interested and excited about the job than by simply answering questions you are asked. Come prepared with a couple of questions about the company. Think through your answers to regularly asked interview questions. When the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself”, have a rehearsed answer that highlights your skills and relevant experience. Don’t babble on about where you grew up or your college years. Be ready to tell your career story in a way that showcases your fit for the potential job at hand.

  10. DON’T forget to send a thank you note or email immediately following the interview. A handwritten note will help you stand out from the crowd because they are rarely used these days but even a well-worded email is better than nothing. It gets your name in front of the manager once more and demonstrates your interest in the job and your ability to follow up on details.

All hiring managers are different and may focus on different aspects of the interview process, but these tips will get you started on the way to a great new job. 

For more help with interview prep, contact Anita for coaching and resume help at 843-224-2025 or click here.

9 Steps to Network Your Way into a Job

9 Steps to Network Your Way into a Job

It’s often called the hidden job market. About 75% of all job openings are never advertised. While job sites are great places to look for jobs, it pays to remember that the majority of jobs will never show up there. An estimated 70-80% of jobs are never published on a job search website like Indeed or Linked In, in the newspaper or even on the company website. 

The reality is that the vast majority of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections. So what’s a job hunter to do?

It’s a word my clients hate to hear. 

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Tired of the same old thing? Ready to find a new job?

Are you feeling like you just can't face another day in your current job? Feeling stuck in your career or just burned out? Are you ready for a change  - but you’re not sure what steps to take next? Are you still trying to choose a career path but not sure what direction to take? Are you excited each morning to get out of bed and head off to work or do you drag yourself out the door just hoping for Friday to arrive? 

Ready to find a new and better career? Need help with the job search? 

Now is the time. It's time for a change, time to hit the refresh button on your career, or to begin the process of finding a career you love. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind in your current job and you’re looking for a new challenge that better fits your life and dreams. Maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a while - in school, at home caring for others or just can’t seem to figure out what’s next for you. Maybe you just need a change. 

It's not too late to sign up. The next class of The LifeWork Project™ begins July 10 and there are still a few spots left. 

Here's what previous participants have written about The LIfeWork Project™: 

"I really enjoyed the LifeWork Project! I understand and appreciate myself better -strengths, weaknesses, energy drainers AND gainers- and all. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is feeling stuck, bored, restless, or who has goals and some idea about what one wants to do but needs a confidence boost and a bit of confirmation, and/or is struggling to formulate a plan to forge one's dreams into reality."   ~Katie C. Charleston, SC

"After just 2 weeks of The LifeWork Project™, I felt more confident about choosing a new career path that looked exciting and full of potential. I had been feeling very bored and stuck in my old job and now I have a plan to find a new job. Now, I'm more prepared for the job search and have all my accomplishments lined up for my resume." ~ Steven R. Greenville, SC 

Career coaching for the rest of us

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™ - a 40 day e-course designed to help you find the work of your life - work that leads to a lifetime of challenge, satisfaction and success.  The e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question or assignment of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward.

You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. With individual email support from Anita, you will be guided through the Best Fit process for your personality type and career. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

The LIfeWork Project™ includes:

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and homework for each day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type ($59 value)
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan
  • Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers, MA are available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants.

The next LifeWork Project begins on July 10 and registration is now live. Space in each class is limited. Take advantage of this low pricing on The LifeWork Project™ and sign up here today.

Get help with the job search and find a job you love.

Contact Anita if you have any questions or need more information. 

Follow your heart...but

Just a little Friday wisdom. Amidst all the advice to follow your bliss, it's important to remember to take your brain with you. By all means, explore what makes you come alive in life. Take a good deep look at your personality and passions and find work that makes your heart sing. But remember to put on your practical hat as well. Before you quit your job to follow your heart and open your own business or move to Nova Scotia or whatever your dream is, it's important to ask the "Is your dream realistic?" question. Is is possible? There may be a lot of answers to that question - and you may have a lot of nay-sayers in your life giving you the wrong answer. But often the underlying question  - or the question you need to ask is - "Am I really willing to do what it takes to achieve this goal? Am I willing to pay the price, to put in the work, to make this dream a reality? How far am I willing to stretch myself?"  

Take some time to do the research and find out what it will really take to make your dream a reality. Talk to people who are doing it. Make a list of pros and cons. Identify the first steps you would need to take. Get out your calculator and run the numbers - the real numbers. As you do this, take note of your excitement level. Are you still passionate about this dream? Feeling a little scared is good, but does the anxiety keep you awake at night? Do you get more excited as you work the details? Are you even more committed to this new path now that you have a better idea of what it will entail?

Follow your heart... but take your brain with you. You might just surprise yourself and make your dream come true!