12 Things to Never Put on a Resume

12 Things to Never Put on a Resume

6 seconds. That’s the average amount of time a hiring manager takes to scan your resume and sort it into either the possibility pile or the trash bin. 

6 seconds. 

Hiring managers receive a average of 75 resumes for each position. For some jobs, the number is 100-200 or more resumes for each position. You’ve got 6 seconds to make sure your resume makes the first cut and doesn’t end up in the trash.

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The kids have moved back home and can't find a job. What's a parent to do?

I’ve received several phone calls from parents asking this question and it seems to pop up a lot this time of year. What do you do when your 20 or 30 something kids move back home and don’t know what they want to do with their life? They can’t find a job, can’t afford an apartment, and seem to be floundering. What can you, as a parent, do? Charge rent? Kick them out? Do you help them find a job? Do you even dare offer advice? 

good advice for parents who want to help but don’t know how

good advice for parents who want to help but don’t know how

I have had a little experience with this myself. My daughter and son-in-law moved back in with us for a few months a couple of years ago. They had just returned from living and working overseas and needed time to find jobs and save some money. In their case, they both had settled on a career path and just needed space to get things started. That is true of some adult children who move back in. 

Other adult children move in and really have no idea what they want to do with their life.  Do they want to go to grad school? Find a job close by? Move away? What kind of job do they want? What career skills do they have?  They have a degree in anthropology but may have no idea how to craft a resume, apply for jobs, or kickstart the career finding process

It’s a trend that can be seen across the country.  According to the Pew Research Center, over 31% of young adults, ages 18-34, live at home with their parents. More young adults live with their parents than in any other living situation. Only 29% are married or living with a partner. Over 60% of university graduates move back home for at least a few months, according to U.S. census stats. Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, averaging about $29,000 per borrower, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success. The combination of crushing student loan debt, skyrocketing rents and low entry level salaries can dishearten even the most optimistic. 

As a parent, this can be an interesting place to find yourself. You want to help your kids out, but you don’t want them to be living at home forever. Minor conflicts may escalate into angry silences until you’re not even sure if you can ask how the job search is going. What’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips.

  1. Give the kids a break. The world is a different place than it was when we as parents graduated. In that day, entry level salaries were enough to cover rent on a small apartment. Today, there is a huge gap between entry level salaries and the cost of living. Plus, the job market is TOUGH. It often takes six months or more to find a career path job (i.e. not working fast food or retail). And even though the economy has improved, it’s still hard to break into many professions. And then there are student loans… So, give them a break. Skip the “when I graduated” stories and recognize that life is different now.

  2. Embrace the time together. There may be a time when your kids find a job, but it’s half way across the country. They move away and then you only see them 2-3 times a year. Remember my daughter and son-in-law? They found jobs, locally for a short time, and then my son-in-law was offered an excellent career track job in a city almost 10 hours away. So enjoy being with them. Consider it bonus time - extra time with these people you love. Use the time to develop an adult relationship with them. Rediscover their personalities and interests. Find an activity you like to do together. You may have a new hiking buddy!

  3. Discuss expectations and boundaries. You are still the parent- but your child is not 16 anymore. The old roles and rules don’t fit. Having an in-depth conversation about expectations can go a long way toward creating harmony in the house. Do you expect everyone to sit down for dinner if they’re home? Are you sharing a car? What about chores? Do you expect them to do the dishes? Mow the grass? Get clear about expectations up front.

  4. And what about the money? Should you charge rent? There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. It depends. Does your adult child have any income? Are they working part-time while looking for a professional job? Can you afford the extra expense of additional household members? Can they take over lawn care and cleaning in lieu of rent - or will that create more drama? Some parents choose to charge rent and deposit it into a savings account to be used for deposits on future housing when the kids are ready to move on. Others may charge a minimal rent to offset the increased grocery and utility bills. Think creatively and think win-win. How can you use this time to improve their financial situation and your own?

  5. Discuss the job search process. Do you expect to be kept in the loop about the job hunt? Resist the temptation to micromanage but do offer to use your network if possible. You want them to be self reliant but the reality is that most jobs, especially good jobs, are gained by using a network. A cold resume is much less likely to make it to the interview than a resume passed along by a respected colleague or even a friend of a friend. Comic strip Dustin is enjoying living a do-nothing life back at home, but most young adults are anxious to find good jobs and move on to live independently.

  6. Hire a career coach. Yes. I am a career coach and you can certainly hire me but this is not a self-serving post (not totally anyway.) The reality is that many 20 somethings don’t know how to find a job. They may not know what they really want to do. They probably don’t know how to write a resume that will illustrate the employability of a bachelor’s degree in history and work experience as a summer life guard and a barista at Starbucks. A good career coach can ask the tough questions, answer questions about resumes and cover letters, and help them get started on a career they can be excited about. Spending some money on a good career coach may save you more money down the road - and get your empty nest back!

Anita Flowers is a career specialist and resume writer at Blue Sage Career Strategies. She is available for coaching with young adults or with parents who need to talk through these issues. Contact her here for a free initial consultation.



Feeling burned out? When was the last time you went out to play?

Are you feeling a little burned out on 2017 already? It’s only February and I’m already hearing from clients and friends who are feeling overwhelmed and depressed by faded New Year’s resolutions, work overload, our nation’s political morass and worries about the environment and our world in general. It's clear. We are all going to need some serious self care in this year of anxiety. 

Self care is a trendy phrase these days. Most people think of self care as settling in for the night with a massage, a long hot bath and a big mug of herbal tea (always nice and relaxing) but I like to think of self care as those activities that restore our souls. Restorative care helps us to not just relax but to restore that creative piece of ourself. To literally bring our SELF back to life.

For me, it’s doing the things I loved to do as a child.  Digging in the dirt -even pulling weeds in the garden can be therapeutic. I lose track of time when I’m planting flowers. Maybe I just like getting my hands earth dirty. I love walking through the woods. Riding my bike. Swinging high on a swing set. Playing with fabric scraps or watercolors. A friend says that for her it’s baking cookies, coloring in a mandala book, and restoring old furniture. Another turns up the music, sings at the top of her voice and dances away in the kitchen. Think of it as playtime. I come away from play refreshed, restored, and often ready for a very restful nap!

What is play for you? What are those things that make you lose track of time? What makes you forget about the world of work and politics? What refreshes and restores your soul? These are questions I ask almost every one I do coaching with - because the answers offer clues about your true self, your passions and, sometimes, helps you discover the creative work of your life. 

It’s clear. We have a lot of work to do this year. Make sure you take time to play, that you take time for self care, for restorative care -  so you’re rested and refreshed for the journey of life ahead. 

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon. Do it!

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon.

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon.

Happy New Year from Blue Sage!  Ok, so I’m not actually jumping the canyon in that pic. My husband and I were mountain biking in the canyons of Sedona, Arizona a few years ago - which in itself was a challenge for two cyclists from the South Carolina Lowcountry. We bike on flat land at sea level. The altitude in Sedona is 4500 feet. Enough said. My husband swears he will never mountain bike again. I'm still hopeful. 

It’s that time of year when everyone is making resolutions for the New Year.  I have to admit I’m a sucker for resolutions and goal setting and the beginning of a new year seems the perfect place to begin again. It’s a new year, a new beginning. Anything can happen. Bring it on!

There are two ways to make resolutions. The best advice is to take baby steps. Break your goal down into specific, positive steps that are achievable on a daily or weekly basis. Instead of planning to lose 25 pounds in a month, make a resolution to eat 5-6 servings of vegetables each day or walk 10 miles a week. If you’re on the job hunt, create a goal to make 2 contacts each week (phone calls or emails). Baby steps are a great way to achieve a bigger goal.  Sometimes looking at a big goal be overwhelming and can lead to procrastination and resistance. I encourage all my clients to use baby steps to achieve their goals in life and in their careers. Baby steps are a great plan and a great way to move forward toward your goals. 

But sometimes… you need to jump the canyon. Last year, I jumped the canyon when I created and developed Blue Sage Career Strategies. I’ve done life and career coaching (and before that individual and family counseling) with other groups for years-  but this time I’m completely on my own. My business. My ideas. My success or failure. Jumping the canyon works when you have a plan in place and a parachute at the ready.

 I’ve worked with clients who have taken the leap to start their novel (and are now published authors!), with clients who have taken the risk to talk to their boss and change their job for the better, and with others who have left a profession that was sucking them dry to begin a new creative endeavor that makes them happy to go to work in the morning. It’s a leap of faith that can literally change your life. Is it time to take the leap?

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon that is between you and the life you want to live. Talk to your boss about a promotion. Enroll in grad school. Buy the ticket to Australia. Ask him to marry you. Do the big thing that scares you but will turn your life in a new and better direction. 

Today carve out a few minutes, find a quiet place and write down your goals for 2017. It’s a new chapter, a new year, a new beginning. Are baby steps best for you - they always work and are a great way to achieve your goals - or is it time to jump the canyon? Either way, resolve to believe in yourself this year and make those dreams a reality. I believe in you. 


Small steps work almost every time. (And this year my resolutions are baby steps!)  Jumping the canyon works when you are ready for a big change and have a plan in place. Don’t forget the parachute! I’ll be writing more about moving forward with baby steps and jumping the canyon for this first week of the New Year.  If you need a coach to help you jump the canyon or work those baby steps, for the month of January, Blue Sage Career Strategies is offering a 25% discount on all coaching packages. 

The In-Between Time

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.” - Gilda Radner

Are you feeling lost in the in-between? You know a change is coming and maybe you’re not exactly sure what it will be. Are you looking for a new job or position? Thinking about going back to school? Moving to a different place? Focusing your career in a new direction? Are you dealing with corporate changes you have little control over? 

I’ve had several conversations recently with people struggling with that in-between place. They’re spending lots of time and energy searching and longing for (or sometimes dreading) what’s ahead but they don’t know what to do with their present life. What do you do with the waiting time? It’s that time when you’re not sure what the winds of life will blow your way and you find yourself wondering and worrying about the future, rather than being fully present in your own right-now life.

This in-between can be a place of growth if we don’t hide from it - if we allow ourselves to sit with the grief of what was and the scary anticipation of what might be. It’s a place to process all the uncomfortable feelings about not knowing. If we can turn our attention away from the seductive mystery of the future and focus on the present moment, we can savor the in-between and enjoy the journey from what was to what will be. Listen to the space that is created - that rest note in the musical of your life. 

The key is learning the art of living in the moment. What is good about your life right now? It may be something as simple as porch sitting with a fresh cup of coffee or finding time for a walk with a friend. Practice setting your focus and your attention on what you are doing right now - even how you are feeling right now. What could be one thing you can be fully present with today? What can you learn during this in-between time? By sitting with the process and learning how you cope with not knowing, the “delicious ambiguity,” as Gilda Radner calls it, you can recognize and name your own strengths (and sometimes your growing edges that still need some work). Practice small moments of mindfulness each day. Each moment will help you find the calm in the center of the busy traffic of your mind. 

You can also use this time to learn new skills - take that photography class, learn to code, practice your Spanish. Make a bucket list for your life right now - before the change comes your way. What have you always wanted to do in the place where you are right now? 

Practicing mindfulness and learning to savor each moment, accepting even the impatient “let’s just get on with it” feelings, can deepen our understanding of who we are and even help us figure out the answer to the what’s next question.  Thich Nhat Hanh says it best:

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

What would you take?

Every year at Christmas, as we are packing up the decorations, I pack two boxes and label them HURRICANE. I fill the boxes with ornaments we have collected in our travels, hand carved Santas, and nativities given to us by friends. The naked angel ornament from Bali goes in - along with the giraffe from Africa and the moose from Canada. I include those ornaments made by my daughters when they were young, like the popsicle stick reindeer with the missing eye and the construction paper snowflake with a school photo pasted in the center. All those treasures just can’t be replaced. So I pack them up, hoping each year that the boxes will remain tucked in storage until the next Christmas. But not this year. 

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down, we made the decision to evacuate. In truth, we had already planned to leave town for a wedding in upstate SC. But with a Category 4 hurricane barreling up the coast toward Charleston, it seemed especially prudent to leave. So we packed the hurricane boxes into the car - along with old photo albums, artwork given to us by our children and friends, handmade quilts and my daughter’s wedding dress (special request). All irreplaceable. We loaded it all up, checked on our neighbors and elderly friends, and drove away to safety. I'm all too aware that this was a privilege. We had the means and resources to get ourselves to safety. The people of Haiti never had that chance (but that’s another blog post!)

It was a still a lesson in values - like an old church youth group game. A hurricane is coming, your home could be destroyed, and all you can save is what will fit in your car. (This is assuming that all your people and pets will be safe!)  What would you take? I recognize that these are just things - inanimate objects that we are sentimentally attached to. But the things we fill our homes with become part of our story. They reflect our values and the things we hold dear. I couldn’t take my grandmother’s piano - but I could save our wedding photos and the quilts my great grandmother made.

When I look at the items I chose to take - I can identify some of the values I choose to live out in my life everyday. Family. Friends, Relationships. Connectedness. Creativity. Spirituality. Travel. It’s an interesting exercise to try. What would you take? What would you leave behind? What do those choices tell you about yourself? 

Postnote: For those who are wondering, we’re now back home in recovery mode. Our house escaped damage - other than the loss of some screening on the back porch and a downed tree in the backyard. We were so very lucky. Others in our region are still underwater, with breaches in dams and rising rivers creating on-going flooding. Houses and businesses are ruined. Some in the US didn’t survive and Haiti was devastated. All of that leaves me with a feeling of commitment to help those who have lost so much… and deep gratitude for all that I have.