The Mikuska Group  

Once again, thanks Bell!

Two years ago I wrote a post congratulating Bell on its Bell Let’s Talk Day. I continue to be impressed with this corporation for its commitment to mental health and their particular focus on removing the stigma from mental illness.

It’s hard enough to struggle with any illness, but for those with mental illness the burden is much greater when people are judgmental, dismissive or just plain cruel. When you feel you can’t tell your family, your boss or your co-workers what’s going on, it’s hard to find support.

We can all start by committing to kindness first. That includes making changes in language – not using terms like schizophrenic to describe a bad situation, for example. We can commit to listening to understand. And to informing ourselves about mental illness and how we can change our behaviour to help, not hurt.

Thank you to Clara Hughes, Mary Walsh, Howie Mandel, Michael Landsberg and the many others who are using their time in the spotlight to be the face of mental health, through Bell Let’s Talk Day. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Julie Mikuska

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The devil is in the details

As part of the work we do with our clients, we review a lot of resumes and cover letters for positions we’re helping to fill. Here are some observations about the type of things we see:

  • addressing a cover letter or email to “Dear Sir/Madam” when the ad clearly states to whom it should be addressed
  • spelling the name wrong
  • obvious cut-and-paste communications (quoting the wrong job title, for example)
  • generic cover letters and resumes
  • 7 or more pages (whew – who has time to digest all that information?)
  • grammar and spelling mistakes
  • exaggeration and outright lies

We also observe that many are obviously sent to fulfill the requirements of the Employment Insurance program (to prove an active job search). We can spot these easily since the qualifications of the applicants are generally nowhere near what the position requires!┬áIf you’re really not qualified, do everyone a favour and don’t apply. It’s not that we discourage people from wanting to move up, but really, if you’re an administrative assistant and are applying to be an executive director, you’re wasting our time.

What can you do to make sure your resume makes it into the “for consideration pile”? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take the time to do some research into the organization and make the case as to why you want to work there. Many applicants do not even mention the organization in the cover letter.
  • Have someone proofread your resume and cover letter to catch spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Write a creative cover letter that shows your passion. These get noticed!
  • Be concise and list your accomplishments first. Don’t list every bit of previous job descriptions – summarize in a bullet point.
  • Be truthful – it’s easy to check facts and dates.

Pay attention to the details – not doing so can literally cost you a job you were hoping for.

Laura Mikuska

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