Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.

 

The Grad's Ultimate Guide for Writing a CV / Résumé

 Donna Moores

Donna Moores

I recently met Donna Moores, who is a professional recruiter and writer. She spends her time trying to help people find their dream job, and has spent more than 5 years learning outstanding HR principles in large industries and businesses.

Donna has a cool infographic designed to help graduates as they seek to market themselves in the world, and has been kind enough to share that with us, along with an introduction (below). To find out more about Donna, you can follow her on FaceBook and check out her Professional Blog.

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Job-seeking was never an easy business, especially for graduates. Lack of experience and knowledge plays a huge role when it comes to applying for a first job. The question is - how can someone prepare oneself to meet the criteria set by employers?

To answer this, we need to look back at the common misconceptions that College and University graduates have about their first job-seeking experience.

First off, there is a discord between the perception of one's skillset and the requirements set by companies and institutions. While college graduates tend to think that their Academy prepared them well for their first job experience, the truth is far from that.

Just the fact of having a diploma does not set your bar higher automatically. As suggested by the latest interviews with HR experts, grads do struggle with identifying their own skillset properly. Academic experience helps you boost your critical thinking, research and communication skills; but that's never enough to outmatch the competition and get the job of your dreams.

When it comes to building up your own job-seeker profile, there is a lot of advice to consider. Lateral thinking and creativity are needed to get your resume to "sell".

If you are a graduate you might find yourself in a similar situation. The convocation is over and now it's time to get some real-world practice. How to keep it up?

HandMadeWritings prepared a stunningly practical "how to" material on this topic. The Grad's Guide to Writing a CV includes best practices, common mistakes and helpful advice from HR professionals, backed up with statistical data. It might serve as a roadmap for any graduate, seeking for their first successful employment.

Getting A Tax Refund? Think Before You Spend It...

Here in the US, April means "Tax Day" (April 18 this year). Filing your taxes can be a hassle, and it's particularly harsh if you have to pay additional taxes.

However, some people look forward to getting a tax refund. If you're one of those people, you might want to just go out and blow it on something fun, or a night on the town. Hold your horses! That may not be the best way to use that money.

Consider The Options For How To Spend Your Tax Refund

What are your options? The good folks at Earnest have put together a great infographic that take you through some of the stats, options, and the pros and cons of each - check it out:

 Considerations for using your tax refund wisely - courtesy of Earnest.

Considerations for using your tax refund wisely - courtesy of Earnest.

When I look at the options in this graphic, my bias would be to pay down outstanding debt first starting with the highest interest rate. You should also consider “refinancing” high interest rate debt by transferring it to a lower-interest loan or line of credit. For example, you could refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate. This will give you more leverage from the money you earn, and your future self will thank you.

A Big Refund Is Probably Not A Good Goal

If you got a big, hefty refund, I'd talk with a tax advisor about how to adjust my withholding allowances to reduce the size of next year's refund. While it may feel good to get a big check for a refund, a big refund means you overpaid taxes and effectively gave the US Federal Government a free loan for most of the year. Changing your withholding so that you get a small refund at the end of the year means you have more money in your pocket each pay period.

Of course, if your tax refund is the only savings plan you have, that is another story. A financial advisor can help you develop a more strategic savings plan.

If you want to build a better plan on your own, I know people who swear by "The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" by Dave Ramsey. It is a no-nonsense approach based on sound advice and no gimmicks.

Diet Trumps Exercise

In the past, I've shared how I lost 50 pounds in 6 months. The techniques there have served me well.

However, this last year, I've gotten a bit lax in the diet department, and noticed that I'd put some of the weight back on. I was no longer following a specific plan, and wasn't logging my meals any more. When I initially got serious about getting back in shape again, I tried to compensate by exercising more. After several months of this approach, I really wasn't making any progress on getting the weight off again.

I decided to go back to what I know (as explained in the post linked above), with some basic goals:

  • exercise at least 3 times per week.
  • consume calories at or below my daily target to maintain my goal weight
  • lose at least a pound a week until I reach "steady state" at this new calorie level

Sure enough, I started noticing progress pretty quickly. I'm not on track to get my weight back to where I want it in the next few weeks. It is clear, from my experience, that diet and exercise together can help you meet your fitness goals (duh, right?)

However, if you can only do one of those things, you'll probably see the most benefit from paying attention to your diet. In my opinion, this is because I might skip a day or two of exercise, but I never skip a day or two of eating - and slow & steady wins the race, for sure.

Exercise here, there, and everywhere

For the last couple of months, I've been working to get back into a more regimented exercise routine. With the winter in full force in the Portland, Oregon area I have not been out riding my road bike and didn't want to get totally out of shape. Here are some things I've done, in hopes that you might get some ideas from them.

Exercise anywhere - no equipment required

As I've mentioned here, I travel fairly often and I have found the gym selections at hotels to be very unpredictable. While I take advantage of some of the weights, machines, and cardio stations at hotels sometimes it just doesn't work out.

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When that happens, body weight exercises are a great alternative. The challenge I have is knowing what to do when I attempt this path. Recently, I came across a great site called "Man vs. Weight" that has some helpful resources for this - a huge number of calisthenics and other similar exercises that require little to nothing in the way of additional equipment.

In particular, I like the post called "113 Killer Push Up Variations," which gives you a customizable set of choices to find the right kind of pushup workout for you (and, yes, knee pushups are included to help you when you first get started with this kind of exercise). I grabbed a clipping from this article to give you a sense for what the options are when you're selecting exercises (at right, click to enlarge).

Take it inside

One of the changes I made was to buy a Peloton indoor fitness cycle. I love it, as it is like going to a class but I can do all my riding in a spare room. There are different types of classes available and you can attend either live or on-demand (I tend to use the on-demand classes because I can do them on the spur of the moment, and select a class length, goal, and level of difficulty to match what I need).

I am confident that this will help me transition to my road riding much more easily than last year.

By the way, if you're interested in purchasing a Peloton, use this link and we'll both get two months free on our Peloton class memberships (thanks in advance!)

Put them together

I am a big fan of putting these two together - the Peloton routines I use are more focused on legs and cardio, and adding in some variations of pushups can help me get a more comprehensive workout, as well as work on my core strength.

After all, mixing things up is good to keep your body from getting too "bored" with a workout, and the more tools in the toolbox to add variety, the better.

What about you? What resources, routines, tricks, etc. do you use to make it more likely you'll workout year round (and in any kind of location)? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Career Contentment: Key Factors to Help You Find a Job That You Love

When we were children, it sounded so simple. Just come up with an answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and voila, there's your dream job. But as an adult, you realized it's hardly that simple. In fact, finding a fulfilling career is a lifelong quest for many people.

Don't Expect to Get It Right on the First Try

While you should consider yourself supremely fortunate if you happen to find career contentment at your first job out of school, this is not the reality that most people experience (and if you're reading this article, it's unlikely that you feel your job is perfect). More often, you need to try out a few different jobs before finding one that brings you career contentment and job satisfaction.

There is no magic number of jobs that you need to try before finding the one that suits you best. The key is to be flexible and willing to put yourself out there to try something new. It's also crucial to maintain a high level of self-awareness, so you can identify what qualities you like and don't like about your position. Over time, a clear understanding of your likes and dislikes in a career will help make it easier to identify the best opportunities that suit your needs.

Don't Stick with a Job If You Don't Find It Fulfilling

Don't be afraid to start looking for a new opportunity at the first sign of discontent with a job. There is no reason to stay at a job for an arbitrary period if you are miserable. Life is too short to spend 40-plus hours a week doing something that makes you unhappy.

Rather than quitting right away, wait until you have another opportunity to move on to, so you can avoid financial stress. If you can't find the perfect job within a few months, take matters into your own hands by exploring entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial opportunities. For instance, you could start your own business with a direct sales company like Amway or open an Etsy shop selling handmade goods if you are particularly creative.

Qualities to Look For

When exploring the topic of career contentment, a few common themes present themselves. Things like work-life balance, a minimal commute and a fun work environment are commonly identified by people who have found career contentment in their current jobs. U.K.-based recruitment firm Reed recently conducted a formal survey and identified the following factors are the top qualities that contribute to career satisfaction:

  • Simple commute: 31 percent of respondents noted that an easy, stress-free commute help make a job more enjoyable.
  • Great workspace: A well-designed workspace that is tailored to create a fun environment scored as a top quality by 29 percent of those surveyed.
  • Work-life balance: This is a hot topic in the HR world for a good reason, over 20 percent of people surveyed noted work-life balance as a top contributor to their career contentment.
  • Good salary: Surprisingly, career contentment isn't all about the money. Salary was only noted by 18 percent of survey respondents as a factor leading to career fulfillment.
  • Social events: 16 percent of respondents said that opportunities to socialize with co-workers at company-sponsored social events were important to them.