Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Why should employers let their staff work from home?

When you’re interested in a new position, there are many things that can be selling features for you.  Not only does the work itself matter, but the office culture and its relation to how you work is important too.  Workplaces that let their employees work from home (WFH) provide many advantages for staff and employers alike, which I understand first-hand as I’m someone who’s lucky enough to WFH every once and while.

This white board video from Minute MBA highlights the many benefits of telecommuting.

Minute MBA developed this video in light of Yahoo’s ban on telecommuting in 2013, which received a lot of media coverage and spurred career experts to comment on the pros and cons of letting employees WFH.

Do you agree with the benefits of telecommuting outlined by Minute MBA?

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“Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.”

What is the ‘confidence gap’ and how can it impact my career?

the current

Yesterday I heard an interesting interview on CBC Radio’s The Current with journalists/authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, whose new book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know, discusses why the glass ceiling still exists.

They report the reason is the “confidence gap.” This concept was identified by Kay and Shipman during research and interviews, which are described in the book. They report that a lack of confidence and a high level of insecurity limits women’s progression in their careers, particularly as compared to those of men.

A part of the interview that stuck with me was when Kay and Shipman reflected on the perceptions of self-confidence held by female senior executives and seasoned politicians. For example, when Hilary Clinton was thinking of running for Senate the first time, the main barrier she faced was a lack of confidence. She realized she was being held back by a fear of getting in the race because she might not win.

Then, a high school basketball coach in New Jersey said to her, Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. These simple words encouraged Clinton to launch her political career. She realized that the worst that could have happened would be to lose.

After the interview, I reflected on Clinton’s experience and wondered if a man have had this same fear holding him back in the same scenario.

Also, does this type of thinking play a role in the lives of working women everywhere? Could it result in women not taking a leap toward a dream job or career change?

Check out the full interview online. Then, you can take a quiz created by Kay and Shipman that will help to reveal the factors that determine confidence, as well as the links between self-esteem and confidence.

Do you think the “confidence gap” exists? Share in the comments.

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“So, you want to be a pubic relations specialist?”


This question was asked to a fellow student by the career development course instructor at my public relations certificate program after the instructor reviewed a draft of her resume. A missed “L” in what was supposed to be the word “public” not only implied this student was looking for an entirely different career, but also earned her a failing grade on the resume assignment.

The importance of proofreading

Not all typos in a resume or cover letter will be so hilarious, but they can all guarantee the same result – a potential employer or manager will question your attention to detail and seriousness about your own career. Hence the failing grade in the above example, as the instructor wanted to drive home this key message.

Remember the following tips as you proofread your resume or cover letter:

  • Spelling: When drafting a resume or cover letter using Pages, Word and even Gmail, these programs provide the luxury of highlighting spelling errors.  On many devices, the software automatically corrects typos for us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve pretty much stopped using the actual spell check tool. However, it’s important to do a formal spell check to ensure you don’t become blind to some of the obvious errors. Remember to check the context of how a word is spelled, as you may have accidentally typed something that’s technically spelled correctly, although you wanted to say something entirely different (for example, the spelling of “public” and “pubic” in the above example).
  • Punctuation: Let’s be honest. Sometimes it can be tricky to use punctuation marks correctly, especially if you don’t write that often. When in doubt when writing your resume, stick with direct, simple sentences that incorporate action words. Avoid using confusing phrases with extra commas or dashes that may distract the reader from the overall piece.
  • Proper names: Remember to double-check proper names. This may include the name of your high school or university, the name of a company or employer, a reference, or even the person you’re addressing the cover letter to.
  • Using numbers: If possible, avoid starting a sentence with a number, but if you have to, spell it out. Also, a rule of thumb is to spell the number out if it’s nine or below, and to use the numerical form if the number is 10 or higher.
  • Contact information: Lastly, make sure you thoroughly check even the taken-for-granted details, including your phone number and email address. You may have reviewed your resume or cover letter many times, so your eyes may just glaze over the contact information. It would be a shame if you lost out on a job or volunteer opportunity because the hiring manager couldn’t get in touch to tell you how awesome you are!

As a communications professional, I usually defer to the Canadian Press (CP) Stylebook if I’m unsure of the spelling, Canadian spelling or proper usage of a word or phrase. To quickly confirm a word’s proper spelling or usage, you can also look it up in a top-tier media outlet, such as the Globe and Mail or National Post to see how journalists and editors use or spell a word, at they typically follow the CP Stylebook as well.

What tips do you have for proofreading your resume or cover letter?

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Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Lights, camera… action words

lightIt’s critical to use action words – or verbs – to bring your resume to life for a potential employer, who wants to get an idea of what tasks you took on in a previous role. Rather than just listing job duties, use concise and descriptive action words to help shine a spotlight on what you did in a job, and how you contributed to the results you (or, you and a team) achieved. This is can help set your resume apart.

Below is an example of how using action words can let your experience shine. This example focuses on the typical tasks that are part of a media relations campaign, which is often an important part of many public relations programs.

Before: Listing job duties

  1. Media calls
  2. Media interviews with spokespeople
  3. Media monitoring

After: Results-focused statement, which includes action words

  • Fostered relationships with key media contacts; secured eight top-tier media interviews with company spokespeople; generated over 10 million media impressions, which surpassed the program goal by 2 million

Need a list of action words to get you started? Start with this helpful list of verbs from the University of Toronto’s Career Centre, which is organized by skill category. Pick the right verbs to illustrate your experience in the different areas of your role.

Can you think of any other verbs that aren’t included in this list? Share in the comments.

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Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

How do I keep it professional on “Casual Friday”?

When you’re working on weekdays, Fridays are awesome. If your office has a “Casual Friday” policy, Fridays can be even better. But the words “can be” are key here. If you’re not careful about your “Casual Friday” look, you may come across as someone who is less professional than he or she truly is.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind as you plan your “Casual Friday” outfit is to ask yourself if you’d still consider it appropriate if you had to attend a last-minute meeting with a client, company president or CEO.

What to Wear:

Today is “Casual Friday” at my office, so check out some of my colleagues’ looks that reflect the more casual nature of the day, and also demonstrate the professionalism required for an office setting.


I love Renel’s look, above, as the desert-inspired palette of her outfit reflects our hot July weather. Her blazer is a neutral colour, adding both professionalism and visual interest to her look. Also, her woven shoes are an interesting take on a more traditional flat, and are completely office-appropriate. Our office is jeans-friendly on Fridays, and if a client were to pop by, Renel could easily roll down her pants and shine in a last-minute meeting.


Lisa’s look, above, is another great way to wear jeans on “Casual Friday”. Dark denim exudes sophistication and can easily be dressed up. She’s wearing a classic black blazer to keep the look professional. Her bright teal pumps would be appropriate in any meeting, and they give a nod to her fun personality.


It’s a hot day in July, so I’m wearing a multi-coloured shift dress that’s versatile enough for the office (above). Summer dresses can be tricky, as many dresses can cross the line into being unprofessional if they’re too tight, too short or if the straps are too thin. To mix it up and add a casual flare, I’m wearing beige booties rather than pumps. Should a client drop by or if the president wanted to meet, I can easily put on the black blazer I have hanging by my desk to transition my outfit to a boardroom setting.

What not to wear

Things like racer-back tanks, ripped jeans and flip-flops are generally frowned upon in any office. However, it can be tempting to let these items creep into your “Casual Friday” office wear rotation if others are sporting them. It’s important to remember that you’re still responsible for your own career, and a professional look at all times is greatly appreciated by company leadership.

What are your tips for dressing professionally on “Casual Friday?” Share in the comments.

Image credits:; Laine Jaremey.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

– Canadian author Kurt Vonnegut when describing his take on illusionist and master manipulator Harry Houdini, who plays a role in the book, The Confabulist, via the Calgary Herald.

How much can I embellish my experience on my resume?

Moving forward in your career is important. Whether it’s moving up to a manager role, a new job, or changing industries, you may be faced with a lot of competition and may be pressured to put your best foot forward. But, what if you’re tempted to exaggerate your management experience, technical skills, on-the-job results or education just to get your foot in the door?

Here are three things to think about before embellishing your experience on your resume:

  • Your references – Whether your reference is a former employer, a past manager on your team, or supervisor from a volunteer position, this person must truthfully speak to your skills, abilities and other merits if approached by a potential employer. If, for example, you mention on your resume you’ve managed a team of five direct reports but actually haven’t, the truth may come out in a conversation with your reference, raising a red flag for a future boss.
  • The pre-employment screening process – Large or small, many companies conduct sophisticated and thorough screening activities before making a hire. This goes beyond just checking references. The pre-employment screening process often involves criminal record checks and verifying the education and other credentials you’ve listed on your resume. So, if you think you can get away with adding a fluency certificate in Spanish from a college to your resume, but you’re actually only at a conversational Spanish level after a few trips to Mexico, think again.
  • Your actual performance – Let’s say you’re a long-lost relative of Harry Houdini, and although you have embellished your education, training or management experience on your resume and during interviews, you’re a master of illusion and therefore are hired. Now comes the challenge of proving your worth in your new role. Without the actual experience, skills or education, this may prove difficult. This can result in several negative scenarios, like the company re-evaluating you as a new hire or a demotion in your role.

What’s important to remember is that embellishing your experience on a resume can result in a loss of trust from a potential employer, or at least, someone new in your network.

Can you think of any other reasons to stick with the truth on a resume? Share in the comments.

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