MICHAELA FENGSTAD

Writing about life as it happens, trends in career development and new inspiration

Date: March 4, 2014

Why Using Big Words and Acronyms Won’t Do You Any Good

Remember the times when you started your first job in the corporate world? Everybody seemed to talk a different language although they all were swearing it is old, plain English. The COB’s and LPR’s and the PLT’s and DRSPB’s and all these other acronyms that meant nothing and got you even more confused and wondering if you’ll ever be able to learn everything and succeed in the job. And then, there were the town meetings, where the senior executives were trying to impress everybody with the quarterly or mid year productivity numbers and the company’s direction and vision in a language so difficult to understand that most of us were just dozing off or making mental shopping lists for the upcoming birthday party.

As a job seeker, your objective must be quite the opposite: you want the reader to be excited about meeting you, about learning new things regarding your work experience and over all, you want them to be engaged. You have to use crisp statements, a plain English language and create a document that exudes action and engagement.

Continue reading

Info Graphics – or How To Get Noticed!

I found a few creative resumes that will for sure attract all the attention! Do I recommend them for all the jobs? Definitely not! But if you are in a creative field, go bold! Show your personality and grab that job! Although most of the examples below refer to designers or illustrators, if you are looking for a job as a hair stylist, a painter, a server or even a constructor, go for it! Whenever you need to show your artistic side, instead of words, which sometimes betray us, go bold!

Anna Yenina – Graphic Designer


Continue reading

I Think I Exist… or So I Think

How many of you start a sentence with the very common phrase “I think…”? Every time I need to buy some time in a conversation I use this phrase. Sometimes I am not sure whether I am really invited to open up about an idea or to make a judgement. Some other times, I hope something else will come up and I will not have to speak up. Or some other times, I am still looking for the proper words to lay out unpleasant facts without getting too personal. The fact is, every time we use the “I think” phrase we annoy the interlocutor and we give the impression of being less assertive, less decided and a lot apologetic.

Let me give you an examples. One of the most frequently used question in interviews is:
Why would we hire you?

And these would be the two potential answers:

Answer A: I am motivated, I am determined to succeed and my work experience perfectly matches your job description.
Answer B: I think I am motivated and determined and I believe my experience matches your job description.

Do you feel the difference? The first answer is powerful and direct and demonstrates self-esteem – a trait that employers are more and more looking for in their employees. Studies have suggested that employees who possess a high self esteem are more successful in their jobs. They view challenges as opportunities to progress and benefit from, and, they have a more positive view on life.

The second answer is not as determined. It actually leaves the impression that you are doubting yourself. I could very well have answered: “I am not sure if I am motivated and determined but I hope my experience matches your job description…” Not something that the hiring manager wants to hear.  Plus, if the question is addressed to you, clearly the answer needs to come from you and to reflect what you think! No need at all to start the answer with a redundant “I think…”

 

 

Will Résumés Become Mini-Bilboards Any Time Soon?

It is no secret that these days, more and more,  we notice a clear transition to a new high tech era. It is hard to believe, for example that only a few years ago everybody was using a fax machine, from individuals to small businesses and large corporations. Today, I need a second to even remember how it looked like. All you need is internet connection (or a nice coffee shop with free wi-fi) and a laptop or tablet and you have your own office! Notice that I said a laptop because even the PC is fast becoming a thing of the past.

But where do we stand with our résumé in this new high tech era?  Well, a new type has emerged and despite of the controversy it has created, more and more visual résumés appear on the Internet. The question remains whether or not they are successful. It is still to be determined!

What is a resume? Why do we write resumes? According to Wikipedia, “A résumé […] is a document used by individuals to present their background and skillsets. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons but most often to secure new employment.” This is the key we need to focus on when writing such a document: it helps secure employment! There are 3 conditions visual or not, to get us an interview:
Continue reading

The Minimalist Approach in How to Chose a Font for Your Resume

Since Steve Job’s love for simple design I have been reevaluating  the minimalist theories; a minimalist life, minimalist principles, minimalist aesthetics are just a few topics I am following in various articles and blogs.

I should first say that I am not a big fan of the minimalist art. I can stare as long as I physically can into Malevich’ Black Square and there is no emotion or artistic vision revealed to me. I might as well stare at a painted wall. The idea that there should be no needless lines or strokes on a drawing is taken to the extreme where all the lines have been deemed unnecessary. I am therefore left with nothing to dream about, to be moved by or simply to smile at.

And yet I enjoy minimalist writing. Hemingway was the first such novelist I fell in love with. Maybe because it happened to discover him right after finishing Dickens’ The Bleak House or just because I fell in love with his direct, naked style: no fluff, no unnecessary adornments and some cussing here and there. Reading him I understood that the flowery Victorian style is not the only one that can move and inspire. But I digress when all I wanted was to write about the boring but so powerful resumes.

A well written resume should be the best minimalist work: few intentionally used words painting a lifetime. Something similar to what Hemingway created when challenged to write a story in 6 words: “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” With this in mind, I decided to apply the same concept: nothing should just land on a resume. From the fonts to the meanings should be thought about, and decided on only after thoughtful consideration.

How many times have you even considered what font to use? If you happened to give it a thought you probably chose it based on how appealing the font was to you. Surprise! The only opinion that matters is the one of the hiring manager. And out of experience, all they care about is how legible it is.

There are so many fonts available and it is quite easy to spend long minutes trying them all just to end up selecting one of the two most popular fonts: Arial and Times New Roman  because of their qualities:

  • Very easy to read
  • Don’t have any unnecessary swirls, windings and tails
  • The spacing between the letters in words and sentences is just right
  • When they are in bold or italics they preserve the same clean, easy to read characteristics even in a smaller font
  • They make the best use of the page space
  • They look best in both hard copy printing and on the Internet (with some preferring Arial over Times New Roman)

Their usability and friendliness have been proven over and over again but haven’t these two fonts lived their lives? Shouldn’t they retire and make room for newer, bolder fonts?  There is no simple answer but my choice in using them over and over again for resumes is that they remain the preferred font for the corporate world. Remember, their opinion matter when we are writing our resumes!

In choosing the right font for your resume,  keep in mind a few rules:
Continue reading

Why I Say “No, Thank You” To a “Thank You Card”

One of the questions that keeps popping up lately is about Thank You Cards versus Thank You Notes (or emails). I have never sent a Thank You Card since email communication has taken the lead over snail mail. I don’t believe in cards anymore. Don’t get me wrong,  I encourage everybody to make sure and send a sincere, personalized thank you note after each interview. People like to be acknowledged, people like to feel good and valued. Your Thank You Note will do just that: it will bring a smile on a face or a minute of “feel good about myself” attitude and you will be remembered. I just don’t believe in traditional cards. And here is why:

There was a time when I would race my husband to collect the mail. The excitement of opening that small box and being the first one to touch the letter from my parents or the birthday cards from pretty much around the world was something I was looking forward to.  There was magic and excitement and surprise and yes, the occasional heartache when the taxman would send his bills in. But I enjoyed every bit of it. In time, the excitement has faded away. Now I get happy and excited every time I open the mailbox and it is empty! I gave up the daily trip to pick up my mail a while ago. I don’t get letters from my parents anymore. My dad has a laptop and an email account. We talk almost daily via Skype or iChat. I am exchanging recipes and having girls-talks with my mom any time I need to and they are not sleeping (considering we live on different continents). I laugh and share jokes and play the big sister in real time now, for my brother. So, I don’t check my mailbox anymore …
Continue reading

© 2017 MICHAELA FENGSTAD

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑