MICHAELA FENGSTAD

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

Tag: bold print

Caution! Hot Beverage!

I remember my first cup of coffee in Canada. I was so excited to take my first sip and I was so ready to be amazed! Yet I was trying to make that moment before my taste buds would be blown away last a bit longer. I wanted to be amazed, not because I can’t live without a good cup of coffee, but because I wanted to be reassured that I made the right choice leaving my family and friends behind. At that moment, the way that coffee tasted was of critical importance and I was not ready yet for it Trying to drag that moment before a bit longer,  I started reading the writing on the sleeve of the cup.  “Caution! Hot beverage!” I read it again and again…  Were they making fun of me? They must have realized I was new in the country. It must have been my accent when I asked for the coffee. No, it can’t be… The lady in front of me had troubles with her English too. Hmm… my head started spinning and all the emotions before and the excitement were gone now making room for a new bunch of feelings… none of them on the happy, positive note. It must have been my dress. They all told me that I should give away my beautiful lilac suit and the skirt with big red roses that I loved so much but I never listened. I loved my colourful wardrobe, with floral patterns and ruffles. I used to get only compliments on the way I dressed. My students, my colleagues, my neighbours were all so full of compliments. Even the old lady selling Turkish  pretzels glazed with honey and covered with  poppy seeds  smiled at me every time I wore this purple skirt with big lace ruffles.

I swiftly turned and left the coffee shop, embarrassed with the way I thought I must have looked, but not before glancing with regret to the comfortable chair on which I was planning to enjoy my first sip of Canadian coffee.  Under normal circumstances, It was a 30 minutes walk back to the rented apartment. It took me only 10 that day.  It was a feeling of helplessness, mixed with embarrassment and fury that fuelled my run back.

Once back in the apartment and out of the once pretty skirt my old, sometimes reliable common sense returned. My mind started making sense too. It was the last time I wore my beautiful purple skirt with lace ruffles as although I knew it did not make any sense, and against my strong logics, I continued to blame the ruffles of my skirt for the way these simple “Caution! Hot beverage!” words made me feel.

Of course a coffee is hot; unless you ask for an ice coffee. Ice coffees are cold, as cold as ice, therefore we call them  ice coffee… right?  But taking the time to spell the obvious out was such a new concept for me! Where I came from, you spill your (hot) coffee and burn your hands, the maximum you get is a “Well done, dumb ass!”

In all these years since that happened I learnt that there are people that ask for coffee without realizing that you need hot water to brew it and in the 2 minutes between you putting in the order and the coffee resting comfortably in your hand there is no enough time to bring that hot coffee to a more comfortable temperature: not too hot to burn you but not too cold to impede on your pleasure of sipping out a hot coffee. And then there is the issue of a 3rd party accidentally grabbing your coffee  without knowing that a coffee cup might contain hot coffee. It all makes sense to me now!
For the last almost 20 years now I have considerably enriched my knowledge with extremely useful information. For example:

  • A curling iron is “For external use only” ; I am a bit  uncertain if it refers to a cold iron or a hot one. I mean, the warning is a bit confusing here.
  • I found out that I should not use my hair dryer while sleeping and cannot feed  the shampoo for dogs to the fish. Interesting, eh?
  • I was a bit disappointed when I read in the microwave manual “Do not use for drying pets.” I was hoping for a faster way to  dry Roscoe, my adorable Jack Russell.
  • My disappointment gave way to pure joy when I found out the Christmas lights I bought were “For indoor or outdoor use only”. What a relief!
  • Last year I decided to give Midol a try as I was having a bit of a tough time. Well, lucky me, I had no other health concerns as the warning on the box was quite clear: “Warning: do not use if you have prostate problems.” 

 

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:
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One More Time: Target and Customize Your Job Search

Looking for a job is hard work and writing or updating the resume for most of us is a daunting task that overwhelms and frustrates even the best writers at times.

I believe in targeted resumes, and although you can find more comprehensive and complicated explanations of this term on the net, I always tell my clients that a resume is nothing else than a reply, an answer to a question or even better an offer to a demand. Let’s see the following example: it is winter time and it is not too late to go for your flu shot. You assume the pharmacy or the doctor’s office would have a stock of flu vaccines around this time of the year for obvious reasons. To your surprise, they don’t have the flu shots but they offer you a quite impressive assortment of vaccines for tropical diseases. Hmmm… You are impressed, all right, but they did not address or solve your issue in any way. This is when you go to the next pharmacy that will hopefully answer your demand. Now, replace your person with the business in need of a particular qualification and the pharmacies with the job seekers. The ones that will address the requirements in the particular job posting will get the recruiter’s attention while the others will definitely land into the “NO” pile.

It is easier to preach “targeting” than to put it in practice, especially when using popular sites like LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn and I think it adds value to other aspects of our professional life and even to some parts of a job search. Unfortunately it works against the concept of “targeted” anything. Let me explain. As you all know, on LinkedIn there is only one profile that you can show the world and attract potential employers with. The problem here is that even when you target one specific job with one specific job title, the job descriptions coming from different companies are extremely diverse. Each company has their unique needs, their own organization chart and their own interpretation of a position.
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Smart Business Cards

I found these funny but smart, bold and so very different business cards, courtesy of  The Fire Wire blog and thought I’d share:

For more ideas, visit The Fire Wire blog: http://larryfire.wordpress.com/2008/08/24/clever-business-cards/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog

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